Haven

The Scarab and the Naga

Dolovar seems to have left no clues (for now), so our group hurries back to Haven. They decide to take a squad and go south-west, past the quarry and gold mine, to go scavenge pieces from the wrecked airship. The journey takes a month. While there, they are attacked by a group of giant scarabs who kills two squad members before being taken out.

Meanwhile…

Back in Haven, a small group of fishermen have just returned from a long day’s work when they are suddenly attacked by Naga! Six are villagers are killed, but those who remain band together to destroy the Naga. Where did the Naga come from?

It is 6/23. Level 10.

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Trailing Dolovar

Dolovar disappears after the tournament, and Vestas makes an impassioned speech that the temple should be dedicated to Kord. The town will need protection in the trying times to come. The townspeople mostly agree. A very ill Patrick is taken back to his house to rest. Talon suddenly starts off, and a worried Keh offers to trail him. They both disappear into the dispersing crowd, and are not seen again this session.

Our heroes rest their weary bones, then meet with Patrick. Patrick says that he had been dominated by Dolovar for about a week, but that he got glimpses into Dolovar’s mind. When Gal’gamora spared Patrick and Dolovar way back in the first session, it was because Dolovar made a pack with the demon. Dolovar has been a traitor ever since. Dolovar sent Patrick the dreams that told him to go into these cursed lands. Patrick is completely downtrodden, wondering if they should even remain.

Our heroes want to find Dolovar, but they don’t know where to start. In walks Varus, a demon-hunter, who says that he has suspected Dolovar for a while, and knows where he might be. Varus has a mark on his face which means “Invader” in ancient abyssal.

Our heroes are confused as well, but promise one thing. They will bring back the head of Dolovar (probably spread into a fine paste over diplomacy, riddled with arrows, or burnt to a crisp). They head off.

But before they go, Grubain takes Vestas aside, thanks the human for saving him during the tournament, and teaches him to be quicker on his feet. Our heroes also tell the towns people to start training into a more organized militia (but currently there are no squads to spare – sorry guys!).

Our heroes follow Varus’s council and make their way northwest. In a mountain pass, they come across a series of tombs, and a large statue of a tiefling with his hand outstretched: go no further!

After doing some good oldfashion dungeon crawling, involving zombies, boulder traps, and switches, they come across where Dolovar has been sneaking off to – but he is not there now. Instead, there is a large portal with ancient abyssal written on it (“Praise be the demons, they have come and they are great, etc…”) and a more recent portal which is currently activated, but locked. The more recent portal has draconic on it, and seems to be part of a network. It was built in the past 10-15 years.

For now, our heroes are stumped.

It is 5/23. Level 10.

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Tournament and Betrayal

Our heroes return to Haven, bringing Billy the Kobold along to negotiate mining and trading rights. Thevra stays behind. She says that KZ has told her of an ancient Dragonborn artifact that she is very interested in getting. It may help with the Dragonborn off to the west.

On the trail, Billy fascinates our heroes with stories of his past and his personal issues that he has/will overcome. On the way, our heroes come across the stone mining operation of Haven, with Grok being helpful.

When they return to Haven, Billy goes off with Gideon to discuss trade. Dolovar and Patrick inform our heroes of a tournament the next day. Dolovar says that they will be wearing rings to make them weaker. The winner of the tournament will get to choose Haven’s patron god. Patrick looks sick and tired.

Our heroes notice the two watchtowers, the small wooden building which is Haven’s ghetto version of a university, and a stone temple, about halfway complete.

Grubain approaches, and shows them a demonic mark etched into the council table. It is some kind of listening device, and Lanyk removes it. Grubain suspects that there is a mole in Haven. However, our heroes decide to leave that particular detective work for another day.

The town gathers for a tournament. The contestants are: Vestas, Lanyk, Keh (and bear), Talon, Demphiel, Grubain, and Balthazaar. Grubain, Vestas, and Balthazaar all wind up in the same area, and are the victims of both Demphiel’s and Lanyk’s area attacks. Vestas ends the tussle by shoving a flaming Balthazaar into an “explosive barrel,” knocking him out. Lanyk makes himself comfortable upon a large block of stone, and Keh tries desperately to poke him off with his rod… anyway. Talon runs around the battlefield, then goes after and demolishes Demphiel. Grubain winds up unconscious in the fire, and Vestas decides to take a moment to pull him out, much to the surprise and delight of the crowd.

Keh and Laynk go down, and then it is only Vestas and Talon. Vestas gives Talon a mighty wing, but Talon shares the damage with Vestas, and the both go down… or at least would if Talon fell at 0 or fewer hit points. None the less, the result it a tie between them, as Vestas and Talon hit 0 or below at the same time.

Talon stands there, soaking in the crowd, when suddenly applause turns to screams. Talon is hit is a few bolts of energy. Dolovar suddenly enters the battlefield, looking very demonic. And all of the great defenders of Haven are dying. Our heroes discover that the magic rings won’t come off, and that they cannot heal themselves. Additionally, Patrick suddenly keels over, quickly dying. Luckily, Piliana and Jupus heal everyone a bit. Keh gest to Patrick before it is too late. A brief fight ensues, but when Dolovar realizes his plan has gone awry, he teleports away.

The heroes are left confused and exhausted.

It is now 5/18. Our heroes have just turned level 10.

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The Ballad of KZ

The Kobolk Shaman introduces himself as Ketch-zin, or KZ for short. He gives our heroes a brief history lesson:

One thousand years ago, a civilization known as the Dragonkin civilization thrived to the North West of here. Kobolds were willing slaves to Dragonborn who worshiped Dragons. About 200 years ago, the Dragonborn decided that they no longer wanted to worship dragons, and branched off from the dragons in a tense peace. The Kobolds, who still worshiped the Dragons, revolted, and those that weren’t killed came across the desert to this place.

Things were hunky-dory for a while. The dragons went up to the north, and were worshiped from afar by the Kobolds. Two years ago, KZ was wandering in the desert, looking for spiritual guidance. There was a great purple flash from the west, a huge explosion, and a few minutes later a large metalic creature fell out of the sky from that direction and landed in the desert, dead.

KZ returned to the Kobold settlement to preach what he had seen. Two days later, a demon masquerading as a Kobold came to the settlement and slowly took control. Nobody recognized him as a demon except for KZ and a few other Shamans. The demon demanded that they stop worshiping dragons, and a civil war followed (some dragon followers branched off to the east to train and then come back, but they were killed by the heroes a while ago!). The demon-followers won, and started mixing blood with the demon, growing bigger and more powerful, but also more susceptible to his mind-altering powers. Finally, they got fed up with KZ, and tied him to the top of a tower where Dragons were known to feed. KZ says that the dragons that attacked you have been tainted too.

KZ implores you guys to help liberate his village and kill the demon. Thevra eagerly agrees, and the rest of the crew says okay.

The heroes head south, and dispatch of a small kobold band on the way. This group does indeed have red spots and are larger and angrier than normal kobolds. But they are disposed of.

When our heroes reach the kobold village, they are about to be fired on, when the head of guard is suddenly possessed. He asks Lanyk “Are you a demon?” in an otherworldly voice. Lanyk says no, but Vestas says yeah, he totally is. The group is allowed inside. They head to a large tent.

Inside the tent is a demonic looking kobold who again asks if Lanyk is a demon. When Lanyk lies and says he is, the demon is annoyed. When Lanyk struts his stuff magically, the demon transforms into his demonic self and attacks. A short fight results, and the Demon gets absolutely loaded with damage real quickly. when the demon dies, his soul is absorbed by Talon’s sword.

After his death, the village kobolds are confused. They remember everything, but they aren’t sure who this demon is or where their leader is. KZ takes control, and is very grateful. Our heroes tell KZ about Haven, and they want to work out some sort of trade agreement.

Lanyk sees his old pair of goggles that he lost in the crash. KZ says that he retrieved those goggles from the great metalic beast in the desert.

Our heroes go to check out the beast – it is Lanyk’s airship! The ship is pretty much wrecked, but it could be salvaged for rare materials. However, building another airship is now more possible, but it will take a lot of manpower.

Also, KZ takes Thevra aside and tells her something in private.

It is now 5/3, level 9.

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Of Constructs and Kobolds

Our heroes, having successfully recovered Vestas, lead their group of 30 (plus one giant) back to Haven.

They have been away for forty days. Lots has changed. The road back to civilization has been completed, and the population is steadily growing, now up to 180 with the thirty from Trailing Vestas. There are domesticated animals such as cows, chickens, and horses, and some farms are being planted and built.

Patrick has hired the Legion of Three to guard Haven while the heroes are away.

Patrick has made a full recovery, and welcomes the heroes back. After much discussion, they decide to split the extra man-power on three things – an arcane/mundane academy, guard towers, and a temple (the patron god to be decided). Gideon Greymoor also suggests that our heroes head south-west and follow the hills – they are sure to find gold. And gold would help Haven in the trade department.

Our heroes finally ask about the magic branch and crown, and are directed to Piliana. She says that they are the raw materials for magical items, and though she can’t do anything with them, she knows someone who can. He is on his way to Haven now.

Our heroes head out, following the hills to the south-west. After only a few days travel, they run into a construct who has been lumbering out of the west. He has something against Lanyk, and brands him with the demonic symbol. The construct is dispatched and taken to pieces, but not before shooting radiant bolts at everybody and generally making bloodied the new healthy. Lanyk examines his new mark, and determines that it won’t come off. It is likely used to brand enemies with their symbol in order to hunt them down more effectively (e.g. the good guys brand the demons with the demon symbol, and a construct has just branded Lanyk with it). Keh notes that radiant powers are usually used by good guys. Lanyk also checks out the construct, and determines its not unlike the very very old school constructs from Eberron. This world doesn’t really have constructs.

Out heroes follow the constructs tracks to the west. It gets hotter and drier as they go in this direction. After a few more days of travel, they come across a gold mine. It looks like it was recently abandoned by kobolds. Bear does some DNA testing and determines that these kobolds are strange, and perhaps a bit taller than usual.

Our heroes see a tower about five miles to the south, and hear a strange voice on the wind. As they approach, they determine it is a Kobold who has been tied to the top of the tower. He is spouting religious rhetoric about how the rest of his tribe is cursed for following and mixing blood with a demon. His tribe has given up the true gods, the dragons.

Our heroes head up the tower, and Thevra asks, what’s up in Draconic. The kobold is confused at the presence of a dragonborn, but asks “Heretic or true believer,” to which Thevra replies “Uh, believer?” The kobold asks to be cut down, and starts to explain things, but then two dragons attack. The kobold determiens these are “evil gods” and says they can be dispatched.

The fight isn’t too bad, as most of the dragon’s attacks are neutralized, and they pretty much get pwned.

It is 4/30. Level 9.

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Trailing Vestas Part 2: Oh, There He Is

After killing Kalisa the Succubus, the party spends a night recovering in Flint’s now abandoned cottage.

“Morning guys. Hey, wasn’t Thavra here last night? And where did Demphiel come from?” Lanyk inquires.

“No, we’re not talking about that.” Demphiel counters.

And so they were off, heading further south on the trail of their missing companion.

They finally come to a large town with ominous looking black pillars at its center. The town seems to largely have been abandoned long ago, although apparently more recently reinhabited by a smaller population. Regardless, the current occupants seem to be deformed and twisted creatures, as the party learns when they’re attacked by some of them, including what once might have been a young boy.

Dispatching the creatures, they find a pitch black shard which Lanyk and Demphiel use to play mage hand catch, before Demphiel decides to carry it. They encounter the remains of a shardmind, where they find some useful items, including a shiny new orb which Lanyk snags.

As they get closer to the black pillars, they notice similar jagged black stone seems to have torn its way through the earth, and through nearby buildings, as if it was tearing its way through the world itself. Clearly something unnatural is occurring here. Then suddenly, the group is confronted with their own worst nightmares.

Lanyk finds himself facing melee combat, his powers of quick escape failing him. Demphiel encounters a power hungry mage like himself, who threatens his to destroy him. Keh faces a fire which will not be denied. And Snow faces a future where he is cast aside and forgotten. But they face their fears and escape, finally making their way to the black pillars and the source of the trouble in the town.

When they do make it there, they find a malicious alien creature holding Vestas’ hammer atop a stone platform floating in the sky. It speaks to them, in their minds, and they are bombarded with overwhelming and incapacitating psychic pain. Demphiel, wielding the shard he found earlier, is able to use it to destroy pillars, disrupting the creature, and freeing nearby Vestas from his bonds. A fight ensues between our heroes and this aspect of the otherworldly abomination known as Ur-Shaggoleth, and his twisted thralls.

Using their unique abilities to create difficult terrain, large blasts of fire, and leaf walls, the party emerges victorious once again. They are reunited with Vestas, learn some things about his past, and also save the remaining human population of the town, who slowly come to their senses and return to normal.

It is 4/20, level 9.

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Trailing Vestas

Most of the day passes before anyone notices Vestas is missing.

“Should we… look for him?” Keh asks.

Lanyk sighs. “I suppose. Let’s go find out where he went. And let’s take that monk over there.”

And so they were off.

The trail is not the most difficult Keh has ever followed. Vestas seems to be run-stomping. In a hurry, yet angry enough to stop and crack every twig in his path.

After heading south for a while, the party encounters Grok, an injured hill giant.

“Angry man with big hammer. Running. And stomping. Grog and Grug try to stop at bridge. For eating. But man push them off cliff. Grok laugh. Grog and Grug hit Grok.”

Keh mends the young giant’s arm, Grok obligingly alerts them to the presence of Grag, Grog, and Grug, three “stupid and mean” giants that will likely give them trouble up ahead.

After some club smashing, a few monk flips, a battle-standarding, a random leaf wall, and absolutely no pushing off of cliffs, one pile of giant corpses is created. In addition, they find the giants’ stash of goodies, including a corpse wearing a belt that appears to be a Potion Bandolier, but may turn out to be something else. They also win a loyal giant friend.

Soon after crossing the ravine and getting to high ground, the party sees something troubling on the horizon. A menacing black cloud has settled over the distant forest. They also notice a young woman standing at the edge of the treeline ahead. Desendra (the dryad, as they soon realize), is desperate for help. Something has cut her off from the trees, and it is spreading. She also mentions a rude man with a hammer heading off in that general direction.

In to the black forest they go, and man it’s not great. Pretty unpleasant stuff. But they make it through, only a little worse for the wear. They reach a clearing, with a small, currently unoccupied, cottage. Lanyk finds a journal on a table inside.

“He’s a hunter.. Lives alone due to some condition.. Cares for a garden nearby.. Meets a pretty girl one day.. Hey a ritual!”

In the garden they find Flint, the soon-to-be-murdered, completely innocent shifter who’s been enthralled by the evil succubus Kalisa. Also Kalisa and her garden of angry plant monsters. The devil vines form a tight defense around the black rose that animates them, but Thavra and Lanyk crack their way through, while Keh and Snow finish off the she-devil.

Victory is had. Experience is gained. Thavra begins to think there might be something wrong with her new belt.

But where is Vestas?

It is 3/30, lvl 8

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The Revenge and Genocide of the Lizard Folk

After playing with their Johnsons for a bit, our heroes return to Haven. It has been attacked! A large band of lizardfolk (40+) tracked our heroes out of the swamp and then back to Haven. Luckily Thevra and Lanyk were there to assist Grubain, Kragore, and Patrick, and together with the squad of guards they defended Haven. Unfortunately, the wall was partially destroyed, 15 guards died, and Patrick was gravely injured, ceding temporary control to Grubain. Sad.
Grubain is a bit ticked off at our heroes, and suggests that once the road back to civilization is built, they may have to hire some other adventures to keep them safe! Patrick, however, just wants them to go deal with the remaining Lizardfolk.
And they do. They head back south into the swamp, and genocide the Lizardfolk, using the huge chunks of peat in the festival bonfire to their advantage. The fight is about average difficulty. They interrogate the last remaining lizardfolk. Evidently they treated the demon in the church as their god, and they had been sacrificing their own kind to feed him (hence to large piles of lizardfolk bones). They kill him, and the Lizardfolk are exterminated! Genocide!
They then find the Pulgee berries they had been looking for for Piliana.
Our heroes head back north, stop by Haven to check in (Jupus takes the lvl 5 ritual book), then head north into “Skull and Crossbones Land.”
They cross over the mountain range to the north, and then start heading up into tundra. They eventually come up to some sort of watchtower that forms part of a magical barrier preventing passage to living creatures. Guarding the watchtower are a bunch of skeleton archers and a few reanimated bears. The bears are large and intimidating, but Lanyk shocks the skeletons into oblivion and Vestas “invites them” off of their tower to their death. Only a few are left to pester them whilst the heroes take care of the big bad bears. Vestas goes down into single digits for hit points, but nobody actually falls in combat.
Our heroes discover a purple crystal on the top of the tower. When they break it, the barrier falls between their tower and the two adjacent towers(though Lanyk can sense that it still exists connecting elsewhere – they have just broken this part of it).

It is 3/12. Haven is looking good (except for the wall), with nearly everybody housed in wooden buildings. The fishing fleet is 10 rafts strong, and the road back to civilization is only a week or two from completion.

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Tale of Two Johnsons

(Session Run By Josh)
Immediately after conquering the Skeleton Master of Whirling Blades our companions decide to return to Haven before continuing to explore the area and find the Lizardfolk, against all rhyme and reason. Luckily, they decide to stay an extended rest first, and immediately following a spirited match of the drinking game “Gnome Wizard’s Staff” Lanyk (on the verge of blacking out- he played well, but Vestas won) creates a one-round-trip portal that allows the party to teleport home (it opened straight into the closest thing Haven has to a tavern)[ed. note – they actually walked in a drunked stupor, merely imagining the portal]. Lanyk awoke with a hangover that gno-man should have to endure, and with no memory of creating the portal or the process thereof. Patrick informs the party of two missing scouts, Johnson and Johnson, who had been patrolling the countryside on the way to the Residuum Tower. Their horses, Dave and Buster, returned rider- and wagon-less, alerting Patrick to foul play. The party accepts the task of Johnson chasing, and embarks, leaving behind Lanyk, who stayed to assist in mining operations because gno-one should have to lift rocks by hand, and Thavra, who presumably stayed to introduce the village to Moral Fiber and the Code of Ethics (her left and right fists). They are joined by Demphiel, ambitious wizard of an electrofiery nature.

Upon the road less traveled (except by Johnson (and also Johnson)) the party discovers the scouts’ campsite as it is being ransacked by 3 hobgoblin peons. These immediately surrender, claiming gno gnowledge of the misfortune of it’s residents (though lyin’ bastards be lyin’), and are allowed, contrary to standard practice and tradition, to go on unharmed. The ransackers and party alike loot the camp. Nothing of value is found or lost.

Our travelers reach the Aforementioned Tower, and soothe it with quiet words and a soft touch. Upon entering, they hear sobbing (obviously not from the tower itself, it had recently been soothed), and after much ado about nothing, they stumble upon a hidden door (“they” being Vestas, and “stumble” being “ran randomly into the wall with much tenacity”). Inside, Johnson is being held captive by Moe, Larry, and the restive Curly, hired human brigand mercenaries, who are quickly shown what’s what. Johnson is saved.

Team Adventure Squad is then perplexed by the missing Johnson, as they always prefer multiple Johnsons, and stumble around in the dark like 3-legged dogs in… the dark. One hidden trapdoor later, they discover a ladder into the hidden underbasement, a floor gnone thought to look for. They stumble upon a hobgoblin ritual in progress- the warleader Geronimo of a nomadic, militant hobgoblin tribe was using a tribute of Johnson blood and the power of Lich bones to achieve great amounts of strength and insanity. He is surrounded by 10 of his closest minions, and backed by 2 additional mercs, Pen and Teller. A well-placed fireball by Demphiel shatters his ranks, and the fight ensues. Several of his minions get greedy for this mystical hobgoblin power, and are transformed by their barbaric god Bane like Geronimo. They are unnamed. Blows were had (fortunately not on Johnson), folks were knocked up, and the unblemished integrity of Johnson’s physical presence was protected. Johnson is saved.

The party loots everything, and presumably gathers the remaining coconuts from the corpses. A Map of Unseen Lands is discovered on the person of Geronimo, and a Sneak’s Cloak is found sneakin’ round the downstairs mercs. The adventurers carry their emancipated Johnsons back to Haven, where they wag them in everyone’s faces and have a round of laughs (ale).

It is 2/25. Haven is mostly completed, and the road back to civilization is about a month away from completion.

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Into the Swamp

Our heroes kill the remaining cannibal without asking him any questions (too bad! they could have gotten plenty of information out of him!), then search his house. The house is nice, with beds, furs, and a pile of jerky and dried vegetables. It can be used as a safehouse in the future. They find a crude map on one of the pelts, which vaguely states that kobolds are to the west, goblins are to the south-west, lizardfolk are to the south in the swamp, and a skull and crossbones are to the north. Next to one of the beds, they find the demonic symbol scrawled over and over again. On a shelf, they find the skulls of a dragonborn, goblin, kobold, lizardfolk, and tielfing with the demonic symbol etched on his forehead.

Our heroes head back to Haven, where a road back to civilization has just started being built. The Havenites are relying mostly on fish for sustenance, and are mining the iron mine. Additionally, a few wooden buildings are being built.

Dolovar introduces our heroes to Jupus, a tiefling who can sell them level 4 rituals and below.
Our heroes trudge off to the south, and, after a few days, enter the swamp.

A few more days later, they stumble across a path and into a small group of lizardfolk. Disposing of what seems to be the chief and high priest, they kill the two body guards then free two captive Goblins. The Goblins explain that they are Glorb and Gheb, and that they were captured on a recon mission. For some reason, the Lizardfolk numbers have been dwindling sharply in the past few months, but they don’t know why. Our heroes let them go, and Glorb and Gheb promise to put in a good word for them at their tribe.

Our heroes choose to follow the path in the direction that the Lizardfolk were going, and after three days they come to a ruined city. Only four structures remain. Three are colossal, maybe ten stories tall and made of blue-grey stone: they are a statehouse, a cathedral, and a library, as marked by the signs in common. The last building is smaller, and it is some kind of magical forge.

In the library, all the books are dust but two – a book of history that is several thousand pages long, but that has had the first few hundred ripped out, and a book of fifth level rituals. Unfortunately, the book of rituals is too technical for anybody in the party to read – they must find someone to translate it into “wizard layman.”

In the Cathedral they find a human-sized demon with a collar around his neck that is preventing him from leaving. As our heroes approach, the demon says: “Is that you Gal’gamora? Or is it you, Sylisis, bring me another tasty treat? It’s very cold here, very cold, and I am so very, very hungry.” Our heroes venture in to fight it.

The fight is not the toughest one, despite the creatures high level. Dazing the demon for two turns has a huge swing, given that the creature’s standard, minor, and move actions were all powerful attacks. However, our heroes take it down.

In the stateroom, our heroes find three locked vaults. However, they are only able to pick one lock, and inside they find a moderate amount of gold.

It is 2/13 in game.

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