Campaign of the Month: September 2018

Shadows of the Rift

Session Three
Return to the Temple

5 Awakening 508

After emerging from the Temple, frightened by the power and influence of the green gem, the party travels eight miles away to camp. The plan? Go to Josemeedt and look for answers. They haul the bodies of the party they found inside up on their mules and head east.

6 thru 8 Awakening 508

Travel to Josemeedt.

8 Awakening 508

The party arrives in Josemeedt and are met with hostility and suspicion. Part of this is due to the fact that they are a band of strangers hauling a pair of dead bodies on their mules. The other part is due to the fact that two of their band, Rilka and Savaric, are Half-Orcs.

The party ties off their mules in front of the Hall of Yülthn. Mõrvar Ulrich and Surm Ulrich decide to go inside while the Half-Orcs wait outside with the mules.

“It’s shameful that the people of Josemeedt allow such scum within its walls!”

Rilka and Savaric turn to find a young Northron man staring at them belligerently. Rilka decides to ignore the young man, maintaining a soldierly mien, while Savaric levels an intimidating stare at the man and snarls. “Then leave. Now.” Properly cowed by Savaric, the man skulks back into the gathered crowd.

Meanwhile, Mõrvar and Surm are inside the hall, a raucous tavern full of travelers hoisting ale and laughing boisterously. The two are approached by a older man with a crooked staff. “Be welcome in Yülthn’s Hall, travelers!” The two explain that they have come with the body of a fellow priest and a tale to tell. The priest, who introduces himself as Grimnir Erolsson, offers to go outside and identify the bodies.

The three exit the hall to find a hostile crowd surrounding the Half-Orcs and a scowling young man fading back into the crowd. Grimnir identifies the priest as “Gunnar” and said that he and the others had come to Josemeedt with a map looking for information on the area presented. He arranges to have pyres built to burn the bodies and to have the mules stabled. Grimnir then brings the party into the hall to talk.

Grimnir leads them into a private room in the hall. He looks uncomfortably at the Half-Orcs but says “All with the blood of men in their veins are welcome in Yülthn’s hall.” Surm and Mõrvar explain how they found the bodies and where, as well as what they encountered with the strange green gemstone. Grimnir reveals that Gunnar was on some sort of mission from his temple, a mission to “find a great evil before it was too late”. He suspects that this gem may be what Gunnar was looking for. Grimnir also believes that the temple may have belonged to the Aedonii, an ancient race that lived before the dawn of man and that this evil may be as ancient as it is powerful.

Grimnir also identifies the symbol of the ring of flame as being the symbol for Jörn, a lying and murderous god who may, or may not, be the son of Yülthn. So if that cult is aware of the gem, they must not have it. Grimnir does not know what the stone is or what it is capable of, but thinks he knows of one who does—a hermit by the name of Karse who was a priest of Yülthn. He lives north of Josemeedt.

Grimnir asks the party if they would be willing to return to that temple, if he had a way to contain the gem. The party acquiesces. So, Grimnir announces that they may stay in the common room of the hall and have food without charge. The party can re-provision with the various vendors in the Meedt. The next day they will travel to see Karse and go from there back to the temple.

While shopping, the party is interrupted by the same youth from before, now accompanied by two friends. “Hey, scum! I’m surprised that your friends haven’t stabled you with the other animals!” Mõrvar steps forward, and with an intimidating air, warns the group off. “Go away. Leave us alone.” The group, cowed by Mõrvar’s dangerous look, leave.

That night, the party is approached by a foreigner by the name of Almaric who offers them a job that is “less than reputable”. Apparently a Boraelan lord by the name of Matrim Quain has taken a grimoire that rightfully belongs to Almaric. Almaric claims that it once belonged to his master and should have been passed to him but it was taken by the same “brigands” that killed his master—brigands he believes were sent by Quain. Quain has the grimoire and apparently moves it from estate to estate, hoping to keep it out of Almaric’s hands. Almaric thinks it is currently being held at Quain’s keep, to the east of Josemeedt, just beyond the Mondira River. He also warns the party not to be foolish enough to open the grimoire and that they will know it by its clasp of twin dragons. The party tells him that they have another task to take care of first but if Almaric is still in Josemeedt when they return, then they’ll talk about it then.

9 Awakening 508

The party spends most of the day traveling north to Karse’s hermitage, a small cottage nestles between two hills.

Karse is an irascible old man, annoyed at having visitors. Nevertheless, he listens to what Grimnir and the party have to say. He believes that the gem is one of five Seals of Akthalos. It is sentient and quite evil. According to what is known of the The Aedonii, the bringing together of these seals would bring about a cataclysm. Grimnir believes that Gunnar’s mission was to find and destroy this Seal. According to Karse, it would take something powerful to destroy such an artifact—such as molten lava or a volcano.

Surm feels that it is isn’t the party’s problem to take care of the gem, but that if they can contain the gem, he’s willing to help Grimnir collect it. The rest of the party agrees. Karse gives Grimnir a thrice-blessed box in hopes that it will contain the gem’s evil influences. Tomorrow, the five of them will travel to the temple to collect the gem.

10 Awakening 508

The party travels from Karse’s cottage toward the temple.

11 Awakening 508

After another day of travel, the party reaches the temple’s crawlspace by sundown. They decide to camp and enter the temple in the morning.

12 Awakening 508

The party, with Grimnir, enters the temple.

Mõrvar has a vision of himself, a crown upon his head decorated with a glowing green gem, sitting upon a throne as throngs of people bow before him. He keeps this vision to himself.

Before heading straight to the green gemstone chamber, the party decides to check out the rest of the temple. While in the sanctuary, they cast light upon the bloody skeletons across the pit. Grimnir doesn’t seem to mind the sorcerous nature of the light, being more curious than afraid.

On the other side of the temple they encounter a dining hall and a kitchen and a parlor before coming to an impassable cave-in. Turning back, they come across a scriptorium. Most of the scrolls dissolve in their hands, but one survives. It is written in an indecipherable script but is obviously magical in nature.

Mõrvar has a another vision of himself, this time opening a secret door in the depths of the temple, revealing piles of treasure within.

Coming back to the sanctuary, the party decides to take care of the bloody skeletons before heading down to the gemstone chamber. After successfully defeating the creatures, they cast the bones into the pit.

Finally, the party descends into the depths of the temple.

Once below, they see the bones of the Aedonii that were disturbed upon their last visit. Mõrvar informs the party that he doesn’t think it’s a good idea if he goes into the chamber. He tells the rest about his visions—including about the secret treasure room. Sure enough, the party finds the indicated secret door but it opens into a corridor, not a treasure room.

Traveling down the winding, switch-back corridor, the party encounters a series of traps along the way, including a 5×5′ pit that party must leap across (to varied success) and a poisoned dart—which reduces Savaric’s health severely. Eventually Savaric, who has been unsuccessful in finding any of the traps, finds a secret panel in one of the walls.

Deciding to continue down the corridor before exploring what is beyond the secret panel, the party continues down the hall. Eventually the corridor ends in an trapezoidal room. The party goes into the room to check it out when a portcullis falls, trapping everyone but Surm in the room. Eventually, the stout half-orcs and Mõrvar manage to lift portcullis and wedge a crowbar into the groove long enough to get everyone out of the room. The party then decides to check out the secret panel.

The secret panel opens into an octagonal room into which Rilka steps. Mõrvar stands ready with his long spear behind her. As she walks into the room, a Dretch Demon materializes in front of her in a cloud of its own stench. Her guts are shaken with fear as it attacks. Mõrvar continues to attack from behind with the reach of his spear. In short order, the demon is dispatched and the party continues into the treasure room.

After divvying up the treasure, the party then decides to go into the gemstone room. Mõrvar stays back with Rilka while Surm, Grimnir, and Savaric (who has recovered from his poisoning) proceed. Once they get into the altar room, Savaric has a vision of himself wielding a mighty sword with a gemstone set into the hilt decimating armies before him. The gem also heals Savaric, seemingly drawing life from his companions to do it. Grimnir works on getting the gemstone out of the altar. Grimnir seems to pause as he goes to place the stone in the box so Surm takes it and the box from Grimnir and shuts the gem inside. Surm then has a vision of he and his brother conquering thousands. Disturbed by the visions, Surm directs everyone to get out there.

Finally, the party reunites and then exits the temple.

Session Two
The Darkness Within

5 Awakening 508 (continued)

…The party leaves the room with the statue and enters a wide sanctuary split by the 5’-wide rift. The room is distinctive with 5′ × 5′ alcoves along its left side, the walls of each adorned in the nightmarish tentacle motif of the pillars. Rilka and Savaric lead the way, looking ahead with their darkvision, while the two sorcerers ( Surm and Mõrvar ) remain behind, lighting their way with the eldritch glow of magic upon Mõrvar’s spearhead.

Finally, the party comes to a halt at a scene of carnage. Five lifeless bodies lie on the ground before them. Two of them are warriors, marked as such by their weapons and armor. Another carries a crooked staff in the manner of a follower or priest of Yülthn. The two others are skeletons, covered in slick blood—both wear ragged chain armor and carry rusted, broken scimitars. While Mõrvar contemplates the scene, Rilka declares that the men were fighting the skeletons, citing her soldier’s training for her authority—an assertion with which Mõrvar concurs. Further, it appears that the follower of the All-Father had attempted to use holy water on one of the creatures. The blood on the skeletons is much fresher than that of the wounds on the men, which Surm ascertains occurred a few days ago. The sorcerers speculate that perhaps ritual magic was used in the case of the skeletons. In the meantime Savaric has determined that bloody trails lead from the skeletons into the darkness up ahead. Searching the bodies of the fallen, Surm finds another map to this location—this one more professionally made and using Josemeedt as a landmark. He also finds more holy water as well as assorted traveling gear.

While the party debates the grisly scene before them, they are interrupted by the sound of click-clack-clanging coming from ahead, further into the sanctuary. The party immediately goes on their guard as, emerging into the light, they see three armored, bloody skeletons coming towards them, weapons raised to attack. Rilka manages to dispatch hers with her falchion, though she notes that the bones are hard to cut with her blade. Savaric attempts to do the same to his creature but his blade is impeded by the lack of flesh on the bones. Mõrvar attempts to keep the third at bay with his long spear but fails as it moves in to attack. In the meantime, Surm had managed to take a flask of holy water from one of the bodies, water which he flings at the skeleton on his brother. It recoils in pain but continues to advance. Rilka moves to do battle with the creature fighting the humans—allowing Savaric’s foe to take a swipe at her with his blade. Savaric fells his skeleton while the others destroy theirs. Finally, the party bloody and tired, the battle is done.

More sounds of click-clanging are heard on the other side of the rift. Mõrvar casts light upon a stone and throws it across to light the area. Three more skeletons are scene advancing from alcoves across the way. They stop their advance at the rift. After an attack by Mõrvar with his long spear, the skeletons retreat to their alcoves, only to be spelled to destruction by Mõrvar, who lobs acid at them.

The party advances further into the sanctuary, wondering why people are seeking out this place of darkness—and just how many more have maps to find it.

At the north end of the sanctuary, they find a broken obsidian altar, carved with the same strange tentacle motif found on the pillars. Rilka inspects the altar and finds that it has grooves made to collect blood. Skirting past the altar through a doorway made narrow by the rift, the party finds themselves in a vestibule. The rift ends here in a 10’ wide pit. The floor and walls are covered in mosaics depicting tall, thin priests summoning tentacled clouds of darkness from the skies.

Moving on, the party enters a vestment chamber. Desiccated wardrobes hang open, revealing ancient rotten robes that disintegrate at a touch. Mosaics in the room depict tall thin priests being dressed by pages and servants wearing spiked, oppressive collars. The party must choose to continue to the east or west side of the structure. They choose west.

The party enters a wide, oddly-shaped corridor. Mosaics along the walls depict shadowy forms in the sky smiting armies upon the ground. From here the party decides to check out what is beyond a rotted wooden door. Entering, they find an receiving room with two rotted armchairs and an ancient sideboard. There is an arched doorway to the north that opens into a bedchamber. Delicate tapestries depict a tall, thin priest being crowned by shadowy figures in the sky. A large bed, a gold-trimmed basin table with a tarnished brass basin, a desk, and a wardrobe fill the room. The desk holds ancient parchments, crumbling to dust, covered in indecipherable marks and sigils. Extensive searches reveal nothing of interest in the room.

Leaving the bedchamber and returning to the corridor, the party arrives into an antechamber with an iron spiral staircase leading down. A rotted wooden door marks the south wall. Mosaics depict more of the tall, thin priests bowing before shadowy figures in the sky. The door reveals a long hallway lined with dormitory rooms, none of which hold anything of interest, save mosaics on the ceilings depicting tentacles descending down. After an extensive search of each room, the party heads down the spiral staircase.

The staircase descends into a large antechamber with mosaics depicting more of the strange thin priests bowing before shadowy figures in the sky. There is a corridor leading west. Following the corridor, the party comes upon a series of cells, each guarded with a locked door and a portcullis. Continuing down the corridor, they find a large room with a rotating table in the center. The table has leather binding straps upon it. Along the walls are chains and manacles. A wooden cabinet holds the rusted implements of torture within it. The party, save for Mõrvar, is appalled—though he does reiterate that there is something creepy about this place overall.

Nevertheless, they decide to open one of the cells. After ;Mõrvar and Rilka demonstrate their strength, they manage to open the rusty portcullis and break into a cell. Inside is the skeletal remains of an unusually tall and thin humanoid—not human. The party, despite an indifferent Mõrvar, decide to take out all of the bones to inter them outside the temple.

As Mõrvar heads toward the spiral staircase, he sees a vision of a tall, thin priest unlocking a secret panel in the wall opposite the corridor and heading inside. Mõrvar then sets down his load and goes to the wall—and sure enough, there is a secret panel. The others come with their burdens and ask him what he is up to. He tells them about the vision and the secret door. The party is instantly on its guard against whatever gave him that vision. Nevertheless, Mõrvar convinces the party to check out what is beyond the secret panel.

The party continues down a wide corridor until their way is blocked by a collapsed debris and a crawlspace. Crawling through, they find themselves in a partially collapsed chamber another altar in the center of the room. The mosaic on the floor here depicts a massive, tentacled beast. The walls have mosaics depicting this beast destroying cities and people. Set into the altar is a green gemstone, pulsing with green light. The room grows warm.

Mõrvar has another vision, this time of a tall, thin priest casting spells through the green gemstone and burning through warrior after warrior on a field of battle. This causes a great deal of consternation in the party—as well as fear. Suddenly, Mõrvar feels re-energized with life while everyone else feels a cold pain enter them. Surm declares that they need to get out of here now—that this gem is not good and who knows why it wants Mõrvar. He doubts that they have the power to destroy it—an utterance upon which the room starts to grow cold, convincing the party to leave with haste through the crawlspace. They decide to leave the bones behind.

Arriving at the sanctuary once again, the party is met by two bloody skeletons, returned to life! They once again strike them down. Continuing on, they discover that the skeleton that Surm had splashed with holy water did not rise—prompting Surm to sprinkle holy water on the fallen skeletons. Mõrvar casts their bones into the rift.

Surm thinks that the party should collect the fallen men and go to Josemeedt to find a priest of Yülthn and let them know what they found. He doesn’t want to loot the bodies to get the goodwill of the priest. So the party hauls the bodies up and out of the crawlspace and out of the temple. Dirty and tired, the party finds themselves outside in late afternoon with three dead bodies and a lot of unanswered questions.

Session One
The Sounds of Battle

4 Awakening 508

The battle against the massive wolf is done and the party buries Soderic upon a nearby hill. As Savaric finishes saying words over his brother, the sounds of battle are heard coming from a nearby rise. The party investigates.

Upon the rise the party spies four massive Urkhani (Orc) warriors felling a human in robes. Savaric calls to them in their native tongue to “Stop!”. This seizes the Orcs’ attention and they begin to charge. Mõrvar strides forward, an intimidating scowl upon his countenance. This brings the leader of the charge up short, forcing him to declare that “this” is their kill. In the meantime, Surm has summoned a fire beetle to fight in his defense and it chooses this moment to appear in front of the Orc leader and attack. The melee begins in earnest.

At the end of the battle, the Orcs lay dead and the party is licking their various wounds. It was a hard-fought battle of magic and blade.

After looting the Orcish bodies, the party checks out their kill. Two humans lay dead—one a warrior and one in robes. The robed one carries a Masterwork dagger with a ring of flame etched upon the blade. The symbol is meaningless to all. Further, hidden upon his person, is a crumpled bit of parchment that looks like a map of some sort. After investigating the map further, Mõrvar determines that it points to a gully some five miles from the site of the battle. After a brief discussion, the party decides to pursue what the men were looking for on the map.

After a short trip to the gulley on the map, the party discovers a crawlspace into the hill. Savaric finds no tracks leading into or out of the crawlspace. Discovering that their battle with the Orcs had taken a lot out of them, the party decides to camp for the night and attempt the crawlspace in the morning.

5 Awakening 508

Rilka leads the way into the crawlspace. It is 25’ wide but only 3’ tall. The path begins to narrow and decline almost immediately. Soon the way is blocked by what appears to be a broken and fallen pillar with strange, disturbing tentacle motifs carved into it. Passing by the broken pillar, she finds that she is sliding down into stone room! Savaric slides quickly after her down the decline while the sorcerers manage to brace themselves and lower a rope down into the chamber to climb down.

In the chamber, the party finds another pillar with the disturbing carvings and Mõrvar insists that something wrong with this place. They appear to be in an antechamber of a much larger room that is split by a 5’ wide rift. Exploring around a corner, keeping clear of the rift, the party finds an alcove decorated in mosaics depicting people bowing to shadowy forms in the sky. There is a statue of an unusually thin, bearded man in robes at the center of the chamber…