The Chronicles of Phe: Chapter 1

There should be a steep price to pay for my sins against Bahamut. Phe thought to himself as he lay next to the fire. He stared through the flames to the thick forest outside the cave. Even though the night air was thick and still, Phe threw another breath on the fire.
Phe reached into his sack with his leathery scaled hand to pull out a small map. After studying it for a short time, he leaned out past the cave opening to look up at the sparkling diamonds above him. They spoke to him.
He sighed. Will this be far enough away? Will they find me? No one can know who I really am. They would never trust me. The map was very old and had a small seal in the lower right corner that looked like a draconic eye staring through fire. Carefully, he rolled up the map and placed it back in his sack. Tomorrow would be a long day of travel on foot, and he would need all the rest he could get to finish scaling the pass to find the desert. No one would think to search for him there. He hadn't been home since he was a child – and he was not going back.
As he put the map back in his sack, he felt another piece of parchment in his bag. Phe didn't have to look to know that this other document was a poster for The Circus. This specific poster was advertising the Fantastic Pheonixfire and Musician. A rare smirk lined Phe's face as he closed his pack and laid back down.
Though Musician was Tiefling and Phe was Dragonborn they found friendship in their priority of honor. After they were forced to leave home when they were children, Phe and Ian had fled to The Circus. The Circus was a generic group of gypsies and misfits. Each act was as separate as the performers. No one conversed out of their act though they traveled as a family. Phe and Ian performed as brothers. Phe threw flames and ice that would dance to Ian's lute. Their performances were often favorites among audiences.
Unfortunately, The Circus performances often found the seediest parts of the land. The final performance that Phe and Ian held ended in death, destruction and sadness...
The Fantastic Pheonixfire (Phe) is my dragonborn character in our current D & D campaign. I chose to have a solitary character who didn't speak much due to my need during game play to get up frequently and take care of one of the geeklings. My DM (also my husband) added the circus performing bit of the character, which I think is a nice touch. After a couple of the other players asked, “where DID Phe come from?” I started wondering myself. I have never laid a hand on any of the D & D books. But when I made the decision to start telling my character's story, I knew I would have to crack the books and do some research. My husband never thought he would see the day...

YouTube Awesomeness: Pomplamoose

Original songs and crazy covers from two musicians, multiplied several times by the magic of recording. The videos are well-produced enough to be on MTV, if they actually played music videos. Pomplamoose (spelled slightly differently, "grapefruit" in French)

Defense at Silver Hollow - Session 4

  • Malik, shifter warlord (Nick)
  • Fyodora, elf monk (Lisa)
  • Phoenixfire, dragonborn sorcerer (Cathe)
From six players to three! This session promised to be much more about social intrigue and less combat, so it didn't hurt too much.

Phoenixfire, Fyodora, Malik, Konrad, and Luccio awake in their rooms at the Rusty Bucket Inn and make their way downstairs for some breakfast. They find Ezmerelda passed out under the bar, snoring loud enough to rattle the dishes. The innkeeper has several letters for the party that were delivered (from the end of the last session) in the early hours of the morning. They open the letters as they eat.

  • From Alese Vaca, Master of House and Grounds of House Deepvein, a request to meet regarding the information about the Deepvein Shard that the party had requested.
  • With a wax closure bearing the House Vallund seal, simply a date (today), a time (this afternoon), and a place (a club called the Baying Hound). The signature is unreadable but the initials are "E V".
  • From Yusef Ben Hamid Al-Sansur, an urgent request to meet on a matter most dire.
  • From Sir Pompadour Meteron-Soulsmith, Office of the Sheriff of Silver Hollow, a notice that any of the lost Crystal Shards are vital to the defense of the city and shall be turned over post-haste.
  • From the Sisters of the Seven Pillars: "Have you considered donating your time and wealth to the Seven Pillars?"
Yes, the party got medieval-spam-mailed by a religious organization :)

Malik, Fyodora, and the Fantastic Phoenixfire decide that the letter from the Al-Sansur's seems to be the most urgent and plan to head there first. Luccio heads out into the streets to try and track down the location of some of the rare magical items that the party is looking for. Konrad and Ezzie are assigned to guard the large green crystal; Malik takes the Bag of Holding with the small red crystal with him.

As they leave the Rusty Bucket, there is a young elf boy? girl? (it's hard to tell) in red and green Deepvein livery (Fyodora confirms that it's a boy). He is a page named Pietre and he was assigned to deliver Master Vaca's letter and then wait for the party. They decide to change plans and follow Pietre to House Deepvein to meet Master Vaca again.

Master Vaca, who they had met before heading into the mines, relayed their request for information regarding the Deepvein Shard to Caden Deepvein, one of the Lord and Lady's son's. Unfortunately, he is rather loose-lipped and leaked this information to his 'gang' at the Beak and Feather, a notorious den in the Chasm. It is likely that the other families know what the party is up to. Alese warns that the others will try to take the crystal shards from the party for their own use and offers the Deepvein vaults as a secure holding place.

Malik assures her that the shards are well protected (cut to Ezzie sprawled on top of the green shard, still passed out).

Ezmerelda is funny even with her player absent.

Malik, Phoenixfire, and Fyodora head on to see Yusef Al-Sansur as they had originally planned. The thick wooden front door of the house is carved with a sun over an hourglass - the symbol of Pelor, patron of the desert shifter Caliphate. They are lead by a servant into a sitting room; though the house is of grey stone construction similar to others in the rich Market Circle of Silver Hollow, the sitting room is filled with the plush carpets, pillows, hangings, and golden oil lamps of a shifter sheik.

After some time, an elegantly-robed cat-man comes into the room and introduces himself as Yusef ben Hamid Al-Sansur. He gets right to the point - he knows that the party is after the crystal shards and has a dire warning: the crystal's power is infernal. The original creators of the crystal four hundred years ago (the great families of Silver Hollow) mixed their blood with that of a Devil to give power their creation; thus, they changed from human to tiefling, dwarf to duergar, and their decedents carry their cursed blood as well. Yusef's family, many years ago, took the shard from the dying Bluesun family and placed it deep within the tomb of their greatest ancestor: Aheem the Shining, Prophet of Pelor and a great paladin. His spirit guards the evil of the crystal shard, and Yusef begs the party to place any shards that they find into the tomb as well.

The party shows him the threat of the building orc horde; Yusef maintains that the risk of the evil inherent in the crystal is not worth the power it may provide and insists that there must be another way. He will not take the crystals himself, though he will provide a guide to the tomb when they are ready. He leaves, as do the party.

Malik, Phoenixfire, and Fyodora head back to the Rusty Bucket for lunch. They meet up with Luccio, who has good news and bad news. The good news: he has located some of the items that they are looking for. Several of them are in possession of the hobgoblin warlord Kugla, in the mountains to the north. The bad news: one of the other items is in the swampy ruined lair of Da'al-Denak, a vicious black dragon, on an island to the northwest. Luccio heads back out after lunch to continue his information gathering; Malik asks that he also try to locate the Tomb of Aheem the Shining.

This is how we are handling major magic items - the things form the players' wishlists won't improbably be found on the random enemies they are fighting, but will be more of a sidequest. The items found in the 'storyline' enemies will lean towards general party use.

After checking that Konrad and Ezzie are OK, the remaining three party members decide to conduct an experiment. They find an empty field in The Farms, a district of Silver Hollow to the southeast, with a single tree. Malik fishes out the small red crystal that they had previously retrieved from the fallen house of Lightbringer and hands it to Phoenixfire. She tries to use the crystal to augment her fiery sprays, but she only succeeds in setting fire to the tree (quickly put out with a blast of cold). Fyodora takes a turn but is also unsuccessful; whatever power the crystal shards have, they don't seem to be channeling it correctly.

Late afternoon arrives, and they head to their appointment at the Baying Hound. Under the sign of said hound, in the Market Circle, they find a windowless building and a reinforced door with a sliding peephole. They knock on the door; the slider opens and black eyes rimmed with red skin peer out. They show the letter from "E V" to the (assumed) doorman, who responds with, "One minute."

They look around the small square; in the center is a small shrine - a round roof held up by seven pillars. They have seen these shrines before; they are built in many cities and towns by the Sisters. The three adventurers check out the shrine - each of the seven pillars is carved with the sign of a god or goddess: the Raven Queen, goddess of the North, Winter, and Death; Sehanine, goddess of the East, Autumn, and the Moon; Pelor, god of the South, Summer, and the Sun; Corellon, god of the West, Spring, and Art; Avandra, goddess of Trade, Exploration, and Adventure; Bahamut, god of Justice, Law, and Leadership; and in the center, Erathis, goddess of Civilization.

The door to the Baying Hound opens and they hurry inside. A well-dressed tiefling servant leads them through wood-panelled hallways to an opulent room with red carpets, soft lamps, and dark wooden bookshelves filled with books. A very large (don't call him fat, he looks dangerous) tiefling man sits in a plush chair, with five empty chairs set facing him. He seems surprised to see only three, but motions for them to sit down. A servant offers them an amber liquid in a fine crystal goblet; only Malik imbibes.

The red-skinned, horned man asks if they know who he is. Surprisingly, they do - he's Eduard Vallund, aka "Ironhand Eddie", a well-known 'loan officer' and 'aquirer of rare items'. He heard that the party had raided the old Lightbringer house and was impressed that they got past its defenses. Eddie would like them to retrieve something for a client of his - a golden idol, held by an Ogre Chief in the hills of the southern Principalities. He would be in their debt - a rare position to be in with Ironhand Eddie. He gives them until the next day to make a decision.

As the party leaves, he says, "I know what you are looking for: it's not worth it. The shard was lost to our family nearly fifty years ago, and good riddance! Leave them alone if you know what's good for you - it's brought us nothing but sorrow."

The three adventurers head back towards the inn, when a cloaked figure approaches them from behind; it's Lady Primrose, head of the arcane Cometfall family. She has heard that they are recovering the crystal shards and warns that other families will try to take the shards; she offers an extra-dimensional vault that the Cometfalls own as a safe place to store them. When they do not seem interested, she reminds them that she is an expert arcane ritualist and offers to perform any that the party may need, at cost, in return for allowing her to store the shards. They still decline; Lady Primrose angrily insists that there is something that they should see - meet her at the house of Cometfall after dark tonight.

The players continue to refuse to give up the shards, even though the artifacts may put them at some danger. They genuinely don't trust anyone else. Eeeeexxcellent... *Mr. Burns fingers*

The three agree that they should avoid the Sheriff and head back to the Rusty Bucket for dinner. Over the meal, they decide to see Lady Primrose tonight, and then head to the Tomb of Aheem the Shining without notifying Yusef Al-Sansur, the location of which Luccio found that afternoon. Malik pens a letter to Ironglove Eddie, saying that they will retrieve the golden idol - in return for the Vallund Shard. Malik will deliver it tomorrow morning.

Malik, Phoenixfire, and Fyodora head to the house of Cometfall as the sun sets. They are greeted at the door by a tiefling footman and are lead up winding stairs until they emerge on the open top of a tower. Lady Primrose is drawing symbols on the stone floor and lighting candles. She asks Malik for his magical map. After determining that whatever she is doing will be non-destructive and that the map will be returned, he hands it over. The tiefling woman spreads the map out in the middle of the symbols, and the mountains to the east erupt into silent flames, as they have for some months now.

Lady Primrose beings reading from her ritual book. A neon-blue point appears above the magical flames on the map. Slowly, the point spreads to become a bright, wavy outline; in between the blue border is a view of the eastern mountains, as if from a great height. Lady Primrose hones her scrying and the view zooms in to show many points of light in the mountains - campfires and torches, surrounded by orcs. To the north of this growing horde, the caldera of a volcano glows.

She ends the ritual and returns the map to Malik. "The threat is real. do not let the petty concerns of the noble families interfere with your reconstruction of the great crystal." The party again refuses to allow the Cometfalls to store the crystal shards.

They spend the next day preparing for a desert trek to the tomb. Malik delivers the letter he wrote to the Baying Hound, retrieves his riding horse, and procures horses for Fyodora and Phoenixfire, while the other two get supplies for the journey. That night, under cover of darkness, they sneak the large green crystal shard out to the field near the slightly-burned tree. They dig a deep hole and bury the shard, wrapped in canvas. Phoenixfire conjures a jet of flame and makes additional marks on the tree to make sure that they can find the location in the future.

Overland travel! I posted the map in a previous entry - it's a hex-map, 12.5 miles center-to-center. With their horses, the party will be able to traverse four squares per day over open terrain

The next morning, a surprise is waiting for the party downstairs at the Rusty Bucket. A very groggy-looking Ironglove Eddie is sitting in a chair that may be too small for his bulk. He will not get the Vallund shard for them in return for the idol; in fact, he reveals that it was taken by Aethelred, the Mad Prince of Mercia (one of the principalities). He will, however, provide them with unspecified assistance in retrieving the crystal shard, if they get the idol for him within two months. They reluctantly agree.

Malik, Phoenixfire, and Fyodora head down the pass to the east, into the desert. Luccio will settle accounts and follow them (with Ezzie and Konrad, if they wish to join the party's quest) a day or two behind. After three days, the vanguard leaves the trails and heads across the rocky, dusty desert to the north. On the second afternoon, nearing the tomb, they see a cloud of dust rapidly approaching. Malik seeks out some rocky spires for some cover as they await the approach of the unknown creatures.

Two gnolls riding giant cackling hyenas come charging at the shifter, elf, and dragonborn. One swings a giant flail, while the other holds a spear and shield. The party decides to stay mounted in the fairly open terrain to add to their mobility. Fyodora confronts the flail-swinging rider while Phoenixfire takes the spear-wielder; Malik positions himself in the center and provides supporting fire from his greatbow. The beasts and their gnoll riders are defeated, though Fyodora's horse lies dead, blood from the giant hyena's bite soaking into the cracked earth.

The three arrive at the tomb the next day and await the rest of the party...

Well, we went nearly four hours with only one fight, a record for us. It seems that everyone had a good time - there was enough freedom that they could do what they liked, but also enough constraints that they didn't feel lost. The next session will be easier on me as I know where they will be going - delving into the Tomb of Aheem the Shining, where certainly there will be nothing at all dangerous

Defense at Silver Hollow - Session 3


  • Malik (Nick)
  • Fyodora (Lisa)
  • Phoenixfire (Cathe)
  • Luccio (Adam)
  • Konrad (Sean)
  • Ezmerelda, goliath warden (Cody)
Cody's character joined and we ended up with an amazing 6 players. This, and the fact that Cody hadn't played 4E before, and it was Sean's second session with 4E, made combat drag and it took quite some time. Still, Ezzie's inebriated irish-accented giant woman made it worth it.

Watches are established and the party rests. On Luccio's watch, he notices that the revived construct Aleph is digging through the broken parts in the cart. The rogue asks it what it is up to; Aleph pulls out a detached head, similar to its own.

"These heads do not have name-runes, " it notes. "Name runes?" Luccio asks. "Samekh," the construct points to his forehead - on it is a deeply-carved rune. "All twenty-two of us Deepvein Miners have...had these name-runes. I do not know what to make of these parts."

Luccio leaves the construct to its rummaging and the party completes their rest. On waking, they cautiously make their way through the tunnels, looking for a way out. They run across rails running down the center of the tunnel. Following the cart-rails, they come to a door across the tracks as well as a passage leading off to the side. Proceeding carefully, they open the door across the tracks and find another short section of the tunnel with another door at the other end, as well as a small side-room off the tracks. Peering into the the room, they see a pile of fallen rocks and a pair of red eyes.

Making their way into the room, the party finds another Deepvein Miner, trapped under the rubble. Samekh identifies it as Aleph, head of the Miners. As they toss rock aside, they hear an "oof!" as a stone lands on someone or something in the darkness. They find what seems to be a red-haired human woman, wearing hide armor, only over nine feet tall! The giant woman reeks of alcohol, sits up holding her head, and identifies herself as Ezmerelda, "but you can call me Ezzie." She's not quite sure how she ended up here - she lasts remembers drinking in the inn, and then wandering outside to find a place to "take a leak." They look upwards and see a bright spot far above - it looks like she fell down this old ventilation shaft. They invite her to join them as they try to escape the mine.

They open the next set of doors along the tracks to find a great room. The tracks cross the room on a wooden gantry nearly 20 feet above the stone floor and then exits on the other side. Midway through the span, a slide of some sort goes from the tracks down to a gigantic red-hot glowing forge on the opposite side of the room. Luccio sneaks midway through the room before spotting - and being spotted by - a large, floating orb of flesh with a large central eye, many smaller eyes on stalks on top, and a great toothed mouth nearly bisecting the orb.

B-b-b-b-b-beholder! This is a Beholder Gauth from the Monster Manual 2. I'm not sure what a gauth is - the players suggested that is was a gaunt goth; apparently the beholder is skinny and is wearing black lipstick with its many piercings.

Luccio deftly climbs down the gantry while the rest of the party advances into the room. The ranged members of the party position themselves to take shots from above as the meleers climb carefully down. They find that there are several unarmed humanoid constructs as well as two armed with sword and shield supporting the abberant floating creature, hiding below the gantry. Konrad finds himself in his own fight off to the side with a couple of enemies while the rest of the adventurers focus on taking down the terrifying beholder and its remaining minons.

The beholder uses its eyestalk powers to try to disable the party members below and telekinetically pull the ranged adventurers from the gantry above. Ezmerelda, Fyodora, and Luccio advance on the beholder but are delayed by the mechanical minions. Phoenixfire tosses elemental blasts into the fray. Konrad is stuck well away from the rest, having trouble downing his foes but not taking much damage from them either. As the unarmed minions fall, the last construct turns a valve on the forge; molten metal flows through channels on the floor, but the party is dextrous enough to avoid damage. Luccio and Fyodora finally flank the beholder, but find that is of little help as the creature's eyestalks keep both of them in view at once.

The adventurers enemies eventually fall to the party's coordinated attack. Aleph and Samekh can now identify where they are and inform them that the next room behind the forge is the mustering room, which should eventually lead out. Malik peers through one of the two sets of doors leading behind the forge; the next room is similarly large and open, but contains an enourmous construct, over 15 feet tall. Thankfully, it seems to be inactive at the moment. Luccio checks out the other end of the rail gantry. This passage leads to a split in the tracks: in one direction, the tracks lead down deeper into the mine; in the other, many mine carts are lined up. The rogue squeezes past the carts. In the tunnel beyond, he sees many pairs of glowing green eyes - more of Master Control's constructs. He stealthily avoids attention and returns to report to the party. They decide to head into the mustering room and take their chances with the giant construct.

If they had gone the other way, it would have lead to an Indiana-Jones-esque mine cart chase. Still, they didn't know if they would be able to get out if they had gone deeper into the mountain. This still sounds like fun, so I have the feeling the players may find such a chase in the Ironhammer end of the mines...

Catwalks lead around the perimeter of the mustering room. Additional suspended platforms approach the titan construct, which has a huge axe on one arm and an enormous maul on the other. They see no chance of sneaking past with the less stealthy members of the party, so Luccio and Fyodora sneak up either side of the catwalks while the rest of the party waits at the doors. The monk finally missteps and the giant machine wakes up. A gargoyle-like construct made of clay is also revealed, clinging to the wall above, and four unarmed humanoid constructs rush in from the hall that leads out of the mustering room. Luccio quickly blinds the titan, and Ezmerelda and Konrad seize the opportunity to charge in on one of the catwalks that extends into the center of the room. Fyodora faces off with the clay homunculus while Phoenixfire and Malik take potshots from the door.

The titan deals massive damage with its axe and maul, but is taking a beating from the focussed fire of the party. Even using the giant maul to smash the supports of the catwalks does not save the huge machine. The clay homunculus falls quickly to Fyodora's powerful strikes. The unarmed smaller constructs seem to fall with a hit, but split open to reveal masses of tentacles that proceed to use psychic attacks against the minds of the party. Without letting a single member fall, the party systematically destroys their enemy.

This was a much-downlevelled Warforged Titan (still a mighty threat), a Clay Scout, and several Warforged minions which turned into Fell Taints when killed. This continued an abberant theme seen with the beholder in the last room and the psychic powers of Master Control.

Their resources dwindling, the adventurers carefully make their way upwards through the tunnels. They find a familiar sight - a section of collapsed ceiling with bits of devil-dwarf corpse. Peering up into the natural chamber where they had originally entered, they see a group of duergar. Taking them by surprise, Fyodora, Luccio, Konrad and Ezmerelda climb up into the cave and charge. Malik and Phoenixfire take cover, peeking up to fire arrows and magical bolts into the room.

Several of the devil-dwarves are similar to those that they encountered before. One from the back, though, is calling terrible hellfire down on the party while another is using psionic attacks to cause pain to the minds of its enemies. With many of their greatest powers expended, the adventurers struggle to take the duergar down. It is a close thing, but the party is victorious.

This encounter worked very well. The party's resources were low from previous fights, some were at a disadvantage having to climb up into the room, and the good mix of artillery, controller, soldier, and brute monsters were set up well to receive the charge of the adventurers. The encounter was quite hard for the players and represented a genuine threat and was a good capper to the session.

After a quick rest, they climb up out of the mine and head back into town, attempting to camoflage the large crystal that they have recovered. The constructs Samekh and Aleph stay in the mine, hoping to recover others of the Deepvein Miners. The party collapses at the first inn that they find, grateful for the rest.

Thus ends session 3.

Defense at Silver Hollow - Session 2

  • Malik, shifter warlord (Nick)
  • Fyodora, elf monk (Lisa)
  • Phoenixfire, dragonborn sorcerer (Cathe)
  • Luccio, drow rogue (Adam)

And, joining midway through the session:

  • Konrad, human fighter (Sean)
We pick up where we left off mid-dungeon last time.

The party readies themselves for whatever may happen in the next area - a fetid pond fills most of the room, and a mud statue of a frog is illuminated by a glowing red crystal in its hands. Luccio and Fyodora sneak along the edges of the room where there is a thin strip of dry land, headed for the statue. They are eventually noticed by a pair of eyes that pokes bulbously above the dark water. Several frog-like humanoids erupt from the pond - bullywugs!

Malik and Phoenixfire enter the room to get a clear field of fire at the creatures. One of the bullywugs waves his twisted wooden staff and four drowned corpses rise from the water around the statue. Though not individually tough, the aquatic nature of the bullywugs and their habit of dipping below the murky water give the party a tough time. They decide to try to grab the crystal and run. Luccio takes several attempts and finally manages to free it from its perch on the statue - it feels like it was more solidly connected to something internal to the muddy mass. Luccio leaps back across to near the wall and they head out of the room; however, Fyodora is trapped by several of the frog-creatures and is quickly beaten unconcious. The other three return quickly to the room to save their friend - Malik inspiring words cause Fyodora's eyes to flutter open, and she crawls to her feet and manages to rejoin the rest of the party, who then make a fighting retreat to the previous room.

The party takes a rest - there are only two bullywugs left, but the adventurers are sorely in need of a brief respite. They decide to try to clear out the room so that they can take a better look at things, rather than just trying to retreat back up the well. The bullywugs seem to have dissappeared beneath the muck; the party sets up a clever ambush before scaring the remaining critters, who they quickly dispatch. Luccio removes the two golden eyes from the frog statue and slips them into his Bag of Holding. He manages to dislodge the mud head in the process - it seems that there is a bronze statue underneath of a tiefling man that was holding the crystal. They assume it is Azeron Lightcaller. Following the slow flow of water, they find the exit to the room, a tumble of rocks covering up the tunnel. They see a flickering light in the cracks - shifting some of them, the party exits into a dark lamplit alley in The Chasm, the red-light district of Silver Hollow.

I was surprised that they chose to try to clear the room when they had already retrieved the crystal. Still, mopping up was not too hard for them. Sean arrived at this point - he provided the much-needed Defender roll to the party with his human brawling-fighter. He didn't have a real concept, so we decided that he's something of a wandering warrior seeking ever-tougher fights to challenge himself. It's not clear how or why he joined the party yet.

The party retreats to an inn to rest for the night and plan for their next move. From the information they have gathered so far, they decide that they should collect the other four crystal shards, reassemble the crystal, and use it to destroy the coming orc horde. The remaining shards were given to the Deepvein family (they are still around - this family owns the Silver Hollow Exchange trading house and are bankers), the Valorhound family (they note that this sounds similar to the existing Vallund family), the Ironhammer family (this sounds dwarven, but it's not a name they've heard of and there are no dwarven families of any prominence in the city anymore), and the Bluesun family (another that they have not heard of, though in their travels they've seen caravans with a blue sun logo, belonging to the al-Sansur shifter family that resides in Silver Hollow).

Reading further into Azeron's journal, they note that the mage was helping the Deepvein family install their shard as some sort of control device in the family's silver mines to the north - it seems that the Deepveins had made some sort of automaton miners. The party knows that the mines have been closed for some time and the entrances filled with rubble, as something monsterous and deadly was discovered while digging. Enlisting the help of human brawler Konrad, they head north into the mountains to see if they can gain entrance to the mine.

The adventurers find that the main entrances are too well blocked by fallen rock and rubble to make an entrance there; however, they find a nearby spot where the ground has fallen in, leading to a natural cave below. They decend quietly, not knowing what they would find. The chamber that they enter into has another drop into a true mining tunnel. There are fresh bodies of...something...below. They drop down into the tunnel and find metal plates with attached woody muscles, leaking some alchemical fluid, along with bodies that seem dwarven, but not quite right. Luccio hears movement from the further down the tunnel. Peering around the corner, he sees several dwarf-like creatures with spines in their hair and beards, accompanied by two drakes the size of large dogs. The party prepares for a fight!

These are duergar, and, as they will soon find out, the remenants of the Ironhammers. In the lore of this world, the characters have never heard of duergar. They have no association with the drow, as these were recast as marauding seafaring pirates instead of underground dark-elves. Adam and Nick had heard of duergar, but they didn't let any player knowledge seep into their characters.

The adventurers take up a defensive formation and let the beligerent devil-dwarves come to them. Surprisingly, two of the enemy, upon being bloodied, grow to fill nearly the whole passage. Still, it is no help, and the party is easily victorious. After a rest, they check the bodies of the fallen and the corpses and mysterious body parts they had seen earlier. They find that some sort of small spidery constructs have burrowed up through the floor and are dragging away the alche-mechanical pieces. The party follows the creatures down to another chamber below, where two armed and armored humanoid mechanicals with glowing green eyes stand, flanked by two doglike constructs.

These are warforged, though again the characters have never heard of such things. A more appropriate name would be "mineforged" of course, though they seem to be in fighting shape now.

The party tries to speak with the constructs, who immediately demand that the intruders drop their weapons and surrender. After a brief standoff, the constructs determine that the adventurers are not affiliated with the Ironhammers, which the mechanical men and beasts seem to be at war with. The party surrenders their weapons, which are put in a cart full of parts that the constructs are collecting, and and follows the green-eyed humanoids deeper into the mountain to meet with someone or something called "Master Control".

Way to go right for the end-game, players! I had not expected that they would give up their weapons and made the warforged very insistant that they do so, thinking that the party would fight their way down through the Deepvein portion of the mine to reach Master Control. Quickly restructuring...

The adventurers are lead down twisting passages, past other green-eyed constructs, until they reach a large chamber. Floating in the center of the room is a familiar-looking crystal shard - only this one is glowing bright green and is much larger than the red shard that they found before. A flat, emotionless voice sounds in their heads.


Resistance is futile...I'm desperately improvising at this point as I had not planned for them to be here until the next session at earliest. I had the basic idea of the battling Master Control constructs and the Ironhammer duergar but no details really.

The party decides not to submit and slowly edges towards the cart containg their weapons. Fyodora does not require a weapon and so leaps into action, gaining a surprise round. In addition to fighting off the two escorting constructs and their dog-like companions, the adventurers must also resist the mind-controlling influence of the shard. They grab their weapons and wade in. Luccio attempts to use his arcane knowledge to try to disconnect the magical tendrils of control from the green shard, but fails and recieves horrible psychic pain in return. Phoenixfire, being much more suited to the task, edges closer to the shard while Luccio moves to deal as much damage as possible to their enemies.

Konrad finds that he cannot stave off the mental attacks of the psychic shard and ends up spending some of the fight dominated and attacking his allies. Though Phoenixfire suffers some failures, her greater knowledge of arcana lets her avoid much of the mental damage. As Master Control realizes that it is losing the fight, it calls for reinforcements. Just before Phoenixfire disconnects the last strand of magical power and the crystal dims and crashes to the ground, it sends out one final command to its minions: "DESTROY ALL INTRUDERS."

The party hears clanking footsteps from the hall outside; they have several seconds to reset themselves before this new foe comes but not near enough time to get a proper rest. Several more constructs approach. Though battered, the party is in a good defensive position. They manage to destroy three of the four green-eyed constructs when Phoenixfire succeeds in deactivating the last. As they catch their breath, the final enemy reactivates itself...but the eyes are now glowing red.

"Where is my pick?" it asks in a soft voice. It tells the adventurers that its name is Samekh, a construct miner belonging to the Deepvein family. Its last memory is of swinging its pick against the mine face - it does not know what has happened since. They have the construct place the large crystal shard on the cart of broken parts and quickly find what seems to be an equipment room off to the side of one of the passages; they hole up there, fortify the door with broken carts, rest and try to sleep.

Here ends session 2. Thankfully, I got a two-week break to try to plan out what they would encounter next, as the adventure had taken an unexpected turn.

Defense at Silver Hollow - Session 1

  • Malik (Nick)
  • Fyodora (Lisa)
  • Phoenixfire (Cathe)
  • Luccio (Adam)
DM notes will be formatted like this. I gave background info for Malik and Luccio to their players before the session. This way, I wouldn't have to shoulder all of the exposition and have everyone bored before we started.

Four adventurers meet up in a private room of a tavern. It is the fourth anniversary of their heroic deed - a delivery of medicines to cure a deadly plague. Each year after, they have met up to remenisce and to remember those in the party who did not survive. This year, however, Malik has something else in mind.

Malik unrolls a piece of hide. It looks like it has been prepared as a writing surface, but is blank - until lines and words start forming as if drawn by an invisible hand. It quickly reveals a map of the region, when suddenly the mountains to the southeast erupt into magical flames. Noting that the date on the map is nearly 400 years ago, Malik reminds the party that a great orc horde decended from the eastern mountains almost exactly 400 years ago, ravaged across the desert shifters, and was destroyed at the gates of Silver Hollow - but none of them can remember how.

They decide that if the orc horde is building again, they should figure out more about the map and what happened the last time. They set up an appointment with one of the nobles of Silver Hollow, a familiy of tiefling magicians by the name of Cometfall. They are met by Lady Primrose Cometfall, who, after showing some surprise at the map bursting into flames, uses her arcane abilities and detects a burning hatred coming from the fiery illusion - it is quite likely their suspicions are correct. She does not know how the horde was defeated 400 years ago, but suggests that the libraries of some of the older families may be of help - if they can convince the nobles that they should be allowed access.

Luccio pipes up, asking what she knows about the House of Lightcaller. Apparently, the Lightcallers died out several generations ago; the Cometfalls then took to title of the chief magical family of Silver Hollow while the Lightcaller mansion stood abandoned. Then, just over 20 years ago, a great earthquake shook the city, and a great chasm opened up, swallowing many houses, including a good portion of the Lightcaller's. The ruins of the Lightcaller mansion stand on the edge of the Chasm, growing weeds and inhabited by vagrants. Lady Primrose notes that some of the rooms and vaults were likely magically protected and would have survived the collapse and deterred any thieves.

This was part of the information given to Luccio. Adam decided that he had an unsatiable craving for magic trinkets; he tracked down one that he was interested to the ruined House Lightcaller. Besides meeting up with the party for the anniversary, he also intended to try to recover the item while he was in town. Luckily, his aims and the party's seem to have aligned...

The party decides to check out the fallen house in hopes that the library or any other information is still intact. What remains seems to be a tall stone tower, along with several half-collapsed walls. They open the creaking doors of the tower and send in Luccio first to scout. A booming voice proclaims, "WHO DARES INVADE THE GREAT HOUSE OF LIGHTCALLER! LEAVE NOW OR BE DESTROYED!"

The adventurers do not head the warning and enter the tower. The room consists of a winding stair leading up along the walls into the wooden ceiling some 45 feet above, the entry doors, another door to the side under the stairs, and several beams that stretch from wall to wall about 20 feet up. As several of the party start climbing the stairs, the voice abruptly changes. "I don't think this is working, boys. We're gonna have to cut 'em!" shouts a human-sized, black-feathered creature that they spot sitting watch on one of the beams. The Kenku squatter gets ready for a fight as his gang decends from the stairs above.

The insuing battle sees party members balancing on high beams, jumping, falling...and the crow-people failing miserably to do any damage to the intruders. Eventually, after killing three of them and driving off another, they club the last into unconciousness.

This was a good first fight - the stairs and beams added a lot of verticality to the fight. The Kenku Wing Mage could fly, which would have given it an advantage if not for three of the party being able to make effective ranged attacks.

When the last Kenku woke up bound and tied, he quickly spilled all the information he had in return for being allowed to escape. It turns out it's not much - the gang has been using the next two floors up as a nest. Above this, a door is locked that they can't open. They have barricaded the lower door with junk and furniture from the upper levels. "We don't go down there," he says with a shiver.

The party releases him and decides to head up the stairs. The next two levels are a stinking mess of used bedding and discarded food. Phoenixfire and Luccio work together to defeat the combined magical/mechanical lock on the upper door, and they find themselves in the top room of the tower, in a room filled with alchemical equipment. A large pentagram is drawn on the floor, and several cabinets and worktables are set against the wall. Four doors open to small balconies on each side of the tower.

Avoiding the pentagram, they check out the cabinets and find that one is trapped. Luccio successfully disarms the trap and finds the Cloak of the Mountebank, revealing to the party that he knew of the Lightcaller house because he was after this item. They let him keep it. Finding nothing else of value except some alchemical reagents (which they pocket), they head back down the stairs and un-barricade the lower door.

They find a steep staircase decending. They follow the stairs down to the first landing and a door, which they decide to leave closed for the moment. They continue down to the second landing and are blocked by another door with a similar magical/mechanical lock to the one they found above. They defeat the lock and enter to find an extensive library with books lining the walls, more bookshelves in rows on the floor, a reading table, and a second level above with a catwalk along the walls.

"Welcome masters," a voice echoes from the catwalk above. "It has been some time since you last visited the library." The voice reveals itself - apparently the Lightcallers had an imp as a librarian! The party is unsuccessful in convincing the imp that they are authorized to be in the library and the infernal creature calls up the defenses. A mass of feather quills rises from the reading table and takes a humanoid form. The imp directs the battle from above, creating animated book-golem minions to try to smash the party while the quill devil stabs with its sharp poisoned nibs.

The imp was straight from the monster manual, with a minor action ability to summon two minions added. The quill devil was a reskinned spinagon (spine devil). The book-golems were reskinned Infernal Armor Animus.

The adventurers leap into battle, smashing apart animated piles of books. One of the minions pushes hard on the free-standing bookcases, toppling them over on Luccio. The rogue is crushed beneath the fallen mass, but uses his new cloak to teleport away, landing prone on the catwalk above. The Fantastic Phoenixfire also bypasses the spiral staircase, performing an arcane teleport to pursue the imp. While Malik fires arrows and Fyodora delivers bone-shattering kicks to the face to the monsters below, Luccio and Phoenixfire try to corner the minion-summoning imp above, who keeps winking out of sight with an invisibility power. Finally, they destroy the quill devil and take down the cowardly imp (though not without Phoenixfire setting some of the books aflame with her fiery breath), and the remaining book-minions fall to the ground.

An inspection of the room does not reveal any books of immediate interest, but does reveal a secret door behid a sliding bookcase. The door leads to an office-like room, where the party finds a journal covering the years around the last orc invasion. Apparently, a mage named Azeron, along with the 4 leading families of Silver Hollow in the day, created a magical crystal that sent a searing light from atop the walls of the city, incinerating the orc horde as it charged the gates. After this, the crystal was split into five shards, with one given to each family and one to the mage, now known as Azeron Lightcaller. They get the impression that the Lightcaller shard was hidden in the house, but didn't find any sign of it in the library or tower. The party relocks the library door and rests for the night.

After their rest, the adventurers head back up the stairs to the first landing and open the small door that they passed. It reveals a room with a well; no bucket is in evidence, but a rope is tied to a piton jammed in the floor and leads down the well. Luccio climbs carefully down the rope to find that it has snapped off partway down; he ties a rope from his pack to the end of the existing line and decends to the mostly-dry floor of the disused well. When he finds no obvious threat, the rest of the party follow. They pass two rotted corpses with thieves' tools and climbing gear - it looks like they were trying to climb down the well and their rope broke, plummeting them to their deaths. Ahead, the tunnel drops 15 feet into a widened cave room. They see two enormous beetles below, digging through the rock and dirt. Fyodora and Luccio, being acrobatic, jump down and rush the beasts while Malik and Phoenixfire decide to fire from above. The two beetles rush to attack the two below, and another bug joins in - a giant centipede. Luccio takes a vicious bite from the centipede's poisoned mandibles, but they seem to have the fight well in hand, until the two thieves' corpses rise and attack the adventurer's above!

The battle ends with the party alive and their enemies dead, though it is a close thing - Malik uses his inspiring leadership to keep them fighting through their wounds, but Luccio nearly succumbs to the poison of the centipede, Fyodora takes hard hits from the beetles, and the corrupted flesh of the undead hammers into Malik and Phoenixfire. After resting up, the other two decend carefully down, and they peer into the next room, where they see a wide fetid pond and a large mud statue of a frog, lit by a red glowing crystal held in its hands...

Thus ends session 1. It went pretty well! The fights and enemies were interesting, and the players got to explore where they wanted to. It was getting late so we decided to put off any further delving until the next session.

3000 Point Empire Army on eBay

I will probably be doing this when I take pictures of something for eBay... It's a SHAMELESS plug for the item up for bid. I am guilty as charged. The 3000 point Empire army for Warhammer isn't my army - but I did take pictures of it so this person could put it up for auction. He was even nice enough to put a link to my portfolio at the bottom of the page. :-)

Defense at Silver Hollow - World Map

I created the original map in Campaign Cartographer, and then 'traced' it in Hexographer. I think this works much better than trying to draw landmasses and stuff directly into Hexographer. The scale is 12.5 miles/hex, meaning that foot travel on open land is 2 hexes/day, while on horse is 4/day.

Wear Them Proudly...

It is no secret to our Saturday night gaming group that I really want a "Yes, they ARE natural" shirt (once I have lost all of my baby weight from last October).
In the meantime, TJP (GamerDad1.0) and I have had opportunities to attend PAX, a JoCo and Paul and Storm concert and W00tsock. I will have a couple of other related posts in the near future regarding these events. I thought I would share with you a couple of shirts you will not find in stores...
Before attending PAX in September of 2009, TJP made a shirt. A shirt for his 8-month-pregnant wife to wear to PAX so she would still feel like a geek...
@Timsmartini Twittered about making this shirt and included @pvponline (Scott Kurtz) since one of his characters was quoted. Scott Kurtz shared the shirt with his followers. When we went to PAX, we were able to get Scott Kurtz to autograph the shirt and I got my picture taken with him (boo-ya!)(FYI Scratch Fury is one of my favorite cartoon characters EVER!)
Fast forward to Mother's Day weekend 2010; w00tstock 2.1 at the Aladdin Theater in Portland. After listening to the Penny Arcade podcasts that included @wilw, TJP created a shirt in honor of Wil Wheaton's fallen character.
When the nearly FIVE HOUR show wrapped up, we were able to stand in line for autographs. Wil Wheaton not only autographed the shirt - he twitpic'd it.
My husband is a geek. I love my geek. I wear his geeky creations proudly as a badge of honor that I too am a geek. One day I will be able to share with the PDX/'Couver geeks that they are natural. I will wear the message proudly on my +2 Mountainous Knockers :-)
(Pictured: Adam Savage, TJP, and Wil Wheaton)

Defense at Silver Hollow - Pregame

After a hiatus, we got back into Dungeons & Dragons. We started over with yet another campaign (I know!), but based on the last setting in Silver Hollow, combined with the more epic storyline from the previous Master of the Dead campaign. I know the players probably didn't want to start over, but Master of the Dead suffered pretty hard from my newbie dm railroad, while the Silver Hollow/Exotic Meat Procurement campaign didn't have enough of a story to keep the players interested. We have played a few session on this new campaign and I think it's going to last through the end. The goals for this campaign:

  • Starting at level 4 (players are tired of starting at 1, again).
  • Epic storyline with meaningful choices.
  • Mix of combat and social interaction.
  • Travel with dungeon, urban, and wilderness combat.
  • Flexible enough to allow players to come and go.

The player characters start out in the walled city of Silver Hollow, meeting up for drinks and remenicence on the fourth anniversary of a heroic delivery of medicines to cure a horrible plague.

Starting players:

  • Malik al-Magriba (Nick), Shifter Warlord. A bow-wielding cat-man from the shifter Caliphate in the deserts to the east.
  • The Fantastic Phoenixfire (Cathe), Dragonborn Sorcerer. A mysterious circus performer from parts unknown.
  • Fyodora (Lisa), Elf Monk. A master of mind and body from the icy north.
  • Luccio Rossi (Adam), Drow Rogue. A former privateer from the City-States to the south-west.