The Journal of Shiver

Campaign: Greyhawk Wars

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The Evil Abbey
We journeyed back to the town with the white Weretigers. They kept the hamlet busy while we continued on toward the monastery. At last, we came to the foot of the endless stairs. I took this time to cast a number of spells on Thotham and me, including stoneskin, freedom of movement, barkskin, and air walk. We made our way up the steps, only to find that several monks were positioned on the walls with crossbows. As I was wildshaped into a dire bear, I was able to keep up with Thotham as we stormed the entrance. We eventually broke down the gate and entered the complex. Fighting our way past several squads of hostile monks, we worked our way toward the inner sanctum--where the grand master and his bodyguard waited for us.

I'd come up with a different plan of attack. I was hoping to catch our enemies by surprise with a transmute rock to mud spell, immobilizing them. As we broke into the main hall, our plan went awry instantly. There was a 20' pit just inside the doorway. I was able to jump to the side and avoid falling, but Thotham plunged down into the trap. Lilli and Zephar were therefore stuck in the doorway on the other side of the pit. This was not a good beginning to what we knew would be the toughest battle of our lives.

Just as I'd hoped, all of our opponents were grouped together around a central dais and altar. In addition, several monks were chained down on the floor around the Rakshasa and his allies. But before I could launch my spell, the Weretiger Lord bounded across the room, leaped and spun in the air to bring down his greataxe upon me! I took a grievous wound, but was still in the fight. My polar bear leaped across the pit even as Thotham jumped out, but we were set upon by four of the evil monks. I cast my rock to mud spell, trapping the Rakshasa and two monks in the heavy sludge.

Meanwhile, Thotham was already engaging the other two monks in combat while Lilli cast a mass cure moderate wounds to heal me and the others. The two trapped monks took some valuable time to haul themselves out of the mud, but the Rakshasa stayed where he was, content to launch spells. I then played the second half of my gambit: I cast transmute mud to rock in an attempt to permanently trap our enemy in the stone floor, but he managed to dodge the hardening rock and continue the battle. That was a costly use of two of my most powerful spells. On a more positive note, Zephar gave us haste to quicken our step and improve our ability to attack.

The Weretiger Lord kept trying to kill me, so I used air walk to float to the ceiling beyond his reach. I cast both of my dehydrate spells at him, but he resisted easily. Meanwhile, Lilli targeted the Rakshasa with assay spell resistance to weaken his resolve and then blasted him with banishment. Unfortunately, he withstood the magical attack. By now, Thotham and my bear had slaughtered three of the monks, leaving just one to harass our group. But the Rakshasa was not done: he cast confusion on Thotham, weakening his effectiveness to a massive degree.

Desperate, I took the time to cast my final spell: summon nature's ally. When I was done, a huge stone elemental appeared on the Weretiger Lord's flank and began to pummel him. Lilli tried again to neutralize the Grand Master with a dismissal spell. It worked and the Rakshasa vanished instantly!

With only the Weretiger Lord and one monk left, we pressed our attack. Even though he was confused, Thotham was still able to fight and hammered at our opponents when he could. I came down from the air and aided the melee. While my bear finished off the last monk, Zephar cast Tasha's hideous laughter on the Lord, but he resisted the effect. Still, we were able to vanquish him without much difficulty.

We freed the remaining monk prisoners, who were strangely upset about some of their comrades perishing in my rock to mud spell. Ignoring my remarks about "collateral damage," they insisted that we travel farther down the pass to investigate rumors of a band of frost giants gathering in an old hall...
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The Deadly Pass
Having passed the Rite of Battle Fitness, Redbeard summoned us to his throne room. He asked that we go on a mission of vital importance for him: to investigate the mountain pass to the south. It seems that caravans have been disappearing, disrupting trade. And if he is to invade the south, he must be sure that the pass is safe for his armies. He has heard rumors that creatures known as Yetis have been waylaying the merchants.

We agreed to look into it and headed south. It took us a few days to get to the pass, but the only incident on the way was an encounter with two Troll Hunters. Luckily, we dispatched them quickly.

Once in the pass, we had other dangers to overcome. A sudden avalanche almost engulfed us, but we managed to avoid its deadly progress just in time.

Finally, we arrived at the small frontier town midway through the pass. A forbidding-looking monastery overlooked the hamlet from the crags above. We entered the town and explored the modest community. People had heard about the missing caravans, but knew little else. When asked about the Yetis, they merely shrugged.

We settled in at the tavern for the evening. At some point in the night, we noticed a group of three people (two men and a woman) who were staring at us. Thotham got up to talk to them, but they rebuffed his overtures with brusqueness. They left the inn soon after, but they were not done with us. Flaming missiles came in through the windows, setting the common room on fire! I cast my quench spell to put the conflagration out (however reluctantly), but the room continued to burn.

We fled the building, only to walk right into an ambush! Three white-coated Weretigers lay in wait. One of them peppered us with arrows while another slashed me to ribbons with a sword. The encounter happened so quickly that Zephar lay unconscious and the rest of us were badly wounded before we could even counterattack. While Thotham laid into them with his swords, I cast my frostfell slide spell, which enabled me to teleport away. I healed myself and summoned an earth elemental to aid in our defense. As we came charging back through the blizzard, however, the Weretigers (wounded by Thotham) were already retreating.

The next day, we healed up and journeyed to the monastery. The Grand Master, shadowed by a giant of a man, offered the use of his library to help us research these Yeti creatures. We found little information on the mysterious beasts, and began to formulate another theory: the white Weretigers were the ones attacking the caravans!

We wind walked to the town south of the pass, where Thotham purchased a silver bastard sword (to penetrate the Weretigers' resistance to normal weapons). We returned to the pass and followed the trail of the white creatures. After a long journey through the mountains, we came upon two of them ransacking a wrecked wagon.

I cast stoneskin and barkskin on Thotham even as the two monsters turned to engage us. Zephar cast haste on all of us to enable us to move better in the snow. Swiftrunner drew his new sword and rushed to attack. I then cast buff spells on my bear as the battle began in earnest. One of the Weretigers closed with us and pounced on Zephar. The other rained arrows on me, but my own stoneskin spell helped me resist most of the damage. In turn, I cast entomb on the archer even as our elf continued to heal us. With the archer safely enclosed in a block of ice, Thotham, my bear, and a hound archon (summoned by the elf) surrounded the other Weretiger and pummeled him into submission. He surrendered.

They led us to their camp, where they revealed the truth: they were not the ones attacking the caravans, it was the "monks" in the monastery! They are also Weretigers, except for the Grand Master--who was a Rakshasa. They gave us a blessed spear to aid our efforts to vanquish the monks. We promised to return to the monastery the next day and confront the evil creatures...
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The Rite of Battle Fitness, Part Two
The third test, the test of intelligence, would normally involve surviving a deadly labyrinth. Redbeard had something else in mind for our group, it turned out. He approached us with a special mission: there was a valuable gold mine a few days away that had been ravaged by a white dragon. We were being tasked with wresting back control of the mine from the beast. We felt up to the challenge and accepted the mission. With an alliance between several nations at stake, what choice did we have?

We reached the mine later in the week. We immediately saw signs of the destruction wrought by the dragon. Dead miners were strewn about and the surrounding camp was all but destroyed. Our cleric and I had both prepared resist energy spells, among other defensive measures. We would certainly end up needing them, but not for the opponents we'd expected.

After exploring the central tunnel, we soon came upon foes we'd never seen before. They came right out of the walls, appearing to be made of gold and moving like earth elementals. There were at least a half-dozen of them, and they were all capable of launching fireballs. With a lot of teamwork, we were able to destroy them. Strangely, Thotham found that his fearsome sword was not doing any holy damage on the creatures. They were not evil, it seemed, yet they were assaulting us just as fiercely as any demon. We had no choice but to slay them.

We hadn't had much time to recover when another group of the golden creatures attacked us in the main corridor. We dispatched this wave as well, but the two battles had drained many of our spells. I took the precaution of casting resist energy: fire, but it was too late. No more of the golden things came our way--but the silver ones were next.

Knowing that we would eventually face the white dragon, we had resist energy: cold cast on our group. Therefore, we were not prepared for an ambush by silver elementals shooting lightning bolts down the hall at us. My polar bear bore the brunt of many of the scorching attacks, but luckily its evasion skills helped him avoid the deadly magic. The rest of us were not so lucky, and we once again expended more spells to defeat the enemy.

Soon after, we reached the newest portion of the mine. We found out it was still being worked--by a squad of Ogres and their Ogre Mage leader. This was the easiest battle so far, primarily because I summoned a fire elemental that took out most of the Ogres. Thotham handled the rest. The Ogre Mage used dimension door to get behind us, but between my bear and the others, the enemy leader was quickly slain.

We pressed on, almost out of spells and weary beyond belief. We passed through several large chambers, each one containing a massive altar. By studying each altar, we deduced that they were dedicated to the various tenets of the dragon culture. We left those halls behind and then came across an enormous treasure hoard. We didn't see any magic items that might aid our effort, so we continued on.

Finally, we reached a wide, cavernous hall. Standing there was a human barbarian. Words were exchanged; our motives were questioned. We explained our mission, and then everything went to hell. The human transformed into the white dragon! I knew that white dragons couldn't shapechange, so something strange was afoot. It was too bad that I didn't figure out this anomaly sooner.

The battle was long and hard-fought. I summoned an air elemental that helped to batter the creature. It was a good thing that Thotham and I had stoneskin; otherwise, we would have been dead. And rather than breathe a blast of cold as we expected, the dragon hurled fire at us. Another strange development. Luckily, my resist fire spell was still in effect. It was close enough as it was. By the time we finally slew the dragon, we were all near death and just about out of spells.

And then a black dragon ambled out of the darkness to thank us for slaying the pesky gold dragon that had been ruling the mine.
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The Rite of Battle Fitness, Part One
In an effort to get the tyrannical lord of Stonefist, Sevvord Redbeard, to enter into a treaty with the other barbarian kingdoms, the Awakeners of Vatun were sent to parlay with him. Just before we left, we were told by our lord's scholars that Stonefist has an ancient--and potentially deadly--tradition. It is called the Rite of Battle Fitness, and it is used occasionally to test the worthiness of the land's warriors. Our allies believed there was a good chance Redbeard would call for one during our visit. They were proven correct.

There are several tests, the first of which was an overland journey through the mountains with only a weapon, a shield, and a bottle of water. My weapon of choice was, of course, my staff. We obeyed the rules and only brought the items indicated, but Thotham's hunting skills and my spells (especially goodberry) prevented us from ever going hungry. The object of this test was to arrive at the destination alive and, ideally, with the head of a giant...or the heads of three competitors.

With our wilderness skills, we left the other warrior parties behind (though not before facing a troll at night in our camp at the base of the mountain) and made good time through the highlands. The weather was much milder than I was used to and we hustled along quickly and easily. Finally, just as we climbed a steep hill and reached a high clearing, we came upon a fearsome Eldritch Giant.

The battle was epic. The giant dispelled most of our magical defenses and its attacks were brutal. Our combat medic was busy healing at every turn, struggling to keep us alive. Zephar's songs gave us the strength to keep fighting even when all seemed lost. Thotham waded in with his sword and slashed mightily at the huge monster while I launched several powerful spells. We were hurting the thing, but it was still very much in the fight. I used my staff to summon a fire elemental, which battered the giant with a fiery assault. (Yay, fire!!) Between all of us, we were finally able to slay the monster. All of us were hurt and weary, but we stumbled down from the mountains with quite a prize. The giant's head put all the others' trophies to shame.

The next phase was the test of endurance. All the competitors would have to swim a hundred and fifty kilometers (whatever in the Abyss that measurement means) down the (thankfully unfrozen) Frozen River. This should have been an intimidating challenge, but it was not. I was able to cast cloak of the sea on my three companions, which gave them water breathing and freedom of movement. Meanwhile, I wild shaped into a shark. We made it down the river in record time, and were basking at the finish line hours before the next competitor arrived.

The third challenge, however, was a bit more daunting...
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Blood in the Snow
We set out into the icy reaches beyond Kelten, the dogs pulling our sled with all their might. How I would have loved to release the poor devils into the wild, but for now we needed their strength. We first came across a sentinel on the edge of the forest, hiding up in a tree. I cast plant growth and caused the branches to swell and wrap around the man. Meanwhile, Kinoba shot an arcane blast at him and blew him out of his perch. We questioned him at length and discovered he was an advanced scout from Ratik. He is our erstwhile ally but the recovery of three of the five swords has unnerved his nation. On every side, we see potential enemies: the other barbarian kingdoms, lifelong rivals, do not wish us Frost Barbarians to find the blades. The orcs seek revenge for the loss of Stalker. And everyone outside our peninsula fears the union of the north if all five swords are found.

We released the scout in the end, but I cannot release the tension in my gut so easily. There will be hell to pay before this quest is over, I think...should we actually survive.

We pressed on into the forest, and blundered into several traps along the way. They were dangerous, even lethal, devices but we managed to get past them without any fatalities.

Later in the day, we came to a vast clearing where a dozen formidable-looking men in furs and steel waited for us. We approached cautiously, not seeking a fight, and they closed the distance between us. When they were within thirty feet, they roared their battle cries and charged toward us.

Zephar was the first to react and began singing to strengthen us. I was also quick on my feet and, excited for the chance to use some of my cold-based spells, impulsively cast blood snow under our sudden opponents. If I had been thinking strategically, I would have cast entangle first, as there was still grass and scrub on the plain, but I did not. So while the blood snow caught several of them in its grip, making them badly nauseous and draining them of vitality, the rest were still free to move.

Mallon wasted no time and cast fireball on one group of them, wounding them soundly. Yes, fire! Kinoba ducked behind the sled and began casting one of his mighty necromancy spells. Thotham charged into them, his swords flashing everywhere like a whirlwind of steel.

I sent Bullrusher, clad in his new chain barding, to harass the enemy warriors on their flank. This worked a bit too well, as nearly half the barbarians turned and focused their attacks on my bear. I began casting call lightning as I prayed our side would survive long enough for me to use it. Thotham and Zephar were surrounded but Kinoba's spell was complete and he summoned a huge skeletal beast to come to our aid. Mallon sent yet another fireball into the midst of the enemy and I cast a wall of thorns (right on the edge of the blood snow) to fence off some of the enemy while we finished off the rest. Thotham ripped several of them apart with his blades and the remaining three surrendered (which didn't stop Kinoba's undead monster from tearing one of them apart, ha).

We questioned the last two closely, and they said some suggestive things. It seems their master believes we are demons (I took severe umbrage to such an accusation) and that we seek to release an evil god with our quest. The others did not seem as perturbed by this nugget of information as I was, but I tend to brood more than the rest...

We slew them and moved on, reaching the edge of the encampment soon after...
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