Adventures of Team TPK

Turning the Tables on Venomfang
The Reclamation of Thundertree

Back at the ruins of Thundertree, the shaken party hatched a plan. Reidoth was disappointed in the outcome, but impressed with the party’s resolve to turn the tables on Venomfang. The dragon was young (for a dragon), vain, and would be overconfident. If they could lure the dragon into a killing ground, they might have a chance. There was no way there were going to bring the head of the old druid to the dragon, nor leave their companions behind, even they were to die. It was time to show the dragon why those overgrown lizards were no longer the dominant species.

There was some concern about the fate of Tai Ni Dong and Fizbo, whether they would survive the night after suffering their injuries. Reidoth advised that the dragon often did a patrol at dusk, either prowling around Thundertree on foot, or a flying patrol of the broader area. Perhaps they could enter the lair while it was out and rescue their comrades. Igo volunteered to observe the dragon lair and advise if it left. However it was not to be, perhaps expecting a rescue attempt, or for other reasons, the dragon stayed in its lair.
The following afternoon the party finalised their plans and with Reidoth made for the dragon lair. They took up their positions and called the dragon to advise that they had fulfilled their bargain. There was a nervous wait, but eventually Venomfang responded, growling and then slithering his way through the passage out into the setting sun. Before the dragon’s eyes could adjust to the bright light, the party attacked, taking the beast by surprise. Guinne was up in the tree, raining down arrows upon the creature, most bouncing off his scales but some finding the gaps between them. Igo fired his longbow from the side, likewise finding some of them getting through the dragon’s scales. Eric, after casting bless to increase the efficacy of some party members fired his own light crossbow into the opposite flank of the dragon, but his lighter weapon found it difficult to penetrate the dragon’s armour. Goldi fired off as many spells as she could, mostly magic missile as these bolts of magical force never missed. The elf wizard also cast burning hands from Fizbo’s staff of fire. The staff had other spells, but Goldi was worried they were beyond her ability to control and resolved to only use them if things got desperate for fear of injuring her companions. Reidoth cast call lightning and bolts of electricity arced from the sky to strike the dragon – making Guinne somewhat uncomfortable as the bolts came too close for her liking. However they were devastating in the damage they did to the dragon’s body. Bonnie hurled her throwing hammers at the dragon, getting ready to charge in and hopefully finish the dragon off with her magical golden axe. However the entire surprise attack worked better than they could have hoped. The dragon was staggered, and collapsed under the barrage. It managed an angry, croaking roar with a buff of noxious gas coming from its mouth, and then died. The quiet that followed after the noise of the attack was unsettling, as if the entire area held its breath to see if the dragon would rise again. It did not. Its broken, holed and arrow studded body remained on the scorched earth outside its lair, jaws agape, eyes glassy. Everyone froze as if they couldn’t believe what they had done.
“Quickly!” yelled Bonnie, breaking them out of their trance. “Find Fizbo and Tai Ni Dong!” The party moved into the dragon’s lair, expecting to have to fight a new battle with the blights who served the dragon, but they were all in the process of fleeing after the death of their master. The monk and wizard were found in the lair, and Eric cast cure wounds on them and was rewarded to see their eyes open and groan and cough. The air in the dragon lair was still tinged with an acrid, green mist and they all stumbled out of the lair into the fresh air.

They had won.

Later that evening, eating a meal of rabbit and vegetable stew, Reidoth acknowledged a lot of their success was owed to the dragon being young and overconfident.

“Never expect that from an older and wiser dragon,” he advised. He went on to point out on their map where they could find Cragmaw Castle, the location where they believed Gundren was being held.

“Do you think people will return to Thundertree now?” asked Tai Ni Dong.

“Probably, now the dragon has been killed,” replied the druid. “And then I will move on too, I think. I have no wish to live in civilisation.”

“No one – except perhaps Igo – thought that a small village like Thundertree would ever be “civilisation”, but they understood the druid’s desire to be with nature.

Team TPK stayed for a couple more days in Thundertree. Tai Ni Dong showed them where he had lived – a ruined house on the edge of the village – and explained how he as a boy and his family had fled to Neverwinter when Mount Hotenow had exploded, raining rocks, clouds of poisonous gas, and ash, for hundreds of miles around. The volcano was quieter now. There was still a wisp of smoke coming from the crater at the top of the mountain, but there had been no major earth tremors for several years.
The party left in the early morning to head back to Phandalin to get more supplies and then head to Cragmaw Castle.

[To be continued…]

Thundertree - Part 3

Tai Ni Dong was originally from Thundertree, he knew exactly where the dragon’s lair would be, a cave underneath a great tree just on the edge of town.

There were two large carnivorous plants just at the entrance, looking like any other plant until they moved to strike. The party made short work of them, however.

The tunnel leading underneath the huge tree was 10ft wide but the party had to climb over roots at times, and roots also hung from ceiling. It was dirty, damp and foul smelling, with a faint green mist that tickled the throat and made the party cough. Creatures moved just outside of the party’s vision, but they did not attack. Then the dragon’s sibilant but deep voice echoed through the area.

“Adventurers! I know you’re out there. Talking to that druid, I presume. I can smell your foul odor. I know that druid wants me to leave. Coveting my treasure. Undoubtedly I’m sure you do, too. So if it’s a battle you want, I will provide it, but I hope to parley. If you value your lives you should hear me out. I come carrying, as the human custom goes, the white banner of peace. Step into my lair and no harm should come to you.”

The party discussed this, then yelled out to the dragon that they would parley. The dragon urged them to continue on down into his lair. Blights and stranger creatures moved out of the party’s light, letting them pass. The finally came to a huge cave. The dragon Venomfang itself was not huge – a young dragon, Fizbo judged, but even a young dragon is powerful. It slithered down a large natural column.

firnen_by_tatianamakeeva-d7gstqv_sm.png“The truth is,” said the dragon, “that this fight is more evenly matched than I prefer. I will destroy you, but I will be forced to lick my wounds and in that time, be a prime target for my half-sister’s inevitable attack! I may be inclined to be evil, by your own standards, but I’m not stupid. I would much prefer fights I can overwhelmingly win.”
“How can we trust you?” asked Fizbo. “You could probably gobble us up right now.”
“I’m quite full, right now”, the dragon replied, but seemed pleased the party thought it wouldn’t have too much trouble with them. ‘Vain’ thought Fizbo. ‘Maybe we can use that against it.’
“Another party tried to kill me recently, you see”, continued Venomfang. “They didn’t take to negotiating. Thought I was a liar. Oh…..The druid didn’t tell you about them?”
“That duplicitous human!” growled Goldi.
“Hang on,” whispered Igo. “We don’t know this is true.”
“He could be lying,” agreed Bonnie.
“Let us put aside our weapons,” suggested Venomfang. “To be welcomed into a lair of a dragon is a trust and honour no dragon dare go against! I’m giving you all the draconic guest rite. May Tiamat the dragon goddess strike those that defy this rite down!”
After a brief discussion the party put away their weapons, as a gesture of good faith.
While he spoke Venomfang glided with supernatural grace between various stalagmite columns, coiled around them, looked around, moved around the party. But he wasn’t behaving like a predator, Fizbo judged. In fact the dragon looked concerned for things hidden.
“There’s more of her spies around,” continued the dragon. “She will be concerned that I am talking with you instead of fighting. I can feel her attention…I must whisper now.”
Venomfang moved closer, not so close to threaten the party. He dropped his voice in volume.
“You see- I need a favor. Yes. Close together, now. I’m offering you a deal. Closer. I must whisper. There’s another nearby dragon who has a better lair. Her name is Verslexia and those spiders you torched in that building were her spies. If you’d slay her I’d gladly leave this place at once with all my treasure. No problem at all. I will rid myself of this place and vow never to return.”
“This is my town, dragon!” yelled Tai Ni Dong. “I would reclaim Thundertree!”
“Ahh. You were from here? Thundertree it was called? I see. I take it my lair here is insulting to your tastes. To your sense of cultural pride. For that I’m sorry. You could not have been bigger than a hatchling at that time! It appears I underestimate human memory and ambition. You and I share similar motivations! Well you may reclaim your town! You can even pretend to have ‘drove me off with heroics’ should any adventurer find me in my new lair.. I’d gladly play along… what is your name again, fleshling? Deal with my sister and then we can talk about how I should retell your story of how you drove me off from Thundertree!”
“Why do you talk about the druid Reidoth as if he tricks us?” asked Bonnie. “And what about the eggs?”
“They must be his sister’s eggs!” suggested Igo.
The dragon moved again, lithe and graceful. “Yes, my sisters eggs. I care nothing for them. As for the druid, see.. we have an arrangement me and him. I help him keep my sister’s influence at bay. He saves me time from going out and hunting for treasure and food.. He sends groups like you to me to deal in hopes I leave here. I either get treasure, or an attempt at a new lair! He can’t defeat me so he gets the stupid ones killed and the smart ones to help me leave his domain! Oh.. he didn’t tell you that? That’s too bad… yeah. It appears those druids love nature more than their fellow civilised beings. I suppose he cares less about you than you of him! Reminds me of dealings with my own kin. It appears the only honest deals that exist can only be between different races.”
Alarm bells were going off in Goldi’s head. The dragon was lying, surely, he was contradicting himself. Something wasn’t right. The dragon spoke again.
“Please listen to me! I would rather not risk my life for such a mission or leave my treasure unguarded. I knew this site would draw attention by adventurers.. It was all planned! I swear it on your gods and my own. She lives in the woods deep in a cairn about 10 miles from here…her name is Verslexia. She’s my half-sister. Come closer now and I’ll give you a map!”
“I’ll go,” said Igo, and moved towards the dragon, the others stood back in a group.
A broad smile broke across the dragon’s face. He now had the party where he wanted them, all together in a group – except for the ranger who had moved forward into claw range.
“Thank you for trusting me – MEAL!!”

The green dragon roared, exposing a ball of poison gas quickly building in his mouth. The scent of bleach and volatile chemicals hits the party member’s faces followed by a viscious cloud of acidic haze! Tai Ni Dong and Fizbo collapsed to the ground immediately. The others were badly wounded, except for Igo, who had avoided the blast of poisonous breath. The dragon immediately ran into the middle of them and snatched up the two bodies of the fallen heroes.
“Listen to me, would be heroes. I have no sister, the eggs are mine, though I care little for them, but they are mine. I have need of eyes and ears outside my town. MY town, Thundertree. Soon the lands around will be mine as well. You will report back to me every month, with tribute for my hoard. Are we agreed?”
Bonnie was seeing a way out of this.
“But,” continued the dragon, “as a sign of good faith, you will bring me the head of the druid Reidoth! By sunset tomorrow! Or your companions will truly die!” The dragon squeezed the bodies a little, and Tai Ni Dong moaned – he was still alive, but unconsious!
“Now go!” commanded Venomfang. “And bring me the head of that druid!”

The remaining party members fled the dragon’s lair.

Thundertree - Part 2
Spiders and Cultists

dragon_cultist.jpgThe party decided that night time would be the best time to deal with the cultists. They waited until the early hours of the morning, then went to the farmhouse building identified by Reidoth. Guinne “volunteered” to sneak around and dispatch sleeping cultists, with the rest of Team TPK poised at windows and doors, ready to burst in if she were discovered. Guinne took out the two cultists on watch first – they never saw it coming. Then as she was moving around the building Guinne overheard two cultists talking about “dragon eggs” and how they were going to bully the green dragon into doing what they wanted by holding the eggs as ransom. Apparently they had entered the dragon lair when it was out hunting, but half of their number had died to the blights guarding the lair. They were successful however, and had retrieved 3 dragon eggs.

Guinne was discovered eventually, but had slit the throats of several sleeping cultists. One light sleeper sounded the alarm after he was awoken by a dying cultists, and the party burst in to finish off the rest. After a short battle, in which the party targeted spellcasters first, the cultists were all slain.

ashzombie.jpgThey returned and slept until late into the morning. Reidoth was gone when they awoke, and was gone for most of the day, no doubt doing his rounds of the area. The party went out and explored the rest of the town. They discovered a nest of giant spiders, and used magic fire spells like burning hands to destroy the nest and then arrows and crossbow bolts (and magic missiles) to kill them off. They killed more ash zombies and blights, encountering some larger blights that Igo identified as vine blights which were tougher, bigger, and could make plants and vines entwine around the party to hold them fast. However they were never in great numbers, so Team TPK were victorious in all these encounters.

Reidoth returned in the afternoon with sacks of vegetables and berries, as well as several rabbits which he and Igo skinned and cooked. The party spent a quiet night with Reidoth. The old man told some stories, and talked about his faction – the Emerald Enclave, which were a group of mostly rangers and druids who tried to get nature and civilisation to make room for each other and try and deal with areas of conflict.

They also discussed what to do about the dragon eggs and the dragon Venomfang. Reidoth was all for smashing the eggs, but the party were keen to use them as bargaining chips for the dragon. They discussed various ways they could approach the dragon, or even if it was worth it and they should just assault the monster. Reidoth urged caution, stating that dragons were not like other beasts, even young ones like Venomfang were worthy of respect. Tai Nee Dong wanted the dragon dead or gone, and the party agreed it would have to be one of those two outcomes.
“Or the third outcome is that you are all dead by sundown tomorrow,” said Reidoth. “You wouldn’t be the first adventuring party to underestimate a young dragon.”

The following day they decided to approach the dragon lair, and play it by ear. If the dragon wanted to talk they would listen, if it wanted to fight, they would fight.

To be continued..

Thundertree - Part 1
The ruined town

Gradually, the trail became an old, overgrown lane winding between dilapidated buildings choked in vines and brush. Ahead of the party, in the middle of the settlement, rose a steep hill, on which stood a stone tower with a partially collapsed roof and an adjoining cottage. A dirt road hugged the base of teh hill and wound its way between old stone houses, many of which were roofless ruins with interiors open to the weather. Other buildings appeared more or less intact. The whole place was eerily silent. A wooden sign was nailed to a post nearby. It read:
DANGER! Plant Monsters and Zombies and WORSE! Turn back now!

“Looks different to how I remember it,” said Tai Nee Dong, stopping to look.
“It could be rebuilt,” said Bonnie, slapping the monk on the back. “We just need to clear the monsters out.”
“Let’s find this Reidoth character,” said Fizbo. “We don’t need to be clearing out monsters, just ask the druid what we need to know.”
“I would like it if we could clear out anything that is stopping people settling back here,” said Tai Nee Dong. “It shouldn’t be too hard. Except for the dragon, maybe.”
Everyone stopped.
“The.. what?” said Guinne. “My ears must be playing up, I thought you said dragon.”
“It’s only a young one,” said the monk. “Shouldn’t be too hard.”
“It’s still a dragon!” said Fizbo.
“All dragons are tough if they’re living on their own,” added Goldi.
“What colour dragon?” asked Igo.
“I hate green dragons,” said Igo. “They corrupt nature. I’m for taking it out.”
“Let’s get more information,” said Eric. “From what I’ve read, dragons like to have spies and allies.”

twig_blights.jpgThey continued into the town, finding there was a very light mist with a greenish tinge in the air, which tickled the throat. The first building they came to was a crumbled stone cottage with no roof and rampant weeds. As soon as they drew close, small creatures looking like twigs lashed together came swarming out towards them. They were easy to smash apart, but they were nasty, poking for eyes and slashing across exposed skin with their pointed stick like limbs.
“Twig blights,” said Igo. “They and their larger kin appear in natural areas wherever evil lurks. I fear evil has taken a foothold in this town.”

Several other buildings were infested with the creatures, and all were destroyed with minimal wounds taken by the heroes. They came to a a weathered signboard by the door of a large building which showed the faded image of a workhorse holding a flagon of ale. The building was sagging and neglected, but was more intact than most of the ruins they had passed so far.
“The Brown Horse,” said Tai Nee Dong. “The only tavern in town, and according to my father, produced a well regarded ale.”
They went in, and found grey zombies lurking inside. The zombies lurched to attack, but were put down as easily as the twig blights. When the zombies were hit, a cloud of ash erupted from the creature, and they trailed grey ash from the wounds. The party quickly learned to hold their breath when striking to avoid the choking cloud. After the battle the party threw the zombies corpses outside.
“It’s not too bad,” said Bonnie, looking around. “Mostly dry, we could stay here if we had to.”
“Let’s see what else is around, there might be better buildings,” said Eric.

They continued on and found a small house in better condition than any they had found up until now. The doors were reinforced with heavy iron bands, and thick shutters protected the windows.
“Someone lives here,” said Igo, looking at the ground. “And whoever it is can cover their tracks well.”
The door opened, revealing a wrinkled old man with a staff and a hawk on his arm.
reidoth_by_caiomm-d7ar12n.jpg“Well, don’t just stand there,” he grumbled. “You might as well come in. I’ve been getting reports of adventurers coming for a couple of hours now, so I suppose that is you.”
“Reports from who?” asked Bonnie, stepping into the house.
“Birds, beasts,” said the man, going over to stir a pot of stew which everyone agreed smelt wonderful.
“Are you Reidoth?” asked Fizbo.
“I am,” the druid said. “At your service. Now why are you here? Didn’t you read my sign?”
“We need to know where Cragmaw Castle is,” said Bonnie. “We were told that you could tell us.”
“And so I can,” answered the old druid. “Show me your map and I’ll mark it for you.”
“And is there anything we can help you with?” asked Tai Nee Dong. “Dragon problems maybe?”
“How do you know about the dragon?” said Reidoth, sharply. “Don’t be getting any foolish ideas. It may be a young dragon, but it could still wipe the floor with all of you.”
“I used to live here,” said Tai Nee Dong, firmly. “I’d like to see it returned to a place where folk are proud to live and work, to see it thrive.”
“So would I, but I suspect the task is beyond you. The risk is too great.”
“Maybe we could scout around, take care of some of the blights and zombies here. We’ve run into a few already.” said Goldi.
“We’re experienced adventurers, you know,” added Fizbo.
“Hmpf,” snorted Reidoth. “Look, poke around if you must. Be wary of giant spiders, and of some dragon cultists in a farmhouse, I’ll point it out. If you can deal with those we’ll talk about the dragon.”

To be continued…

Death in the Cornfields - Part 2
Things are not as they seem

The party decided to see if they could get more information from Elias’ friends Alina and Edwin who, according to Elias, were two newly-married farmers, both 18 years old. They followed Elias’ directions and found themselves at a small farmhouse at the end of a short track. Unlike many of the farmhouses the party had seen that day, no smoke emanated from the chimney. The main door stood ajar. “Has something happened here?” wondered Bonnie out loud.

Within Alina and Edwin’s nicely-kept farmhouse, their decapitated bodies lay on the blood-covered floor of the
kitchen. There was evidence they were dragged from their beds, although there were few signs of a struggle.
“There’s blood but not much blood for a decapitation,” observed Eric. “Why is that, I wonder?”
“They were decapitated elsewhere?” suggested Igo.
“Or not much blood in their bodies when they were decapitated?” suggested Goldi.
“My parents must have done this,” whispered Elias. He seemed to be in shock.
Igo was able to find footprints in the mess, heading out of the building and then found faint, bloody footprints leading in the direction of the farm of Elias’s parents; the blood disappeared after a few feet, and it was starting to get dark, but the trail through the muddy fields was clear enough to Igo’s skilled eyes.
“Looks like the boy was right,” grunted Igo. “The parents did this.”
“Right, let’s go back and sort this out,” growled Bonnie.

They marched back in the gathering twilight to Elias’ parents’ house and banged on the door.
“You are murderers!” yelled Bonnie. “Explain yourselves!”
“Go away,” yelled Elias’ father. “Run away from here, you are in danger!”
“Explain!” yelled back Bonnie again. Behind her, Elias started coughing and gasping for breath. Eric saw to him and thought his skin was cold and clammy. The boy sank to his knees, shaking. Eric thought he could have pneumonia. It was starting to get very cold.

The door opened again, this time wider. Elias’ father appeared, wide eyed as if afraid. He pointed a shaking finger at Elias.
“He will change! We couldn’t behead him like we did poor Alina and Edwin. We had to do it after they had been bitten, before they changed. We couldn’t do it to our only boy! We staked him up, hoping the sunlight would kill him, but it was overcast, no direct sunlight!”
Eric suddenly remembered the strange sunburn on the boy. The cleric hurriedly backed away from the boy kneeling on the ground who was now silent, head drooped down. He had stopped shaking. Then Elias’ head snapped up, his eyes were pale, his skin even paler and his nails had grown long and black and become like talons.
“Shit!” yelled Bonnie, “he’s become some kind of undead!”
elias.jpg“The master visited us last night,” said Elias, rising and stalking forward. “He gave us the gift of eternal life. But THESE low born stole it from my friends!” He leaped forward towards his father who fell backwards into the house and slammed the door shut. Elias turned towards the party.
“I’ll kill you first, then these inside, and I’ll join my master in ruling this area,” Elias growled, becoming more feral and less human with each passing moment.

The battle was a challenging one for the party. Elias was now a vampire spawn, a weak version of a vampire (Eric would tell the party later), but was still resistant to non-magical weapons. His claws were strong and sharp and he could penetrate strong armour. In addition the vampire spawn could regenerate wounds. However, Bonnie had her golden axe, which Elias quickly learned to be afraid of. Likewise he had no defences against Fizbo and Goldi’s spells. Igo’s arrows did less damage because they were not magical, but they still hurt the vampire spawn. Eric cast spells to help and heal the party, and at one point used his holy symbol as a channel for his goddess’s power to drive off Elias so the party could quickly reform and recover before attacking again. In the end the creature was destroyed, and it lay on the cold earth, twisted and evil looking.

“Don’t we have to put garlic wafers in it’s mouth or something?” asked Fizbo.
“I think vampire spawn are different,” said Eric. “Once it’s dead it’s dead.”
“Let’s cut off it’s head to be sure,’ said Bonnie. She hefted her undead slaying axe and severed the head from the body. “We’ll throw it into the river.”

They made the half mile trek to Neverwinter River and threw the head in, which sank from view. Then they returned to the farm. Elias’ mother and father were grateful their son had been laid to rest, and provided lodgings and food for the night. The party left the following morning. Abner and Milena – Elias’ parents – said they would have to give up the farm and go join Abner’s brother’s farm about 10 miles away. They would give the farm to Abner’s nephews and nieces who could claim it when they were a bit older.

The party continued onto Thundertree, wondering about the vampire who had turned Elias and his friends into vampire spawn. Did he live in the area or just passing through? Would he track the party for killing his spawn? These questions may be answered in time.

Death in the Cornfields - Part 1
The boy on the stake..

The late afternoon was cold, heavily overcast and drizzly as Team TPK made their way along the road towards the ruined town of Thundertree. Their purpose was to find the druid Reidoth, who could tell them the location of Cragmaw Castle, the last place Gundren Rockseeker was known to have been taken. Reidoth was known to be in Thundertree, which was also Tai Ni Dong’s home town.

“So is Thundertree big, small, in between?” asked Bonnie Basher. “And what happened to it?”
“Small,” replied Tai Ni Dong. “Mount Hotenow happened to it, erupted and covered it in hot ash about 15 years ago. My family had to flee with everyone else to Neverwinter, and then didn’t settle, we just kept moving around. I’ve always wanted to go back.”
“The farmers here are back,” said Eric, waving at an isolated farmstead with wheat and corn growing in the fields. As a priest of a goddess of life and agriculture, he appreciated the well maintained rows of grain.
“It’s good farmland here, close to the Neverwinter River,” said Tai Ni Dong. “Close enough to Neverwinter to ask for help if orcs or worse come raiding.”
“Does everyone in Thundertree have weird names?” asked Guinne.
“No, Tai Ni Dong is the name I took when I joined the monastry in Wayfork,” smiled the monk. “My old name isn’t me anymore.”
Around the road were fields of wheat, stretching as far as the eye could see. The clothes of an ill-made scarecrow flapped in the cold breeze. Suddenly, they became aware of a moan coming from the scarecrow. Looking more closely, they realised that it was a young man tied to a stake.
“Cut him down,” ordered Bonnie.
“Oh, we thought we’d leave him up there to enjoy the view,” snapped Guinne. “Honestly Bonnie, leave your sergeant’s orders in the past, we know what to do.”
The party ignored the banter, they were used to the two rubbing each other the wrong way. Bonnie was an ex-soldier, a stickler for discipline and order, while Guinne was a free spirit who often did things impulsively and not always according to the plan. When it mattered they were there for each other.

The young man looked to be around 16 years old and was suffering from exposure; he had sunburn, which Eric mentioned was odd. It had not been sunny yesterday, maybe the boy had sensitive skin. Eric used some salve from a healing kit on him and gave him some water. He recovered enough to be able to tell his story. He told the party that is name was Elias and he was attacked by his parents when he got home last night from visiting his friends, Alina and Edwin, at a nearby farm. His parents beat him severely and tied him to the stake, where he had been hanging all day. He feared that his parents had been possessed by evil spirits and might have also attacked his friends.
“Let’s find out,” urged Goldi. Her face showed concern and compassion for the young man.

They followed the track up to a large, sprawling farmhouse on a slight rise dominating the landscape. The farm showed signs of once being better kept. Now, the hedge fences were wild and untended, the doors were unpainted, and tools lay in the open. However, smoke rose from the chimney, and a small herd of cattle grazed in a nearby field.
“Father has been getting old,” said Elias, noting Eric’s disapproving look. “Our last farmhand left about three months ago. I probably could help him more.” The boy still seemed unwell from his ordeal, he stumbled occasionally and was squinting as if he had a headache . Eric suspected he may have been up on the stake longer than he remembered.

Bonnie knocked on the door. After a few minutes, the door was opened a crack by an old man with a tear streaked face. He was initially unfriendly, which turned to outright hostility when he caught sight of Elias.
“Take that demon-spawn away!” he demanded, almost on the verge of hysteria. They could hear wailing of what must be the man’s wife inside the house. The man slammed the door closed. Elias was grief stricken.
“They must be possessed, or become mad,” he said. “Please help them.”
“It’ll be getting dark soon,” said Fizbo. “We need to sort this out so we can make camp.”

To be continued…

Neverwinter - Part 4
The Gem of Seeing

Exploration of the ancient underground rooms beyond revealed nothing of interest – they were so old just about anything not made of stone had worn or rotted away. In the very last room however, there was a circular pool of water and a 15-foot high archway on the far wall blocked by solid, hard, mud or clay. The archway had interesting stone fish with mouths agape jutting out of the stonework.
water_weird.jpgGuinne examined the archway and detected tiny runes engraved around the fish, leading her to believe there was some kind of trap – although it was not just a trap, it was something else also because peering into the fish mouths revealed they were funnels. Fizbo and Goldi examined the runes and theorised as well as being a trap it was also a way of getting to the next part of the dungeon. Goldi’s detect magic spell revealed the entire archway radiated evocation and transmutation magic.

After some discussion it was decided to take water from the pool and put it into the mouths of the fish. As it turned out, that was what was required, however the pool had a water elemental creature which grabbed Bonnie and near drowned her before she could fight her way out of the pool with the help of the others. The creature was resistant to weapons not imbued with magic, which made it harder. However in the end the pools became calm as the spirit was returned to whence it came after its body was disrupted enough to free it.

Water from the pool was poured into each fish mouth at the same time, and the solid mud liquefied and dissolved, allowing entrance to an area with a well. Guinne volunteered/was volunteered to swim down and investigate. She found that it led down and then up and out of the water to an inner chamber, very old and likely their final destination. She returned and told the others what she had found and they all made the journey to the final chamber.

kuo_toa_skeleton.jpgThe inner vault was a large circular chamber that was 80 feet in diameter; the domed ceiling was 40 feet high. Inscriptions written in Aquan and Undercommon decorated the smooth walls, which were made of a polished green stone that was cold and slimy to the touch; Goldi identified them as prayers to Olhydra, Bwimb, and other powerful entities from the Elemental Planes of Water and Ooze. Most of the vault was submerged; after climbing out of the flooded tunnel that connects the vaults together the party found themselves on a stone landing that rose a foot above the water. There were seven niches in the walls adjoining the landing; each contains a kuo-toa skeleton. Naturally, these skeletons came to life to defend their priest’s last resting place from intruders, but the party were experienced enough now not to have any difficulty dispatching them.

There was a small island on the far side of the flooded area of the vault, and some pillars that everyone thought Guinne should try. Under protest she did so, and found that there were sharks in the water, and that as soon as any weight was put on the pillars they started to sink. She did well at first, hopping from one to the other heading for the island, but then mis-stepped and tumbled into the water and the waiting jaws of a shark. She was badly bitten by the creature, and the others enacted a rescue to bring her back to land. They healed her and asked her to go again. She insisted on someone coming with her this time, and Fizbo obliged. This time they made it without any problems, and landed on the island.

Purple sand covered the rocky island that held the kuo-toa mystic’s sarcophagus; the sand is caustic—Fizbo and Guinne found themselves taking acid damage. The sarcophagus, which is made of the same green stone as the vault, rested atop the island’s highest point; the lid weighed 500 lbs., was carved in the likeness of the kuo-toa mystic, and was cursed. It radiated evil and magic—Fizbo’s knowledge of the Arcane also revealed the blessed lungs curse which would cause the victim’s lungs to continually fill up with brackish water. Guinne had a go at removing the trap – she initially thought she was successful, but when they slid the heavy lid to one side, more runes glowed and for a moment both the wizard and the rogue fought the water rising in their lungs, but they were able to shake it off. Fizbo put it down to the curse being so old it had lost some of its magic strength.

The kuo-toa mystic’s skeletal remains lay beneath a rotting burial shroud. It wore a jade funerary mask (Guinne quickly calculated it would be worth 250 gp), a square, bluish-green aquamarine pendant hanging on a tarnished silver chain (worth 500 gp thought Guinne) and it clutched a magical rod in its bony claws. The gem of seeing rested in the degraded remains of a clam shell, which Fizbo snatched up.

Glad to be out of there, the party retraced their steps back to the surface. They reported to Sergeant Audra and told them about the cultists and the flumph and the troglodytes. She told the party the flumph’s body had already been sent away and she didn’t know or care where. The party decided not to try and recover the body.

Having had enough of Neverwinter for a while, they waited only long enough for Fizbo to have the gem of seeing affixed to the skull he’d been carrying for that purpose. And then they were off, heading for Thundertree.

Neverwinter - Part 3
The Elemental Cultists

The pool contained ghouls, lurking in the water. Warned by the voice Team TPK were able to prepare for the ghouls’ assault and they were quickly dispatched.

Flumph.jpgWhen the last of the ghouls sank beneath the water, never to rise again, the party received another telepathic message—“I’m coming out, please do not harm me!”
A few moments later, they heard a strange sound—like air rapidly escaping a bladder—and an equally strange creature floated into view. It resembled a jellyfish; it had a mass of barbed tentacles protruding from the underside of its ovoid body, a pair of eyestalks topped with large eyes that regarded the party sadly, and a slit-like, toothless orifice running between them. The creature’s skin glowed faintly with a deep blue light.
“I am Laal,” the voice said in the party’s collective minds.

The heroes could see that Laal was the same kind of creature whose body had sparked the scare up on the surface. Laal shared the following information with Team TPK:

  • Laal and her mate Xol entered the sewers a few days ago through a fissure that led to a region of the Underdark. They had been trailing a band of troglodytes for a week.
  • Flumphs normally avoid such confrontations, but Xol couldn’t abide evil; he felt it was his responsibility to warn others of the troglodytes’ approach and to help them if he could. Laal felt otherwise, but Xol was persuasive and she was in love; against her better judgment, she followed him.
  • They tracked the troglodytes to a tunnel that pre-dated the sewers; that’s when they intercepted a telepathic conversation between a man and another creature that called him “master”. The conversation confirmed that the troglodytes were nearby. They also learned that the man wanted to explore a tomb, but that the troglodytes were frustrating his efforts.
  • Laal immediately distrusted the man, as he exuded malice, hatred, and anger. Her skin glowed an angry crimson as she thought about him.
  • However, Xol wanted to take a closer look; Laal tried to deter him but he was adamant. As he approached the mouth of the tunnel, there was a shout and to her horror, two javelins hit Xol, killing him instantly. His body fell into the sewer and the water swept him away before she could do anything. Her skin glowed deep blue as she recollected his death.
  • She panicked and fled, but after regaining her composure, she asked herself what Xol would’ve done and started searching for his body. She found him just before the children did, and admitted to unsuccessfully contacting Esmé the child. She tried again when she stumbled across the good-hearted Florio and his friends—she never meant to frighten them.

“For the death of my life-mate Xol I implore you to bring the men to justice and I can guide you to the tunnel,” she said. “You may also need to kill the troglodytes, as they will pose a threat to all that encounter them.”
“And what’s in it for us?” asked Guinne.
“The man mentioned treasure hidden in the tomb and that the troglodytes had previously looted a deep gnome mining camp,” replied Laal.
“Works for me,” grunted Guinne.
“We would have done it anyway,” Fizbo assured Laal. “Pay no attention to my mercenary friend.”
“Only because we’re looking for some magic item for you,” retorted Guinne.
“Even so,” sniffed Fizbo, “we’d do it because it was right.”

The flumph led the party through the sewer until they came to a tunnel branching off from the sewer, guarded by two armed men. They appeared to have swords with sharks teeth embedded in the blade, and shields fashioned in the shape of crab shells. They readied their weapons when the party approached, but responded to Bonnie’s calls for parlay. One of them ran back and returned with a man who was obviously a spellcaster of some kind. Where the guards appeared to have motifs related to water, the spellcaster had red robes and symbols of fire. Laal hung back out of sight, the party could feel her anger and heard her telepathic calls for them to attack.

The wizard introduced himself as Xaxan Thavish, a tall and thin but handsome man with intense amber eyes and flowing locks of long black hair. He presented as vain and fastidious and Fizbo and Goldi noticed that cast prestidigitation cantrips continually every time his robe became dirty.

Xaxan Thavish ordered his men to stand down, which they appeared to do reluctantly. Bonnie noted with surprise that while they seemed to obey the wizard, there was no evidence of respect in their sullen stares or body language. In fact she saw them more than once deliberately flick mud onto Xaxan Thavish’s robes.

Xaxan Thavish was surprisingly pleasant and apologetic. He claimed that he and his men were adventurers who have come to explore the kuo-toa tomb. He also told the party the following information:

  • The original leader of the party—a warrior named Vyrlo Trath—hired him as the party’s arcanist. It was Trath who obtained the map that Thavish now carried and hired the other men (in hushed tones he confided that the scum wouldn’t have been his first choice).
  • He showed the characters the decaying map; it showed the tomb’s location in relation to the sewers, as they appeared several hundred years ago. He was unsure of its origins.
  • Unfortunately, the troglodytes killed Trath during their first foray into the tomb, leaving him in charge (an “unfortunate burden” he sniffed sympathetically). No one expected to encounter the troglodytes.
  • Xaxan Thavish didn’t know much about the tomb other than it contained the remains of some “water-worshipping mystic” (he barely hid his contempt).
  • Thavish estimated that there wereabout a dozen surviving troglodytes in the tomb.
  • When questioned about the flumph, Xaxan Thavish apologized profusely and claimed that his men mistook it for a monster. While remorseful, he said he could not blame them, as Neverwinter’s sewers were a dangerous place.
  • For the past few days, Thavish had been planning an attack on the troglodytes; he wished to ally with the characters and offered them an equal share of any treasure found in the tomb. He assured them that before he died Trath spoke of its fabled riches.

3905752_orig.jpgDespite the telepathic howls of protest from Laal, Bonnie agreed on behalf of the party, thinking it better to have these “adventurers” – she was pretty sure they were no such thing – help kill the troglodytes. However when it came to getting past the barrier they had erected, the party found themselves at the front of the group, and were quickly attacked by the troglodytes, who had been stuck between starving in these barren underground rooms or a suicidal attack on Xaxan Thavish’s men. The battle was fierce, but the party managed to kill all the troglodytes while the most that Xaxan Thavish and his men did was provide support by throwing javelins. The troglodytes had tried to flee at the last, but they were cut down by javelins and Xaxan’s spells, as well as Igo’s arrows.

“Well, thank you for that,” smiled Xaxan Thavish.
“Get ready to go for them,” whispered Bonnie to the others.
“But now,” the wizard continued, “you have outlived your usefulness. In the name of the Elder Elemental Eye, you must now die so only we can gain the treasure within.” He made to cast a spell, but screamed as Igo’s arrow struck him in the arm.
“Go, go, go!” yelled Bonnie, and the party rushed the elemental cultists – Goldi recognised the name of the Elder Elemental Eye as the deity of a cult worshipping the four elements – and cut them down before they could throw their javelins. It was another quick battle, and one that may have gone against the party if they hadn’t been ready for betrayal, but it was the cultists who were dead on the floor, and not Team TPK.
“There’s something else here,” said Tai Ni Dong. “Some invisible creature with wings, it tried to stab me with a venomous sting in its tail, and then disappeared again.”
“Sounds like an imp,” said Goldi. “It must be Xaxan Thavish’s familiar. It must be lurking around here somewhere.”
They searched around, but couldn’t find the beast.
Laal appeared, looking nervous. She went over to look at the bodies of Xaxal Thavish and the cultists.
“I thought I would feel happy they are dead,” she said with her telepathy. “But I don’t, I feel just as sad. Thank you for the justice you have given me. I will now return to my home alone.” And with that Laal the flumph floated away.
“The farting noise she made as she flew off kind of killed the empathy for me,” said Guinne, smirking. “Oh come on,” the halfling exclaimed as she saw the others’ disapproval, “didn’t anyone else nearly giggle as she farted off?”
“Well, maybe a bit,” admitted Fizbo. “Farting is universal humour, after all.”
“Enough of that,” growled Bonnie. “Let’s explore this place, get your magic gem Fizbo, and get out of here. I’ve had enough of the sewers.”

(to be continued)

Neverwinter - Part 2
Flumphs are cool...

The party headed off to a sewer entrance near the edge of the city of Neverwinter near the sea. They saw a group of Neverwinter city guard standing around the hole in the street, and the sewer entrance cover was off. When the city guards saw Team TPK approaching, a tall, broad-shouldered woman with insignia showing she was a guard sergeant, stepped forward. Despite her polite words, her tone and manner was no-nonsense and businesslike.
“Adventurers, we need your help,” she began. "I am Sergeant Audra of the Neverwinter City Guard. This morning some children discovered the corpse of a strange creature lodged in the mouth of a sewage pipe. We are unable to identify it. Unfortunately, while I do not believe the corpse represents a threat, panic has been spreading like wildfire through the harbor districts and I need my men to maintain order. Thus, in the name of the Lord of Neverwinter, I request that you venture into the sewers to ensure that no other creatures lurk there.”

The party were receptive to the offer, since they were entering the sewer anyway, why not get paid for it as well? They first wanted to view the body of the creature found by the children, and Sergeant Audra led them to a small cart in an alley with something underneath a tarpaulin. As they approached they became aware of the smell of a rotting corpse. The tall sergeant held a handkerchief over her mouth and nose with one hand and gestured with the other for a watchman to uncover the creature underneath.

Beneath the tarp lay a disgusting sight that complimented the smell. It superficially resembled a jellyfish—it had a yellowish, bladder-like body and a mass of barbed tentacles hanging from its underside—but it had a pair of eyestalks and a toothless orifice running between them. The creature had two visible wounds; a broken javelin with a brass point protruded from one of them.

“Ewww!” moaned Guinne, covering her own nose and mouth with her hand. “I hope it smells like that because it is dead and not its normal smell!”

“I hope the opposite,” said Igo, keeping his distance. “We’ll know when it’s coming even if we can’t see it!”

Bonnie inspected the creature and poked it with a stick. The consistency of its body was firmer than that of a jellyfish, but it was an odd thing.
“Can we speak to the children who found it?” she asked.
Sergeant Audra nodded and walked off, gesturing for the party to follow.

“Most of the children who found the corpse melted back into the crowd soon after announcing it,” said the sergeant, “but we still managed to detain a few. Dawkins, bring the kids over.”

The four children—two boys and two girls ranging in age from 6 to 10—were bedraggled and frightened; they all recounted the same story: Each morning, they play at the beach and look for “treasure” washed out of the pipe; however, this morning, something was blocking the flow. When they investigated, they found the body; their screams attracted the attention of nearby dockworkers, who in turn summoned the City Watch.

Although the others tried to stop her, the youngest girl—a plucky redhead named Esmé—volunteered additional information. She said that the dead thing “talked to me…it asked for my help.” When pressed further, she admited that she didn’t actually see it speak but that she “knew that it was really sad.” The other children chided her for making up stories (perhaps fearing repercussion), but she loudly insisted it happened before bursting into tears.

Bonnie indicated to Sergeant Audra that they were ready to enter the sewers. The tall woman drew the dwarf aside and said “You’re the second party I’ve sent down this morning, the others a couple of hours ago. I expected them just to poke around for an hour and come back but so far nothing. Keep an eye out for them, would you?”
Bonnie agreed they would, and with that the watchmen removed the manhole cover showing a ladder leading down into darkness.

sewer.jpgDown in the sewers there were walkways on either side of the running effluent. It was dark but a light spell from Fizbo cast on a broken piece of brick that he carried with him fixed that. There were strange noises echoing through the sewers, gurglings from the river of muck, from elsewhere moanings, sharp cracking sounds, clanging of metal, very occasionally some kind of shriek, but whether the origins of these noises came from around the corner or, through some vagary of the acoustics, from across the city, none could say.

“Where are we going?” asked Goldie, as they passed yet another smaller sewer passage.
Bonnie looked at Fizbo.
“Don’t ask me,” said the wizard. “I’m just providing the light source.”
“Didn’t your wizard friend tell you where this tomb was that we’re trying to find?” asked Bonnie, getting annoyed. Mostly at herself for expecting Fizbo to have done all the legwork.
“Well, no. He told me where to look to find it, but I didn’t actually look.” The wizard hurriedly continued, seeing the annoyed looks. “But I think it makes sense to keep following the main passageway and I have a vague.. that is to say.. good.. idea of where it is.”
“Look!” said Guinne, pointing and forestalling any further complaints. Some distance away in the darkness a glow from a torch or similar light source was coming around a bend. As they were near an intersection they found places to hide and Fizbo covered the glowing piece of brick.

Around the corner came three adventurers. One was a tall warrior with dark skin and splint armour and greatsword, carrying, the other was a woodsman type with a longbow and the third was an elf woman with bloody bandages on her legs, using a spear as a crutch and being helped by the woodsman.
“See?” whispered Eric. “Never adventure without a cleric!”
“Shhh” hissed Bonnie.
As they drew close Bonnie called out to the party before stepping out. Initial alarm on the other party’s faces turned to wary relief, and even the wariness faded when Fizbo provided the elf woman with a potion of healing which she drank and instantly felt somewhat better.

The dark skinned warrior introduced himself as Florio, and his companions as the elven druid Nualion Galanodel and human ranger Kye. They’d only been in the sewers for a few hours, but their excursion had been a disaster; Nualion was badly hurt during a fight with giant rats (Kye grumbled under his breath about “wererats” which the others disagreed with) and a flash flood swept away their dwarven cleric Rorik Ironheart. Now, their only goal was to find the nearest exit. They haven’t encountered anything other than the giant rats nor had they found any signs of more tentacled monsters. However, they were convinced that the sewers were haunted as they all heard a disembodied voice pleading for help. Florio believed that they were in no condition to confront a ghost, so they fled; the voice followed them some distance before fading away. Florio was happy to give Team TPK directions to the area where they first heard it.

As Florio and his team made their way back to the sewer entrance, Bonnie led Team TPK towards the area where the voice had been heard. They had all made the connection between the voice that Florio’s team had heard, and the voice the young girl had heard at the sewer entrance.

Eventually the passage widened into the flooded ruins of a 30-foot-by-30-foot cellar; the rank sewage water flooded the entire area, but was only ankle deep near the edges of the chamber but looked like it got deeper in the middle. Another tunnel branched off from the chamber on the left, forming a T-intersection.

As they arrived every team member heard a clear, ethereal voice in their heads; it warned, “Beware, dead things lurk in the waters ahead! Please help me; I’m trapped on the other side!”

Continued in Neverwinter – Part 3

Neverwinter - Part 1
Research and Gems

The party made it to the city of Neverwinter. They found a cheapish inn to stay at which kept them fed and housed for their stay at a cost of 1gp per character per day (Guinne bitterly complained about a lack of a pool).

Goldi was researching her lodestone, and Fizbo was researching gems of seeing. They were both able to find supervision from a wizard who had completed his Masters in Wizardry, which cost them an additional 100gp/day each and it will take 1 to 4 days to work out each person’s reason for getting supervision. The wizard, Lund, was a 30 something noble with little chance of inheritance making his own way in the world. He had some experience with magic item creation which he only sold to the nobility.

Goldi – between Golid and Lund they find out that Goldi’s lodestone was actually something else with an illusion cast on it to make it appear as a lodestone. When the illusion was dispelled Goldi found herself in possession of an ioun stone. An ioun stone is a magic item that needed attunement – ie Goldi has to take a short rest and concentrate on the ioun stone and its powers will become known. The stone would provide some benefit but only when activated. To activate it, the stone was thrown into the air and it will begin orbiting the head of the person it was attuned to. The stone can be grabbed and put away as an action, but could also be grabbed by someone else. It is a rare item and valuable. After attuning to the ioun stone, Goldi found that it made her more aware of immediate danger giving her a chance to either react or to act before the attack.


Lund also was working with Fizbo (for 100gp per day and the research would also take 1-4 days) and gave him information about gems of seeing as well as giving a clue as to where one might be found. A wizard named Murgo known to Lund found some old records indicating that centuries ago when Neverwinter was just a small settlement, the people sometimes traded and sometimes made war with a tribe of kuo-toans (fish people). The kuo-toan leader appeared to have one of these gems of seeing and was entombed with it when he died. As Neverwinter expanded and grew into a city the kuo-toans were eventually wiped out or displaced. However a recent survey of the sewers found a tunnel that abutted onto the kuo-toan tomb, but as the surveyors were not adventurers it was left alone and it was consigned to a footnote in the sewer plans. During his research Murgo made the possible connection and went off with a bodyguard to search the sewers for the kuo-toan tomb. Neither he nor the bodyguard were seen again. Lund suggested that Fizbo explore this possibility, as it will save him much money rather than pay for a gem of seeing to be made. For a small(ish) fee Lund would also help Fizbo affix it to the skull. He also suggests that the skull could be altered and made to be wearable headgear which might make it easier to use and could also disguise the valuable magic item.


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