Dominium

In Kajaan
Session 1: Arrival at Witchhenge

The party arrives mysteriously via an inter-planar gate known as Witchhenge atop the hill of Sidh-dhruim (shee-thru-eem). The standing stones, carved with ancient Sidh (elven) symbols, form a ring atop the hill. Here they meet Mesikämmen (Mead Paw), who was posted here by a local mystic named Brede, in case a band of travelers should appear. Mead Paw explains that beneath the hill is a barrow of the ancient elves.

Mead Paw notes that the members of the party bear the phoenix-mark on their hands, a tattoo-like symbol that suggests a connection to Jovas, the goddess revered by the local populace. He encourages the party to journey with him to the town of Rauma to meet with Brede, who may have some insights into their mysterious appearance and the phoenix mark.

Along the road to Rauma, the party meets a small band of rangers, led by Wixarika, who are beset by goblin-like Forestkith. The party helps repel the Forestkith and learns from Wixarika that the small kingdom in which they’ve found themselves is called Kajaan, and that the king of Kajaan, one Lemminkäinen, is missing. His throne has been occupied by his former vizier, Ajatar.

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In Kajaan
Session 2: In the hamlet of Rauma

The party meets with Brede in the common room/courtyard of the Highwater Inn in Rauma. Brede explains she believes that the phoenix mark the party bears is a sign that they have been sent by the goddess Jovas to unravel the mystery of the missing king of Kajaan. She also explains Mead Paw’s claim that the recent appearance of an old, homeless blindman, known as “Blind Maddy” may be connected to the king’s disappearance.

Mead Paw claims to have seen the vizier Ajatar attack the king with some kind of magical device or jewel, which he then hid. Coincidentally, Brede’s superior at the local temple of Jovas, the priest Blackthorn, received a secret delivery from Ajatar which he hid in the temple. Blackthorn refused to discuss it, and when Brede persisted, he banished her from the temple precincts.

Brede urges the party to investigate the temple and see if they can discover what this secret may be, and if it has any connection to the disappearance of the king. The party journeys to the temple of Jovas, a construct of standing stones, massive trees, and the illusion of a larger tree towering over the temple atop a hill in the nearby forest of Fomar. They find the priest Blackthorn to be courteous, but not very helpful. At the temple they meet Ancasta, a Forestkith disciple of Jovas. They learn from her that the Forestkith that attacked Wixarika and her fellow rangers were probably motivated by their totem, the “Ogre King”.

The party locates the Forestkith camp in the forest, and manages to behead the “Ogre King”. The Forestkith retreat behind their palisade of thorns, apparently disheartened at the fall of their totem.

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In Kajaan
Session 3: In the barrow under Witchhenge

Temporarily abandoning the mystery of the missing king, the party decides that looting the elven barrow beneath Witchhenge will be more profitable. While journeying along the forest road, they encounter members of the mysterious Brotherhood of the Black Swan, a local band of thieves. Local officials and prominent merchants in Rauma seem to regard them as a scourge, while the general populace tolerates them.

A lone boy wandering down the road turns out to be Nezumi, who acts as a scout for the Brotherhood. A pair of powerful-looking fighter-types, one armed with a mighty sword who calls himself “Great Blade”, and the other who bears a notable hammer and is referred to as “The Thunderbolt”, suggest that the Brotherhood is aware of their presence and is prepared to defend their turf. The party and the representatives of the Brotherhood then part as amicably as possible, and go their separate ways.

Upon arriving at the barrow-hill, the party gains access to the shaft/chamber at the core of the hill. Descending, they find an ornate, dragon-head mechanism that turns out to be a trapped door latch. Several of the party members are exposed to a kind of poisonous gas as a result.

Operating the latch reveals two chambers, one full of webs, and the other relatively clear. The party chooses the clear path and is confronted by a host of animated skeletons that they reduce to shards and splinters after a spirited fight. Amongst the items recovered is a magical elven bow and a quiver of magical arrows.

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In Kajaan
Session 4: In the barrow under Witchhenge

Exploring the elven barrow under the hill called “Witchhenge”, the
party pushes open two massive stone doors to find an ornamented chamber
faintly illuminated by patches of phosphorescent mold. Faint sounds and
signs suggest the room might be inhabited. After tossing several coins
(illuminated with “light” spells), the party ventures in to examine the
altar and wall carvings that adorn the room. Traces of mold, tracked
across the floor, reveal that the room was recently occupied, but no
longer.

Durian (Robert) experiments with a familiar design carved in the
floor in front of a relief of a royal-looking pair of elves. Damek the
Unpleasant (Fritz) impetuously tramples on the design and promptly
vanishes. Akron (Ken S) bravely follows the vanished Damek, but the
rest of the party decides to turn their attention to other things. The
altar attracts everyone’s attention, and it is revealed that the top of
the altar appears to be removable. Unfortunately, it is also revealed
that the top of the altar is trapped. Several party members take damage
from flying darts. Various treasures are found within the altar: gems,
golden housewares, a dragon-adorned dagger, and a bag of elvish coins.

Meanwhile, a secret door has been revealed. After Väinämöinen
(Connor) secures the other exit from the room, the party passes through
the secret door into a chamber with three sarcophagi. The last
sarcophagus holds a vicious undead creature that drains Gunga Din
(Randy) and Väinämöinen of some of their life-energy. Despite that, the
party manages to re-kill the thing. In the grave-wrappings within the
sarcophagus, they find a polished sun-shield.

Pushing further into the labyrinth, the party faces off against a
band of zombies. Unbeknownst to them, Akron and Damek have faced off
their own zombie band, and are even now exploring a separate section of
the dungeon.

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In Kajaan
Session 5: In the barrow under Witchhenge

After a Wight drains Gunga Din (Randy) and Väinämöinen (Connor) of some of their life-energy, the party retreats to the village of Rauma where Brede the Cleric is able to restore their vitality.

The party then returns to the elven barrow under the hill called “Witchhenge” to finish looting the tombs. After exploring several looted crypts they discover a chamber with four pools fed by fountains of green marble sculpted to resemble mermaids. Akron (Ken S) determines that the water itself has some magical properties (it turns out to be holy water) and that the fountains have a stronger magic to them. The party collects the water, and decides not to meddle with the fountains themselves.

The next chamber contains two mysterious dragon sconces that are revealed to be trapped. A pressure plate in the center of the room is triggered and a fiery blast ensues. Healing magic is copiously applied. It is determined that the triggering of the trap exhausted its resources, and so it poses no further threat.

Beyond this room is a long chamber lined with stall-like alcoves. Each contains a skeletal guard in rotted leather armor embossed with the now-familiar triangle-eye sigil. They are armed with leaf-bladed spears. A brief combat ensues, and the skeletons are reduced to their components, and then systematically looted of any valuables. A masterwork dagger with a winged hilt guard, and a lapis lazuli marble set in the pommel is the highlight.

Searching through the rooms beyond reveals some burned remains, another room of stall-like alcoves, unoccupied this time, and a chamber with the mysterious triangle-eye sigil engraved on the floor. The party then discovers a maze of twisting corridors which Gunga Din determines to be trapped with pressure plates and hidden crossbow arrays. More healing magic is applied.

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In Kajaan
Session 6: In the barrow under Witchhenge

The party continues to loot the elven barrow under the hill called “Witchhenge”. Opening another massive set of stone doors, they are confronted by a corridor lined with small, arched doors of stone, engraved with many elven designs and symbols. Durian (Robert) opens one and discovers a sarcophagus adorned with suspicious sun symbols. It is determined that the sarcophagus is trapped, and a remote opening method, involving some rope, is devised. Opening the sarcophagus triggers the trap, incinerating the helpless rope.

The party is then confronted by the occupant of the coffin, a Wight dressed in the tattered raiment of an elven king. In the ensuing combat, Bob the Bold (Dennis) unleashes the magic of the Shield of Blinding that the party had found earlier. While it blinds the Wight, it also temporarily blinds Whitey (Ken M) who was caught in the “blast radius”. The party takes advantage of the Wight’s inability to see and rains death and destruction upon the creature, finally reducing it to a heap of bones and ash. The rewards include an amber-adorned crown and a masterwork dagger with a wave-edged blade.

A similar sarcophagus is found in the next room. This one adorned with black crystal bars instead of the sun motif. It is apparently untrapped, and the body of the elven king within is not animated. A masterwork short sword with hilt guards in the form of seahorses and a polished sea-green marble in the pommel, and a crown of black crystals adorned with a mountain design, are found within. Another chamber contains a horde of zombie guards, which are expertly dispatched.

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In Kajaan
Session 7: In the barrow under Witchhenge

The party continues to loot the elven barrow under the hill called “Witchhenge”. Opening another of the arched doors of stone, engraved with elven designs and symbols, they find the tomb of an elven queen. Within is a sarcophagus adorned with suspicious wave symbols. Believing the sarcophagus is trapped, the party’s patented remote opening method is applied. No trap is triggered and the remains within appear to have been previously looted.

Disappointed by the lack of loot, Gunga Din (Randy) lunges hastily toward the other door in the room, and narrowly avoids falling into a disguised pit. Bob the Bold (Dennis) helps him off the ledge, and the party finds a way to pass the door without falling into the water-filled pit.

A similar sarcophagus is found in the next room. This one adorned with a tree motif. It is apparently untrapped, and the body of the elven queen within is unlooted. She yields up a silver torc with the all-seeing eye design, an ouroboros ring, and a collection of elven coins and gems.

Back out in the corridor, the party investigates another door only to discover it is suspiciously cold and damp. Beyond they find a short corridor and an elaborate but rusted metal door that is tightly sealed. The sealed door opens into a vast cavern, half-filled with brackish water. A glowing pedestal breaks the surface some 60’ from the door. To make matters worse, there is something very much like a cross between a halfling, a frog, and a piranha swimming in the water. At least four of them it seems. They dislike loud noises, as Durian (Robert) discovers, but like sandwiches, as Väinämöinen (Connor) learns. There is what looks to be the spectre of a maiden chained to the pedastel. Deciding that the whole thing is altogether too complex a puzzle, and having lost a perfectly good waterskin in the process, the party decides to abandon the room. Damek the Unpleasant (Fritz) seems to be frustrated.

Further on the party finds that they have come full circle, back around to the access shaft of the barrow. Between them and safety however, is a family of poisonous spiders and their webs. Swarmed by spiders, Gunga Din is mildly poisoned by a bite, and finds his strength reduced. In the ensuing melee, Akron (Ken S) ignites the webs with a ray of magical flame and incurs the wrath of the mother of the brood. Her poison turns out to be more harmful, and he finds his strength sapped considerably when he fails his fortitude check. The party unites to fight off the swarm. In the aftermath, Damek laments the failure in the water cavern, and it is suggested that spiders may appease the halfling piranha-frogs.

Feeding spider carcasses to the halfling piranha-frogs distracts them enough that Damek is able to swim out to the pedestal. There he chats up the bound spectre of the elf maiden, and learns that the “all-seeing eye” that Ajatar stole, is supposed to be on the pedestal. Returning it will “please her greatly”, whatever that entails. Always eager to please, despite his “unpleasant” moniker, Damek swims back to report his findings. He is unmolested, either by the halfling piranha-frogs, the party, or the spectre of the elf maiden.

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In Kajaan
Session 8: In the hamlet of Rauma

The party leaves the barrow of Witchhenge and makes the long hike back to Rauma. There they hope to neutralize the poison that is sapping Gunga Din’s (Randy) strength, establish the value of the loot they’ve acquired, and plan their assault on Kajaani Castle, and the vizier-usurper, Ajatar.

At the Rauma palisade gate the party is greeted by Constables Sitrik and Skirge, notables of the watch. Whitey (Ken S) makes a favorable impression with his “donation” of elvish silver coins, reinforcing the rumors that there is wealth to be had in the elven ruins.

After making their way to the Highwater Inn, the party relaxes over various beverages provided by the innkeeper S’Kelly, and discusses their plans. Väinämöinen (Connor) reacquaints himself with Idho, a local maiden who is full of admiration for his brave exploits. Her tablemate, Grug, isn’t quite so enamored. However, he assures the group that his boss (who is in the “acquisitions business”) would be very interested in any loot the party recovered in its adventures.

Questioning the locals leads the party to the venerable Melusine, an alchemist who seems likely to be able to cure what ails Gunga Din and provide information on the loot the party has recovered. In the process they are joined by Brede, the town representative of the church of Jovas and an ally of the party. She indicates that she can neutralize the poison affecting Gunga Din and, with the help of a few more of the party’s silver pieces, she’ll get the ingredients she needs to do just that and meet them at Melusine’s establishment. Melusine offers a bit of background information, but doesn’t have very much insight into the loot the party has acquired. She recommends the merchant trader, Mathonwy. Brede arrives and completes the ritual necessary to get Gunga Din back up to strength.

Back at the Highwater the party meets with Grug’s “boss”, Drake the Drunkard. Despite his appearance, Drake seems more canny than Grug, and assures the party he’s especially interested in any weapons they might find in elven ruins. Inquiring into the cost of rooms for the night, the party decides that S’Kelly’s prices are too high and they’d rather impose on Brede. They all wedge themselves into various nooks and crannies of Brede’s place and fall asleep to the babblings of Blind Maddy.

Combining what they’ve learned, the party has determined that it is likely that Ajatar has stashed the “all-seeing eye” somewhere in the temple of Jovas. They also decide it might be worthwhile contacting the Brotherhood of the Black Swan to see if those seemingly benevolent highwaymen have any need for elvish loot, information about local politics, or good advice about storming castles and temples. The party enjoys the last of Brede’s porridge and readies to leave Rauma. At the palisade gate the party chats with Sergeant Pell, head of the town militia. Whitey plays free with his silver again. The party is getting a favorable reputation with the locals.

On the road again the party meets up with a merchant trader from Old Sarum and his seasoned guards. They’re very wary, but seem fairly competent. No one does anything foolish. The merchant mentions that the dwarven realm of Voltai, to the west, is a good source of armor. A mile or so later Durian (Robert) has a discussion with a huckleberry bush. Then the Resourceful Wizard, one of the Brotherhood of the Black Swan, appears. The Brotherhood is curious about the new warband in town, and wants to check on their intentions. The interests of the two groups seem to coincide (Ajatar = bad, missing King = good) and an agreement is struck. The Brotherhood will distract Ajatar at the castle, while the party sneaks into the Temple of Jovas (with a little help from the Brotherhood’s “Wanderer”.)

The Wanderer tells the party that the Temple contains “ghosts” in the attic, and a tentacular horror in the “basement”. He guesses that the “all-seeing eye” is stashed in either of these places, normally reserved for the High Priest’s access alone. Find out next time where the eye is hidden, and what it will cost to retrieve it!

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In Kajaan
Session 9: At the Temple of Jovas

The party leaves at dawn for the Temple of Jovas. They are accompanied by The Wanderer, a representative of the Brotherhood of the Black Swan. The Brotherhood has agreed to stage a distraction at Kajaani Castle in order to aid the party.

At the Bridge of Trees on the west road leading to the temple, the party encounters a wary band of guardsmen from the castle. Fortunately they also seem to be underpaid and are thus easily bribed by Zalumna (Hillary) with 5 c.p., barely enough to buy them a round of beers at the Highwater Inn in Rauma.

At the temple, they are greeted by the disciple Riath. Much dissembling follows and amidst a flurry of hand gestures and diplomatic niceties–such as “hello”, offered by Durian (Robert)–the party manages to convey that they have some connection to Jovas. Most of this is accomplished when Riath recognizes the phoenix tattoos on their hands as the goddess’s mark.

Riath encourages the party to sup from the font at the altar. Zalumna is overcome by the gesture and lapses into a fit of coughing. Bob the Bold (Dennis), Whitey (Ken M), Vamleele (Soleil), He-who-will-not-be-named (Mike), and The Wanderer use the distraction to sneak upstairs into the “holy” precincts of the temple.

Upstairs they find that the walls are covered in vines. Vines that want to subdue the party, and hurt them. Bob tries to blind the vines with his Shield of Blinding, remembering too late that plants don’t have eyes. He-who-will-not-be-named summons a skeleton minion–a.k.a. “Jeeves”–and the fight is on. Bob and Vamleele are fit to be tied by the vines, but The Wanderer demonstrates that forest living makes for mad gardening skills as he prunes several of the deadly vines. Eventually, the rest of the party is able to successfully emulate this example, and the vines are vanquished.

The upper half of the temple appears to be a ghostly realm inhabited by spectral Nightmares and the ghosts of various elves involved in what was the original theft of the All-Seeing-Eye. They’re eager to help (although they can offer little of substance) in order to break the curse that binds them there. The party visits with Atal-Ai, one of their priests, and Eranicus, a sage. Both of them end up pointing at the thief, Hakaar. There is a catch though. The thief is split into both ethereal and physical forms. It’s the ethereal one you want to talk to. The party is warned to beware the physical form of Hakaar and his “companion”... Gulp.

Outside, Akron (Ken S), Zalumna, and Durian have helped the small contingent from the castle set up a tent. It has started to rain, and everyone is motivated to find some shelter.

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In Kajaan
Session 10: From Temple to Witchhenge

The party spends a few minutes of diversionary dialog in order to reunite. Damek the Unpleasant (Fritz) spends much of this time explaining his intestinal distress to Riath and Ancasta, the acolytes. They decide (between themselves) that he is an “unfortunate” fellow, and perhaps a bit “unpleasant”. A mild confirmation of his moniker.

The upper floor of the Temple of Jovas is inhabited by spectral Nightmares and the sundered spirits of various elves involved in what was the original theft of the All-Seeing-Eye. After questioning several of the spirits, the party confronts the thief Hakaar, who is bound, spread-eagled, between a pair of trees.

Hakaar explains that they’re going to need his gloves (Gloves of Storing, it turns out. Capable of hiding an item under 10 lbs in each palm) which, unfortunately, are being worn by his “sundered” physical form and guarded by his pet Dire Wolf, “Frostfang”.

The blind, and babbling-mad form of Hakaar enters as if on cue, his hand resting on the back of a massive, slavering white wolf. Gunga Din (Randy) procures a raw steak from some undetermined location and proceeds to charm the beast. The party reasons with the looney thief well enough to convince him to surrender the gloves without a fight.

Wisp (Lisa) scouts the sanctuary below and signals that all is clear. In a clatter of armor and weapons, the party tiptoes across the sanctuary and descends into the depths below the temple. Here, they discover a mysterious chamber–lit by torches–that contains a black pool, in the center of which sits what they suspect is the All-Seeing Eye they’ve heard so much about.

Bob the Bold (Dennis), He-who-shall-not-be-named (Mike), and Damek lead the party into the chamber. As they do, a writhing mass of glistening black tentacles rises out of the pool and begins snatching at them. As several of the party members are quickly seized, the others valiantly impale the slimy tentacles. Akron (Ken S) launches a magic missile and a ray of flame. He-who-shall-not-be-named is caught and squeezed into unconsciousness. Vamleele (Soleil) and Wisp are seized, but manage to wriggle free. Damek and Gunga Din pepper the enemy with arrow-fire. One by one the tentacles are driven back into the pool.

On the steps leading down to the water’s edge, Akron collects an ivory wand decorated with black tentacles. It seems fairly clear what its purpose is. The ever-intrepid Gunga Din, wearing the Gloves of Storing, swims out and retrieves the All-Seeing Eye.

Damek devises a clever method for investigating the torchlit balconies that overlook the chamber. Unfortunately, part of his clever method involves throwing a mace. This breaks a semi-valuable ivory plate upon which is inscribed a spell. Convinced that he’d like a collection of plates, Damek secures another from the next balcony over, and finds that the balcony is guarded by spiders. And the flame on the torch is some kind of miniature phoenix or fire bat. Gunga Din decries the attempts to loot the temple of a god who is likely their patron. Damek is less concerned with whose temple he’s looting, but not eager to fight flaming bats and poisonous spiders, and so he yields to the rest of the party’s call to depart.

After a lengthly hike to Witchhenge, a brief meeting with Nezumi (the “Rat Boy” of the Brotherhood of the Black Swan) and a descent into darkness, the party finds themselves again in the large, water-filled chamber that held the spirit of the elven queen. She remains bound to the pedestal as they first found her. The pedestal is now glowing with a fierce green radiance, apparently in reaction to the presence of the All-Seeing Eye. This reveals two doors that went unnoticed before, in the far reaches of the room. The frog-hafling creatures that guard the elven queen flee at the burst of light, and Gunga Din swims out to the pedestal with the artifact.

He places it upon the pedestal and, in the following light-and-illusion show, the queen, the pedestal and the artifact are hidden by massive tree roots that seem to grow down from the ceiling of the cavern. So, the “world tree claims its own.”

While Damek is regaling the party with tales of the gold he imagines to be behind the revealed doors, a Woad–a spirit of the wood–greets the party and thanks them on behalf of Jovas. The being explains that they were summoned as champions of the gods, to return that which had been stolen. Having fulfilled that duty, each party member receives a gift.

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