Meet the Party…
Grinder (Forgeborn Paladin) – “I have been tasked by my God to mechanize nature. The high druid does not appreciate my endeavors and her followers and I have had problems in the past. I am the prized creation of the Dwarf King – A warforged built by a sovereign’s hand. I need the Oracle’s guidance to help mechanize all of creation.”
Crisper (Gnome Barbarian) – “Fire Rages within me. When I get angry, things catch on fire. I suspect the Diabolist gave me this ability for better or worse. I am a capable fighter and the Three could use someone of my strength and skill. The Oracle can help me find a way to master the rage the burns in my heart.”
Kendal (Wood Elf Ranger) – “I hold the great honor of being the High Druid’s animal handler to her wild menagerie of beasts. The High Druid entrusts me with her prized animal companions, often sending me on tasks she trusts to no other. I also serve the Priestess as a messenger of secrets to important figures. The High Druid has asked me to retrieve a necklace to charm any animal and the Oracle knows where it is.”
Neozama (Human Monk) – “You ever have that feeling where you’re not sure if you’re awake or still dreaming? I am here because I know something. What I know, I can’t explain. But I feel it. I have felt it my entire life. There’s something wrong with this world. I don’t know what it is, but it’s there. The Golden Order of paladins serving the Great Gold Wyrm claim I am the one to help hold the demons of the Abyss away. The Oracle can tell me what the prophecy of my role as the One will mean.”
Braun (Half Orc Rogue) – “I am a collector of the world’s most bizarre and odd items. My career of thieving landed my in the Prince of Shadow’s tutelage but I lost his trust when I tried to steal from the prince himself. He left me as a patsy on a job to steal from the Black in Drakenhall and I’ve been pursued every since. I have found safety in the Emperor’s care, executing tasks for him that are best not known to the public. I seek the Oracle’s prophecy to find traitors in the Imperial Ranks”
Ozreal (Hellborn Sorcerer) – “I don’t know why, but I always cast two shadows, and I swear I’ve seen one of them acting independently. I’ve long since served the Prince of Shadows as an acolyte in a shadow cult. In addition to serving the Prince, I have also done several missions for the Diabolist herself. The Oracle can tell me where I come from and who gave me my second shadow.”
Adventure 1 – Ranger Ex Cathedral
The sun had barely broken over the rooftops of Santa Cora as Grinder made his way across the Cathedral courtyard. The forgeborn only needed a short period to recharge his body as opposed to the full night’s sleep that other races required. Sleep was one of many weaknesses of the flesh according to Mechanar’s teachings. Teachings that Grinder had vowed to help advance and spread through the world. The Paladin pushed open the massive oak doors of the Cathedral and made his way inside. By his god’s command, he was seeking the Oracle’s guidance on how to mechanize all of creation.
Cripser rested his healing leg up on the pew in front of him. The wound still itched from the spider’s bite, but it seems like the healers here knew a thing or two about anti venom. When the gnome barbarian was dragged in the night before, he had accidentally set a pew on fire in his rage. Things tended to spontaneously combust when he lost control of his temper. The curse had been with him all his life and he suspected the Diabolist was to blame. If he had any luck, the Oracle would tell him how to master the fiery anger that burned within him.
Out in the courtyard, Kendal was playing with the young shadow cat, Blink, that the high druid had entrusted her with. Being the handler of the High Druid’s personal menagerie of beasts was a rewarding task for the young wood elf. It also awarded her a high level of trust from the High Druid who had entrusted her with the task of retrieving an amulet said to control the mind of any animal. The artifact had been lost for ages but rumors about its resurgence were building. With the Oracle’s help she was hoping to find the amulet before anyone else would.
Neozama looked up as a most unexpected guest entered his small but humble book store. It was a female paladin in full regalia marking her as belonging to the Golden Order. The paladin surveyed the store to make sure they were alone before approaching Neozama. The monk put down the book he was reading. So it had come to this. After years of hiding the troubling visions of demons pouring freely into the world that haunted him, the Golden Order had finally tracked him down. The visions were all different but ended the same – The Great Gold Wyrm’s face looking down and calling him to his duty. The great dragon claimed fate had something more in store for him. Neozama did not believe in fate. He did not like the idea that he was not in control of his life. The life of a monk was one of balance and control. The paladin introduced herself as Trinity and leaned in close to whisper in his ear. “You are the One we have been searching for you. I know what you’ve been doing… why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you study your books. You’re looking for an answer. The answer is out there, and it’s looking for you. Climb the steeps of the Cathedral and seek out the Oracle. You are the one that has to find it.” With that she was gone. After some thought Neozama picked up his three section staff and headed towards the Cathedral steps.
It was surprisingly easy sneaking in to the Cathedral, Braun thought to himself. The prince’s lessons in infiltration had served the half-orc well in his years. Sadly the Prince’s opinion of Braun had fallen to pieces after he tried to steal from the Prince’s own collection. Braun couldn’t help it – He just had to build up his collection of odd and interesting things. After the Prince had left him for dead in Drakenhall, Braun had surprisingly been saved by an agent of the Emperor. The Emperor could use a man with his skills and placed Braun in his service – with the threat of eternal imprisionment if he disobeyed. It was under the Emperor’s will that Braun found himself here today – The Empire suspected a prominent traitor in his ranks and wanted the Oracle to help divine who the transgressor was. Sending a guard or member of the court would be too obvious. This mission required someone the traitor would never suspect.
Everywhere Ozreal went, people stared. A hellborn in Santa Cora was an unusual sight in itself, but one with two shadows trailing behind her was even stranger. The sorceress was constantly aware of her second shadow and swore that it acted independently when she was not directly looking. It had been like this for as long as she could remember – As a youth and on into her adult years working as an acolyte in the Shadow Cult in Shadow Port. When she heard that the Oracle had returned to the Cathedral, she had booked passage to Santa Cora immediately. She was determined to ascend to the heights and discover why she had this other shadow.
It had been an hour past sunrise when the Aasimar priestess rallied together the various pilgrims milling about the Catehdral’s knave. Each adventurer headed toward those gathering around the Aasimar. The cavernous structure stretched above them for several floors, flooded with light rom the stained glass windows depicting numerous different God’s sigils. “Brave souls, gather here for the pilgrimage to the Oracle.” The Aasimar’s voice drifted up into the Cathedral’s heights, “My name is Ellindria and I will be your guide to the Library of the Oracle. If you will all please follow me, we can begin our ascent.” The priestess ushered them to a nearby stair well that climbed upward. “In the cathedral we host many gods and goddesses who will require observance and trials to be completed by you. Show respect to the God’s when you are in their realm and they may grant you their blessing. I must remind you that I am here principally as a guide and will answer your questions but it is you that must complete the trials set before you.”
As they climbed, they could hear sounds in the distance of a great amount of work being done. As they reached the first landing at the top of the stairs they found a long well lit chapel with several planter boxes where pews would normally be. Several priests bearing the symbol of a double ended sickle were tending to the constantly growing fruit off the plants before shuffling it to a gigantic feasting table near the rear of the chapel. “Oh dear,” says Ellindria, “the Followers of Droga have started their harvest early. If you wish to continue your pilgrimage you must negotiate your way past them. A warning though, they do not negotiate well and may become… intransigent. Belligerent even. They don’t like outsiders.”
As their guide spoke, a squat humanoid with the face of a rat snarled and marched toward them. “NO NO NO!!! I have told the Priestess hundreds of times – No pilgrimages can go through when the harvest ceremony is under way!” Rascalar planted himself in front of the pilgrims, “You will have to wait until the harvest is complete. We are already three days in and only half way complete.”
Grinder walked right up to Rascalar, standing uncomfortably close. “Listen rat, you will let us through. Mechanar demands I reach the Oracle immediately and you harvest means nothing the the will of the Mecha!” The rat man bristled at the audacity of the paladin but held his ground.
Ozreal slid in between the Paladin and Priest. “Listen friend, we meant no disrespect to your ceremony. We only need to pass through the chapel – Can’t we just walk through? We won’t touch anything, I swear.”
Rascalar made to object again but was distracted by a sound off to his right. The priest turned to see Braun tripping over one of the planter boxes. The rogue had been attempting to sneak by when he lost his footing. Rascalar raged at the sight and grew twice his height. “SACRILEGE!!!” As the priest grew a multitude of celestial harvest rats burst from the planter boxes and charged the pilgrims. Rascalar pulled two sickles from under his robes and turned back towards Ozreal. “All of you shalll pay for your insolence!” With that, Rascalar and the swarm of harvest rats attacked.
Neozama knew that the priest must be dealt with and quickly assumed a stance to close the distance to him. The monk gracefully slipped by the rats but his blow was deflected by Rascalar’s sickle. Using Neozama as a distraction, Grinder channeled the power of Mecha into his blade and leveled a smiting blow into the priest. Ozreal used the cover to slink back, gathering her strength and power together. Out of the corner of her eye, the sorcerer saw Braun disappear in a wink of shadow, to where she did not know.
Kendal thought fast on how to deal with the swarm of rats. She knew how to soothe most beasts so she whipped out a flute she had retrieved from her time in the Wild Wood. Playing a tune, she was able to ensnare several of the rat’s attention. They sat raptly attentive to the melody she played, saving her allies most of the rat’s attacks. Crisper saw the remaining rats charge in and cleaved his large battle axe through them. As the rats were either enthralled or defeated, Rascalar was quickly overrun. As he struggled to defend himself, Braun reappeared behind the Priest and sank his knife into the rat man’s back.
“I yield!” Rascalar spit up blood and held on to the necklace bearing Droga’s symbol. His god would keep him alive and in service. “You may pass through. We will begin the ceremony again. Just please, bother us no more!” Satisfied, the party all marched through the chapel and toward the next chamber. Ellindria led them to the next door.
The door they arrived at bore a large symbol of the moon with a tranquil eye at the center. “I must welcome you to the domain of my own god, Lumina.” Ellindria pushed the door open to reveal a large oval room with an intricate swirling pattern on the floor and no other doors or windows. “The pattern before you is a maze that will test your soul’s spirit. You must all walk the path on the floor to find your way through.” She began walking the white swirling pattern. “It took me several tries to master the path, but with diligence you will find your way.” No sooner than she finished the sentence that she disappeared. Braun was impressed – if there was a trick, it escaped his eyes.
Neozama studied the pattern for a moment and took the first step within the curved of painted white line. Immediately he felt an icy cold wind buffet against him, but the monk closed his eyes and slipped into a state of tranquility. When the monk opened his eyes again the cold winds did not feel so cold and the weight on his feet had been lifted. “Come, let’s go together. I’ll lead. This is a test of truth.” As they each formed a line and begin to walk, they could feel themselves pulled and pushed away from the line. Crisper and Ozreal nearly fell off completely as icy gusts of wind came out from nowhere to batter against them. Neozama, in the lead, suddenly found himself looking at a large moon in a snow covered wood. Howls behind him sounded but he instead looked to the horizon where he saw a golden glimmer. With a rush of wind, The Great Gold Wyrm was suddenly before him gazing into his soul. “Today is not the day I die,” Neozama whispered. “I am born for greater things.” With a rush, the wood was gone and he found himself in a red stone room surrounded by his companions.
Cripser stood up rubbing his arms, “Did anyone else see the wood and wolves? I was ready to fight when I saw a flash of gold and I was suddenly here.” The gnome looked towards Neozama. “What did you mean that was a test of truth? What truth?”
“There was no storm.” The monk offered no other explanation as he turned to face Ellindria who was rushing towards them with a smile on her face. “I’m so grateful you all passed! And so quickly! Lumina must have great faith in all of you!” Braun looked around at the rough hewn stone walls. The chamber they were in lead to a larger one with a massive four armed statue in the center holding the ceiling up. “This chamber belongs to the god of Prowess, Gorgeth. He and his followers value those that excel beyond the capabilities of their brethren.” Lining the walls of the chamber were several statues depicting champions. Far behind the statue were three plinths of different heights.
Kendal was interested to see another trial and walked toward the statue. As she did so, the statue moved its four arms along the ceiling, chunks of mortar falling. Its large bald head twisted toward the pilgrims and in a booming voice said “HALT! You trespass upon the halls of Gorgeth. To continue onward you must prove your prowess. Behold, the solution behind me, but only in the light of discovery shall the truth be revealed. Make haste, for only your strength shall award you safe passage!” As more chunks of mortar began to fall from the ceiling, it became apparent that they had a time limit here.
Grinder made his way to the three plinths in the rear of the room, careful avoiding the falling mortar. Looking at the first plinth, a plaque read “Jon ‘Big Iron’ McRidek – The dwarven warrior, strong as a bear, that vanquished the great frost giant Icebreaker on the slopes of Mount Karganthus in the Frost Range.” The second read “Melathura – Human Warrior princess, sly as a fox, that marshaled a quest to the Red Wastes to free the scythe of power from the fabled Pit of Lost Souls.” The third read “Erc the Fearless – Half Orc Barbarian, fierce as a lion, with more hunting trophies from the Dire Wood than any other hunter in the Dragon Empire.”
Crisper yelled out from the earlier room, “Theres statues of four dwarves, three human women, and two half-orcs here. How are we supposed to know which ones we need?”
Ozreal thought over the plaques again, “Each of them mention an animal. Bear, Fox, and Lion. Do any of the statues have those animals on them?”
Crisper studied the statues. He quickly found a dwarf wearing a bear pelt, a human woman with a necklace of a fox’s head, and a half-orc with that tattoo of a lion on his chest. “Found them. Now help me get them over there!” With great effort, Neozama, Crisper, and Grinder were able to life the statues and place them on their respective plinths. When the last one was in place, the four arm statue shifted his hands to support the ceiling again. A door behind the plinths swung open revealing another hallway.
Ellindria walked forward, beaming proudly at them all. “Good work! Gorgeth’s trials are always fun to watch.” She gestured the pilgrims onward down the hallway. “Now I am taking you to see a friend of mine before you continue your pilgrimage. You would do well to be open and honest with Nalina. She can help you.””
The room she took them to was an expansive room filled with a wide shallow pool of blue liquid. A woman in long flowing robes was holding a horribly wounded warrior in the waters. As they watched, the warrior’s wounds knitted together completely healed. The warrior stood, thanked the woman, then exited the far doorway.
The woman slowly approached the pilgrims, “Welcome, my name is Nalina.” Nalina moved toward Braun and took his hand in hers, “Tell me, what brings you to the Cathedral?”
The Half-Orc thought for a moment – He needed to keep the Emperor’s task secret. “I am here to see the Oracle. To ask her where my father is.” He happily smiled, confident in his lie.
“Why do you deceive me? Tell the truth.” Nalina waited expectantly.
Sighing, Braun broke down. “I am here on the Emperor’s business, to find those disloyal to the empire.” Smiling, Nalina nodded and moved to the next pilgrim. One by one, she asked their reasons for visiting the cathedral. They all answered truthfully and were given chance to rest in the pool’s healing energies, restoring their health. As the party rested in the pool Nalina moved over to have a chat with Ellindria, but none of their words were overheard by the party.
After awhile Ellindria moved on to the next door, “We had best get moving. The last chamber you will find on this floor belongs to the goddess Koreena. She is goddess of wisdom and beauty. Her followers believe truth is beauty, and beauty is truth. A true believer in Koreena is not afraid to reveal their inner faults and flaws so that they do not accumulate imperfections that ultimately destroy their overall beauty. Thank you again Nalina!”
They carried on until they had reached an immaculate marble doorway embossed with several beautiful figures. In the center of the doorway stood a statuesque woman with skin of ivory and obsidian. When Ellindria pushed the door open, they saw a colossal statue of the same woman, her skin composed entirely of diamond. Multiple other beautiful statues lined the walls. Ellindria offered some words of wisdom as the party moved into the room. “The shrine of Koreena is a museum of art, and a testament to the saying that beauty is truth and truth is beauty. To proceed further you must each confess a deep secret, or be willing to prove your righteousness through a test of battle. Do not lie, for Koreena punishes lies. This is the third and final test before we reach the Library of Oracles”.
Braun’s fingers twitched greedily as he entered the room, but the thief couldn’t think of a way to smuggle a sixteen foot diamond statue out of the Cathedral undetected. As he contemplated the logistics, a lyrical voice filled the chamber, “Filthy hearts and dark deeds are the enemy of all beauty. If you do not bring your darkness into the light, it will surely destroy you. Pronounce the truth and be spared the foul corruption of your soul.” The door behind them slammed shut and the statues began to twist into horrible figures. The avatar of Koreena’s skin began to change from diamond to coal as she started to slowly move.
Grinder dropped to one knee and lowered his head. “My lady, I know the truth of your words. I must confess I have had carnal relations with a being of flesh. It is my greatest shame!” The rest of the pilgrims looked awkwardly at the forgeborn paladin. He continued to kneel in front of the avatar, her face of coal glaring judgmentally down at him. Darkness started to twist around the room.
Crisper looked around nervously and cleared his throat, “Lady Koreena, I confess that I killed a young gnome in my village in a rage. I see him every night when I sleep, his face haunts me.”
Ozreal looked towards her companions before speaking up. “I have dabbled in the dark arts, embracing my demon heritage. It gives me power and I like it.” The sorceress didn’t often admit such things openly. As the statues around the room twisted more, they became undead horrors of decomposing terror. They shambled toward Neozama, Braun, and Kendal who had kept their silence.
The avatar of Koreena towered above them, her skin now turned completely to coal, “You have spoken the truth and will bear witness to the depths of your sins. To those that remain silent, you shall be judged.” Neozama, Braun, and Kendal found themselves under attack from the undead horrors closing in on them. Desperately they used knife, fist, and bow to whittle down their oncoming attackers. The avatar swiveled its attention to Grinder and peered into his mind. Pain ripped through him as the images of his sin played over and over in his head.
Ozreal stepped back, unleashing the demonic power she possessed in violent arcs of lightning. Crisper had had enough and tapped into his instinctual rage. As he let out a horrible cry, flames started bursting around him and throughout the room. He savagely began to hack away at the avatar. Grinder finally shrugged off the visions in his head and delivered a smiting blow tot the avatar as well.
Neozama and Braun were holding the front wave of the figures off before the Rogue once again disappeared in a twist of shadows. The monk was left alone to ward off the numerous undead as they hammered judging blows down upon him. When Kendal released a hail of arrows into the undead swarm, he was able to defeat the rest. Braun reappeared behind the avatar, sinking his knife in a vital juncture along her side. She twirled to deal with the rogue, and Crisper saw his opening. Letting loose a terrible cry, he swung his great sword through the avatar, shattering her to pieces.
As they pulled themselves together, Elindira looked over the shattered avatar of Koreena. “A pity, she was always so beautiful.” Their guide ushered the pilgrims out of the room, “I’m afraid that this is where we will part. We have reached the Library of the Oracle, where your fates will be written and kept by the brothers of Dasaan, God of Truth and Insight. Consult with Father Pertronis, he will undoubtedly know you’re coming and have your fate ready. If your hearts are pure and your cause is just you will find what you seek. Walk with the gods of light.”
When they had reached the library, they struggled to hide their awe. Shelf after shelf held numerous tomes full of prophecies and destinies. Neozama’s own book store paled in comparison to the amount of tomes held here. In the center of a massive library, a large tree grew, with eyes centered upon its leaves.
The adventurers moved freely through the massive library. It would be easier to become lost among the rows and rows of books and scrolls. Neozama picked up a few books, but found nothing but cryptic prophecies on each page. The writings appeared useless to anybody but those they were intended for. When the monk shared this information with his companions the party began searching for any books about themselves. Neozama was the only one to find a golden book with his name scrawled on it, but the pages were blank. When no one was watching he pocked the book beneath his robes.
As they moved through the stacks of records, they were directed to Father Pertronis’ desk. On the second floor overlooking the library, they found the aged man. He looked up at them solemnly, “Ah yes, Dasaan told me you were coming. I’m afraid your prophecies are not yet written. All knowledge starts with a seed, you see, a kernel of knowledge upon which events grow and unfold. Your fates have yet to take root, yet to grow into a prophecy. You must hear your fates from the Oracle in person. Go upwards, every upwards, and may Dasaan bless you.”
“I liked having new gods and challenges for each level of the Cathedral we entered. It keeps us all from getting too complacent about our approaches to problems.” – Player 1, Kendal
GM Note: Since we were pressed on time, the Lumina encounter was avoided by use of an icon result. The original Gorgeth chamber puzzle required players to find shields matching to the heroes, but I changed the puzzle to be more about the heroes description and it played out just fine. My group doesn’t do spiders (Insert Link to previous spider change), so I changed up the Koreena encounter to be a statue of diamond turning to coal. The Cathedral adventure is definitely different than the previous two six-week organized play adventures and I’m hoping to plug in more connections to the characters and icons in future sessions.