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A city in need
The party decided to head to Neverwinter immediately, while news reached them that smoke and ash had been seen pouring from the peak of Mount Hotenow.

After traveling along the road for some time, from somewhere within the Neverwinter Wood they heard a strange trilling noise, like a titan sharpening his sword on the mountainside

They went to investigate and soon saw an odd spire rising out of the trees. The rocky spire was roughly five stories tall and covered in strange etchings.

As they approached, they noticed broken statues and stones with strange runic markings scattered around the base of the spire. The rubble-strewn ground around it appeared to have been recently unearthed. Since the coast was clear, they moved in for a closer look.

Surprisingly, one of the statues seemed strangely articulate, as if it was mechanical. Upon further examination, the "statue" proved to be a living mechanical being, who had been crushed and left in an inactive state for centuries.

The party took precautions and then revived the metal man, who introduced himself as Randzen, a protector of the lost city of Gauntlgrym. As he was in the party's debt for reviving him, and they also shared the desire to find his beloved city, he joined them.

Randzen began to tell them all he could about Gauntlgrym, but the story was interrupted by another keening trill from the spire. Up close now, they could see that an electrical spark traveled along the grooves and up the spire as the the noise rang out.

Des climbed up the spire to see what the top looked like (a dish-shaped needle with a small hole in the center), and spotted a Netherese scouting party coming toward them.

He ran back down, and everyone hid in the woods. Five netherese shades, accompanied by a large golem, came carefully through the trees, spotting the heroes as they entered the clearing around the spire.

Des charged forward, and battle ensued. The shade leader projected strange painful visions as his golem lumbered forward ponderously, knocking down the heroes in its path and making a bee-line for Mika, who had felled most of the shady scouts with a radiant blast of energy.

The golem, swinging its deadly axe, lumbered over to protect its master. It was heavily armored and took an incredible amount of punishment. Both sides were beginning to tire.

Finally, Lo-Thar and Randzen were able to separate the leader from his protective golem, and with a primal shout, Lo-Thar pounded the golem with a resounding strike that turned the battle. Mika told the Shadovar that there were more pressing threats and the shade agreed, calling off his golem and ending the fight.

The shade, Erzoun, listened to the tale of the Hex Locus. The party hoped they might use the golem to destroy it. Erzoun found the idea promising, but informed the party that he could not simply hand over control of the golem; at least one shadow denizen would need to come with them to control it. In addition, as loaning out a prized Bronze Warder would be an unprecedented act of collaboration, Clariburnus Tanthul would definitely have to approve it.

More Shadovar (a group of shadar-kai) arrived and they made arrangements to meet once the party had saved Neverwinter. As another show of confidence, Erzoun said he could lead them quickly through the Shadowfell, that they might arrive in Neverwinter in minutes, rather than hours.

And so it was. The party followed Erzoun and his companions to a shadow crossing within the wood. One of the shadar-kai presented a strange black cloth, creating a haze that made it difficult to concentrate on where they were. They passed through the shadow crossing and found themselves in a bleak landscape where all the trees stood leafless and dead. They walked along the dusty path, taking sharp turns down previously unnoticed side-tracks, and a short time later, came to an ornate door.

As they passed through the frame--another shadow crossing--they found themselves towering high in the air above a smoky, dismal-looking city. Momentarily they realized it was their beloved neverwinter!

Another Shadovar--a githzerai outcast--began casting a ritual. Shortly, they were surrounded by darkness and reappeared on the streets of Neverwinter, in the River district. Two surprised orcs, hiding behind a barricade, shouted in wonder as the party sped away.

The heroes headed into Blacklake and to the House of a Thousand faces, where they met up with the harpers and got the gist of what had happened.

Reportedly, two days earlier, the Chasm had erupted in a huge wave of blue flame, accompanied by an all-out assault on the Wall. Portions of the wall proved to be unguarded as waves of spell-scarred freaks and aberrations penetrated the protector's enclave and began going door to door, kidnapping citizens and--if these stories were to be believed--throwing them bodily into the Chasm.

The city guard then retaliated, gaining ground and killing many of the monsters. A group of Sons of Alagondar, led by Edward Thann, commandeered the floating Moonstone Mask tavern and pulled it south, over Neverdeath, where it could keep watch on the end of the wall while remaining virtually unassailable.

As the attacks from the Chasm lessened, the worshippers of Asmodeus revealed themselves and began to revel in the chaos, murdering people and creating destruction just for the sake of it. Guards loyal to the Master of the Nine Hells turned on their allies, throwing the enclave into bloody battle again.

The remains of the city watch retreated to the Hall of Justice, where Neverember, the mayor, and a growing number of refugees now resided in relative safety, waiting for reinforcements from Waterdeep.

Then the heroes went to the home of Mordai Vell and convinced him to shove a wedge between the Cultists of Asmodeus and Thay. Using his connections to Favria, the evil Gauntlgrym-seeking dwarf and local cult leader, he said it would be simple to convince her that Valindra no longer holds the Scepter of Asmodeus and therefore affords no loyalty.

The party then headed to the Hall of Justice, climbing and flying over the gate and entering from the rampart. They first encountered the Mayor, who seemed normal. However, Mika could detect faint traces of magical energy and was sure he was unknowingly under the influence of the Hex Locus.

The party descended to the main hall to speak with Neverember, and ascertain whether he too was in the Aboleths' thrall. Once it appeared that the Open Lord was not under any evil influence, Mika pulled the mayor aside, accompanying him to his office so the others could talk openly to Neverember.

When the party informed him that mayor Galt was under the Aboleth's control, he was shocked, but reluctantly accepted the possibility. He admitted that Galt's council had been very conservative lately, and indeed, it was one of the main reasons why Neverember's mercenaries were hunkering down in the Hall of Justice instead of hunting down the last of the escaped monsters.

Meanwhile, Mika and the mayor were enjoying a glass of liquor and discussing the situation in Neverwinter. The dwarf confided in her that until reinforcements arrived the city was very vulnerable to revolt, or even a possible coup attempt by one of the hostile factions, such as the Thayans led by Valindra Shadowmantle...

The great hall darkened as Valindra appeared, announcing that Neverember had failed and the city was hers now. A swarming mass of zombies burst in through the windows. The reanimated corpses of the shining Neverwinter Nine burst in through doors on both sides of the room. Randzen lunged forward to pull Lord Neverember from the grasp of the zombies.
Session: Game Session - Sunday, Sep 08 2013 from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM
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A turning point
The party's rest was interrupted by an earthquake, and aftershocks which sent rocks tumbling from the roof of the cavern. They decided to risk remaining in the cave, since in their condition, stumbling across more Foulspawn or an aboleth could mean death.

Some time later, green slime oozed through the cracks in the cave and landed on the party, threatening to dissolve their flesh. The party fought off the slime-creatures, and, fearing more subterranean dangers, decided to cautiously head toward the surface.

To their relief, no more monsters blocked their way (being busy elsewhere) and they were able to escape the temple catacombs. A strange energy field surrounded the temple which apparently rendered common (i.e., low level) folk unconscious. Captain Dunfield and a few of the more powerful clerics were helping pull the dozing victims of the field safely outside.

After a short debriefing, the party went to rest and finally were able to regain their strength, despite the unexplained seismic vibration which now seemed constant. Overnight a terrible crash was heard, and the next morning they could see that the temple grounds had lowered substantially, creating a shallow crater and half-collapsing the buildings within.

Additionally, reports out of Neverwinter suggested that the town was under attack. The party used their Stone of Sending to speak with mayor Galt. The dwarf first seemed panicked, confirming that aberrant monsters had surged from the Chasm en masse and attacked the wall, but suddenly calmed down and ensured the party there was nothing to worry about.

Skeptical of the dwarf, who had always been friendly, but also had sent them on at least two potential suicide missions, the party purchased a divination ritual to view Neverwinter from afar. And alas, the mayor's story was confirmed; smoke and rubble choked the alleys of Neverwinter's market district, and screams and the sounds of battle could be heard all around.

They scryed the area, watching a Neverwinter guard and a cultist team up against a spell-plagued abomination. They finished off the creature, and then the cultist stabbed his temporary ally in the back, screaming, "Your blood will fuel the dread ring!"

The spell faded. Things looked dire.
Session: Game Session - Friday, May 17 2013 from 6:00 PM to 11:30 PM
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Tags: Level Up
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The Hex Locus (part 2)
Back underneath Helm's Hold, the party attempted to return to the Hex Locus. They first encountered a strange, green-skinned elf who seemed a bit crazy and disappeared into the tunnels. When they neared the chamber containing the Hex Locus, Des and Mika scouted ahead and peered in; a half-dozen aboleths circled the Locus, channeling beams of energy into the orb.

When the pair retreated and began to retrace their steps, they couldn't find their way back. Where the passage had once continued straight, the hallway turned, as if the bizarre spellplague energy permeating the area was warping reality.

After waiting for a while for the scouting party to return, the others set out to find them in small groups, until everyone was lost in the catacombs, unable to find the way out again. Des encountered some hulking foulspawn, and shrank into the shadows to let them by. Soon, he found himself in a large, natural cavern filled with glowing mushrooms. The sing-song voice of the green-skinned elf greeted him, laughing eerily.

Meanwhile, the foulspawn had stumbled across Lo-Thar and Vilnyk, and started a fight. The rest of the party followed the sound of battle and soon they were reunited. It was a surprisingly hard fight, but the heroes won in the end. Des mentioned the cavern he had found, and they headed that way, hoping to find a way up to the surface, or at the very least, a place to rest.

Despite being assailed by aggressive plantlike creatures, they pressed on, and found Chartilifax, a green dragon, who had long ago been polymorphed into the form of a green-skinned elf, turned by Rohini, and who now hunted the catacombs.

After slaying Chartilifax, the party was beaten and exhausted, and searched for the dragon's lair where they might safely rest.

Unfortunately the cavern was populated by mushroom men--myconids--which aggresively defended their territory. But after another grueling combat, the party finally found a small cave, and Chartilifax's sizeable horde within. After what seemed like an endless series of fights, they lay down to rest (hopefully).
Session: Game Session - Saturday, Apr 20 2013 from 2:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Tags: dragon
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The Hex Locus (part 1)
The party freed Rohini and the others, but the prophet said that more prisoners had been dragged away moments earlier to be experimented on. She confidently led the way and the party followed.

The prophet led down twisting passages of stone until they came to a strange room with oddly angular walls. In the center of the room hovered a strange orb covered in a scintillating pattern of indescribable colors.

There was no one else there. The prophet turned on them with charm spells, striking down the strangely distant Vilnyk, as a psychic force emanated from the orb, distracting them while they remained in the room. Even worse, the artifact exerted a mind-controlling impulse. As the party fought Rohini, first Fenerick and then Lo-Thar succumbed to the orb's power while they fought to destroy it. The party managed to defeat Rohini--who had exposed her true nature as a Succubus--and Des and Mika fled.

The discordant song of the aboleths thrummed in the minds of Lo-Thar and Fenerick. They realized now that the material plane was a blemish that would only be made beautiful if all living beings either joined the Choir or perish. The orb, or Hex Locus as they now knew it, commanded they leave and kill those remaining heroes who threatened the harmony of the Choir.

Whereupon the heroes fought against each other in an epic combat. Des nearly killed Fenerick, twice, but Lo-Thar restored him until the mage and rogue were victorious. They were forced to beat their comrades into submission as the domination proved permanent. Completely spent, Mika lifted their fallen comrades on a disc of magical force and they fled the catacombs...

...only to be confronted by an angry mob who accused them of kidnapping the Prophet. Des threatened to kill everyone, which went about as well as you'd expect, but the rational members of the party explained what had happened, revealing that Rohini had been a succubus the whole time.

The party was able to remove the orb's affliction from Fenerick and Lo-Thar with help from a cleric named Taco, who Des bullied into providing the expensive ritual for free. He had apparently been quite disgruntled by the experience.

With the party restored and rested, they made haste to once again venture down through the Well of Bones and seek out the Hex Locus.
Session: Game Session - Saturday, Apr 20 2013 from 2:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Tags: Boss Battle , Recap
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Well of Bones (recap)
Upon returning to Helm's Hold, the party indulged in some well-earned rest. While they slept, Fenerick had strange dream, which turned into a vivid vision of the Prophet Rohini being kidnapped.

The spell-scarred sorcerer awoke and warned his allies, who ran to the temple to investigate. At night, the temple was strangely quiet, and no one stirred, guards or otherwise.

When they arrived at Rohini's chambers, the door was open and the room was covered in a strange blue flame which covered the walls and floor like ooze. The ephemeral flame evaporated as they watched, and Fenerick had another vision--this time, of Rohini being carried into a tunnel entrance. After a few minutes of searching, they found the entrance and headed inside, making their way into the catacombs beneath Helm's Hold.

The party made their way to a huge underground room where human-sized cages hung from chains on the ceiling. The path continued across a bridge and down crumbling stairs around the chamber, but the party first battled some aberrant wretches, attracting the attention of an Aboleth. Mika blasted the Aboleth with a psychic attack, causing it to fall down the well with a resounding splat! It didn't return, and the heroes finished mopping up the wretches.

The party rested after the battle and then descended into the Well of Bones. As they made their way across a bridge halfway down, they heard a terrible crash and a cacophany of terrible howls. The aboleth had released a pack of ravenous werewolves, driven to madness with hunger, who rushed at the party, climbing the walls and stairs.

The falling aboleth had made a slippery splotch on the bridge which was difficult to walk across, and further complicated things by appearing from beneath the bridge and attacking the party as the werewolves approached. Some of the heroes fell off and were injured but continued to battle on both levels at once until they had finished off the aboleth and the pitiful starved beast-men.

Then, guided by Fenerick's visions and Lo-Thar's expert tracking, they came to a chamber where Rohini was imprisoned with a few other sad citizens.
Session: Game Session - Friday, Feb 15 2013 from 6:30 PM to 11:00 PM
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Tags: Battle , Milestone , Recap
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Drive Out The Shadows
Leaving Thundertree, the party returned to Helm's Hold.

Lo-Thar decided it was time to free his clan from the corrupted grip of its Netherese masters (Boldly sticking it to Clariburnus Tanthul, who had, with uncharacteristic mercy, allowed the half-giant to live after the party had promised not to intervene in the wood).

The party borrowed a small force of city watchmen--including, to their surprise, the ex-necromancer Dug, who had been freed from Neverember's prison and exiled to the Monastery--and boldly marched into the Wood, bound to encounter the werewolves.

And so it was: There ensued two fantastic battles with the Grey Wolves. The heroes fought bravely against packs of whooping, frenzied shifters and storm-calling shamans. After the wolves' snaggle-toothed lieutenant was defeated, battle ceased. Arrangements were made for Lo-Thar to challenge Ethrianev Marrowslake in single combat for the leadership of the tribe.

It was a brutal, bloody fight, but Lo-Thar was resilient and defeated Marrowslake without intervention. After the battle, most of the Grey Wolves swore loyalty to him and agreed to turn against the Shadovar. Then there was a big celebration and the other heroes were made honorary members of the tribe.
Session: Game Session - Friday, Jan 25 2013 from 6:15 PM to 11:15 PM
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Tags: Battle
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Marked for Death
The party went to find Atlavast under the old, decrepit House of Knowledge. After escaping from a drowning trap, they found the reclusive priest in a musty archive. He was defensive, but the party made their case well and he told them about Varis's inquiries, and much of the history of the House of Knowledge and Helm's Hold.

The party had also received a letter from Adimond Kroskas, who asked them to meet him, under the full moon, in an abandoned town outside of Neverwinter called Thundertree.

The party decided to head that way. Helm's Hold was more or less on the way, so they spent some time there and heard the Prophet speak.

Continuing on to Thundertree, the party arrived in the daytime and knocked on the door of the only house that seemed occupied, shouting for Kroskas. Of course, it wasn't Kroskas who lived there, but an odd, ugly dwarf woman who dismissed them rudely.

That night Kroskas appeared before them and told them about his predicament, filling in many gaps in the party's understanding of Valindra Shadowmantle's plot and the Cult of Dragons. Since Valindra has the cult's Ring of Dragons, Kroskas must obey her, but he has done everything he can to delay the resurrection of Lorragauth, an ancient black dragon. He agreed to assist the party in stopping Valindra if only they returned his ring.

He also explained that Thay used portals through the Shadowfell to get to and from the Dread Ring from within Neverwinter. He and Voxen Rau had been using portals through the Feywild so as not to alert Valindra.
Session: Game Session - Friday, Jan 18 2013 from 6:15 PM to 11:15 PM
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A Sense of Dread (rough cut)
The party battled cultists of Asmodeus and their devil servitors in the Necromancer's cave. After a tough fight, they used the sending stone taken from Drogo, pretending to be him. A sinister voice responded "take their bodies to fuel the Dread Ring."

They explored deeper into the cave, slogging through the warm waters of the Neverwinter river mingled with slime and filth. As they approached an ancient altar, strewn with necromantic paraphernalia, a hideous mass of corpses rose out of the water, along with some ghouls. The party slogged through the mess and overcame the monstrosity in a show of grit and mettle.

After the battle the party found arcane reagents and valuable notes which had been left there by Varis, servant of Valindra Shadowmantle. He was apparently studying magical currents around Neverwinter and researching the resurrection of long-dead entities. His notes mentioned getting information on the latter from Atlavast, the reclusive master of the fallen House of Knowledge.

The party returned to Drogo and interrogated him, finally learning the extent of Voxen Rau's obedience to Valindra Shadowmantle and Thay, and decided to disenchant the Dragon Knuckle to gain the valuable Residuum within.
Session: Game Session - Saturday, Jan 12 2013 from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM
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Interrogation (overview)
The party split up the guards and interrogated them, learning a bit more about how Voxen operated and finally piecing together what had happened the night Cymril was taken by surprise. They learned she wasn't dead after all.

They went to Neverember and a call was put out across the city to bring Voxen in for questioning.

The party retrieved Cymril right as some Sons, led by Toram, were in the midst of a jailbreak. As it turned out, Grill had been released the day earlier and told the Harpers that Cymril still lived. Elated, Toram had rushed to rescue her.

Since no guards were grievously wounded in the scuffle, General Sabine agreed to turn a blind eye to the break-in if they agreed to leave right away and shut up about it.

The party got to hear some of Cymril's story, (details to follow), which led them to apprehend Drogo in a slimy hole in the ground. He agreed to go with them if they could defeat his minions, which they did handily. After the battle he stalled the party long enough for reinforcements to arrive--cultists of Asmodeus!
Session: Game Session - Friday, Jan 04 2013 from 6:15 PM to 11:15 PM
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Never Surrender
In the lair of the dragons, the party found a couple strange magic items: A pair of bracers and an orb of polished petrified wood. The objects were intricately inscribed in an unidentified language, and capable of projecting magical force fields for a short duration.

The party returned to Mayor Galt and told him of their victory. The dwarf was oddly surprised they had returned so soon, but the heroes thought nothing of it and left in a hurry when he didn't seem interested in offering a monetary reward.

They had further business to attend to: General Rau's errand regarding necromancers. They found him near the dungeons and were ushered into a quiet alcove to hear what he had to say. He explained that he had been interrogating the Thayan prisoner they had captured in the river district a while back, and had learned the location of a necromancer meeting-place beneath the Burtlet Mausoleum in the Neverdeath graveyard. He told them the time and place to apprehend the necromancers and left it up to them to do the job.

With time to kill, most of the party decided to rest. While Des made contacts at the Leviathan, Lo-Thar swiftly made his way to Neverwinter Wood where he encountered other Grey Wolves who had been forsworn by the tribe. They agreed to support him in his quest to overthrow the leadership of the tribe and remove Netheril's influence.

Once everyone had regrouped, they decided to get to the mausoleum hours ahead of time to get the drop on the necromancers. On the way, they drew the attention of a watchful city guard, but were able to shoo him off easily enough.

They broke into the crypt, which apparently had been sealed to prevent undead creatures from escaping. Des felt a shiver as he entered the crypt, as if part of his soul wanted to stay outside.

They descended a stone stairway deep underground, until they came to a deep rift blocking their way. They were able to cross it easily, using a combination of athletic prowess and magical aptitude, but were ambushed by zombies on the other side of the pit. They mopped up and, after a short rest, proceeded deeper into the crypt.

They came to a large room containing old, broken sarcophagi. As they crossed to the pair of double doors on the other side of the room, the doors swung open, revealing none other than general Voxen Rau, flanked by his guards. It had been a trap all along.

Voxen explained that he desired an object in their possession (the dragon knuckle.) He told them that he had taken it from Valindra Shadowmantle without her knowledge, and that when she realized it was missing, no one in Neverwinter would be safe from her wrath. For the safety of the city, they needed to give it to him--or else.

The party refused to be bullied, and would not give it to him, especially if that meant returning it to Valindra. They asked him what he knew about it and why he wanted it. He divulged that the bone had been bait to draw Cymril out of hiding, a plot which had gone off without a hitch. Tensions grew--Vilnyk's conspiratory edge becoming more and more accusatory, and Des' implacable confidence sealing the deal--and finally Voxen ordered his men to attack.

As the general drew his jagged-edge rapier, it thrummed and rang with magical energy. He wasn't just an expert swordsman--he was a Bladesinger! Fortunately for the party, they also had a powerful array of spells to unleash upon Rau's guards, who were drawn in by Mika's enchantment and detonated by a thunderous blast from Fenerick.

Rau darted in to strike, spells glinting off his blade. Des was brutally gashed, but the magic of his allies kept him fighting and he slashed back, forcing the sword-mage to blink away. The guards were falling one by one. Des scored a deep cut and his eyes glowed red with blood thirst, and Rau's eyes grew wide. He had seen Des' true nature and recognized what it was. "You're playing for the wrong team, boy!"

Rau's incredible agility and wide assortment of defensive abilities made him a worthy adversary for the group, but with support from his allies dwindling he was forced to retreat before too long. As he stumbled away, bloodied and reeling, he shouted out a few jabs about the party being blinded by righteousness and warned them that Neverember's rule wouldn't last forever. Power is awarded to those who seize it, and so on. And he disappeared into a secret door, which slowed down the party enough for him to escape.

After determining that the passage led to the surface (and no more threats loomed in the next few minutes), the party returned to the crypt to interrogate the guards they had defeated.
Session: Game Session - Friday, Nov 30 2012 from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Tags: Boss Battle
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Trial and Triumph
The heroes charged heedless into battle. Their adversary, a finely-dressed Shadovar, was assisted by his construction golem. They tried to surround him, but the Shadovar had the terrain advantage, as well as the ability to step through shadows. In a swirl of darkness, he vanished from his stony perch and appeared behind Des, striking true with his wicked black scimitar.

Lo-Thar moved up to draw the attention of the Shadovar as Des slinked away. Mika and Fenerick took cover and started slinging spells. Vilnyk tried to charm the golem, which retaliated by snatching up the eladrin and forcefully throwing him at Des, injuring them both.

Lo-Thar knew that he would need to take down the golem first if the party was to have any chance at the Shadovar. Unfortunately, the Shadovar blinked from place to place, slashing viciously from both sides, critically wounding him.

The Shadovar prince stood over the fallen goliath and laughed, hardly ruffled from the fight while the heroes lay wounded and exhausted around him. It seemed like a good time to run away.

Fenerick pleaded with their adversary, appealing to his pride, as he had clearly proven his martial superiority.

"Fine.", the Shadovar responded, "I grow tired of this. Scurry off and know that if I ever find you interfering again, you will rue the day you crossed Clariburnus Tanthul."

The dark prince allowed Des to revive Lo-Thar and drag him off (though he seemed to be considering slaying the helpless barbarian to teach the others a lesson on insolence.) After the party had retreated to a safe distance and stopped to catch their breath, the tremendous rumble and crash of falling stone emanated from the direction of the ruins.

After a few minutes, the noise stopped, and Des returned stealthily to the edge of the clearing to investigate. He could see that a few more agents of Netheril had arrived, including a second Thaalud Constructor and a handful of shadowy humanoids. The two large golems were in the process of completely leveling the ruin, reducing it to stones and dust, removing all trace that anything had been there besides rocks and dust.

Des shrugged and returned to the party. Vilnyk was in a state of shock: First his ancestral ruins had been looted, and now they were being eradicated!

The party returned to town, drained and defeated. A message was waiting for them when they arrived: The mayor, Soman Galt, requested their assistance in a sensitive matter.

When they went to visit him at the Hall of Justice, the mayor seemed agitated, as always, but glad to see them just the same. He explained, vaguely, that a sinister dark shape had been seen flying out of the Chasm and over the walls of Neverwinter. Reportedly some guards had tracked it through the swamps north of Neverwinter to an old temple, but the city couldn't afford to risk more men going in to investigate.

The party boldly took up the task, despite the lack of details. They were adventurers, after all.

As they left the mayor's office, they encountered General Rau. He told them that Dug and Kraven (the Thay agents the party had helped apprehend a week ago) had given up valuable information upon interrogation. Specifically, they had learned the location of a secret necromancer meeting place.

Since the party had assisted them before, he was hoping they would once again be willing to put themselves into harm's way and possibly fight some necromancers. It wasn't an emergency, so they agreed to get the full details later, after they dealt with the Mayor's "dark shadowy flying thing".

They headed out of town along the old, overgrown road, that would eventually turn toward Luskan, three days hard ride to the North. Their destination was much closer. Following the Mayor's description, the party rode into the swamp, looking for a temple which would apparently be hard to miss.

The path was dry and well graded, but on both sides tall reeds and marshland stretched for miles around. In the afternoon they encountered some lizard men, almost invisible in the brush, lying in wait to ambush them. But Fenerick spoke to them in their native tongue and convinced them to depart peacefully.

Eventually they came to the ancient ruin and made their way inside. A wolf-sized dragon attacked them and they fought back fiercely. Moments later a second dragon, horse-sized, leaped out of the water and breathed horrible acid. It was a tough battle but they were victorious in the end, and had earned the title of dragonslayers.
Session: Session #10 - Friday, Nov 16 2012 from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Day Trip
The heroes spent much of the day travelling uneventfully to Helm's Hold, a frontier town, regarded as a sanctuary for those less fortunate. It was clear that the town had become overpopulated and somewhat dangerous in recent years; a detachment of Neverember's guards now patrolled the streets and broke up fights between desperate villagers.

The party wandered into an old tavern called the Dragon's Gauntlet, and were surprised to find it was now being used as a town hall, where a council of elected speakers was mediating disputes between townsfolk. The Chief Speaker was a woman in a frayed purple tabard named Alisara Callum. When the party immediately brought up werewolves it created a stir among those present. There indeed had been many attacks and kidnappings attributed to shapechangers in recent days.

Fenerick noted that unlike people elsewhere, the townsfolk of Helm's Hold didn't give him (or his spellscar) a second glance. Alisara seemed especially welcoming. However, not everyone in the crowd was as enthusiastic about his and Des' affliction.

After taking leave from the council meeting, the party made their way through a section of town known as Scar Alley, where the most desperate and least fortunate residents lived. They found a guard post and introduced themselves to Captain Dunfield, head of the city watch. Dunfield was an old associate of Neverember, and the party asked him straight what he knew about Werewolf attacks on the city. He gave the party clearer information--more than half a dozen attacks and at least as many kidnappings had occurred recently, and the perpetrators were undoubtedly werewolves.

The party told the captain they would try to help in whatever capacity they could and went to find an inn. They ended up at the Old Dirty Dwarf, the best place in town, which mostly caters to newcomers.

The next morning Lo-Thar woke early and patrolled the outskirts of the city in wolf form. He didn't see anyone, but he did find a significant number of wolf tracks leading in and out of the city on a hidden path.

Later on, while the party was heading out to gather information, Lo-thar noticed a couple tall, fierce-looking men trying to get his attention. At least one of the men looked familiar: members of his tribe, who had covered their tattoos and cut their hair to disguise themselves as innocuous townsfolk.

The men motioned for him to come closer, and when he was within whispering distance, told him to come with them and speak in private. They led him into a nearby shack, and the more sinister werewolf confronted him about abandoning the pack. The other shapechanger barred the door as they both shifted into their hybrid forms, claws glistening, and attacked.

Lo-Thar held his own as the other members of the party, fearing the worst, rushed down the alley to assist him. Lo-thar bull-rushed the laconic werewolf, slamming him into the door and breaking it off its hinges. Vilnyk teleported into the fray which the caused the werewolves some distress, and both of them struck out at him, battering the poor eladrin across the room and knocking him out. Des darted in and out stabby stab as Mika unleashed her potent enchantment spells. Fenerick blasted a door, came in the other way, and let loose with arcane lightning.

After the werewolves had been subdued and tied with rope, Fenerick and Vilnyk headed off to buy some shackles. The two hostages woke up, clearly looking for a way out while the rest of the party interrogated them.. They revealed that the Shadovar would empower them to attain the glory of their ancestors, in exchange for the destruction of Helm’s Hold. After some tense negotiation and appeals to the Grey Wolves’ honor, the leader werewolf agreed to lead the party into the forest to meet with the Shadovar in exchange for his freedom (while the other werewolf would be turned over to the authorities).

After a quick stop at the guard station, where they dropped off their captive and Captain Dunfield thanked and congratulated them for working so quickly, they followed the werewolf into the forest.

They walked for many hours, following ancient fey road markers, finally arriving near dusk at an old Illiyanbruen ruin, where a strange machine sat amidst piles of rubble and dirt. A dark humanoid, shrouded in shadow, looked down at them from the second floor of a crumbling old building.

“Who have you brought me?” the Shadovar inquired. “My Lord, these adventurers wanted to meet you,” replied the werewolf. “Not ‘My Lord’, call me ‘Your Highness’,” the shade responded, his sharp features twisting into a sneer as he gestured dramatically, calling attention to his finely crafted and undoubtedly expensive attire.

Vilnyk seethed with rage; it was clear now that the Netherese were responsible for the desecration of his cultural heritage. “Well, what do you want?” asked the Shadovar.

Des bluffed that they were hoping to assist the Netherese in their assault on Helm’s Hold, provoking further insight into what they planned to accomplish there: The werewolves had been instructed to infiltrate and bring chaos to the city, and ensure the Prophet’s downfall.

Vilnyk struggled to remain calm as he asked the Shadovar to explain his intentions for the Illiyanbruen ruins, and the dark one responded disrespectfully by casually kicking over some stones and suggesting there was nothing worth looking for here. The eladrin also noticed that the strange machine nearby was actually a Thaalud Constructor, a light construction golem used by the Netherese for all sorts of building and excavation.

When Mika took up the story, suggesting the party had connections with Neverwinter’s resistance and might do some damage in that city, the Shadovar began to see cracks in their façade and contemplated aloud that he might have to prevent the heroes from leaving alive. Des suggested it wasn’t a fair fight since he was outnumbered and the Shadovar responded “What, are there more of you hiding in the woods?” He obviously didn’t consider the party to be much of a threat.

Lo-Thar reached out to the other werewolf, asking him to turn away from his Netherese master and join the party in defeating him. Obviously conflicted, the Grey Wolf turned and fled into the woods as the heroes surged forward to do battle with their newly revealed enemy.
Session: Game Session - Friday, Nov 09 2012 from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Meeting the Harpers
Mika wrote a letter apologizing to Neverember for Edward's outburst at the armory.

After investigating the Driftwood, which has been locked down for the time being on General Rau's orders, the party eventually tracked down Madame Rosene, who was hiding out in the basement of a chic tavern called House of a Thousand Faces, run by an elf named Theryis.

Theryis and her brother, a grim half-elf named Toram, were revealed to be members of the Harpers, a secretive organization of do-gooders dedicated to resist the spread of tyranny and evil all across the continent.

Thanks to their widespread network of contacts, the Harpers had some important information to share.
  • They explained that the Cult of Dragons were an apocalyptic cult of fanatic undead dragon-worshippers.
  • They reported that Liset Cheldar visited the Hall of Justice every few days to meet with General Rau.
  • They were disturbed to hear Lothar's talk of a Shadovar presence nearby. If he could provide further proof of their activity there was no doubt the Harpers would become involved.
  • They had heard rumors of reported werewolf activity in Helm's Hold.

The party was also given details about the House of Knowledge's transition over the years from library, to hospital for the spell-scarred, to its new location in Helm's Hold under the direction from a woman known as the Prophet.

Then Madame Rosene explained what had happened in the raid on the Driftwood. Grill and some locals--mostly innocent drunks--had been rounded up for questioning. She thought it was just Neverember sending a message that the resistance would not be tolerated. She wasn't too worried about Grill, who had done nothing to harm the city, and could be counted on to be forthright about his dealings and uphold a positive Sons perspective.

Rosene explained that Grill had been doing errands for her to curry favor with various persons of interest; recently he had been chumming it up with a tiefling noble named Mordai Vell. As a Neverwinter resident since before the Cataclysm, Mordai has a lot of pull in the city, as well as being on good terms with Neverember.

When the party suggested a possible daring nighttime jailbreak, Rosene chuckled and suggested that instead they might try using their newly-earned pull with the New Neverwinter movement to ask for his release.

After getting what they could from Rosene they decided to ask Captain Sabine about letting Grill out. After checking at the Hall of Justice, they found her chatting with Liset and Edward at the Moonstone Mask.

Liset greets them and Des gives her the cold shoulder. The party asks Sabine to talk to them privately, while Mika makes sure Liset stays out of earshot. Liset seems sad; perhaps she is beholden to Voxen Rau for reasons she is not proud of.

Sabine says she isn't excited to negotiate with Rau or Neverember, particularly after the kerfuffle that happened earlier today, but even though it's late, she will see what she can do.

The party retired to their rooms at Beached Leviathan, and then left for Helm's Hold immediately the next morning, without checking to see if Grill had been released or any interesting correspondence awaited them at the House of Healing.
Session: Game Session - Friday, Nov 09 2012 from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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That Which Never Sleeps
The heroes entered the caverns under Neverwinter once again, to finally confront the source of the madness.

They first slayed a carrion crawler that had eluded them before, its body now ravaged by the spellplague. In the next chamber they found flaming rifts bursting with fiery spellplague energy; reality itself was barely holding together. After dispatching the nothics and shambling plaguechanged humanoids that barred their way, they entered the final chamber.

The ground was cracked and rippling with spellplague energy. An aboleth, its body visibly scarred and distorted by contact with the spellplague, floated in the center of the room channeling dark magic through a loose circle of wretched thralls.

As the heroes approached it began speaking to them with telepathy, but its words were confusing, at the very least. "Cast out from the sovereignty, you found a new destiny in destruction. Your weakness will be overcome in death."

The madness-stricken creature blundered tactically and rushed in, bathing the heroes in blue flame but opening itself up to an easy counterattack. The heroes made short work of it, and the whispering madness in their minds ceased immediately.

When they returned, victorious, to the Hall of Justice, Teliann was eager to hear the details of their exploits and give them their agreed-upon reward. While they perused the items in the armory, Neverember himself arrived to meet and congratulate them, accompanied by Voxen Rau, Captain Sabine, and various guards and hangers-on.

The Open Lord of Waterdeep was friendly and jovial at first--and especially flirtatious toward Mika--and seemed genuinely interested in hearing about where they came from.

Fenerick spoke up asking Neverember for clemency regarding his spellscar. Vilnyk and Mika supported him with impassioned diplomatic speeches even while the mayor, Soman Galt, looked down from the balcony and insisted, considering their recent exposure to the spellplague, the whole party be sent to Helm's Hold, where Rohini the Prophet might provide treatment. Despite his complaints, and an interjection from General Rau about protocol, the mayor was shouted down--they were the heroes of the day, and obviously shouldn't be ejected from the city. Before the Mayor left, Edward asked if they might speak afterward, and the dwarf told him to come to his office later.

Neverember was shocked when Lo-Thar explained that he sought allies against Netherese activities in Neverwinter Wood. With Neverwinter's fate already balanced on a knife-edge between monstrous horrors and scheming cultists, Shadovar interest in the region will only make things worse.

Edward Thann then spoke up about Neverember's poor treatment of the citizens of Neverwinter, especially the unchecked behavior of the foreign mercenaries. He emphasized that without the favor of the common folk, Neverember was nothing more than the leader of an occupying army. Des revealed his spellscar to support Edward, showing that truly supporting the city meant dealing with things directly. Vilnyk suggested land grants to establish his mercenaries as residents.

Neverember's mood shifted drastically. He was incensed that someone would question his performance regarding the difficult task of restoring Neverwinter to become the Jewel of the North. Every inch of territory regained in Blacklake represented a huge effort, but he was still making progress, day by day.

Though it saddened her to do so, Captain Sabine interjected, saying that rumors were already circulating that the string of murders, while supernatural in appearance, had simply been cover for the Sons of Alagondar to attack the Protector's Enclave. Since the guards killed while under the compulsion of the aboleth had all been stabbed in the back in a very specific, fatal way (unlike any of the townsfolk who had at least survived the event despite being worse for wear), she had trouble trusting that the party truly had Neverwinter's best interests at heart, despite their heroic efforts in ending the aboleth's reign of madness.

"Take your reward and go." Neverember said as he turned and left.

Edward went to talk to the mayor while Teliann described the storied histories of each of the reward items to rest of the group.

The Mayor distractedly sipped his scotch while Edward asked him about the history of the town. The dwarf responded that he sometimes felt it was too late to save Neverwinter, but that he thought Neverember was doing the best he could. When Edward pressed him on the possible location of the lost Crown of Neverwinter, mayor Galt gave him a knowing look, and explained that Castle Never had been looted, but still contained dangers that prevented it from being re-secured even after all this time. If the crown was anywhere in Neverwinter, Castle Never would be the most likely place to find it.

The party decided upon a magic Scimitar that had once belonged to Ackbar, a merchant prince from far away. Returning to the Driftwood, they found that it had been closed on General Rau's orders, and their ally Grill had been imprisoned.
Session: Game Session - Friday, Nov 02 2012 from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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While his new companions were tracking down an aberrant horror in the sewers, Edward Thann entered the Moonstone Mask, expecting to find Liset. The friendly half-elf wasn't there, however, so he settled in for a few hours to wait for her.

When she reappeared behind the bar sometime later, Edward reintroduced himself and made pleasant chit-chat. After a few minutes he made his move. "Hey, you seem like a woman with good connections; I'm looking for a scholar or 'wise-man' who has been in Neverwinter for a long while. Do you know whom I might reach out to?"

"Well," Liset replied, "I would have suggested Brother Anthus, at the House of Knowledge, before he died. He was old... And now nobody goes there except to ring the bell.

"Maybe an elf or dwarf would be better--someone who has lived here since before the cataclysm. You could always talk to the mayor; He used to be an explorer, did you know? I bet mayor Galt knows all about Neverwinter's history."

Edward wasn't so sure. He had heard that Galt had become cold and disconnected in recent years; whether it caused by the stress of his position, or his weaselly reputation as Neverember's lackey, he didn't know.

He thanked her for the suggestions, and reached out to take Liset's hand. "I know there are dangerous people in the city. If you ever feel like you need to get away, my family in Waterdeep could protect you." Liset deflected his kindness politely, responding that she felt plenty safe here in the Mask, surrounded by Neverember's guards.

Edward wondered how to go about meeting with the mayor. If only there were someone he could convince to provide an introduction. Maybe he could throw his foster father's name around. He decided to not to worry about it for the moment, and instead visit the House of Knowledge that Liset had mentioned.

After asking a bystander for directions, he headed to the far northeastern end of the Enclave, where the House of Knowledge stood. In happier times, it had been a flourishing temple to Oghma. Edward was appalled to find that it now looked more like a refugee camp than a temple. The place was in shambles, and it was apparent that squatters had taken up residence in hovels tucked among the crumbling stonework.

Edward had expected books and stuff. For just a moment, he wondered if he'd been given poor information, but was reassured with a glance at the tarnished Scroll of Oghma etched into crumbling bell tower.

A man cooking mystery soup over a campfire smiled up at the proud knight. The man explained that he used to be a merchant in the river district. The tower offers a good vantage point over the chasm, and so he and the other squatters took turns watching for monsters, ringing the bell to warn the guards whenever anything emerged.

Edward asked the man a few more questions and went on his way. The House of Knowledge was apparently a dead end. But what had befallen it?
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