The Lands of the Lake

No Stairway!
Oh my god, we played again

So, after a long delay, and a couple of sessions that I entirely failed to write up, here we are.

  • In the dreamland portion of the current campaign, the party ran into their old frenemy Zef (or Beeble), who was in charge of the caravan back at the beginning of the campaign. He told them that he needed help removing something corrupted from the Clockwork (this big metaphysical dungeon thing), or it would have dire consequences on the outside world. After some hesitation, and discussion of compensation, the party agreed.
  • They journeyed down a stairway that hugs the edge of wide chamber. After a brief interaction with the world’s least hidden traps, they decide to enter an opening in the wall (despite instructions entirely to the contrary). Within, they find a chamber full of sarcophagi along the wall, which surprisingly turn out to have angry ghostly figures in them.
  • In the next chamber, they discover a large sarcophagus which emanates a sense of evil. There’s also columns around the room, and the sound of chittering. After a trip wire is set off, a portcullis falls, and traps everyone except for Erevan in the chamber.
  • The creature in the sarcophagus awakens, and after some brief fisticuffs with EFasior. He seems skeletal and really, really annoyed. After a few attacks by the party, he manages to get them to depart, which significant hard feelings.
  • The party continues on the stairway, traveling some distance before finding a platform jutting out from the wall. Efasior uses his trusty grappling hook to better examine it, when the party is set on by a beholder, and three short but voracious flying demons. Combat ensues.

Quotes:

  • “I was listening for gold.” – Efasior
  • “Dead woodchuck farts” – Judd (out of game)
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Zombie Bat Mitzvah
Wherein Our Heroes Struggle to Reemember What They Were Doing
  • It appears that we all forgot what happened last week. So we determined that Warlord and Chork’ul Cu’kker are circling through the lumber town on a wagon, loathe to stop because of the zombie hoard.

At the same time, Bouchra, Cleric, Erevan, and Kersk are underground, in a series of tunnels beneath the town. They come to a doorway, which opens upon a large and empty basement room. After exploring briefly, Erevan heads up a set of stairs, where he meets two small zombies; they are dispatched in relatively short order.

After reaching the ground floor, however, the group faces a notably larger group of the undead. During the battle, they manage to ignite the quite flammable mill building. Some people roll threes. A lot of threes.

At this point, the wagon swings by, and Chork’ul Cu’kker hops off, attempting to aid the band. Unfortunately, he is followed by another group of the living dead. With a semi-valiant effort, the combined group fight off most of their enemies and Erevan heads to the top floor. Seeing no resistance, he moves towards the windows, discovering that the floor is covered in animate severed hands.

At the same time, EFasior (who had been hiding out the previous adventure) happened upon noises of struggle (and hints of smoke), and so clearly headed in that direction. Using his trusty grappling hook, he found himself in the upper floor of the mill.

The group decides to beat a hasty escape back down the convenient grappling hook/rope, and everyone manages to make it down to ground level. Fighting off enemies, they head towards the other side of the river, using a glowing crystal thing in Bouchra’s bag as a compass.

Using triangulation, the party makes it to a burned over basement, and heads down a hidden door into the tunnels. Unfortunately, there is some poor luck, and most end up in a heap at the tunnel’s base. Making a quick trip down the hall, they enter a large round chamber, with a stone arch at the far side. At this point, the arch and the crystal-thing are both glowing noticeably. Unsurprisingly, they are attacked.

After an even more valiant effort, they fight off the final wave of zombies, before noticing that Erevan is likewise glowing. With some quick research, they realize that the arch has some gate-oriented purpose. Despite Kersk’s better judgement, they all enter.

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Ach...Zombies

EFasior, Erevan, Kersk, and Warlord, have survived their battle with the giant angry tree demon thing. After untying Kersk, the three drag the warlord to the end of their shortcut – to discover that the remainder of the party is (not so patiently) waiting with the wagon. Together, they decide to head south to the lumber camp. EFasior also realizes that his shard of obsidian stone (from the tree-demon) is missing.

  • Nearing the edge of the small town, they split up and proceed quietly. The nearby portion of the town is split into the west side (with standing houses and outbuildings), and the east side (most of whose structures have burned down). Chork’ul Cu’kker enters the overgrown cemetery, where he discovers (first-hand) an opened grave. Efasior sneaks up to seemingly locked and sealed house, with no evidence of residents.
  • The party meets back up, to try and enter the remaining extant house on the east side. Efasior climbs opens a second story window, and then lets everyone else in through the front door. They discover a nice building, as well as the bodies of a family of four – it appears that the father has killed the rest of the family, and then himself. Eventually, most of the group heads to the south, where larger structures are visible; the rest remain, to use this as a strongpoint if necessary.
  • The group spots a tower, a small temple with a spire, and a meeting house, as well as a mill in the distance. They spot two pale corpses, bobbing in the small stream, and pull them to shore. Then they examine the nearby buildings.
  • Suddenly, chaos ensues, as small groups of zombies accost the separate members of the party. They manage to defeat them in turn, and then retreat to the tower, which has a sturdy door and only one entrance. At the moment, Efasior, Erevan, Kersk, Cleric, and Bouchra are in the tower. Chork’ul Cu’kker, Sarina, Reginald, and the Warlord (and two horses) are in the house to the north.
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The Party Takes a Shortcut
Almost Certain Danger? Sign Me Up!

Our adventure begins with the party escorting the group of werewolves from Brixton. The werewolf leader whispers something to Chork’ul Cu’kker, and then they depart. Robarr suggests that it might not be a bad idea for the party to get out of town for awhile, what with all of the excitement and angry mobs. Conveniently, he’s got an idea for a little task they might accomplish. Being agreeable, EFasior, Erevan, Kersk, and Warlord head out to explore the abandoned lumber camp to the south.

  • The party heads directly south, through the walled circular field that adjoins the town. They come to another low-wall surrounding an interior circle, when a farmer warns them not to enter. As they are in a wicked hurry, they pay him no heed.
  • As the party moves closer, they spot some sort of structure in the distance. Several also begin to get a bad feeling about this. As they continue, they discover that the structures are standing stones, scattered around a circle; as they cross in, two members start to hear low whispering. They also notice the sky darkening.
  • The party valiantly continues, as the sky darkens and the whispers increase. Suddenly, they face amorphous eyed tentacles stretching out of holes in mid-air. After fighting off a few, they decide to run for it, reaching the inner circle of standing stones just in time.
  • By this point, the sky is significantly dark, and the whispers are more pronounced, urging our heroes on to various misdeeds (surrender, berserk rampage, etc). In the inner circle, they notice ghost-like Elven figures – some continue to meander, while others attack. They also notice an even blacker mass, at the center of the circle.
  • Our valiant adventurers manage to dispatch most of the ghostly figures, as a they spot a large tentacled form located in (or merged with) a large tree. The tentacles start to menace the party, though at the same time their mental states have become somewhat tenuous (owing to the continued whispering).
  • After a strong effort (including Efasior’s attacks from a limb of the tree), they manage to kill the monstrous thing, though Kersk attacks the Warlord because of his continued madness; fortunately, the rest of the party intercedes (nets were involved), and the Warlord is saved. They find a pure black crystalline fragment near the tree, but nothing else.
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The Howling III - The Search for Spock
Wherein everything goes perfectly

After a long break, we return to the world of imagination…

  • As we begin, our intrepid heroes, Bouchra, Chork’ul Cu’kker, Cleric, Kersk, and Warlord are hiding out in Firin and Dallos’ farmhouse. Firin had begged the party to help her deal with her (presumably lycanthropic) brother, Dallos, but things had not gone as planned.
  • Partway through the first watch, just as the Cleric was starting to dream of large women, the guards hear a noise. Awaking the rest of the group, they peer outside to discover that some of the corpses have disappeared. They spot drag marks and glowing eyes, and advance towards the edge of the forest, when they hear howls behind them.
  • Suddenly, numerous large shapes appear back beyond the house. The party continues to advance on the shapes they previously saw, when the shapes set off at a charge. The large wolf-men seem to run straight by the party, excepting two who got a bit too close.
  • The party then follows the presumed group of werewolves through the forest for two hours. In real time. For some reason.
  • Finally, the party arrives at a large clearing, and spies a large group of alleged werewolves clustered around a sizable bonfire. Peering from trees and floating discs, they try to analyze the group, before the party starts to break up. At that point, our heroes make a bee-line back to the town.
  • They arrive with the dawn, and make their way to the wagon (remember that?). They’re greeted by Erevan, who makes his way into town; everyone else proceeds to fall asleep on the ground underneath the wagon, like dirty, dirty hobos.
  • Erevan quickly returns, with the constable Robarr in tow. Robarr is more than a little upset, informing the party that numerous members of the community are missing, and that they have Firin imprisoned, because she is thought to be a WEREWOLF! (Didn’t see that coming, did you?)
  • They arrive at the jail, and speak with Firin, to little effect (though it does begin to dawn on her that perhaps there is something to the rumors). The party is sent out to canvass for news of other missing persons, while the Cleric goes to the library (as usual). They return to the jail, at roughly the same time that the proverbial angry mob arrives.
  • After a brief show of force, the group manages to convince the formerly angry townspeople to depart. Soon after, though, a far more intimidating group of werewolves (led by a seeming human) enter the town – fortunately, negotiations begin.
  • The werewolf leader wants to take Firin, and depart the town. He explains that things went poorly the previous night, without precisely explaining what occurred. Robarr is clearly over his head, and Firin decides that a group of werewolves beats hicks with pitchforks. The party accompanies the group to the edge of town.
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Werewolf in Brixton
Team Hairball

The curtain parts this week on our quasi-intrepid band of adventurers, who are currently trying to get to the bottom of a series of full moon-timed livestock mutilations.

  • Not yet being properly equipped, the group considers a careful reconnaissance sortie, before running into a weeping young woman named Firin. Firin explains (in between racking sobs) that she has heard rumors of livestock attacks, and she fears that her brother Dallos may be the beast in question. She discovered bloody animal hide in her house that very morning, and didn’t know what to do; she feared for her brother’s safety, but she also feared what he might do.
  • The farm is north and west of town, a trip of several miles. Though they hear a few howls in the distance, the journey is otherwise uneventful. Upon arrival, they discover the place empty, with no sign of Dallos whatsoever. They explore the small barn and (the bare root cellar), finding nothing of interest. Then the group hears howls, much closer this time.
  • Our band spreads out, in and around the house, before the three vicious beasts break into the clearing. Battle ensues, as two of the monsters burst into the house, leading to a frantic melee – made all the more challenging by the party’s relative lack of silver weapons. Firin runs for it. One of the werewolves is killed, and another tries (in vain) to escape. The third escapes into the woods.
  • The group splits up, with three heading to hunt down Firin and the remaining werewolf, while the other two disposed of the werewolf bodies. Unfortunately, both groups are soon attacked, each by another pair of angry beasts. After an even more frenetic battle, our heroes manage to kill the werewolves. The group decides to return to the house, and secure the building till morning. Like wimps.
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It's a...trap?
Brixton, the Jewel of the Middle of Nowhere

We began the session in Ludwig’s shop, where EFasior showed off his haggling prowess in the purchase of a couple daggers and some rope

  • After departing, the group encountered a boy on their way through town. The desperate (if a bit wussy) redhead, named Agnart, beseeched the party to help save his family. He (partially) explains that they were kidnapped by monsters outside of town. After significant convincing, our heroes decide to follow Agnart to where his family is located.
  • The band head north on the main path out of Brixton for about a half-hour, turning onto a smaller path to the east. The forest path splits, and Agnart continues to lead them on. They soon come across a clearing in the woods, in the center of which is a human female (presumably tied up).
  • EFasior and Chork’ul Cu’kker cleverly sneak around the edges of the clearing, before they stumble into four Ogres who are cleverly using a similar strategy. The Battle begins! Chork’ul fires a pair of arrows deep into his two Ogres, while EFasior strikes a grazing blow against one of his; they both take up tactical positions somewhat further from the two brutes.
  • As the battle continues, the Ogres avoid entering the clearing, and the party struggles to draw a bead on them. The larger two brutes continue to sneak (charge) around the edges, causing destruction, while the smaller two step into the clearing and chuck several javelins. After further exchange of fire, they charge into the center, fighting Kersk and Sarina.
  • Two of the Ogres are brought down by Chork’ul Cu’kker, Erevan, Bouchra, Reginald, and EFasior; then the group focuses on the two remaining Ogres. Suddenly, a larger and angrier Ogre (perhaps the leader) bursts forth from the woods. Despite his size, the combined efforts of the party make short work of him.
  • The group notices that Agnart and his (alleged) sister have run for it. They send Chork’ul and EFasior to run them down. As the rest of the party finds some skeletons and treasure, the purported siblings are captured (possibly with the use of a net).
  • Shortly after the kids are hauled back to the clearing, a posse appears, lead by the Town Constable Robarr. The ensuing discussion only serves to confuse the situation, and the Constable suggests that everyone return to Brixton. After a bit of investigation, Robarr comes to belive the party’s account. He then confides that he needs a favor, as livestock have been coming up missing on a monthly basis.
  • The party fears these deaths may be lycanthrope-related, and Erevan (an expert on the topic) informs everyone of their specifics. They head to Ludwig’s, where they purchase all of his silver weapons, and then induce the town’s blacksmith to make some other weapons.
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On the Road Again
I can't believe we finally finished the tower

(Why do I always wait two weeks before I write these things?)

  • So, the characters finish up their conversation with Klatu, everyone’s favorite ancient ghostly gnoll wizard. He again counsels the characters that they may not want to have a conflict with the head of the caravan (who he calls Zef). Then he disappears (poof!).
  • Our intrepid crew manages to rappel their way down the outside of the tower (along with a couple of tapestries), and walk back to the caravan. At that point, Beeble comes forward and explains that he is (allegedly) in charge. He takes the copper gear, and explains to the party that he is headed off, but that they can have one of the wagons. He also passes on a gift to each of the characters. Beeble moves the remaining two wagons about a quarter of a mile away, inscribes a circle in the dirt, and then the wagons disappear.
  • The group decides to spend the night where they are. During the first watch, they are beset by a batch of berserk humans, with strange symbols painted upon their skin. Once awakened, the party makes short work of them.
  • After starting off, the party encounters a group of somewhat ambivalent goblins. The goblins half-heartedly threaten our heroes, but then intimate that they might be willing to accept payment to leave them be. Flush with silver and copper, Kersk offers a small amount, which the goblins happily accept – surprising everyone. The goblins explain that they will furthermore keep the party safe as they travel through the forest.
  • After most of a day of travel, our band finds that the path splits, to encircle a large field surrounded by a low wall. They take the northerly route, which quickly leads to the small town of Brixton. They discover a central square, Erevan shares a pie with a gentleman, and everyone heads to a shop which specializes in adventuring supplies, which is run by a dwarf and a gnome.
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All the Way to the Tippy-Top
Where everything is revealed. Well, almost.

After the depradations of the Xivorts last time out, our intrepid group regroups back at the caravan for another foray. Cleric, Chork’ul Cu’kker, EFasior, Erevan, Kersk, and Warlord set out to once again conquer the tower.

  • After a brief stop to examine the library (where the battle with the Xivorts occurred), the group discovers that the next room features their nemesis. Water. And falling. And, ultimately, piranha. This large room features a series of 10’ by 10’ stone platforms, surrounded by water. Using some, nay, all of their cleverness, they are able to get the majority of the group to the middle of the room, before Cleric manages a couple of impromptu quick dips, leading to the brief appearance of the piranha. However, the party manages to make it across without too much trouble, finding a doorway and then a large spiral staircase.
  • Sending their skillful adventurer first, EFasior heads up the stairway to find a doorway. As a group, then head into a large round room, with a central stone core (like a donut). Scattered around the room are four low plinths, each of a different color – as well as a pillar of water, earth, fire, and nothing (respectively). Surprising almost no one, these pillars showed themselves to be elementals, and quickly attacked the group. Warlord spent quite awhile grabbed by the nearly invisible Air Elemental, and Cleric was briefly on fire, but in general the battle was dealt with pretty handily. Afterward, the party opens a door, finding another spiral stairway.
  • Our gang climbs the stairway, opening the door onto a similar round room, though this one has an open descending spiral staircase in the center. Around the room are curtains, tapestries, bookshelves, art objects, and other trappings of luxury. At the far side of the room is a massive throne, containing a ghostly figure – a tall gnoll in robes, and with a staff.
  • The ghostly gnoll and the characters begin a guarded if not entirely serious conversation with the party, mostly regarding their exploration through the tower, and their reason for being there. After a bit of chit-chat, the ghost (Klatu) explains that he hasn’t had a good fight in awhile, and the fight begins. Suddenly, six ghostly minions appear.
  • Klatu displays some nifty tricks, such as teleportation and lightning, and the party discovers that his minions reappear after they are destroyed; however, due to skill and luck, the party gets Klatu to stop the fight without too much trouble. He begins a conversation (interspersed with a few exchanges of arrows and lightning strikes) wherein he explains why (and by who) the party has been sent here.
  • According to Klatu, someone named Zef has sent them to acquire a copper gear, which belongs to an ancient mystical device – and a dangerous one, at that. Several times, he describes Zef as someone who is not to be trifled with – though he leaves the party to decide what they will do with it.
  • Secondly, Klatu warns that the staircase in the middle of the room is very long, and leads to the upper reaches of the Underdark. He also suggests that it may be more than a match for the party at this point.
  • Lastly, Klatu decides to give the party another item, an old scroll case. Within is an incomplete and very aged piece of parchment – on one side is a map of the valley, while on the other is an alchemical or magical formula. He gives a bit of information on a few of the parties magic items, passes on a simple wooden necklace that should disable the traps within the tower, and explains that he is going to depart.
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The Long Way 'Round
Where we discover a use for that Botany class back in High School

(Playing – Eric, John, Josh, Ken, Tony)

Following their last expedition into the tower, our intrepid band of rowdies decided they needed to rest – so they headed back to the caravan for the night. During an otherwise uneventful night, they meet Warlord, who is traveling the path in the darkness. Kersk and Warlord recognize one another from training years earlier, and he quickly joins the group.

In the morning, Bouchra, Erevan, Kersk, and Warlord head back into the tower, to finish what they started. Or something. After entering, the group takes the right hand turn that they had been avoiding throughout earlier explorations.

  • The group heads down a corridor, and proving that they can’t be fooled twice, they astutely notice and then subsequently jam a portcullis set to block the hallway. However, proving that they can in fact be fooled twice, they do not notice the portcullis trap leading into the small room. They do notice the water that starts to flood the chamber, and the three carved panels on the wall. Erevan manages to teleport himself to the right (or possibly wrong) side of the portcullis, and the group (eventually) manages to find a key on the rooms floor. Kersk tries the key in a random panel, and receives a knock on the head for his trouble, before Bouchra realizes that his Mage Hand cantrip and some careful positioning can keep people out of the way of the trap. The group also discovers that the panels are effectively a multiple choice test, in this case on leaves; two of the leaves are carved incorrectly, while the third is perfectly accurate. After turning the key in the right panel, the door pops open, and the party is saved…
  • Until the same situation occurs again, with a winding hallway, a room with a portcullis, door, and (now hidden under the water) a key. It has three corresponding panels, though this time bearing a different question. The whole scenario plays out five times (with varying amounts of success), and the addition of two sets of stairs.
  • Finally, our intrepid band reaches the last of the rooms, and the water disappears down a grate in the floor. They find a (fake) door, a (secret) door, and a (normal) chest. They open the chest, and head out the secret door (and up the stairway beyond), finding themselves near the L-shaped room where they fought the ratlings previously.
  • Our group moves past the L-shaped room, has a brief altercation with the Mad eladrin, and then enters into a new room. This sizable chamber has two large tables (with chairs full place settings), as well as a number of strange metal sculptures. Five dog sized copper figures stand on pedestals, and a much larger iron figure stands in the corner.
  • The party discovers that the seeming-sculptures begin to move when they enter the room. They use some fancy strategerie to kill one on its own, but they eventually manage to wake the entire group. The dog-sized creatures don’t represent much of a threat, but the large iron when is more trouble. He begins with a patented table throw, and follows it up by proceeding to miss Ken over and over again. In time, the group kicks its ass.
  • After a bit of cleanup, the crew enters the next (and even larger) room. A huge rectangular library, above the ground floor is a balcony along all four walls, as well as a big platform in the center, and two spiral staircases. The party rapidly discovers some angry bluish gnomes (Xivorts) on the upper floor, who begin peppering them with darts. Bouchra makes a move to flank them by taking the southeastern stairway, while the rest of the group takes the northwest. Wielding darts, swords, nets, and bolas, the Xivorts turn out to be tougher than they look. Bouchra is immediately in a dangerous one-on-one fight, while everyone else has trouble reaching the melee opponents or the dart-based ones. The battle is very close for awhile, especially for poor little Bouchra with the puppy-dog eyes, but a timely heal (by Warlord) allows him to drop his opponent, and the rest of the group manages to battle through their opponents on the second floor. Victory is theirs.
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