Dominium

In Dominium City
Session 4: Double Dealing

Having escaped the ruins of the Inverted Tower of Falco Aesalon, the party is once again in the sewers beneath the Archos district of Dominium City. Just as daylight beckons they are confronted by a doppelganger posing as a fallen invalid, more flying sheets of aberrant undead flesh, and a submerged gelatinous cube. After a tricky fight, which saw Cordroy the goliath engulfed by the cube several times, the party wins free.

Once free the party heads for Daylain’s shop, the Wonders of the Fey, where Shadow’s ally can help identify the treasures they’ve won from the Inverted Tower. They then concoct a plan to sell the Rod of the Hidden Star and the contained Revelations of Melech to Elysia of the Shrine of Ioun, as they suspect Vanargen’s motivations. However, they plan a double-cross hand-off to Vanargen so that they will be able to collect both the fee he offered for their services, and the reward offered by Elysia.

Slide hires a halfling errand runner named Callous, an employee of Ah’nika Tupelo’s “boarding house” across the square from Daylain’s shop to alert Elysia and Vanargen about the timing of their meeting.

The meeting the next day at the Jaundiced Jellyfish proceeds according to the party’s careful choreography. Vanargen however turns out to be a formidable opponent. Elysia’s timely healing helps the party win out, and it is proved once again that the best way to deal with a spellcaster is to get up close and personal with some sharp steel.

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In Voltai
Session 20: Trouble at Fort Moradin

The Dwarves of Soulscale Forge have a problem at their border keep, Fort Moradin. Patrols have been sent out from the fort and have failed to returned, having apparently been ambushed.

One such patrol, led by a Dwarven soldier named Dhatri, has so far avoided the ambush. However, Dhatri suspects that the commander of Fort Moradin may be involved somehow, and he enlists the help of the party to learn what the real situation is at the fort.

Fort Moradin stands on the border between Kajaan, and the Dwarven nation of Voltai. On the road through the foothills of the mountains of Voltai, the party meets a merchant caravan associated with Mathonwy’s Merchant Company in Rauma. The merchant tells of some odd tensions at the fort, and suspicious activity. The commander of the fort has not been seen for days, and his Lieutenant is running the fort in his absence.

The small collection of outbuildings along the road are sealed up, and there is little sign of activity. Fort Moradin is built into a cliff face and guards a narrow canyon-pass leading into Voltai. A merchant shouts from a cracked warehouse door that the party is not welcome here. Finally they are able to contact a young shopkeeper who explains that the garrison at the fort has been depleted and it is rumored that a witch is haunting the place, prophesying doom. The party are urged to talk to the herbalist at the fort, who may know more, as he has treated a few of the ambush survivors, including a young woman who survived a caravan ambush.

The few guards at the fort are wary of the party, but finally yield to their wiles. The herbalist is very nervous when questioned, but finally reveals that the commander of the fort is, in fact, hidden within the apothecary suite.

Opening doors reveals that Kitmun Darkhelm, the commander, is being held in thrall by a witch-like being disguised as the young ambush victim. She is accompanied by a party of small, cloaked figures who flit through the shadows throwing knives as they do. The party vanquishes the witch and her minions, and frees the commander from her spell.

Darkhelm reveals a secret passage that the witch had used to access the fort from caves within the mountain. He urges the party to clear the tunnels while he re-establishes his authority in the fort, dealing with the wayward lieutenant.

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In Dominium City
Session 3: Beneath the Streets

At the Shrine of Ioun, the party negotiates with Elysia, an official of the shrine, to pay their respects at the Aesalon family crypt. Elysia seems well aware that the party intends to use the secret entrance to the sewers that the crypt conceals as part of a quest for the dangerous Revelations of Melech. She urges them to deliver the Revelations to her, and hints that she will pay more than Vanargen offered, and that he may not be as trustworthy as he seems. She suggests that the Order of the Starry Night are a corrupt cabal of sorcerers intent on contacting the Far Realm for nefarious purposes.

In the sewers below the crypt the party confronts some aberrant lobster-headed halflings. The vile creatures are defeated despite the odd mind-scrambling traps they have prepared in the dark waters.

A waterwheel mechanism in a vault plastered with glowing fungus is revealed to be a key to a hidden doorway, and the party gains access to the legendary Inverted Tower itself, the place where Falco Aesalon and the Order of the Starry Night conducted their experiments.

In a side cavern, the party encounters a breeding ground for some aberrant worms, overseen by a dark, tentacle-armed humanoid that flung poisoned blades as it crept from shadow to shadow. Defeating the creatures they recover a set of metal collars and a whistle of the same silvery metal that seems to be psychically linked to the collars.

A collection of black candles is recovered, each engraved with the name of a star rumored to be associated with dark fates and the powers of the Far Realm. And, in a massive circular chamber of sacrifice, amidst the ruins of the machine that Aesalon and the order had constructed for their black magics, the party reads the tale of the quest for the Sleeper.

“Where did He come from? Our dreams. Why did He come? We called. From our sleep came the Sleeper. He opened our dreaming eyes by shutting our waking ones. His defeat was but another sleep and waking Him our dream.”

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

Beyond this disturbing revelation is a pair of massive chambers with blade-like turbines, now stopped. Peering at the party from the opposite landing is a creature with fibrous, hairless skin that spasms as it looks about. It is pale and emaciated with huge milky eyes, and has arms that split at the elbows into two usable limbs, and a brace of ivory-handled knives is arrayed on bandoleers strapped to its torso.

This disturbing creature and some flying sheets of aberrant undead flesh hound them as they try to cross the turbine blades. Glowing crystals in the pit below light the room with a sickening radiance that plucks at the strings of sanity in their heads.

The party wins their way past these horrors and discovers a clutch of something like giant eggs of dead flesh. Amidst the eggs they find the Rod of the Hidden Star and, within it, the Revelations of Melech for which they had been sent.

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In Kajaan
Session 19: The Great Cheese Race

Back in Old Sarum the party finds that an annual rite, a cheese rolling race, is about to commence. The “famous warband” members are invited to participate. The entry fee of 1gp per person is added to the pot of winnings, each contestant is handed a hard wheel of cheese and a stick with which to steer it. The race starts at the top of the hill of Old Sarum, and follows the switchback streets down towards the lake. There are very few rules.

Gunga Din (Randy) grabs the early lead, closely followed by Väinämöinen (Connor). As the crowd of racers rounds the first bend, Bob the Bold (Dennis) is frustrated with one of the local children and so tosses him aside. In retaliation Ysabet, the innkeeper, trips the heavily armored fighter and he clatters to the ground.

Zalumna (Hillary) loses her composure in the pack and attempts to go through some of the slower competitors rather than around them. Ysabet and her sister Heike are in the barbarian woman’s path, and all three tumble to the cobbles in a flurry of limbs and screeched imprecations.

Through the confusion, Damek the Unpleasant (Fritz) is able to steer his cheese unmolested across the finish line first for the victory. Much celebration ensues.

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In Dominium City
Session 2: Hit the Deck!

The party closes in on Captain Flint and what remains of the pirate crew of the Seawolf. The crazed, bomb-tossing pirate and a martial artist with dragon-tooled leather armor are the last to fall and Flint creates a diversion by tossing a handful of gems to the deck, before diving into the dark waters of the Bay of Triumph.

Beatrice the baker (known for her fine buns) is rescued from the dank hold of the Seawolf, and Brim Breethstoke, captain of the Dauntless, the ship held captive by the pirates at the dock, expresses his thanks for the party’s assistance.

Sergeant Nicodemus of the watch arrives to sort out the legal implications of the night’s events and Breethstoke takes the opportunity to lay claim to the Seawolf in reparation for the damage to his ship and business.

The party retreats to the Jaundiced Jellyfish to bandage their wounds and salvage a bit of rest. In the morning, over breakfast and tales of their own daring, they meet Vanargen, the mystical old fortuneteller, who explains that they are just the sort of lads to brave the legendary Inverted Tower of Falco Aesalon, and secure the Revelations of Melech, for which he’s willing to pay handsomely. Sound too good to be true? You’re probably right.

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In Kajaan
Session 18: The Flight of Ajatar

Deep in the troll cave, the party battles a trio of trolls and some eerie flaming corpses as it tries to apprehend Ajatar, the usurper of Kajaan. But Ajatar has invoked a ritual that has opened a dimensional door to a desolate region of rocky cliffs and canyons and flees through the door before the party can cut off his escape.

One of the surviving trolls pleads for mercy, and agrees to help the party past the other tribe members that were standing guard at the cave entrance. The party escapes with their lives, a load of troll loot, and a nagging feeling that they’ll be seeing Ajatar again.

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In Kajaan
Session 17: Meetings in Old Sarum

The party learned that Ajatar had arranged for a meeting with his informants at a cave to the northwest of Old Sarum. A cave that was rumored to be inhabited by trolls.

Journeying there they discovered the rumors were true. A trio of trolls had been set as guards near the entrance of the caves. Some wily words from Wisp (Lisa) convinced them that it would be worthwhile to let the party into the deeper caves to meet with Ajatar.

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In Dominium City
Session 1: Brawling in Dockside

At the Coppers Float tavern in the Archos district of Dominium City, the capitol of the empire, Slide the halfling (Dave) and Shadow the eladrin (Paul) are given their assignment for the day by an unusually cheery Bedros Bedros, the goliath bartender-bouncer on shift. They are charged with checking out a Dockside inn known as the Jaundiced Jellyfish. The boss has apparently targeted it as a possible revenue source for the Blackbirds of Terminus, the organization that employs our heroes.

Down at the Jellyfish (identified by the yellowed wooden triangle from which hang a tangled mass of yellow ropes that hangs over the door), Cordroy the goliath (Noah) has established himself as the security system for Clappet’s humble inn by chasing off a drunken band of orcish pirates with a few well-placed swings of his fists. Randoon, a human who has (like Cordroy) recently arrived in Dominium City from the edges of the empire, has been drawn into the goliath’s orbit. Having decided that the arrangement is beneficial, he has good-naturedly accepted the company of goliath and the hospitality of the inn.

Slide and Shadow arrive and determine that the jovial, but somewhat naive, Cordroy represents the extent of the Inn’s security. His primary skill seems to be annoying the scholarly Vanargen, a fortune-teller of some sort who is studiously lunching in the corner. The security of the place is threatened when the orcish pirate crew of the ship Seawolf arrives to avenge the beating that several of them suffered earlier at the hands of Cordroy.

Cordroy charges out into the street, eager to preserve the inn from damage. Randoon follows, drawing his mace, and worrying that he’s going to regret his choice of companions. Slide and Shadow stealthily follow the others. The gang of pirates, led by Bones, Black Dog and Silver, launch a variety of bolts, bombs and a trident, and then close with the wounded goliath. Slide interrupts the attack with a barrage of knives that turns the tide of the battle. Cordroy, Randoon and Shadow push forward and the rout is on. Only Bones and Silver survive to flee, leaving a blinded Black Dog to the not-so-tender mercies of the newly-formed party.

A plan is formed to finish the business of the pirates by raiding the Seawolf itself down on the docks. It’s made more urgent when the party learns that the fleeing pirates have snatched Beatrice the baker (presumably for her fine buns) from a nearby shop.

Under cover of darkness, the party discovers the Seawolf moored to a second ship, the Dauntless. The pirates are gathered around a brazier on the rain-spattered deck, plotting more revenge. Cordroy leaps aboard, followed by Slide, and the fight is on. In the chaos, a crazed bomb-tossing pirate and a martial artist with dragon-tooled leather armor leap to the attack at the command of Captain Flint, so called for his mighty stone axe. Red-sashed pirates surround Cordroy and pummel him into near-unconsciousness before tossing him overboard. Slide is set afire and tossed overboard as well.

Meanwhile, Shadow and Randoon race around to the gangplank leading to the deck of the Dauntless. Bones grabs the captain of the subdued vessel and attempts to employ him as a shield against Shadow’s sword. Randoon drops Silver on the gangplank and bolts him cursed magics. Shadow cuts over the flustered Captain Brim Breethstoke, and kills Silver.

Lanterns are being lit on neighboring ships, their crews alerted by the sounds of the fight. In the distance a horn call suggests that someone has alerted the city watch to the unrest aboard the two ships. There is a moment of respite as the two sides, pirates and party, regard one another. Standing toe to toe, each bloodied to a varying degree, it remains to be seen who will triumph. Stay tuned.

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In Kajaan
Session 16: Ambush the Ambushers!

Fleeing the ambush set up by Kullervo, Ajatar’s champion, the party races south through the forest. The site of an old rockslide poses a challenge. Opting to cross the slide, several of the party are injured by shifting and falling rocks. The delay allows the pursuit a chance to close with them. After some discussion, Gunga Din (Randy) organizes an ambush for the ambushers. Akron (Ken S) conjures an unseen servant, and orders the phantasm to rustle the bushes along the party’s supposed path of flight. The little gnome, Vamleele (Soleil) is also dispatched to add a vocal component to their deception.

Durian (Robert) stealthily circles behind the pursuit, while Bob the Bold (Dennis), Zalumna (Hillary) and the other party members take up positions amidst a tangled web of trails and shrubbery beyond the rockslide.

The minions of Ajatar warily advance. They are mostly lightly armored archers, but a few heavily armored soldiers form the core of their ranks, including Kullervo, formerly captain of the guard at Kajaani Castle.

The trap is effectively sprung! The archers are rapidly cut down at close quarters. Kullervo proves a sturdy foe, but is eventually swarmed by the party. Durian stealthily attacks from behind with his crossbow. Kullervo’s hired mage, Kallenth nearly turns the tide in favor of the enemy when he unleashes a pulse of force that knocks several of the party members off their feet. Fortunately for the party, so many of the ambushers have succumbed to the ambush that the mage is subdued shortly thereafter and he promptly yields. Liam, one of Kullervo’s shieldmen, seeing that his allies have lost the day, yields as well.

Safe for the moment, and having learned that the deposed regent Ajatar has determined that the party is responsible for his fall from power, and is plotting revenge, the party decides to return to the hamlet of Old Sarum to collect their wages for destroying the minotaur band of Fallen Rock cave.

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In Kajaan
Session 15: Flight Into the Wilds

The party decides to explore the web-filled tunnel underneath the main chambers of Fallen Rock Cavern. Amidst the thick webs, our heroes encounter a pair of man-sized spiders and battle is joined. Poison is injected, and shrugged off, webs entangle, and fangs, swords, and arrows bite deep. Eventually the monsters are vanquished.

The spiders appear to have been guardians of an ancient piece of statuary, long since eroded to the point that it can only be defined as humanoid. Due to its antiquity, it is probably of Sidhe (elven) origin. Probably carved at the time the stone circle of Witchhenge was erected. The statue is adorned with a cleverly-disguised cloak. Unfortunately, disturbing the cloak releases a swarm of tiny blood spiders. A veritable pool of the creatures fills the chamber, nearly overwhelming Gunga Din (Randy). Wisp (Lisa) sets about crushing the things with a bag-gloved hand. Durian (Robert) and Whitey (Ken M) ready a fiery missile in the form of a handy oil flask. Zalumna (Hillary) tosses a splatter of maple syrup into the chamber and effectively distracts part of the spider swarm (who apparently have some ant-like dietary habits.)

Having vanquished the swarm, the party retrieves the cloak and determines it grants some spider-like climbing abilities. They then hasten to depart the cavern complex, having thoroughly looted it, via the north trail back to Old Sarum.

At a bridge over a small ravine, the party is confronted by a foursome in the livery of Kajaani Castle. The group, one blonde-haired leader-type who accuses them of various crimes against the state, a couple of armored toughs, and a staff-bearing older gentleman who has the air of a spellcaster about him, claim that they’ve got a horde of archers hidden in the surrounding forest. They demand that the party surrender. Durian launches into a surprisingly convincing narrative in which he claims that the party has been mistaken for their evil twins, who are no doubt responsible for all the bad things from the previous accusations. The Kajaani is temporarily bewildered by the tale, and so says that a ransom of 500 g.p. should be sufficient. Despite carrying several thousand g.p.’s worth of treasure looted from two successful dungeon explorations, the party makes a great show of turning out empty pockets, and generally scoffing at the idea of paying a ransom.

As often happens when negotiations have failed, a fight breaks out. It turns out the Kajaani leader is not impervious to arrows. It also turns out that the threat about hidden archers is very true. And, to make matters worse, the hidden archers are using goo- and flame-bomb arrows that immobilize or engulf their targets. Seeing that this battle has been arranged to their disadvantage, the party beats a hasty, and well-advised retreat south towards Fallen Rock Cavern.

Will they be pursued through the forest? Will they retreat into the cavern complex, or towards the road to the south? Stay tuned for the next episode in the Middle Kingdoms!

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