Dominium

In Dominium City
Session 20: The Belly of the Serpent

Keeping to the sewers to avoid Romulus the assassin, the party soon wanders into the tribal territory of the Blackworm goblins. Many of this tribe also serve the Vandals above, but below they are notable for their cult, devoted to the Blackworm of Hammers, a black dragon.

The tunnel opens into a cavernous chamber with three great pools linked by channels of sewage. In two locations ladders lead up to barracks that have been formed out of the tunnels leading in, each about ten feet above the floor of the chamber. A raised dock-like structure extends into the room, about ten feet above the floor.

Around the corner from the entrance stands a massive, 20-foot statue of a dragon of tarnished bronze, an artifact of the era of the Blackfriar. A ring of goblin runes ten feet across is inscribed in the stone around the base of the statue.

“For the serpent we train, by his mercy we live, unto the blackworm we come.”

Ximenes, the leader of the Blackworm goblins captures Mazzy and Ptolemaeus and the party is forced to battle the goblins to free them. The goblins, overwhelmed by the furious rescue attempt, resort to summoning the Blackworm itself. Gathering their captured comrades, they flee the warren and the wrath of the Blackworm.

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In Dominium City
Session 19: Mistress Sauna's Pies

“Say friend, could you spare a coin for a poor man who’d like a drink and one of Mistress Sauna’s pies over at the Jewel?”

So says Kiosk, a messenger for House Kerameikos, posing as a beggar as he flashes the sigil of the House to the party to arrange a meeting at the nearby Crown Jewel, operated by the infamous Mistress Sauna. Lady Alekto awaits, and wishes to tell them of some of the events that have transpired in their absence from Dockside.

  • There is a note to Slide from Ciro (which Slide must ask Randoon to read, as he cannot)
Slide,
The boys have gotten themselves into another spot of trouble. Rumor is that a death dealer has been seen Dockside. They went off to investigate. Now Rohjee and Avel are missing. A few folk among the halfling even say that once you were a death dealer. I don’t believe them. Cordroy is looking for the boys, but that leaves the Jellyfish unprotected. I trusted the Kerameikos folk to get this message to you. I hope that was the right thing to do?
Love,
Ciro
  • House Kerameikos has purchased the warehouse Slide was using
  • Another House, perhaps Monastiraki — entertainers and artisans, diviners and illusionists, has taken an interest in Dockside.
  • Kerameikos will not intervene directly on behalf of the party, but their interests coincide at the moment

Meanwhile, a security team from House Thission (their sigil, a crossed pick and shovel behind a jewel with an eye in it) is sweeping the sewers near the Citadel gate based on the recent activation of the magical gate below. They have been given a description of the party, and so are able to arrange an attempted ambush.

Andreus, a not-very-wise wizard-chemist in the employ of House Thission vainly attempts to surround and disable the party. In the melee, Slide the halfling falls at one point, but is revived by Shadow’s application of a healing potion. Randoon intimidates Andreus, the last man standing of his squad, into a tearful surrender. The wizard reveals what he little he knows, and quickly turns his coat at Slide’s application of gold coin. He agrees to act on the party’s behalf since it seems they are more free with coin than his former employer. And all he really wants out of life is a small house to call his own…

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In Tolaria
Session 36: Death in the Forest

The party has agreed to help Arlecchino and departs for the nearby village of Tuono Albero to board a boat and thus journey swiftly down the river Inverno to the city of Tolar. En route they are attacked by undead and another of the Red Wizards.

After driving off the attackers, they approach the riverside village under cover of darkness and with caution. They discover that the village has apparently been attacked, and some survivors appear to be bound as captives in one of the river huts among the swampy pools that line this portion of the river.

While they stealthily approach the hut to confirm their suspicions, there is the distinct sensation that they are being watched. Will-o-wisps dance over the fens. There is a scream from the hut. A rotted plank is torn from the window to reveal several bound figures wrapped in burlap upon the floor.

Just then the sensation of being watched is replaced by the unmistakeable knowledge that someone, or something, is standing right behind…

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In Dominium City
Session 18: Love to Eat Them Ratties!

“Love to eat them ratties.
Ratties what I love to eat.
Bite they little heads off,
and nibble on they tiny feet!”

So sings Burly, the troll guardian of the magic gate to the Citadel quarter of Dominium City. The gate, hidden in a sewer complex beneath the true gate to the quarter, is further warded by a riddle-key. The party convinces Burly that they are a gate maintenance team, there to ensure that all is well. Burly is as suspicious as his limited intelligence allows. However, he is distracted by Slide’s mouth-watering tales of “cows”. Apparently the “cow” is a giant rat of some sort. A feast fit for a troll king! Slide has promised to deliver a “cow” to Burly and so the troll allows the interlopers access to the gate, a huge wooden door engraved with runes and symbols dominating an island in the sewage. The runes on the door say:

The aegis wards the aperture
It serves to plug the breach
And lo, am I not secure?
A new key is forged
From the common two
That each shares with the unknown.
A mighty force of nature.

Some of the words have been outlined with door symbols, and the party uses these clues to decipher the word needed to open the portal. On the other side, beneath the Citadel quarter of the city, they meet Hurly, the larger but equally intellectually-challenged brother of Burly.

Negotiations resume. Cows are discussed. Passage is secured. But at what price? Will Slide really be able to bring two cows to the trolls in the sewers? They return to the surface, secure in the belief that they’ve eluded the assassin Romulus. They take refuge at an inn, the Cross and Rose, where the innkeeper Burnaby and Gandy the halfling make them comfortable and provide much-needed bathing supplies. Later, at the shrine of Boldrei known as Faith’s Shield, on Weaver Street, they get directions from Initiate Dyllis to the Akademeia Zau-Sais (tsow saw-ease), where the noted scholar Claudius Ptolemaeus may be found. They hope to convince him to return with them to the Shrine of Ioun and to rid the place of the taint from the Far Realm that threatens it.

At the Akademeia the party is aided by Aeris, the secretary, who directs them to Rune Hall, and the office of Ptolemaeus. The scholar, who is a friend of Elysia of the Shrine of Ioun, agrees to travel with the party back to the Shrine. And so the perilous journey is resumed. The eyes of the Protectorate watch, as do others. With good, or ill intent? Only time will tell…

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In Tolaria
Session 35: At the Dread Ring

A roaring, burning force bears down upon you just as the details of Witchhenge begin to emerge from the hazy space between the worlds. The standing stones and the great tree flicker and vanish in time with a massive detonation, and you feel yourselves cast away, hurtling along a ley line to an unknown destination.

The party arrives at the Dread Ring (Terrore Anello in the language of Tolaria). It is a locus, a waystation along the ley lines that criss-cross the archipelago of the Dominium, like the similar circle of standing stones at Witchhenge.

At the Dread Ring the party meets Arlecchino, an apprentice of the Fraternità del Azzurro in Tolaria. He and his master, “Il Dottore”, or Dr. Bartolome, and Bartolome’s mercenary bodyguard Brighella had journeyed to the Dread Ring to recover a fallen Tear of Selûne—three such gemstones have fallen from the sky as shooting stars—apparently shed by the goddess in despair at the sight of the conflict in the Middle Kingdoms, particularly the strife between the Arcanum Sanguineus (the Red Wizards, or “Flayers”) and the Fraternità del Azzurro (the Brotherhood of the Blue, or “Azzurri”) of the Confederazione di Tolari. The doctor’s research had narrowed the impact site to this locale, and the Azzurri were in some haste to recover it.

Arlecchino has recovered the Tear, but lacks the resources to escape the undead-haunted wilderness. Arlecchino is desperate, and beseeches the party to help him return safely to the city. He knows the Tear is vital to the Azzurri, but fears to reveal it to anyone, lest they be “Flayers” in disguise.

As the party negotiates with Arlecchino they are attacked by a Flayer, his gnome henchman, and their undead minions. The party bravely dispatches the foul crew. Akron blinds the gnome and the Flayer with glittering dust, and his martial allies finish the task with murderous efficiency.

Now, will they accept Arlecchino’s story and journey to the nearby village of Tuono Albero to board a boat and thus journey swiftly down the river Inverno to the city of Tolar? Or will they set out on some other course, perhaps taking the precious Tear of Selûne as a prize?

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In Dominium City
Session 17: The Jester's Visit

Xandros the innkeeper of the Slovenly Imp is a gruff, bald older man with a hammer and anvil tattoo adorning the left side of his head (put there when he was an apprentice to remind him that the master would hammer on him until he “rang true”) who is always wiping clay tankards or plates with a greasy cloth, ready to hurl them at anyone who gets out of hand. He and Cyclops worked together at a nearby forge, and have retired to innkeeping and “entertaining”.

Cyclops is a 3-card monty dealer. His patched eye, burn-scarred skin, and missing fingers attest to hard labor in the local forges. His cards are the Raven Queen, the Queen of Keys (Boldrei), and the Phoenix Queen (Jovas, or Iolar to the elves. She is a symbol of nature’s renewal).

The party have wrung the details from the unfortunate Cookie of Romulus’s intended ambush. As part of the plot, the goblin reporter Mazzy has been snatched by the hobgoblins who have fled into the sewers. The party hires Cyclops to help, but the old veteran has said he’ll only fight the assassin’s hobgoblin minions, not the legend himself. A ranger named Wren also agrees to help out. Cookie is tied to a table and whimpers plaintively.

A “noble” couple enters the bar and orders up some drinks. Shortly thereafter a poor jester enters and vainly attempts to entertain the suspicious patrons. When his jokes fail, he reveals himself as the assassin. In the battle that follows, he uses his jester’s “wand” to explosive effect, and punishes the party while avoiding all attempts to hit him. Cyclops flees. Eventually the party realizes their danger and arranges a distraction to cover their own flight.

They flee into the sewers, pursuing the hobgoblins who have snatched Mazzy. There they find an ancient kraken, and a tough band of hobgoblins that fight viciously to keep their little goblin prize. In the end the party is victorious, and decide to keep to the sewers in order to pass secretly into the Citadel quarter of the city…

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In the Faewild
Session 34: To Hunt the Hunters

The Autumn Nymph and her sentinel have been defeated. Bálványos the steward indicates that Mernye, the wounded elder of House Darány, wishes to speak to the party. In the distance, the horns and hounds of the Hunt are calling again.

“I hoped the wood would offer us refuge from the Hunt, but ‘the wood watches over it’s own.’ Perhaps the Lady Jovas has some other purpose in mind for us. By the mark you bear and the sense of spiritlessness I sense in you, I would guess that you are resurrects. The gods sometimes play this card in their games against one another. You have a choice before you, when we reach the Henge. Go forward, along the path that Jovas directs and to whatever purpose she set you. Or, go back. Find the place where your corpses molder, and perhaps a clue as to why you were chosen.”

Mernye will say little else. She is preserving her strength for the ritual at the Henge gate. However, she says the party can make the choice of their destination by willing it as they pass the gate. She will not reveal where the refugees intend to go.

Suddenly there is another eladrin in the party. Tall, with black hair and eyes, and bronzed skin. Clad in a cloak that seems to flicker with changing patterns of sunlight through the leaves, and simple home-spun traveling gear, with a dagger visible at his hip.

“I am Plížit se (plizhets eye) of Ztracený (shtrah-tzuhnee). You are in danger, the Wild Hunt is close.”

“The Lost Village” of Ztracený is a classic Faewild folktale that has retained its appeal for hundreds of years. The story opens in a town plagued by bandits and war. Into this troubled place wanders a sympathetic traveler, who offers to hide the community from its enemies. Beleaguered and desperate to survive, the villagers embrace his offer.

As the stranger weaves a mighty spell, one of the farmers remembers an ancient proverb: “Beware the gifts of the Traveler.” He tries to stop the ritual, but he is too late. The Traveler is as good as his word: From that day to this, no enemy has found the village—nor has anyone else.

The name of the village is lost to time, and most people refer to it simply as “Ztracený”, or Lost. According to the story, every misplaced thing is drawn to this mysterious destination; hence, when a child’s toy goes missing, a Faewild mother might say, “At least it’s bringing joy to Ztracený.”

Plížit se offers to hide them for a time in the village. He assures them that the Hunt will not find Ztracený.

Čepel (chuh pell), one of the elders of Ztracený says that their ancestors came to the Faewild from across the sea, fleeing slavery in Atlantis and the apocalypse that engulfed it. During this time of upheaval, the Traveler visited them in the form of one of their own. With a word, he turned the trees into houses; with a gesture, he hid the village from prying eyes.

In exchange, the people of Ztracený swore an oath of service to the Traveler. To fulfill that oath, they have revealed the secrets of noble houses to rivals in other houses; stolen royal treasures and placed them in the hands of would-be usurpers; freed prisoners and exposed fugitives. Despite that reputation, the villagers shelter the party for the night, and give them guidance towards the Henge once their journey resumes.

In the morning, the village is gone, faded into the Faewild. Bolstered by the respite provided by the villagers, the party decides to ambush the pursuing Hunt. They find suitable terrain at Whispering Brook. There they defeat the giant Sláine (Slawn-yeh), an ogre named Dim, and their Hyena Spirit minions.

At the Henge, Mernye conducts the ritual, and the party passes through the Henge Gate, much as they did when they first arrived in the world from their lost homelands…

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In Dominium City
Session 16: Streetfall!

The party is traveling through the Hammers district, to Hammerfast Cross, the most likely place for shelter for the night. The area is made up of forges, carpentry shops, glassworks, and other “industrial” storefronts. Wagons laden with raw ore, wood and charcoal for the forges and kilns, sand for the glaziers, and other materials abound. The din and reek of the area is impressive.

“Oh, by Vulcan’s arse, it’s ‘nother street fall! Third this past ten-day! Who’ll fetch ol’ Quim from the pit?”

Suddenly the party’s progress is interrupted by a great crowd gathered about a sinkhole, known locally as a street fall. A fair portion of the street has subsided, pulling an unfortunate driver, wagon, and valuable cargo into the collapsed sewers and tunnels below. Naturally, the party sees an opportunity for profit and agrees to “rescue” the cargo (oh, and the driver too) for a fee.

A goblin “reporter” named Mazzy (Saffron’s character) pitches in on the effort. Steam elementals and some kind of clockwork repair creatures buzz about the pit, making it hazardous work. To make matters worse, the facade of the foundry looks like it’s about to pitch into the pit, atop the rescuers and the trapped driver. Fortunately the heroic efforts of the party see the job done before the facade topples. Quim is rescued, and the day is saved.

“Come down here. I’m outdoors, you know. Help me out? Spare coin for some pipeweed? I need ta get loose, you know? All I got to my name is my gravestone. Already planted at the Hammers’ cemetery. I don’t mind dyin’.”

Further along, the party (now joined by the curious Mazzy) is met by Goodman Thoreau, a vagabond in a long, battered leather duster, snakeskin boots and holding a pipe in his teeth. He smells of alcohol, sweat, and devilweed. He talks them out of a drink, and some company. Slide does his level best to reform the man.

Finally, as evening approaches, the party make their way to Hammerfast Cross, a muddy crossroads dominated by a pair of stone and half-timbered inns, The Diligent Prole and The Slovenly Imp. Here they find a place to rest, and learn that a famous assassin by the name of “Romulus” has been hired to deal with them…

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In the Faewild
Session 33: The Wrath of Autumn

The party elects to trek westwards, avoiding the threatening stony canyons to the south. The eladrin refugees from House Darány they are escorting (6 male, 4 female) are clad in simple, unadorned travel clothing. A few of the refugees are burned or wounded, and none of them has a very substantial kit of supplies or weapons.

The refugees are:
Bálványos (bail-vain-yos; M) Eladrin with braided white hair and arm in a rough sling. House Steward and spokesman for the group.

Bélavár (bull-uh-vair; M) Young eladrin with singed-blonde hair. His burned sword hand is wrapped in a crude bandage and salved against infection.

Ecseny (eshu-nee; F) Maid to Várda. Singed-blonde hair and blistered hands and forearms.

Kánya (kain-yah; F) Black-haired and black-garbed Nurse to the infant, Shadow. Fiercely protective.

Mernye (F) Eladrin white-haired witch in the employ of House Darány. Suffered a sword wound to her abdomen, which is bound, but pains her greatly.

Nikla (M) Young white-haired son of Mernye. Stays close by her side, holding her arm protectively.

Őrtilos (oer-ti-losh; M) Young eladrin with black hair. Well armed with a collection of elaborate (ornamental) weapons that were found to be uselessly dull or fragile.

Somodor (M) Young eladrin child with black hair. Son of Kánya. Frightened, but determined to protect his mother.

Taszár (ta-zhair; M) Young eladrin with dark hair bound with copper dragon clasp. Twin to Várda. Haughty and quiet. Meaningful, commanding glances often directed at Bálványos.

Várda (vair-da; F) Young eladrin with dark hair bound with silver dragon clasp. Twin to Taszár. Burned cheek and arm, with some salve applied. Limping.

They enter a region of wilder groves and unsettled lands. The refugees know this to be wilderness, but also know the forest hates the wild hunt, and may provide some shelter from the Witch Queen’s army.

As the party passes through this wilderness they hear whispers and feel the presence of the sentient forest. The whispers urge them to follow certain paths, and they see that these paths appear to be clearer, and more well-traveled. While others appear to be blocked by tangles of briars and vines.

When asked about it, Bálványos, the house steward and apparent spokesman for the refugees, shrugs and says, “The wood watches over it’s own.” Mernye, the white-haired witch offers that the humans are perhaps hearing the voice of the Autumn Nymph, which is “Best left unheeded.”

As the party sought a campsite for the night, the menacing forest spirits turned actively hostile, and the party was forced to fight off several towering cyclones of sticks, leaves, rocks and dirt that whispered charms at the defenders and lured them into painful traps. The battle with the sentinels of the Faewild was brief and bloody, but none of the refugees were harmed.

In the distance, the howling of hounds could be heard. Perhaps the fight had been overheard by the distant hunters in the employ of the Witch Queen?

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In Dominium City
Session 15: Aberrations, Politicians, and Innkeepers, oh my!

Cordroy, Slide, Randoon and Shadow busy themselves gathering the last of the unearthly crystals that Elysia requested. Escaping from the Inverted Tower of the Order of the Starry Night means confronting a final gantlet of carrion crawlers, lobster-faced tentacle-armed “halflings”, and flying “kites” of undead flesh.

In the battle of the columned hall, Slide stumbles and is carried off, howling his defiance, by a carrion crawler. Cordroy disrupts the aberrant lobsterlings’ attempts to ensnare him by smashing them bodily against the caryatid columns until they burst. Randoon is knocked down by the fleeing carrion crawler, but scrambles into a dark corner and unleashes a salvo of icy blasts at the skin kites. Slide’s shouts abruptly cease. The crawler scrambles back into the room and snatches Shadow this time. The eladrin is tucked into a crevice in the crawler’s lair and battered unconscious.

Randoon and Cordroy finish off the lobsterlings and skin kites and race to the rescue of their comrades. Fortunately for the duo Shadow had gotten in a few vicious blows on the crawler before succumbing to the beast, softening it up for the goliath and the warlock. They kill the beast and kneel beside their fallen friends, frantically plying them with healing potions. Once they are revived enough to stand, the heroes flee the Inverted Tower to deliver the much-needed crystals to the Shrine of Ioun above.

Elysia and Barnabas synthesize an antidote to the amber fever that has infected the disciples of Ioun and the Protectorate soldiers sent to secure the shrine. Elysia confesses to the party that she is overmatched by the threat from the Far Realm that the Inverted Tower seems to represent, yet she wishes to avoid the Protectorate’s threatened usurpation of the Shrine. Staying independent of church politics is almost as important to her as the saving her flock from the emerging aberrations. She begs the party to seek help from the scholar Claudius Ptolemaeus of the Akademeia Zau-Sais in the northwestern quarter of the city. Shadow recognizes the name from an earlier encounter on the Embankment Bridge that involved an attempted mugging by the Shades of Typhon agent named Edge. Ptolemaeus was the victim, and the book he carried was used by Alekto Kerameikos to help the party find the Blackfriar’s hidden crypt beneath the Goblin Market.

The party agrees to seek out Ptolemaeus in return for a supply of healing potions to be delivered to the Jaundiced Jellyfish.

Father Darius of the Erathian Cathedral asks the party for details of the aberrant threat in the Inverted Tower. He provides some background information on the Order of the Starry Night, the Far Realm, and the potential threat, in particular about a “vaeyen” called the Green Moon. He refers to an inscription seen in the Inverted Tower, and in the writings of the Order of the Starry Night:

The Sleeper is the herald. His dreams call to That Which Waits Beyond the Stars. When the Sleeper is awoken, He will dream again.

Father Darius offers to perform a “simple” and “harmless” ritual on Shadow and Randoon to draw out further details on their experiences that they may have perceived, but have trouble recalling due to the trauma of their experience. The two respectfully decline.

On the journey back to the Jellyfish, Shadow spots Cookie, a former employee of his Blackbird master, the Dodger. Cookie appears to be inexpertly shadowing the party. Back at the Jellyfish they are met by Demetrios, a courier from the House of Kerameikos. He acknowledges the receipt of Shadow’s persuasive letter, and says the Lady Alekto has agreed to meet with the party in the morning at the Sands End Gasworks Tavern.

Ciro, the halfling maid at the Jellyfish speaks to Slide about some private matter. He keeps the business to himself. The next morning, somewhat refreshed, the party sets off for Daylain’s shop, the Wonders of the Fae. On the way they chat with Cubit, the ferryman, who passes along the rumor that the Blackbirds are in disarray, and eagerly seeking Slide and Shadow as scapegoats. Shadow plies him with coins to communicate to the guild that the two rogues don’t intend to oppose the guild, and are willing to work with them, if not for them.

At Daylain’s shop the party sells a few of the items they acquired in the Inverted Tower. The eladrin provides some background information on the Order of the Starry Night and the “vaeyen” called the Green Moon. It is, apparently, a phylactery or repository for the soul of a powerful mage. Such a phylactery grants the mage’s material form a kind of immortality, but at great cost. He explains a bit about the “Sleeper” reference, and that the “Sleeper” may refer to the vaeyen, the Green Moon.

On the road westwards through the city, the party again encounters Cookie. This time he appears to be working with Grint Venitari, once an ally of Slide. Slide and Shadow ambush the two “shadows” and wring confessions and promises from them. They agree to pass the word up to Hilt, the head of the Blackbirds, that Slide and Shadow’s plans are intended to complement those of the Blackbirds rather than compete with them. The party rogues offer vague promises of tribute to their former guild.

The party then meets with Lady Alekto Kerameikos at the Sands End Gasworks. She acknowledges the party’s virtue based on their past service to her House, but is reluctant to take sides in the struggle between the Terminus thieves’ guilds: the Vandals, the Shades of Typhon, and the Blackbirds. She agrees to present the party’s proposal that House Kerameikos invest in some Dockside warehouses in support of their efforts to wrest control of the neighborhood from the corruption of the Shades of Typhon.

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