The bottom of the Well

The party rested the night at the helping hand, in the morning Adda went to train. Rakham went with Loru and Murf to the Merchant’s Friend to find Garfin. Together they went to Ilka’s Blades. There Rakham paid 1gp for his space and agreed to pay 1gp/day to keep it available. He worked the morning crafted studded leather out of the Loru’s leather armor after buying the studs from Ilka for 12gp.

The group met up with Adda on the way back and then made their way to the abandon plaza. After not finding any tracks in the plaza they started searching the largest building overlooking the square. It looked like an old temple with a graveyard in the back.  In one of the side buildings they found a secret tunnel into a passageway below. Climbing down into the passageway Rakham noticed three strands of silk which stretched across the opening. He carefully cut them as he descended but noticed they stretched along the ceiling of the small passageway and around the corner. The rest of the party entered the tunnels but not until after Loru marked the walls of the old temple with a notice for Talia and Kosef of their location.

Exploring the tunnels to came to a junction. The left fork led to a door which opened into a cellar. The door was hidden from the cellar side as it looked just like the stone wall. Taking the stairs from the small cellar led to a building which was attached to the main building through which the party had entered originally. Murf managed to catch a scorpion while taking some dirt form one of the tombs. An old graveyard was visible through the window of the building above the morgue cellar.

Continuing back through the tunnels they saw sun light to the left and found where the well from the plaza dropped down into these tunnels. There was a small chamber which the well was above. Another passageway led from the chamber but the group did not move pass the well chamber, instead they backtracked and continued down another passage which turned left and came to a dead end about 60 feet down. Half way down a side passage on the left lead to steps which went up to a wooden trap door. Adda moved the door and climbing out of the tunnel into an abandoned building. Meanwhile as Rakham and Murf continued down the tunnel Loru heard the sound of crossbows being loaded from the dead end. He and Garfin moved for cover in the side passageway which Adda had gone through. Rakham and Murf rushed the end of the tunnel as crossbows fired at them through holes in the wall at the dead end. When they reached the end Murf tried to throw the scorpion that he had captured in the Morgue through a hole in the wall, however he missed and the scorpion turned on him. Rakham tried to kick the wall where the crossbows were firing from but it felt solid so he grabbed Murf and retreated outside to where Adda had gone with the scorpion in very slow pursuit.

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A Picnic and Nap

As the shadow disappeared above Garuuk’s body Kosef dropped to his knees, his face in his hands, trembling. He gripped the blade of his knife until blood dripped from his hand onto the ground. Loru mindlessly stabbed his dagger into the mutilated body of Garuuk until Adda limped over to him and gently pulled him off.

The bodies of the creatures quickly dissipated into faint mist, leaving the once green grass on ground blackened and withered. Only the body of Garuuk remained.

Kosef regained his senses after a few minutes and examined the runes which covered the walls of the inner courtyard of the keep, they were disturbingly familiar to Kosef and as he observed them they seemed to shift into the shadowy form that appeared above Garruk’s body. Kosef approached the wall and places his hand on one of the runes, it was crusty and cool to the touch and made of a dried substance, maybe something mixed with blood, that had been painted on the wall and was now dry. The runes stopped moving as he touched them.

Talia investigating the places were the bodies had just been gripped the crystal around her neck and dropped to a knee focusing on the crystal and reaching her other hand towards where the largest of the bodies had been. Suddenly she saw a vast broke landscape, four scattered spires protruded out of the ground at odd angles. The dimly lit air felt thick with a orangish smog and the smell of death. There was no sun or other source of light in the sky. Across the vast broken plains she could see movement. She jumped back a bit shaken but quickly recovered her composure.

Rakham and Adda carefully lifted Murf and carried him to the shore of the island and placed him in the small boat. Talia complained, insisting that they should leave him on the island in his unconscious state but Rakham and Adda refused.

The rest of the party quickly loaded into the small boat and Rakham rowed them across the lake to the eastern shore. There they made landfall and followed the path back towards the three hills district of Tordan. As they followed the path the lake narrowed into a river leaving the island in the distance behind them. A inhuman cry echoed across the lake, Talis and Kosef glanced back and in the distance they could just make out what looked like a winged humanoid flying above the island. The party quickened their pace and after an hour or two managed to returned to the Helping Hand. There they rested for the afternoon and evening.

During the night Kosef snuck out the window of the Helping Hand. The streets were completely empty as he stealthily moved across the city. He noticed a creature watching the street from the second story of an abandoned building’s window. Its triangular face was just visible in the light from the lantern on the Weeping Hill wall. He continued to the Eastern Market and then to the district he had seen the symbol of the sun beneath the horizon. Proceeding down the ally he knocked on the wall and waited. After a few minutes one of the doors opened slightly and the face of a girl appeared. “Speak with the Fishmonger at noon tomorrow on the High Hill Circle” and the door shut. Kosef quickly returned to the Helping Hand.

The next morning Adda left at daybreak for the Temple of Nian. As the rest of the group ate breakfast a man dressed in simple but well kept clothes entered the Helping Hand and sat in the corner, Dagmar approached him and spoke with him for a few minutes, then he got up and left. Kosef approached Dagmar and asks if he had found out any information about someone to speak with about the arcane. Dagmar says he can arrange an appointment with Delina but she is expensive. Kosef agrees and awaits confirmation the following morning. Dagmar also mentions that the the Boar hunt has been canceled. A woman has butchered her family and is being hunted in the city.

After breakfast Kosef, Talia and Murf headed to the market. Talia listened to the rumors at the market and heard that the Boar Hunt would be rescheduled, perhaps in a week. The woman who is being hunted killed her husband and both their children, everyone was butchered, cut to pieces and no one knows why. Murf wandered to the east side of the market and found the bulletin board outside the east game of the Weeping Hill. He saw a wanted poster with a picture of Talia on it and took. Then he grabbed a second poster of a man with a shaved head and a scar across the side of his head and face. He stopped when he heard a voice behind him. A women in her thirties, her sun bleached hair slicked back in a single braid stood behind him. She had a sword on her hip with a black grip and a hideous gargoyle face for a pommel. On her other hip was a curved ax for throwing. A dagger was strapped to each of her thighs. A thin chain with a piece of green jade carved in the shape of a falcon dangled from her neck. In a rough voice she asked “Do you plan on capturing him?” When Murf shook his head she reached out and Murf gave her the poster. She took it and tucked it into her vest. “Well I do” she said as she turned away and strolled down the street, a backpack on her shoulders and her cloak flowing behind her.

Kosef found the Fishmonger near the Eastern Weeping Hill gate. When he greeted the Fishmonger and he replied to Kosef like greeting an old friend. They discussed his family and agreed to meet an hour before nightfall to get a drink and catch up.

Kosef, Talia and Murf returned to the Helping Hand and reunited with Adda. Murf led them east through an abandoned part of the city. As they passed a ruined building Talia spotted a boar digging in the ground of a ruined building. She stealthily approached it before speaking to the boar. After a few simple words it asked “Teagon friend?”, she replied “friend” and it led her and the group through the streets. Soon several other wild pig followed the group along a small path which led to a small glen with a small stone building in the center. The building had a simple wooden door and stone walls that looked like they has been repaired fairly recently.

A robed figured emerged from the hut, his face was like a boars but covered in a course black beard with gray streaks, his shoulders broad shoulders hunched. In his cloven hands he carried a gnarled staff, his feet were cloven like a pigs. He introduced himself as Teagon.

Talia warned Teagon about the hunt and at first it seemed unknown to him but then remembered. He asked her to return when she knows when it is. When Talia said the white lady told her to come he asked if she speaks of a forest spirit and then says that the forest spirit has sent her for a reason. While they spook a huge boar appeared behind Teagon barely squeezing through the doorway of the hut. Talia carefully approached it and it sniffed her and pushed her with its enormous head. When he backed away it seemed to chuckle a bit. As Talia turned to leave Teagon stopped her, he stepped into the hut for a moment and returned with something in his hand. He reached out to Talis and gave her a simple corded necklace with a smooth black stone with one side carved in the shape of an old face. As they left the glen Talia asked someone to help her remember how to get back to this place.

After leaving Teagon’s Murf leads the group through the streets past a ruined small fort three stories high and then to what used to be a small plaza, now a grove of trees with a pool in the center surrounded by buildings. Talia sits on the edge of the pool dipping her feet while Murf stands at the edge. It appears the pool, bordered in stone, was probably a fountain at one time. It is a few meters across, less then a meter deep and filled with crystal clear water. The stone bottom is visible. At the center of the pool bottom an opening descends into darkness. Murf and Talia concentrate for a minute and the surface of the pool changes to a sky blue color. Adda observes the change as well but Talia and Murf are not sure what to do next.

Meanwhile Kosef patrols around the small plaza, as he does he hears something and turns to see a toad easily the size of a horse come out of the side of an abandoned building. Before he can move back it lunges towards him mouth open, but he manages to step aside. Slashing the toad with his sword Kosef retreats back towards to pool but as he does he sees two frog like humanoids with nets and spears watching him. One hurls its net towards him but he manages to dodge as he runs to the grove of trees around the pool.

Back at the pool Talia ties a rope around her waste and hands it to Adda before wading towards the center of the pool. She can feels cool water flowing into the pool for the spring in the center. Murf exclains “I have an idea!” He mutters something and suddenly both Talia and Murf collapse. Adda quickly pulls Talia from the pool and sets her on the grass. Then Adda hears Kosef come rushing back to the grove. As she turns she sees a huge toad leaping towards them. She quickly flings her hand ax, sinking it into the toads mass as it crashes into the ground behind Kosef bitting both his legs and grasping them in its mouth. Kosef cries out in paid as he manages to slip out of the Toads maw. Adda brings her great ax over her shoulder and slashes across the toads side. Kosef limps to the edge of the pool, one of his legs numb from the venom of the toads bite. He stumbles to Talia’s side and shakes her awake. As Adda prepares to attack the toad again the two frog like humanoids rush forward stabbing at her with spears, she manages to knock one of the attackers aside as he stumbles to the ground but the other jabs the spear into her side. Enraged she grabs the spear and shoves the blunt end back into the body of the frogman. The frogman lets out two croaks and all three of the frog creatures bound away.

Kosef wakes up Murf and the group quick retreats down the streets of Tordan and back towards the Helping Hand. They arrive safely and Adda manages to heal some of Kosef’s wounded leg. She takes a minute to go out into the sun and say a prayer. The group eats some food and recovers from their picnic.

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Customizing D&D 5e Leveling

Let’s try something. Leveling up is an abstraction from the story. It breaks the fiction and limits character’s options by forcing them into predefined templates. Instead of leveling up with XP all advancement is through in game actions such as training, practice and discovery.

My goal as a DM and a story teller is to create a world that is a living and breathing story in which the players can play and the characters can live. I want to maximize the things that bring that world to life and minimize the things that break the fiction or take our minds out of the fantasy world. Leveling up is one of the mechanics that is really abstracted from the world. There are several good reasons for this:

  • A Reward system that is standardized and easy to use.
  • Makes the game much more accessible to DMs and players.
  • Keeps characters somewhat balanced.
  • Requires almost no work or interactions from the DM making their job easier.

So why would anyone want to change something as complex and integral to the game as leveling? What would be the advantages and disadvantages for players and dms?

Try something new
I have played in and and DMed a lot of D&D games and it has been great. I always have fun, but the more I play the more I want to create something even better. Leveling up is one of the highlights of D&D for most players. Recently I played in a game were there were no classes or levels. The only way to gain powers and skills was through actions. Getting XP by fighting random things no longer made sense. Instead the focus shifted to gathering information and learning new skills and powers through training, research and magic. I found this to be very rewarding and fun and made the story congruent with the characters advancement, the fiction was preserved.

More flexibility
Classes are templates that characters are forced into. Although most classes have several options they are based on stereotypical archetypes. Even with different options available I find that characters end up being similar and limited, and often they need more depth and variety. Multi-classing can solve some of these problems but honestly I don’t know if I have ever seen multi-classing used as part of the fiction, it seems to just be used for min/maxing.

Leveling is usually disconnected from the world and story
This is my biggest complaint with how leveling up works. Not only is it completely disconnected from the world but it often breaks the fiction. There is no reason to gather resources, find the weaknesses of your enemies and makes plans to defeat your nemesis when you become more powerful simply murdering everything you meet. Think of any fantasy book or movie, the protagonists act with purpose to solve their problems and reach their goals. They don’t attack random creatures until they are almost god like and then destroy their enemies. They must find ways to reach their goals through their actions. To accumulate specific knowledge and power which will allow them to defeat their enemies and overcome the challenges they face. This is leveling up in the world instead of outside of it.

Magic Item relevance
Everyone loves magic items but they are often completely unnecessary. Almost any benefits a magic item can grant can also be achieved by gaining a couple of levels. Many magic items lose relevance quickly as levels are gained, especially when you consider the HP gains per level and how they define how powerful a creature is. I want magic items to be difference makers, unique and powerful with lasting implications on the world and story.

I covered some of the advantages and my personal goals but I will get more into the advantages and disadvantages  next time…

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The Island

After much discussion the party decided to go with Loru and Garfin to investigate their family’s killer. Garin picked up some supplies while the party discussed how to get Rakham’s stolen pack back. Garfin promised he would help retrieve the pack if Rakham helped them. With that the party left the Helping Hand and followed Garfin through the streets of Tordan heading west. Passing the market the streets became less and less inhabited until they reached the river. At the river Garfin turned right and followed a small path. Along the way they noticed something large in the water coming towards them. The group carefully moved away from the water and continued along the path. After of few hours of travel along the river’s bank and through uninhabited ruins that nature had reclaimed many years ago the river widened into a lake with an island in it. On the island the ruins of a small keep were clearly visible. Kosef lead the party along the lake shore to get a better vantage point of the island. There he noticed a small creature, a halfling hidden in the foliage. After several tense moments and many threats the group decided that the halfling was probably harmless and was also interested in the island, saying something unnatural was there.

After some observation several clearly unnatural creatures could be seen wondering around the islands southern shore and in and out of the keep’s ruined courtyard. They appeared humanoid but disfigured and deformed. The group decided to approach the island from the backside of the keep where they would have cover from the islands inhabitants. Garfin produced a bottle of magical liquid which each of the group drank from and grew small gills on the sides of their neck. The group carefully swam under the late to the island and moved around to the back of the keep before surfacing.

Once there Adda climbed to the top of the wall. When she reached the top of the keep’s wall she could see human in the middle of the open courtyard below. His clothes were in tatter as he stared straight ahead. Crouched on the edge of the wall to stay out of view Adda moved to the right and climbed to the top of the tower and over the battlement, onto the roof.

The rest of the party followed Adda up the wall and were able to secure a rope. As everyone clambered to the top of the wall they could see several of the same creatures visible from the lake shore in the courtyard below.

Now on the tower roof Adda started to lower herself into the towers topmost chamber through the trapdoor in the towers roof. As she did she noticed a demonic looking creature on the ceiling of the chamber. It was the size of a large dog and shaped like a huge fly with a large pointed proboscis. It turned towards her with domed eyes. She quickly pulled herself back up onto the roof and a terrible sound buzzing erupted from the tower. The creature rose out of the trap door and attacked. The sound of the creature was so terrible that Talia collapsed in a heap on the top of the wall. Murf managed catch her before she fell off the wall. Adda drew her great ax and attacked the monstrosity striking it with a mighty blow but it stabbed her with its proboscis and a black spiderweb like patter immediately surrounded the wound.

Loru and Garfin recognizing the man in the courtyard below recklessly repelled down to the ground on the rope they had used to climb up. Rakham and Kosef followed. As they did the malformed creatures rushed to attack. One of the creatures belched forth a swarm of sickening insect like creatures but Loru and Kosef managed to fight on. Murf managed to awaken Talia and they stayed on top of the wall assisting Adda before climbing down the rope to aid the rest of the group. As the two disgusting creatures were cut down another three rushed in from the front of the keep, one of them a massive human like creature, as wide as it was tall, its body covered in fat and discolored skin which looked almost rotten. During the battle Loru was knocked unconscious when largest creature picked him up and threw him into Kosef. Kosef was also grabbed, lifted off his feet and effortlessly thrown into Murf. As the battle started to turn against the monsters the human whom Loru recognized as Garuuk began to twitch and his body seemed to be growing from the inside. His appearance seemed to change to match more of the creatures he fraught with. He rushed into battle attacking Garfin, Talia and Rakham.

Finally the creatures were defeated and Adda managed to finish off the flying creatures and two others which crawled out of the tower. They looked like a larval stage of the same creature. Garfin fed Loru a potion and he regained consciousness. He rushed to where Garuuk had fallen, still breathing. His eyes stared into the sky, as he muttered, his face twisted and tormented. Finally he eyes met Loru’s with some recognition. “Kill me” he muttered and his eyes went distant again. Then Garuuk’s body shuttered and lurched as talons grew from his fingers and ridges along his shoulders and he took one final grasp at Loru before Loru ended his life. As he did a shadowy form appeared to leave Garuuk’s body. it seemed to hover for just a second above him in the form of a shapely womans body and then it was gone.

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A Tordan Night

After meeting Adda at the temple of Nian the party returned to the friendly confined of the Helping Hand for food and drinks. Having a couple of drinks and a hearty meal the group decided to go investigate the Well that they had seen in the abandoned Plaza the previous day. It was already dark as the group left the Helping Hand. The street called the Weeping Hill circle was empty as they made their way west. The darkness of night only illuminated by the occasional lantern hanging off the stone wall that separates the Weeping hill from the rest of Tordan.

Turning left down a smaller abandoned street the silence of the night was even more noticeable. The only sounds were that of boots on cobble stone and the insects which chirped quietly in the distance. At the Well the faint sounds of flowing water could be heard to the southwest and Kosef caught the another sound on the breeze, the sound of something moving. Rakham investigated the interior of the Well but it looked undisturbed with moss growing in the cracks of the stone. The sound that Kosef had hear earlier was suddenly much louder as something approached from an alley to the west. As Rakham moved forward to prepared his bear trap a strange looking lizard nearly the size of a horse rushed out of the darkness. Its heavy body covered in large scales, its feet webbed, a long thick tail trailing behind it and its narrow mouth was filled with thin sharp teeth. As they would later learn from Dagmar this was called a Mudtiger and it was probably a young one. Rakham quickly dropped his bear trap in front of him as the lizard rushed forward and attacked. The trap snapped onto one of its legs. The Mudtiger snapped at Rakham as he tried to hammer a metal stake between the cobble stones with his sword that would keep the lizard in place. As the party attacked the beast the two strange lumps along its neck pulsed and an electrical blast surged from its body. Rakam and Adda were both caught in the blast but only Rakham was hurt badly. Rakam’s sword stuck firmly to the metal stake he had been driving into the ground as he pulled his hand away. Rakham’s experience as a hunter and warrior took over as his adrenalin surged and he found a burst of energy, a second wind, and retreated back towards the Well. As he did the Mudtiger jaws clamped around his leg tearing his flesh and badly injuring his leg. Adda continued her attack on the creature, joined by Kosef and ranged attacks from Loru. The Mudtiger snapped at Adda again but a mighty blow from her sword dropped it to the ground and it struggled no more.

The plaza once again fell silent. After examining the body of the Mudtiger Kosef and Loru began cutting scales off the creature. A sound from the Well grabbed the groups attention and they turned to see a creature peering over the edge of the Well watching them. It quickly ducked out of view and when they raced to the Well it was gone. Loru moved towards the street which led back to the Weeping hill and waited for the rest of the group to finish butchering the Mudtiger. Rakham, Kosef and Adda heard the sound of something drop onto the cobble stone and noticed Loru was no longer in sight. Kosef and Adda rushed to the street as two daggers flow past them from a building on the left. Adda turned down the street to see Loru being choked and dragged away from the plaza. As Kosef and Adda attacked the creature it released Loru retreated into the darkness of a ruined building. Rakham, now alone at the body of the Mudtiger heard a slight sound behind him and turned to see another of these creatures approaching him from behind. Rakham turned to face his attacker but twice its swords slipped past his defenses and he fell into darkness. As the rest of the group rushed back into the plaza they saw another of the creatures hunched over Rakham, seeing them it grabbed Rakham’s bag and retreated. The party quickly picked up Rakham and fled back to The Helping Hand. The door was barred but after a few loud bangs Dagmar appeared to let them and secured the door behind them.

After tending to Rakham’s wounds everyone put in for the night. The next morning Loru went to The Merchant’s Friend and found his brother. Adda went to the temple of Nian and trained. Loru and Garfin returned to the inn and made plans to go to the island in the lake.

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It’s better to be wanted than had

Seeing The Lord’s Watch coming out of The Helping Hand Kosef tried to turn Loru before he was noticed but Loru, not aware of what was happening, resisted. However his disguise seemed to work as and he and Kosef quickly turned away from the group and walked up the street, turning down the first alley. Rakham, seeing the group walked forward to greet them. They asked where the half elf was but Rakham said he didn’t know and smoked his pipe nonchalantly. Zadok told Rakham if he wanted to make some easy coin to inform him of the half-elf’s location. Then The Lord’s Watch continued up the street.

The group continued into The Helping Hand, speaking to Dagmar about the problems while Loru waited outside. Dagmar said that he told the Lord’s Watch nothing and they probably wouldn’t be back. Kosef gave him a GP for helping them but he refused it and put it towards food and drink for them for the day.

After some time has passed Loru joined the group in the Helping Hand. He paid 3 more GP on his debit to Dagmar and 3 GP for helping. Dagmar said he should have some information about his brother tonight or tomorrow. The group then setup for the Temple of Eiah. On the way they passed a post board with notices near the west gate to the Weeping Hill. There was a poster about the Day of the Hunt and also a wanted poster for Talia for 80GP and a second wanted poster for a Brutish looking human with a shaved head and a scar on this head and a bounty of 100gp for Murder and Slaving.

The party sans Adda went to the Temple of Eiah and talked to a priestess there with long straight black hair and a scarred lip and missing tooth. She was speaking with two High Hill Hunters as they walked entered. Rakham asked her about the Temple of Eiah and she told him a bit about the fall of Tordan and the story of Darien Justice. Kosef talked to her privately and asked how the temple could help against evil and magic, she said that the temple could train him but he was not interested.

A storm hit as the the group left the temple drenching everyone in the rain. Talia was spotting by four High Hill Hunters. She ran down a side street and climbing onto the roof while Loru and Rakham tried to distract the four humans. The downpour helped Talis hide on the roof and when two of the managed to follow Talia’s path into the side street she created a sound at the other end of the street. The High Hill Hunters followed the sound. Eventually four guards from the temple rushed down the street to help as things escalated between two of the High Hill Hunters and Loru and Rakham. Then Kosef returned and the three of them moved down the road. Talia managed to fall off the roof and meet up with the group shortly after. Loru used a magic tune to heal her after the fall.

After leaving the Temple of Eiah the group went to the Three Hills Square and found some shops after the rain stopped. Rakham found the Ilka’s Blades and Kosef noticed a beautiful greatsword on the wall. He convinced Ilka to sell it for 100 GP. Kosef commissioned a high quality dagger from Ilka’s blades for 5 GP, will be ready in 2-3 days. Rakham asked about renting a space for 1 GP/day to work there and she said it would be ready in a few days. He also learned about the Day of the Hunt on the 4th day of Elil, found out that most hunters go east but the most dangerous areas are north east to the old city from the boy working at Ilka’s Blades.

Returned to the Inn where Luro worked on a disguise for Talia while the rest of the party went and met with Adda at the Temple of Nian.

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A walk to the Temple

Adda and Talia left the Underfarms carrying an unconscious Kosef. After Talia failed in her attempt to persuade a donkey to help them, the smaller tiefling managed to acquire information on the location of the Temple of Nian, a place to get help for the injured human. After hiking out of the Underfarms and north for about an hour they arrived at the temple of Nian. There, Adda took a vow to the Temple of Nian with her own blood and a promise not to go to any of the other Temples in order to help heal Kosef in a strange ritual performed by the bald priest. She also asked if the Temple could train here in the ways of healing. The priest told her to return in the morning.

Meanwhile, Loru and Rakham stayed behind, taking care of the slayed creature. The Dwarf harvested the creatures six tentacles and a single eye and then they decided to go to the tavern, assuming that the rest of the party will probably arrive there later. Waiting there, the bard haggled with Dagmar, the Innkeeper of the Helping Hand, and sold him some of the creature’s remains. Later that day, after Adda, Talia and Kosef returned, the group gathered together in the tavern and they feasted and bathed. After having a tense discussion with Dagmar, Kosef also managed to get an all inclusive, free stay at the tavern. Rakham also learned about a grey dragon, seemingly roaming somewhere east, 2 days travel from the weeping hill. Then they went to their rooms for the night’s rest.

Morning came and after a brief breakfast they decided to go to the market and, later, back to that temple. During their walk, they encountered a group of some apparently infamous individuals from The Lord’s Watch. Loru fooled their leader with some charming words and a little bit of magic. After they gained some distance, the party fled down an alley south from Weeping Hill Circle to hide from the now, probably angry, men. Hiding in the ruins of a building Talia decided to climb on top of the wall to get a look down the street. There she was spotted big two giant wasps almost a meter in length. She was able to cause one of the creatures to retreat back into a home in some brambles but the second Wasp flew towards her. She dropped from the wall and landed awkwardly on the floor. As the Wasp followed it was the party attacked and killed it with arrows and daggers.  Unharmed, they continued south coming to an old abandoned plaza with a stone well in its center.

The well appeared old and unused for many years. Dropping a torch into the will revealed that it was perhaps 15 meters deep and ended in a dirt floor with some sort of passageway leading way from the bottom. After a few minutes the touch light disappeared. The part decided not to investigate the well any further for the time being.

While the rest of the group remained hidden in the ruins of a building on the edge of the plaza Kosef made his way to the market to go shopping. The human carefully made his way to the market undisturbed and, while buying, acquired some information about the band called the Hill Hunters. He returned to the party and from there, they headed towards the temple of Nian while avoiding the main roads as much as possible.

Inside the temple’s open air courtyard  they had a long discussion with the priest, as Adda decided to try the acolyte training. Talia stole some bread from a table but a priest noticed as she did and simply smiled at her. Full of suspicions, they left the tiefling there, settling on picking her up in the evening. Loru and Kosef went back to the Helping Hand to have a talk with Dagmar about them not ever being there. Unfortunately, they discovered that the previously encountered group has already made their way there…

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The chance meeting of a strange group

Few tales begin without noble knights and highborn princesses. Legends need powerful heroes and dragons to slain. Adventures, however, can start with but a little bit of ale… Theirs started in an ancient city of Tordan. It was in one of the city’s taverns, the Helping Hand, where the lives of Loru, Adda, Kosef, Rakham and Talia would be intertwined with each other’s. After some, more or less friendly, introductions the group sat together and shared some cups of ale, while being surveyed on their preferable weapons by the dwarf. The barkeep, noticing this rather colorful bunch, offered them some coin for hunting crickets in the underfarms, as they, terrifyingly for the bard, happen to be a delicacy in these areas.

Following the directions of Dagmar the barkeep at the Helping Hand the group followed the ring road around the Weeping Hill  and arrived at the east game. There they turned right and proceeded to the entrance of the Underfarms without incident. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary and what looked like farmers came and went. The group entered the caves, making there way down a slopping tunnel marked with ware. After a few minutes they reached a huge open cavern with rows of various types of huge fungus being tended to by farmers.

Sending Loru on the hunt for the map of the tunnels he managed with a few charming words to find where best safe hunting area was. However he decided not to go there. Not revealing this to others he lead them to another passageway on the left side of the farms. After descending for another ten minutes the group came to a junction with four new directions to proceed. After taking some time to investigate the tunnel leading upwards to the left and another that dropped steeply into darkness on the right the group continued forward. Almost immediately a darkness engulfed Kosef as he let out a cry. After one failed attempt Loru was able to use him magic to illuminate the creatures in the darkness. There they discovered a strange, tentacle creature that had engulfed Kosef. After server Ax blows, dagger slashes and arrows the creature lifted off of Kosef and fell to the cold stone floor. Kosef was unconscious on the ground below, crushed by and spiked by the strange beast. After the group managed to slay the beast it took a team effort stabilized the human, few seconds before it was too late.

They quickly scooped him up and began to retreat back up the tunnel towards the underfarms with Loru attempting to drag the leather corpse of the creature behind.

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We return to the Stonehill Inn around midday and immediately find Gundren. He asks if we have any new information about his brothers and we admit that we haven’t. We decide that the Wave Echo Cave is the most likely place that we’ll find them and Gundren tells us exactly how to find it. Before leaving Phandalin we pop over to Barthan’s Provisions and buy as much cave-diving gear as we can carry.

Leaving Phandalin, we make our way to the entrance of the cave without incident. There is a slight breeze going into the cave. We decide to approach as cautiously as possible, sending Liarel ahead in rat form to act as our scout. After about thirty feet the entrance tunnel opens up onto a larger cave. Liarel sees a bedroll to the west and a rope descending into a pit to the north. She hears a crashing sound echo through the tunnels. Examining the west, she finds two additional bedrolls, a large quantity of supplies, and a body which smells quite rotten. The rest of the group follows Liarel into the cave and examine the body. It appears to be a dwarf, possibly resembling Gundren, but it has been dead long enough that it is difficult to tell. The bedrolls are all dwarf sized. We determine that the pit is the only way forward.

Never puts Liarel in her pocket and the group climbs down the rope. At the bottom we send Liarel back down the left hand passage, but the air feels still there so she returns and leads the group to the right. We continue to follow the wind, marking the cave wall at each turn, until we come upon a natural cave with reliefs of dwarves carved into the walls. Dozens of skeletons litter the floor. They appear to be mostly dwarves, but we also notice several orcs. Three passageways lead out.

Stepping into the cave, the group is immediately attacked by about half a dozen bat-like creatures with razor-sharp proboscises. Three swoop down onto Mella, one stabbing him in the neck. Three more land on Danak and another bites into Droop. Never rips one of the creatures off of Mella, sending it flying off, while Elada crushes the one which attacked Droop. Liarel returns to elf form and shoots another off of Mella right before Mella turns into a panther, sending the last creature flying off. Danak slams himself into the wall, crushing two of them, as Droop swings wildly at one of the remaining ones in the air, slashing it to pieces. The last one on Danak, fat and happy with blood, flies off. Three more attach to Elada, Liarel, and Mella, with a fourth flying around Droop. Elada quickly crushes the one attached to herself, Danak stomps the creature on Mella, and Never detaches the one on Liarel, holding it in place as Liarel stabs it with an arrow. Panther Mella bites the remaining creature out of the air, and off in the distance we hear a thundering crash.

We follow the wind and the sound of waves, Mella scouting ahead in panther form. He comes upon a large, open space covered with strange fungi and immediately returns to the group to lead us in the opposite direction. We come to a door behind which is a room full of bunks and bones, with three grey figures hunched in the middle gnawing on bones. As they turn to look at us Elada shuts and bars the door. We take the one remaining path forward, heading north and passing a storage room. Eventually we find our way to a large chamber with two long tables in the middle, again littered with skeletal remains, escarpments to either side. Mella smells rotting flesh as Danak’s light shines on a handful of grey creatures running toward us. We make quick work of the creatures and stop to check the rest of the room.

Moving forward we come upon a room with a water wheel and bellows. Inside we see more corpses (these looking somewhat less ancient than the bones we’ve encountered thus far) lying below a floating skull engulfed in green flame. We find that the skull turns to watch us no matter which door we stand in and eventually decide to just try talking to it. Mella begins to assure the skull that we are friends of the Rockseekers, but the skull seems to have no response. We decide to listen at the door down the hall from the room’s entrance. We hear voices but none of us understand what is being said until Droop tells us, “They’re hungry”. We decide to go rest on one of the escarpments before moving forward.

After our rest Droop tells us the voices behind the door are “big” and we decide we want to know more about the skull. We send Mella ahead to talk to the skull, but the moment he steps into the room the corpses beneath the skull animate and all eight of them shamble toward the hallway. Mella manages to block about half of the corpses with a flaming sphere and the group slowly manages to wear them down as the skull looks on, occasionally attacking us itself. During the fight Droop once again proves to be our most useful member, managing to make the killing blow on a few of the corpses. After a good long while the skull calls the corpses back before spitting out an explosion. While most of the group manages to jump out of the way, Liarel, Droop, and Danak fall unconscious.

We quickly realize that this is not the hill we want to die on and retreat, Elada carrying Liarel and Droop off and Mella feeding Danak a goodberry so he can run away on his own. We make our way back to the escarpment and Liarel heals everyone (having been fed a goodberry by Elada). We decide to rest again, this time in the storage room we happened upon a while back. Once we are done with our rest we head back to the skull room just to see if we can approach the room without getting attacked and promptly learn we cannot. After much discussion we decide to try the room at the end of the hall, which we suspect is full of bugbears. Before we progress we hear shuffling from one of the escarpments and see a bugbear peering down at us. We miss him with a series of ranged attacks and he runs off. We proceed to the bugbear room.

Mella listens at the door, hearing nothing. He signals and we all rush forward, but the door doesn’t budge. Elada and Mella manage to force the door open, revealing five bugbears staring back at us. We retreat and they shut the door. Left with no other way forward we decide to just try booking it through the skull room.

Under cover of a fog cloud we hear the shuffling of the reanimated corpses but run through the room anyway. In the next hallway, out of the fog, we keep running but no attack follows us. We quickly find ourselves in a large, natural cavern. There is a building ahead of us and glittering across the ceiling of the huge chamber but otherwise it sits in darkness. The floor is littered with remains. We decide to check out the building, but see a greenish glow coming from inside and realize it’s probably best if we try to proceed elsewhere.

In the room with the glittering lights, everything looks like stars. We hear a loud crashing sound and feel a light spray from a passage way to the left. Through the passageway we come to a path with a ledge to the right. Below the ledge we see a body of water flowing out of the room. We follow the ledge and come to a tunnel which leads to a natural cavern with a rift in it. Looking down we see three bugbears moving rocks. On the other side of the cavern is a drow, watching.




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The Orcs in Wyvern Tor

The group reconvenes and discusses at great length how to best handle the orcs. As this goes on, Elada hears general conversation coming from the cave, one voice louder and deeper than the rest, speaking with a heavy accent. There is more activity in the cave as time goes on. Orders are heard and the fire in the cave goes out.

We decide that this is the time to move. Liarel casts goodberry and gives two to each member of the party, then casts fog above the guard outside the cave. As the fog descends, obfuscating our approach, Mella transforms into a panther and he and Elada approach the guard through the fog. The rest of the team moves around the fog to reach either side of the cave entrance.

Within the fog, Elada hears the guard voice confusion before she and Mella stumble into him. As the guard recognizes her, Elada cuts a gash in his armor with her great sword. He responds by catching her in the shoulder with his axe. Mella leas forward and bites the guard, a terrible taste filling his mouth. The guard calls out for reinforcements just before Elada, raging, slices through his face. The guard falls and disappears into the fog. Elada runs off to the right to join Danak.

A large, hulking humanoid with a giant axe comes out of the cave followed by five orcs including Brogar. Liarel casts faerie fire, illuminating the mouth of the cave as well as the giant and one of the orcs. The giant and three of the orcs begin heading for Elada and Danak. The giant almost brings Danak down with one swing of his axe and hardly seems to feel Elada’s attack. Mella spots Brogar and one other orc scanning the area and pounces. Brogar catches Mella midair with his axe, turning him back into an elf. From the left, Never casts witchbolt, sending a wave of electrical energy out at the giant as Danak slams into him with his great axe, causing the giant to stumble to the ground, still breathing.

Having sneaked through the fog, Droop stabs his dagger into Brogar’s side causing him to drop Mella. Brogar kicks out at Droop but Droop dodges. Mella tells Droop to go into the forest and find a blue flower with red thorns. He says this is very important. Droop sees no forest.

Elada swings at the giant while fending off the orcs’ attacks. Never sends out one more blast of witch bolt and the giant falls to the ground, charred. Liarel casts Melf’s acid arrow, burning an orc that had attacked her and Never. On the other side of the cave entrance, Danak and Elada make quick work of the glowing orc, who falls and is left to bleed out. Droop stabs Brogar again before retreating.

Mella unleashes thunderwave, dashing Brogar into the rocks, killing him. Danak knocks one of the remaining orcs into another as Elada produces a length of rope. Seeing the rope, the three remaining orcs begin to flee. Mella runs into the cave to investigate and Liarel thornwhips the only orc she can still see, bringing him closer to the group. The orc tries to run away, but Elada clocks him in the face, knocking him out.

Inside the cave, Mella opens a chest to find twenty pounds worth of coins and three vials of clear liquid. He pockets all of it, unable to determine what the liquid in the vials might be.

Outside, the group binds and questions the orc, but he does not respond. Liarel and Mella heal the party and Mella offers Droop as many coins as he wants from his pack. After Droop has filled his pack, Liarel takes the remaining coins and divides them up for the group. Meanwhile Never pulls Elada out of earshot and asks her to teach her how to say “you have to tell her the truth” in orcish. After a few attempts Never is able to say the phrase in heavily accented orcish and the two return to the group. Never casts suggestion on the orc, indicating Elada as the “her” in question and the group begins questioning the orc anew.

The orc begins answering our questions, but we can’t be sure if the spell worked or if it failed and the orc is lying to us. He says that Ohbarn is their leader and that the many arrows are located about four days to the north. He says that they are thousands strong and soon this all will be theirs. Danak beheads him and the questioning is done.

Mella digs a number of graves and collects a number of teeth while the rest of us set up camp in the cave. The night goes by without incident and we head back to the Old Owl Well. As we approach Kost halts his zombies and we relay to him what we have learned. Mella mentions that an army may be coming but Kost seems unperturbed. Never looks around the ruins with her Eldritch sight, but sees nothing magical. Liarel talks to Kost who says he is there to research the history of the Owl Well, but he has yet to learn anything. He says there is a creature in Conyberry with great knowledge who may have the information he seeks-namely the identity of the Owl Well’s creator. Mella presents Kost with the vials, realizing that one has gone missing, and they are revealed to be non-magical perfume. Coming back to the group, Never sees a glow of abjuration magic and two evocation magics coming through Kost’s tent.

Kost asks us to seek out the creature named Agatha in Conyberry and tells us he is a wizard of Thay. Never knows that they are a well known faction of magic users and Danak knows that they are unfriendly with the lords of Waterdeep, his hometown. Kost says he will keep his eyes out for any other disturbances in the area and we decide to head back to Phandelin.

On our trip, Mella questions the meaning of life and Danak voices his suspicion of the Thay wizards. We are all suddenly very aware that Kost was interested in where we left the orcs’ bodies. Never gets short with Danak who continues on his explanation of why the Thay are not to be trusted.

Back in Phandelin, Danak makes sure there are no new issues in the area and we get Droop outfitted with a child’s sword and some studded leather armor. Danak, Mella, and Liarel go to the shrine of luck to discuss the banshee Agatha with the priestess there. The priestess says Agatha must be given a suitable gift in order to answer questions, but she does not know how many questions each gift is good for. The priestess gives the group a silver comb to present to Agatha and asks that we ask for the location of a spellbook. She will not say why she wants it, only that it is not for her and that she may trust us more later. Mella gets snappy with the priestess, going so far as to claim she may be evil, and the priestess seems genuinely offended. Liarel and Danak manage to get the conversation back on track and they learn that the priestess had tried to ask Agatha herself, but could not get her to appear. She believes Agatha is harmless unless provoked. They discuss whether the perfume Mella found would be a good offering to Agatha and Liarel realizes that Droop smells very strongly of perfume. She tries to tell him that less is more, but he remains unconvinced.

Elada and Never go off to check in with Derren Eddermath. He seems concerned about the wizards of Thay and the army of orcs. He says the Owl Well was an old Nethereese outpost.

The group reconvenes and runs a few errands before returning to the Townmaster’s Hall to speak with Sildar. He is concerned about the orc army and says we should send word to the Lord’s Alliance. Danak tells him about Kost and Sildar also responds with suspicion.

We decide to meet up with Gundren at the Inn.

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