Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Howl From the South: A Lucrative Interlude

Welcome back fans of Greyhawk, today is the thirteenth installment of my ongoing 5E Hold of Sea Princes reboot of the 2E modules Five Shall Be One and Howl From the North, set in the south seas. What sort of high adventure will the crew of the Envy get into this week? Note, don't worry about spoilers, we've gone so far off script from the original adventure that any resemblance to the module HFtN is fleeting.

Dramatis personae:

Sabriel Loreweaver (fleecing first mate, human bard)
Tyrrus Bandale (burrowing bosun, human fighter)
Ostyn (digging deckhand, human fighter)

and Lash Driftwood (quarrying quartermaster, sea elf ranger)

When last we saw the crew they had been spending a couple months in the city of Port Toli training at the swordsman school, the Sanctuary of the Sword Saint. Not all this time was spent in weapon-play and study however. For a handful of the Envy crew, one of those weeks turned out to be a quite lucrative venture...

Tyrrus was sparring with another student one morning, his great sword easily parrying and disarming his lanky foe. The session finished, he was met by a courier, a small kid, who presented the warrior with a letter and then ran off from sight. Tyrrus frowned, it was a ransom note:

"We have your half elf friend. Bring 500 gold admirals to Lion Street tonight or else."

Tyrrus brought the note to Sabriel's attention next, she had been sparring too and had a throng of admirers, not only since she bore the magical rapier Dreamsinger but also she was a rare female student. They then found Ostyn and Lash about the school. All agreed Mallon wasn't their friend per se and none wanted to or had the money to spare for a ransom which was evidently a common practice in this wild and turbulent city. Ostyn then reminded the rest that he had the same black spot as them and was at least bound to them by fate. Grumbling, they devised a plan and indeed showed up at Lion Street after dark.

Lion Street was in the most run-down part of Port Toli. Half the buildings were abandoned or lived in by beggars. The four had reason to worry about this ransom arrangement so Sabriel calmed Ogie the ogre into leaving the pinnace to provide them backup. Tyrrus carried a sack full of coins as they wandered down the dark lonely avenue while Lash the archer scouted ahead invisibly with the power of his long sword Stalker. A street urchin appeared from an alley and pointed at a three story row house whose windows were mostly boarded up yet the front entrance was ajar. The kid ran away and Lash and the rest went into the building carefully, leaving Ogie and Ostyn in the rear guard. The first floor of the building was an abandoned shop of some sort, empty shelves and tables lie covered in tarps and only Ostyn noted the several sets of footprints disturbing the dust here; one slight enough to be a half-elf perhaps...

Still unseen by even his own compatriots, Lash forged on toward the staircase and spotted a discarded smoking pipe, perhaps a clue to what the building once sold, but Lash did not see a trip wire connected a shelf nearby. His ankle pulled on the line causing a shelf to teeter over at him. Tyrrus did see the trap however and with a mighty palm darted up to stop the object from crashing. The rest followed on inside the room and they stealthily climbed the creaky stairs with Sabriel making more noise than the bulky ogre. At the second landing they saw dusty apartments but more noticeable, a freshly painted arrow on the wall pointing up to the third floor. Tyrrus then saw Mallon's distinctive robes hanging on the banister. Lash continued on unseen and nearly bumped into a man who then came around the corner to look down on the party standing in the confined stairwell. Two crossbowmen from the second floor came out of hiding to trap them. They all wore black leather and scarves over their face. The negotiator raised a hand for them to halt and asked two things of them, the money and to see their palms. 

Tyrrus dropped the laden bag of coins on the step then they all looked at one another troubled as to why he would want to see their black spots. They all obliged, raising their hands to show the cursed spot they shared with Mallon, even Ogie who didn't have one on his palm. Lash meanwhile slipped by the negotiator carefully behind him and started to take out his long bow. In the hallway with the man was a dwarf holding the tied and gagged mage and a third crossbowman. The man then barked at one of his comrades to get the money, nervously one edged around the ogre who was confused and mad. Ostyn approached the speaker and angrily started asking his own questions with Sabriel trying to assist in the intimidation. The man would have none of it though, he was a professional ransomer and why he needed to see their spots was his own business. Lash knocked an arrow and pointed it at the dwarf who was called Coldsteel and pushed Mallon ahead to make the exchange. The crossbowman kneeled by Tyrrus and looked in the sack and yelled, "IT'S COPPER!" That is when weapons came out and an arrow brushed by the dwarf's beard into view, striking a wall. 

Ostyn's hammer and blade swung out buffeting the negotiator back as he drew his weapon in defense. Sabriel gave Tyrrus a rousing cheer to inspire him and sent Dreamsinger stabbing the man holding the copper into a fetal position. Bolts fired out striking Ogie who growled and turned around. The dwarf didn't see the sniper he yelled out for, but did angrily go after Ostyn who carried a dwarven warhammer. The dual-wielding pirate easily parried his ax and the leader's blade, then stepped aside as Tyrrus surged up the stairs to hack and knock back the negotiator. Lash became visible then and flung two arrows into the back of Coldsteel (whose axe got lodged into the wall on his backswing), sending the dwarf tumbling down the stairs onto Mallon who tried to run away from the fight. Ogie was hammering on a crossbowman while Sabriel aided her friend and cut down the kidnapper. Seeing the fight lost the last man tried to run but Tyrrus chased him down and cleaved him from shoulder to hip. The messy business over, they helped up Mallon and searched the ransomers. Besides their meager loot, there was a few illicit items including a love letter to the Princess Consort of Port Toli, a little black book of ransom targets and Coldsteel's deed to a mine in Hokar.

Returning Mallon and Ogie back to the Envy, the quartet discussed the mine with extreme interest. They had nearly depleted their fortune from adventuring and even their profit from the Sea Hag's crabbing ventures wasn't helping. Hokar was a couple days ride inland from Toli, so it was decided they would take a break from training to look into this claim. Arriving in the crossroads mining town of Hokar at the foothills of the Kamph Mountains, the four first sought out the mine itself, it was abandoned and warning signs were up. Lash the ranger spoke with the birds in the area and found humans used them to go down in the mines long ago but none of their winged kin ever came out. Poisonous gas. Fortunately some of Drawmij's items from the sahuagin raid came in handy in investigating the mine. Collecting bits of ore left about in carts and on the ground near lost pick axes and on the bodies of ten skeletal miners, they quickly and excitedly discovered it was a gem mine. Furthermore, if their appraisal was correct, they learned it might be a rare ruby mine!

Leaving the mine, they headed down into Hokar to consult the mining guild and register the claim. To their surprise, the exact mine had been simultaneously sold to multiple owners. It was going to be hard to hold the claim against other deeds, and as Ostyn reminded them, the black spots forced them to continue with a quest not start a mining operation. The resourceful four put their heads and diplomatic minds together to begin a risky and possibly questionable business. They sold a wand in the city for money to discreetly hire a necromancer from the local gravedigger's union. Sabriel's sob story of losing her whole family in a mining accident plus a generous bit of hush money, roused the old forlorn man into helping them animate the bones of the miners into performing the same deeds they did in life: mine and load ore. Meanwhile the rest of their gold was used to hire a couple living foremen brave enough to oversee the operation while they returned to Port Toli. Upon returning to the port, they sought out their former crewmates from the Sea Hag, Wild Will and Big Bridget. Hiring them away from the crabbing operation they were sent to Hokar to be the guards for their new mine. With a month left to train, the diversified swordsmen/businessmen also had an invite to a birthday party for the Prince of Port Toli to worry about. Sabriel in particular seemed excited to attend for she had a certain love letter someone at that party would pay to nicely to have.

To be continued...

Campaign notes: With two players out, this was a crazy out of continuity session that fit in ahead of the previous one. I had intended for them to find a mine to use later in their career but was pleasantly surprised the players checked on it immediately. After an amazing run of good rolls and a whole lot of weaseling, the group's low morals have potentially paid off. It was one of those old school game nights where the randomness of "downtime" activity was more fun than the quest itself. I was also pleased because it was a return for my players to Hokar which we developed on our own before starting this current campaign. "The Mines of Hokar 2" might have to be my follow up quest after the Blades of Corusk. Now to research some mining rules...

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Howl From the South: Enter Port Toli

Welcome again Greyhawkers, today is the twelfth installment of my ongoing 5E Hold of Sea Princes reboot of the 2E modules Five Shall Be One and Howl From the North, set in the south seas. What sort of high adventure will the crew of the Envy get into this week?

Dramatis personae:

Cullen (consecrated captain, human rogue)
Tyrrus Bandale (blessed bosun, human fighter)
Kuma Sand (sacred surgeon, human druid)
Ostyn (devout deckhand, human fighter)

and Lash Driftwood (quibbling quartermaster, sea elf ranger)

When last we saw the crew, they had returned, with Mallon the mage, to their pinnace and jogged Ogie the ogre awake to get ready for a southwesterly course from the shores of Keoland back into their home waters of the Hold of the Sea Princes. Their first day out was slowed by a deadened breeze but Kuma feeling more at home on the deck of a ship went to his usual post at the bow of the Envy and called upon the nature gods to aid them. Ostyn and the others couldn't be sure but a strange ethereal form could be seen flying about their sails causing them to fill with air and push the vessel forward. This boost by Kuma and his always dependable weather predictions of the next day's heat wave were appreciated by his compatriots who busied themselves that day. All save Sabriel who remained below deck half-awake, listing over visions she had from her rapier Dreamsinger:

"You hear the ring of metal on metal – there is a sense you are in a place of great reverence to swordsmen. As if answers you seek are here. The smell of seawater is strong yet all you see is clear blue skies with sea birds circling overhead."

The next day it was blistering hot as Kuma foretold. The druid stood at the fore of the ship and soaked in the sun's rays while the sea elf Lash, up high on the central mast miserably sighted a small convoy of merchant-marines on a route counter to theirs. Ostyn confirmed from their colors, it was friendly Hold warships out of the capital Monmurg. As they passed their kin, ships waved and signaled to one another and the last vessel in line even anchored to share news and toss over mundane items to trade. They were star-struck upon learning it was the famous crabbers who defeated the Toli's best at the Prince's Regatta recently. The Holders were further blessed when Kuma began blessing their ship in the name of the sea gods. Again an appeal was made for the Envy to join the muster of the Prince's Fleet. There had been reports that the Provincial Navy armada was encroaching farther east over the Azure and disrupting their trade routes. A show of force was going to be made soon. Captain Cullen and the others again turned down the call, citing Kuma and vague divine mission. The Envy was wished well and both ships went on their ways.

Now in the middle of Sea Princes waters, Kuma gathered the crew after their late meal and advised the next day a gale storm would come up from the southern Jeklea Bay. They would best remained anchored in a cove out of harms way until it passed. The temperature cooled but did little to assuage the crew's mood as the storm arrived as predicted. The tiny pinnace though seaworthy and stronger than it looked rocked and rolled in the water. The Envy's hull cracked in spots but the ship held together while everyone remained below deck to ride out the gale. Mallon snored while Ogie, formerly a jungle ogre became sick and if not for the druid's sleeping poultice would've drove the others above deck due to the stench.

The next day the winds subsided and it was a beautiful sailing day. The Envy  however limped toward the sheltered harbor of Port Toli at last in need of some minor repairs. The city's defensive sea towers and light house were spotted from afar and a dazzling array of ships of all sizes came and went that day. Kuma was first off the ship, eager to find the city's tattoo parlors to add to his already impressive body art. Meanwhile, Cullen secured a spot at the docks so Ostyn could arrange repairs while he and Tyrrus went into town to check on the elven pirate's lead that Dreamsinger and another Blade of Corusk, a great sword, was once seen here at a school called the Sanctuary of the Sword Saint. It wasn't hard to find the place, all in the city knew of the place, down the coast from the sea port on a self-sustaining farm; the Sanctuary is a sprawling complex consisting of white stone buildings with clay roofs connected by broad steps and pathways, gardens, fountains and well manicured hedges maintained by a cleric of Phyton. The sound of sea gulls and ringing metal echoed in the air here. The city's best nobles, ship captains and mercenaries spent their hard earned gold to learn from the masters of the blade here.

As Tyrrus and Cullen wandered the grounds, a servant found them and ushered them to find a master. On their way they came to the sanctuary's namesake shrine. A round fountain of clear water surrounded a life sized marble statue of Kelanen, the hero-god of swords. The sword saint's hands were held out upright and his hooded gaze looked down to his palms while his twin swords remained sheathed. The legend it was said, that if you placed your blade in the saint's hands and prayed, your weapon would be blessed by Kelanen. Cullen always needed an advantage so he nimbly stepped up on the ledge of the fountain and leaped across to the base of the statue. Placing his weapons in the palms of the statue he gazed back up into the marble eyes of the deity to see his distinctive silver scar. He could also see engraved in the statue's swords their names, Sureguard and Swiftdoom, blades just as legendary as the ones they quested to find. a rush of good feeling came over the surly rogue and he returned to Tyrrus who decided he wanted blessed too, he slipped however and drenched himself in the formerly clear waters. He saw coins in the fountain but superstition kept the fighter from taking any. He climbed out and placed his great sword in the palms and waited and waited and waited. Finally he decided the blessing must be over and sloshed back out in time to see a master had found them! The affably well-dressed fencer introduced himself as senior instructor Vero Vocho. 

Master Vocho inquired to their names and business, immediately becoming pleased when he found they were formerly of the famous Sea Hag and by reputation phenomenal sword arms. He gave them an invite, provided they could afford the sanctuary's tuition, to stay at the complex and train under him for a couple months. Distracted by the offer and the luxury of the place, the pair did not get around to finding out about the rumors of the Blades of Corusk and returned to the crew instead to see if any others would join. Lash was eager and began gathering his hoarded treasure and planned on selling anything else to cover the cost, while Ostyn humbly went to Kuma for a loan. Sabriel pondered the choice and seemed to lean that way given her bardic background in valor. The half-elf Mallon usually quiet wanted to remind them of the Fivefold Council's quest, the spots they bore a constant reminder, but it seemed a lengthy interlude in this large port was unavoidable.

A few weeks later, the crew of the Envy was getting used to the school. Lessons were learned, tailored to each's style and type of weapon; Tyrrus worked on becoming more combat aware while Cullen's attacks became more precise. Ostyn learned to engage his opponents quicker and battle-hardened Lash unabashedly using the long sword Stalker soon caught the eye of the sanctuary's headmaster, Macario Paavo. The crew attended an audience with the reclusive old swordsman who seemed pleased to once again have Blades of Corusk among his school. When last he saw them he related, he was a young man. Dreamsinger was borne by a female bard named Lhoria of Narwell and her companion was a roguish captain named Galen "Silvertooth" Zain. Lhoria went missing into the Amedio Jungle in search of treasure and lore, while Captain Zain and his great sword (if the old man could be believed was light as a dagger) departed to find his lost brother Allan who went exploring to the east in the hidden Kingdom of Shar. The crew had already been to the jungle, so they knew now were they needed to go next. Ostyn seemed excited and nervous, he had been to the pirate haven called Kro Terlep before, but the local lore there said inland was a massive jungle plateau where the isolated kingdom of Shar was found. Few ever went there unbidden and returned.

The swordsmen left Paavo's chamber to rest and ponder the quest again, before resuming their training the next day. A new distraction would arrive that morning as letters arrived to each of the celebrated sailors: it was a formal invitation to Prince Varek IV's birthday party at the palace. Having slogged through jungles, a sahuagin city and fought blobs, the group agreed they couldn't possibly pass up such a party. Unfortunately, they would need to clean up and get new clothes, however they had very little notice or money remaining.

to be continued...

Campaign notes: As a house rule to this game, one extra feat or martial maneuver was given to any PC who paid the Sanctuary's 4000 gp tuition and spends 2 months game time there training. It was fun to see the guys scrape together the gold and research what they might want their characters to learn. It's interesting that core 5e doesn't have a lot of rules bloat in their feats (yet) and that there were very few options the players wanted to take. If we had still been playing 3.5e/Pathfinder I'm sure this interlude would've taken less time and the bonus ability would also be less appreciated. Let's hope 5e sticks with their less is more ways.
The statue did indeed bless their swords, for a one time "advantage" on any combat roll.
Next episode, I'll also be going into some mechanical benefits for social interaction gained from patronizing some of Port Toli's luxury businesses.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Castle Greyhawk: Out the Gate

Welcome again Greyhawk readers! This time I'm on the ball in promoting chapter four in our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page-six to see some romantic readings by author Scott Casper. On our site you can also check the archives and follow the entire Castle Greyhawk story from the very beginning.

Artist's Commentary: Ah that Scott is turning up the flames of this romantic chapter! So Ehlissa has ran across the Foreign Quarter to catch up to Erac and his new party (names unknown). You know they're near the river with the sails in the distance. When we do these exterior scenes, me and Scott use the City of Greyhawk boxed set for our layout of streets and gates, not that it means much visually, but narrative-wise it all checks out with canon. That's a nice thing for a discerning fan.

Drawing two people hugging is somehow very heart-warming. I suggest if you do figure art, trying it some time you will be happy afterwards. I'm also happy with the long shadows as they walk down the street. Shadows are still a challenge to me. There's probably an easier way to do them. but for now it's all done fast and loose. Anyhoo, if Ehlissa is going to come along she better run her ass back into town for her stuff. They are burning day light!

See ya next page!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Greyhawk Liches: The Hexad

My post last week about the all female wizard group the Pentad was pretty successful and well received in the Greyhawk community, so I decided to follow it up with another arcane power group made up of canon NPCs. This one is even more potentially campaign changing as they are an all evil faction. Have a look at The Hexad!

Intro: The Hexad is an unlikely, loose confederation of six liches hailing mainly from the Flanaess' northern and western reaches. Their initial meetings have been rife with mistrust and uncertainty, but gradually common interests and enemies have caused these powerful undead to keep a steady truce. The Hexad has no leader, but it's accepted that Count Dahlvier is a chairman of sorts, organizing their conclaves in person or more discreetly through magic. Up till now the general public and indeed most clandestine organizations in the Flanaess have no idea the Hexad exists.
The Hexad's primary purpose is to avoid future depredations by other rival evil entities such as the near world-ending incidents involving the archlich Vecna and the worm-god Kyuss, or more local problems, namely the petulant demigod Iuz and his so-called empire of the north. The forces of Good might be consoled that evil plots against evil, but the Hexad only does so with their own long-range, coordinated plans in mind.

Count Dahlvier (18th level Lich, NE) This ardent follower of Nerull rules a territory near the western Fellreev Forest from a former elven citadel surrounded by bizarre landscaping and magical defenses. Dahlvier was a one-time ally of the Hierachs of the Horned Society but now pays no homage to either their remnants or the despotic, Iuz the Evil. Even though Dahlvier has a small army of undead and untold access to elven artifacts, he has remained isolated and neutral for the last couple decades. Secretly however, Dahlvier has been gathering allies and waiting for Iuz to make a mistake, before unleashing his own evil plans of conquest.
To this end he has been the initiator of this cabal of liches with his agents first seeking out the long dormant Lerrek within the Vesve Forest.

Lerrek (19th level Lich, CE) The fearsome Lerrek lurks in twin gargoylian towers within the "Iuz controlled" parts of the great Vesve. Lerrek is an older lich whose murderous exploits are forgotten to all but the oldest elves of the High Vale, yet he hasn't stirred from his towers in nearly a hundred years. As such, the lich became more of a local legend whose treasures and stolen relics are still highly desired by adventurers. Unfortunately for them, Lerrek's twin towers to this day have active magical defenses that prevent all from entering. 
Despite all this, Lerrek was successfully contacted by Count Dahlvier through other means and now the Terror of the Vesve has awakened again. Dahlvier presumably wants a compact with his colleague against Iuz. What personal ambitions chaotic Lerrek still has is open to debate with the Hexad.

Marquesse Maerynae (17th level Suel Lich, NE) Also known as the Queen of Ghouls and the Lady of Mysteries, power-hungry Maerynae was once the consort to Doresain the demigod King of Ghouls. Several years ago, surface raiders assaulted the Deep Oerth city of ghouls, and her body was destroyed in the conflict. Being a Suel-lich, Maerynae's essence managed to live on by possessing the body of her willing servant. Maerynae has now returned to the world above in order to rebuild her power while also seeking a vendetta against those who ruined the White Kingdom. 
Maerynae is very ancient, originating from the extinct Suloise Imperium, thus once she resurfaced from beneath the Hellfurnaces, her knowledge and skill quickly came to the notice of Count Dahlvier. Maerynae, needing allies in the Flanaess, was quick to join the Hexad.

Zhawar Orlysse (25th level Suel Lich, NE) The obsessive lich, Zhawar is insane in that he strove to copy and exceed the exploits of his rival the infamous Keraptis, This obsession went so far that he came to believe that he actually is Keraptis. Among surviving Suel liches however, Zhawar is possibly the most powerful with vast resources and fell henchmen. Zhawar was reluctantly brought into the Hexad by Maerynae once she learned that her ancient Suel colleague still existed.  
Delusions aside, Zhawar remembered the Lady of Mysteries even though both had stolen new bodies thousands of times since they were last mortal. The opportunity to collaborate with Maerynae again has given Zhawar a brief respite from building death trap dungeons in the Wastes. When in contact with the Hexad, the others call him Keraptis if only to keep his fragile ego in check.

Thessalar (20th level Lich, CE) This twisted lich recently moved to Oerth only to set up his monster breeding laboratory in the depths of Riftcanyon near the region known as the Wormcrawl Fissue. Thessalar allegedly claims to have created several popular magical beasts such as the owlbear and mimic, but his true infamy the many species of crossbred thessalmonsters that plague the material planes. Thessalar had an active interest in the worms of Kyuss and a more than passing interest in a lillend who once lived near his ruined tower.
After the heralded Age of Worms came to pass, Count Dahlvier sought out his new reclusive neighbor to add his unique talents to the Hexad. Thessalar was stubborn at first to respond, that is until he met Marquesse Maerynae, the new object of his sick undead affection.

Naubek (29th level Lich, NE) The Grim Vizier of Zeif lairs in the crypts of Kabir Kafez a traditional prison palace for the heir-apparent to Zeif. Active for "merely" a couple hundred years, the Grim Vizier is a sorcerer-priest of incredible power and respect in his homeland. Normally remaining inside his lair, to protect future sultans, Naubek has none-the-less stayed active in the Baklunish West, practicing his art and sending his spies to neighboring lands and beyond. The occasion of the Grim Vizier coming out in public is a dire portent in Zeif.
Count Dahlvier's personal audience with Naubek impressed the haughty lich. Reminding Naubek of the near ascendancy of Vecna at the Stone Circles of Tovag Baragu, Dahlvier managed to convince him to join the Hexad. The presence of two Suel liches bothers Naubek, but he sees his position in the group as a necessary evil to protect the interests of his culture.

Here is the sources for you to read more about these liches:

Count Dahlvier and Lerrek both can be found in WGR5 Iuz the Evil and the Living Greyhawk Gazaetteer.
Marquesse Maerynae is in Wolfgang Baur's adventure Kingdom of the Ghouls, found in Dungeon #70.
Thessalar made his appearance in Dungeon #134 for the Age of Worms adventure Into the Wormcrawl Fissure by James Jacobs.
Naubek can only be found in the rare Living Greyhawk Journal #5 article Zeif: Rock of the West by Fred Weining.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Howl From the South: Blobs and Bottles

Welcome Greyhawk fans, today is the eleventh installment of my ongoing 5E Hold of Sea Princes reboot of the 2E modules Five Shall Be One and Howl From the North, set in the south seas. What sort of high adventure will the crew of the Envy get into this week?

Dramatis personae:

Cullen (cagey captain, human rogue)
Sabriel Loreweaver (mouthy first-mate, human bard)
Tyrrus Bandale (binged bosun, human fighter)
Kuma Sand (shouting surgeon, human druid)
Ostyn (drinking deckhand, human fighter)

When last we saw the crew they were busy dicing with fate until they heard a crash of metal echo throughout Drawmij's undersea palace. Ostyn had already been investigating and was rushing to find the others, while invisible Lash had not been seen since he went to follow the archmage. Heading out of the game room they navigated the maze of halls until they came upon iron doors to a large chamber. A door at the far end had been broken off it's hinges and hit the other door ajar; in the center of the chamber was an old cracked summoning circle that hadn't been used in ages. Sticking to the ceiling in view of Tyrrus and the others was something oozing and sticking with a sentient malevolence, its large form slowly dripped down to the floor and seeped amorphously down through the crack to a level below. That is when Mallon the mage came running up out of breath with a small empty chest in both hands.

Evidently the old palace once belonged to the grand druid Meno and he stored or imprisoned things from farther realms here so that they could not affect the natural world above. This creature was one such horror and now had to be captured in one of Drawmij's magic chests. The crew had little time to reflect or look for Lash, so they just drew weapons, but not before Mallon directed Tyrrus to break a glass covering on an alcove marked "In Dire Times Break Glass". As cool mists rolled out of the alcove they retrieved a purple bag filled with six potions useful in dealing with the monster. Their labels read:

Red: Healing?
Green: Healing+
Blue: Hero's Heart
Brown: Caution: Giant Strength
Yellow: Anti-Acid
Orange: Ironskin

With the vials in hand, the group descended steps to a lower level, which Kuma suspected was where it would try to find a way out of the palace. Ostyn immediately stopped at an intersection and found the crack in the ceiling from where it funneled down, but to his dismay it had split into two blobs on impact, one going left, the other right. They turned left as a party and decided to tackle the horror as one unit.

Through a set of iron double-doors Cullen and fighters led them into a shrine. To one side bubbled a fountain dedicated to the sea elf god Deep Sashelas, to the other a fountain dedicated to Eadro, the merfolk deity. At the far end was the largest fountain with statues depicting the sea deity pair Xerbo and Osprem. Cullen followed along the wall and saw a line of ooze trailing from statue to pond while Tyrrus went up the middle and Ostyn gawked to the right. The line snapped back like a bowstring to the far fountain and out crashed a pile of tendrils and greenish slime, hovering over the muscle bound sailor.

Captain Cullen and Tyrrus Bandale's flashing blades whirled and slashed through the mass of sticky ooze clearly damaging it but the resistance they felt was trying. Kuma by the entrance raised a hand and a glowing radiance surrounded the creature making it eerie as hell, but easier to target in the dim shrine. Sabriel laughed at the thing, mocking it to no effect, the creature's otherworldly form was not having her insults. Her words did Ostyn however as he rushed in next to bludgeon the thing with the dwarven warhammer he recovered from the sahuagin. Ooze splattered about but sticky strands stuck to his weapons as well. Where pieces of the creature fell to the floor it turned to ash or solidified into other substances. Mallon began to cautiously collect these fragments in his chest when the horror lashed out with several tendril of slime, wrapping around those nearby. The touch of the slime burned at their skin and clothes.

Cullen's blades anxiously tore at the tendril to free himself, the ropy substance just as hard to cut as the monster. The druid Kuma then had enough of this abomination and charged in to help, Greenswathe bared at last. His first strike was a greenish arc and did more damage than any, causing more of the nightmare matter to splatter to the ground. The others began to cut and extract themselves from the acid goo, when Sabriel sang a bardic melody that seemed to gain the horror's attention. Confused, it just hung there dripping and swaying. The opening gave Tyrrus and the others a chance to strike fast at the central mass; even Sabriel's Dreamsinger was unsheathed and the two Blades of Corusk fighting together seemed to hum with life. The creature weakened and shrunk in stature, finally snapped out of its reverie and unleashed a wave of acid upon all around it. Their reflexes were sharp yet splashes of acid still scalded their flesh and marred their equipment. Cullen dashed back in leveled the remaining blob till it dissolved and solidified into chunks of disparate matter. Mallon hurriedly collected the pieces in the magic chest while the others caught their breath and bound their acid wounds. They knew there was another, this time they would prepare.

Heading back the other way down the hall, the group paused to use their potions. Ostyn defied caution and took the brown vial. His muscles immediately burst and grew till he was freakishly strong as a cloud giant. Tyrrus downed the blue potion and felt a surge of heroic bravery unlike never before, he was ready to rush into danger. Cullen then sipped down the orange potion, his body felt tough yet still supple as if he could stop steel. Then Sabriel not wanting to be left out, quaffed the yellow and felt nothing. Yet. the healing potions were saved. And Tyrrus bowled on into the next chamber, a diving room with racks, lockers and a winch activated hatch covering a way out of the palace. the second slime lurked over the hatch, it's strands blocking the way as it tried to eat through the steel.

Cullen speedy as ever cut through the web-like net that was in their way and began to strike at more lines of acid goo in his way. The main mass was stuck to the ceiling fifteen feet above. Sabriel inspired her comrades into battle and on a hunch tried her same song of confusion on the other half of the monster. Amazingly the thing swayed in the same manner and didn't send tendrils out. This gave the others a chance to sever all acid lines it made to the hatch thus preventing it from leaving. Then, Tyrrus feeling supernaturally brave yelled to the supernaturally strong Ostyn to throw him! Ostyn gladly grabbed his crewmate and hurled him with speed up to the clinging creature. Tyrrus' blade flashed on the way up and down, splattering bits of the beast to the floor as before for Mallon to scoop up. Still confused the monster made no resistance, so Kuma and Sabriel combined their innate magic to send waves of thunderous sound at it. The rippling energy broke more of it apart and pushed it into a corner. The insane blob finally snapped out of the delirium and tendrils of acid grabbed at all within reach, even Sabriel who was pleased to see that her potion had indeed worked.

Tyrrus and Ostyn began tearing at the tendrils with their strength while Kuma, scimitar in hand, pushed it back again with waves of thunder. Sabriel's rapier swiped more of its blob-form apart until it too gurgled and gushed out acid in all directions. Everyone was ready for this however and were barely scalded, especially invulnerable Cullen and Sabriel. Kuma however was hit full on and fell to the ground unconscious and steaming in a pool of acid. Ostyn mustered all his giant strength and smashed the ooze at the same time Dreamsinger cleaved the remaining part to the ground where it immediately turned to solid black cinders. Mallon quickly got help in collecting the bits in the chest while Sabriel tended to the fallen druid. A healing word and a red potion gave him the vitality to move again. Weary, Tyrrus polished off the green potion hoping for more than his acid burns to go away, he was let down. 

The group returned to a common room to rest and share a smoke, whereupon Drawmij finally returned to thank them; a wave of his hand sent the monster and the bound chest to the Ethereal Plane. He spent the remainder of their stay explaining the nuances of their swords' resonating powers. They knew two together could cast a mass sleep effect, and three crossed could teleport, but they had no idea the strength of the magic was such it could potentially teleport their ship! Drawmij concluded with a plea for for the questing crew to act as other blade-bearers had in history and unite the factions of the seas against a common evil: the South Provincial Armada. To that end he also side-tasked them to rescue kidnapped dwarf-smiths of the Iron Hills from the Armada and to recover ancient plans made by the ancient inventor Kwalish. The same magi-tech used in Drawmij's diving sphere were used to construct the Armada's horrendously unstoppable warship, the Tyrannic. For now however, the crew knew the next day they would have to return to the surface and sail away from these dangers to Port Toli where they might find a lead to the next Blade of Corusk.

to be continued...

Campaign notes: this week was special cause the potions used in the encounter with the oozing horror were REAL. Yup, I bought some glass vials with cork stoppers, and filled them with colorful random, yet edible liquids. To get the game effects, the players had to physically drink the mystery liquids. It was a fun time for all! Check it out: 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Greyhawk Wizards: The Pentad

As my busy day has gone by I've struggled to think of any current online, comic or personal campaign news. Then it hit me, try to create something new off the cuff, so here we go! Wizard groups are one of the most memorable things about a fantasy setting and the World of Greyhawk is by no means short on wizards. Everyone has heard of the Circle of Eight the Ring of Five or some of Iuz's Boneheart mages. Here is my attempt to assemble a new ubermage group from remaining canon NPCs available. Let's also take it step further and make it an all female wizard group! This is The Pentad!

Elayne Mystica (19th level, NG) The nominal leader of the Pentad, Elayne has a long and storied history serving Cobb Darg and the city of Irongate as well as adventuring with the Company of the Iron Fist. Elayne is an albino of the Lerara tribe of Suel who has also exhibited psionic powers, and possesses her own pocket-plane. Elayne decided to call together the Pentad to share knowledge and deal with dangers to the Flanaess with a "woman's touch".

Fioranna Aielestriel (13th level, NG) This tiny, demure elven mage from Nyrond was once an ambassador to the City of Greyhawk and served to further the interests of the Iron League until 591 CY. She has no love for the Great Kingdom for they slew her father. Fioranna specializes in mind-affecting and concealment spells to travel undetected, though most think she is only a diplomat who dabbles in the art. In semi-retirement, Fioranna still resides in Greyhawk's High Quarter, but has recently jumped at the chance to do some good after being contacted by her Iron League colleague Elayne Mystica.

Marial (15th level, CG) A native of Greyhawk, Marial is the red-headed former apprentice and best friend of the Circle of Eight's own Jallarzi Sallavarian. Marial has seen a lot of action in her time from dealing with the reappearance of Vecna to an untimely attack on Tenser's Castle before she was restored after the Return of the Eight. Marial still resides in Jallarzi's Tower in the City of Greyhawk, where her friend has withdrawn and become paranoid since her experiences at the hands of Tuerny the Merciless and Iggwilv. Marial's social life has suffered as a result and so she spends more time abroad with the Pentad since being contacted by local acquaintance Fioranna Aielestriel.

Rautheene (level unknown, N) The stunningly beautiful and fun-loving Rautheene is notably an apprentice to the archmage Mordenkainen. Rautheene's personal history and her exact mastery of magic is a mystery to most, even her own Pentad associates. What is known is that she claims to have spent much time on other planes traveling meeting other archmagi when not studying from the remote security of Mordenkainen's Obsidian Citadel. Now on her own, Rautheene seeks to apply her skills and knowledge with a new cadre of wizards since being contacted by Elayne whom she looks up to as much as Mordenkainen.

Shemeya (19th level, CG) The oldest of the Pentad by far, Shemeya hails from the Bright Desert but comes from a time long past when the land was called Sulm. This realm was once fertile before a terrible curse forever changed the land and it's people. Already a powerful wizardress back then, Shemeya retreated to her plane-hopping Tower of Sleep, shielded from the curse and the passage of time. Not truly asleep, Shemeya has long been travelling to other worlds and planes of existence to find a way to reverse the curse on the Bright Desert, yet now has been recently distracted by the usurping desert mage Rary. Shemeya was approached by Elayne Mystica to join the Pentad for her vast ancient knowledge and planar experience. In return the Pentad promises to help the sleeping sorceress restore her home someday.