The March of Madness

Ghosts & Hobgoblins

Adventure 12 & 13 (12-02-04 & 12-03-03) XP +990 & 775 = 9020 (10000)

Albrecht Human Knight 6 Martial Defender
Razzkopp Eladrin Mage 6 Arcane Controller
Shadow Half-Elf Sentinel 6 Primal Leader
Slim “Shady” Southpaw Halfling Thief 6 Martial Striker
“Doc” Human Companion 6 Martial Leader

A harrowing evening of being chased by the massive marauding swarm of gnolls appeared to be too much for our heroes as they were on the verge of being overrun, but luckily they were able to make a tactical decision and battle a small gnoll contingent and it allowed them time to regroup and soon were on their way, through hills and forest, trying to find civilization through the night and away from the howls and screams of the mad, pursuing gnolls. Soon however, the gnoll voices subsided and they noticed ghostly warriors at their side, seeming to protect them and guide them and shortly thereafter they were in a peaceful clearing where several knights and clerics, phantom warriors of a long forgotten Nerathi army who were under orders to protect and keep the Orb of Light, and they were prepared to take it by force or barter. They said the gnolls had stolen it from them eons ago and then it had become lost for a time, the group was able to piece together that the wizard from the green tower had been able to get hold of it but in his foolishness, had transformed it unknowingly into something evil but now that the group had broken the curse, the gnolls sought it, but the Nerathi would bring it to the underworld and not allow the gnolls to revel in its light again. The group decided to barter rather than fight the impressive insubstantial forces and were able to gain two rare weapons in return – a dagger of speed and a flametongue scimitar.

The Nerathi soldiers would do them one more favor and they guided them out of the woods and into a swamp where a battle had recently taken place. The group followed the trail from the battle and discovered that a caravan had been ambushed and the people were being held in a camp in the middle of a dismal swamp – and those that did the heinous deed were the final group of Shadar Kai – led by a vicious warrior names Sammimel. The place was very misty, clouding vision beyond one’s hands and the swamp waters were ruinous as well, causing one to contact it to lose their senses and be required to brutally atttack, lest they take damage in return for their peace, but the group had amazing tactics and were victorious in a rout, they were able to free the elves and the human cleric leader, who it turns out also worked for Albrecht and Shadow’s liege back at the fort. He has been trying to forge an alliance between his forces and the Harkenwood Elves to counter the Hobgoblins attempts to join forces with the Daggerburg clan. Part of the trade involved swift fey horses, which they commandeered and led the group back to safety to a burgeoning new village not far from the crossroads, home to a new tavern with an ogre for a errand boy, a weaponsmith and armorer (both dwarves), some builders in the process of erecting a nice new tower for an unnamed future arcane tenant and a sneaky looking general proprietor who they found out was trading with hobgoblins who were building a base nearby. This was bad news indeed.

The group decided to take out the hobgoblin encampment, which were several tents being constructed by goblin slaves and was expanding to the size that could accommodate an army. The hobgoblins had numbers on them and also had additional allies to call upon like vicious worg mounts for their leaders and swarms or stirges (which Razzkopp thoroughly enjoyed) and even a bizarre invisible flying drake! Although the hobgoblins came in waves, our heroes were steadfast and destroyed them, although a couple of the archers did manage to retreat safely despite being pursued into the surrounding woodland by the ever vigilant Slim, assuredly they would be requesting reinforcements and in fact as one of the archer fled the battlefield he blew a horn and the result was not immediate, but just after the group had barely caught its breath and were tallying their spoils (along with gaining war plans) they saw a dragon fly overhead, and at first it appeared to be headed for the Crossroads, which was not such a big deal but then Shadow’s insight revealed it actually headed for the cleric, elves militia and horses, who had left earlier in the day to head back over the wall to the fort. The group hurried to intercept the dragon before it could find and annihilate their allies – easier said than done!

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Ravens Roost

Adventure 11 (12-01-07) XP +825 = 7255 (7500)

Albrecht Human Knight 5 Martial Defender
Razzkopp Eladrin Mage 5 Arcane Controller
Shadow Half-Elf Sentinel 5 Primal Leader
Slim “Shady” Southpaw Halfling Thief 5 Martial Striker
“Doc” Human Companion 5 Martial Leader

Our heroes returned to the bandit fort for another sortie, this time they sent Slim as a scout who clambered up one of the towers, took out the catapult crew and dropped a rope for the others who ambled across the field under heavy fire from archers, the enemy was let by an elite shadar-kai controller named Erzoun, she was able to move about the battlefield assisting her crossbowmen and grenadiers who were supported by many minions manning the walls. The battle was rough but Slim was able to keep out of sight as much as possible and first Albrecht, then Razzkopp, and then Shadow were able to get over the walls, and on these walls was where most of the fighting took place. Eventually they were able to kill the leader and the rest of the troops surrendered. Luckily the rest of the bandits and the leader of the fort, Sammimel, a legendary warrior, were not there, a lucky stroke because the last fight had taken a lot out of the group and they needed rest – but not before garnering some treasure!

They took it easy that day, placing their captives in pits in the middle of the compound and questioning them as to their activities and hierarchy and even getting them to work for them when things took a turn or the worse… For the Perytons soon returned and although they received several catapult blasts to keep them at bay, the insight of Shadow revealed their true nature for apparently they were a beacon of sorts, because as dusk approached the party began to hear the sounds of beasts in the woods from all sides, howls, yips, and unnerving giggles – a massive pack of hyenas. And soon other voices joined as the night came, these were the demonic howls of gnolls, the Blackfang clan, and apparently, like the hyenas, they numbered in the hundreds, if not more. The gnoll leader was demonic creature with fiendish wings; an elite warlock named Maldrick Scargash who Razzkopp thought had been dead for some time. It arrived and demanded the artifact Orb of Light, carried by Shadow, and in return it would make sure they did not suffer too much before they died at the hands of the gnoll ‘army’. The group told him to stuff it and it flew away (harried by archery fire, naturally!)

Soon the hyenas had congealed into a massive scrambling force, and they charged to the front gates, where they were met by ranged attacks from the characters and catapults, at the same time the hyenas were covered by hundreds of arrows from the gnoll archers, the arrows clouding the sky and killing all of the remaining bandit fort defenders. Scargash, landed on the inside of the main gate and although he was attacked by Slim, Albrecht and Shadow’s wolf, they could not stop him from opening the gate just enough to let in many of the hyenas, Razzkopp then threw a wall of fire in front of the door, preventing any more hyenas from entering, however there were horrifying burrowing gnolls that came up from the earth, grabbing and biting Slim and Albrecht, and also another gnoll that was mixed in with the hyenas came in through the fire wall and seemed to enjoy the searing damage who was ghastly effective with his long spear, meanwhile Scargash had gone back to the skies, raining down his heavily damaging spells. Although Albrecht and Slim fell multiple times, Shadow and Doc were able to keep them going and combining their great fighting skill with Razzkopp’s blasts of eldritch power, Scargash was finally destroyed, throwing the gnolls in the woods briefly into self-destructive chaos and the group knew if they were ever to get out of this siege alive they had to make their break now, running headlong into the night with a horde of gnolls and hyenas reforming and bearing down hot on their trail with nothing but desire for destruction in their twisted minds…

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The Road Home (Game 10) 3 Dec. 2011

Adventure 10 (11-12-03) XP +770 = 6430 (7500)

Albrecht Human Knight 5 Martial Defender
Razzkopp Eladrin Mage 5 Arcane Controller
Shadow Half-Elf Sentinel 5 Primal Leader
Slim “Shady” Southpaw Halfling Thief 5 Martial Striker
“Doc” Human Companion 5 Martial Leader

Whiskeyjack bade the heroes’ goodbye as he continued on into the hills in search of the missing Dwarven girl. Doc woke up and was ready to assist, Shadow helped them find a trail out of the hills and back toward the Valley, Albrecht lamented not having his horse, Razzkopp kept spewing all sorts of astute nonsense and Slim kept itching for a fight. So they traveled a bit (being followed all the while, during the day at least by a group of odd and nasty creatures called perytons who stayed just out of reach of ranged attacks) then rested, during the night they were assaulted by terrible thieving little creatures called boggles who were able to teleport, grab and possess party members. However, once the group was fully awake they were able to dispatch the critters with little real harm done to themselves and so the night passed and they were on their way. The next day they came upon a group of three Ogres who were having fun tossing various parts of what appeared to be goblins onto pools of elemental thunder, which cause the body parts to explode and be flung about. The group inched up as best they could and caught the ogres by surprise, nearly killing the closest one outright, the Ogres brought back the fight, but despite their great size and power, they were quite outnumbered and outwitted and all soon fell, however near the end of the battle one of the more enterprising perytons descended from the sky and took a shot at Razzkopp, trying to grab him and take him away, the creature was destroyed before it could do any real damage and so the party looted the scene and went on their way.

Later that day they came upon a hillside village, the first hint of civilization, a home to a clan of warriors that Razzkopp knew of from his studies and perhaps had even passed through many decades ago. Unfortunately the place had been all but razed and all they found were a bunch of wolves slinking around the perimeter. Further exploration of the ruins revealed a man who called himself Sylish Creed who was lamenting the fall of the village, a place that was a nice constant source of income for him and his band of raiders. He explained this place had been ruined by a group of bandits called the Ravens Roost, a bunch of human thugs led by three Shadar-Kai, who were vicious deadly and had no fear of their own death as they were creatures of the Raven Queen. Stylish would benefit from their removal as would the area as a whole as since he was just out for money, they were out for souls and that is never good. He would have one of his wolves lead them to the lair and see if they could take care of business. The party decided this was probably the right thing to do plus there would likely be treasure and it also happened to be in the right direction, towards the Valley. They followed the wolf for a couple days down the hills and soon came within eye-shot of the Raven’s Roost fort. They camped out and then went to investigate the place, oddly enough no matter how long they waited and observed it appeared the place was deserted. Finally, in lieu of sending Slim in alone over the wall, they decided to approach the place directly, upon nearing the gate they were ambushed by several of the Raven’s Roost hidden in the bushes, they were led by Geriesh, a very capable skirmisher, although the battle was tense and Slim took heavy damage, they were able to destroy the enemy but the battle had taken a toll on their resources and they could not catch their breath so close to the walls and they headed back to a nearby wood, their retreat being harried by a few blasts from the catapults in the corner towers…

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Doubleheader (Game 9) 12 Nov. 2011

Adventure 9 (11-11-12) XP +875 = 5660 (7500)
Albrecht Human Knight 4 Martial Defender
Razzkopp Eladrin Mage 4 Arcane Controller
Shadow Half-Elf Sentinel 4 Primal Leader
Slim “Shady” Southpaw Halfling Thief 4 Martial Striker
Whiskeyjack Stonecrawler Dwarf Hunter 4 Martial Controller

As the harrowing night in the temple continued, they party heard a strange knocking sound above them on the roof of the temple, the zombies had already come up from the floor, so perhaps they were trying something new, they readied themselves to challenge the threat, but when the roof broke, it turned out to be a dwarf names Whiskeyjack, who had followed the trail of a Dwarven girl who had disappeared some months ago to this very spot but he had since lost the trail and also had to weave his way through a horde of zombies to get to the temple for safety. Unfortunately one of the bricks loosed from the ceiling struck poor Doc, rendering him unconscious for quite some time.

It was just a matter of time before the horde broke through again, this time a mighty push, with countless zombie minions, summoned and controlled by a particularly heinous zombie who’s heart glowed the same color as the evil gem, there were also skeletons capable of throwing fireballs, and a massive ogre zombie who loved to charge around the battlefield. The fight was quite gruesome, but with Albrecht smashing anything that came too close, and Razz flinging enemies all around the room, and Shadow striking at opportune times, and Slim getting in timely shots and Whiskyjack spraying crossbow bolts like a machine gun, and all the while they STILL had to keep more zombies from getting in, which taxed their tactical efforts, the fight was carried and this would turn out to be the last advance by the zombies for soon morning arrived and all that were outside were returned to death in a massive heap.
While the sun’s rays were shining in, they made offers to Erathis to destroy the evil gem – that and some cleaning work by Whiskeyjack, soon caused the gem to crack, destroying its evil power and leaving in its place a holy artifact – the Orb of Light which was a powerful force against undeath, and Erathis further protected the group by giving them an immediate extended rest, a vast amount of temporary hit points and everyone the ability to heal an ally as well as give them an accuracy boost in combat. Apparently this would be needed because they soon heard a howl of rage and an arctic blast of wind and frost smashed into the temple and those with dungeoneering skill knew the temple should have collapsed from the force but perhaps Erathis was holding it up so they would not be crushed and they ran outside as the temple momentarily caved in. As they caught their breath in the suddenly frosty environment, they noticed that the statue had split open and had been replaced by a giant skeletal figure and behind them, on the ruins of the temple, was a young white dragon – this could not be a good thing!

Indeed what they faced in this epic showdown was not one but TWO solo creatures allied together in evil, the leader was the skeletal figure who they soon realized was the dark side of Miginath, grown larger and powerful with hate and fury, it had been created when Miginath accidentally created the evil gem and now it was out for revenge! The giant and the dragon were quite a force and if not for Erathis’ shielding they may have taken the adventurers out straight away, but they survived the attack and through grit and determination and taking the sound strategy of focusing on taking out one enemy at a time, were finally able to slay the dragon and then focus on destroying the giant. The Giant proved troublesome in that it could control the actions of party members and particularly enjoyed sending Albrecht ping-ponging across the battlefield charging into his allies, and also could make the Staff held by Razz explode in blasts of frost which saw Razz make good use of his Mage Hand cantrip to get it far away. Shadow learned that his wolf companion was actually a lot tougher than he thought, Slim was extremely effective sniping from the cover of the gravestones, and Whiskeyjack took to taunting the white dragon and was nimble enough to dodge out of the way when its massive carcass fell 30’ from the sky directly over him. The battle was won, they withstood their fiercest challenge yet, they knew that they had further ruined the plans of the Iron Circle now that Miginath was in peace they could no longer tap his powers for teleportation back at the tower. But now they had to figure out where they were, and how to get back to civilization? Perhaps the Dwarf could shed some light on this…

The party has made 5th level

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Unhallowed

Adventure 8 (11-10-01) XP 685/4785 (5500)
Albrecht Human Knight 4 Martial Defender
Razzkopp Eladrin Mage 4 Arcane Controller
Shadow Half-Elf Sentinel 4 Primal Leader
Slim “Shady” Southpaw Halfling Thief 4 Martial Striker

The surviving members of the group (Albrecht, Shadow and Slim), the one returning ‘member’, Doc and a new individual, Razzkopp, were immediately attacked by three mad wraiths, who had the ability to slide people all over the battlefield, either into their maddening aura, into a damaged minor portal crackling with deadly electric current, or a pillar of hellish fire that continued to burn stronger even after the unfortunate victim escaped its grasp. The battle was hotly contested and at times seemed like the wraiths would carry the day, but once one of them was finally dispatched, a call from below called them off, and after the group rested a bit they went down into the depths – a room so cold their very breath became crystals in the air. An undead skeletal figure awaited them below and although it neither spoke nor moved they could tell it had vast powers, indeed, through telepathy, the creature explained he had been Miginath, a great wizard from the Harken area who had mastered teleportation and planar travel however many years ago he had made a fatal mistake and this is what had left him in his present condition and the Iron Circle mercenaries above were channeling his energies to power their dark secret – to create a portal from their home city to Harken, so armies could appear instantly. He said if they would do him a favor and right his wrongs, he would be released from this world and the Iron Circle, then, of their power source which would end their attempts at this kind of activity. He offered treasure them to help make up their minds and produced a powerful item, an Ice Scepter, which made cold effects much more devastating. Since there really was no other way out of the dungeon, they accepted and took an extended rest.

After their rest they went back down to Miginath and he teleported them to a massive graveyard in some wooded hills at sunset, some place no one in the group had been before and they weren’t quite sure exactly where it was and how they would get back. In the middle of the cemetery was a massive statue of a humanoid figure carrying both a book and a weapon, signifying mastery of two (or more?) combat arts. A short distance from the statue was an old temple, although sturdy had seen some serious damage, inside they found it to be quite a ruin – it appeared it had once been dedicated to Erathis but had since been turned to Orcus and sure enough, deep inside the temple near the pulpit they were met by several undead, grasping zombies and their leader, a deathlock wight. The group was able to destroy the undead with little effort and also found a hidden chamber in the dais that revealed treasure, two of which were deemed important, one a helm that had seven gems that could store souls and use the souls for power to either heal the wearer or cause their attacks to be more devastating, the other item was a deep purple gem that had extreme necrotic power, and its force was so great it had desecrated the temple, causing the ground to radiate necromancy and also draw life from the living in order to speed their descent into death.

While the characters were resting and exploring after the fight they realized it had gotten dark out and then they heard shambling and moaning and noticed that hundreds, if not thousands of undead were crawling out of the graves and were heading toward the temple, drawn to the power of the gem, which was clearly some sort of artifact of Orcus. The group did what they could to blockade the multiple entrances to the temple and were nearly successful when suddenly a group of zombies and skeletons burst through, the group had to continue to keep their entrances blocked while fighting off the interlopers, the were able to destroy the undead and secure the opening against further breach and peace reigned for a time, enough for them to catch their breath, but soon, another wave of undead broke though, one group by a door and the other came up through the ground itself! This time it was flesh-craved zombies along with skeletons and more run-of-the–mill zombies, the fight this time was a bit tougher but they still came out on top and no more undead were able to get though, but how long could they continue to hold out, in all the confusion they really had no idea what the time was and it was likely the undead assault would continue until the dawn…. But would it ever arrive and then it did, would it be too late?

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Interlude - freedom in a sense

You awaken.

You are dizzy and disoriented and lying on the floor of a narrow room. You know there are others around you and you are fairly certain that among them are your comrades, but there may be others here too. You know Axis was killed. You also recall that Thaddeus was in such a bad way, he may not have survived. Your gear appears intact, although clearly others searched through it. Your sight is compromised due to extreme brightness coming from the middle of a cross-shaped corridor. The source is a column of fire running from floor to ceiling, so dazzling it hurts to view it, and you don’t need a priest to tell you that is straight from Hell. Between you and the column is a diagram etched into the floor, with wisps of green crackling electricity chaotically meandering through the pattern, some of it trailing up and into the air like smoke. Then you hear the voices. Very faint and very melancholy, you strain to make them out but they slip and slide from your mind’s grasp, making you nauseous. All of this combines to a feeling of great dread, despair and unholiness, and you are certain that wherever you are now, it is a place reserved for the Damned.

Roll Initiative…

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Dungeons but no Dragons (Adventure 7)

Adventure 7 (11-10-01) XP 527/4100
Albrecht Human Knight 3/4 Martial Defender
Shadow Half-Elf Sentinel 3/4 Primal Leader
Slim “Shady” Southpaw Halfling Thief 3/4 Martial Striker
Thaddeus Woodsinger Elf Hunter 3/4 Primal Controller

After breaching the keep, Scrag and Vexx went to hold off the guards and Albrecht, Shadow, Slim and Thaddeus (who were shortly joined by Axis) went down into the dungeon to complete the quest and rescue Baron Stockmer. As per their usual mode of attack, Slim crept down first, where he came upon four individuals wearing hooded iron circle chanting low around a table where a pot was boiling, Slim slew one immediately and jumped to the corner, Thaddeus came down next and two of this three arrows rang true killing two more, then Albrecht charged into battle, laying the last one to rest – this battle appeared to easy… that’s because they had killed servants of the keep, who were cowed into pretending to be threats by Lividius, a Tiefling Murderer, charged with slaying anybody who dared try and rescue the Baron. He charged Albrecht, and teleported over to Slim, causing fire to blast in his wake. Soon though, Shadow and his wolf and the wyrmling all engaged the brute, but the Tiefling’s great mobility and damaging aura made him tough, and little did Thaddeus know that his arrows of dazing made the enemy stronger for when he was dazed he gave back as much damage as he took! The battle was brutal, Shadow, Slim and Axis all fell at one time or another (and all at the end of the fight) and Albrecht and Thaddues were close to death’s door themselves when they finally were able to finish off the devil. They then were able to free the Baron and the rest of the fort soon fell to the Harkenwolder forces, who were brought back into battle by the prodding of Vexx and Scrag, and so the Iron Circle had been defeated and Harken returned to its rightful rulers. There was much rejoicing and the group was treated like heroes, which they richly deserved. Baron Stockmer asked if they would stay a while order was restored and they obliged him. Over time, however, the notes and plans left by the departed Redthorn made reference to a mage named Malkos who was apparently working over at the green tower on the other side of town, a place that had been abandoned for years, and apparently if he was up to no good, perhaps the group would like to check things out there?

(The characters have now made 4th level and were given some gifts from the Baron’s treasury for their good work)

The next day the group assembled and headed to the green tower, a strange 60 foot high tower made of dark crystal that sometimes glowed green on still nights, there had been an arch mage who had lived there many years ago but he had long since disappeared and most townsfolk avoided the overgrown area, and even the few hardy souls who went inside had reports of strange sights and sounds and some of them never came back at all. Slim the expert climber, expertly clambered up the side of the tower, peering in some of the solid glass windows, and indeed this tower was occupied, for he saw a wizard, and what appeared to be children learning from him, but he also saw armed guards and at the top of the tower, where it was open to the sky, he heard voices and also was able to remain undetected by a large canine, a dire wolf, that was on patrol. When he went back down to report, it was decided that he would sneak back up and attach ropes and Axis would also shuttle people up to the tower and they would storm the place from the top down, as it appeared it was lightly defended way up here, and better to attack with surprise then knock on the big front doors.

The plan seemed like a good one, but unfortunately as Slim was tethering the second rope, he caught the attention of the wolf, and so he decided he would take the beast out and the others could come up as fast as possible and help him mop up, unfortunately when he hopped over the parapet, he saw not one but two of the great wolves, and several tiefling minions, and they were soon joined by a powerful transmuter wizard and an elite fighter swinging a huge axe, clearly Slim’s perception skills were a bit off that day! And although Thaddeus was immediately brought up by Axis, and within a few rounds, both Shadow and Albrecht had scaled the walls on the ropes (although Shadow’s own wolf never made it up), the enemy was too strong, Slim fell almost immediately and the warrior threatened to kill him if they didn’t surrender, but Thaddeus had other plans and slid him from the enemy’s grasp, and although Albrecht occupied what he could of the enemy and Shadow healed and supported what he could, and Thaddeus slowed the wizard down dramatically, and Slim got in several nasty shots, the wizard’s spell was too devastating in both damage and the ability to move them around the battlefield and the warrior’s great sweeps with his axe proved devastating, and poor Axis was struck critically twice and died outright and Thaddues appeared also to fall into the abyss, and it was then that the bedraggled survivors accepted the offer of quarter to the enemy and lowered their arms, in surrender. What shall become of them? Tune in next time!

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The Last Stand

Adventure 6 (11-08-20) XP 645/3573
Albrecht Human Knight 3 Martial Defender
Shadow Half-Elf Sentinel 3 Primal Leader
Slim “Shady” Southpaw Halfling Thief 3 Martial Striker
Thaddeus Woodsinger Elf Hunter 3 Primal Controller
Scrag Half-Orc Slayer 3 Martial Striker
Vexx Halfling Infernal Pact Hexblade 3 Arcane Striker

For the final battle they were joined by the Halfling Vexx, a mercenary of the River Rats (roguish halflings in competition with the tieflings who recently joined with the Iorn Circle in its attempted conquest of Harkenwold) who had great magical powers.

The great battle that fateful day, the day that saved Albridge, was when Nazin Redthorn himself, riding his rage drake, accompanied by several artillery, two loathsome tar devil thugs and a deadly spy in disguise went up against the heroes, and although there was some difficulty indeed, when the devils and they spy locked down ‘S-troop’ – Shadow, Slim and Scrag, and Vexx felt the full sting of the drake and rider, Albrecht doing his best to keep the enemy occupied and Thaddeus giving back what he could with his arrows. Perhaps the key to the battle was Thaddeus’ restraint, for he saved his best arrow for the end of the fight, for as Nazin realized the fight was lost and the wolfpack of adventurers was surrounding him, he gave up his raging mount and asked one last favor of Asmodeus, that the great standard he bore, that had obscured the battlefield billowing oily smoke, should congeal into a fast mount, energized by his own blood, so swift and light it could run across water, and get him back to his keep, the one place where if he could return and rally what was left there, and save what was left of the Iron Circle’s fortress, but alas it was not to be for the arrow loosed by Thaddeus, held his mount firm in the middle of the river and the rest of the group also sent what ranged attacks they could, destroying his unholy mount, dropping the failed warlord Nazin into the river, into what would become his watery grave because he had failed so utterly, he knew his only escape was death, to spend eternity in hell. Victory was overwhelming, for the group held every attack and gave back many times what they received and the folks of Albridge and all of Harken were relieved and overjoyed.

But the fight was not done, Baron Stockmer was still prisoner in his own castle and a remnant of the guard was still present there, essentially under siege but like a wounded rat, ready for a fight, and having superior defenses, they could try and last until reinforcements arrived. But the group worked swiftly, bringing the core of the Albridge army into Harken itself and by using a feint by the Albridge army and using their wyrmling, Axis, to take attention from the far walls, Slim silently crept up over and found a secret door that was placed there by an old dwarven mason they had been tipped was still in town, who had overseen the construction of this very castle. And soon they were all in, heading for the bailey itself, moving along the shadows staying out of sight, but to their dismay the drawbridge, some twenty feet up, was closed , but Slim wasn’t eager to wait, and he climbed up the wall, slew the guard in the arrow slot, slithered in, zipping past a veteran dragonborn soldier, and opened the drawbridge, and although he alarm was raised, and his allies had to run the gauntlet of endless quarrels to get into the keep, they were able to make their way in, and while Vexx held off the rest of the guards, the rest of the group, headed down into the dungeon to where the baron hopefully still was, and return him to his rightful place, and perhaps reap a vast reward for their bravery!

The XP included 150/character for winning the battle and 125/character for successfully sneaking into the castle

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The Way We War (Adventure 5)

Adventure 5 (11-07-30) XP 773/2928
Albrecht Human Knight 3 Martial Defender
Shadow Half-Elf Sentinel 3 Primal Leader
Slim “Shady” Southpaw Halfling Thief 3 Martial Striker
Thaddeus Woodsinger Elf Hunter 3 Primal Controller
Scrag Half-Orc Slayer 3 Martial Striker

As the party prepared to head down into the shrine, they were approached by a Half-Orc warrior who was covered in goblin blood who said his name was Scrag and he had recently encountered some elves battling goblins and he joined the fray on the side of the elves and they were so impressed they sent him this way to assist the group in their assault on Dal Nystiere. The group was a bit cautious about the warrior but they decided to let him join him, leaving Axis outside the stones to keep on the lookout and guard the horses.

As they teleported into the shrine, they were attacked by lightning which some of them were able to shrug off with a successful Arcana check. Once inside they were randomly positioned in two teleportation circles and were met by 5 goblin toadies, their leader, Snilvor and two caged drakes. The battle was engaged immediately, Thaddeus taking down several of the minions quickly, but then Snilvor countering with dark magic, but soon Slim and Albrecht had engaged one of the drakes, which had been loosed by the two remaining goblins, the other squared off against Shadow and his wolf. Meanwhile Snilvor’s stay in the battle was made quite short by a devastating charge by Scrag. Soon the fight was only with the burly drakes but they two went down and the party discovered a valuable tome and several scrolls that the goblins were planning to take from the shrine that would have helped their cause against the Woodsinger Elves.

Next the group entered the other chamber of the complex; this was protected by a pit trap in front of the door, deftly avoided by Scrag, and adroitly neutralized by Slim. This battle was against the elite skeletal mage Yisarn and his two skeletal bodyguards along with a sneaky fey spider. The wizard controller tried his best but one of Thaddeus’ arrows dazed him for a few critical rounds, just enough for the group to gain positioning and Albrecht’s control of the battlefield and Shadow’s leadership helped snuff out the enemy, leaving much treasure in their hands and more importantly, getting the aid of fifty elf archers to assist in the rebellion.

After leaving the Harkenwood, they soon learned that the Iron Circle had called in all of its war parties and was amassing an army to march on Albridge to end the rebellion once and for all, the group quickly headed to Albridge and there consulted with Dar Gremath about ways in which they could prepare for such a battle, and using their skills in history, religion, intimidation, diplomacy and nature, they made a solid plan of defense and the Harkenwolders were emboldened to take the fight to the superior force that was coming their way. Dar Gremath suggested that the group take a reserve role in the battle, to help out if there were a breach in the lines or if the enemy tried to flank the main army. The group positioned themselves in front of the bridge over the White River, between the village itself and the army assembled along the King’s Road to the south. Soon enough the enemy approached, along with a thick black oily smoke that engulfed the battlefield and added to the fog of war.

It was not long before the group was tested, as a group of a dozen Iron Circle warriors headed toward the bridge to secure it, they were led by an elite great-axe wielding warrior who was assisted by a foul-breathed drake, The group annihilated this force with ease, Scrag, Shadow and Albrecht charged in and destroyed the leader, along with devastating ranged attacks from Thaddeus and Slim. The rabble that was left was quickly mowed down, along with the drake, all-in-all an impressive victory. But the celebration was cut short as Axis, who had been circling the village, came back and warned the group that a small group of Iron Circle troops were crossing the river in a raft and were about to make landfall east of the village. The group swiftly headed back over the bridge, leaving Axis to guard it, and even though two precise shots from Thaddeus rendered the raft pilotless, the main force had already disembarked. The Iron Circle set out some of their rabble troops to occupy and mislead the group while their main force attempted to circle around into the city – to burn it to the ground! Luckily the sharp senses of Thaddeus and Slim noticed them and soon the fight was on, the Iron Circle had an adept leader-type who was nearly killed on the spot by Thaddeus but he recovered to aid his troops, which consisted of two sneaky cutthroats and two tar devils, these creatures were particularly nasty as they could snare enemies several yards away and haul them in with sticky nets to slay them with their swords, however they had never encountered defenders such as this, And with Shadow suddenly becoming a melee beast and Scrag charging from enemy to enemy with his sword flaming bright and Thaddeus covering the battlefield with his ranged attacks and mobility and Albrecht keeping the enemy put while Slim stabbed them from the shadows, the outcome was never in doubt. With the victory they caught their breath, tended to their wounds and headed back over the bridge.

Only minutes after they had finished with their last foes, they heard a roar of challenge. Another group of Iron Circle soldiers were advancing on them. They were supported by two scaly humanoid creatures with horns and tails, with dripping gobs of burning pitch in their taloned hands. With the band rode a massively muscled human warrior in scale armor. A standard flew from a holder at his stirrup – a black pennant with a red and gold trimmed gray ring in the center. “YOU! The enemy lord cries, “YOU ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE CAUSED ME SO MUCH TROUBLE! KNOW NOW THAT YOU FACE LORD NAZIN REDTHORN, CHAMPION OF THE IRON CIRCLE. WITH YOUR DEATHS MY VICTORY IS ASSURED!” He then spurs on his mount, a rage drake, to charge into battle, and now the fate of not only the village but the entire Harken Valley falls on the shoulders of our heroes…

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Gathering Allies (Adventure 4)

Adventure 4 (11-07-9) XP 590/2155

Albrecht Human Knight 2 Martial Defender
Shadow Half-Elf Sentinel 2 Primal Leader
Slim “Shady” Southpaw Halfling Thief 2 Martial Striker
Thaddeus Woodsinger Elf Hunter 2 Primal Controller
“Axis” Adamantine Dragon 2 Soldier Companion

The party engaged the bullywug patrol, consisting of a bullywug champion warrior, two leapers and two giant frogs, the champion had a Halfling boy in tow by the neck but he let him go when the fight started and the boy crept away. The leader kept the party engaged while the leapers ran about in a frenzy, poor Thaddeus was even briefly swallowed by a frog, but with their great skill showing, the group was able to bring down the enemy and soon recovered the boy, who was called Heron, and he was from a riverboat Halfling tribe, he had been captured by the bullywugs, the group decided the first order of business was to bring him home and the return to Tor’s Hold to inform them that the bullywug menace had been eradicated and Tor’s Hold could now send squads of footmen to aid the rebellion brewing in Albridge.

Next the group headed to Albridge itself to speak to Dar Gremath – he ran a stabling operation and because so many people used his facilities, it was easy to spread word about the rebellion from his base of operations. He suggested that the best thing the party could do was engage the Iron Circle in isolated groups and build their reputation as a threat and this way coax the brigands out of the Castle and into a fight in the open, where Dar thinks the rebels would stand a better chance at victory. Shadow promptly went into the tavern and sure enough there was a patrol of Iron Circle ruffians present and harassing the locals, so Shadow went back and got the group and in short order a melee started, and even though the brigands were bolstered by a few of their cutthroats that were hiding in nearby building and picking off party members with crossbows, the outcome was never in doubt. After this they got information that an Iron Circle supply wagon was heading to Harkenwold and if they hurried they could cut it off and ambush it, which they were able to do, and although the enemy had an iron defender homunculus guarding it and an Iron Circle adept leader blasting them with sorcery, the group was able to defeat them and take their treasure, the tactics were especially strong with Albrecht engaging the enemy and deftly parrying nearly every blow, Shadow and his wolf creating havoc among the enemy ranks, Slim picking the best strikes to bring the enemy down quickly and Thaddeus hitting and disabling foes at incredible range. After this victory, the next thing to do would be to try and engage the Woodsinger Elves and bring them to the cause, and since Thaddeus was a member of the tribe this may not be so difficult a task…

The next day the heroes entered the Harkenwood and went looking for the Woodsingers, although Thaddeus was quite familiar with the area, Elves can be very hard to find. Eventually a small group of Elven scouts found them and after a brief exchange of words, they decided it would be best if they brought the group to Eriyel, their leader, to explain themselves. Eriyel was a bit cool to the idea of helping humans, who they considered not really much more than the lesser evil to their archenemy the Daggerburg Goblins, but, she considered the local lord a better alternative to the Iron Circle nasties, so she said she would supply fifty archers to the cause if the party would rid the woods of an evil skeletal mage what had inhabited the ancient arcane shrine off Dal Nastyre. Dal Nastyre was hidden under the ground and the only entry way was within a circle of stones which could be used to teleport into the shrine if mature dragon blood were dripped on it – Eriyel had a vile with three applications of green dragon blood. The group then headed along a path to the area of the standing stones, however once they got there they noticed several large spider webs in the trees and a small wagon that had nothing to cart it. Slim crept up and saw there were three goblins sleeping inside the wagon, when he slayed one, the others made such a ruckus that it made the jumping tree spiders launch their attacks, but the group handled both goblins and spiders with ease and Thaddeus was able to determine that drakes were what had pulled the wagon and that several more goblins had left the cart and went into the stones and disappeared. The next step was to head down into the shrine after them…

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