Part 2 Recap – Wild Things

Adventure 2 – Wild Things

WaterThere were several times Vaelen thought he would surely drown.  The sheer force of the water from the lake hitting him from above blasted the air of his lungs.  Just as he thought his grip on the tree Gillian had thrown him to would hold he felt the wood snap and the water swallowed him whole.  At one point the cleric slammed into Kzzmet, but before he could grab hold of the dwarf a surge of water carried him away. His instincts told him to lie on his back, keep his legs pointed downstream and keep his head above water, but the heavy armor he wore made it all but impossible. Water surged into his mouth, up his nose, clogged his ears, and knocked him senseless.  Deaf, dumb and blind Vaelen was left feeling helpless against the might of the unruly water.  Just as he felt his world darkening he felt a strong hand heave him out of the water.  Even after the world came back into focus he couldn’t believe his eyes.  Vaelen had just been plucked out of the water by a half-orc who was surfing down the raging river on wooden wreckage from Darkskye.  He would have thought himself delusional if he hadn’t recognized the barbarian’s face.  Vaelen coughed, sucked in great gasps of air, and found his voice.  “Penny?!?”

Penelope ‘Penny’ Dreadful grinned down at Vaelen. “I thought that balding head looked familiar.  Hang on.  I got you!”  As the reigning champion of the Imperial Legion’s dodgeball championships avoiding falling wreckage and surfing down the raging river was a piece of cake for Penny.  If you could dodge a ball, you could dodge a weapon her former drill master in Axis had always told her.  Of course balls were made of stone not rubber, so dodging wreckage didn’t seem all that different.  She saw the tip of a helment sticking out of the water and pulling it up with her free hand found Tycho attached with a half-elf sorcerer clinging to his belt.  A thud behind her announced Jasmind as the paladin climbed onto the board as well.  The floating wrecks creaked with all the additional weight.  “Whoops, fun time is over.  Brace for landing!”  With a twist of her legs, Penny guided her makeshift raft over to the shore.  Deep in the Wild Wood with a motley collection of adventurers may seem a daunting situation for normal folk, but Penny was grateful to be getting some exercise.  For the past several weeks she had served desk duty as a guard on Darkskye and her leg muscles had started going soft.  If there was one thing the barbarian couldn’t stand, it was growing soft.

Tycho half laughed, half sputtered water out of his lungs as Penny threw him onto dry land.  If he had known the new guard he had working to smuggle things in and out of Darkskye was that skillful he would have given her a bigger cut in his smuggling operations.  The half-orc barbarian seemed to have a little bit of crazy in her.  Tycho liked that.  The halfling fighter climbed to his feet all the while grinning like a madman, but his smile faltered when he noticed the absence of a certain dwarf.  “Where’s Kzzmet?”

TanglewoodCold, wet, and shivering to the bone, Gillian was only half listening to the conversation.  Vaelen had not seen Kzzmet since he lost his grip on him in the river.  No one had seen the bard since the water fell.  It seemed that their “savior” was a relatively new guard stationed at Darkskye.  Vaelen knew the half-orc barbarian from her former bounty hunter days which seemed to be brief at best.  Tycho also seemed familiar with Penny, although Gillian couldn’t place how. While the others talked Gillian stood up and looked around.  They were in the thick of the Wild Wood and Darkskye’s crash had made a mess of things.  From the looks of it the water had washed them all downhill a few miles north, but even from this distance Gillian could still see fragments of the island spinning in the air still suspended by wild magic.  Looking north Gillian saw that the rushing water had broken through the edge of a massive patch of tight twisting trees and vines.  She had to look twice to make sure she was certain, but yes – there it was – just beyond the gap in the tanglewood was a small collection of primitive dwellings.  “A village!”

As the party walked toward the village Jasmind listened to the others share stories about the Wild Wood.  Out of everyone present she had the most experience in the area, having been a Warden of the Wild Wood before her imprisonment.  Trees that come alive. Hah, even younglings in their cribs knew that.  Bears the size of buildings. An exaggeration, for sure.  Hags, gnolls and trolls. The Wild Wood was home to many creatures, even unsightly ones.  Rumors of wild elves corrupted by the Diabolist. Wait- what?  Jasmind turned to see who had shared that last bit of information.  Vaelen.  As a wood elf Jasmind nearly took the comment as an insult, but perhaps the bounty hunter knew something she didn’t….

“I thought you said this was a village,” Tycho quipped at Gillian as they approached the dwellings.  Tucked into the tangled roots of massive trees were small huts.  The only thing that qualified as a building in Tycho’s mind was a longhall-like house that rested in the center of all the huts.  The natives here were wild elves garbed in simple animal pelts or woven grass.  The wild elves were non-aggressive, but apprehension was clear on their faces as the party approached.  It was just so…. primitive…

Jasmind elbowed Tycho in the side.  “Show some respect.  While I have not traveled here before I know of this village.  This is Onkafield, a focal place for hunters to trade pelts.”  After speaking a few words of Elven with a villager nearby Jasmind beckoned the party towards the longhall.  “Come.  There are people inside that may help us.”

WoodElfTileInside the longhall the party found two village elders that were willing to help, for a price.  The first was Okonkwo Nasiche, the village healer, who offered to craft two healing poultices if the party agreed to stay overnight to protect the village.  The other was Kalu Kadokechi, a magician of limited skills, who offered the party magical oil if they helped him extract sap from trees.  Kadokechi explained that the water had brought many glowing crystals into the woods just outside the village and no one dared approach them.  While Jasmind talked to Nasiche about staying in the village overnight Gillian and the others talked to Kadokechi about the crystals.

Nasiche was in the midst of explaining how the ragging water had destroyed a portion of the tanglewine that protected the village when Jasmind heard a commotion behind her.  Turning the wood elf paladin saw a youthful wild elf female with a dagger raised at Gillian.  The half elf sorcerer was shouting. “Seven Hells!  I was just asking for some help out of these wretched woods!  Calm down!”  Clearly the troubled bunch the paladin traveled with lacked the delicate touch needed to gain trust with the wild elves.  Jasmind hurriedly excused herself from Nasiche and rushed over to difuse the situation.  She glided up next to Gillian and softly spoke a customary greeting of peace in Elven that she had used many times before in her past when visiting other villages in the Wild Wood.  The wild elf’s eyes widened in recognition as the elf looked at Jasmind and she lowered her daggers. “Leafkin Jass~mind!”

Tycho raised a bushy eyebrow.  One minute the sorcerer was about to get them all in trouble with an elf, the next minute the paladin had the elf bowing in reverence.  In a rare showing of grace and authority Jasmind looked as if she had been blessed by the Elf Queen herself.  The wild elf female introduced herself as Akiki, a village guide.  She humbly apologized for her actions, not having known these strangers traveled with a Warden of the Wild Wood.  Tycho chuckled and leaned in close to Jasmind.  “A Warden, aye? Guess this one doesn’t know you’ve been tucked away in prison.”  The halfling’s taunts were promptly returned with another elbow in his side.

With an hour or two of sunlight left in the day the party set out to collect the tree sap requested by Kalu Kadokechi.  When they exited the village they saw that the rushing water had subsided, leaving a trail of crystals and debris littered throughout the forest.  After studying the crystals for a moment Gillian grimly admitted that she lacked the magical ability to render them harmless.  Vaelen similarly admitted that his knowledge of divine scripture from his studies in the Cathedral offered no solution.  Tycho suggested shattering any crystals they saw and Penny happily obliged.  Reducing the crystals to dust would not solve the problem as time in the prison tunnels had proven, but perhaps it would lessen the harmful impact they had on the forest.  As Tycho and Penny got to smashing Jasmind found the tree they were looking for and began extracting the sap.  Before long the party was headed back into Onkafield, sap in hand.

The aged Kadokechi offered them a bright smile as he accepted the sap.  “This sap is said to be blessed by the blood of our ancestors.  It has helped protect our village for generations.  Our most profound thanks!”  The aged elf stated that he would use a small portion of the sap to create the magical oil as promised, but Jasmind stopped him.  She thanked him for his most generous offer, but explained that simple provisions of food and water would be a much more valuable reward given their predicament.    Kadokechi instructed them to wait and disappeared deeper into the longhall.  When he returned he carried three large sacks.  “It’s not much, but my wife makes amazing elven bread.  That, a bit of water, and a few scraps of jerky should see you well fed for several days.”  Before  Kadokechi  had finished speaking Tycho had already upended one bag and was rifeling through the food.  Penny and Gillian grabbed hold of the other two sacks and thanked Kadokechi for his generosity.

DiabolistNeeding a breath of fresh air, Vaelen was the first out of the longhouse.  His trained eyes surveyed the people of the village, sizing everyone up.  Whether it was by luck or the Priestess herself guided his eyes Vaelen couldn’t be sure, but a mark on the wrist of a wild elf that walked into one of the small huts caught his attention.  A bracer on the elf’s wrist has loosened revealing a mark of a deformed hand with an eyes at is center.  The rumors were true.   His companions emerged from the longhall just in time to hear Vaelen curse.  “We’ve got trouble.  I just noticed an elf bearing the mark of the Diabolist.  And where she goes, chaos follows.”

Alarmed, Gillian demanded to know where the elf was.  Vaelen nodded towards the hut the elf had entered, but grabbed Gillian’s wrist before she could pursue him.  “Contain yourself.  We don’t know how far the taint has spread.  We might have to wipe out the whole village,”  Vaelen whispered.  Not one for tact Tycho blurted out “Yes! Wipe them out!” not caring that Akiki still accompanied them.

Jasmind quickly pulled Akiki aside.  She would be having some words with the halfling fighter later, but for now she had to salvage their relationship with the elf guide.  The paladin explained to Akiki that the Diabolist was a great threat to the village’s safety.  She stressed that it was of great importance to know who the elf was that resided in that hut.  Akiki looked wide eyed at Tycho, then back at Jasmind before finding her words.  “He is a fur trader who arrived here yesterday.  A newcomer to our village.  No one else here bears the dark mark.  Leafkin, I bow to your judgment in this.  You must do what needs to be done for the people.  I only ask that you honor our people’s laws and no foul deed will take place in the village grounds.”  Jasmind nodded and promised Akiki that no one free from the Diabolist’s corruption would be harmed.  As a paladin it was her oath to protect the innocent and smite the wicked.  She turned to deliver the news to the others.

Fire burned in Gillian’s eyes, but the half elf listened to the wisdom in Jasmind’s words.  “Fine.  No blood will be shed in the village.  Go out to the woods.  I will deliver him to you shortly.”  Shaking her wrist free of Vaelen’s grasp she stomped toward the elf’s hut, leaving her party him her.  Gillian had more reasons than most to hate the Diabolist.  She had long ago sworn that she would never let that monstrous excuse for a women ever sink her claws into her again.  Without knocking she flipped the door to the hut open to find the elf sitting crosslegged on the hut floor, a satchel in hand.  She pulled herself up in her most intimidating pose, “Mother sent me.  She needs a report on your activities here.  We must speak in the woods immediately.”

The elf looked up alarmed and slid the satchel behind his back.  He opened his mouth to speak, but was silenced as Gillian let the magic from her demonic heritage come to life.  Infernal runes flared across her skin before darkening agin.  Gillian narrowed her eyes and spoke again.  “I am Mother’s creation.  You will answer to me.  Follow.  This is not a discussion.”  She flung the door to the hut open and gestured the elf out.  Reluctantly, the agent let the sorceress march him deep into the surrounding woods.  When he saw the others arrayed before him, fully armed, he stopped dead in his tracks.  One look at the grin on the halfling’s face and the elf knew he had walked into a trap.

“Deceiver! Traitor! Mother did not send you!”  In one quick motion the wild elf unsheathed a dagger from his belt.  Gillian went to defend herself, but was alarmed when the elf plunged the blade into his own chest.  “Mother… will honor… me…”  His body slumped to the floor dead and the satchel spilled out onto ground.  Gillian picked up several samples of crystals and a leather bound book.  Flipping the books pages open, she found a demonic script scrawled across the pages.  At least her time in the hellmarsh had taught her to read abyssal.  The pages seemed to be scattered notes concerning the crystal samples.  Apparently the Diabolist herself had an interest in the crystals.  Yet Akiki had told Jasmind the elf arrived the day before Darkskye crashed.  What did that mean?

“Damn, he denied us the fun part,” Tycho muttered as he approached the elf’s corpse.  “Must have been posion on that dagger to work so quickly.”  With a grunt the halfling picked up the elf by the legs and started dragging him to a nearby clearing.  He paused a moment when he noticed the look the others were giving him.  “I doubt the native knife ears be wanting us to leave bodies lying around and he ain’t going to bury himself.  Stop your bloody gawking and give me a hand!”

After the elf was buried and forgotten the party members took shifts to protect the village overnight.  It had been a very long day, but Jasmind had given her word to Okonkwo Nasiche that they would do it.  Though brief, the rest allowed them to heal up from their wounds.  When the morning came the band of adventurers found Akiki waiting to guide them out of the forest.  Before they departed the village healer Nasiche delivered two healing poultices to the party as promised.

To the party’s surprise Akiki guided them to the north end of the village to where the tanglewood was the thick.  Penny questioned why they could not just go around in the gap the water created.  Akiki pointed back to the south.  The hole in the village’s natural defense barrier was gone, replaced tanglevine that was unnaturally large.  “You looked, but you did not see.  The dust from the crystals you shattered mixed with the dirt and caused the tanglewood to grow wild.  Kadokechi works to restore the natural balance, but if you wish to depart you must do so now.  Come.  I will show the way.”

Tanglevine1Akiki was fast.  Very fast.  There were many times the elf guide would disappear through the tanglevine quicker than anyone could follow.  It was not until the party was a few feet into the tanglewood that they understood how good of a natural barrier it made for the village.  Twisting branches and thorny vines created a massive thicket that blocked out most the sunlight above them.  Gillian and Penny both slipped down a hillside, cutting themselves on the massive thorns in the woods.  Tycho mocked them until Jasmind pointed out he was standing in a patch of Itchbane weeds.  The halfling cursed and frantically leapt out of the plant he had walked into, but it was too late – he would be itching all day.  Thankfully, whenever the party seemed to be completely lost Akiki would always find them again.

Vaelen breathed a sigh of relief when they found the edge of the tanglewood.  By the grace of the gods he had emerged unscathed.  Unfortunately, it looks like they were trading one danerous environment for another.  Before them were the massive trees of the Wild Wood, their trunks dotted with various fungi and unusually large flowers.  Akiki made a gesture to several tracks in the ground, “Direwolves have gone through here recently.  Great and terrible predators.  You would best keep away from them.”

Akiki quickly darted ahead and the rest tried to keep up.  None of them had the sense to notice Akiki’s path stayed far away from the flowers along the tree trunks.  When Gillian got too close, she was  alarmed when a flower lashed out to wrap its petals around her.  Her muffled screams alerted Jasmind who tried to pull the half-elf out of the flower petals.  Jasmind yanked Gillian free, but the two of them stumbled back into a noxious fungus that released a spore cloud towards them.  Penny lifted them both to safety and the party moved on more cautious of their surroundings.  Their their raised awareness the party noticed that the grass swayed towards the crystals that had fallen in this area of the Wild Wood, even when the wind blew in the opposite direction.  Something was wrong with the forest.

As the sun began to set, the adventurers found themselves approaching a small clearing.  Within was a crumbled mass that once may have been called a building.  Around the ruins were countless gravestones.  Akiki pulled on Jasmind’s arm, “I can take you no further, Leafkin.  My people dare not tread in this place.  Travel north, you will find your way home.”  Jasmind nodded in approval and touched three fingers to her brow, a sign of thanks among her kind.  With one last bow of her head, Akiki sprinted back into the forest toward her village.

Skeleton2Penny strode into the clearing and looked around.  “Next time our guide won’t enter a place, perhaps it be best to ask why.”  Drawning on her background as an imperial legionnaire the half-orc continued, “In ages past there used to be troops sent in to pacify the High Druid and her followers when she first begin to harass the imperial lands.  Judging by the graveyards, I’d wager this was one of their field hospitals before the wilds overtook them.”  Penny started walking towards the nearest headstone, but as the sun dipped below the horizon and night began to fall a harsh chill wind swept through the clearing.  The half-orc paused as the dirt beneath her feet shifted and a skeletal hand emeraged.  Three skeletal warriors and six decrepit skeletons rose from the graves around the party.  A bone-chilling shriek pulled their attention to the hospital where a ghostly apparition had materialized holding icy-blue blade. Their presence had awoken a wraith.

Vaelen was not one to wait for trouble to come to him so he leapt into the fray, swinging his warhammer around at the nearest decrepit skeleton.  The skeleton’s head came clean off and lodged itself into the ribcage of another nearby as its body crumpled to the ground.  Tycho slid up next to Vaelen and brought his Greatsword of the Bear down upon a skeletal warrior.  His aim was to outmatch the cleric, but the halfling found the warriors to be far less brittle than the others.  His sword chipped away at the skeleton’s bones, but the warrior stood strong.  Seeing the danger the warriors posed Jasmind flanked right and got the attention of two remaining skeletal warriors.  As the skeletons charged in at the remaining party members, Penny stood firm, swinging her axe in a frenzied whirlwind at every undead horror to come close.  It had been far too long since she had seen combat and Penny was itching for a good fight.  With Penny guarding her Gillian took the opportunity to gather power.

HospitalRuins

Pine cones represent trees.

The wraith raised his ice-cold ghost blade and flew at Jasmind.  Jasmind found him to be quite the foe, his etheral body making it difficult to land a solid blow.  With a wraith and two skeletal warriors on her the paladin took a beating, but before long Tycho and Vaelen were by her side after dispatching their own warrior.  Vaelen reached out towards Jasmind and used his divine arts as a cleric to mend her wounds.  With a shriek the wraith unleashed a spiraling assault upon those that surrounded him and teleported away.  He appeared behind Gillian just as the sorcerer was about to unleash a scorching ray and drove his blade into her back.  Negative energy filled the sorcerer and she fell to one knee, staggered.  Distracted dealing with the remaining decrepit skeletons Penny was unable to help.

HospitalRuins4

We had a wraith miniature on the table, yet somehow forgot to take a photo of it. Whoops.
Enjoy a close-up of a skeleton and our crystal shards instead.

Vaelen saw the plight of his companions and ran over to Gillian.  The cleric quickly healed his companion before he turning his gaze upon the wraith.  Raising his hand he let the might of the light and dark gods that flow through him.  A beam of intense golden energy connected with the Wraith’s chest.  Holy energy thrummed through the clearing and the Wraith abruptly exploded in a flash of divine light.  Caught in the light, the remaining skeletons turned to dust.  The undead had not just been turned – they had been destroyed.

With the threat gone the party took a moment to recover from their wounds.  Vaelen darkly reminded the others that while they had won one battle it would be unwise to stay here overnight as untold amounts of undead could still be lurking within the hospital ruins.  Hurriedly, the party assembled their gear to leave.  Jasmind picked up the icy-touched blade that the wraith had carried and felt a chill run into her arm.  It may have been an instrument of evil once, but it would still serve her as a useful tool.  Before departing Vaelen noticed that one of the shields a warrior had carried was not rusted over like the rest.  In fact, it looked as new as the day it was crafted.  Picking it up the cleric felt the power within the metal disc and smiled.  With no other magic items in sight the party made their way north out of the graveyard and into the Wild Wood beyond.

LizardMan1At night the Wild Wood was full of haunting sounds.  As the party ventured through the wilderness they could hear shuffling in the bushes just outside their torchlight.  The howls of direwolves echoed through the air.  And above all, the constant hum of insects in the air.  Tycho swatted yet another mosquito off his neck and looked off to his right.  He had thought he heard something, like a collection of hoots and hollers.  Squinting under his torchlight, he saw the shadowy figures of several humanoids about his size running through the woods near a small stream.  More sounds echoed through the woods then a very abrupt THWACK.  “Mates, I think we may have a problem…”

Penny was just about to say something when she heard movement to her right.  Then behind her.  Then to her left.  The glitter of scales reflected the moonlight as several massive forms emerged out of the woods.  When they came closer to the light Penny recognized them immediately.  Several of the barbarian’s exploits in the Legion involved pacifying or fighting against the Lizardmen that worked for the Three.  Brutal savages, they preferred the noise that their primitive clubs made when smashing the bones of their victims.  To make it worse the one infront of her was a Giant Dragonman with a big honkin’ club in one hand and dragged the corpse of a savage halfling native to the Wild Wood in the other.  “Yes, that’s a problem.”

Lizardmen

The sound of a fallen tree branch snapping behind Tycho was his only warning before another Giant Dragonman appeared behind the party.  The fighter was barely able to duck out of the way before the Dragonman slammed his massive club down into the ground next to him.  Tycho retaliated in kind, twisting around the brute and slashing away with his greatsword.  Gillian let her arcane energies build, lightning crackling around her.  Vaelen and Jasmind got the better of two of the smaller lizardmen and flanked the pair.  When Penny took a club to the chest, she lost all notion of civilized combat.  With a blood curdling cry, the barbarian let her adrenaline pump through her veins as rage filled her.  For every hit she took, she sank her ax deeper into the brute in front of her.

Lizardmen1

DiceFail

Lightning Fork Fail

Trading blow for blow, Tycho continued to stand toe-to-toe with the brute before him.  He may be small, but he knew how to handle a blade well.  The bigger his target, the easier it was to hit.  The Dragonman eventually collapsed from the numerous slashes across his body. Gillian saw Penny swarmed by three lizardmen and sought to help.  She channeled her gathered power and released a lightning bolt, only to see it fizzle in the air.  The lizardmen barely noticed the lightning bolt and kept harrying Penny.  The raging barbarian served as an effective distraction and let Jasmind flank around behind them.  With the Dragonman weakened from Penny’s blows Jasmind unleashed a powerful smite which felled the creature.  With the grace only a wood elf could muster Jasmind followed up and delivered a finishing blow to the last remaining lizardman.

Lizardmen2
Gillian walked over to one of the fallen lizardman and removed a pouch from his waist.  Sure enough, they too had been collecting samples of the crystals. First the Diabolist, now the Three.  Who else has a hand in this mess?  Something big was going on here, and they seemed to be caught in the middle of it. Tycho muttered something along the lines of only caring about finding a peaceful place to rest for the night.  Tired and beaten bloody the others agreed.  They had only walked a few minutes before coming upon a small village full of dead feral halflings, no doubt wiped out by the lizardmen they had encountered.  “Whelp, this place is as good as any,” Tycho said as he threw down his gear to settle in for the night.  Too tired to argue the others followed suit.

The next morning the band of adventurers were greeted by a sign of hope.  As the sun rose over the treetops they saw a tower in the far distance.  It would take at least another day’s travel to reach the tower, but they rejoiced in seeing the first sign of civilization.  Gathering their gear they set out North.

GM Notes:

The unnamed wild elf in Onkafield that Vaelen uncovered as a servant of the Diabolist was a creation of our own game.  It was not part of the Wyrd of the Wild Wood organized play packet.  At the start of the game players were given an opportunity share information their characters knew about the Wild Wood.  This information was then integrated into the game as fact.   As we went around the table the person who plays Vaelen added that Vaelen had heard rumors of wild elves or gnolls that were corrupted by the Diabolist.  This gave a great opportunity to tie in some Icon relationships and it fit into the ongoing mystery of the crystals.

Similarly, the party faced Lizardmen working for the Three as a second encounter because it tied in closer to the Icons present in our game.  The organized play packet outlines a fight against feral halflings, but thinking Tycho wouldn’t like that much we went with the Lizardmen which are a bonus monster offered in Appendix 4 of the organized play packet.

(Sarah)    (Ben)

Magic Items!

Here are the magic items acquired by the party so far during Tales of 13th Age Wyrd of the Wild Wood.  The first two items were acquired during the last adventure – Wild Things – and the last two were obtained during part 1 – Darkskye Crashdown.

WeaponIcy-Touched Blade
This ice-cold ghost blade is all the remains of a wraith that once haunted the plauged hospital ruins of a previous age.
+1 Longsword
Recharge 16+ after Battle
Effect: Once per battle when you make a basic attack with this weapon you deal an additional 1d4 cold damage. If you hit, the target of your attack is weakened (-4 to attacks and defenses) until the end of your next turn.
Quirk: When idle you can’t help but sing hauntingly eerie tunes.

Shield of Resilience
The original owner of this shield has long passed from this world, but this shield looks the same as the day it was freshly crafted.
Default Bonus: Increase your maximum hit points by +4.
Recharge 11+
Effect: When you make a basic melee attack, heal using a recovery.
Quirk: Eats an odd vegetarian diet and advocates it loudly.

BootsBoots of the Slippery Eel
These soft boots are made from the skin of giant black eels that live among the Wake Island in the Midland Sea. The eel skin soles are surprisingly resilient and slick.
Default Bonus: You gain +1 to your disengage checks.
Recharge 11+
Effect: Reroll a failed disengage check
Quirk: Loves puns

Greatsword of the Bear
The sheer weight of this weapon looks like it would slow the wielder down, but the damage from a mighty swing would be deadly.
Greatsword +1
Recharge 6+
Effect: You may spend your move action to add +1d8 damage to your next melee attack this turn. If you miss, you take that damage instead.
Quirk: Tends to Break Things.

 
(Sarah)    (Ben)

Part 1 Recap – Darkskye Crashdown

Adventure 1 – Darkskye Crashdown

Flying Island 2Perhaps it was only the after effects of the teleporter, but Gillian swore she felt the ground shift beneath her feet as Vaelen marched her towards a group of guards to collect his bounty. Too angry to look at the guards she instead took in the sights. So this was Darkskye. With a quaint village in the distance and enchanting signs of the Archmage’s magics present around her the flying island might not have seemed so bad if she didn’t know that the worst criminals in the empire were imprisoned in the crystal tunnels below. The ground shuddered again and the young sorceress felt a ripple of magic pulse from the tunnels below. Deep within the flying island wild magic stirred.

Billups felt a ripple of magic disrupt his song and slowly lowered his three string guitar. Whatever the ripple was, it had set his nerves on fire. By the looks of the magically attuned guards in the recreation room that served the Archmage they felt it too. It was the only warning he would get before the entire room started shaking.

In their cells both Tycho and Jasmind felt the tunnels begin to shake. It only lasted a few seconds and seemed to emminate from directly below them, deep where the tunnels were still mined for crystals. An explosion? Jasmind felt a warning from the Great Wold Wyrm scratch at her mind, but the next moment the room shifted sending her crashing into the bars of her prison cell.

The world reeled around him and Kzzmet peered down into his now empty mug. Wow, whatever Tycho had smuggled in this time was good stuff! Coming from a dwarf, that was saying a lot. He never knew of the danger he was in until the entire room tilted sending him, his drink, tables and chairs crashing towards a wall.

Vaelen saw firsthand the reason that the entire island lurched to the side suddenly, though perhaps he wished he hadn’t. Like a sudden storm a massive shadow overtook the island. The roar that followed was deafening. His ears were ringing too loudly to hear a guard in front of him shout to take cover in the prison tunnels, but by the way the guard was frantically waving his arms the cleric turned bounty-hunter understood the message. Tightening his grip on Turrock and Gillian’s chains he half ran, half dragged them towards the tunnel entrance. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a massive red scaled claw reach out of the sky and shred through a guard tower like tissue paper. Bricks and mortar rained down around the three of them like a hailstorm. Vaelen, Turrock, and Gillian barely made it into the prison tunnels before the entire ground lurched beneath them.

The Red had attacked Darkskye.

TheThree

In Horizon, the city of wonders, the Archmage looked south east.  Beyond the window of his flying tower, past Gorogan’s Maw and the two-hundred mile rift known as the Abyss lie the Red Wastes.  While his mortal vision could not see that far, the image of the wastes burned in his mind.  Once, long ago, the Wild Wood forest had stretched east to Horizon.  Now all that remained was a scorched deadlands that civilized folk dare not enter.  In another age when the Great Gold Wyrm used his body to seal the Abyss the Red had swooped down to unleash his destructive power on the demons that had escaped.  The demons had burned, along with everything else in the Red’s wake.  As the preserver of peace in the Empire, the Archmage has sworn not to allow such destruction from the Red to harm the lands again.  For uncounted years the Red was kept at bay just outside the Empire, but now for reasons unknown the Red had returned.  Through his arcane magics the Archmage could feel the vicious attacks the Red unleashed on Darkskye.  Tapping into the nodes he had strategically placed around the Empire that drew arcane power from the ley lines, the Archmage began to gather his power.  Once he had gathered the energies he required he activated an arcane barrier around Darkskye with enough power to repel the Red.  Little did the Archmage know was that the crystals deep within the island had just become unstable.  As the Archmage’s power surged through the island the magic buried within the crystals overloaded and went wild.

It was to Billup’s surprise that his three string guitar survived in one piece when he, everyone and everything else in the prison recreation room went crashing into a wall as the flying island suddenly lurched to one side.  As the bard picked himself and his instrument off the floor he looked around.  Next to him a dwarf prisoner emerged from behind the splintered wreckage of a wood table.  Near the door a group of guards were trying to maintain order and tend to the wounded.  Billups never had a chance to offer them assistance.  Before the high elf could take a step the floor began to rumble.  A cluster of large amethyst crystals burst forth from the floor and impaled everyone near the doors.  Whatever danger they were in had just started.

Crystal ShardLocked in their cells, Jasmind and Tycho could only hang on to the prison bars and pray that their world would stop shaking.  Clusters of purple crystals were breaking though the corridor wall that ran along their row of prison cells.  As a guard ran past one of the crystals began to glow and shot him full force with a beam of wild magic.  In an instant the guard disintegrated into nothingness, save his clothing and the prison cell keys.  The keys!  Jasmind reached through the bars of her cell with all her strength trying to reach them.  She almost reached them too before the island tilted again.  When she regained her senses she saw Tycho in the cell next to her twirling the keys around a finger.  “You’re lucky I like you.  If you weren’t a member of my crew I would leave you in that cell.  Let’s get out of here.”

Vaelen looked over his prisoners as chaos erupted around him.  While he no longer heard the Red’s roars outside, it felt like the island was tearing itself apart.  Worse yet, if the gut wrenching feeling in his stomach was correct, the flying island was no longer flying – it was falling. Soon there would be no more prison cells to lock his two marks up and if they survived the crash they would be free once again.  The sorcerer perhaps he could trust, but the half-orc demon worshiper never.  Dropping their chains the cleric brought his warhammer to bear as he loomed over Turrock.  Before he could land a fatal blow the wall behind Turrock collapsed onto the half-orc, doing the cleric’s work for him.  Vaelen lowered his warhammer and looked at Gillian.  “Take a step out of line and you’ll meet the same fate as him.  Let’s go.  I have an old dwarf friend in these cells that I’d rather not see dead.”

The purple crystals may have cut off the door to the prison recreation room, but as Darkskye continued to break apart one of the other walls crumbled giving Kzzmet and Billups a new exit.  The bard was too distraught to notice the crystals that had overtaken half the room start to pulse with energy, but Kzzmet did.  Just as the crystals fired off a beam of raw magic the dwarf grabbed Billups by his delicate elven arm and pulled the bard through a hole in the wall.  Billups took the back end of the blast, but he would live.  Not wanting to spend another moment here the two of them started heading towards the prison entrance in search of other survivors.

WaterThe sound of rushing water was Jasmind’s only warning.  She grabbed onto the bars of the prison cell she had just exited and held on tight.  Not graced with an elf’s enhanced hearing or quick reflexes, Tycho was not so lucky.  As the wave of water hit it carried him screaming down the corridor.  The rush of water only lasted a minute.  Jasmind concluded one of the water reservoirs in the prison must have burst.  If it had been the lake she would have surely drowned.  Once it was safe to move Jasmind took off down the hallway after her halfling companion.  She found him towards the end in a room screaming not in terror, but in delight.  The fighter stopped his yelling to beckon her over. “What a rush! Look where the tide carried me!”  Weapons and armor were scattered around his feet.  The water had knocked open an armory closet used by the guards.  Selune be praised, perhaps they could get out of this in one piece.  The two quickly armed themselves and set off towards the upper levels of the prison.

Kzzmet couldn’t believe what was happening.  Either Darkskye really was falling, or he was drunker than he thought.  “This’ll make one helluva song for ya, laddie!” he called out to the bard behind him. Billups couldn’t help but smile as the two of them entered a cavernous intersection.  From a tunnel leading to a row of prison cells emerged a halfling and an elf, obviously prisoners but surprisingly armed.  Kzzmet smiled, “Tycho!  Good ta see the crystals didn’t skewer ya.”  A moment later, a balding human carrying a wicked looking warhammer twisted around a corner with a half elf in tow.  “By the dwarf kings beard!  Vaelen?  What in seven hells are ya doing here?”  Vaelen opened his mouth to answer when a horrible ripping sound shook the island.  With a loud groan the portion of the island that housed the prison tunnels broke away from the rest of Darkskye and began to tumble end over end.

Gillian was the first to recover when the tunnels stopped spinning.  As everyone regained their footing she noticed that the prison tunnels has complete reoriented themselves – They were now standing on the ceiling.  Through a crack in the wall Gillian could see the magic barrier that still surrounded parts of the island and the forest below.  Large portions of the forest had been flattened by glowing chunks of rock.  Oddly, the larger portions of the island such as the one they remained on had not crashed yet.  The laws of gravity did not seem to apply here, warped no doubt by the magic of the crystals.  While she had no doubt that they still would crash, it was hard to predict when.  Inside the tunnels the shift had knocked dirt free from the walls and crystal dust was thick in the air, giving everything a shimmer glow.  She pulled a piece of fabric over her face and instructed the others to do the same.  “The magic feels wrong.  We need to get out of here. Don’t breath the dust in.”

Tycho had just finished securing a piece of clothing over his mouth when he heard hoots and howls echo through the hallways.  A group of prisoners and guards emerged from a crystal lined tunnels.  With their strange gate, glowing red eyes, and mutating crystal growths protruding from their skin it wasn’t difficult to tell something was wrong with them.  Most of them still looked humanoid, but others had been warped by the crystals into lumbering brutes.  Not one for diplomacy, Tycho tossed Kzzmet a pair of hammers he has pilfered from the guard closet earlier and raised a two-handed longsword.  Not waiting to hear what everyone else would do the halfling charged into battle.

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Infected Brutes and Mutating Infected
The crystal shards were crafted with sculpting clay. Click image for blog post on how to create your own crystal shards. 😉

Tycho’s charge might have been epic if he hadn’t tripped over a cluster of crystals and crashed into a nearby wall before reaching his opponent.  Jasmind sighed.  She was mid thought wondering how the halfling had survived this long when the high elf bard ran in and tripped over Tycho.  In a tangled mess of limbs the two tried to wrestle themselves free from each other.  How could two people both critically fail an attack in a row?!?  Well someone would need to save them.  Striding forward the paladin raised her sword and brought it down to bear on the closest infected brute.

“Bloody hell” Vaelen muttered before jumping into the fray.  The infected brutes and mutating infected humanoids put up a fight, but with Vaelen’s holy invocations, Gillian’s super charged magic, Billup’s battle cries, and the martial expertise of the rest of the group, the party emerged victorious. They never had a moment to celebrate though because at that instant the tunnel started to collapse.

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The Halls of Crystals

As the party frantically ran down a tunnel Billups caught sight of one of the Archmage’s elite guards. “He has the key to the barrier!  Follow him!” the bard shouted and led the party on.  The guard was running for his own life as crystals continued to burst out from the tunnel walls.  Billups sensed a warning from the Archmage again and barely avoided a beam of light shooting out from a larger crystal.  Before they knew it, every crystal along the tunnel was firing beams of pure arcane energy at them.   Vaelen, Jasmind and Tycho led the charge, deftly dodging their way through danger.  The rest were not so lucky and suffered a few nasty burns and cuts.

When they turned a corner, they found the sizzling corpse of the guard on the floor, obviously killed by the crystal beams.  Tycho  rifled through the guard’s belongings, “Waste not, want not, eh?”  He handed three potions out to Vaelen, Jasmind and Kzzmet.  He was about to discard an odd shaped rune when Gillian reached out and grabbed it, placing it in her pocket.  When the hafling turned the guard over, he saw a solid looking great sword with the pommel of a bear.  Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, he sheathed it behind his back.  The guard’s slippers also looked to be in fine fashion and handed them over to Billups, who reluctantly slipped them on.

Gillian was just about to tell the rest they should get moving when the island slammed into something solid and the wall in front of them crumbled away.  The air just beyond the wall rippled with purple magic indicating the magic barrier was still up.  Beyond the barrier not a few feet away was the most massive pine tree any of them had ever seen.  Gillian yanked the key from the guard’s burnt hand and held it out to the barrier.  The barrier gave way and she was buffeted by a sudden rush of wind.  The sorcerer turned to look back at her party and raised her voice so they could hear her over the wind.  “We may not have another chance like this!” Without another word Gillian leapt out into the open air.

Tycho gave a wry smile to the rest before following the half elf out.  Another shudder from the island was all the encouragement the rest of them needed.  One by one they too made a leap of faith towards the tree.  Jasmind’s tree branch broke upon contact and she plummeted through the canopy to the forest below.  It was not long before Billups came crashing down from above her, his leg catching one of the low hanging branches as the high elf hung upside down above the forest floor.

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Crystal Infected Forest

As the rest of the party made their way down the massive pine tree, they took stock of their surroundings.  The forest was alive and covered in the strange crystals that had broken free of the island.  Some smaller crystals littered the forest floor while others seemed to be alive, melding with certain elements of the forest itself.  Large crystalline structures had formed around the trees, streams, and boulders.  In the distance they could see a village and farther still a road, likely the one that led to New Port.  Above them the smaller chunk of the island they exited had already begun to spin back up into the air.  As it moved away they could see a larger portion of the island floating closer.  They would have to move fast.  If the larger section of Darkskye crashed, it would be right on top of them.

Once everyone had climbed down the pine tree Kzzmet moved to help Billups when a thunderous crash erupted from a small rise to the west.  The massive form of a stone golem burst through the foliage.  Glowing purple crystals lined his arms and back.  It looked as if the crystals had cracked his normally durable exterior and forced their way inside his body.  His eyes glowed red from the wild magic coursing through his being.  The golem cracked his hands, and seeing Billups still hanging from a tree, charged in.

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Crystalline Golem

The golem used Billups as a punching bag, hammering into the suspended high elf’s form almost cheerfully.  Barely catching his breath, Billups called upon his elven heritage and vanished in a silvery wink.  The bard reappeared on the rise behind the golem.  Sighing in quick relief the bard straightened himself and began a song that would strengthen his defenses.   Tycho and Kzzmet let the melody fill them with courage and they flanked the massive construct before them.  The golem was quick to deflect the blows and returned the favor with gargantuan amethyst fists.

Seeing her new allies in trouble, Jasmind readied her sword and shield, preparing to charge.  She never saw the crystal shards at her feet come alive until one of them sliced into her side.  The damage was minimal and she was about to laugh it off when she saw thirty formations of crystal shards manifest all around them.  “Okay, that could be a problem. “

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Crystalling Shardlings (stones)

Gillian saw the true threat in the multitude of crystals slashing and cutting away at her allies.  She sent a quick shock of electricity into the body of the one nearest her then did what she feared she wouldn’t have to – She tapped in to the demonic magic the diabolist had infused within her.  She felt her blood boil and her skin crawl as infernal sigils light up across her body.  Out of the corner of his eye Vaelen saw the shadow of horns and wings unfurl from the young sorcerer.  With a horrifying scream the sorceress unleashed a massive arc of raw lightning onto the crystalline structures.  The bolt of lightning ripped through the crystal shards, obliterating over half of the field before finally connecting to the golem itself.  Gillian struggled to keep her will her own as the demonic power flowed through her.

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Save the bard!

Kzzmet and Tycho continued to dance around the massive golem, slashing and hammering away at the creature.  Kzzmet took another heavy blow knocking him to the floor.  As the golem raised his colossal fist above him for a deathblow, his eyes glazed over.  Billups’s voice whispered into the creatures mind befuddling him.  The golem looked up towards his crystalline brethren and saw the reflection of his enemies in the crystals.  In a frenzy, the golem crashed into the whirling crystals attacking Vaelen, shattering the remaining of them with two quick strikes.  Jasmind saw the opening in the golems defenses and struck the golem’s back with a powerful smite.  With a wailing cry, the crystals along its back shattered and the construct crumbled to the floor.

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Incoming Amethyst Hammer Fists attack!

Vaelen shouldered his warhammer and strode over to the half-elf.  He had trusted the sorcerer until this point, but he would not tolerate having one touched by demons in his midst.  “What in seven hells was that, and what abomination are you?!”  Gillian glanced up at the human cleric, but never had a chance to answer.  From above came a deafening rumbling sound.  The lake atop Darkskye had burst and any moment now thousands of gallons of waters would threaten to drown them.  Gillian grabbed Vaelen and pulled him towards a pine tree.  Tycho and Jasmind ran up to the same tree and grabbed on tight.  Gillian never saw Kzzmet and Billups before the water poured down on them.

Billups never had a chance to run towards his allies since he had teleported to a high rise to escape the golem.  Instead he grabbed hold of another tree near him and held on for dear life.  The impact of water knocked the air out of his lungs and left him choking, but his grip on the tree held.  It felt like a lifetime passed before the water stopped.  Rising unsteady to his feet the bard looked out over the rise to where his allies had been.  The trees below had snapped from the impact of the water and had been washed away down the Wild Wood’s newest river.  None of his allies were in sight….

GM Note:

This was a fast paced adventure that never let players catch their breath.  Everyone had a great time.

The introduction to Part 1 asks players the reason Darkskye is crashing into the Wild Wood. Our party decided that reason was that someone tried tampering with the crystals to control or capture one the Three, but the magic energies in the crystals went wild and exploded. Since the adventure is written that Darkskye follows the flight path to the lair of the Red it made sense to say that the unnamed individual was targeting the Red. The Red normally resides outside of the dragon empire as entering the realm would set off the Archmage’s wards, but the fact that someone dare try to control him has him too enraged to care.  The Red is too dangerous to keep around, but it was fun bringing in an Icon that typically does not physically appear in the game.

(Sarah)    (Ben)

Adventure Prelude…

Adventure prelude for Wyrd of the Wild Wood….

Honor and grace. Those two words once defined Jasmind’s life, but there was little place for them in the dark prison cell in Darkskye where she found herself now. Once she had been a noble paladin rising in the ranks of the Elven Court and even dispatched by the Elf Queen herself to be a warden of the Wild Wood, but that was gone now. Gone ever since agents of the Emperor caught her embezzling money from the crystal dust trade. At first it seemed so simple. The crystal dust trade in Shadow Port was a commodity and some elves in the Court of Stars wanted in. By the time the shady figure approached her in the Wild Wood with the proposition she was buried in debt and desperate to earn some quick gold. Perhaps if she had the foresight back then to know accepting his offer would land her in prison she might have had more care in figuring out who he was first. That did not matter anymore. The only thing that mattered to her now was getting out of prison so she could regain her honor. The agents of the Emperor had given her an offer. Find out who controlled the smuggling operations on Darkskye and her prison sentence would be reduced. The fighter that was in the cell next to her was the key. His name was Tycho, a foul halfling with an even fouler taste for Troll Bile. The Emperor suspected he had connections in the smuggling operations and she had been strategically placed as a new recruit in his gang to figure out how deep his connections went.

Kzzmet tipped his cup back and enjoyed a nice healthy swig of ale. Life was so much more splendid when a mug of ale was in his hand. Well, except perhaps for the time he was caught dancing naked in a drunken stupor in the Dwarf King’s throne room. His actions had been forgiven, he was the bastard brother of the Dwarf King after-all and blood was blood, but their relationship had been complicated ever since. Shortly after that…. incident… the dwarf ranger had taken his leave of Forge and started a new life as a bounty hunter. Ale once again had gotten the better of him and one of his fellow bounty hunter companions had turned him into authorities for being stupidly drunk on a job. Now he found himself as a prisoner on Darkskye. At first it seemed that ale here was a luxury that was not permitted to prisoners, but he had found a halfling fighter with connections to get him what he needed. He might be a prisoner, but the gods still looked after drunken fools. The dwarf smiled, leaned back into a chair in the prison recreation room and listened to a high elf bard sing some silly song about great heroes who overcame a troubled past. The bard, Billups, was one of those fancy high elves that was visiting the prison on a mission to convince the corrupt here to lead better lives. Kzzmet might be a drunken fool, but that bard was simply a fool.

Vaelen was having a good day. As he stepped off the Darkskye teleporter with not just one, but two bounties in tow he couldn’t help but feel satisfied with his career path. When he was a young boy he had shown a talent for the divine arts so he has been brought to the Cathedral for a traditional upbringing as a holy cleric. As he grew into manhood though he became dissatisfied with his life in the Cathedral. The empire was rotting away with corruption and while he respected the Priestess’s place in the world he viewed her actions as too soft. The wicked deserved punishment and for that he left the Priestess’s service to join the ranks of the Crusader. Apprenticing under the Crusader was tough, but rewarded him with physical strengths he had never known before in his life. It was not until the Crusader had ordered him to kill an innocent he suspected of being tainted by demons that Vaelen had realized this was also not the path he wanted in life. So he created his own path. He became a bounty hunter, offering his services to the Emperor when the price was right. Recently that life was well rewarding. Not two nights ago he had succeeded in tracking down one of his marks, a nasty half-orc demon worshiper named Turrock. The only surprise was that he found Turrock engaged in a fight with a half elf sorcerer. When Turrock was subdued he was about to let the sorcerer go when he recognized her face. The sorcerer was Gillian and also had a bounty on her head for setting the Archmage academy ablaze. What luck. A well placed blow with his warhammer had brought her to her knees. Now here he was on Darkskye, leading them both past the guard checkpoints, eager to collect his well earned gold.

None of them had any clue that their world was about to go spinning out of control…

Meet the party for our Wyrd of the Wild Wood adventure!

Characters2

VAELEN

Human Cleric

One Unique Thing

The blood of a light god and dark god flow through him.

Icon Relationships

Complicated 1 with the Priestess.  Respects her role in the world, but views her as too soft.

Complicated 1 with the Crusader. Respects his efforts to fight demons, but does not agree with his methods.

Positive 1 with the Emperor.  Serves the Emperor as a bounty hunter to bring criminals to justice.

Backgrounds

+2 Holy studies.  Received training in the Cathedral in the traditional upbringing of a holy cleric, but abandoned the Priestess to bring a sterner justice to the empire.

+2 Battle hardened.  Apprenticed under the Crusader, but left his service after the Crusader ordered him to slaughter innocent people he viewed as tainted by demons.

+4 Bounty hunter.  Now walks his own path in life, a wrathful cleric that will bring the guilty to justice…. if the price is right.
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GILLIAN

Half-Elf Sorcerer

One Unique Thing

Prized creation of the Diabolist, gone rogue.

Icon Relationships

Negative 2 with the Diabolist.  Gilliam was created by the Diabolist and the Diabolist wants her back.

Conflicted 1 with the Archmage.  Rescued by the Archmage, but treated as an experiment.

Backgrounds

+ 4 Raised by demons in the hellmarsh

+ 4 Studied Arcana under the skeptical watch of the Archmage

+2 Repeated escapee of several prisons.  Imprisoned for setting a Horizon academy on fire.  Now being transported to Darkskye.

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TYCHO

Halfling Rogue

One Unique Thing

Loves him some Troll Bile (see reference here).  It makes him stronger.

Icon Relationships

Positive 1 with the Crusader.  Fought alongside him to get revenge.

Positive 1 with the Orc Lord.  Wishes to become stronger.  Believes in social Darwinism.

Negative 1 with the Emperor.  Imprisoned for serving the Orc Lord.

Backgrounds

+2 Battle hardened.  Fought demonic scourge with the Crusader.

+3 First halfling to be a Captain in the Orc Lord’s army, which as a result landed him in prison.

+3 Smuggling boss.  Took control of the smuggling operations on Darkskye.  Does not care about the crystal dust so long as regular shipments of troll bile keep coming in.
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JASMIND

Wood Elf Paladin

One Unique Thing

Warden of the Wild Wood

Icon Relationships

Conflicted 1 with the Emperor for embezzling the profits from the crystal trade.

Positive 1 with the Great Gold Wyrm for serving under one of his paladin orders.

Positive 1 with the Elf Queen for being a guardian in the Court of Elven Stars.

Backgrounds

+ 4 Soldier of Selune, a god of the moon, stars, navigation and wanderers.  Received training in one of the great paladin orders before greed got the better of her.

+2  Smuggling operative.  Pure paladin at heart, but good deeds did not pay her debts.  Imprisoned for embezzling profits from the crystal dust trade.  She is now trying to ease her sentence by ratting out the people that illegal send crystal powder shipments off Darkskye.

+ 2 Warrior in the Court of Stars.  Has connections in the royal elven court and elves in the Wild Wood.  Some of these connections were her previous crystal dust “clients”.

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KZZMET

Dwarf Ranger

One Unique Thing

Drunken Bastard Brother of the Dwarf King

Icon Relationships

Complicated 1 to the Dwarf King. Shares a blood line, but the Dwarf King is still struggling to forgive him for dancing drunk in the throne room.

Positive 1 with the Diabolist.  Done a few shady jobs for the Diabolist.

Positive 1 with the Archmage.  Done a few respectable jobs for the Archmage.

Backgrounds

+5 The gods take care of the drunks and fools.

+3 Bounty hunter.  At least he was, until he foolishly mistreated his marks while in a drunken stupor.  Now serving time.

+5 Tracking.  Tracking background.
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BILLUPS

High Elf Bard

One Unique Thing

Pan linguistic

Icon Relationships

Positive 1 with High Druid.  Welcome guest in the Wild Woods.

Positive 1 with the Archmage.  The Archmage guards that help keep Darkskye afloat are cheered by his music.

Complicated 1 with the Crusader.

Backgrounds

+4 Linguistic finesse. Often praised as a translator which gets him in places that others cannot.

+2 Hypnotic charm.   People love his charm and music.  When he sings at a tavern he rarely has to pay for room and board.

+2 Well traveled.  Travels frequently and knows a lot of the sights.  Is currently visiting Darkskye to convince prisoners to turn their lives around by singing songs about great heroes who overcame a troubled past.
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The Ties That Bind… 

Unbeknownst to Jasmind, Tycho is the ringleader of the smuggler trade that she was ordered to uncover to reduce her prison sentence.

Kzzmet and Vaelan used to be drinking buddies and work together as bounty hunters, until Vaelan turned Kizzmet in to authorities for mistreating his marks.

Gillian had a bounty on her head after setting the Archmage academy on fire.  Vaelan is turning her in to collect on it.

Tycho has connections to smuggle the good stuff into prison.  He and Kzzmet occasionally enjoy drinks together.

Both Vaelen and Tycho served under the Crusader at one point in time.

Billups and Jasmind are both welcome guests in the Wild Wood.
(Sarah)    (Ben)

Making Your Own Crystal Shards

Sarah here.  Deviating from our normal blog updates I wanted to make a post about crystals.  The next Tales of 13th Age adventure, Wyrd of the Wild Wood, includes a lot of them.  Since Ben and I enjoy painting miniatures I wanted to have some crystal terrain present for our first game.  Thinking I was clever I ran out to a local craft store first thing Monday morning and bought several packets of grow your own space age crystal kits.  The powder ones that you mixed with boiling water as a kid and watched crystals grow in front of your eyes.  I rushed back home, boiled some water, followed the directions and set it aside in a plastic container for a week.  Today after I came home from work I came home to….. no crystals.  Apparently only kids get the magic growing crystals.  Adults get a giant color dye mess and stained plastic containers.  Ben, who never knew the joy of growing crystals as a kid, looked at me like I was crazy.

So…. I went to Plan B.  Plan B involved running out to a different craft store and coming back tonight with Fimo.  Fimo is a sculpting  polymer clay.  Now I suppose I should put a disclaimer here.  Not counting play-dough, the last time I worked with sculpting clay I was in sixth grade.  I made a teddy bear.  That is the extent of my sculpting skills.  Got it? Okay. Moving on.

How to Make Your Own Crystal Shards

Step 1. Buy some sculpting clay.  For this project I will be using the purple one shown here because it’s sparkly.  Crystal sparkle = good.  Vampire sparkle = bad.

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Step 2. Slap the clay together in rough crystal shapes.  If you are feeling fancy use a straight edge or mold.  Bake at 230°F for 15 minutes to harden slightly.

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Step 3. Cut facets into clay using a sharp tool such as a X-Acto knife.  Save the scraps.

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Step 4.  Kitty break!  Everyone say hi to our cat Daniel.

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Step 5. Using some more clay as a base assemble all your crystal shard pieces using whatever pattern you like.  I went to a tilt rather than star-burst.  Did you save your scraps from earlier?  Good.  Slap them onto the base to cover up that messy base job.  It’ll look like you actually spent time sculpting tiny little shards into the base.  Don’t you look clever?

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Step 6.  Back in the oven!  Bake at 230°F for 30 minutes.

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Step 7.  Base.  Viola!  You have yourself a nifty little crystal shard.

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UPDATE! Step 8. Repeat steps 1 through 7 with as many color variations as desired.  Then hide a crystal golem in the midst.  Your party won’t know what hit them.

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A block of Fimo clay costs about $2.80.  I used a quarter of a block for each crystal shard.  Not bad for 70¢.  Considering I had no idea what I was doing I’m sure your crystal shards will look even more fantastic! If you’re really feeling ambitious do this with white clay, prime, then paint.  Hope you enjoyed this little post!  😉

Next time I do a craft post I’ll show you how to make a potted plant monster with these little cute tiny terracotta pots.

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(Sarah)    (Ben)

Schedule of Events

Wyrd of the Wild Wood is the second six week adventure out of a total of thirteen organized play adventures developed by 13th Age.   Each week we run games on Sundays at noon at our friendly local game store: Fair Game in Downers Grove, IL.  An adventure recap will be shared on this blog following each game session.  In addition we will share our activities related to the game; painting miniatures, creating new magic items, mechanic tweaks, home brew rules, etc.  Local to the area and interested in joining our game?  Find out how here!  The schedule is as follows:

Sunday, September 15th – Part 1 (Darkskye Crashdown)

Sunday, September 22nd – Part 2 (Wild Things)

Sunday, September 29th – Part 3 (Ever Deeper into the Wild Wood)

Sunday, October 6th – Part 4 (The Tower of Alamede)

Sunday, October 13th – Part 5 (The Green Shadows)

Sunday, October 20th – Part 6 (The New Road and Beyond)

In store 13th Age fliers:

(Sarah)    (Ben)

Custom Pre-Generated Character Sheets 2.0

Crown of the Lich King is over and a new adventure starts this weekend with all new level two characters.  That means we have a new batch of custom pre-generated character sheets lined up for you!

The next six week Tales of 13th Age adventure is called Wyrd of the Wild Wood.  Your characters start on Darkskye, a flying island prison camp.  The most dangerous prisoners in the Dragon Empire are kept there, mining the magical crystals that form the heart of the island.  It will be up to you during character generation to decide whether your character was a guard, a prisoner, or on the flying island for another purpose.  For reasons unknown, something goes astray and the flying island crashes out of the sky into the Wild Wood, a forest touched by the forces of the High Druid.  You must make it out of the Wild Wood to safety while the magical energies of the crystals from the flying island warp and unleash the ancient energies of the Wild Wood.  It looks to be a fantastic Adventurers vs. Wild story from the creative 13th Age team and we can’t wait to get started.

The first custom pre-generated character sheets that we released for Crown of the Lich King worked well for everyone, but some of them were designed to be best utilized by ‘light’ sided characters.  The good guys.  These are not those characters.  These character sheets fit well if a player wants to chose a… darker path.   These are for the prisoners.  The bounty hunters.  The corrupt jailers.  If you have a ruthless character in mind these character sheets will likely work well for you.

You won’t find this cleric singing hymns in the Cathedral.   This is a wrathful dark elf cleric with Domains in Vengeance, Strength and Trickery.  You won’t find a holy stalwart protector paladin with Lay on Hands and Bastion here.  Instead we have a retribution paladin with talents in Way of Evil Bastards, Implacable and Divine Domain: War.  With Shadow Walk and Improved Sneak Attack, the rogue would fit well as an assassin with murderous intent.  The infernal magics that power the Diabolist also bring power to this sorcerer.  Don’t let the fighter’s small size as a halfling fool you.  With grim intent he holds no reservations about striking his enemies down.  Even more viscous and small in stature is our gnome barbarian.   You won’t like him when he’s angry.

Another highlight of these character sheets is that we deliberately picked unusual class and race combinations to showcase how they can still work.  Halflings are skilled at being evasive which makes a deadly combination with a fighter’s Counter-Attack talent.  The dwarf racial power “That’s Your Best Shot?” gives a melee hunter front line durability.  The paladin does not have many encounter powers, so the Wood Elf racial power Elven Grace can grant additional attacks per turn to make the paladin more engaging.   The half elf sorcerer can use the racial power Surprising to increase the effects of Lightning Fork and Scorching Ray.  These combinations work both in the racial powers they grant as well as the added stat bonuses they provide.  The race / class combinations are Gnome Barbarian, High Elf Bard, Dark Elf Cleric, Halfling Fighter, Dwarf Hunter, Wood Elf Paladin, Half-Orc Rogue, Half Elf Sorcerer and Human Wizard.

Ultimately it is up to the player to determine who their character is by developing backgrounds, Icon relationships and their one unique things.  With the right story these pre-generated character sheets could be used for any background you can imagine – good, bad, and all that remains in between.  One of the strengths of 13th Age is flexibility in character generation.   These character sheets are designed with two options: with a blank background or with character art backgrounds 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).

We hope you enjoy our little wicked spin for these custom character sheets!

Wood Elf Paladin

Wood Elf Paladin (1)

Dark Elf Cleric

Dark Elf Cleric (1)

Halfling Fighter

Haflling Fighter

Half Elf Sorcerer

Half-Elf Sorcerer

Human Wizard     (Could we fit any more text on this page?!? I don’t think so!)

Human Wizard

 

Again, the images shown are just a few samples.  Click the links for  blank background or with character art backgrounds to retrieve the .pdfs for all the class options.

 
(Sarah)    (Ben)

Part 6 Recap – The Lich King’s Vault (final)

Adventure 6 – The Lich King’s Vault

LichTileThis is the haunting conclusion of the Crown of the Lich King adventure.

The air in the storage room was thick and rank with the smell of decomposing mushrooms.  Crates upon crates of them lined the chamber walls.  It was not the most aromatic hiding spot, but it gave the party shelter long enough to patch their wounds and ready themselves.  After the near fatal beat down from the Tomb Guards patrolling the halls none of them were eager to be discovered again.  When they had collected themselves Ark-Kelli peeked through the doorway – The coast was clear.  Silently as he could, he crept out into the hallway, gesturing to his companions to follow.

The band of adventurers had elected to have Xylia and Ark take point.  The rogue was effective at sneaking ahead a bit and Xylia’s sharp senses helped alert them to danger.  More than once, the duo’s quick thinking saved the party from another patrol or trap.  In a large hallway where they would be flanked by two oncoming patrols, they silently ducked into a side room to wait it out.  Inside, they were shocked to find a modest sized treasury filled with coin, artifacts, chests, and dark suits of armor.  Augustine could tell instantly that the suits of armor belonged to fallen paladins.  The Lich King took a certain pleasure in breaking champions of light and enslaving them to his will.  Augustine picked up one of their shields emblazoned with the symbol of the Great Gold Wyrm and was relieved to see that no corruption had touched the metal.

Mimic2While the party stood around admiring the paladin’s new shield, Ark’s eyes glistened greedily at all the treasure that surrounded him.  He noticed one of the open treasure chests overflowing with gold pieces.  The object that caught his eye however was a large brooch consisting of three intertwined claws.  One red, one blue, and one black.  As he reached his hand forward to pick up the brooch, he was alarmed when the treasure chest suddenly clamped down around his arm, unseen teeth digging in to his skin.  In his greed he never noticed it was a Mimic!  Ark’s scream triggered another trap and the suits of armor around the room suddenly sprang to life, drawing swords and advancing on the intruders.  The air around them hissed and an eerie voice spoke out, “You have touched the forbidden treasure! Now you will never again see the light of day!”  Xylia and Deneveve were able to pry Ark’s arm out of the mimic’s mouth and quickly dispatch it.  Augustine, aided by Alleric and Xin-Shan smashed the armor to pieces, hoping that it may give its wearers some measure of peace.

The quick skirmish in the treasury was a sharp reminder of the incredible danger they were in.  “We should be more careful.  There are far worst dangers in here than snapping treasure chests.  Let’s move.”  Xin-Shan cracked her knuckles and moved back out into the hall, “Ark, take point again.  Let us know what’s ahead.  Don’t. Touch. Anything.”  Cautiously, the adventurers moved throughout the halls, avoiding any dangers they could come across.

They reached a section of the palace that opened up into a courtyard.  Ark carefully peaked around the corner into the open space.  The party saw Ark turn back to them, his face paling as the blood drained from it.  “Back up! It’s huge!  We can’t defeat-“  Any other warning he might have given them was choked out as a chain wrapped around him and yanked him around the corner into the courtyard.  Terrified but determined to try and aid their companion, all of the remaining party members charged around the corner to face whatever had grabbed Ark.  A hulking monstrosity stitched together from various bits and pieces of animal and humanoid alike stood across the courtyard from them, guarding a door behind him.  In one giant meaty fist, the undead abomination held the chain that had tore through Ark.  Their rogue companion was hung dangling from the other side of the chain, his lifeless body contorted in odd angles. The creature roughly peeled the halfling’s body off the chain and threw him to the ground, then started winding up the chain again to catch his next victim.

UndeadAbom

Undead Abomination.
Nailed it!

Alleric was quick to react, running forward and ducking behind one of the large tombstones dotting the courtyard before he began gathering power.  He had just ducked behind the stone when he was showered with dust from the chain ricocheting off the front of the tombstone.  As the creature reeled his chain back in, the rest of the party charged in.  Deneveve, Xylia, and Xin-Shan ducked behind the cover of tombstones or pillars.  Augustine however, trusting in the protection of the Great Gold Wyrm, charged straight to the undead abomination.  The creature saw a tempting target in front of him and slammed his overly large fists down upon Augustine, laughing with satisfaction as the Paladin’s legs buckled under the force.

His arcane energies gathered and seeing the paladin in trouble, Alleric stood up from his covered and sent a charged lightning attack towards the abomination.  Something in his magical incantation went awry though which caused the lightning bolt to zig zag through the air before coming straight back at the sorcerer, knocking him prone (critical fail).  The hunter’s white tiger Tig roared and leaped into the fray, tearing at the abomination’s skin.  As the tiger pulled some of the stitching loose a piece of flesh fell away and several large beetles spilled out onto the floor.  The beetles quickly swarmed around Xylia.  Disgusted but determined, Deneveve and Xin-Shan flanked the Abomination and pummeled it with mace and fist.  Deneveve’s prayers of healing filled Augustine’s ears as he felt his strength restored. Angered that these pests would not simply be stomped under his feet the undead abomination went into a frenzy.  As he repeatedly hammered into Augustine and Tig, the abomination’s wounds started to stich themselves back together.  His frenzy was healing him, driving him to fight on.  The last blow to Tig crushed the tiger into the floor.  With a whimpering yelp, the white tiger fell over dead.

IMG_2922Knowing that the tiger was the hunter’s beloved trapped in an animal body, Alleric turned towards Xylia expecting to see the hunter grieving.  Instead he was horrified to see the ranger dead on the floor, barely visible under a swarm of beetles.  Enraged, Alleric launched several chaos bolts at the beetles, destroying them.  Despite the creature’s healing and heavy handed blows, the remaining adventurers pushed on.  With a desperate plea to the Great Gold Wyrm, Augustine plunged his sword into the creatures gut, watching as it collapsed on to the floor, separating into its many respective pieces.

Somberly, Deneve gathered Ark and Xylia’s bodies together, side by side, with Tig’s body resting on Xylia’s.  The remaining party members had not known them long, but they had come to respect them as companions.  Saying the rites of passing, she gently closed their eyes before asking Alleric to burn their bodies.  They did not have the time to bury their companions and bodies did not say dead for long in Necropolis.  It would be heartbreaking to see their companions come back as the Lich King’s thralls – Burning was the only way she knew how to prevent this.  All four of them watched as the bodies burnt away.  Xin-Shan quietly said, “The crown had better be worth this.  They were good people.  Their deaths will be avenged.”

When their dead had been put to rest Alleric moved over to the remains of the abomination.  It was clear that the creature had been held together by dark necrotic magic and he was curious if he could learn anything from it.  His studies with magic led him to discern that if the creator of the abomination was nearby it would have been much stronger, much more magically imbued.  “It appears this creature was weakened.  I do not believe the Lich King is here.  If he was this creature would have destroyed the lot of us.  Small blessing – He must be somewhere other than Necropolis.”

“Then we need to hurry up before he returns,” Augustine confidently strode past the creature’s corpse into the halls of the vault beyond.  “Let us not tarry any longer.  The crown awaits.”

The Lich King probably never expected for anyone to get beyond the creature.  Beyond the courtyard door they discovered a collection of vacant but recently used guest rooms without any guards in sight.  In one wardrobe, Xin-Shan was able to find a pair of gloves equipped with long retractable blades.  She slipped them on and knew they would come in handy.  Deneveve was able to locate a long lest treasure of the Elf Queen’s – A simple circlet of twigs ensconced with several gems representing elvenkind.  Humbly, she placed the diadem on her head.  Augustine found another set of armor, this one a deep black like the abyss itself.  He immediately recognized the symbol as being of house Voth.  “He’s here.  The Baron is here.  We cannot afford to lose this opportunity; we need to recover his phylactery immediately.”  Deneveve pocketed a piece of the armor, thinking it may be handy later.

LichRoyaltyTileWith a renewed sense of urgency, the party was able to navigate their way through the palace before finding themselves on the second floor of a great hall, overlooking a large banquet of sorts below them.  Two long tables traveled up the hall with another near the far end of the room.  The tables were covered with various samples of decaying food and wine glasses filled with red liquid.  Numerous liches, vampires, and other undead horrors stood mingling around the room.  This must be the party that Adros, the bartender in the undead tavern, had told them about.  The second level that the adventurers were on was a balcony that wrapped around the hall and at the other side was another door.  They knew they had to get across without being seen.  Discreetly, Alleric waited for a lull in the festivities then launched a chaos bolt at the leg of one of the tables.  Food and drink spilled over the floor.  The party seized the opportunity and quickly bolted across the upper floor to the door beyond.  Xin-Shan noticed that the head table of 5 figures, led by a robed figure wearing dark black armor stood up and exited the door below the one they were entering.

The hallway before them was blank with no traps.  Deneveve felt a chill pass through her and she quickly reached out her divine senses.  She felt a profound unholy enchantment around her.  She paused to consult with Alleric.  The sorcerer and the cleric discerned that the vault they were about to enter was warded with magic.  It was constructed to keep the undead out.  At first this seemed an oddity, but then they realized that it meant only the Lich King and his inner circle could enter here.  Putting all the information they had together, Xin-Shan slowly said, “The Lich King doesn’t trust his own subjects.  And those that I saw leave the table earlier must be part of his inner circle.”

Carefully, they moved into the vault’s lobby.  The adventurers stood at the top of two curved stairways wrapping around a circular marble room.  On the floor below them, a barred door blocked a large room glittering with golden treasures.  Augustine hushed his companion as he heard footsteps below.  They just barely had time to duck back behind cover before seeing five figures moving in to the room below.  The robed figure in dark armor was flanked by the two liches and vampires on each side.

“Baron, I must object.  The Lich King will flay our hides for this.”  A vampire glanced nervously around the room; passing over the adventurer’s hiding places.

The robed figure waived his hand at the vampire.  “Silence.  I do not trust the King to hold my phylactery any longer.  It is mine after all.”  His voice was like chains being dragged over a grate.  Effortlessly, the Baron walked directly through the bars in front of him, disappearing into the vaults beyond.  The two liches and vampires stayed behind.  Deneve leaned in to Augustine, and requested that she could get the Cathedral’s stone again.  She had an idea, but she would need a distraction and quick.   Seizing their chance, Xin-Shan leapt over the banister and barreled down on one of the liches below.

IMG_2961

There was no longer any point in hiding so Alleric stood up and gathered whatever arcane energies into himself as he could.  Running down the stairs, Augustine swung wide against one of the vampires.  The vampire skipped to the side, leaped over the railing and charged toward the Dark Elf Sorcerer.  The Liches below flung necrotic bolts at Xin-Shan, shrieking at her the entire time.  When she struck the nearest one, the lich baroness erupted, hundreds of souls streaming out and wrapping around her.  They raked against Xin-Shan’s skin before she quickly backed away.  She would need another target.

Taking her chance, Deneveve ran down the other side of the stairs toward the barred door.  Clutching the armor of the Baron she found before and the stone Augustine had lent her, she opened herself to the will of the gods.  She prayed for protection and was grateful to see a shimmering gold-white barrier stream out from her hands to encase the doorway.  With a little bit of help from the gods, she hoped that the Baron wouldn’t be getting through until they were good and ready for him.  The Baron could walk through physical barriers, but a holy one would be another matter.

The vampire above was still after the Dark Elf, and finally struck home.  Batting the sorcerer’s staff aside, he sank his teeth into his neck, draining Alleric of his very life.  Horrified and furious, Augustine ran back up the stairs and brought his blade down into the Vampire’s back.  The creature spun shrieking but was quickly burned away by a bolt from Alleric.  Augustine helped his ally up from the floor then turned to see the battle before them.  Xin-Shan was sparring with a lich and vampire, nimbly evading their strikes and returning her own.  The second lich was pelting Deneve with dark magics, cackling as she did so.

Xin-Shan landed a well-placed strike to the lich she was engaged with, watching with satisfaction as her skin melted away and her bones turned to dust.  A small ugly spark of a soul hovered where the lich was for a second then sped off through the walls toward its phylactery.  Unleashing a powerful torrent of acid, Alleric used his green dragon’s breath on the remaining lich and vampire.  Slowly, they burned away, finally collapsing to the floor or melting away.

IMG_2983

They barely had a moment to catch their breath before a blade pierced Deneve’s barrier, slowly pushing through.  A voice echoed into Deneve’s mind, one she immediately recognized as the graceful melody of the Elf Queen, “Be strong young one, my power is yours.”  Deneveve felt a sudden surge of energy course through her and into the barrier.  The sword continued to push through the barrier, followed by the baron’s naked decaying hand, then his torso, then the entire baron stepped through.  The barrier had stripped the Baron of his armor save the elaborate garments he wore beneath, but his wrath remained.

Augustine charged forward and with a determined swing he smote the Baron.  Xin-Shan sprung forward, pummeling against the Baron’s form in a flurry of blows.  A crackle of energy signified Alleric was pulling together his remaining reserves of power for another hard strike.  The Baron ignored all of this and turned toward the cleric who dared to lock him in the vaults.  How dare she, a simple elf!  He war Baron Voth!  He sunk his black blade into the cleric’s side and smiled as darkness seeped into her body.  The baron whispered a dark incantation and a purple beam linked his soul to hers.  All at once, Deneveve experienced a flurry of memories-

A young man thirsting for power.  Opening the tome of power before him.  The joy of his first kill.  Leading armies into combat within the wild wood.  Kneeling before the Lich King. 

Gasping, Deneveve came back to reality and felt a dark presence stirring in her soul draining her of her life force.  With her soul linked to the Baron her healing powers would surely heal him too if she tried healing the gaping hole in her side.  She only hoped Augustine would have bastion ready if another attack came her way.

The Baron continued to fight on, bolstered by the healing he siphoned off from the cleric.  After parrying a blow from Augustine, he mercilessly attacked Xin-Shan.  Another dark incantation and he ensnared Xin-Shan’s soul to his.  In a flash, the monk witnessed a torrent of his memories.

The baron retreating his forces from an ancient temple defended by tenacious druids and rangers.  Kneeling in shame in front of the Lich King. 

A shower of sparks as Alleric’s spell blasted the Baron brought Xin-Shan back to her senses.    Deneve brought her mace down on the Baron’s skull, causing him to turn around and scream in the elf cleric’s face.  Gracefully, Deneve whipped her mace around and under the Baron’s guard, shattering his rib cage.  With an unearthly howl, the Baron’s body was consumed in a blue flame before disintegrating to dust and falling to the floor.  The wretched spark of a soul flew back into the treasury toward the Crown, his soul’s phylactery.

One last memory echoed in Xin-Shan and Deneve’s head, just a sound of the voice of the Lich King  “You have failed me Voth, and for that you will be punished.” 

CrownBloodied and bruised, the adventurers silently acknowledged their victory.  After a quick recovery the adventurers entered into the treasury and found the crown amongst the myriad of priceless treasures.  Sitting on a pedestal, its ring of simple dark metal writhed as the Baron’s soul fought to break free of it.  “It will take a long while for the Baron to gain his body back.  We need to take this to Santa Cora immediately.”  Augustine handed the crown to Deneve who placed it in a simple pouch around her waist.  Alleric reasoned that stealing the crown and purifying it of its power was a good enough lesson for the Lich King to learn from the Orc Lord.  Xin-Shan was satisfied that the terror the Lich King released in the High Druid’s domain was defeated for good.  Neither of them made a move to take the Crown from the paladin and cleric.  A long adventure had drawn them closer together.  Yet it was not over yet.

The journey home was blissfully uneventful.  The party navigated out of the palace the same way they had entered,    Those undead they did find quickly yielded when they displayed they had retrieved the Lich King’s crown.  The ever trusting paladin Augustine managed to strike some deals with the bartender at the Bloody Hart tavern to smuggle them off the island.  Granted they delivered a shipment to Santa Cora for him, of course.  A few days later the party found themselves at the steps of the magnificent Cathedral in Santa Cora.  It had been a long time since Augustine stood at these steps after being exiled for traveling with the Crusader.  Received quietly as heroes in the Cathedral, the Priestess herself welcomed the heroes to the inner sanctum.  She thanked them for their courageous work, commending them for the bravery they exhibited.  Their deeds would forever be remembered, and their names recorded in the Cathedral’s hall of heroes.  Augustine’s exile was dropped and the Priestess welcomed her son home.

Priestess

Player feedback:

“A most excellent and satisfying ending to a neat campaign (or at least the first installment of one), including the near death of PCs and some truly daunting baddies.” – Player 4, Xin-Shan

“Agreed. Even included an epic “final battle” scene where I thought we were all going to die. And we nearly all did. :-)” – Player 1, Alleric

GM Notes:

Over the course of these six adventures I was delighted to see an engaging an epic tale unfold that embraced the players character.  The adventure packet was created to be flexible to player’s whims and GM’s tweaking which I was thoroughly appreciative of.  The adventure also offered plenty of entrance and exit opportunities for migrating players (Xylia and Ark couldn’t make it to the last session, hence death).  I’m very grateful to the team at Pelgrane Press for assembling a wonderfully exciting story and adventure.  I’d also like to thank the amazing players whom I was lucky enough to have at my table.  While I won’t be running the next adventure (Sarah’s running the next one), I look forward to GM’ing more Tales of 13th Age in the future.

We’ll be back next week with the start of the next Tales of 13th Age: Wyrd of the Wild Wood!
(Sarah)    (Ben)

Part 5 Recap – The City of the Dead

Adventure 5 – The City of the Dead

As our adventurers exit the legionnaire chamber they find themselves in a peculiar spot.  Having expected to venture further in the labyrinth, they instead find themselves free of the maze and in a shabby run down hovel. The small shack is unoccupied and by the layers of dust scattered across the sparse furnishings it is clear it has been so for some time.  Movement outside the barred up window makes the party press themselves against the shadows.  Looking out the window, Xylia’s jaw drops agape as she sees a sprawling city like no other.

UndeadWhat once may have been a magnificent city with a massive palace at its heart was now a city of decay filled with undead monsters.  Skeletal guards march down the street.  Flesh golems not unlike the ones they had encountered in the labyrinth lumber past with heavy loads carried on their backs.  A carriage full of ghosts rattles past, pulled by skeletal horses.  Floating skulls hovering over empty clothes casually linger in front of store fronts, inspecting their wares.  The streets were lined with strange fires and braziers that cast an eerie light on the ever flowing swirls of fog and permanently overcast skies above.  Beyond the various shops and dwellings stood a towering skull palace, home of the Lich King and the crown they all sought.

Distracted by the unusual city, a guttural snarl was Xylia’s only warning before a ghoul’s decaying face filled her view.  Snapped back to her senses Xylia reeled away from the window and flattened herself against the shadows.  Thinking there cover had been blown her hands instinctively drew her bow.  Seeing the hunter alert the rest of the party silently drew their weapons.  Time passed.  Nothing happened.  Another moment ticked by before Xylia allowed herself a quick glance again out the window.  The ghoul was no longer near the window, having been led further down the street on a leash held by a vampire obliviously enjoying a leisurely stroll.  Xylia let out a sigh of relief, not aware she had been holding her breath.  Augustine appeared silently next to her.  After watching the streets for a moment he turned back to the party and whispered, “There’s no way that we can simply walk down these streets. The entire city would be out to kill us.”

Deneveve recited the code taught to her by the Priestess, finding courage in the mantra.  None of them had a background with the Lich King or knowledge of the city’s grid system so they would have to take a different approach.  “Then we find a disguise. Fan out, see if this hovel has anything we can use.”  Xin-Shan and Ark climbed up the ladder to the second floor landing.  It was not long before Ark found several large cloaks in a closet upstairs.  Alleric had a good thought to retrieve the armor of the skeletal legionnaires back in the chamber room and carried them to his allies.  They divided up the armor and the cloaks to make sure everyone was properly disguised.  Augustine helped those that weren’t familiar to wearing heavier plate.

Cautiously, they each stepped out on the streets.  Xylia noticed the multitude of winged gargoyles perched on the roofs of every building that diligently watched the citizens go about their business.  The ranger nudged each of her companions and pointed out the watchers.  She had a bad feeling about this.  Carefully trying not to stand out, they made their way down one of the larger streets toward the massive bone palace.

DarkCity3

Master of the material arts, but not the undead shuffle Xin-Shan was stopped by a group of legionnaires that noticed her unusual gait. “You there! Where are you going?  What business do you have in the city of the dead?  Taken off guard, Xin-Shan mumbled a string of incoherent words.  One of the legionnaires leaned in closer, not buying it.   Ark moved in to quickly diffuse the situation, offering an excuse that Xin-Shan was newly risen undead and was being taken to the barracks for interrogation.  The legionnaire nodded, indicating that the nearest guardhouse was two streets to the east.  When he had walked far enough away, the party quickly moved to the west.

Xylia’s keen eyes noticed that they had picked up a tail.  One of the gargoyles was attempting to discreetly follow them along the rooftops.  Seeing an open shop door, Xylia quickly ushered her companions inside.  A small vampire greeted them into the shop, stating that they were having a sale on runes in the back.  While Xylia and Alleric spoke with the owner about his wares, Ark ducked behind the shelves and towards the back.  Out of sight, Ark did what rogues did best and silently pocketed six runes.  They would come in handy later.

TavernIconAugustine noted that the pursuing gargoyle had fled, apparently losing interest in them.  Checking again that the coast was clear, they once again got back onto the streets and marched to the palace gates.  The gates themselves were guarded by several vampires checking the papers of everyone hoping to get in.  Atop the gates spread out in intervals were numerous gargoyles perched and watching for intruders.  “We need a way in,” Ark said, “and those guards don’t seem to be all that welcoming.”  Spotting a tavern nearby Ark motioned over to it.  “I could use a drink and perhaps we could find answers there.”

The Bloody Hart was without a doubt the seediest pub they would ever encounter.  Stepping through the grime covered doors they saw the most bizarre collection of patrons.  An wolf-headed skeleton manned the bar.  A card game was being played at one of the central tables between a half wasp-demon undead human and flesh golem in a maids outfit.  Off to the side an elven lich was displaying excellent aim in a game of darts.  In the back, a necromancer was reclining while his undead servants fed grapes into his mouth.  It was quickly obvious that no mindless undead were welcome here, these were all intelligent undead.  Seeing a kindred spirit in the caster, Alleric went to speak to the necromancer in back.  “Excuse me sir, I couldn’t help but noticed you’re one of the few living people here.  What brings you to the Necropolis?”

Tavern1

A blissful smile on his face, the Necromancer waited to finish his grapes before addressing the sorcerer.  “I am Kordell Thayco, a faithful follower of his Highness, and I am here to deliver my regular tribute – Thirty gallons of the freshest blood available.  Alas, I must confess that I lost a barrel on my travels here.  Hopefully his Highness will be… forgiving.”  The Necromancer looked the party over and smiled. “Of course, there’s always new ways to find new blood… Anyone interested in becoming a donor?  For a small reward, of course”

Xin-Shan’s face paled at the thought of being drained by this man.  “Uh, no thank you sir.  We have business with that, um… werewolf…er…skeleton…I mean, the bartender.”  She quickly hustled over to the skeleton with the wolf of a head behind the bar.  “Listen, we need to get into the Palace.  Know a way in?  Something that doesn’t require blood donations, preferably.”  The werewolf-headed skeleton growled at the wood elf and returned to making drinks.

Ark knew his monk friend wasn’t the smoothest operator when it came to these things and confidently bellied up to the bar.  Sliding a few coins across the bar top, the Halfling smiled. “Surely you know of someone -”  He looked around the room at his fellow patrons, “Or should I say something that is headed into the palace walls.  We could help each other, you and I.  What say you, ….?”

Troll

Troll Bile was made up on the spot. Perhaps we’ve been playing too much Red Dragon Inn…

The bartender growled again and took the coin.  “Andros is the name.  Just so happens that I’m scheduled to deliver a shipment of Troll Bile to the palace for an upcoming ceremony.  Some celebration among the royal liches.”  He looked over the adventurers in front of him.  “I could use a few hands to deliver the shipment.  Let me watch my bar instead of dealing with them nasty guards.”

“What on earth do they want Troll Bile for?” asked Augustine.

“To drink of course,” the werewolf answered incredulously.  “There ain’t nothing as aromatic as a nice frothy mug of troll bile.  Jeez, its like you’ve never had a drink before in your whole death.  The wagon’s around back, you’ll need this royal writ of invitation in order to enter the gates.  Don’t spill any of the shipment.

Behind the tavern the party found a wagon waiting for them.  The wagon was laden with numerous large barrels full of the disgusting brown liquid.  Their stomach’s curled at the smell of Troll Bile radiating from their cart.  “How could they drink this stuff?” Xylia remarked as she and Tig climbed aboard.  The rest clamored about and soon enough they were off to the servant’s entrance near the back of the palace.

The servant’s gate was not far.  When the party reached it the guard took a quick look at their writ of invitation and waved them on through. One of the servants mumbled something about the chef needing the shipment immediately and to take it on down below to the kitchens.  The hallways were filled with smells of decaying meat and rot, all emanating from the kitchens deep below.  At the first fork in the hallways, Augustine nodded his head in the direction of the fork.  Taking his sign, they all dropped their shipments of bile and gathered their weapons.

Unlike the deteriorating city outdoors, the halls of the Necropolis were impressively well kept.  It was obvious that the Lich King still liked his comforts.  The walls were gilded in gold and various different busts and paintings lined the walls.  Ark’s hands were twitching in hopes of bagging these priceless artifacts but a sharp look from Deneveve stopped him.  There were bigger, better things to steal deeper in.

As they turned a corner, the party walked into line of sight of two hulking skeletal figures down the hall.  The party froze.  With the weapons drawn and poorly disguised the group was no longer fooling anyone.  An unearthly scream filled the hall.  The Tomb Guards charged.  The first came barreling into Augustine with full force, sinking a black blade into the Paladin’s shoulder before slamming him to the ground.  The second charged up to Deneveve but the elf cleric nimbly sidestepped out of his path.

In the tight corridors of the hallway, Augustine and Deneveve had to face the guards toe to toe.  They were relentlessly assaulted by sword and fist as the guards pummeled them over and over.  Xin-Shan and Ark tried to flank around on Augustine’s right and bring down one of the guards, but the skeletal horror continued to stand.  Xylia and Alleric bombarded the two guards hoping to kill them before reinforcements would come.

The adventurers rejoiced when the first guard collapsed but their moment of triumph was short lived.  Further down the hall they saw four more of the skeletal guards running to engage the party.  They had let the battle go on too long and reinforcements had arrived.  The battle that followed was the most brutal that the adventurers had faced yet.  Augustine, Ark, Deneveve, and Xin-Shan all nearly perished.  If not for Augustine’s protection, Deneveve’s healing prowess and a collection of healing potions they had gathered early on none of them would have survived.  Suffering grievous wounds, the party rallied together and pushed back.  Slowly the Tomb Guards fell one by one. Xylia’s final shot sent an arrow deep in the spine of the final Tomb Guard, severing his skull.

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Here comes trouble…

Heavily wounded and beaten, the adventurers found a small side chamber filled with goods.  They snuck in and locked the door behind them.  They would have to be careful to successfully gain access to the vaults that held the Lich King’s crown.  Another encounter with the guards would surely kill them…

Player feedback:

“Another awesome game session. Especially as I was able to stay “at range” for most of the game. I only used one recovery all day. :-D” – Player 1, Alleric
(Sarah)    (Ben)

Part 4 Recap – The Necropolis Maze

Adventure 4 – The Necropolis Maze

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Augustine looked over his companions with pride.  They had just overcome a terrible undead monstrosity, yet the colossal guardian was not the last challenge they would face.  The party took a moment’s rest to recover.  Deneveve knelt next to Augustine and gently spoke a few healing prayers that mended his wounds and eased the throbbing in his head from when the tombstone hammer crashed down on him.  Xylia was tending to Tig’s wounds, her former beloved trapped within a white tiger’s body.  The Dark Elf Sorcerer, Alleric, stood watchful at the threshold of the dungeon while the party recovered.  When all party members looked physically fit Augustine stood up, readying his sword and shield and gestured for his allies to follow.  United in their conviction, the four adventurers descended down into the labyrinth of the dead.

The stairs winded deep into the earth, ending at the mouth of three tunnels lined with stonework.  Throughout the walls numerous coffins rested in small alcoves.  Deneveve consulted the dragon bone compass in Alleric’s hand, noting that they should head toward the left-most tunnel.  As they cautiously moved forward, Xylia saw a path of undead legionnaires march across the right-most tunnel.  It seemed as if the dragon bone Compass was leading them down the safest path.

The adventurers were soon to discover that ‘safest’ was a very relative term in an undead labyrinth.  The first chamber they came across was filled with dark green water with several pedestals sticking above the surface. On one such pedestal, a Halfling Rogue hung off the edge, inching his way toward the next.  On another pedestal, a Wood Elf Monk dodged nimbly through a hail of poisonous darts shooting out from each wall. A moment of shock passed through the party as they never expected to find fellow living adventurers within the labyrinth.  That moment quickly passed as Augustine directed Alleric and Xylia to start looking for ways to disarm the walls.  The Halfling rogue noticed the newcomers and yelled over to them “The wires around the doorways loosened the triggers in the corners of the room.  Knock them lose!”  The sorcerer and ranger were quick to focus their fire on the small triggers, hoping to blast them free.  After suffering several poisonous darts themselves, they were able to disable the darts from firing.  The Monk standing on the center pedestal ceased her dodging and gestured for the newcomers to follow her to the other side.  The monk and rogue made leaping across the pedestals look far easier than it actually was.  Augustine and Deneve, both clad in heavy armor, were not so sure footed on the slippery pedestals and ended up taking a quick dip in the poisonous waters below.

Once across, the hafling introduced himself as Mr. Ark Keli and his companion as Xin-Shan, a longtime companion of his.  Their shared background of fighting against the Three had brought them together to this dangerous place.  Deneveve was quick to introduce her companions, yet did not wish to reveal their purpose here to total strangers.  Before she could give some private words of caution to Augustine he abruptly stated, “We’re on a holy mission to retrieve the crown of the Lich King!”

A devilish grin spread across the rogue’s face.  “Fancy that, so are we!”  The rogue went on to say that they had been in the labyrinth for several days now and would not object to teaming up together to make their way through.  Xylia, Alleric, Augustine and Deneveve exchanged a look and decided not to inform the rogue and monk that for all their time in the maze they were still merely minutes from the entrance.  It seemed all the trouble they went through to get the compass was a good investment.

Deneveve tried pointing out to Augustine that there was only one crown and their mission required bringing it back to the Cathedral, but Augustine clamped his hand on Deneveve’s shoulder to silence her.  “Worry not, they look trustworthy!”  Alleric and Xylia remained quiet, still not having yet revealed that they too were after the crown for their own purposes.  Such matters could wait until after it was in their possession, if they survived this quest.  United by a common cause, the party of six readied themselves and followed the compass onward.

The Labyrinth was a collection of terrible dangers that the Lich King had spent years creating.  While the dragon bone compass spared them the worst that the labyrinth had to offer, they found their fair share of death traps.  The first was a long hallway of mirrors and illusions.  From that hallway, Augustine saw the Crusader laying down his sword.  Deneveve saw the family she failed to protect now safe from harm.  Ark saw his freedom from the Diabolist granted to him.  Xylia saw Tig reformed into his natural state, holding her in his arms.  Each mirror showed them what they longed for, but to give in to the mirrors would lead them astray.  Alleric stayed true to the compass, guiding his companions farther down the true path and out of the hallways of temptation.

Eager to move past the mirrors, the party rounded a corner and nearly fell into a deep pit that lay before them.  Through the light from the lanterns the party carried the party could see the bottom of the pit moving.  It was crawling with snakes.  Why did it have to be snakes?  The compass pointed forward.  There was no way around.  As the party stood at the edge of the pit trying to puzzle out a solution the dark elf Alleric nudged Augustine then pointed down to their short halfing rogue companion.  Augustine placed a rope in the halfing’s hands and before the rogue could utter an objection threw him over the pit with his mighty strength.  The rogue hit the ground on the other side of the pit and tied off the rope so the others could follow before tending to his pride.

Once past the pit, Augustine was alarmed to find a sloped room filled with cloud’s of noxious glass.  Alleric and Xylia branched out a bit and found a secret room full of alchemical experiments.  Amid the vials and cauldrons, Xylia found a jar of deceased black jelly and two healing potions.  Alleric took the jar and poured it onto the floor of the sloped room, watching it slide down the surface.  Xin-Shan took a big gulp of air into her lungs and quickly surfed down the surface through the gas.  Hesitantly, the others followed suit, sliding down through the cloud and to safety.  Ark and Xylia failed to hold their breath the entire way and gulped down the acidic fumes, but were spared the brunt of the poison by sliding to safety.

WeaponAt the bottom of the pit the party found themselves in a large cavern that echoed with the sounds of a dripping liquid.  Alleric conjured up a variety of dancing lights and saw numerous large stalactites hanging from the ceiling dripping a red smoky liquid.  The liquid splashed onto the floor below, burning small holes in the cavern floor.  Xin-Shan recognized the red liquid as the cursed blood of the white dragons, long enslaved by the Lich King as Dracoliches. Whatever it touched would burn with an intense icy bite.  Deneveve channeled the power of the god’s through Augustine’s blessed foundation stone from the cathedral.  She used the power to sanctify Augustine’s shield and with it the Paladin led the party under the line of stalactites and to safety.

The cavern walls gave way to mortared stone again and from there down a hallway to a small guardroom.  Within the room, two oddly misshapen humanoid forms sat hunched over a small table, playing cards.  One looked up toward the party and called out “Oiy!  You there!  Play a game or solve the riddle, that’s the deal.”  They gestured toward the two opposing doors behind them.  Ark happily sat down and asked to be dealt in. “Right.  Here’s the deal, you win and we’ll tell you which door leads you to safety.  We win, we get to punch each of you in the face as much as we want.”  The rogue watched in horror as the Flesh Golem single-handedly shuffled the cards above, over, and around his head before dealing out a hand.

Ark gulped and shuffled backward, “On second thought, how about that riddle?”

The uglier of the two golems cleared his throat, “Behind one of these doors is the entrance to the catacombs and from there to the Lich King’s palace.  Behind the other door is CERTAIN DEATH!  Both doors are identical, save for your fate upon passing through them.  We know which door is which and we will answer only one question from you.  You can only ask the question of one of us, and the group only gets one chance so pick your question wisely.  One of us has been ordered to only lie in response to your question; the other will give you an honest and truthful answer.  Once you pass through the door you may not return, and your companions will have no indication of what happens to you once you pass through.  Think well on your question… You get one chance… Or we can play games and get to the face punching.

Xylia and Ark put their heads together, reasoning the break down in logic.  With renewed confidence, Ark put the question to the first golem: “What door would the other golem tell us is the door leading to safety?”  The golem cracked his knuckles and curtly stated that his companion would tell them that the door to the right would lead them to safety.  Augustine trusted his companions and opened the door to an inky blackness. Reaching his arm forward, it sank into the sheet of darkness like a liquid.  He could feel nothing on the other side, not even the wind.

His arm wasn’t any farther than the elbow when Deneveve yelled out “Wait!”  The Paladin obediently withdrew his arm and looked at his ally confused.  The cleric pulled the dragon bone compass out and saw that the needle did not point to either door, but rather in between them.  Looking back to make sure the flesh golems would not object, she moved to the center wall.  “Ark, come help me.  What do you see?”  Together, the cleric and rogue scouted the wall for any hidden door.  Ark found a small trigger at the base of the floor and pulled it back.  The walls groaned as they slid open, revealing a small catwalk above a gigantic pit.  One by one the adventurers followed the catwalk and down into the deep dark pit.

One of the golems muttered to the other “Uhh, Auralius, did you know that door was there?  The Lich King told me the door on the right was trapped.”

Auralius replied “Nope, ol’ Lichy always said the door on the right led to safety.”  The two flesh golems stared at each other, then Lucius punched Auralius in the face.  The party took it as an opportunity to move on.

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Xylia remarked at how far deep they had traveled in the labyrinth, wondering aloud if they were ever going to get back to the surface.  The mortared stone gave way to walls lined with the bones of the fallen.  Xin-Shan was able to make out dragon ribs, werewolf canines, and orc femurs along the walls.  When she approached one of the skulls along the walls, she jumped as a ghostly replica drifted out of it and floated about the hall.  It didn’t seem concerned at all with any of the adventurers and drifted through the tunnels.  It was joined by numerous other skulls floating out and down the hallway.  They all seemed to drift in the same direction.  Deneveve, trusting only in the compass, noted the compass leading in the same direction as the skulls and led her companions forward.

ScreamingSkullThe skulls all seemed to be migrating to a single large room.  The floor was dropped down several feet and was filled with broken sharp bones.  Alleric felt the bones, and told his allies that they were razor sharp.  The Ranger pulled a rope from her pack and tied one of her sturdier arrows to it.  Xylia fired a shot to the opposite side of the room, smiling with satisfaction as it set into the wall.  The rogue and monk were the first to volunteer and shimmied across the impromptu rope bridge.  Ark nearly fell into the bone pit, slicing his leg open.  Despite this, the rest of the party managed to make it across.

The landing opened to an upward slope.  They felt a small breeze of air and realized they must be close.  Encouraged by the promise of escape, they all marched onward.  Their journey outward was thankfully free of additional traps. The tunnel ended in a room housing four large tombs.  A gust of wind dimmed the torches along the wall casting the room into shadow.  A rumble from the tombs was all the warning the adventurers had before the shadows around the room twisted into the form of armored soldiers.

The symbol on their shields triggered something in Ark’s mind from his time studying in various libraries.  He remembered the 7th Legion, a renowned battalion under the Wizard King when he ruled the land.  He had just enough time to relate this to his allies before a legionnaire glided through the shadows behind him, driving his blade into the Halfling’s back.  Xin-Shan scored a blow into one of the legionnaires but was startled when her fist drifted through a misty shadowy form.  Alleric and Xylia dodged back and launched missile and spell out at the undead soldiers.  All at once, the legionnaires disappeared into shadow before reappearing behind a new victim to strike.  Augustine and Deneveve held firm, trying to protect their allies from the legionnaires that faded in and out around the chamber.

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In the end, it was Xylia’s shot that brought down the final legionnaire, his armor falling to the floor as his shadowy form dissipated.  While the heroes took the time to patch themselves up, Ark noticed a blade among the legionnaire’s armor and quickly pocketed it.  He thought the dagger would come in handy.  He also thought he might want to keep his discovery just to himself….

GM Note: 

Loved this adventure as it gave us ample opportunity to employ a montage.  Going around the table, I was pleased to let players describe hazards to me and even happier when the next player declared how they solved it.  We went around the table both ways once each.  The result was quite the… unique labyrinth. 

 
(Sarah)    (Ben)