Shepherd of Fire

Houstin... we have a problem.
And it's a major, major, planar-spanning problem.

The session started off a bit slow with everybody leveling up and such. For the first time in history, Carth had a concussion! This… this turned out to be more detrimental than anticipated, for it was not his strength of body that kept the party going, it was his strength of character.

Himaestro, Aelar, Kriven, and Oskar were informed of the location of Orryn Ningel, who may or may not have firebombed the city of Cape Mio (capital of Cithara, Himaestro’s region). The gnomish wizard was at his main workshop in Azari, so they teleported there. Although they were somewhat far away from Orryn’s actual location, it would only take a few weeks by foot. Seems simple enough, right?

Right?

Right?

Wrong.

The first problem came when the party came across a quartet of dead bodies. One was holding a golden genie lamp, so Himaestro rubbed it. An effritti (no clue how to spell, too lazy to get Monster Manual) appeared. Himaestro attempted to communicate with it via sign language since it only spoke Ignan. What he meant to say is no longer remembered by me; in fact, I don’t think we ever found out since he usually tells me after his charades. Anyway, the effritti interpreted the charades as a desire to serve the Sultan of the Fire Plane, so the effritti used Plane Shift to send Himaestro there. This began a short storyline for him to gain his freedom. Aelar and Kriven soldiered on (Oskar was yet to arrive, as he was still in his drunk stupor).

Normally, I recap sessions cronologically, but this session featured two different adventures for a few hours, so I’ll begin with Himaestro’s Great Escape, go on to Aelar, Kriven, and Oskar vs. Total Madness, and then return back to when they finally met up with Orryn Ningel. That’s right: something that could have been done in just an hour, maybe two, ended up taking the entire session to reach.

Himaestro was stripped of all belongings: his weapons, robes, money, and miscellaneous items were taken. The genies discovered his secret magic castle and basically raided it, including taking Ali Babin Babar out. Their sultan informed Himaestro that he was to be their slave for eternity and was placed under a Geas spell; the DM then gave out about his desire to have Geas be more like its original form, which was bad-ass. Anyway, Ali Babin Babar was also enslaved and worked alongside Himaestro. Their job was to mine for rubies. Every day, the pair were harassed by various denizens of the plane. Himaestro attempted to subtly sow disdain amongst the slaves, probably hoping for an uprising (which he probably would have used as a means to escape) but got caught and was thrown into the Pit. The Pit was a chasm where you had to hope you didn’t splat after a three minute free-fall. The only way to leave the pit is to find a ruby down there, though they’re incredibly sparse in that area. Within the pit, Himaestro ran into Rin, the girl who he helped rid of a succubus, who had found a similar lamp and ended up a slave. The two decided to try and escape somehow. Himaestro was reunited with The Three Musketeers and D’Artagnan (a.k.a. the four Fire Elementals the party helped before who were inexplicably French). After bringing him to the Fire Plane version of Paris, they helped retrieve some of his stuff. Not all was recovered; most of his money and the magic box were never brought back. Eventually, Rin, Babar, and Himaestro discovered a portal leading out of the plane, this one guarded by a fire giant. Himaestro turned him into a frog, tossed him into his backpack, and went back to Heliod, where… well… you’ll see.

Kriven and Aelar managed to cower away from all random encounters thrown at them. Oh well. Oskar was teleported to them after awakening from his alcohol fueled coma. The force of his fall was so great that he murderized the giant eagle that Kriven and Aelar were riding; his body replaced its brain. They continued on and finally, finally looked like they were going to fight something. A bone devil met up with them and did the usual pre-match taunting, asking where their friends were, etc. Aelar blurted out that the king was at home with a concussion. The bone devil smiled and zoomed off. No chase was given. The next day, Rita teleported to them and went on a tirade of how stupid they were, as their tip-off lead the bone devil to bring a few hundred friends with him. She teleported the party back to the now-burning Heliod, where they narrowly defeated a trio of bone devils (by narrowly, I mean Oskar fell unconscious). Himaestro rejoined by this point. He threw the Fire Giant-turned-Frog to some bone devils, who mercilessly brutalized it.

The four made their way to the throne room to find one hundred devils. Dead. Surrounding Estellise, who had her head somewhat down, lolling to one side, with the light of the world sucked from her eyes. An imp tried to crawl away and she crushed its neck under her heel. When spoken to by the party, she snapped back to reality but couldn’t recall murdering the hundred devils. Aelar asked where Carth was, saying he was concerned. In truth, he wanted to kill the king (cue Rainbow song, here; seriously, it’s an awesome song) and Estelle saw right through his lies. She used a bracelet on her right arm to teleport him to a different plane of existence, a labyrinthine demi-plane that is almost impossible to find. Remember those ten artifacts? Remember how one was an armlet? Well…

Anyway, she returned back to reality soon after and couldn’t remember banishing Aelar to the plane he was currently in. It was a dark, bleak plane with no sign of life; plenty of bones, though. Rita explained a bit of what the armlet was to Himaestro and Kriven; by this point, Oskar had drunk himself into another stupor. Himaestro had Estelle try to remove the armlet. He said that it was dangerous and was turning her insane. After some convincing, she agreed, but couldn’t remove it. He brought up the idea of cutting off her arm and then restoring it, but nobody in the party knew spells which could restore limbs, so she refused. In the end, Himaestro ran out of patience. Rather than try to save Aelar somehow, he teleported to Azari with Kriven so they could hurry up and murder New Light Mage Specialist Orryn Ningel.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, it isn’t the armlet that is turning Estellise insane, it’s… something else. Nothing tangible, actually. This descent won’t really slow, mind you.

Anyway, with Ali Babin Babar in Rita, Karol, and Estelle’s hands, the two began a search for Orryn. They eventually tracked him down to a small house near a warehouse. Himaestro destroyed the house, only to find that Orryn had been in the warehouse. Shattering the roof of the warehouse and rising into the sky was the gray dragon. However, it was no organic dragon. It was a machine, crafted by Orryn Ningel, which he could fly and safely cast spells from. To make matters worse, there were two dozen different warding runes which made any magic against this mechanical monstrosity useless. There were, of course, two downsides to this machine: it wasn’t incredibly well built, so it only had 120 HP, and there was a small hole behind where Orryn sat, one he could use to make a quick escape. Things seemed to go well at first, considering only two party members were present. Himaestro held the dragon in place via a Bigby spell while Kriven got onto its back and began chopping away.

Then Orryn used his best spells.

The first big spell was a frozen sphere which badly damaged Himaestro. The second were two prismatic spray spells to Kriven. The first did some damage and threatened to petrify him. The second caused him to go blind for one round and sent him to the Astral Plane the next. This left Himaestro all alone with 20-something HP, his ward vaporized. Orryn used an Immolation spell and brought Himaestro down to 0 HP, causing his body to burn into ashes which were carried away by the desert breeze.

So, just to recap…

  • Himaestro is dead.
  • Kriven is on the Astral Plane.
  • Aelar is in an unknown demiplane.
  • Most of the party’s money is gone.
  • Estellise is going insane and unknowingly has one of the ten artifacts needed by the New Light.
  • Orryn Ningel has a mechanical dragon capable of breathing magic and is immune to spells.

Oh man, this next session is going to be great… for me.

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The Party Foils Most of My Evil Plans
When half of them are missing (again) and things change on the fly! Quite clearly.

It’s quite a good thing I can’t go on to /r/squaredcircle today (at least until I get off of work) so now I can type this at work with no distractions!

The session kicked off with the party going to a village to try and find Sabrina Greyson, Carth’s sister and a member of the Cult of Cthulhu, though they believed that she was forced into the cult rather than having joined it willingly. They arrived at a village that was under the cult’s control. In a short fight afterwards which gave them 40 XP total (the enemies were all commoners) they knocked out many of the villagers. Later on, they found some people hiding in the village temple. The villagers explained what had happened and how there was an underwater temple to Cthulhu in the nearby Lake Iommi.

When they arrived at the lake, Sabrina threatened the lives of three other villagers. She decided to let them live if only Carth entered the temple. Through deceit and trickery, Himaestro and Kriven managed to sneak into the temple alongside Carth. They avoided several deadly traps in a hastily shrunken dungeon and eventually found Sabrina. In a rather short and one-sided match, Carth beat her to a bloody pulp and into unconsciousness. A tiefling appeared and said he planned to sacrifice her to Cthulhu, but the three party members persuaded him otherwise… for the moment.

After they cleared the underwater temple (which collapsed after they left) they moved on to the Silver Mountain. Via the power of flight, they managed to skip an entire dungeon and reached the peak in less than one hour. When they reached the top, they found a temple to the Archangel which the New Light worshiped. He explained his goals and plans, along with the Cult’s. He revealed the ten artifacts which were needed to free him and also revealed several of his lieutenants. The party left and found a treasure vault with a metric ton of silver and a magic box which could send somebody to a demi-plane of paradise that seems perfect… perhaps too perfect?

After they left the Silver Mountain, they decided to free Estellise of the curse which plauged her. Rita teleported them to Heliod and used the spellbook she found to cast a wish on Estelle, ridding her of the curse which condemned her soul to Hell.

Then things went very wrong.

Estelle was thrown into a coma thanks to the spell’s effects. The tome Rita used was then revealed to actually be the Book of Vile Darkness. It corrupted her and turned her into a Neutral Evil spellcaster. She immediately teleported to elsewhere. Kriven and Himaestro then dropped everything and went to a lich’s tower. They met a Solar Angel who demanded they stop Rita, who was already mobilizing an undead army, or else pay for playing a part in creating this disaster. In the meantime, Carth discovered that Dispater had turned the soul-capturing goal of his from a business prospect to a personal matter, as he believed the use of an extremely powerful “Wish” spell to be unfair and a breach of contract. Therefore, his goal became to capture Estellise, torture her in some pit of Hell, and have her surrender her soul or die. Carth said no.

Two days passed and the party decided to immediately deal with the newly-cursed Rita. They traveled to the haunted swamp in Qualen, Kriven’s region, since it had multiple overlaps with the Plane of Shadow/Shadow Plane/Shadowfell. With 950-something knights at their side, along with some clerics, wizards, and paladins, they traveled to the Shadowfell’s version of Azari, where the Stargazer’s tower was located, a place Rita had mentioned wanting to visit back on the Material Plane. Himaestro decided to play War Games and create a coordinated plan to fight Rita’s rather small horde (be happy you lot did this within two days), which outnumbered them by more than double. While the army fought the horde, Carth, Himaestro, Kriven, Karol, and Estellise headed straight for the tower. They fought an erinyes outside, two death slaadi in the tunnels, and a young black shadow dragon inside, one under Rita’s control. She led the party to another room where she had two chain devils and another black shadow dragon waiting for them.

The party by this point was beaten, scarred, and out of offensive magic. Therefore, they took the coward’s way out and decided to use diplomacy. They brought up about a baker’s dozen points as to why Rita should destroy the book and restore herself back to normal; sadly, I could only come up with a dozen counterpoints. In the end, Rita banished the two chain devils and blasted the Book of Vile Darkness into oblivion. Carth, Rita, Estelle, and Karol returned to the Material Plane. Himaestro brought Kriven and the surviving knights (who managed to defeat the undead horde) to his plane of paradise and held a giant feast.

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Once more with feeling! Long live the King!
"Not did we, but how many times did we... consummate the marriage?!" - Triple H

Well, this session was packed with information. Fortunately, it isn’t midnight yet, so I’ve remembered almost all of what happened. There was a ten day free-period for the party. I’m pretty sure that a lot of these are out of order, but I think I’ve got it down.

The session kicked off with the party cleaning up the mess of King Tostig’s assassination. First and foremost, Carth discovered a lot about the invaders from his brother, Kyle. First, he learned that they were called the New Light. Second, he learned a bit about their leader, Saul Richter, and his lieutenants, of which there were nine. Thirdly, he learned of their goal: to “cleanse” the world entirely by unleashing an ancient being known as an Archangel. To do this, they need to gather ten artifacts to release him, and this is the first time in history that all ten were on the Material Plane. Percival Pringle decided to ask the party who they believed should be the next regent of Vesperia. All five candidates had some flaws and some positives; Barrett was a commanding man yet a warmonger, Excella was cunning yet the most evil, Ambrose was a man of the people yet insane, Estellise was good hearted yet naive, and Whitehorse rooted out crime yet himself was corrupt. In the end, they chose Estelle.

On day two, Estellise gave the players rewards for their help with defending the kingdom and helping her with the devils. She gave each party member a noble rank and a piece of land, except for Carth. Why? Well, she had asked him if he wanted to rule alongside her. His response: Imma be king, bitch!

On day three, Himaestro helped a woman named Rin, the same one who had been targeted by a succubus that had wronged him. The succubus was quickly eliminated and Rin give Himaestro a map to a dragon’s horde.

Not much of memory for day fourth, and not much likely happened.

Day five was when Schwann Oltorain arrived in Heliod. He effortlessly captured Aelar and Himaestro, though rewarded the second man for good behavior. Carth stayed with Estellise to protect her from potential assassins.

On day six, next to nothing happened. Kriven began to create a new insignia for his knights.

Day seven brought Himaestro and Aelar their freedom. It also brough Himaestro a reason to live: a pygmy elephant named Ali Babin Babbar. He purchased fancy clothes and armor (for Ali). Himaestro also had a magic gem, toy thingy with him.

Day eight was the marriage of Estellise and Carth, then the coronation, and finally the reception. Due to my severe wrestling addiction, the quote in the subtitle ran through my head afterwards. Go to the list of adventure logs to see the full quote.

Day nine… can’t think of much that happened, other than Raven revealing that he and Schwann were actually one and the same and that he had a multiple personality disorder which he had no control over. Pringle also discovered that the party would find more answers about the New Light in the Silver Mountain. I think the party left on this day, if not day ten.

At some point, Rita requested that she and Karol travel with the party for a while so she could get rid of the mages trying to kill her. They agreed, she destroyed her house, and she traveled with the group for the meantime.

Once the group left Heliod, they killed several monsters. At one point, they fought a few mages who were after Rita’s notes. The mages were quickly defeated and Rita asked if they could search for the book her mentor had spent so much time working towards. They managed to find the book in a dungeon guarded by a trio of demons. Now, Rita has the spellbook of an ancient wizard with near-limitless power. Do you think this will honestly end well?

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Long Live The... Uh Oh...
All their efforts, all their pain, and for what?

The session kicked off with the party getting a message that some assassins were waiting for them (courtesy of Raven). Four assassins were laying in wait to ambush, though they were made short work of. Of all four, only one was left alive. He informed the party that he had been sent by Schwann Oltorain, leader of the Shadow of the Crown, to kill the party due their association with a noble in line for the crown. Seeing as to how taking on this person would be difficult with several powerful warriors as allies, the client opted to eliminate the players before their main target.

The party (consisting of Carth, Himaestro, and Oskar) reached the Laedenheim Mountains, a small unnoteworthy mountain range near Cavalan. They found out that the dwarves haven’t sent reinforcements due to their need for their soldiers, as there have been a number of monsters that have taken over old mining camps. The monsters included orcs, giants, dragons, and trolls. The party was doing pretty well. Then Oskar received a concussion.

Carth and Himaestro took out the orcs on their own, but when they reached the cyclops and mammoth…. things didn’t go so well. Himaestro defeated the mammoth, enraging the cyclops and causing it to focus on him. It knocked out Himaestro. After twenty tense seconds, Himaestro bled out and died. Carth finished off the cyclops and rushed to the An-Duluth Forest, where the elves they needed to contact were located, due to rumors of a person who could reincarnate the dead. She agreed to help.

While in the forest, Carth, Himaestro, a returning Oskar and for a few encounters only, Estellise, eliminated demons, devils, driders, giants, elementals, and a formian. In addition, the party halted an illegal logging operation. After that, the elves agreed to send help. With the elves wrapped up, the players returned to the mountains and finished off the last few camps.

Eight sessions of hard work, critical failures, triumph, tragedy, comedic relief, vicious mockery, and near-death experiences (and in one case, true death experience) the party had done it. All possible reinforcements for Heliod had been attained. The clergies, the mages, elves, and dwarves amassed a mighty counterattack against the invading force.

Then, Michael happened.

The party was asked by Percy Pringle to help defend King Tostig in case any internal saboteurs infiltrated the castle. While the battle raged outside the walls, Himaestro, Carth, and Oskar were inside the palace. One of the three heard something and saw a werewolf standing above on a chandelier. Soon, the party was surrounded by monsters: mummies, ghosts, lycans, and specters. Hanging upside down behind King Tostig was a vampire who cut off his head before he could register what was going on. Just seconds later, a nearby door was kicked down and an eight-and-a-half foot tall half-orc warlord led a middle-aged prisoner out of the palace. The party, not being stupid and unwise (usually just one or the other) decided not to fight the twenty-something adversaries. All of the attackers left. King Tostig’s head sat at his feet, his bodyguards lay dead, Percy Pringle was shocked into silence, and the next session is going to have to deal with a whole lot of bullocks.

And it only gets harder from here.

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Plans Quickly Change As Half The Party Receives Chair Shots To The Head
Concussion City, Bitch!

The party size, at its biggest for this session, was three: Kriven, Himaestro, and Carth. For the first third of the session, it was only Carth and Himaestro. For the final third, it was Kriven and Carth. Why Carth never receives concussions is beyond me… maybe he was bitten by a radioactive concussion and he’s immune to them now.

Anyway, the session kicked off with Carth and Himaestro trying to find their way out of the tower they had stopped in last time. They gathered what magic items they could. On their way out, they accidentally unleashed a lich… that may be a problem (or I could always kill him off in one swift moment). They were let go since they freed him from his prison, though he did stop Himaestro to get his wand back. They then went to the next set of ruins where they murdered eight people with no provocation whatsoever. No matter what you say to defend yourself, that is exactly what happened.

After they had left, Kriven joined a while later. Before that, Carth and Himaestro tried to rescue Rita’s parents, who had been kidnapped. Rita didn’t care if her parents lived or died due to their less-than-amicable relationship. Carth tried to rescue them anyway since it was the “right thing to do” but only managed to save Rita’s mother. They tried to have the two reconcile, but to no avail on Rita’s part. Kriven managed to convince her when he recovered from his chair shot to the head. We’ll see how that went next session.

The next group of men and women that the party had to recruit were the clergies of Wee Jas (Goddess of Death and Magic), Pelor (God of LIght), and Bahamut (God of Metallic Dragons). Each clergy had sent out several warrior-priests to deal with problems plaguing the towns and villages surrounding Heliod. There were six settlements that had to be visited in total.

The first settlement had a problem with an undead horde that visited once every few nights or so. Carth, Kriven, and Himaestro discovered that the zombies were unknowingly being summoned by a bard who carried an extremely powerful spellbook that created magic with his music. He helped the clerics and the party eliminate the zombies, largely by playing an extremely fast song that summoned lightning bolts to destroy the monsters. Himaestro fought a beholder zombie on his own (and nearly won, surprisingly) while Carth and Kriven fought several zombies inside of a house.

Afterwards, they visited the remaining five towns. They defeated a vrock in one, got rid of a bone devil in another, convinced some vampire spawn to leave a third, defeated a doppelganger in a fourth, and solved a bit of a problem with a spectator beholder in the fifth. While getting rid of the bone devil, they managed to create a deal with Dispater to save Estelle’s soul: in exchange for Dispater handing over her soul, the party hands over one hundred million gold pieces.

Now that the party is done helping the clergies, they are to go to the Laedenheim Mountains to see why the dwarves have yet to send aid.

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All Is Well Until The Session Goes Off The Rails On A Crazy Train
All aboard! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Due to the party having ten days’ free time, most of what was done was side quests… and purchasing magic items. Of note:

  • The party finally got their quest from the man who gave them ghost-fighting weapons. He was the leader of a gang of thieves known as The Flock and he used the moniker of “Raven”. One of his boys got murdered by a rival gang member in the Wolf Pack, a more vicious band of thieves. When the party tracked down the murderer, it was revealed that the Wolf Pack was commissioned by the Shadows of the Crown, an assassin’s guild that only works for the nobility, to carry out the attack. They sent him to jail and get a reward from “Raven”, who said that he will likely call upon them again in the future.
  • Rita got framed for murder and making death threats to the extremely paranoid King Tostig. She was set for execution, effectively making it nigh impossible for the party to obtain magic items outside of finding them, until her name was cleared. It turns out that she has the translation to her mentor’s notes which were stolen by a group of wizards. They were the ones trying to frame her so that they could easily steal the translation script. However, they were caught rather quickly and Rita was set free.
  • Estellise got a note from the Cult of Dispater explaining why they were attempting to kill her. Because of the deal her parents made, her soul is condemned unless the pact can be changed. The only way to do this is to try and find a member of the Cult of Dispater and speak with one of their bishops.’Til then, random encounters with various devils and cultists may become a bit more commonplace.
  • Carth joined the Hunting Blades guild and helped Karol get back into it, Himaestro joined the Mages’ Circle of Heliod, and Oskar hammered his way into the Clergy of Pelor. Aelar also attempted to join the Flock but failed miserably in his trial.
  • Aelar stole a Cask of Endless Ale.
  • Himaestro’s new familiar, a hawk by the name of Jazz, dropped a rolling thunder-level of bird poop on Oskar.

After all of this was completed, and the party received their dozen or so magic items, Percy Pringle told them that their assignments were ready. The party began with the Mages Circle, seeing as to how they were the closest. They basically were undermanned and severely under supplied, so they needed the party to go to some ancient wizard ruins and gather scrolls, staves, etc. The party also learned that the clergies were in a similar situation but simply needed their men brought back.

The party started with the Mages’ quest and went to investigate some old ruins, the first of which was an ancient wizard’s tower. They encountered some looters and beat them to near death so that they couldn’t take anything. In the tower was an oni who got killed when Aelar threw him off the top of the broken tower, giving him the “Stargazer” achievement (if you don’t get this, look up “Stargazer” by Rainbow and listen to the lyrics). In the excitement, Himaestro burned the oni and the looters, causing Carth to attack him for murdering innocent people (but beating the crap out of them is peachy, apparently). Down one party member for several hours, they ventured on anyway into the bowels of the tower. Inside, they encountered a bunch of traps and a trio of powerful enemies: two vampire spawns and a beholder zombie. The vamps were made short work of while the beholder put up a good fight before finally dying. The session ended here, with the party about to venture further into the tower and Kriven’s bear eyeing Himaestro in the torture room.

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So what is it that causes the party to implode upon itself?
The affection for a couple of girls, apparently.

The session began with one of the soldiers from the invading army handing a sword and a note to Kiri. The message was brought to King Tostig, essentially a demand for the King to release a prisoner they wanted. Tostig refused and quickly began preparing what defenses he could. Firstly, he had to get as many soldiers as possible from the surrounding regions. While most had sent some form of support, two of the most powerful regions in the area, Labas and Cithara, had not even sent word back. Therefore, the party was sent out to both of these regions to see what the problem was.

The party decided to take a job as acting as guards for the Storm Runner on its maiden voyage since it was headed to Labas. They had some trouble on the way, but nothing they could’t handle. Of note: they found an ivory coffin with a gold lock on it. Was there something important or interesting inside? Maybe, we’ll have to see. Anyway, they made their way down to Zaphias to speak the Vidame (or, more likely, Tarhun Norixius) about why they had not sent help. Tarhun attempted to play his trump card and say that only nobility could speak with the Vidame and that none of the party were of noble blood. Unfortunately for Tarhun, and myself, Carth is indeed a member of a noble house, so he was the only one granted an audience. While speaking with the Vidame, who he learned with named Estelle (short for Estellise) he voiced his concerns about Tarhun and asked she be wary of him. He also decided to use this woman to get the “Catch the Rainbow” achievement. There were two reasons that she never sent help: first, Tarhun never gave her the message, and second, even if she did, Tarhun had informed her that they barely had enough troops to defend the city.

The party went to the colossal sized barracks and learned that this was a dirty, dirty lie.

They went back to confront Tarhun. The bodyguard finally had enough and ordered his soldiers to attack, though he ensured that Estellise remained unharmed. After a somewhat difficult battle, Tarhun was defeated. He was tied up while the others went to look for why he would not send support. In Tarhun’s room, they found a letter written to him by his brother, Patrin Norixius, who was leading the invading force. His instructions were to ensure that no support was sent to Heliod. Tarhun admitted his guilt. One thing he didn’t know was why Estelle’s parents, Count Richard Sidos and Countess Constance Sidos, had wanted her kept in the castle for so long other than “her safety”. Estellise wanted to speak to them about this, so she decided to go with the party to Cithara. Before leaving, 4,000 soldiers were sent to Heliod for support. I believe that at this time, Aelar decided to try his hand with Estellise. This caused a minor rift in the party that only got worse.

During the month-long journey to Cithara, the party met a wandering minstrel who Himaestro had taken a liking to. However, they soon discovered she was a succubus when she gave him a minor brain aneurysm via a kiss of death. This caused Himaestro to fall down a seemingly never ending spiral of despair.

The group finally arrived at the fortress of Cape Mio (pronounced cap-ay mee-o). After climbing almost 1,000 steps to reach the palace, they were rudely greeted by a pair of hill giant guards. Himaestro would stay back as he drowned his sorrows at a tavern. Once the remaining party entered the castle (Carth, Kriven, and Aelar) along with Estelle, they went to Richard and Constance Sidos immediately. Upon seeing their daughter, the two ordered the four to be thrown in the dungeon, no trial. What happened next was something that could have been avoided if the party had shown a wee bit of patience, but oh well, this was fun for me anyways.

Carth would do three things while in jail: acquire a magic robe for Himaestro, comfort Estelle who was on the verge of tears, and break the group out of jail with his stupid teleporting sword. They looked for the rest of their stuff and found it in an extremely poorly designed room. At the same time, they met an imp who served the Archdevil Dispater, Lord of the Second. The imp brought Himaestro to the dungeon to be reunited with them. Once he caught glimpse of Estelle, he became extremely excited and vanished. Moments later, shrieks and screams were heard from the throne room. Inside, the giant guards had been killed and the Count and Countess were close to death. A barbed devil and a pair of bearded devils appeared and came to announce that Estelle’s soul belonged to Dispater.

The devils’ reasoning was the following: Estelle’s parents had made a deal with Dispater that in exchange for more land and power, they would give the soul of their firstborn. Not having children at the time, they planned to have none. However, when Estellise was born, they decided to protect her and keep it a secret from the devils. Now that the devils had found Estellise, they thought it would be best to inform her that she would be going to Hell when she died no matter what. Also, since Richard and Constance Sidos attempted to withhold information from Dispater, they had been butchered per the terms of agreement of the contract.

Carth took offense and was the first to strike. Following a somewhat hard battle, the devils were sent back to Hell. Carth wanted to speak with Richard about the situation, but his poor medicine check worsened the Count’s wounds, causing him to die a quicker death. The group quickly left the site, though not before ransacking the place.

Back in Heliod, the group got Cithara under Estellise’s control via birthright. At the same time, they were informed that it would take more than the current army to defeat the invaders, as even with the supporting forces, they would still be heavily outnumbered (forces from Labas brought the defending number to 10,000 and support from Cithara will bring number close to 13,000). The parties which the King wished to call on, however, were unable to send support: the elves of the An-Duluth forest, who had sent support in past conflicts such as the Revolt of the Snakes, had refused to send any help. The Circle of Heliod had not the resources to provide much meaningful help. The Dwarves of the Laedenheim Mountains, who were contractually obligated to help, didn’t have the manpower. The clergies in Heliod were stretched too thin as it was. If the party wants to come within an ass’s roar of saving Heliod, they’re going to have to solve these problems soon.

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Kriven Goes To Catch The Rainbow
And by "catch" I mean he's trying to rip it out of the damn sky.

Rainbow_Rising.jpg The fourth session kicked off with the party (sans Kiri) investigating the reportedly haunted Crowskull Castle. Just a few minutes later, Himaestro caught a concussion and Kiri came in to replace him. The first poor sucker man to get caught in one of the dozen or so traps was Carth; he pulled a book off a bookshelf, causing the wall the spin around and trap him in a dark hall. Not long after, Oskar and Aelar fell victim to a knock-out gas. Carth managed to find his way out of the hall, only to get paralyzed by a poisonous dart. Kriven accidentally triggered the super slide to Hell and found himself below Crowskull. During this time, a black-hooded figure walked past Carth and quickly checked a book in the parlor he was stuck in. A while later, this same person stole his sword.

Aelar and Oskar awoke eight hours later; Carth followed about half an hour later. They began to scour the castle for undead creatures, often only running into more traps. Meanwhile, Kriven discovered the secret vault of Crowskull Castle. In the vault was the same person who stole Carth’s sword. It was Rita, a sorcerer from the Mage’s Circle of Heliod. She had come to Castle Crowskull to acquire the Burning Hammer of Volga, an ancient weapon used by the eponymous warrior. He quickly began to go after the “Catch The Rainbow” achievement. Talk about initiative. Eventually, the remaining members of the party (Kiri, at this point, had suffered a massive concussion) found their way to the vault. Rita left after marking the remaining traps on their floor plans. They went back to the noble and presented him the documents. They were satisfactory and they were paid. Rita also agreed to giving them a small discount on magic items for their help.

They then completed a small number of side-quests. Carth was attacked by several Cultists of Cthulhu, who were promptly defeated, and they revealed the location of their base in Heliod (a tiny-ass shack in the lower district of the city). They also discovered a village under the effect of The Seal of Peace, a curse created by the Demon Prince Graz’zt. They broke the Seal, ensuring safety for all future travelers but condemning 200+ souls to the Abyss.

Finally, they reached Heliod, the capital of the Kingdom of Vesperia. They were greeted by two “employees” of the man who gave them their silver weapons that killed the ghost in Zaphias. They then went to go visit Rita. She wasn’t home and they met her monster-murdering 12 year old brother, Karol. He said that he’s mention that they dropped by. Kriven asked what Rita’s favorite flowers were. Karol guessed that it was nightshade, an extremely poisonous plant with dark purple petals, since there were several in Rita’s alchemy study. While Kriven placed this at the top of his priorities, they also had to find the Cult of Cthulhu’s shack and find the location of the wizard Mordio, which was their final task to complete for Tarhun.

The first thing they did was help Kriven find some nightshade. They found some at a pond. This quest cost them 2 SP to buy a clay vase. Kriven wrote a letter and told Karol to give them to his sister when she returned. They then went to go find the Cult of Cthulhu’s little home base. The only one there was Sabrina, Carth’s sister who had been kidnapped by the cult itself. She teleported away. It was discovered that the cult is trying to find the Necronomicon, a twisted book about Cthulhu. The cult thinks the book may be in Diliatan, an island kingdom south of Vesperia. Lastly, they went to the Mage’s Circle of Heliod to find Mordio. They discovered that there was not only one Mordio, but two! Mordio was actually a surname, a surname shared by Rita and Karol. This caused Carth to stomp around for a couple of minutes. The party wandered around for five hours until Rita came home (perverted stalkers that they are).

Rita claimed innocence and explained why she had been in Zaphias several months ago: she had been hired to study a key that Tarhun had discovered in a cave. She was only there for three days and left after she was paid. The items which she had been accused of stealing were a couple of ancient tomes from the temple of Pelor. She had no interest in religion and had no reason to take the tomes. While the group was speculating, many war horns began to trumpet around the city, a warning that the city was in danger. The session ended with Carth, Kriven, and Aelar staring down at 20,000 men surrounding the walls of Heliod.

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Dungeons & Dragons: An Educational Program
Where we learn that a group of whores is called a gaggle.

The third session of this campaign, yet again, did not delve much into story at all. The first four and a half hours were spent in a den full of orcs. The party had to defeat their chief, something that they were sure would make the orcs leave. Did it? Well, one of them said that they’d leave, but that’s something else for another session. They also skipped out on some other stuff in the dungeon that could have been found if explored, but they just wanted to get out and go. Before entering this dungeon, they met a halfling monk by the name of Kiri. In addition to his little fists and feet, he wields a quarterstaff that can break into nunchucks.

After the dungeon, they went to go clear a condemned manor of a ghost. Outside, they met a man wearing a purple cloak who had just retrieved a valuable amulet out from the manor. He said that he’d help the party get rid of the ghost by getting them silvered weapons from a cache he had nearby. In return, he asked that they do a favor for him once they get to Heliod. They agreed and were given weapons that were silvered, allowing them to hit ghosts, some fiends, and several other creatures they’ve yet to encounter. They went inside and Aelar was almost instantly possessed by the ghost. After the party beat the holy high Hell out of him, the ghost was forced to leave the broken, battered, shell of Aelar’s body and was promptly slaughtered.

With all their business in Zaphias concluded (for now) the party enjoyed the Festival of Light (a.k.a. Pelor’s festival held on his holy day). Himaestro, in particular, decided to “eat, drink, and whore.” He attracted a “gaggle” of seven women with his magically enhanced personality.

Come morning, the party would leave Zaphias and make way to Heliod to find a wizard who stole some valuable tomes from the town’s church. While on the road, they encountered two bickering mercenaries who argued over a job they decided not to take. The job was to help a young noble clear out his new manor of ghosts. Dubbed Castle Crowskull, it is rumored to be haunted by undead and plagued by either demons or devils. The party is to spend at least two nights in the castle. In return, they will receive 500 gold pieces.

Of note: the only possible story development occurred within the castle at Zaphias (Pearlwall). Tarhun and the Vidame were arguing over how much control she really has. Later on, Tarhun was speaking with Kyle Greyson about an army that was due to arrive in two days. Orryn also returned, holding his “cat” named Fluffy, and said he was there to talk “business” with Tarhun and Kyle.

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Session 2: Electric Boogaloo
Where the baddest men on the planet get scared by a little demon girl. Pansies.

I probably should have written this up the day after since all I can remember is basically what happened.

The party begins the second session by preparing to solve all of Zaphias’ problems. The graverobbers were dealt with and their operation was shut down. The mercenaries got ready to head out after a message delivered by Carth’s brother, Kyle, finally arrived to them. The houses were cleared of all monsters… sort of; while most had the monstrous inhabitants killed, the party allowed some githyanki slavers to escape while a succubus killed a man before leaving. She may or may not know that Aelar was spying on her. And lastly, several ghouls in the settlement’s well were dealt with.

Come to think of it, that’s all that really happened. The only bit of story development was Kyle’s rescue and even then that’s a side plot.

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