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Abominable Snowmen

DM CD's page

1,209 posts. Alias of Vethcyr.


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SLIGHTLY TARDY RECAP!

The party stocked up on supplies, planning their trip northwest into elven lands. They prepared their disguises and came up with aliases for themselves. After careful consideration they decided not to fly and hike there, but rather to use a scroll of teleport after Alaric informed them that he should be able to cast it. In a flash of inspiration, the witch realized that he could actually teach the spell to Castiel and prepare to cast it on his own power the next morning. Realizing that this plan would permit easier long-term travel, the party decided that this was the best approach. The following morning, they teleported into elven lands.

The party arrived in the town square of Alaric's home town. The people around them gave them odd looks, but didn't bother the party as they made their way out of town. Alaric summoned mounts and the party rode towards Ralinor. Several hours into the ride, the party stopped to examine a strange tree with a cleaned humanoid skeleton lying at its roots. As the party approached it, the tree lashed out with its boughs, picking them up and attempting to strangle them. During the fight, it grabbed and began to strangle each character, and actually swallowed Ankou in its trunk after being toppled over when the wolf grabbed a tentril and pulled. It was eventually destroyed by Martin and Hascya working in concert. During the fight, though, Alaric sustained a serious head injury that diminished his mental abilities somewhat. Ankou was rescued by the destruction of the carnivorous tree.

After recovering from their brush with botanical death, the party pressed on towards Ralinor. Apart from crossing paths with a group of imperial knights riding the opposite way, the rest of their trip was uneventful, and they arrived in the city of Ralinor early that evening. The party decided that they should rest and recuperate before presenting themselves at the court. They found an inn befitting their role as diplomats, and despite the high prices, stayed there.

The following morning, the three went to the prince's court. The seneschal turned away Hascya and Alaric after the former was caught in a lie and the latter supported him. Martin, actually in possession of a mithral guard badge, was allowed inside. Once he was called to address the prince, Martin attempted to convince the prince to aid Silverkeep against Carron. While flat-out refusing to join Silverkeep in an offensive war against Carron, which the prince believed had been legitimately wronged, he seemed willing to aid in breaking Carron's blockade of Silverkeep. At least, until an elven woman wearing the robes of a Lorekeeper interjected, calling out Martin for traveling with a known exile from elven lands and for his role in the crimes Silverkeep committed against Carron. She and the prince ordered the party to travel to the city of Sardis to present themselves before the Council of Lorekeepers so that the elves could determine whether their laws would permit action on Silverkeep's behalf.

Martin reunited with the party and informed them that they had to travel to Sardis.


RECAP!

After resting for the night in Alaric’s ransacked cottage, Alaric made a confession to the party as Martin treated his illness. According to his long-winded explanation, he used to be a torturer working for an elven noble in Ralinor. He had eventually realized that actions did not serve the good of the realm and led a coup against the noble, but was defeated. He fled and turned himself in to the elven Imperial Knights, who cursed and exiled him from elven lands. He had since been living as a hermit, until the panicking Leto came looking for aid. Alaric took the youth in and raised him until Leto left to discover who or what he was. Several weeks ago, a pair of enforcers for the Silfen family, whose daughter Leto had killed, came looking for him at Alaric’s cottage. Alaric lost his temper and killed the men with a Black Tentacles spell, before fleeing to Silverkeep to seek out Leto and warn him.

Martin was emphatically unhappy to hear about Alaric’s sordid past, refusing to help him find a way to lift the curse upon him, agreeing with Castiel that the curse was Alaric’s penance for his crimes. Hascya agreed to help Alaric find some way to revive Leto, and Alaric seemed to accept Martin’s non-refusal to revive Leto. Once again unsure of their standing with each other, the party set out on summoned mounts toward Silverkeep.

Around midday, the party encountered a column of soldiers marching toward Silverkeep. After some initial uncertainty regarding what they should do, the party recognized the soldiers’ livery as belonging to Lord Galliani, a high-ranking noble whose lands were loyal to Silverkeep. Riding up to the column, the party learned that the soldiers had been sent to reinforce Silverkeep’s battered guards in the wake of the wight outbreaks. The man leading them, Sir Ryland, was apparently Lord Galliani’s chief inquisitor. Martin then traded his old longsword for a longbow, a backpack, and some additional mundane gear. The party then bid the soldiers farewell and rode on ahead.

Later that afternoon, the party encountered a hole in the road. Corpses and parts of a smashed wagon littered the surrounding area. Martin dismounted to investigate the bodies. He learned that the corpses had been shredded by the mandibles of some great beast. At this point, the ground began to shake, and Martin ran back to his horse as a massive centipede emerged from the hole. Martin, mounted on his horse once more, charged the creature, inflicting a deep wound. Hascya attacked as well, with less success. Alaric summoned a wooly rhinoceros, which charged the centipede and inflicted heavy damage to the creature and exposing its vulnerable underside. The creature struck back, dealing massive damage to the rhino. Martin’s horse panicked, preventing him from pushing the attack, while Hascya leapt from his steed in an attempt to flank the creature. Seizing the opportunity, the centipede bit deep into Hascya’s side as the barbarian swung ineffectually. The rhinoceros struck the centipede once more before being dissipated as the centipede crushed it in its mandibles. Martin seized this opportunity to get underneath the centipede and strike its weaker underside with a flurry of blows that felled the mighty beast.

After mending some of his compatriots’ wounds, Alaric descended into the hole. The dirt tunnel soon led to a large subterranean chamber filled with thousands of minute centipedes and many eggs. Alaric attempted to destroy the vermin with his spells, but was quickly forced to retreat to the surface as the centipedes swarmed after him. Martin waded in with his shield and flaming sword, swatting centipedes left, right, and center, Alaric blasted the writing mass (and Martin) with flames, and Hascya… backed off and hung out on horseback, calling out encouragement. Eventually, Martin dispersed the swarms and was healed by Alaric, who was then sent back into the tunnel to look for valuable items and ensure that the nests were destroyed. Alaric smashed the remaining nests with his hammer, and noticed a massive mound of centipede excrement. Castiel refused Alaric’s order to start digging through the mound saying, ”No. This should be part of your penance.” Alaric started digging. He found a number of shattered glass shards, a pair of magic boots, and some gold coins in the pile. He failed to identify the effect on the boots, and returned with the haul to the surface.

The party, satisfied that the threat to travelers had been dealt with, set off once more towards Silverkeep, although Hascya and Martin insisted that the filth-covered Alaric ride some distance downwind of them. The party made camp by a stream, where Alaric bathed and Twohey arrived to meet Hascya. Hascya and Martin discussed recent events, and the party bedded down for the night. In the morning, with Martin’s assistance, Alaric finally shrugged off the filth fever he had contracted in the sewers, and the party made their way to Silverkeep.

On the road once more, the party spotted a pair of mounted drakes flying high above Silverkeep. While unable to get close enough to identify the drakes or their riders for certain, the party concluded that because Silverkeep had no history of using drakes as mounts, these were likely in the service of Carron. This conclusion was further supported by the presence of a large Carronite warship at anchor (but not docked) in Silverkeep’s harbor. A passing guard informed the party that the ship had arrived several days ago, and a diplomat had gone to the keep. Since then, the mood in Silverkeep had been very tense. Thanking the guardsman, the party traveled to the keep, where they were ushered into a meeting with the king and his councilors.

In the meeting were six people: King Heric, Princess Lynessa, Lord Galliani, Lord Hekkard, Master Vincenzo, and Commander Viviana. The party made their report, recounting their adventures in the tunnels beneath Silverkeep, in the planes of shadow and earth, and on the way back to Silverkeep. Once the party made their report, Master Vincenzo informed them that they had been gone for four days, that there had been no further outbreaks of wights, and that a Carronite diplomat had arrived to demand that the party be handed over to face justice for their crimes in Carron. The council was meeting now to debate the best course of action. Lord Galliani favored handing over the party to prevent a winter war against Carron, arguing that with Silverkeep's mines inaccessible, much of their workforce dad or missing, and the southern lands ravaged by the war against Goldcrest with winter soon upon the city, it would be better to hand over the guilty parties and avoid all-out conflict. The other councilors argued in favor of continuing to employ the party. The princess and Master Vincenzo favored sending the party abroad to convince other states to assist Silverkeep against Carron, with Lynessa favoring mending ties with Goldcrest and the elves, and Vincenzo arguing that the gulf states of Altin, Azmar, and Oakheart would be better seafaring allies. Lord Hekkard wanted to send the party directly at the fleet, in an attempt to break the blockade and regain the initiative. Finally, Viviana (the mithral guard commander) wanted to keep the party in Silverkeep to ensure the eradication of the undead threat.

The final consensus was that the party should go abroad and gather allies and resources to use against Carron. They were told to return by Springtime, and that they were to use their own judgment as to what alliances to form. The party pledged to send word under a pseudonym, either "Sparrow" or "Underground Sparrow" (preference as to which moniker to use varied between party members). The party then departed to shop and take care of business within the city. That evening, Commander Viviana and two mithral guards tracked down Martin and gave him a bag full of jewels (worth 45,000 gold) for the party's use in the pursuit of this task. She also provided several general letters, signed by the king, formally establishing Silverkeep's willingness to forge alliances against Carron. She wished Martin luck, and departed with her men.

As it stands, it appears that the current plan is to take the eagles west into the Dryadhearth forests and set them loose before continuing to the elven lands, which are to the north and west of Silverkeep.


Okay, the heal check succeeds, and counts as one successful saving throw. The disease does not inflict any ability damage this day. Alaric now needs to roll a DC 12 fortitude save. If successful, the disease is gone, if not, you guys can try this again tomorrow.

The morning is cold, and frost covers the ground. Winter is coming.


Martin Stillwaters wrote:

Skill:

+1 Percp.

You should actually get 2 skill points. Base for DoS = 2, -1 for int mod, +1 from being human.

Basically, a human character never receives fewer than 2 skill points upon leveling up. No matter their intelligence modifier, characters always gain at least one skill point upon leveling up. Humans gain a racial bonus that provides an additional skill point.

Everything else looks good.


No problem. I'm in finals week right now (stupid quarter system), but DM updates should resume Thursday or Friday.


RECAP!

The party, suspicious of the voice's intent, said they would go to the crystal rift to investigate, while really planning to look for help elsewhere. They ventured through some tunnels, eventually emerging at the bottom of a canyon whose walls were lines with crystalline growths. More of the flaming dwarves were present, chipping away at the growths with their hammers and rushing down side passageways. Despite being challenged, the party was able to convince the dwarves to take them to their leader. They learned that they served someone called Malik Janus, and that the nearby peoples were now under his dominion.

Inside the village, the party found many corpses of small, gangly creatures. Martin recognized the creatures for what they were, but refused to go into great detail to his comrades, saying that they were only "miners." More of the dwarves were around, searching the bodies of the creatures. Standing atop one of the hollowed crystals that appeared to serve as the creatures' homes was a fiery haired, scaly, horned humanoid man in a black robe. The man shouted in a strange tongue at a shimmering blue barrier, behind which a number of the small miner creatures had taken refuge. According to Castiel, the man was threatening them and attempting to convince them to lower the barrier and surrender to him. Martin tested the barrier by poking it, and found that it did not budge.

The party addressed the man, who brusquely demanded to know who they were and why they were here. The party said they needed to get home, and that they could help for the right price. The man replied that he would let them keep their lives if they aided in his assault. The mining creatures, now identified as Pechs, offered the party crystals in exchange for help driving off the invaders. Castiel realized that the man and the dwarves were evil, and could not get a reading on the Pechs. In a flash of inspiration, Martin promised the man that they would get the aid of someone who could bring down the barrier. Suspicious, the man sent four of his dwarves with the party as they headed back towards the ziggurat.

Once the group was well into the tunnels, Martin turned and struck at the dwarves escorting the party. Martin and Hascya slew three of their escorts while Alaric put the fourth to sleep. Chaining up the last dwarf, Martin explained his plan to the party. He planned to offer the dwarf as tribute to the ziggurat people, called Shaitan, in exchange for transport or directions back to Silverkeep. The party then took the captive dwarf to the ziggurat, and reached the following deal: the party drives off or eliminates the attacking force and retrieves the Pechs' tribute, and the Shaitan will send them home.

With a promise of aid thus obtained, the party let the dwarf be pulled underground by an earthen tentacle and made their way back to the crystal rift. They pushed past the dwarves outside the village and approached the leader inside, who was still flinging invective at the Pechs. Claiming that he had something to show the man, Martin convinced the leader to come down to the ground, whereupon he promptly grabbed the man. The dwarves attacked, and Hascya and Alaric fended them off while Martin struggled to pin and restrain the leader. The flaming man was unable to break free or cast a spell, and was eventually restrained by Martin.

Once the battle was over, Martin took the captured leader outside and showed him to the remaining dwarves. The dwarves fled, and the party returned to the village. With the threat gone, the Pechs lowered the barrier and thanked the party for saving them. Each person was given a sack full of gemstones, and a pair of Pechs carried a much larger sack of gems to the Ziggurat, accompanying the party as they went. The Shaitan was pleased, accepting the tribute from the Pechs and the leader of the interlopers from the party. He emerged through the stone steps of the ziggurat and offered the party the opportunity to continue to serve him. They declined, although Alaric expressed interest in working with him again in the future, and he told the party that all they had to do was to declare "I wish I were home." Alaric did so, and the Shaitan waved his hands.

With a flash of light, the party found themselves in front of a dilapidated cottage in the middle of a forest at late afternoon. Realizing that the Shaitan had sent them to Alaric's home instead of to Silverkeep, the party decided to rest there and return to Silverkeep the next day, when Alaric could summon mounts to hasten their journey. Entering the cottage, Alaric realized that it had been ransacked. The lock on the door was smashed, and inside everything had been torn apart by someone searching the building. Recovering three damaged bedrolls from inside a mangled cupboard, the party bunked down for the night.

Level up to 9!

Notable Loot:
+2 Flaming Scimitar
Headband of Charisma +2
1x Scroll of Fly (CL 5)
2x Potion of Cure Critical Wounds
15,000 gp worth of gems


"We allow them to dwell nearby and to live without interference. In exchange, they pay us tribute from the treasures they make within the rift."


We reward those willing to serve. Venture into the crystal rift and seek out the Gloomstone tribe. They are beholden to use, yet we have not received their tributes for some time. Investigate their tardiness and retrieve the tribute. Bring it here, and you may make a request of us. One of the snake statues turns and stretches its tail to the east, where you can see a tunnel leading out of this cavern.


Okay, I'm back! Sorry about the delay, I had a big project this week.

Navigating the sandy terrain, you approach the ziggurat. As you reach the base of the stairway, the serpent statues turn their heads to look at you. A voice in your head demands, Who comes?


"There are footprints in the sand around the structure, suggesting that the area is inhabited, but smooth stone walls seal off both the main and lower entrances," Castiel explains. "I would expect masonry walls if a person built them to block off the building."


Castiel flies up to the ceiling of the cavern (about 80 feet up. The ziggurat stands about 60 feet tall at its peak). You spot no movement from the ziggurat as he does so.

Alaric:
Castiel doesn't seem alarmed. Perplexed, but not alarmed. Do you want him to look more closely?

Secret:
"Statue" perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (12) + 11 = 23
Castiel perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12


You follow the dwarf's trail through twisting, branching caverns. Every so often, you hear a faint buzzing rumble for a moment before all goes quiet once again. Eventually, you emerge upwards into an immense cavern. The windless expanse is a sandy desert dotted with rubble. Much of the rubble appears to be worked stone, and a deep chasm mars the landscape, but these details aren't the main feature in this harsh landscape. In the middle of the chamber stands a great stone ziggurat. The structure is made of weathered brown stone, and is decorated with large stone statues of snakes. There is no movement from the ziggurat or from the desert around it. The tracks end here, at the entrance to this cavern.

Map


Are you taking the stuff from the corpse? Identifying it? Also, note to self: Hascya is now at 50/79 HP.


Sorry about the delay. This week has been super busy. Also, I'm thinking Hascya needs to invest in a helmet, given that this is the third time he's been blinded within the last 24 hours (from your perspective).

Hascya groans and rubs his eyes clean of the dirt. "I could use your aid, Friend Alaric." He will walk over to the corpse of the flaming dwarf and look around. "Even without Twohey, I can follow a trail. Fellows, let us learn where this dwarf came from!"

Tracking: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (16) + 9 = 25


The snake is made entirely out of earth and stones, with two rubies as its eyes. The dwarf carried a flaming spear and wore red-hued leather armor.


Despite missing with his first shield strike, Martin manages to finally defeat the beast. It slumps to the ground, nearly landing on top of Hascya as the ashlander blindly attempts to get to his feet.

Combat over!

Map

Knowledge (Planes) DC 18:
This creature was an earth elemental. Native to the plane of earth, these creatures move effortlessly through stone and can detect interlopers by their footsteps. Spellcasters frequently summon these and other types of elemental to the material plane.

Earth elementals are not mindless, but they are immune to many mind-affecting spells and abilities.


No kidding.

Martin continues to chip away at the creature's dense body, connecting with each blow. Hascya begins frothing at the mouth as he joins in, swinging his blade as hard as he can. His first strike misses, and his second strike misses so badly that he not only fails to connect with the creature, he gets caught on his own momentum and tumbles to the ground, bashing his face in the process (prone, blinded for 2 rounds).

Hascya enters rage.
Hascya vs snake-thingy 1: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
Hascya vs snake-thingy 2: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (1) + 7 = 8
Fumble confirm: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (6) + 7 = 13
Fumble deck: 1d52 ⇒ 29 Eat Dirt - Prone, blinded for 1d3 rounds.
Blindness duration: 1d3 ⇒ 2 Rounds

The creature lashes out at Martin and Hascya. It's tail slam is harmlessly turned away by Martin's shield, but it lands a heavy blow on the prone Hascya (16 damage).

Alaric uses the cover provided by Martin to carefully release another burning hands spell at the creature, charring it badly.
Cast defensively (DC 17): 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (6) + 18 = 24
Burning hands damage: 5d4 ⇒ (3, 2, 4, 4, 2) = 15

Martin's up again. Hascya is at 30 hit points.

Map

DM Rolls:
Creature vs Martin: 1d20 + 14 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 14 + 1 = 18
Creature vs Hascya: 1d20 + 14 + 1 ⇒ (10) + 14 + 1 = 25 Hit vs prone
Damage: 2d6 + 7 + 1 ⇒ (4, 4) + 7 + 1 = 16
Creature reflex save: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2


Hascya will also make ready to strike at the tentacle when it re-appears. It fully emerges next to Alaric, revealing itself to be an enormous snake-like creature of earth and stone with glowing rubies for eyes. Martin and Hascya step closer and attack the creature. Martin connects with his strike, whereas Hascya does not. Unperturbed by the blow of Martin's shield, the creature lashes out with its tail, but misses the armored warrior.

Martin shield bash: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (16) + 14 = 30
Damage: 1d4 + 6 ⇒ (4) + 6 = 10
Hascya's attack: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (6) + 7 = 13

Alaric quickly backs off and attempts to use his slumber hex on the creature, to no visible effect.

Map

DM Rolls:
Vs Martin: 1d20 + 14 + 1 ⇒ (5) + 14 + 1 = 20


Hascya will run up to the tentacle, drawing his greatsword of binding as he goes. He swings wildly at the tentacle and misses.

Greatsword vs tentacle: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (1) + 7 = 8
Fumble confirm: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (19) + 7 = 26

The tentacle flails around at Martin and Hascya, missing both. It flicks away beneath the ground (5 foot step), once more leaving no trace of its passage.

Alaric shouts, "Look out! That thing will be back!"

Map

DM Rolls:
Tentacle vs Martin: 1d20 + 14 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 14 + 1 = 17
Tentacle vs Hascya: 1d20 + 14 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 14 + 1 = 18


Ok. You might want to update that bit on your profile under "melee", then.

As Martin charges, the tentacle lashes out at him (10 foot reach). It narrowly misses as he charges in and strikes the tentacle.

DM Rolls:
Tentacle AoO vs Martin: 1d20 + 14 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 14 + 1 = 31
50% miss chance: 1d100 ⇒ 17


The tentacle emerges, lashing out at Martin, who counters it with his shield. Forced backwards, the tentacle remains visible above the ground.

Martin shield bash vs tentacle: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (19) + 14 = 33
Damage: 1d4 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 7

DM done! The tentacle can't move further in this round.

Alaric steps to the side and looses a Burning Hands spell at the now-visible tentacle, charring the earthen projection.
Damage: 5d4 ⇒ (4, 3, 3, 3, 4) = 17

Map

DM Rolls:
Tentacle reflex save (DC 19): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (14) + 1 = 15


Alaric will likely flee behind you (he can get 1 square behind Martin with a single move action). Also, shield bash or sword strike?


Apparently unimpressed by Castiel's attempts at diplomacy, the tentacle lashes out at Alaric as he flees. Luckily for the witch, the tentacle fails to connect and vanishes beneath the ground once more.

Martin and Hascya are up!

DM Rolls:
AoO vs Alaric: 1d20 + 14 + 1 ⇒ (7) + 14 + 1 = 22
50% miss chance: 1d100 ⇒ 7


The tongues hex needs to be specifically activated as a standard action. It is not always on. I'm not sure Hascya would recognize the buzzing as a language without passing the linguistics check. You can activate the hex on your next turn, and if the buzzing begins again at any point in the next minute, you will be able to read the translation.

Martin rushes toward the sounds of violence, and Hascya follows, looking for magic as he does so.

The tentacle emerges from the floor and lashes out twice at Alaric, striking him hard with its first blow (19 damage) and narrowly missing with the second. It then whips away into the ground once again. As before, it leaves no trace of its passage.

Map

The red "X" on the map indicates the square from which the tentacle emerged this round.

Hascya:
You detect magic from Martin, Alaric, and the corpse. As the tentacle emerges from the ground, strikes Alaric, and vanishes again, you sense an aura of moderate transmutation. As soon as the tentacle disappears into the ground, you lose your sense of where it is (the earth is blocking your spell).

Spellcraft DC 21 tells you it is a move earth effect or equivalent.

DM Rolls:
Tentacle attack 1 vs Alaric: 1d20 + 14 + 1 ⇒ (19) + 14 + 1 = 34
50% miss chance: 1d100 ⇒ 65
Damage: 2d6 + 7 + 1 ⇒ (6, 5) + 7 + 1 = 19
Tentacle attack 2 vs Alaric: 1d20 + 14 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 14 + 1 = 23
50% miss chance: 1d100 ⇒ 16


You have had a full night's sleep. Alaric, due to ability damage you have been reduced to an effective 11 Dex and 15 Con.

As Alaric stands by the body and shouts, the buzzing rumble goes quiet and a large, earthen tentacle scythes out of the floor at him. Striking the witch from below with a solid slam (11 damage), the tentacle scythes back into the floor. It leaves no trace of its presence - no tunnel or hole, not even a bit of displaced earth.

End Surprise Round!

Initiative Order:
Martin (21)
Hascya (14)
DM (13)
Alaric (0)

Map

DM Rolls:
Tentacle attack vs Alaric: 1d20 + 14 + 1 ⇒ (10) + 14 + 1 = 25 vs flat-footed AC
50% miss chance: 1d100 ⇒ 95
Damage: 2d6 + 7 + 1 ⇒ (2, 1) + 7 + 1 = 11

Initiative Rolls:
DM: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (14) - 1 = 13
Alaric: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (4) + 0 = 4 Decreased due to Dex damage
Hascya: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 2 = 14
Martin: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (18) + 3 = 21


Alaric runs through a large chamber, passing a smaller chamber to the right, and turns a corner. Lying bloodied on the ground is the corpse of a flaming, dwarf-like figure. The creature's head has been caved in via tremendous blunt force, but whatever slew it is nowhere to be seen. An odd, buzzing rumble can be heard in the area.

The corpse wears red-hued leather armor that has been crusted with dirt, and carried a flaming spear. The orientation of the body indicates that he was killed from behind as he fled.

Map

Linguistics DC 20:
The buzzing noise is a language - Terran, the language of earth-aligned elemental beings.

Knowledge (Planes) DC 16:
The corpse before you is that of an Azer. Azers are dwarflike creatures native to the plane of elemental fire. This one looks like he was a scout.

Azers have been known to form warbands at the behest of a more powerful being, usually a fire giant or an efreeti, but sometimes an Azer chief decides the time is right to pillage other planes for slaves to work their forges.


The voice sounds male, and it sounds like a wordless scream of panic.


You spend some time resting up in the caverns, recovering from your ordeals. Alaric wakes up feverish, appearing sickly and uncoordinated.

Dex damage: 1d3 ⇒ 3
Con damage: 1d3 ⇒ 1

Heal DC 12:
Alaric has contracted filth fever, likely as a result of your adventures in the sewers beneath Silverkeep. This disease takes several days to manifest, and requires a few days to shake off. It can be deadly in itself, but for adventurers it can weaken them too severely to be effective.

Suddenly, you hear screams echoing through the caverns.


If you guys rest, I need you each to roll a fortitude save. Castiel does not need to roll one.


RECAP!

Halting their efforts to prepare the boat, the party stopped and conversed with the mysterious voice in their heads. It offered to help Hascya and Alaric with their personal problems… if they would drink from the vials containing the ashes. Unsatisfied with the voice’s offer and concerned with Castiel’s astonishment at their willingness to talk with what he considered to be an obviously evil being, the party decided to seek outside counsel. Directing Castiel to commune with the forces of good, the party learned that the voice did not have their best intentions at heart, that the cult served the voice, that the voice and the cult were behind the undeadification of Westwend, that they should not stay on the island, and that they should cooperate with Nerissa.

Taking this advice to heart, but still curious about what was about to happen, the party rowed about 300 meters away from the island and waited. The light atop the tower pulsed brighter and more rapidly, ultimately bursting forth into a deep red light as the tower and the island it stood upon tumbled over the edge of the chasm. Great fissures emerged around where the island had been as the chasm grew larger. The party paddled west, towards the nearest shore, when they spotted the red light from atop the tower heading their way. Obviously outpacing their boat, they enacted a desperate plan: shoving on handy haversack inside another. The extradimensional storage spaces tore open a rift, seriously injuring the party and destroying everything contained within Martin and Alaric’s bags, along with the bags themselves.

The party found itself in a series of tunnels lined with luminescent gemstones. Alaric immediately resuscitated his injured familiar, while the others took stock of their location. They were still in their (now battered) boat atop a mound within a cave system. The gems gave off sufficient light to show the party their surroundings. After looking around briefly, Alaric tried to pry a gem loose from the wall, only for it to come to life and attack. Quickly losing its gemlike appearance, the ooze bubbled forth from the wall, lashing out with its acidic form. It corroded Alaric’s armor, Hascya’s sword, and Martin’s clothes. To prevent further damage to his gear, Martin grabbed the oars from their boat and began bashing the giant ooze with them. Alaric managed to weaken the ooze with a spell, and Hascya, while initially reluctant to remain in the fray, joined in as well. When Alaric loosed a cone of flames at the ooze, the ooze took cover behind the boat, escaping the brunt of the blast. The boat was not so lucky. Incensed to see his hard-wrought boat burning up, Hascya let out a mighty war cry of ”BOOOAAAAAAATTTTT!!!” and grabbed the flaming aft section, which he proceeded to bash the ooze with, killing it.

That’s where we ended. What do you do next – explore? Rest? Try to find another plane to explore?


Alaric:
Detect Magic doesn't work that way.

You don't detect anything that seems like the source of the voice. The only magic other than that of your companions comes from the spells upon the tower.


It's an utterly alien voice. It feels like metal screeching in your head and down your spine while sounding very deep, but you understand it with perfect clarity.


THE ELVES DESTROYED WESTWEND. ALREADY THEIR AGENTS MANEUVER WITHIN SILVERKEEP. WE HAVE NO DESIRE TO SEE SILVERKEEP LOST TO THE ELVES. BUT, WE DIGRESS. WHAT DO YOU - EACH OF YOU - WANT? WHAT DO YOU REALLY, REALLY, WANT?


MITHRAL GUARD, YOU HAVE DONE US SERVICE. YOU OTHERS MAY YET SERVE. WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT?


Um, no. The sphere is solely around the light. Were it around the tower, you could not have entered.

As Alaric moves for the boats, a deep voice begins speaking inside your heads. LEAVING ALREADY? INTERESTING.


Technically, you want spellcraft for that.

Alaric:
There's a permanent resilient sphere spell active. The sphere contains whatever is casting the light, but the sphere is quickly growing weaker. The sphere is also tied to a dimensional lock, which is holding the sphere (and likely the lighthouse) above the chasm.


Alaric:
The empire won. The elves executed every necromancer and suspected necromancer they found, pursuing those who fled across the continent. Later rulers would face undead threats, but not on the same scale. The Imperial Knights and Lorekeepers proved their worth in these conflicts, gaining significant political power as a result.

For those examining the orb:

On the uppermost level of the lighthouse, a big glowing red orb stands about ten feet above the floor, supported by a solid stone column. The orb gives off the deep red light that led you here. The light pulses brightly periodically, and you notice that the rate of its pulses has begun to accelerate.

Knowledge (Planes) DC 20:
The orb acts as a beacon, but one that is attuned to the chasm. The quickening pulses likely suggest that the balance of the planes is shifting.

Intelligence DC 15:
You notice that the pulses are quickening at a predictable rate. You estimate that the pulses will be near-constant in about an hour.

Detect Evil:
The orb emits an aura of overwhelming evil.


Now that Martin has heard the name of the elven text's author, he may attempt the knowledge (Nobility) check above. Unlike Hasyca, he has training in Knowledge (nobility).


Martin:
The lighthouse is old and in poor shape. The island itself shows signs of erosion, as you find a few paving tiles that look like they might once have been part of a road. The paving tiles lead towards the chasm, suggesting that the chasm wasn't always as large as it is now.

The lighthouse of the interior is largely bare. There are no creature comforts or living spaces. It seems as though this tower hasn't been inhabited by living beings for a very long time.

The alchemist's table on the second floor supports an assortment of alchemical doodads. Among the vials is one filled with blood mixed with black ashes. A small, ornate urn on the other table holds about a pound of the oily, black ashes.

On the uppermost level, a big glowing red orb stands about ten feet above the floor, supported by a solid stone column. The orb gives off the deep red light that led you here. The light pulses periodically, and you notice that the rate of its pulses has begun to accelerate.


Oops, forgot something related to the elven text. As above, this can only be attempted if you read elven.

Intelligence DC 20 OR Knowledge (Religion) DC 25:
While the text offers excellent advice on combatting weaker undead, like zombies, ghouls, and wights, as well as some more powerful ones, like mummys, death knights, and liches, it provides little or no information regarding extraplanar undead or the rituals used to create undead.


RECAP!

Intrigued by the strange barrier before them, the party began throwing stuff at it. Alaric’s shoe did not pass through the barrier, but a rock they picked up did. Alaric then retrieved a stick from the forest nearby and flew over to the barrier. Grasping the stick, he thrust it at the barrier. The stick penetrated through, but the barrier still stopped Alaric’s hand from passing. The party realized at this point that matter from this plane could pass through while matter from their own could not.

The party decided to see what would happen if they masked themselves in mud from the river. Hascya rolled around in the mud from the bank, completely covering himself, and plunged into the river. Before he could reach the barrier, however, the mud washed off and he was unable to progress. Martin then told Alaric to roll in the mud and fly at the barrier. Grudgingly, Alaric did so. Covered head to toe in mud, he was able to fly past the barrier. The “river” was actually the edge of an ocean of dark waters; the land that had apparently been on the opposite bank was a trick of the plane. In the distance, Alaric could see a glowing red light. He flew back past the barrier and reported to the party, who decided that they needed a boat.

They traveled upstream (west) for a ways, eventually spotting a campsite lit with blue-burning torches. In a central clearing were a group of small, humanoid creatures mounted on bipedal lizards. By the shore were six boats. Thinking they might buy a boat from these people, the party approached only to discover that the figures were goblins. One of the goblins’ sentries spotted them, and blew his horn, alerting the rest of the group. The goblin shaman and his guards soon came over to the group and asked what they were doing here. The party tried to negotiate with the chief to buy a boat, but they were unable to convince the goblins to part with one. Apparently, the boats were to be used in a sacred goblin ritual that would take two tides to complete. The best offer the party received was that the party would prove themselves warriors by killing “one of the pallid worms that dwell in the caverns,” and bring back its blood in the jug provided by the goblins. The party saw the following as their options: killing the goblins to get a boat (supported by Martin), building a boat themselves (what Hascya wanted to do), or going through with the goblins’ test (Alaric’s intention). Martin decided that Alaric should put his money where his mouth was and try to kill the worm himself, and that he (Martin) wanted to observe this spectacle. Hascya bought a battleaxe from one of the goblins in case they needed to build a boat.

Alaric, followed at a distance by an amused Hascya and Martin, entered the cavern complex pointed out by the goblins, whereupon he saw a pair of giant moth-like creatures feeding on goblin corpses. Upon realizing that the moths were unaffected by his sleep hex, Alaric decided that this might be too much for him to handle on his own. He retreated to Hascya and Martin’s position, and the three set about building a boat of their own. Hascya was able to cut down appropriate trees and shape them. After improvising ropes with vines and bark taken from the nearby trees, he lashed the wood together and formed a makeshift boat and oars. The three carried the boat to the shore and smashed the jug over its bow, christening the boat “Pursuit.” They rolled around in the mud (Hascya obligingly coated Castiel in it), and Martin persuaded Alaric to fill his pack with mud for their return trip. Coated in mud, the three climbed aboard their boat and crossed the magical barrier.

The three adventurers rowed in shifts, allowing them to rest as they paddled for hours across the dark, placid waters. Eventually, they reached the source of the bright, red light: an ancient-looking lighthouse that stood atop an island on the cusp of a great chasm. The waters around the island rushed into the chasm as they secured their boat to the dilapidated docks. When they set foot onto the island, they came under attack by a will-o-wisp. Dispatching it handily (after suffering minor electrical burns), they ventured inside the lighthouse. Two shadow-wreathed figures wielding two serrated swords each attacked. One of them threw down a pellet that engulfed the area in darkness, only for Castiel to counter it with a daylight spell. Martin rushed in and began pounding on the foes. One of the creatures used another darkness pellet, causing Hascya and Alaric to withdraw from the fight. Martin prevailed against both foes, and once the darkness evaporated the trio ventured upstairs.

On the second floor of the lighthouse, the party faced the now-benighted warlock. Trading heavy blows with the party, the warlock used his teleportation and deeper darkness abilities to lead the party on a merry chase within and around the lighthouse. As he walked on the outside wall of the building, Martin reached out through an arrow slit and began bashing the warlock against the tower. The warlock eventually escaped upstairs into the darkness once more, but Martin pursued. Moving blindly around the open topmost level of the lighthouse, Martin chanced to bump into the undead warlock and with a mighty blow from his shield he launched the foe off the tower and into the chasm below.

Within the tower, the party found an urn filled with oily black ashes, and a table with alchemy equipment atop it. In one vial is a mixture of blood and a pinch of the black ashes.

Outside the tower, Castiel speaks up, "This chasm is the uppermost reach of the umbral trenches, where the shadow plane and the plane of negative energy join. To venture into that place is to invite certain death, as the plane itself will swiftly drain your lifeforce."

Additionally, Martin took a moment to examine the books and papers taken from the old temple beneath Silverkeep. The books are:
- Meditations on Divinity, by Leomund Haverstrom. This book discusses theories regarding the nature of deities and how they are able to bestow powers upon their most dedicated followers. It details a number of deities, both contemporary and ancient, and provides information about their worship and rituals.
- The second book is in Elven, and looks very old.

Elven:
The second book is called The Ranks and Categories of Undead, by Ashylia Theryn. A forward has been written by a different scholar, noting how this ancient work details many undead creatures, their nature, and by what means they can be overcome.

This book functions as a tool. If you study it for an hour each morning, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus to knowledge (Religion) checks made to identify undead creatures for the rest of that day.

Additionally, you may attempt the knowledge (History) and knowledge (nobility) checks below.


- Most of the notes are incomprehensible, written in a shaky and spidery scrawl in an unknown language, but one is written in the common tongue, recently and with better penmanship, which details a ritual whereby with a pinch of "godmotes" mixed with the blood of a sacrifice, living people can be corrupted by extraplanar undead beings. The undead controls its host, and can cause the corruption to spontaneously kill and reanimate the host as an undead creature.

Map of Lighthouse

Note that the following checks may only be attempted if you read elven or have the elven text translated for you.

Knowledge (History) DC 20:
The elven text is considered the seminal work on undead in the elven nations, and is one of the very few books available on the undead in those lands. The paucity of information on undead in elven lands is a result of the elven Imperial Knights' work on preventing necromancy in those lands. The elven empire was threatened by necromantic cults repeatedly over its five-thousand year history, and they established a draconian zero-tolerance policy towards necromancy and the creation of undead that has remained in effect to this day. The Imperial Knights and their Lorekeeper leaders keep close tabs on suspected necromancers, and have instigated brutally effective purges of necromantic cults and undead within and without elven territory.

Knowledge (Nobility) DC 15:
Ashylia Theryn was the granddaughter of the first elven emperor, Asirnus Theryn, and the daughter of Empress Nessana, the second ruler. The commander of the Imperial Knights when her mother and siblings were assassinated by members of a necromantic cult, she took control of the empire and declared martial law throughout her domain. Under her rule, the elven military rounded up and executed every necromancer and suspected necromancer it could get its hands on. She created the Order of Lorekeepers to keep dangerous information (like the knowledge of how to create undead) out of the wrong hands, purged much of the nobility, and moved the capitol of the empire to Sardis from the Theryn lands. Her rule lasted a mere fifty years, during which she refused to be crowned Empress, before abdicating in favor of her cousin Asterian Theryn, the third Theryn emperor. She then retired to lead the Lorekeepers and published this book.

Ashylia is a well-known figure in elven history, despite having ruled more than four thousand years ago. She is regarded as a dark hero by the elves, someone whose methods were brutal but necessary, and is often referred to as the "Uncrowned Empress."


The dancing lights reveal nothing new.

Do Martin and Hascya accompany Alaric upstream?


The "wall" extends all the way to the ceiling of the cavern (about 100 feet up). Your dancing lights spell simply marks the boundary of the "wall." It doesn't illuminate the area beyond it.


It seems real, as though the plane itself were denying you access.


As Alaric flies over the river, he is forced back as the air solidifies. No matter how he attempts to maneuver, he is unable to cross the river through the air.


Do you want to follow the river upstream or downstream?

Martin:
The river has washed away all signs of your foes' passage. The opposite bank does not show any signs of their passage, either.


Hascya swims into the river, disappearing briefly as the waters churn suddenly. He then emerges on the same bank he started from.

Knowledge (Planes) DC 20:
The plane reshaped itself momentarily to redirect Hascya to the place he started from. Someone, or something, likely has enough control over this plane to control who can pass beyond the river.


Hascya:
Closely examining the hilltop, you find a faint trail of blackened blood drops leading towards the river. There are no footprints, so your quarry likely flew. The trail ends at the river.

Apologies for the delay, I didn't realize that I was leaving you guys without leads when I posted.


There are no further footprints to follow.

Castiel indicates which direction is north. The bloodied hilltop is southwest of the ruin where you entered this realm.


Apologies for the delay. I've been both distracted and scrambling to figure out what comes next.

Here's a more complete description of your surroundings: The lands around you look to be grassy hills, and you stand amid the rubble of a small stone building. A river winds gently through the landscape, its silvery waters tranquil. The entire area, however, is grayed and muted. The grasses growing on the hills are a translucent gray, and the earth black. This area is contained within a high-ceilinged cavern.

Knowledge (Planes) DC 15:
This is the Shadow Plane. It, along with the ethereal and astral planes, are tightly bound to the material plane. While the plane itself is not inherently dangerous, its denizens are strange and alien beings. They may not be friendly to outsiders.

Additionally, because of its close connection to the material plane, the shadow plane can be used by powerful spellcasters to travel between locations on the material plane via secret routes that are far swifter than those found on the material plane. Additionally, time moves differently here than on the material plane: a few hours in this realm are but minutes on the material plane.

Profession (Rules Lawyer): Take 10

Survival is not a knowledge skill, but rather a standalone skill. It is based off of wisdom, not intelligence. Thus, your bonus in the skill with one skill point invested is equal to +3 due to your wisdom penalty.

Alaric (adjusted for proper bonus):
This land is not like your own, making it difficult to identify the nature of this realm and its flora.

This is the information result from Martin and Alaric's tracking efforts, but the results are obvious enough that I'm making this open to all.

Recent footprints lead to a nearby hillcrest, where blood lies spilled. The footprints end here.

Alaric and Martin:
The footprints and the blood are several hours old. It looks like two people walked up here and one slew the other. You see no signs of a struggle, and it appears that the slain person got back up and vanished along with their killer.

Martin:
You sense no evil.

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