Shards of Trastenfen

DM'S Session 8 Recap

Here is a quick recap of session 8 – This session took place on June 8 2013

1) While approaching the moathouse the party is attacked by giant frogs (end of session 7). They then enter the moathouse
2) Waldrick walks into tower room to the west, fails to look up… giant spider drops onto his head and shoulder, bites and poisons him; spider gets killed (Luckily for Waldrick, poison is not as bad in C&C as it is in AD&D)
3) Party enters the main room across from the courtyard, gets ambushed by bandits, defeats the bandits while keeping one alive (sleep spell and then bind him up) – leader escapes
4) Waldrick and Elmo attempt to interrogate the captured bandit, who responds by saying “Why should I tell you anything? You have killed all my comrades and you will kill me when you get done.”… Waldrick tries to assure the bandit that they will let him live if he gives them information, but he doesn’t buy it, they are about to offer him some proof when…
5) Ashvact walks over to the bound man and plucks the bandit’s eye out with his dagger; bandit screams and passes out
6) Aside: I ask, “What alignment is Ashvact?” Peter and Alex answer in unison: “Neutral Good” – I say “Not Anymore!”
7) Lawful Good cleric, Ralpheo, who was in the other room at the time, walks in and asks what happened… no one admits to doing it
8) Ralpheo heals the bandit and bandages up his head
9) Party drags the bandit to the tower room where the husk of the dead spider is and place him in the room, hoping to come back later and take him to town to be arrested
10) Party finds and defeats a giant snake in one waiting room, despite the fact that Ralpheo is deathly afraid of snakes and came face to face with it
11) Since several of you have been hurt, you decide to go back to town, but need to retrieve the captured bandit first
12) Barick finds the door where you hid the bandit locked and Ashvact searches it for traps – he assures the Dwarf there are no traps, so Barick opens the door
13) Two poisoned needles fly out and slam into Barick, but luckily only do a small bit of damage and the poison doesn’t take hold (Barick is a good hardy dwarf)
14) The bandit is no longer in the room! He has escaped and the group goes back to town
15) Party rests in town for two days, all the while keeping eyes out for a one-eyed bandit (whom you never see), and then party returns to the moathouse
16) Find a giant lizard in a corner room, slay it, and find a chest of goodies (Alex haslist of chest contents)
17) Barick opens the door to another room, checks the floors and walls, but not the ceiling, walks in and a giant tick drops onto him attacks, and attaches itself to him, attempting to suck out all of his blood
18) In an attempt to kill the tick, both Ashvact and Ralpheo miss the tick but hit Barick, almost killing him
19) Finally Waldrick casts a sleep spell and puts everyone in the room to sleep
20) Party explores the rest of the upper level and finds a hidden staircase down to the cellar level
21) Party travels cautiously down the stairs, looking at the walls and the steps, asking lots of questions… get to the bottom step and don’t step off of it, instead you…
22) Ask all sorts of questions about what you can see beyond the stairs, “How big does the room look? Is there anything in it? What do the walls look like? What are they made of? What about the floor? Is it normal tile or obsidian tile (like what we found in the black chamber on the first floor? What about the air? Is it musty? How is the light?” Along with several more specific questions about what you see. Of course, what no one did was…
23) Look up at the ceiling. Waiting for the group was a nice big blob of green slime. Ralpheo decides it is safe and steps down off the last step and proceeds to have a large glop of slimy green goo fall onto his head.
24) Waldrick runs down and flips Ralpheo’s helmet off with his staff, taking half the slime with it, and Ralpheo cuts off his tunic, throwing it away
25) Waldrick notices that some of the slimy stuff got onto Ralpheo’s neck and tells Ralpheo to hold still
26) Waldrick takes his torch and tries to apply it to Ralpheo’s neck to burn off the slime, but Ralpheo doesn’t understand what is going on, so he dodges the torch… 3 times
27) Waldrick tells Barick to hold Ralpheo down and he finally burns the slime away, along with part of Ralpheo’s neck (and several HP)
28) The rest of the group stands on the stairs dumbfounded and wondering what the hell is going to happen next

It was like awesome keystone cops!!

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DM's Session 7 Recap

Session 7 Basics (I’ll expand this later) This session took place on Arpil 24 2013

1) Group travels up river and arrives outside of Pull Point

2) Along the way, Ashvact opens the chest they are delivering to the temple in Pull Point, against the wishes of Ralpheo of course

3) The group found three or four men in town to help them offload the boat and get Odran et al. to safety.

4) Party went around town and met several people, hired Spugnor (who is writing a book and is supposed to pay his patron in spell scrolls), Furnok (after losing a game of dice, and 2 gp, to him he agree to come along), and Elmo the Dunce (who asked them for chain mail and a large axe, but even though they didn’t provide it, he showed up wearing some anyway)

5) Party got to know several people in town, and Ralpheo found that Terjon is now the chief priest (official title = Canon) because Lydia, the former priest and person to whom Rapheo was supposed to deliver the chest, suddenly left town

6) Waldrick learned a couple of new spells out of a spellbook that was wrapped up in cloth inside the chest

7) Party (along with Elmo, Furnok, and Spugnor) goes to the entrance of the moathouse and we ended on a cliffhanger, with Ralpheo getting stuck to a giant frog’s tongue

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Chapter Seven: Captain Kisto

The next morning was a bright one in Trastenfen. I had made it a point to finally meet this Captain Kisto I had hear so much about and, hopefully, find some answers as to how and why certain ships crash and others do not. The Tavern of the West Winds was a bright establishment, with large chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Ralpheo accompanied me and set about proselytizing to the bar-goers. We stayed for many hours and I noticed that Ralpheo had more than a few dwarven ales during our stay. I ended up in a protracted conversation with two green-robed wizards named Gristla and Abracus. After a few Red Moon whiskeys for myself, and some dwarven ales for the magic-users, Abracus left the tavern. Gristla was more open with his thoughts after his comrade left. He told me that he was in charge of monitoring the the Baon’s household. He handled internal security, mainly monitoring spell components and anything else that can be weaponized in the household. The Baron, it seemed, was quite worried about his staff. Gristla did not like the Baron much, not does he like the way the household is ordered.

Across town, Barick and Ashvact were busy drinking at Falco’s. Ashvact lost a gold piece in a dart game to a young Fishtowner. Barick’s thoughts drifted to his lost brother and he soon drank more than his fill. Smacking his hands hard against the table, Barick suggested continuing their session at “The Fuzzy Minotaur.” The Dying Minotaur was the name of an elegant restaurant in town. Ashvact reluctantly followed his friend. The Dying Minotaur was a two-storied establishment with round tables coated in white linen. Barick threw open the front doors and stopped the diners cold. “As you were,” he told the crowd. There were no open seats at the bar. Ashvact talked with head of the staff, but when he turned around Barick was gone. He sat at an empty table reserved for the Baron’s daughter Tiffany, tucking the table cloth down his shirt. The head of staff insisted Ashvact leave with Barick at once. Barick stood, knocking the crystal off the table in the process, and backed off the two bouncers closing in on him. “Easy big fella,” he said. He bowed and left the Inn, passing Tiffany’s carriage in the process.

Captain Kisto finally arrived at the Tavern of the West Winds in the early evening. Gristla arranged an introduction and the two of us discussed shipping within the town. My cover was as a representative of the Maestrum’s. Kisto was an interesting man, calm and measured in his actions and seemingly devoid of all moral compass. I felt I understood the man immediately, though. Growing up, I watched my father deal with many men who understood one principal above all others: money. I felt that money was his word and his word was money. He assumed I had a lot of it and I let him assume. Kisto told me that all Trastenfen ships were safe and that the Chimera, the ship Barick, Ralpheo, and his brother arrived on, had a chance to be safe. It seemed safety has its price in Trastenfen. Kisto seemed intrigued by the thought of a Maestrum presence in town and suggested I speak with Peltar if I wanted to learn more about the shipwrecks and obtaining a “trade card” for the Maestrum’s.

Ralpheo spent the evening talking to various tavern-goers at the West Winds. He heard of a disturbance at an Inn in town. “At the Flying Minotaur?” he asked. The two bouncers bragged that they had thrown the dwarf out into the street. He heard rumors of people being drugged in town as well. Rodnick, a guard at the warehouse, told Ralpheo that people are scared in town, but did not elaborate as to why. Later, Ralpheo paid a visit to the “Prancing Minotaur” and spoke to the head of staff, Leon, who told him of the incident. He then went to the Abbey of Straben and was asked to deliver a package to Fraywood for the church. He declined. Barick continued his theatrics, this time at the Baron’s keep, knocking on the gates and talking to a guard before going home.

The following morning fell hard on me. Red Moon whiskey is not for the uninitiated. Fortunately, Barick had Falco mix up a batch of a dwarven hangover cure. It was a foul potion, but its effects were profound. Word of Barick’s dining adventure had made the rounds, it seemed. Falco had already heard the rumors of Barick being “thrown out on his arse.”

We agreed to set off to investigate the goblin raids in the north. We went to Fishtown to contact our comrades, but only one of their houses was not empty. Tolmuk answered and explained that Izera and Odran had left to find a barge and leave town with their families. Since coming into a fortune during our adventure in the temple of healing, the three men have been harassed by the Baron’s forces. We began a frantic search for Odran and Izera. I visited Captain Kisto at the Dying Minotaur and was able to hash out an agreement for a barge and crew with no questions asked. The little Fishtown boy named Andy told Ashvact that his father, too, was missing.

It was Barick who finally tracked down the prisoners, though he was alone when he did so. It sounded as if they were being beaten in the north guardhouse. Barick lured the two guards out into the open. “We can do this the hard way or the fun way,” Barick scowled. They chose the fun way. Though he was able to knock one of the guards unconscious, the other overpowered him and locked him away. Ashvact and Ralpheo soon tracked him down and brought me to the guardhouse. I used a burning hands spell to melt the lock on the door and the three of us overpowered the remaining guard. The three men were indeed prisoners there, as well as Barick and the half-orc named Grimvock. Barick suggested we leave him. I took pity on him, though, and revived him with a potion. I asked him where he wished to go and it was decided he would come with us on the barge. We made it there and set off in the darkness, over two dozen souls heading into the darkness beyond. Ralpheo and I stood at the back of the barge, watching Trastenfen slip into the darkness. Ralpheo shot me a grave look. “It’s a long way to Pull Port,” I said.

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Chapter Six: The Fountain of Healing

We congregated downstairs at Falco’s after our first night’s rest in Trastenfen. We decided some hired swords would be helpful for any return into the wild. Barick and I inquired to Falco, who arranged a meeting for that night with three local men, Izera, Tolmuk, and Odran. The men were Fishtowners, all part of the town’s standing militia. We arranged payment and I walked with each man to his home to make an initial payment. It was here that I saw the poverty of Fishtown firsthand. The men, women, and children living in that section barely had enough to eat, yet they all treated me as if I were kin. Each house I visited seemed warmer than the last. It was an experience I will not soon forget. I felt a slight pang of guilt as I handed their wives the agreed upon payment, knowing full well that I might be paying for their husband’s lives.

The morning of our first day back, I called upon Fliban. The mage greeted me as a friend, more so than on any other occasion. I had hoped to obtain some potions from him, but he had none. He did suggest we contact a woman in the town called Almax. Ashvact gathered the roots and leaves needed and to come back at night. Ashvact returned and Almax had brewed six potions. She gave them to him under the promise that she would one day collect a favor to us.

We set off the next morning for the temple, making our way once again to the Fourtop Hills. The night passed without incident and we reached High Glade forest the following afternoon. We camped at the edge of the forest that night. Ashvact was able to find the temple surprisingly easy after climbing to the tops of the trees. We were at the temple at midday. Below is a rough sketch of the temple as we found it that day.

I stood at the entrance to the temple with Tolmuk while the remainder of our party began our exploration. The entrance hall led to a large room that held an enormous statue of a human male with a bull’s head. Ashvact investigated and found the body of a man who appeared to have been killed by the axe the statue held in its hand. The blood appeared fresh.

Further exploration of the temple revealed rubble-filled rooms. We encountered giant centipedes and large red beetles. Our encounter with the beetles nearly ended the life of one of our hirelings, Odran. Barick, Ralpheo and the three hirelings stood fast in the face of the beetles, but Odran was felled. Ashvact and I climbed up a pile of rubble tried to think of a way of helping our comrades. It was then that I noticed a slight, unnerving movement in a ceiling corner near us. I studied the movements and realized the shadow was a giant spider sitting in his web. I quickly put the creature to sleep. Ashvact moved quickly, dispatching the creature and ending up half covered in the green slime of the spider. My comrades destroyed the beetles and I was able to revive Odran with a potion. Our continued search revealed a tome called The Physico, written in Cuneflir. The book documented the care of the sick, giving us a clue that the temple was once a place of healing.

The temple seemed to be crawling with life unseen, but we encountered few other creatures. Barick and Ralpheo came across a giant snake sunbathing, but it slithered away without incident. Barick found a silver comb while we explored. The dwarf became quite enamored with the trinket and spent some time combing out his beard. The comb was not the only thing we found, though. As we explored we found a number of pendants depicting a stone-faced man. Ralpheo, as he often does, led us unwittingly into quite a find. He fell through a pit trap in the temple’s pantry and found a chest. Ashvact picked the lock and found 600 gold pieces.

Our most notable find was a human being. He had been encased by the spider we had met previously. The man was alive, but very weak. We left the temple and made camp at the edge of the clearing. The man’s name was Joseph Bauer feom the village of Leskin. Joseph told us that the temple was once used by villages from all over. The village used the healing water from the fountain to purify their wells once per generation. The last group sent to retrieve water had disappeared. Joseph and the comrade he had travelled with had been attacked.

We encountered two giant robber flies the following day, killing both of them before finding ourselves in an ornately decorated passageway. In the hallway was the body of a dead woman and the skeleton of a man, both human.

Ashvact, Barick and I placed the pendants we had found around our necks and entered the room at the end of the passageway. The fountain was in the ground, with three steps down to the water. A statue on the fountain looked like the creature on the pendant, with large wings and claws. Wearing the pendants, though, the three of us were able to fill three small vials from what remained of the water in the fountain.

We returned Joseph to Leskin, where the people were quite a jovial bunch. We left a vial with Joseph and made our way back to Trastenfen. Barick gave a vial of water to Garesh when we arrived back in town. He immediately left to deliver the water to his friend. I found myself face-to-face with Tolvar again, negotiating a deal to sell the items we had collected from the temple. Where businessmen are concerned, I would rather take my chances with snakes and spiders.

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Chapter Five: Dangerous Roads

From the Green Tome, as written by Waldrick Maestrum

A bright, beautiful Peerday greeted us the morning after we finished exploring the guard house. We took time to discuss the townsfolk we had met during a light breakfast. Peerday worship at the Abbey of Straben was a highly ritualized affair. I did not observe it up close, but had quite a long discussion about it with Ralpheo days later. The service begins with a 20 minute initiation ceremony, followed by a parishioner participation section called The Phases. One of these Phases is called the Ordeal, where parishioners meet face-face with Straben officials to discuss what they have done to honor Straben. Ralpheo took part in the Ordeal and met three townsfolk: Dirrill, a farmer who was happy with the Abbey; Gomid a fisherman lamenting the poor quality of the catch, and Verely, a wealthy merchant who owns two warehouses, one of which he says the fishermen use as a drydock.

Ashvact took the morning to investigate the warehouses across he lake from Fishtown. Ashvact managed to talk with a guard. He found out that guard patrols are infrequent, that what few guards there are are paid by the Baron, and that militia membership includes all males of at least 13 years of age. Barick went to Garesh that day and received a fine axe, which he named Brok Balor.

I spent Peerday attempting to determine the magical properties of the items we picked up in the Guardhouse. The brooch seemed to have had a magical spell cast on it at some point. The silver ring, however, emits an overpowering aura. I determined to keep the ring close and study its effect on me very closely. The ring so perplexed me that I began walking absent-mindedly through town, ending up on the north road out of town. Just past the guardhouse I found a young man along the road. He was dead. I did a quick search of the body and found a note from someone named Gren, addressed to the Baron’s mage Peltar. I hid the note and immediately reported the murder to the guards. To my shock, the guards asked if I needed help getting rid of the body. The interaction forever changed my opinion of the town guard in Trastenfen. The note, which was in some strange Elvish script, told of a power being drawn from the ground. He mentioned a companion named Weel, asked Straben and Eord to protect them, and ended with the cryptic: “If we do not return, you know what to do.” I spoke to Fliban about the note and he indicated that the ruins were near Pale Hill, many miles from Trastenfen.

Falco’s was surprisingly busy Peerday evening. Amid the bustle came a caravan from Pinewald. The members of the team seemed to be a hardy bunch, but they were surprisingly skittish that night. They spoke of trouble along the North Road towards Pinewald—more raids. We also heard news that there have been goblin raids on the thorp of Pinewald itself. The teamsters said attempts were being made to rebuild Pinewald’s keep, despite rumors that it is rumored to be haunted. A man came to see me that evening claiming to be a representative of one Bradbert Crandel, owner of Crandel’s Den, an invitation-only gambling establishment. I told the man I could not accept just then, but that I would certainly entertain the offer. Ralpheo received a letter that evening. Ralpheo was immediately tranfixed by the letter, neglecting to tip the messenger. The letter was from a man named Almon, an official at the Abbey, and advised Ralpheo to use silver when combating the undead.

Garesh stopped in to see Barick that evening. He told a story of friend of his whose daughter was ill. He told us of an abandoned temple to Cunefir near the High Glade. He said there was a well there with water that could cure the girl.

Ralpheo went to a gathering in Fishtown that evening. He heard more tales of the North Road—this time a man whose friends were taken into the Hollow Forest two weeks ago. He also heard rumors of an abandoned manor four miles from town between the Kelman Woods and the Great Cliff. Just before he left, an old fisherman warned him against going to Goat Hill. The ugly, hairy beasts there continue to attack herders.

A myriad of options lay before us. We adjourned to our room that night and a heated discussion ensued. Barick, naturally, wanted to help Garesh, one of the few humans in Trastenfen who he has taken a liking to. I kept reflecting back to the note, about the strange power that the Baron’s mage seems to be trying to draw from the ground. I was convinced a trip to Pale Hill would shed light on the undead we encountered in the guard house. Ashvact and Ralpheo seemed ready to proceed with that plan until I suggested we borrow some horses from the caravan for the long trip. Ralpheo put up a strong protest and, thinking that a child might be in trouble, I agreed to go to the temple. Ralpheo paid a visit to the Almon at the Abby afterwards, evidently a kind man that helped restore Ralpheo’s faith in the Abbey. He could not stop praising the man during our trip the next day. Ashvact picked up a bow and some arrows he had ordered from Perk and Pello the following morning.

We left for High Glade early in the morning. After an hour or so we left the road. Travel became grueling as the ground began to grow rocky and slope upward. My companions proved to be a hardy lot, never once allow a complaint to pass their lips. Other than a few grumbles from Barick as Ralpheo talked on and on of Almon the Curate, it was a pleasant enough journey. We camped near one of the Fourtop Hills and took turns keeping watch.

My mind drifted during my watch. I was still trying to perfect my sleep spell, as it was proving to be quite useful when facing the horrors of the world. I meditated on the spell as I stood watch, remembering the lessons of my wise mentor Hector—keeping a calm mind, recitation of the spell in my mind, and remembering how the correctly cast spell felt when emanating from the air around me. I fell asleep as Ralpheo began his watch, the spell lingering in my mind.

A short time later I awoke to the deathly snarls of a seven-foot-tall hairy beasts with the face of a hyena. We were being attacked by four gnolls. I could think of no weakness and knew they did not take prisoners. I had the chilling sensation that this might indeed have been our end. Before I could react, I felt cold steel plunge into my abdomen. As he raised to strike again, I saw a flurry of steel from the corner of my eye. The gnoll turned to face my companions. I am certain it was the flurry of Ralpheo and Barick’s attack that saved my life. I could feel the life draining from my body. I tried to cripple my attacker by cutting his at the ankle, but that had no effect. Ashvact went down and begane desperately trying to crawl away, a trail of elven blood following him. Ralpheo and Barick felled two of the gnolls, but Ralpheo went to the ground shortly after.

Suddenly, I the sleep spell began to take shape in my mind. I focused it and reached out my hand, drawing on all of my reserves to strike the beasts down. I remained concious long enough to watch one of them drop to the ground. Ashvact wasted no time. I saw him crawling towards the gnoll, dagger in hand, just before darkness overtook me.

I awoke to find Ralpheo hovering over me, hastily praying over me and applying some sort of salve to my wounds. His eyes were frightened as he looked all around him in the early morning sunlight. I looked to my left and saw Ashvact proped against a boulder, bow in hand, a grim look on his face. Barick stood nearby, ace in hand, the grimmest of looks on his face. Ralpheo smiled at me, which reassured me at everyone was okay. I asked him what happened. He told me a story of Barick facing the final gnoll, his body weakened from the attacks of the beasts. He said he drew Brok Balor over his head and called up the name of the Grimhammer Clanfather who saved his people years and years ago. Ralpheo’s eyes widened as he told me that a fantastic clash of thunder shook the air and lightning arced through the air, enveloping both Barick and Brok Balor. The axe came down onto the gnolls head, nearly splitting his entirely in two. I doubted Ralpheo’s account, knowing that he is prone to a wide-eyed view of the world. I asked Barick about it, but he would not speak of the matter any further. We were alive, and however we managed to survive the attack, I was thankful to be alive that morning. Thankful and even more cautious than ever. The Foothold is no place for the weak-willed.

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Chapter IV: A Nest of Vermin

From the Green Tome, as written by Waldrick Maestrum
Once again safe in our upper room at Falco’s, I thought it time to take a closer look at the medallion I had obtained in the bowels of the guard house. I used my arcane resources to determine that the medallion was indeed magical. I placed it around my neck and felt that it indeed had some beneficial properties. It perhaps may even be intrinsically good or holy in nature, as our friend Ralpheo claims to see some sort of inner glow pulsing from inside its ruby center. I have enclose a sketch of the medallion at the back of this book. I will continue recording the item’s properties as they make themselves manifest.

While I was sketching the medallion by the fire of the tavern, a dwarven drama was unfolding near the bar. Barick confronted Falco about a target he found in the guardhouse. Evidently, Falco was more than a little annoyed at Barick showing it to him. We learned later that Falco had indeed helped trained militia members until having some sort of falling out. The militia in Trastenfen, it seems, is protecting other interests than the townsfolk. That night, however, Ashvact and Barick defiantly questioned Falco’s motivations. Ashvact went so far as to land a perfect bullseye with one of the darts crafted by Falco’s grandfather—without looking at the board! Ashvact is on his way to geing an exceptional archer. I am sure of it.

The next day I was able to speak with Tolvar, an administrator for the Erren family. He helped send a message to my father regarding the strange shipwrecks plauging the shores of Trastenfen. The message was sent to my home in Forlan, by way of Donir. While I sent the message, Barick took it upon himself to teach young Ralpheo how to fight. Ralpheo was not interested, but when Barick insisted and began hitting him, Ralpheo showed his grit. He punched the veteran dwarf in the face, breaking his nose. Barick seemed to relish this broken nose and, oddly, I think it went a long way to forge a friendship between the two. The two of them went to the Abbey of Straben again, this time for some healing after the fight, and spoke with Selmo, as well as a rather frightening looking priest named Horaig.

Tolvar and I were able to work out an agreement for the jewels we had found in the guardhouse. I did not negotiate like a Maestrum, but we were hard pressed to move the items and we needed money to continue our investigations into the mysteries of this town. Tolvar asked for my promise of a job with the Maestrums in exchange for a better deal on the gems. I refused. A Maestrum’s word is his lifeblood and it cannot be given easily.

Ashvact stayed outside in the shadows while we negotiated. On the way home we were followed by a grey hooded figure. We attempted to double back on the figure, but he proved too elusive. Strangely, we met up with him in Falco’s Tavern later that evening. I played the arrogant young man and bought a round for the house. I was able to somewhat befriend the gray hooded figure. In the raucousness that ensued, Flibban showed up, drank the last of my good wine, and managed to divert the figure’s attention from a conversation with Barick. The figure and I stepped outside, where I quickly put him to sleep and Ashvact tied him up. A brief interrogation revealed that his name was Volcifar. He claimed to be performing due diligence in watching us, making sure we were honorable. Ashvact followed the man to Tolvar’s office and home to his house. H even went so far as to question the man again. Volcifar claimed to be Tolvar’s brother. We all agreed that Volcifar needed a close eye kept on him in the future.

Our last night under the guardhouse revealed little more than foul vermin—13 giant rats swarming us at once. I was able to render 10 of them unconscious with one incantation. I have found certain components, combined with the a few tweaks of the base incantation to be a powerfully effective combination. I have included a component list and incantation instructions on the following page. We found some treasure among the refuse of rats nest, including an ordinary-looking ring. It is the ordinary rings that cause the most trouble in the world. I planned to take a close look at the ring at my earliest convenience.

My companions appear to be meeting quite a number of the townsfolk. Two particular merchants stand out: Pello the Fletcher and his twin brother Perk, who makes bows. They appear ordinary enough, but Ashvact insisted they were, like himself elfkind. It was around this time that I first met Garresh the Blacksmith. I was accompanied by Ralpeho. Garresh seemed disgusted by the trappings of Straben Ralpheo wore. He refused my business. It seems as though, like our friend Falco, there is more to many of the merchants in this town than meets the eye.

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Chapter 3: The Secrets of Trastenfen

From The Green Tome, as written by Waldrick Maestrum
I advised my companions to obtain additional swordsmen if we were to go back into the depths of the dungeon below the guardhouse. My wounds were too severe to take this task on myself. I trusted Ashvact with the task before falling into the deepest of sleeps. He had done nothing of the kind when I awoke, much to my consternation.

That is not to say my companions were idle while I slept. Ralpheo took my advice and paid a visit to his fellow followers of Straben at the abbey on the hill. He was able to obtain holy water from them, but I feared that what he learned there was taking us into the black heart of Trastenfen. An adept at the abbey made the suggestion that Ralpheo give no aid to the fishermen being haunted by the foul creatures of the guardhouse. The adwpt suggested the fishermen were not paying the proper respect to Straben. The young cleric was understandably shaken by these revelations, even more so when he found they were making money on the sale of holy water and that they had some sort of arrangement with the farmers of the town.

Barick had realized that his current axe was not fit for a dwarf. He paid a visit to the blacksmith, telling the blacksmith that the axe “just doesn’t cut it.” To this day, I do not know if the joke was intentional or not. At that point in my quest, I was unsure whether a dwarf could even make a joke. The blacksmith joked that Barick Grimmhammer should, naturally, have a hammer. Barick would not hear of it, though, and insisted on an axe.

Ashvact did go down to the docks, but rather than looking for extra help, he searched for information. He spoke to two children, a boy and a girl. The girl seems to be the one Barick overheard talking about “walking bones.” The girl was shy, but the boy told Ashvact of the guardhouse fire and ghosts he often sees.

That night we were again in the depths of the guardhouse. We were able to find some hidden areas on this night. Ashvact showed his skill at opening locks on an old treasure chest we found. We also found a secret passageway leading to the bank of the river, directly across the river from a warehouse dock. We fought more creatures this night, including some particularly large rats infesting the lower reaches of the guardhouse. I came back to our room in Falco’s wondering what is the more dangerous: the ghouls below the guardhouse or the people of Trastenfen.

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Chapter Two: Initiation

From The Green Tome, as written by Waldrick Maestrum

As Hanten turned to Thalen , the four of us found ourselves continually more restless at the oddities appearing in town. It was obvious the four of us craved some form of movement, whether through curiosity, righteous, vengeance, or some combination of all three. This restlessness seemed to posses Ashvact the most. He continued disappearing for days at a time. I assumed one day he would leave and never come back. He continued coming back to Falco’s, though, and the four of us began taking on small tasks to break up the monotony of drinking and dining. Barick and Ralpheo often helped Falco at the bar.

The four of us even went so far as to collect herbs for Delcar and Reswold, two local brewers. While we were in the woods collecting the materials, Ralpheo was nearly devoured by a giant snake. I was engaged in the task at the time and did not see Barick kill the beast. When I finally arrived, Barick stood over the severed head, his axe in his hands, a look of blood-red glee about his face.

Back at Falco’s rumors were running rampant about those poor souls in Fishtown. The Fishtown section of Trastenfen is home to the fishermen of the village. The shacks and shanties of that section our humble, but in my frequent walks I found the people pleasant enough, if a tad malodorous. We heard news that a girl wad bitten by a large rat near a guard station in Fishtown. The guard station was subsequently burned down.

Around this time, we were also witness to a scuffle in Falco’s between some humans and the half-orc Grimvock. Grimvock was a particularly ill-tempered orc, but had caused no problems up until that point. Barick was glad to see him go, but we all thought it somewhat strange. It was even more disconcerting when we learned later that Grimvock had killed a man. Some of the human regulars at the bar, however, told us the guard was seen near the guard house just hours later. Our collective curiosity was piqued. We made the decision to investigate the guard house.

The night of our investigation, I met a local mage named Fliban. Fliban is apprentice to the baron’s mage. Fliban was arrogant and condescending, speaking to me in a tone of which Maestrum’s are not accustomed. I bought the mage some wine, sat with him, and was quietly grateful for all of the dry gatherings I was forced to attend in my youth. They proved excellent preparation for my conversation with Fliban. Fliban proved helpful. He seemed suspicious of the guard house being burned to the ground. It seemed like a rather odd and lazy solution to a infestation problem. Fliban also told me of a Captain Kisto, one of the few local captains never to see a ship sunk in these waters.

My companions were already watching the guard house from the woods when I arrived. Barick informed me that he had heard a girl talking to her father on his way to our rendezvous point. She told her father of “walking bones” near the guard house. We began exploring the burned out guard house, eventually splitting up briefly. Barick and Ralpheo searched the armory while Ashvact and I investigated movement in a heavy tangle of trees and bushes nearby. I cast a simple sleep spell and the two of us foolishly went into the woods. Two animated skeletons met us on the woods. We made short work of them and met up with our companions.

The guard house was obviously infested. We saw rat tracks quite frequently. We also discovered a cavern system below the ruins. It appeared to be some sort of abandoned hideout. We encountered more skeletons and the most foul creature I had encountered up to that point in my life, a ghoul. Ralpheo raised a trembling hand and began to mouth some incantations. He hesitated at first, but then the words picked up forced. The undead fled before the young cleric. The rest of us looked at each other with raised eyebrows. I thought I detected the beginnings of a smile on Barick’s face. We continued onward into an old pantry, filthy with rotten food. Before we knew what was happening, a host of zombies and ghouls were upon us. A pitched battle ensued in the tight quarters. A ghoul pushed forward, nearly knocking me to the ground. The ghouls hands clawed at me, attempting to land a paralyzing bite upon my arm. If not for the strength of Ralpheo and the impressive battle-hardened determination of Barick, I might very well have lost my life there in that foul cavern. We immediately left the cavern and returned to Falco’s. I fell into a deep, dream-filled sleep. I dreamed I saw the sails of the Maestrum’s out at sea, burning and slowly sinking, being dragged to a watery grave by a host of ghouls too fiendish to describe here.

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Chapter One: The Waves of Fortune

From The Green Tome, as written by Waldrick Maestrum

My chronicle begins on a seemingly peaceful day in the harbor town of Trastenfen. I had recently arrived in town after the completion of what constituted my initial forays into the arcane arts. I am a Maestrum by birth, a name which has followed me, clung to me, for both good and ill, throughout the course of my life. After completing my initial studies into arcana, I was eager to put some space between myself and the Maestrum name. I booked passage on The Argus, a merchant vessel owned by my uncle. I found lodging at Falco’s, a homely little Inn and Tavern owned by a rather gruff dwarf. My initial conversations with Falco gave me every reason to believe he knew I was indeed a Maestrum. I remembered the words of my grandfather when I was a child: “The memory of a dwarf has has deeper roots than we can ever see.” I made the decision to drop all pretense of duplicity when it came to Falco and the ever-present assortment of characters that frequented his establishment. Two characters especially piqued my interest: a rather ill-tempered half-orc named Grimvock and a mysterious Elven rogue named Ashvact.

Ashvact and I struck up a congenial relationship over the next week. At first it seemed as though he was sizing me up for a quick cut of my purse. Over a few days time, however, Ashvact seemed to take a liking to me. This no doubt had little to do with the pleasantness of my company and more to do with the fact that I was simply e only human in these parts willing to talk to Elven-kind. I found out that Ashvact was not elven, but indeed a half-elf. His father was a human and his mother is elven.

During the mornings I often found myself walking absently along the docks. The sea runs deep in the Maestrum blood and I often find being close to the water helps focus my thoughts. On the 15th day of Hanten there was a crowd at the docks. A large assemblage was crowding near the shoreline, looking out to the sea. A massive ship with ornate golden sails had broken up on the horizon. I made a quick note of the weather and found it odd that a ship should wreck itself so far from shore when winds were just slightly above average. Two figures were swimming towards the shore. Some movements were made among the crowd to launch a boat to help rescue the survivors, but they had reached the shore before anything could be done. There we only two survivors. A red-bearded dwarf and a young dark-skinned human cleric. The dwarf had pulled the young cleric from the ship and, coughing and choking, swam the man to shore. Just before emerging from the ocean, the dwarf gave a guttural roar and heaved the cleric to the shore. An old wit on the shore noticed the emblems of Straben adorning the water-logged cleric and joked that Straben was now rejecting his own. The dwarf stood, still coughing, and pushed his ay through he crowd, rejecting all attempts to assist him. The cleric was soon carried to a small room at Falco’s until he regained consciences. If Falco was put out by the use of one of his rooms, he gave no outward appearance. He did seem worried that someone might take advantage of the cleric’s state to do something unfortunate to him. I agreed to sit with him and Falco seemed glad, or what passed as gladness from such a dour dwarf.

The cleric proved to be a very strong young man and recovered quickly. I learned his name was Ralpheo and that his father and brother, also clerics, had been recently murdered. He was an eager disciple of Straben. His eagerness soon wore on the patrons of Falco’s. While dining with other groups at the tavern, Ralpheo would launch himself into one-sided discussions on the finer points of Straben philosophy and teaching. He was soon something of a pariah in the tavern. There was something in Ralpheo’s earnestness, in his wish to be a force of change in the world, that I found quite refreshing. My interest lies not in gods, though, but in the deep mystery of life at the core of all arcana, my servant is knowledge, my master is truth. Surprisingly, and much to my amusement, the dwarf who pulled Ralpheo from the ocean became our frequent dining companion. His name was Barick Grimhammer, the brother of a far off dwarven king who had perished in the shipwreck. It seemed to my eyes that, in his strange dwarven sense of honor and pride, Barick felt a grudging responsibility for Ralpheo’s safety. Nobody, it seemed, was more annoyed by this fact than Barick himself. As the gruff dwarf spent the next weeks grieving quietly for his lost brother, Ralpheo was by his side, discussing Straben and trying to talk to the dwarf about his loss. Barick would turn almost violent at the young cleric if he mentioned his brother, but there Barick was day after day, drinking and listening to Ralpheo ramble on. Of all creatures that walk Rubyorn, none fascinate me like those hardy mountain warriors, the dwarves.

That mysterious figure, Ashvact, came and went a lot during this time. I admit I was highly curious as to where exactly the half-elf went when he was away from the tavern. He offered up little information and I did not inquire. When he was at the tavern, he and I would often discuss elvish craftsmanship and the wonderful items his people make. Ashvact and Barick were surprisingly civil to each other during these times and, while there was certainly a level of distrust among them, as is common among their people, neither seemed to have any particular ill will towards the other. It was during these conversations over warm meals that I began to feel as though I had found a group of adventurers that could affect some some change on the island. We spent a merry night together laughing and drinking, but we all knew there was something not quite right about this town. I began to recall the words of my grandfather: “You will find yourself against evil in the world, Waldrick. You must ask yourself whether you are the hammer or the anvil.”

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DM's Session 1 Recap

1. We meet the party:

  • Waldrick: The idealistic black-sheep son of a powerful merchant family who left the comfort and riches of upper-class life to find his way in a world of arcane knowledge. Will he learn enough to survive the hostile world and make a name for himself in his own right or will he gain a new appreciation for the finer things in life?
  • Ashvact: The mysterious drifter whose half-elf origins make him unwelcome company in many places and force him to carve out a meager living any way he can manage. Will he find a way to use his shadowy skills to benefit the world and bring praise to his Elven side or will he descend into the dark recesses of oppressed rage and use his skills for selfish gain?
  • Ralpheo Vi Straben: The over-zealous follower of Straben, young and idealistic, venturing out on his own to find out what happened to his father and brother. Will he discover what befell the devout followers of Straben who disappeared under murky circumstances? Was it just a simple band of brigands or something more sinister that brought down the respected missionaries?
  • Barick Grimhammer: The dour heir-apparent to an influential dwarven clan whose powerful patriarch was killed in the very shipwreck that brought Barick to Trastenfen. The Grimhammers were travelling here for a Dwarven High-Hall Assembly, yet the other dwarven clan leaders are no-where to be found. Was it a pre-planned conspiracy to get rid of the clan or a cruel twist of the fates that leaves Barick needing to prove himself? Will he become a renowned dwarven leader or be forced to relinquish his clan’s status to competing families?

2. The party discusses their backgrounds, goals, and current situation. The first order of business? Find out the reason that supply ships seem to be having trouble completing their trips into and out of the region. The ships get close to the small port city of Trastenfen and then something terrible befalls them. Barick and Ralpheo arrived on the island due to one such incident. Is it bad luck, something in the water, the displeasure of Straben, a political power-grab, or a more sinister plot to control the flow of goods into and out of Trastenfen?

3. The group hears rumors about several things in their first weeks in Trastenfen. Two things that stand out as possibly important:

  • A little girl was bitten by a large rat near a guard station at the edge of Fishtown. Fishtown is the neighborhood in Trastenfen where most fishermen and their families live.
  • A half-orc (Grimvock) supposedly killed a man, and then the man was seen walking around down by a burned out guard station a few hours later.

4. Waldrick meets a local mage apprentice, Fliban, who, despite his arrogance and condescending demeanor, provides a good deal of information to the young merchant wizard. Among the info, these things are deemed important:

  • Captain Kisto is a locally based captain who has never had a ship sink while coming into port at Trastenfen.
  • The guardhouse was burnt to the ground recently due to the rat infestation. To Fliban, it seemed an extreme and lazy resolution to a simple rat problem. Waldrick got the idea there was something more there, but Fliban could not be enticed to say more about the matter.

5. Investigating the Guardhouse:

  • Barick overhears a little girl tell a man (presumably her father) about ‘walking bones’ by the now-abandoned guard station.
  • Just outside the guard station, in a stand of trees and thick bushes, Waldrick and Ashvact encounter a couple of walking skeletons.
  • Inside the guardhouse is a burned out prison cell, an administrative office, and a small armory filled with mostly useless/ruined weapons.
  • The group notices the recent tracks of rodents in the ashes and dust of the guard station. The rodents look to range from small to very large.
  • In one of the rooms of the guard station, the party finds a trapdoor to a cavern below.

6. In the cavern below the guardhouse:

  • The initial entry point is a large meeting room. The old and decrepit furniture that adorns the room consists of several large hexagonal tables, an old broken bed, several chairs, and a chest (which Ashvact attempted to open). Also in the room are more skeletons and a ghoul.
  • Ralpheo uses his divine power to cause the undead abominations to flee. This first use is impressive and gives him confidence while also gaining him some respect among the group.
  • The next room they enter is a pantry of sorts. Several shelves full of rotten food, old rotted wooden tools, and grimy and tarnished pots and pans line the walls.
  • Some zombies and ghouls are in this large pantry and they attack immediately. After the ghouls almost paralyze and kill Waldrick, the party leaves the cavern and heads back to Falco’s Tavern to lick their wounds.

(this session took place on Sept 15, 2012)

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