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.

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