The Roleplaying Diaries of Bryan Stephens
|Game Dates||July 7th - 10th|
The young characters are summoned to the center of town at noon to head out on the quest. The characters are all informed that they are expected to travel light, carrying only what they absolutely need—weapons, armor, spellbooks, etc.—as rations and other generic equipment will be provided.
When the young people arrive at the town square, they find it empty except for each other. The bells atop the Temple of Erastil toll their midday song, echoing throughout the quiet town of Kassen. As the peals begin to fade, the first of the townsfolk make their way into the square, dressed in black, as if attending a funeral. They slowly fill the square, moving quietly across the cold, hard ground, their eyes downcast and mournful. After a few moments, a murmur passes through the crowd as it slowly parts to let Mayor Uptal through. He leads the way with a tarnished silver lantern. Behind him, an old pony drags a cart laden with backpacks and supplies.
Once he reaches the center of the crowd, Mayor Uptal stops and calls out to the assembled townsfolk.
“Once again the winter winds blow through the Fangwood, marking the end of another harvest. There are wolves in the woods, howling at our walls, and serpents in our shadows, waiting to strike. Just as it was one hundred and seventy-four years ago, when Kassen himself left these walls to protect us, so it is today. Where are the heroes? Where are the brave folk that will venture out to Kassen’s tomb and retrieve the flame to keep this community safe for another winter?”
At this point, the mayor pauses and our young heroes move up to accept their mission. He asks them who is to have the honor of carrying the lantern, and hands it to the young Molazar. “Use this lantern to bring the fire back to Kassen,”.
The mayor then hands each character a backpack that contains 5 days’ worth of rations, a small tent, a winter blanket, a full water-skin, and a piece of the Trail Map that leads from Kassen to the Crypt of the Everflame. In addition, the following items are spread out among the party, distributed as evenly as possible:
The mayor once again speaks to the townsfolk. “I present to you the brave heroes who will follow in Kassen’s footsteps to retrieve the Everflame! Some of them may not return, but I say to you that their sacrifice shall not be forgotten. Go, brave heroes, and do not return until you have the eternal fire.” With that, the mayor points to the south, the direction of Kassen’s tomb. The townsfolk begin waving goodbye with cold, solemn looks on most of their faces.
Staring on their journey, the party finds itself beset by three orcs. Jumping into the fray, Yhorn and Cayde quickly dispatch two, while Lotus's bobcat, Oreo engages the third. Yhorn cleaves an Orc in two, while taking a serious hit. However, once the Orcs are all gone, his damage fades. The party notes smelling a pipe that Molazar says smells like his mentor's Holgast. Yhorn grasps this was an illusion of some sort, but keeps it to himself.
Thanks to the clever survival skills of Lotus, the party finds a small glade, with sharp bushes on three sides, easy to defend. Cayde moves to take first watch in a tree. In the distance they hear the howling of wolves. Within minutes a loan wolf approaches, clearly hungry. Lotus uses her Wild Empathy to calm the wolf and keeping it from bringing back any friends. The party sleeps soundly with no more incident.
The next day, the group has to descend into the chasm where the entrance is to the crypt. Cayde uses the rope to help the members descend, using his agility to go last. Despite his help, only he and Aeyo make it down safely. Lotus and Yhorn slip and fall, arriving bruised but not bloodied. Molazar is not so lucky, and falls to knock himself out and sprain his ankle. Aeyo uses her magic to restore him to alertness, but Molazar continues to hobble for the rest of the day.
At the entrance to the crypt there is an archway of stone is set into the side of a small hill at the bottom of the valley. Moss has overgrown many of the details, but one is still quite clear. The keystone of the arch is carved with a flame symbol with a stylized rune in the middle. Beyond the archway is a darkened tunnel that leads to a pair of massive wooden doors, one of which is slightly ajar. A pair of horses and a trio of ponies lie slaughtered next to the archway, each corpse still tied to a post set into the ground nearby. A swarm of flies hangs lazily in the air above them. Under the ponies are the bones of the long dead, which Cayde speculates may have been arisen skeletons. Unknown to the party, a number of townsfolk arrived here 3 days ago to prepare the crypt for the arrival of the young adventurers. Unfortunately, the undead inside attacked them 2 nights ago, leaving only a few survivors. The gear left on the ponies are soft pillows and blunted arrows, with a few more rations. The party goes into the Crypt and are attacked by 6 skeletons. Aeyo acts before anyone in the group, white light spilling forth as she calls on the power of Sarenrae. The skeletons all crumble into dust before her.
The group can hear a wailing coming from the east. Aeyo suggests the party retreat outside, recover, and as night is now falling, spend the night to explore the Crypt fresh. The group retreats to set up a small cramped camp, and recovers. (Also gaining a level)
The party enters the Crypt and moves East. They quickly solve the riddle of the pits and switches to open the doorway that leads to a secure room. They find treasure left of them by the villagers in one pit, noting each pit has pillows at the bottom. The wailing leads them to force open a door barred by the crazed Roldare, a surviving villager. Getting Roldare calm, out of the room, and willing to talk is no simple task. He has gone mad, and constantly rants and raves about the “angry bones” and refers to any living creature as “a trick of the dead one, the dead one who speaks.” Roldare is calmed with a series of Diplomacy checks by Cadye.
Once he is calmed down, Roldare becomes more helpful. He explains the basic story of what happened here, but he does so in a disjointed way, describing the events out of sequence. The party is able to piece together they arrived here 3 days ago and were attacked 2 days ago. There were six villagers total, but only he and his sister are left alive. After setting up the traps on the first level of the dungeon, they were attacked by the “walking bones” in the middle of the night. He knows little about the leader of the undead, just that there is “one with the voice of death, who stalks these halls in ancient mail.” He can offer no advice on how to overcome the perils of the crypt, as he simply does not remember most of them. He knows that the young heroes will need “the shields and the keys” and he also mentions that the group will need to go for a swim, but he cannot remember where.
Most important to Roldare is that his sister, Dimira, is still alive. He witnessed her being dragged off by the skeletons during the fight and he is convinced she is not dead. He believes that “the voice took her.” Lotus promises to rescue Dimira, and in return Roldare gives Molazar his masterwork crossbow to aid in the effort (though a cobbler by trade, he enjoys archery and years ago bought this fine weapon from a down-on-hisluck adventurer).
This room also is secure, a room the heroes can return too, in order to rest and recharge. The Party promises to check back on Roldare, who refuses to leave without his sister. They make sure he has water and rations.
Moving ahead, the group encounters a hungry giant beetle, which Yhorn and Cayde quickly dispatch. The group finds a shadow guarding a fire pit, smoke filling the room from the smoldering bodies. They retreat, allowing this hazard to wait. Searching the upper level, Lotus uses her light and detect magic to retrieve a magic key they use to open several doors. Cayde is able to detect and disarm blade traps, several of which are padded, but not all. Then, they find the wood golem, which Molazar is easily able to identify. Cayde attempts to disarm it of a shield, but is bashed into the wall and knocked unconscious with a critical hit. Aeyo rushes to revive him over the next two rounds. Yhorn stands toe to toe with the monster, as Lotus and Molazar watch their sling and crossbow attacks bounce off. Yhorn's great sweeping Axe hacks away at the guardian, Cayde finally enters the fight again, and uses his axe as well. The golem is defeated and the group has the shields they need, though they know not why.
The door at the end of this chamber opens to the supply vault, with several gifts for the party left by the villagers. The group takes their bounty and continues on. Yhorn opens a door to a large column and notes it is full of blunted arrows. He stops anyone from entering, and moments later, the column spins and 1000 arrows fly. The dwarf quickly shuts the doors and the party lets the trap expend itself. They use the shields to keep the doors to the room wedged open, and find they are a few feet away from Roldare. They group decides to rest for the day and night in safety, take care of the shadow and then move to the lower level.
The party douses the fire and Molazar uses his command undead to take control of the shadow. Ready to end the menace, the group moved against several bloody skeletons, which Molazar identified as needing to be killed with holy energy, which Aeyo was more than happy to provide. They group moved down into the flooded parts of the second level into the the lower hall. The floor bears an inscription spiraling out from the pillar and written in Common. It reads:
“To the south you might take your ease, to rest and reflect on Kassen’s deeds. To the east lies the wheel, to open the gate. To the west is lies the resting place of Kassen.”
The southern room has a fountain of healing and restoration, usable once per day.
To the east, Lotus was able to calm three frogs with her magic while the party searched the room, only for them to tarry too long and end up killing them all. In this fight, a frog grabs Oreo with his tongue and pulls her into his mouth. The party aside from Cayde and Yhorn concentrates on that frog, including the shadow which drains its strength. Finally all the frogs of killed.
They bypassed a room with electrical azure fungus, quite dangerous in the flooded room to move to a great wheel. The 6 skeletons in the room met the holy flash of the cleric. As the group moved across the room, the discovered hidden pits. The armored dwarf sank quickly. Cayde, remembering the ring of swimming they had found, dove down to give it to Yhorn, who swam up. Yhorn was able to study the wheel, and noted it looked like it opened a portcullis. He turned it and locked it into place.
The first catacombes were infested with plague zombies, recognized by Aeyo after Lotus had rushed in to engage. She used her power to Turn Undead on three the Zombiesm, which fled as Cayde destroyed the other with a well placed bolt from his crossbow. Lotus retreated to safety and the group back up to fire bolts into the others one at a time, safe from their exploding plagued flesh.
The group moved quickly past the reflections of terror, with Cayde noting the pool at the center of the room would drive anyone looking deeply into it insane, which was fortunate, as their screams would have disturbed the bats in the adjacent area, the second catacombs. These bats had taken up residence after the earthquake from Asar's revival. Jerry, Molazar's bat familiar, alerted the group to those of his kind. Lotus used her wild empathy to keep the bats calm, and Speak with Animals to make sure they did not attack the party.
In the next room, Cayde did not detect the trap, and two statues bull rushed the center pathway, striking Yhorn, but were unable to even push him back. He made it across the way as the trap reset. Cayde used a rope and had Yhorn hold it, and after three tries, and two trips swinging down into the pits on his rope, he disabled the trap. The group now moved to the final room, Kassen's tomb.
Here in the third catacombs, both Kassen and Asar were laid to rest. The wide brass doors swing open on silent hinges to reveal a vast crypt. The only light emanates from a torch mounted above the crypt, flickering with a pale golden fire, the Everflame. Tall pillars march across the chamber, ending at a dais on the far side, on which is set a large stone sarcophagus.
A single form rests beside the coffin, that of a comely woman, who must be the missing Dimira, in tattered clothing. She appears to be asleep or unconscious. A dry, mirthless laugh is heard from the dark recesses of the tomb.
“So, Kassen’s heroes have come to fight me again. You will make fine minions in my army of the dead. Come and meet your fate.”
With that, a wicked-looking skeleton strides into view wearing polished mail and brandishing a cruel sword in both hands. A cold blue flame burns in its empty eye sockets. Asar attacks the party, with four powerful skeletons at his side. Joined by two minions, Asar engages the dwarf fighter Yhorn, with all three striking blows. Yhorn is misses the undead monster attacking him. Molazar is faced with the other two, who damage him as well. He steps back, but rattled, cannot connect with his disrupt undead spell. Aeyo moves to heal him, while Lotus tries to use her sling, unsure of how Oreo can help against the undead which appear all but immune to her claws and bite. Cayde moves to fight with his friend.
Yhorn and Cayde fight the two minons, with Yhorn giving Cayde the opportunity for skilled hits against his flanked opponients, allowing him to strike at joints with his rapier and axe which might otherwise be almost useless. Yhorn is effective against one of the minions, killing it. Lotus moves to help Molazar. Yhorn is struck by a critical attack, and brought down to 6 HP. Aeyo moves to heal him, while Molazar is finally able get off some disrupt undead spells. The minons are taken down with holy power and disrupt undead. Yhorn continues to absorb mighty blows, and finally connects with the now flanked Asar. Cayde is able to finish off the undead monster who expires with a sigh.
The spirit of Kassen thanks the part, and tells them the full story of robbers and his and Asar's awakening. He even reveals that the two of them were once adventuring companions, and that they split ways after acquiring a great deal of treasure. Kassen is sure that Asar felt cheated after their last quest and that is why he came to attack the town. Kassen knows nothing about the bandits, but notes they only stole the amulets with which he and Asar were buried. These amulets are part of a key that opens up the great treasure vault they plundered so long ago. Kassen remembers little about the vault itself, but he does remember that the amulet points the way to the vault if it is reassembled from its three component parts. The last part was given to Iramine, an elven sorceress that was part of their group.
After giving his thanks, Kassen reaches into his sarcophagus and produces several items, giving them to the PCs with his thanks. After handing out the gifts, he slowly fades from view, returning to his eternal rest. The group heals the young lady, and they find the leader of the tomb raiders, a wizard who is part of the cult of Razmir, the Living God.
The journey back to Kassen is somber and uneventful. Roldare is thrilled to see Dimira again and seems to most (but not all) of his sanity.
When the PCs finally return to Kassen, they find a celebration underway in their honor. Mayor Uptal is there to greet them at the gates, but his joy at their return quickly turns to horror when he finds out what has happened. The news quickly spreads throughout town and the harvest celebration turns melancholy. The folk do not blame the PCs for what happened, and most are rather grateful that this new menace is ended. The grand feast is still held in their honor, but it is not the same as it was in previous years. This year, many are drinking to help forget that they have lost friends and loved ones. Plans are made to return to the crypt and bury the slain townsfolk.
During this celebration, Cygar stops to talk with the characters for a few moments. He formally introduces himself to them as a member of the Pathfinder Society and mentions he might have some work for them if they are interested. Cygar has taken an interest in the recent events, and he is sure his organization would like to see the tomb robbers that caused this mess called to account for their actions. He then asks if they might be interested in getting to the bottom of this puzzle and, if they agree, he blends back into the crowd, saying only that he will be in touch.
Cygar, the mysterious Pathfinder, has asked the PCs to meet him in the evening in the Seven Silver taber. He greets them and explains that he has made contact with a friend in Tamran named Reginar who could help. Reginar knows the city well and has been keeping an eye on masked followers of Razmir (whose description matches the masks the PCs found in the crypt). Cygar would like the PCs to travel to Tamran and learn what they can about the tomb robbers and, if possible, recover the amulet fragments so they can be returned to their resting place. Cygar explains that he has booked passage for the party to Tamran on the Black Mist, a river barge run by captain Walren. The barge leaves tomorrow morning and is headed straight for Tamran with a shipment of ingots from Skelt, and Cygar promises that it will make the journey swift and easy. Cygar tells the group to find Reginar once they arrive.
After bidding farewell to Cygar and the town of Kassen, the PCs can board the Black Mist. Captain Walren (LN male dwarf expert 4) greets them on deck. Though a dwarf—a rarity among barge captains—Walren truly enjoys his job, even though it has become more dangerous as of late. He is a quiet man, for the most part, prone to whistling as he guides his barge with an expert hand. The Black Mist is a rectangular, small-sailed barge, 60 feet long and 20 feet wide. The cabin occupies the back third of the barge, and contains enough cots for the entire party, as well as the captain and his deck hand, a heavily scarred Kellid man who calls himself Ewem (N male human commoner 2). Ewem handles the Common tongue poorly, and so refers most questions to the captain. The cabin also has a simple stove and enough provisions to last the entire journey, with the remainder of the barge’s hold containing iron ingots bound for the forges in Tamran.
Captain Walren has made this journey many times over the years and is paid adequately for his services. He does not mind the PCs being on board, but he does ask them to help out should any trouble arise. He explains that these days there is more to worry about than the beasts that lurk in Lake Encarthan. Molthuni privateers prowl the waters looking for victims, he explains, along with the accursed faith barges of Razmiran, who force travelers to accept the faith of the Living God, often at the point of a sword. While the captain does not expect too much trouble, he explains that the journey will take about a week and anything could happen during that time.
After 6 days of travel, Captain Walren announces they are nearing Tamran, and if they push on after dark, they’ll be able to reach the city that night. He seems a bit edgy, as he always is when he draws near the city. Lotus asks him about his behavior, and Walren brushes it off explaining that these waters are not safe—which is why he wants to reach the city tonight. The day is uneventful but that evening privateers working for the country of Molthune sail close to the barge.
The party, listing to Walren’s words, had decide to keep watch, and the pirates have no hope of surprise. About 1 hour after dark, when the lights of Tamran are just visible in the distance, a small sloop silently glides toward the Black Mist. Thick cloud cover blankets the night’s faint moonlight. The party is quick to respond. Cayde open fires with his crossbow as the distance closes, while Lotus casts flaming sphere. When the boats are close enough, Yhorn jumps across and charged up the deck to the steersmen. As Cayde and Lotus continued their attacks, Yhorn cuts the men in two. The ship is taken and the party finds the boat in very poor condition.
The boat is loaded with mostly worthless remnants from past hauls. A DC 15 Perception check uncovers a small lockbox in the cabin. One of the privateers has the key hanging on his belt. Inside is bag containing 13 PP, 28 GP, and 16 SP, the privateers’ charter, signed by the Molthuni governor (worth a 500 GP bounty if turned over to the militia in Tamran), and a feather token (anchor). After the battle, the captain puts as much distance as possible between the Black Mist and the privateers’ vessel. About 2 hours later, the city of Tamran draws near. The captain thanks them for their assistance and suggests that they stay at the Gar’s Last Meal, a good, safe establishment down near the water. As a reward, he gives them payment for the first night’s stay.
The Party bids farewell to the captain and heads to Gar’s Last Meal.
The party gets into the late night at Gar’s Last Meal and orders cold food before bed. A brief conversation with the owner, Puglas Tamall, a grizzled veteran of the lake who asks few questions of those who stay at his establishment. Rooms at the Gar’s Last Meal cost 2 gp per night, and meals (which always contain fish) cost 3 sp apiece. Puglas lost his arm to a fish 6 years ago, and has mounted the beast that ate it, a giant gar, on the wall above the bar in the taproom. Happy to tell the tale for paying customers, Pulgas even answers a few questions afterwards.
The Party asks the innkeeper about Reginar and the Temple of Razmir.
Puglas knows of the temple of Razmir, but does not trust the strange folk from across the lake.
“I swear thme faith barges scare away the fish! I tell you this, no captain should tangle with them on the open water if it can be avoided.”
Puglas has heard of Reginar and claims that the ranger makes an appearance in the taproom every once in a while,
”He asks a lot of questions, I’ll tell you. It Bothers the customers. I have not seen him in at least a month, but Reginar frequents a feast hall called the Forest Bounty, and that you might want to look for him there.”
The group sleeps well and has breakfast, including fish of course, and decides to peruse the market before heading to the Forrest Bounty. Molzar buys a potion of cure light wounds but no one else is eager to spend their gold just yet. The group goes to the feast hall and asked about Reginar from the bartender. He says that Reginar is expected to show this early evening, say 4pm. The group explores the city some and waits.
Reginar comes in, and the group introduces themselves to him. He askes the group to study the temple for a week and see what they can find out. The temple does not have open services, but they do have informational sessions at the tavern the Ranger’s Lament, one coming up the next after tomorrow. Aeyo askes about other places to stay that don’t smell like fish, and the party decides to settle in at The Weathered Sail for the night.
It is a fair morning when they spill out into the city and start their investigation.
Members of the cult leave and enter the temple throughout the day and late into the night, although no set schedule determines their comings and goings. They usually travel in groups numbering around six, with most dressed in white robes, and one or two dressed in gray or black. All wear identical iron masks. The cultists often head out to the poor part of town to distribute bread and vegetables to the poor, all the while teaching them about the power of Razmir. Other groups visit local businesses to gather tithes and investigate problems.
Once per day, a group leaves the temple to give praise to Razmir in a public speech in front of the temple. This should happen while the PCs are visiting the area. During the speech, which extols the power and virtue of Razmir, four acolytes of Razmir move through the crowd to collect donations. These rather insistent brutes claim that those who fail to donate are bound to attract the ire of the Living God. Meanwhile, two priests of Razmir move through the crowd, picking pockets using Sleight of Hand. The group notices this but says nothing.
Thinking that the Ranger’s Lament might be a key, Yhorn and Cayde visit and find the location devoid of customers. The barkeep blames the location of the temple, but then promotes the information session tomorrow night. Both are suspicious. Leaving after a drink, the whole party returns and subdues the owner and puts him in a barrel. Searching the tavern, they find a secret passageway. They take it, and are not surprised to find they are in the Temple of Razmir.
The group quickly searched the basement, finding a secret door out and one into the treasury. After a trap goes off on Cayde with a large chest, Cayde is able to shake it off (made save) and the group does some looting but decides the rest can wait. They search the rest of the basement and then head up one of the two flights of stairs emerging into the Amory.
In the armory is a startled acolyte who is polishing the weapons. Yhorn dispatches him with a blow, cutting him in two in a shower of blood. They move down into the entrance hall, and two acolyte guards confront them. While the party is able to dispatch them, they manage to yell, and an alarm sounds throughout the temple.
Worried they are made, the group runs to the courtyard door, but it is locked. They decide to open the other doors and find 6 acolytes and a herald forming up to attack them. The fight is on! Molazar twice uses burning hands, while Lotus summons her flaming sphere. The Acolytes are quickly cleaned up, and Yhorn closes on the herald, who is already damaged thanks to the spell fire.
Faced with the angry dwarf, the current leader of the cult, Egarthis retreats and uses his collar to summon a hell hound to fight Yhorn. This does not slow Yhorn at all, who courts the attack of the Hell Hound to pursue his prey. The priests guarding upstairs come down at support their leader, but Oreo and Lotus, now a great cat herself, make quick work of the priests. Egarthis tries to retreat and drinks a healing potion, but Cayde puts an arrow into him offsetting its effects. Yhorn advances growling “I am going to smack you!”
Meanwhile, Molzar runs from the Herald Rennec who approaches with a Priest. He was meeting with a corrupt city councilman, looking to sway him. The Councilman, a priest and two acolytes fled down the stairs for safety in the basement along with the Councilman. Now Rennec has advanced. Molazar also notes the front doors have opened and another Herald (Faltore) is headed down the hallway with several priests, acolytes and a angry looking man (Krant). Yhorn lets the cats deal with the priests, while Aeyo heals them and heads to the next Herald.
Cayde moves to place oil at the doorway wanting to light it, while Molazar places a grease spell. Cayde is attacked and severely hurt by the advancing Krant. Molazar casts the grease and Cayde lights the fire , burning Krant, and retreats into a the healing touch of Aeyo.
It becomes a slug fest. Faltore avoids the grease and fires his crowsbow at various targets, aiming first to take out the Cleric, then concentrating on Yhorn who has moved up to deal with Krant. Priests and Acolytes try to move up but cannot get through. Lotus summons a giant centipede, able to keep its purchase on the slippery floor, to attack those in the hallway. The chaos reigns until all of the enemies are dead.
It is a short time to sweep the temple, killing the remaining Herald, Xanthar, and the Priests hiding in the basement and manning the towers. Even the Mask golum was made short work of by the angry party. The extensive, and now leisurely search gave the party all they needed to convict the temple and many of the nobles in town.
They collected their loot and took it out via the secret passage, making more than one trip, but getting it back. They turned the innkeeper over the authorities and used their contact to get the city involved. Now they would take a few days to rest and sell what they found, and purchase anything they think might help them go after Iramine and her stolen amulet.
The party is now all 5th Level.