The Light in the Darkness

Which was more harrowing -a bad NYC accent or giant armored bugs?
Probably the accent

Our heroes arrive at the Monastery of the precipice where they are greeted by Abbot Allendi, former baker of Baldur’s Gate and proud owner of a thick accent that several of the players took exception to (for the record, this is NOT a Jewish accent, I have modeled it after Senator Al D’Amato, a Long Islander by way of Brooklyn). Abbot Allendi welcomes the players and encourages them to make themselves at home.

The players meet several characters in the common room, including:

Yannik Johastra: Liege–lord of the Rocky Valley (north of Loudwater), and lord of Horde-breaker, holdfast famed for withstanding the brunt of the orc hordes that come out of north. Yannik is an older man, tall with a mass of white hair, bushy white eyebrows and beard and mustache. He wears well-worn leather and chainmail armor. He carries around a massive wooden hammer, named Deliverer that seems more mallet than war-hammer. Wherever the hammer sits a small pile of woodchips gradually gathers. Yannik is seeking Lady Saharel to help solve a problem between his two sons before it tears apart his family. Participant in countless battles, what Yannik really likes to talk about is his hot-house, where he keeps a full garden and grows tomatoes year round.

Rallio deVore: the first tiefling any of our heroes have seen up close. Rallio was secretive, private and uncommunicative. He wears an over-sized dull yellow cloak that helps cover the horns on his head. The players were unable to draw Rallio out of his secretive shell.

Millik the Thrush: A rather tall broadly built halfling, almost dwarf-like. She wears leather armor and a shield with the silhouette of a bird in flight. Our heroes managed to connect with Millik. They learned she is a member of the somewhat famous Durrano family of halflings (all known for their size). She is not seeking the Lady in Spellgard, but is trying to help her family who have contracted lycanthropy (were-rats) and are currently living under Spellgard. Something is causing her family to descend deeper into madness, staying were-rats longer, becoming more and more feral. Her grand-father, Ephram Durrano, in his one of his last moments of lucidness, cursed Millik (who is immune to lycanthropy) to be deathly scared of rats.

Millik left Spellgard and searched for a cure for her family’s affliction. She eventually found the source of the curse, but by then it was too late. For some reason she has been unable to discover, her family went feral far quicker than other lycanthropes (many lycanthropes –according to Millik, who is now something of an expert –go their entire lives without turning feral). Once feral –even killing the source of the curse will not reverse things. Her family are were-rats forever.

Millik has visited them several times since then. Once to say goodbye to her grandfather, and the other times to see if there was a reason for the feral-ness. With each visit her terror grew, her grandfather’s curse digging in deeper. Each time ended in failure, culminating in her having to kill one of her cousins. Now, paralyzed by the mere thought of visiting her family’s lair, she can only offer one helpful piece of information: there is something deep in their lair that they are protecting, something that has driven them all mad.

Our heroes listened and agreed that they would probably have to check things out. Millik asked the heroes to hold no quarter against her family -that they all needed to be put out of their misery.

The heroes also spent time exploring the monastery. Under-abbot, brother Bellross was rude and somewhat accommodating. A late night excursion led to some mischief in the monastery’s kitchen and a talk with an old codger named Brother Simm (who sleeps under the kitchen table). Finally, the players met with Brother Turnagall, the local handyman who confirmed that there has been new activity in the tower of Spellgard, that some seekers have been injured near the tower from falling rocks and arrows. Dark creepers, kobolds and were-rats roam the ruins, as well as other creatures he cannot name.

Our heroes decide to goof into the ruins and explore. They encounter the merchant Clewsoro first. Clewsoro inhabits the burnt out ruins of a tower where he sells items to seekers –at a severe mark-up. Besides the wagons and display tables showing his wares the players also see a tall, well-built dark skinned man wearing flowing robes, a long sword, and chained at the ankle to one of the wagons. They learn the man’s name is Uunahmett and he is from Amn.

Sensing a slavery situation the players immediately took a dislike to Clewsoro. It did not help that Clewsoro told them not to steal anything. Our heroes distract Clewsoro while Kierra goes to see what’s behind the wagons. She finds crates full of unusually large insects, as well as crates full of pepper whisky.

Kierra gets caught sneaking back. Clewsoro cries out in anger for his guards while Murdoch tries to free Uunahmett. Clewsoro laughs at this attempt and tells Uunahmett that he is free. Upon hearing this information Uunahmett tells our heroes that he cannot be freed, even unchained he would not be feee (it’s an Amnish thing). Meanwhile two guards come out, and while one is grossly fat and the other toothless, though their weapons seem real enough. Clewsoro demands a tax (20 gp), a fine for trying to steal from him. Brother Hammond tries to moderate the situation, but Clewsoro won’t back down. The players back out of the camp, somehow avoiding violence, but perhaps making an enemy.

The players decide to head over to the tower of Spellgard, a building that has managed to survive the last 1000 years without deteriorating. As the players get close they can see a faint glow from the top of the tower (they have been told this is a new development) -and then arrows and rocks come flying down. Large, humanoid shapes can be seen poking over the ramparts from the peak of the roughly 90 foot tall tower. The ranger takes a hit and the party moves away from the tower.

A scrawny elderly man in dirty robes walks past them, muttering to himself in an angry wheezy whisper. He was followed by two mechanized dogs that appear to be servants. The players do not stop him or otherwise interact with the muttering old man.

The players meet the Company of the Red Sabers, another group of adventurers camping in the ruins. The players are introduced to their leader, Devlin, the eladrin mage, the Dark-eyed One (he has black orbs for eyes), Farrak and Harrah, twins and possibly half-orcs, and Allan Redhand, a quiet man in chainmail, with a vicious scar on his face and wearing a red glove on his left hand. The reception from the Red Sabers was a bit cool, something seeming a little off to the heroes. They left the Red Sabers wondering where this armed group of experienced adventurers fit into the scheme of things.

The heroes decide to visit the dragonborn camp. On the way there they encounter a nest of Kruthiks. They successfully battle the giant armored insects and in the process uncover the body of a dead dwarf. The dwarf clutches a leather sack. In the sack are several magic items (see magic items page).

Which is where we leave our heroes. In the midst of the Spellgard ruins wondering just how to reach Lady Saharel, what role does the tower play, and does a horde of were-rats stand between them and the answers they seek.

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Dragon’s wings, A fairy ring, THE goblin king and no one took a swing.
Just another day in the life of the Unstoppable Goblin Stoppers.

A massive adult dragon assaults Loudwater’s walls, but while all quell in fear at the beast’s roar, Kelgrath hears words being spoken in draconic. Our heroes learn that the dragon has been newly formed in the astral sea in response to the massive magical imbalance in Faerun. The dragon is searching for allies, especially among those with draconic influences, like Kelgrath’s dragon based sorcery. To emphasize to the heroes that a war was coming, the dragon uses its breath weapon on the town wall, turning the entire wall into a black metallic substance that defied classification. Town secure, the dragon flew away, vowing that they would meet again.

The situation seemed to fluster Lady Moonfire above and beyond that of meeting a dragon. She invited the heroes to Moonfire mansion, offering the players the use of her servant’s quarters instead of the inn. The players are heralded as heroes by most, villains by some, talked about by all. The players settle in to their new quarters and meet with Lady Moonfire. She decided earlier, after the players left for the Ogre Barrow that she should take the job of running Loudwater seriously (in part, thanks to the players influence). To do that she would need to enter the family vault and reclaim the necessary items. To do this, she had to pass through a ring of fae that she has always been deathly afraid of. She confronted those fears and entered the ring where she passed into the Land of Fae’s realm of Summer and met with the Summer Queen and swore fealty to her. When Lady Moonfire returned she was altered, now appearing more fae in appearance, with tattoos covering her forearms, pointier ears and narrower face. Harrowleaf and Humpineaous also entered the ring, Harrowleaf was also changed –looking more fae, but Humpineaous remained the same.

Lady Moonfire also collects prophesies from the Lady Saharel, a ghost/lich that occupies nearby Spellgard tower. She has established an organization, Saharel’s Pilgrims, where she offers protection of the Silver Crescents on the journey to Spellgard tower and pays for prophecies. Shortly after she entered the fae ring and donned the circlet reserved for Loudwater lords kept in the family vault she received a prophesy that seemed to involve her directly. Moonfire showed the players the prophesy:

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Here thar be Dragons!
Is it me, or have the elves gotten a bit more elfier?

The players return to Loudwater having vanquished the goblins, cleared the Barrow of the Ogre King and perhaps solved future goblin problems in the area, at least as it pertains to the Bloody Stump tribe. As they approach the walled town, they see that the portion of the wall the goblins blew up is being repaired, and, by all appearances, quickly –as the last large block is being lifted high into the air with a block and tackle system.

At the city gates, Kelgrath the sorcerer sees something that gives him pause. Someone has taken a large legless wooden table and painted several symbols on it with whitewash paint. (at this point the DM hands Kelgrath a piece of paper that Kelgrath’s player reads). The other players know Kelgrath is holding back and start to question him. He relents a bit and tells them that the symbols are a secret code he knows and that someone is trying to communicate with him, trying to tell Kelgrath to meet, but Kelgrath cannot figure out what the final symbol is, a square with a C attached to the side, done in green paint.

Our heroes enter the town wondering (pure DM speculation here) what other secrets the sorcerer holds, and indeed, just how well do they know each other?

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In the Barrow of the Ogre King
Even more goblins and another dead cat!

Our heroes make the decision to go to the Barrow of the Ogre King and deal with the goblins once and for all. They also decide that they will take the magical dagger, half of the goblin artifact Zugzug (which the goblins refer to as a totem) with them, not trusting to leave it in Loudwater.

Finding the Barrow was fairly simple as the small goblin horde made little effort to cover their tracks, not to mention the Ranger, Arraellia’s amazing tracking abilities.

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When goblins attack!
goblin hordes and dancing shamans!

The next day the players woke from a peaceful night sleep in the Green Tankard, ate a meal, discussed what they wanted to do and went out to face the day. The main item on the agenda –retrieve the dagger, the other half of the goblin artifact, Zugzug from Garwan’s shop.

The market square that the Green Tankard opens out on was busier than normal. Today was the day of the Children’s Hayride and all the children had gathered and were in several wagons across the way near the city wall. Birds were chirping, the children were laughing and all was well.

A second later Arraellia suggested something was about to happen. Then the city wall across the square exploded, blowing debris across the square. Goblins poured in through the gap and began attacking the surprised townsfolk and players. Except Arraellia, her preternatural abilities allowed her to sense the attack before it was coming, and while everyone else gathered their wits, she began firing arrows.

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Arrival at Loudwater
The word gets out and the plots moves forward.

The players rejoin Arlo Bosch and his battlewagon caravan and head to river town of Loudwater. There they part ways with Arlo. The players have not decided to become an adventuring group at this time, though the mage, Murdock Bloodstorm and the cleric, Brother Hammond are both leading in that direction. What is also clear at this time is that this is not a trusting group. Teamwork, open communication and the revelation of secrets and life stories do not come readily to this bunch. For now they hang together for convenience sake and the tenuous shared experience of Smiling Bob –a slight thread from which a rich tapestry will be woven.

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Prey for Smiling Bob
A smiling bear, goblins in halfling drag, and a ranger named Tarpoo.

Our players meet each other while working as caravan guards for caravan master, Arlo Bosch, creator and proud owner of the Bosch Battle Wagon, odd, pumpkin shaped wagons designed to repel the most determined foe. Arlo was accompanied by his second in command, the port bellied, dour Harlop, as well as a group of regular caravan guards that have worked with Arlo previously.

The players’ destination is Loudwater, a stop on the way to the North, a place rife with adventure and opportunities to prove oneself or find great treasure.

But a decidedly well made orc wagon trap breaks the lead wagon’s front axle. After some stress filled moments waiting for an attack, a wizened old halfling, Gerrard of Riverslye Homestead, approaches the group. Gerrard is there to help. Explaining in his strong brogue (just don’t call him a leprechaun) that he has the perfect sized cut log to help fix the wagon, if only he could get some help with a little problem of his own.

Arlo suggests the players go, since his regular caravan guards know what to do and they don’t.

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