Princes of the Apocalypse - Rogue Valley

Princes of the Apocalypse Session 2
Chapter 6, What Lies Beneath

Roster
Today’s players:
Legolast, a Wood Elf Ranger 2 (Outlander) of the Emerald Enclave
Dorrin, a Hill Dwarf Druid 1 (Folk Hero) of the Emerald Enclave
Torgo, a Duergar Rogue 1/Fighter 1 (Urban Bounty Hunter)
Ember Hawkwinter, a Fire Genasi Wizard 1 (Noble) of the Zhentarim

Narrative
13 Mirtul 1491, suppertime
As the sky cleared and the first streaks of sunset appeared in the west, the victorious trio stopped just outside of town to awaken their unconscious prisoner. He answered their questions, saying his tribe sent him and his brothers as scouts across the river from their lodge in the High Forest. The orog of the Iceshield Orcs, Garnash, told them that “Gruumsh [the orcish deity] has shown through weather omens that it is time for blood and gold to flow from lands of lesser races to the Iceshield Orcs.” Though these scouts had not waylaid any travelers on the road, the early warning of a possible orc incursion was valuable information, so the party turned their prisoner over to constable Harburk, who rewarded them with 15 gp.
At the Swinging Sword, a knock on Ember’s door revealed Ghileeda, who related that supper was about to be served. Ember made his way to the dining room, and sat down next to a terse couple at the bar; one was a weathered-looking man in working clothes, and the other was a hard-looking woman with tightly-curled gray hair. Ember put their suppers on his tab, and the man related he didn’t mind the supper here because he couldn’t smell, and the woman told Ember she had heard of a large treasure lost somewhere within Tricklerock Cave.
Leaving the constable’s, the trio of adventurers split up, with Torgo heading to the Sword to see about lodging, Legolast going to the Helm at Highsun tavern to meet her friend Holg; and Dorrin (on Harburk’s advice) made his way to the Allfaiths Shrine to look for some healing. Outside, he saw one stout male priest practicing some martial exercises, and inside, a grandmotherly priestess of Sune consoling a young mother who was on her way out. Lymmura told Dorrin that something in the woods had scared young Pell Mhandyvver recently – what she called a ghost. Dorrin could find the girl Pell at her grandmother Minny’s poultry, if he wanted. Lymmura then dug around in her acolyte traveling trunk and produced a potion of healing, asking Dorrin to contribute to the alms box on his way out. Dorrin did so, then headed off to the Helm, where Holg bought a round of ale for his guard and mercenary friends, who proceeded to regale Legolast with tales of banditry on the roads surrounding Red Larch. Dorrin received an offer of lodging from his farmer friend Mikhail, in appreciation of his capturing the orc, then joined the large table to hear the rest of the area’s troubles with bandits. A gruff and pot-bellied man tapped a keg, to the celebration of all.
Back at the Sword, Torgo and Ember saw the proprietor Kaylessa enter in company with the baker, delivering an armful of loaves for dinner; the friendly baker nodded a greeting as he left, and Torgo negotiated with Kaylessa for a room. The man at the bar left while the woman took her plate over to the fireplace area. Fairly soon, a man Ember recognized as Ilmeth Waelvur joined the woman at the fireplace. They set up some kind of game of dominoes on a square playing board and fell to murmuring together about constructing sledges to be used hauling quarry rock.
Over at the Helm, as Legolast bought another round, Holg’s friends seemed to relate more and more outlandish tales. Zomith, the glowering half-orc, entered the tavern with a sharp eye out for someone; she was dragging along a taller, meatier half-orc named Grund, who was much more genial and appeared to be something of a town favorite. “Bring any pickles, Grund?” “Here, Grund, have a drink!” [The dinner counted as a short rest and Dorrin rolled a hit dice for some healing.]
In the inn across the street, a pleasant elderly woman entered. Her friendly greeting towards the pair at the fireplace was rebuffed but she received a warm welcome from Kaylessa, and the fast friends fell to conversation, while Torgo and Ember finished their meals. Then, a cloud of smoke drifted into the room from a doorway behind the bar, and all the patrons were asked to leave the building momentarily while the staff dealt with a kitchen fire.
Not seeing who she was looking for at the tavern, Zomith dragged Grund out of the Helm as the guards finished telling their ruffian tales. Legolast suggested they all meet at the Helm again tomorrow to organized against the bandits, and at this point, a bard tuned up and began a birthday celebration for a family of five strong-looking folks seated nearby. Dorrin and Legolast headed for the street, where they saw Ember and Torgo shadowing the murmuring pair from the Swinging Sword. The pair separated, with the woman heading north and our party deciding to follow Waelvur back to this wagon shop.
Each member of the party found a way within the late evening traffic to evade notice by the town constables on their beats, and staked out Waelvur’s residence, eventually finding good hiding places within the yard behind Waelvur’s workshop. But, when midnight came and went without any activity from Waelvur or anyone else, the characters all poked around the yard and found a sloping wooden door that looked as if it led to a storm cellar. They discovered it actually led to a long underground tunnel that sloped gently down, and unlit torches just inside the door indicated it was used often and used recently.
Following the tunnel, they found a large natural cavern with an uncertain roof; there didn’t appear to be any stone above them, only packed dirt. But at one side of the chamber was an ancient stone door in excellent working condition. A couple of beat-up brown cloaks were next to the door, and donned by Ember and Legolast. Behind the door was a long, dark tunnel built with dwarven stone. Partly down the tunnel, they found two relief carvings of matching dwarves, facing each other across the tunnel, which turned out to be secret doors. Taking the north tunnel, the party found a small stone chamber with three corpses in it. One was obviously a local worker, and killed some time ago; the other two were shaggy-haired travelers. All three had a symbol posthumously carved into their foreheads, like a triangle with a stele on the flat base.
After obliterating the five giant rats that had been making a meal of the corpses, the party proceeded to another small chamber of dwarven masonry; this chamber had nothing but a floating rock in the middle of the room. Legolast checked for wires or anything else holding the stone up, but eventually they all just shrugged and moved on. The tunnel bent back toward the south, and ended at another stone door to a 50’ square chamber with a petrified dwarf in the center of the room. The statue was broken in three but held together in a wooden frame, with an inscription stating it had been found in a quarry about fifty years ago. Offerings of gemstones, coins, and a (possibly magic) dagger with dried blood on the blade were laid at its feet. After checking for traps, the party collected the treasure and Ember wrapped up the dagger in his handkerchief and stowed it in his backpack.
The party then opened a stone door to the west, discovering another 50’ square room; but this one was inhabited. A child was pinned under heavy rocks in the center, and the half-orc they recognized as Grund was peering down the tunnel to the west. Grund was shocked when the adventurers entered the room behind him, but before he could turn hostile, Ember cast Charm Person on him. From Grund, the players learned that the levers by his door operated traps in the long tunnel outside; that some of the town elders are in a secret group called the Believers, and he’s guarding these tunnels for them; that they take care of him, so he does what they tell him to do; that he dragged the corpses from the “Tomb of Moving Stones” to the side chamber; and that one can freely pick up the floating rock from that side chamber. If one set it in the air in the middle of that room it’d just stay there, as if one had set it on an invisible table.
The boy, Braelen, was drifting in and out of consciousness, but after Legolast and Dorrin lifted the heavy stones off his back and given him food and water, he revived enough to share that his own father, Rotharr Hatherhand, had placed him here as punishment for failing to deliver a message from Rotharr to Ilmeth Waelvur.
It was at this point that the heroes heard a shout from the western tunnel, “A Believer approaches!” They prepared for battle, and got Grund to hold the door shut; but it became clear that Grund wasn’t going to be able to hold for long. Torgo pulled levers as Grund had described, and traps fell in the hallway, caging the six robed and masked figures who approached.
The group sent Grund and the boy out through the side tunnels, and proceeded through the petrified dwarf statue room to the eastern door, which opened to reveal a short tunnel. At the end of the tunnel was a closed stone door, and seated on a stool in front of it was an old man whittling a stick in the light of a lantern, terrified of the intruders, he threw himself on the floor and begged for mercy.
Interrogating him, the party discovered his name was Baragustas; that he was a Believer, and confirmed that Waelvur, Mellikho, and Gaelkur also were; that they believed entities known as the “Delvers” moved the threat stones around in the room behind him as a means of communicating when the Believers were about to make bad choices for the town; that Larrakh and the “earth priests” known as the “Bringers of Woe” have been helping interpret the meaning of the omens. The company decided to let Baragustas go, and he took the lantern and escaped through the side chambers, while the party prepared to enter the Tomb of Moving Stones and confront Larrakh.

Next Session: Monday, December 7, 2015

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Princes of the Apocalypse Session 1
Chapter 2, Meet & Mingle

Roster
The campaign began with four players; two pairs of people who know each other from outside of the game but none of whom have ever played together. Their characters are:
Legolast, a Wood Elf Ranger 2 (Outlander) of the Emerald Enclave
Dorrin, a Hill Dwarf Druid 1 (Folk Hero) of the Emerald Enclave
Torgo, a Duergar Rogue 1/Fighter 1 (Urban Bounty Hunter)
Ember Hawkwinter, a Fire Genasi Wizard 1 (Noble) of the Zhentarim

Narrative
13 Mirtul 1491, midmorning
Having met at a campsite while northbound on the Long Road, four travelers walked together into Red Larch. It was a hazy, overcast day, and the traders’ and farmers’ wagons on the road are seen to have extra guards riding along with each proprietor. The party walked past many storefronts to the Swinging Sword Inn, but Torgo instead veered off to the Helm at Highsun tavern to the right. As it was midmorning, very few patrons were there. Torgo bought ale, introduced himself, and Garlen the barkeep told him to seek out the constable Harburk, at the butchers, for work that a traveling bounty hunter might be able to pick up.
At the Swinging Sword, pleasant innkeeper Kaylessa Irkell welcomed the other three and hoped that as adventurers they might deal with some of the tension around town and “fell magic” that she feels is centered around the landmark Lance Rock. Legolast decided to walk back down the street to look for her friend Holg Ironhead’s shop, and Dorrin walked over to the two gaffers playing dominoes by the fireplace. Meanwhile, Ember negotiated his stay with Kaylessa, who showed him his rooms and agreed to get his lunch prepared. Dorrin introduced himself to the farmer Mikhail and his friend a goatherd. The weather this season had been so unpredictable Mikhail worried for his crops this year, though his friend hadn’t had any problems with his goats. They said there would be more of their friends and colleagues meeting at the Helm at Highsun for lunch, and they’d introduce Dorrin to them there.
Ember sat down to an unenjoyable lunch of grilled meat (although the bread was surprisingly good) among a few merchants and locals. While eating, he noticed the barmaid Ghileeda was surreptitiously attempting to listen to two middle-aged men huddled in a corner talking in low voices. After the men left, Ember cast Friends on Ghileeda and learned that the two men talking were named Ilmeth Waelvur and Marlandro Gaelkur, and the only phrase she’d managed to hear was one of them asking the other “Should the entrance be moved?”
After promising to meet Mikhail and his friends at the Helm, Dorrin walked back to the butcher’s shop, to see whether the animals were healthy or not. Stepping into the shop, he saw happy customers and the proprietor, Jalessa Ornra, told him that the live animals were outside the third building behind the store. Dorrin went back out to survey the status of the few hogs.
Legolast was welcomed warmly by her old friend Holg, who runs the well-regarded inexpensive Ironhead Arms in town. He had asked her to come because all of his caravan guard and mercenary customers had noticed an increase in banditry in the area, but what was especially worrisome was that some of the bandits had flying mounts. He wanted Legolast, the best archer he knew, to come see what could be done. Holg suggested she should go see the constable Harburk, working in the slaughterhouse across the street. Legolast asked “the constable is also the butcher?” and Holg laughed gruffly, “No, the butcher is also the constable. He can’t do much more than break up bar fights and ask around when a traveler robs one of the shops in town. But people talk to him, and he’s probably got good information on bandit hideouts.” Holg asked Legolast to meet him again for supper at the Helm, and he’d put together some friends to share tales over supper.
Dorrin could see that the hogs were healthy and clearly from prosperous local farms. They were being slaughtered by Harburk and a couple of other workers. As Dorrin introduced himself to Harburk, Torgo and Legolast also converged at the yard. When Harburk learned he was being addressed as the constable, he took a break from work and sent his trusties inside to render the fork from the slaughtered hogs. Harburk admitted to the party that there was worrisome bandit activity in the area, but was surprised that Ironhead lent credence to the stories of bandits on giant vultures and such. He was able to describe a likely bandit hangout in a shallow cave about ten miles out of town on the Cairn Road. He’s willing to pay 50 gp for proof of ending bandit activity, preferably by bringing back a live bandit for questioning.
Having learned all they could, the group walked back up the street; Torgo stopped in the Swinging Sword’s stableyard and met the taciturn, one-eyed stablemaster Iraun. Torgo asked to rent a horse and wagon, and Iraun allowed that the merchants from Belliard were planning to stay a while, so there was a horse and cart available for a day’s rent. Torgo successfully deceived Iraun into believing Harburk would pick up the tab for the rental, so Iraun asked only for a 5gp deposit.
Following up on his lead, Ember walked into Waelvur’s Wagonworks, seeing a half-dozen carpenters working on repair jobs while tipping drinks from their hip flasks. One of the workers, a halfling, sidled his way over towards Ember so that when Ember flashed a gold coin, the halfling smoothly palmed it, muttering under his breath, “If you want some information, meet me at the Helm. We can’t talk here.”
As it turned out, all four travelers went to the Helm just at the end of lunchtime, as most people were cleaning up their plates. The locals surveyed the travelers as they entered, with most lingering on the noble and on the duergar, before turning back to their ale. Having basically missed lunch, Dorrin shared Goodberries with Legolast, while Torgo settled on a gallon of ale. Dorrin sat with Mikhail and his friend ranchers and farmers; Legolast sat with a dozen sullen, worried workers; Ember lounged near the fireplace, and Torgo took a seat at the bar.
Legolast heard that her seat mates all worked at the quarry, and were vowing to each other that none of them would work that night’s shift. It was time for them to go back for the afternoon shift, and Albaeri Mellikho would give them hell if they don’t make quota for the day; but one of them lingered to tell Legolast that masked and hooded figures had been watching them work after sundown, standing just outside of their torchlight, and it was very unnerving, although Mellikho herself seemed not to see them at all.
Dorrin met Larmon Greenbelt, a shepherd, who did allow that his sheep were doing poorly; Dorrin agreed to follow the farmer group to Gaelkur’s barbershop for the afternoon, and then out to Larmon’s homestead.
Ember, looking around, saw the halfling in a dark corner, who beckoned him over. The halfling introduced himself as Stannor, intimating that he had dark information to sell. Ember put a gold piece on the table, but Stannor was offended by the paltry bribe and started to leave. Ember cast Charm Person on him and Stannor came back and sat down, more than ready to share that he had been working late one night when he saw, at midnight, Waelvur himself (the owner of the shop) lead six hooded and masked figures through his shop. Stannor knew something underhanded when he saw it. The halfling was grateful for the 5gp that Ember then tipped him, and left feeling goodwill. Ember returned to lounge by the fireplace.
The most noticeable person who stared at Torgo across the room was a female half-orc, apparently a caravan guard, but he couldn’t tell if her glare was specifically directed at him or just an habitual expression. He decided to approach her directly, but she took offense at his advances and backhanded him across the face. When he gave her another line, she was so enraged she hauled back to punch him again when Garlen (the barkeep) put a hand on her shoulder and said, sternly, “Take it outside, Zomith, please.” She picked Torgo up by his shirt and carried him towards the door. As they passed him, Ember cast Friends on Zomith and suggested just go home for a nap; she put Torgo down and headed out the door. However, Torgo ran after her and tackled her on the street. They grappled as a ring of children gathered shouting “Fight! fight!” Zomith broke away, but not before Torgo lifted 9 gp out of her purse! When her swing went wild, she gave up in disgust and walked away, Torgo letting her go and returning into the tavern. Ember went back to his rooms at the Sword, wanting to get a long rest in before midnight. Legolast settled in to wait for her friend Holg Ironhead.
Dorrin left with his new farmer friends and walked to Gaelkur’s barbershop at the northeast corner of town. Larmon was first to get a haircut, and while waiting, Dorrin noticed the rest of the men waiting around were in no hurry to get their own turn in the seat, but instead whiled away the time one-upping each other with gossip so outlandish it seemed like tall tales. But after his haircut, Larmon hopped right out of the chair and led Dorrin an hour’s walk out of town to his homestead.
Dorrin did indeed find a few sick sheep, and was able to help some of them but not all. While administering to them, he cast Speak with Animals to ask about unusual happenings in the region. He was able to learn a lot of information, and because sheep are generally afraid of anything more threatening than a blade of grass, corroborated some of the information he got with Larmon himself.
During his walk back to town, Dorrin spotted three orcs starting to spit roast some animal over a fire pit in a nearby field; back in town, he met Legolast and Torgo at the Helm and the three of them decided to return and ambush the orcs, after a discussion as to whether they could return by suppertime. Ember was still resting at the Swinging Sword and didn’t want to join the expedition, rather he wanted to consider the information he already knew from Waterdeep in light of what he had learned today..
Sneaking up on the group, Dorrin’s Thunderwave did a lot of damage and combat was quickly joined. Legolast’s quick bow work and Hail of Thorns almost finished off two of the orcs, but the third laid Dorrin low with one critical swing of his greataxe. Legolast did more damage to the standing orc, and Torgo’s two handaxes finished him off. The third orc tried to run away at this point, but Legolast brought him down from fifty feet away with another arrow (aiming to disable, not kill). Torgo then put manacles on the last living orc while Legolast restored Dorrin with one of his own Goodberries, and the adventurers decided to bring that orc back to Red Larch and turn him over to Harburk for questioning. Dorrin ate the remaining Goodberries while on their way back to town in the late afternoon.

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