DuBois Area Fantasy Photoshoot is a group of people from DuBois and surrounding areas who gather together for free costumed photoshoots and lots of fun!
While in the employ of Lord Dagult Neverember, the Company traveled from the city of Neverwinter south towards Waterdeep. Their first stop was at Phandalin to deliver a precious relic to one of the newly formed churches. Ultimately, they intend to end their journey in the far South at Greenest. On the way, they discovered the Karst Caves, a base of operations for bandits who have been raiding the trade routes between Neverwinter and Waterdeep. They have decided to clear out the caves, depriving the enemy of supplies and resources.
During this blog post, you will see red text. This is my Dungeon Master Voice chiming in about the events of the session. I want to take this chance to thank my friends who share in my adventures. You guys are awesome, and I enjoy rolling dice with you. If you are reading this post and you are playing through the adventure, please send a message to the Dungeon Master saying “DROW” to gain a point of inspiration.
The Company stared at the swirling mist behind them, and decided that it must be investigated. The High Elf, Therivol, and Abernacky, the gruff soldier from Neverwinter, moved towards the mist while the others held back to observe. As they approached, a soft voice came from the mist saying, “You have become so weary. Give up. Rest. You cannot go on.” Therivol raised an eyebrow, hearing a familiar accent to the voice that reminded him of an Elvish speaker. He could not place the dialect. He glanced at the Human next to him, seeing that suddenly Abernacky had grown weak. His shoulders slumped, and his eyes drooped. He seemed exhausted.
Abernacky remained under the effects of a Suggestion spell cast by the Black Spider. The spell should last until the Black Spider took damage, however Abernacky’s player had to leave for the evening so I ruled that Abernacky would remain Exhausted and out of play.
Vrae’ree approached the mist, thinking it may be a creature. Meanwhile, Brûne called upon his inner magical powers as a Paladin, searching for any vile creatures in the area. He looked to the others a shook his head. He did not sense any Undead, Fiends, Angels, Unhallowed, or even Holy places nearby.
“I’m so tired,” said Abernacky. “We need to take a rest.” He yawned, looking back at the rest of his companions. Without realizing it, his grip on his weapons became so weak that he dropped both the handaxe and the warhammer to the floor of the cave passage. “This journey has been so exhausting.”
Therivol and Vrae’ree came to the same conclusion: this was charming magic! They spoke the words of Flame Bolt together, both unleashing a small burning particle that flew into the mist turning into small shafts of flame. The fire passed through the mist and licked against the damp limestone rock of the passage. Fo rushed forward, moving past Abernacky who had now slumped to his knees. The Monk lashed in a diagonal strike through the mist from the top left to the bottom right. It seemed to have no effect.
The voice from the mist spoke again. This time, it spoke in perfect Drow dialect. “Why have you come into the Karst Caves?! What purpose do you have in the domain of Tiamat?!”
Tiamat. The name was one of legend. Tiamat was the patron goddess of chromatic dragons and the embodiment of greed and envy. She takes the form of a five-headed dragon, and each head is a different color. She gave birth to the five primary species of chromatic dragon, each taking the form of one of her heads. Tiamat combines the powers of all of the chromatic dragons. Confined to the Nine Hells by the power of the greater gods, Tiamat longs to escape and wreak havoc upon the world. What part did Tiamat play in the darkness that has encroached upon the Realms?
Vrae’ree responded in Drow, trying to convince the mist creature that they had come to investigate. He gestured to Fo and Therivol who both were wearing outfits stolen from the Tiamat Cultists. Brûne, too, was disguised by wearing a cloak taken from one of the Cragmaw Wild Eves. Vrae’ree hoped that they ccould easily pass for a small sect of Tiamat Cultists. He inferred that they were allies.
“Prove it then,” demanded the voice. “Show you devotion to Tiamat and the Cult of the Dragon! Lay down your weapons. Otherwise, you shall surely die!”
Vrae’ree attempted to convince the voice that he was the leader of this group and that they were not here as a threat. But, Fo glanced at the others with a smile. He knew of the Cult of the Dragon. The organization had existed for hundreds of years in Faerûn. The Cult of the Dragon venerates dragons, evil dragons in particular, and specifically dead evil dragons. They reanimate the gargantuan corpses as powerful and fell dracoliches. The Cult acts as an information network for its draconian “masters”, brings gems and riches as offerings, and encourages evil dragons to become dracoliches. Their belief is that dracoliches are destined to one day rule Faerûn and beyond. The Cult is active throughout the Realms, but is specifically powerful in the Cold Lands and the North, where dragons are particularly abundant. Cult member activities include gathering information on particularly rich caravans to be raided, stealing unique items to be offered to their masters, and leading raids against their enemies. Senior members of the Cult of the Dragon are known as Keepers of the Secret Hoard or, more recently, Wearers of Purple, and to them is given the secret of creation of dracoliches. Rumor had it that the Cult was under new leadership from a fanatical, charismatic leader.
Fo knew the rumors well. He had discovered them during his travels while searching for his twin brother. The Cult of the Dragon was supposedly under the thumb of a new leader, a young Calishite human with visionary ideas for the organization. Some believe he is the Chosen of Tiamat, bestowed divine abilities by the dark goddess. Severin is a visionary who brought the cult new life and new ambitions of dragon domination, but he’s young and prone to underestimate his enemies . . . or fail to see enemies posing as friends. This thought gave Fo an idea.
“Who are you to question a Keeper of Secrets?” bluffed Fo. He hoped that he could convince this creature that he was in fact not only a Cultist but also a high ranking one. With his knowledge of Cult of the Dragon activities and rumors, he might be able to muddle his way through this siutation without another battle … with any luck.
Suddenly, the mist dissipated, leaving a menacing Drow Elf in its place. He had long white hair, red eyes, and skin so dark that it seemed to have a somewhat purple hue to it. He was dressed in fine clothing, and a jet black cloak. In his hands he held a magnificent staff topped with a dangerous looking spider sculpture. In his other hand, he held a large medallion marked with a symbol of the Nemesis of the Gods, Tiamat the Dark Queen. It seemed to glow with an inner power.
“Praise be to Tiamat, Nemesis of the Gods, Tyrant of the Realms!” shouted the Dark Elf.
Fo suddenly cried out. He felt as if some gigantic creature was pushing him down to his knees. He went down hard, jarred his spine. He clenched his teeth against the pain. He struggled, trying to get loose. Sweat beaded on his skin. Blood dribbled from his nose. Surely, this was the Divinity of Tiamat enthralling him in place for his heresy. For a moment, Fo wondered if his mortal frame could withstand such power.
Abernacky collapsed then to the cave floor. Therivol glanced at the soldier with a sneer, and withdraw his bow. He sent a single arrow at the Drow, hitting him squarely in the left shoulder. The Drow shouted in pain and anger, stumbling backward. He stowed the medallion in the folds of his cloak, clutching at his wound. Brûne prayed softly, calling on ancient powers to Bless his companions and grant them favor. Vrae’ree pointed towards the Drow Cultist, speaking the arcane phrases for Magic Missiles. However, as the small magic bolts lept from Vrae’ree’s fingers to streak towards the enemy, they fizzled and faded.
The Drow disappeared from sight. While the others glanced around seeking their enemy, Therivol took careful aim and loosed another arrow. The bolt struck true, hitting the Invisible Drow in his midsection. The Drow faded into sight, sneering and pulling the arrow from his gut with obvious pain. Blood trickled freely from his wounds.
The Drow took a few more steps backwards, and sneer on his dark lips. He knew that his Counterspell ring had hindered the other Drow for now. He glanced at these invaders, and realized the truth. These were a rival sect of Dragon Cultists, perhaps from Phlan who were still loyal to the edicts of mad Sammaster rather than their newest leader, Severin.
Counterspell is a 3rd level spell which attempts to interrupt a creature in the process of casting a spell. If the creature is casting a spell of 3rd level or lower, its spell fails and has no effect. Therefore, the Magic Missile spell fizzled.
Fo ran forward, leaping into the air with a kick, smashing into the chest of the enemy Drow. The Elf fell backwards a few steps, groaning in pain. He lashed out with a sharp dagger, missing the Monk. Fo noticed that the blade dripped with a bring green fluid. Certainly it was poison. Fo ducked down, and brought in an upper cut punch, connecting with the Drow’s chin. He channeled the mystical power of Ki into the strike, manipulating it and tapping into the Drow’s Ki at the same time. Using this mystic force, he caused the Elf to fly upward towards the stalactites on the ceiling of the grotto.
As explained in the Player’s Handbook, Ki is kind of like the Force from Star Wars. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together. Therefore, Fo is able to manipulate his own Ki but also the Ki of his enemies. Since Fo is a 3rd Level Monk, he is able to spend Ki to do Flurry of Blows with an added effect. The player chose the effect to cause an enemy who is hit with a strike to be thrown fifteen feet. The player asked if this could be in any direction, and I house-ruled yes. Therefore, Fo’s player Dragonball-Z’d the Black Spider into the ceiling.
The Drow moaned, a tooth flying from his mouth. He flew into the air, but quickly recovered. He grabbed the stalactites with his free hand and feet, scrambling across the ceiling like a spider. The effect of the staff’s Spiderclimb spell was very effective. He skittered across the ceiling, weaving in and out of the stalactites.
Spiderclimb is a 2nd level transmutation spell. The target gains the ability to move up, down, and across vertical surfaces and upside down along ceilings, while leaving its hands free. The target also gains a climbing speed equal to its walking speed.
“Heresy!’ shouted the Drow in Common. “I am called the Black Spider and this is my domain!” He scrambled a little further along the ceiling. “Tiamat will feast on your flesh!”
Brûne saw his chance, and hurled a javelin. He hoped that the weapon would pin the Drow to one of the jutting shards of rock. It pierced the Drow’s shoulder, causing him to cry out again. However, it did not pin him to the wall but did remain embedded in the Elf’s flesh and armor. As the Drow groaned and grunted to adjust to the new pain, another arrow hit him in the thigh. Tharivol smiled in satisfaction as the bolt made the Drow wail yet again.
The Black Spider pulled the arrow from his leg, and cast it to the cave floor. He glanced around the party of rival cultists. It was clear that the two Dragonclaws wearing capes and masks were adept fighters. As it should be. The Dragonclaws were the foot soldiers of the Cult of the Dragon trained for assassination and murder. The one wearing the heavy green cloak seemed to be a recruit perhaps from Kryptgarden Forest. And the other Drow was a mystery. He hadn’t planned on fighting with these invaders, but instead wanted to size them up. And he had done this. Clearly they were a force to be reckoned with. They were no simple merchants from Phandalin or inexperienced sellswords acting as guards on a caravan headed South. These would have to be brought into the fold or eradicated. They couldn’t be frightened away by Kobolds or Goblins.
The Black Spider whispered arcane words while he rolled a bit of bat fur with a drop of pitch. The Darkness spell filled the entire grotto. The Company stopped suddenly, trying to regain their bearings. The torches were of no effect in the magical darkness. And even the Elves were unable to see with their keen vision. Seconds later when the magical darkness lifted, the Company looked around to find that The Black Spider had taken his leave, at least for now.
… to be continued ….
A Pool of Radiance is basically a pool of pure magical energy manifested in the form of water. When the Weave gathers in a certain area, it amasses as a pool regardless of the climate or region. The presence of such a pool is as wonderful as it is dangerous. It is literally a blessing and a curse. A pool of radiance is pure energy and is essentially an exposed nerve of the Faerûn Weave.
Those who use magic seek these powerful resources to bolster their own power. One who is highly attuned to the Weave can use the Pools of Radiance as a tool to increase their abilities. However, many have failed to harness the raw force of magic, and died in the process. More often than not, magic users seeking to tap into the vast resource of a Pool of Radiance suffer terrible backlashes and sometimes strange side-effects. Even more so since the Spellplauge and its extensive effect on the Weave and Faerûn.
Despite the dangerous nature of a Pool of Radiance, they are still highly sought after in the Realms. As stated before, they contain vast sources of magical energy ready to be harnessed and channeled into spells. Tales have been told in every tavern and alehouse about spellcasters who gained the power of the gods after taking control of such a pool. Some of these are true retellings of real events, and others are simply tall tales that make for an interesting story.
It’s impossible to guess what may happen when a living being comes into contact with a Pool of Radiance. Anything might happen. Storms could wrack the region, earthquakes could rock a nearby city, or the being may being to swell until it explodes. The Ways of Magic are strange and mysterious to the unlearned. Many folks assume that they must drink from, bathe in, or swim into a Pool of Radiance to gain its effects. However that assumption would be incorrect. Most who came into contact with the water from the pool would die in one way or another. Or, oin the other hand, the Pool of Radiance may do nothing due to their lack of attunement to magic. Therefore, they may experience the water of the pool simply as clear, fresh water and nothing else.
But there are stories from the sages of the Realms who claim that spellcasters can harness the magic in a Pool of Radiance. Some stories say that you must be pure of heart to use its power. Others claim that The Mother of All Magic must grant the ability to use the Pool of Radiance. And still others claim that you must simply meditate intently, attuning your vibrations to that of the pool, thus becoming one with it. Few have revealed the true secret.
Throughout this blog post you will see red and black text. The red text is my Dungeon Master voice discussing game mechanics, rules, and such. Also, if you are one of the awesome players who sits at my table then please send me a message on Facebook saying “Karst” to earn one point of inspiration. Thanks for reading the blog! And remember, sometimes I add extra information in the blog post. If it’s here then you can use it at the table!
While in the employ of Lord Dagult Neverember, the Company traveled from the city of Neverwinter south towards Waterdeep. Their first stop was at Phandalin to deliver a precious relic to one of the newly formed churches. Ultimately, they intend to end their journey in the far South at Greenest. On the way, they interrupted am ambush on the High Road. Then they hardly had time to rest when a second attack came from the West. During the battle, Fo accidentally fell into a sinkhole that landed him in the Karst caves.
Most caves are formed by the dissolving of bedrock by underground water. Such caves are called solution caves. They are part of a unique kind of landscape containing sinkholes, sinking streams, and springs. Water that seeps through the soil enlarges the widest cracks in the underlying bedrock. As the soil subsides into the largest of the growing openings, surface depressions gradually form, which are called sinkholes. As sinkholes enlarge, greater amounts of water are funneled into the widening cracks below them. With time, the fastest-growing cracks become caves. Most underground water emerges as springs in nearby valleys. If a cave grows large enough, its ceiling may collapse, forming other sinkholes. As fate would have it, that is how The Company discovered the Karst caves.
The Company spent about two hours moving the crates and supplies out of the cave and to the surface eight feet above with the assistance of a block and tackle attached to the Alliance wagon. After everything of clear value was removed from the cave, they sent the Merchant wagon with the Wainwright’s family on towards Waterdeep. Tad, the other wagon driver, took control of the wagon and Deiter accompanied to serve as a guard. Fo and Abernacky buried the corpses of the two Dragonclaw TIAMAT Cultists in shallow graves just off the High Road. The rest of the Company found a suitable area for making camp away from the sink hole and the High Road, and settled in for a much needed rest. During this time, Therivol arrived and was able to find the party due to instructions given from Deiter.
I rolled for possible encounters from the creatures in the Kurst Caves for the two hours. I assigned a 25% chance of discovery. The dice reflected that the Company was not interrupted by any enemies during their looting. Also, the players decided to take a Long Rest to recover their hit points and abilities. The Elves were able to get ample “sleep” in four hours due to their ability to use Trance, but to benefit from the Long Rest they needed to spend the next four hours doing other low impact activities. During their resting time of 8 hours, I rolled for possible visitors to the sink hole room. I assigned a 25% chance again and was successful on 5 of the 8 rolls.
Therivol has been in Waterdeep, and has some news from the South. Waterdeep is in a state of turmoil. Drow have been making raids into the city using secrets pathways from under the city. Rumor has it that they are using Undermountain as a base of operations. Also, the Magister (a powerful Drow Priestess) has declared that she will have the heads of the Lords of Waterdeep before the Solstice on the 20th of Kythorn, only a tenday from now.
The Company broke camp in the morning after a short breakfast and some planning. Vrae’ree suggested that they continue their journey and avoid the caves all together. However, Fo argued that this was a base of operations for the enemy that needed to be cleared out. The monk explained that they should raid the caves, rob the enemy of anything that might be a resource, and destroy anything that couldn’t be removed. By hitting the enemy’s supplies and resources, the enemy will be weakened. The Company agreed to Fo’s reasoning and got ready to enter the caves.
Fo and Therivol donned the outfits of the Dragonclaw Cultists. The heavy black cloaks and thick leather masks felt odd, but they would serve as excellent disguises going forward. Brûne put on one of the emerald cloaks from the Wild Elves who attacked them the day before on the road. And Vrae’ree needed no disguise. He was Drow, and Drow were expected to be seen overground. Perhaps, if luck prevailed, he could use this fact to his advantage.
The Company slowly approached the sink hole, sending Fo ahead to scout. He noticed that the edges of the pit showed recent footprints. All of them appeared to be made by Kobolds. He gestured for the others to come close, and they listened. They could clearly hear the “meep, meep, meep” language of Kobolds below. Vrae’ree translated for the Company whispering that they were sentries assigned there because someone had discovered the cave-in. Because the supplies were missing, these Kobolds were assigned to guard duty. They are bored, annoyed of the assignment, and anxious to be relieved of duty. After a short discussion of tactics, the Company made their move, jumping down into the cave in an aggressive assault.
Brûne lit a torch, and held it in his off-hand, the shield still strapped to his forearm securely. Fo and Abernacky lit torches as well, tossing them down into the cave below. They hit and set embers scattering through the darkness, lighting up the room. They heard the Kobold shout out in surprise at the sudden gout of light.
All five dropped into the cave, taking the four Kobold guards by surprise. The wee creatures scrambled for their weapons but the effort was futile. Fo jumped forward and landed killing blows with his unarmed strikes. Abernacky caved in one of their heads with his warhammer, but not before losing his grip on his handaxe, sending it flailing across the room.
I called for DEX saving throws to jump down into the cave and land safely. I set the DC at 10. Everyone made their saving throws EXCEPT for Fo, the Monk. His player rolled a ONE. I informed the player that Fo landed badly and twisted his ankle. However, Fo had a point of inspiration so he spent it to negate the bad roll. See, inspiration can be useful!
Therivol slashed one across the throat with a longsword, sending it reeling to the floor gurgling. With his other longsword, he gashed a second across the chest. Vrae’ree spoke words of magic, hurling a burning speck from his hand. The speck ignited in midair, turning into a bolt of fire. The Kobold’s eyes widened, and it squealed as the Flame Bolt streaked past it and exploded against the cave wall.
Our wizard player was having a rough night with his to-hit rolls. I’ve considered adding a House Rule that ranged attack spells of 3rd level or lower can be used with an Arcane Focus to give the wizard an advantage roll on attack rolls. I’m not sure how this would affect the system but since NPCs and Monsters would get the same benefit, it might be something I will try. What do you think? Leave a comment below.
The Kobold grabbed its sling and shot a bullet at Vrae’ree. Brûne stepped forward, bringing up his shield in front of the Dark Elf. However, Fo ran forward and jumped in front of the bullet, deflecting it with his staff. Landing in front of the Kobold, he hit it several times. The creature was dead on the first strike, but the Monk kept hitting the small beast until its lifeless body finally slumped to the floor.
Having dispatched the Kobolds quickly, Brûne started dragging their bodies to the back of the cave to hide them out of sight. Before each body was moved, however, Fo and Abernacky made sure to check the small creatures for anything of value. All that was found was a set of crude bone gaming dice, some scraps of rotting meat, and some bits of brown leafy vegetables. Their weapons were not the normal crude weapons made by Kobolds. They were well made, and matched those carried by the Kobolds who had raided on the High Road previously. Four spears, two bows, two quivers of twenty arrows, a two slings were laying on the ground where the Kobolds had been playing dice. A small pouch containing tiny sling bullets was found, as well.
After regrouping, the Company decided to squeeze through the narrow fissure and follow the tunnel West. They discovered that the Karst Cave network was a series of interconnecting passages, rooms, and domes. Each formed from the limestone rock being dissolved. The passages are called fissures or fissure passages. The Company founded that the passages were straight, narrow and had formed along the joints in the rocks. Their Drow companion pointed out that the passages were much deeper then they are wide. In Karst Caves, the fissure passages have been filled with silt and mud. They found as they walked through, in most cases, they were not walking on the floor of the cave. They were walking on silt or mud which filled the lower portion of the passage. This mud is known to be several feet deep in many places, according to Vrae’ree. They proceeded with caution.
Brûne and Fo ignited torches as they proceeded into the dark passage. They noticed that the muddy floor was marked with the traffic of Kobolds making it obvious that it was a well used path. Therivol pointed out a small stone plate on the wall marked with Dwarven Runes. After wiping away the grime, Vrae’ree was able to explain that it was a waypoint marking often used by Dwarves in their mines. It simply stated, “Go West then South.” It had a clan marking of two crossed hammers.
The passage was narrow, so they had to walk single file. They set the marching order with Vrae’ree in the middle and Therivol in the rear. Brûne and Fo walked in the front, allowing their flickering torches to light the way. It cast flickering, dim light that cast shadows around them but it was better than the alternative of total darkness. As they advanced, they could smell the rank stink of unwashed flesh. Brûne identified this a simply “Goblin stink” and Vrae’ree confirmed the fact.
They walked through the passage West for perhaps ninety or a hundred feet, and then saw a small opening about twenty feet ahead of them. The passage widened enough for them to spread out two by two. Abernacky pointed out the smell of manure, commenting that it smelled like a horse barn. They also heard the sound of metal jolting against stone from time to time, and a guttural grunting. While everyone else prepared for the prospect of another battle, Fo sneaked forward to peer into the next cave.
The cave was dome-shaped and rather large. It appeared to be a kennel or a stable. There was a small ledge that was high enough to act as a natural table. Tacks and saddles were layed out on the ledge along with different sized saddle bags. The floor was littered with dung and hay. Nearest Fo were four smallish ponies, large enough to be pack animals. They were tied off by ropes strung around their necks and hammered into the wall with pitons. Across the room were three large sleeping dogs, possible Wolfhounds by breed.
The group moved slowly through the cave, heading towards the center of the room. They noticed that there was an cleft in the Southern wall large enough for a human to walk through. Brûne shined his torch in that direction and confirmed that their was a narrow passage heading South and then Southwest. There was also a larger opening to the West. Fo shined his torch to reveal a widening tunnel that drifted off into the darkness to the West. They did notice that tracks in the mud and silt of thecave floor displayed that their was more foot traffic going South than that going West in the cave.
The Company whispered among themselves, suggesting the next move. Meanwhile, one of the dogs snuffled and opened a lazy eye. It noticed the people in the room, and let out a single bark. Sitting up, it started to wag its tail. The other two dogs did the same, their tongues lolling out of their mouths. Abernacky and Fo used their knowledge of Animal Handling to comfort the dogs, while Brûne assisted by tossing them a few hunks of jerky. The dogs happily accepted the gesture, and gobbled up the treats provided by their new friends.
This encounter was a role-playing situation. I asked the players to describe in details how they were going to approach the dogs. They used a Ready Action to make Animal Handling rolls if the dogs woke up. They did a good job of role-playing the situation. I had them make DC 15 Animal Handling rolls but when Brûne’s player stated he was throwing jerky, I gave a +5 conditional bonus to the rolls bringing the DC down a step to 10. So guess what guys, if you’re one of the players at my table, and you’re reading this post please send me a message on Facebook that says “DOGS” and you’ll get a point of inspiration. Good job, team!
Heading to the Western passage, they found that there was a four or five foot ledge where there were once steps but erosion had eaten them away. They each climbed the ledge and entered the narrow passage. Here they found that the floor was no longer muddy. It was now hard, wet stone . After walking about what they guessed was 120 feet to the West, the passage began to slowly hedge Southwest for another sixty feet. At that point they could see another man-sized opening in the passage that appeared to lead into a grotto.
The grotto was cut in half by a huge stalagnat column that formed a wall down the center with flowstone at the base. Essentially, a stalanat is a barrier formed when a stalagmite and a stalagmite join. Narrow passages led to the North and the South, but the Company was able to theorized that both paths probably joined behind the naturally formed wall. They decided to continue to go South, assuming that it would return them to their Western route.
As they proceeded, Abernacky pointed to the wall, revealing a second panel with Dwarven Runes. After the grime was wiped away, they were able to see that it showed the rune for “Elevator” or “Freight Elevator” and simple stated “WEST.” After reading this and discussing the signifigance briefly, they continued to follow the narrow passageway. It seemed to gradually angle west then southwest for roughly seventy feet before opening into the grotto again. They could see that the ceiling reached a height of perhaps fifteen feet above, and stalactites covered the ceiling. The pointed pieces of jutting rock dripped slowly, covering the floor with wetness. Moss grew abundantly here, covering most of the floor and some of the walls.
“Moss?” said Abernacky quietly. “Strange.”
“It’s because of a bacteria that contains chlorophyll,” explained the Drow Elf as he glanced around the grotto. “This would make a perfect farm for harvesting feed for animals like rothé.”
Fo took some time to investigate the moss, using his skills in herbalism. Brûne helped him. They determined that it was in fact an edible moss that could also be used as a poultice.
Then they all stopped talking as they heard the sound of stone grating on stone. It sounded like someone dragging a cinderblock across flagstone. The sound echoed for about five seconds, and then drifted away.
“Secret passage,” said Fo.
Vrae’ree nodded. “Secret door.”
They all prepared for battle, fully expecting something to lurch from the shadows at them. Seconds passed, and then after about a minute, they started to relax.
“Did you hear that?” said Abernacky. His voice cracked just a little.
Everyone stared over at the soldier. They had no idea was he was talking about.
Therivol raised an eyebrow. “You mean the stone on stone?”
Abernacky scowled and shook his head. “No, Elf.” He spat the word. “I meant the voice. It said something like ‘dirty dwarfs’ or ‘filthy dwarfs’ just a moment ago.”
Fo shook his head. “Didn’t hear it. Where’d it come from?”
Abernacky shrugged. “Everywhere at once.”
Just then, Therivol pointed back the way they had come. “Look!”
There in the passage behind them was a swirling cloud of smoke, or maybe mist. It seemed to fill the narrow passage, clinging to one place. However, it seemed to swirl and billow almost as it were a living thing.
They all exchanged glances, wondering the same thing. What was this mist, and was it a threat?
Goblins are small creatures that many consider little more than a nuisance. They have flat faces, broad noses, pointed ears, and small, sharp fangs. Their foreheads slope back, and their eyes vary in color from red to yellow. Their skin color ranges from yellow through any shade of orange to a deep red; usually all members of the same tribe share the same colored skin, though they also come in shades of green. Goblins are typically found in dark leathers soiled by poor hygiene and colored in a similar range of tones to their skin. Goblins usually stand between 3’4″ and 3’8″ and weigh about 40 to 55 pounds on average.
Goblins usually live in tribes which are ruled by the strongest goblin in the group. These tribes vary in size from gangs of 4-9 to tribes of up to 400. Most larger tribes have wolves or dire wolves as mounts, or ally themselves with worgs, which also carry them into battle. Goblin tribes usually settle near civilized areas to raid for food, livestock, tools, weapons, and supplies. It is common for the leaders of goblin clans to be non-goblin; such leaders are exploiting the goblins as disposable soldiers to further their purpose.
Being bullied by bigger, stronger creatures has taught goblins to exploit what few advantages they have: sheer numbers and malicious ingenuity. The concept of a fair fight is meaningless in their society. They favor ambushes, overwhelming odds, dirty tricks, and any other edge they can devise. Goblins have a poor grasp of strategy and are cowardly by nature, tending to flee the field if a battle turns against them. With proper supervision, though, they can implement reasonably complex plans, and in such circumstances their numbers can be a deadly advantage.
Maglubiyet is the chief god of Goblins. His many titles include Fiery-Eyes, the Mighty One, the High Chieftain, and the Lord of Depths and Darkness. As a god of war and a great general he is also known as the Battle Lord. Another of his aliases may be the Iron One.
Maglubiyet revels in conflict and destruction and constantly pushes his followers to wage war, particularly against dwarves and gnomes. He encourages goblins to increase their numbers in order to overrun their enemies. As a paranoid god he is prone to destroy lesser goblin deities when he suspects treachery or he thinks they are becoming too powerful. Maglubiyet is the chief deity of goblins and hobgoblins. He is a god of war and leadership who rules over the goblin pantheon with an iron fist.
Thureos is a heavy shield made of Mithral. It weighs roughly five pounds and may be thrown as a Ranged Weapon. It is a very rare silvery, glistening metal that is lighter than iron but just as hard. In darkness, the shield sheds light equal to that of a torch. The shield grants a +4 to its user’s Armor Class and also adds an additional +2 to all Dexterity Saving Throws. When thrown as a ranged weapon, it’s Seeker enchantment activates. The shield veers toward its target, negating any miss chances that would otherwise apply, such as from concealment. The wielder still has to aim the weapon at the intended target. Thureos inflicts 2d6+4 damage. After Thureos hits its target, it flies through the air back to the person that threw it. This is an enchantment of Returning. It returns to the thrower during the same round that it was thrown, allowing the user to catch it flawlessly as a Free Action. If for some reason the user is suffering a Condition that won’t allow for catching the shield, then Thureos will drop to the ground in the area from which it was thrown.
Thureos has another special magic abilitiy. This ability require Attunement. Afterwards, the shield’s user can activate the ability up to a third of their total level (rounding down) per day simply by their force of will. (Meaning, a 9th level character can use the ability 3 times a day.) The ability function as a Reaction.
DEFLECT: You must have the shield in at least one hand to use this ability. (Wearing it on your back is not good enough!) Once per round when you would normally be hit with a ranged weapon, you may deflect it so that you take no damage from it. You must be aware of the attack and not Surprised. As a Free Action, the missile can immediately be bounced back at the original attacker (even though it isn’t your turn.) Make an Attack roll using the user’s Dexterity modifier as the bonus to hit, and also add in the Proficiency Bonus.
Price: Price 10,200 gp.
This armor was forged long ago for a fighter named Iza. The suit was made of normal Rhino Hide armor and enhanced with magics. Iza became a legend in Waterdep, the City of Spendors. In fact, he was the mascot for the Blue Mermaid tavern for quite a time. He was known for hiring out his services to those brave or fooslish enough to enter the Halls of Undermountain. He never returned from one of his expeditions into Undermountain, and it is assumed that his armor remains hidden in the maze of that Hall.
This +4 hide armor is made from tough rhinoceros hide with iron studs running across the seams. When donned, the armor adjusts to fit the wear perfectly. In addition to granting a +4 enhancement bonus to AC, it also increases the wear’s basic speed to 50. Also, the armor grants the wearer great strength, adding a +2 enhancement bonus to his Strength score. Lastly, the armor features a long, wicked rhinoceros horn on the helm. This is a built-in weapon, allowing the wearer to charge at enemies and gore them. The wear gains the ability make an attack using his or her Strength as an attack modifier. A successful hit with the horn during a charge deals 4d6+24 damage.
Price 5,165 gp; Cost 2,665 gp + 400 XP.
Employed by Lord Dagult Neverember, the Company has been on the road for about several days. They set out from Neverwinter for Phandalin to deliver a holy relic to the newly founded church of Torm. The trip was an easy one, allowing them to arrive in Phandalin in three days. They remained in Phandalin for a day to rest and resupply. Then they were back on the road, headed towards the town of Greenest in the South. They knew that Waterdeep was on the way, and they planned to stop there before continuing along the Trade Way South into the Western Heartlands and along the Uldoon Trail to Greenest.
Vrae’ree Everhurden saw the ground give way beneath Fo. He was powerless to prevent his mount from suffering the same fate. He knew right away that it was a sinkhole. Being from the Underdark, Vrae’ree had an understanding of such things. Sinkholes like this usually occur where the rock below the land surface is limestone or other carbonate rock, salt beds, or in other rocks, such as gypsum, that can be dissolved naturally by circulating ground water. Understanding this made the situation no less dangerous.
The Dark Elf coiled his body, and pushed with his legs, leaping away from the falling horse. He tumbled in mid-air, landing lightly on his feet at the edge of the sinkhole. He crouched to ensure that the ground here was solid, and peered down into the darkness.
Vrae’ree’s Drow darkvision made it possible to see that Fo had rolled out of the way of the horse. The horse had obviously broken its front legs in the fall, and perhaps injured its spine as well. It was thrashing around and bawling in pain. Fo had mercy on the beast, moving forward and cradling it’s massive head in his arms. With a single twist, the monk broke the horse’s neck and ended its torment.
Fo glanced around. Although the hole eight feet above him let in some dim light, he was surrounded by darkness. He could not see further than an arm’s length from him. He thought he could hear movement. He glanced to the right, and then the left. Yes, something was moving in the darkness around him.
“Look out!” shouted Vrae’ree. He pointed and spoke the words that sent a small mote of fire down into the darkness of the pit. It lit up the small cave for a moment, revealing two men dressed in leather armor, cloaks, and strange leather masks. Their garb was all jet black, helping them to cling to the shadows of the cave. They moved with the grace of hunting cats, prowling in the darkness around Fo.
The Fire Bolt hit one of the Men In Black. The flame licked across the surface of his cloak and armor, rolling away and dissipating into smoke. However, the flare of light gave Fo a glimpse of his enemies. He lashed out at them, missing with each strike. The Men in Black continued to circle Fo, stepping lithely out of the way of his unarmed strikes, and then striking with practiced speed like a serpent. Fo grunted with each cut from their blades. He knew if this kept up there would be no hope for him.
Vrae’ree spoke another arcane word. A frigid beam of blue-white light streaked toward one of the Men in Black. Again, the cave was lit for only a moment. The Ray of Frost had no effect on the man. It merely sizzled away and turned into mist. Fo dashed forward, ramming his quarterstaff into the cave floor and vaulting into the air. He kicked one of the men in the chest, sending him into the nearby rubble. Fo landed and turned, assuming a defensive stance. He felt his elbow nudge the hard, wet rock behind him. He had his back to the wall, and decided that was a good thing.
One of the men gazed up at the Drow Wizard, and produced a throwing knife from within his black cloak. With a flick, the blade spun through the air and struck Vrae’ree in the middle of his chest. The Drow cried out in anguish, and collapsed on the ground.
Fo’s eyes were adjusting somewhat to the dim light of the cave. He saw that the other man was up again, and both were circling him in slow, practiced paces. They were obviously well trained fighters, and skilled in cooperative tactics. They each seemed to compliment the other. Fo felt like a rabbit being hunted by wolves. Pack tactics often win out against solitary prey.
Just then, Fo heard loud singing from somewhere above. He recognized Brune’s voice, and glanced up to see the paladin toss a lit torch into the pit. The torch hit the ground between the men and Fo. The monk smiled and attacked the closest enemy. He connected with flurry of blows, and then followed up with a strike from his quarterstaff. Even as the man he was pummeling went down on his knees, the other one attacked from behind. Fo felt the thin blade slash across his shoulder and down along his ribs. He grunted in pain again, spinning to face his enemy just as three glowing darts of magical force hit the man simultaneously in the chest, blowing him backwards and into the rubble once again.
Fo looked up to see Brune kneeling next to Vrae’ree. Apparently the paladin had used some of his magical ability to heal wounds. Surely that blade should have killed the wizard, but thankfully Brune had other plans. The Drow smiled ruefully, coughing as he spoke.
“Magic Missile,” he said sheepishly. Then he groaned as Brune removed the blade from his chest. Pressing a small piece of rigid material to the wound, he then applied pressure on the wound with a clean and absorbent cloth. Brune eyed the Drow seriously, telling him to stay still and hold the bandage in place.
Then the Paladin stood, raising a javelin and assessing the situation in the pit. The torch was still flickering, providing illumination. He could see Fo exchanging blows with the dark-clad fighters. He noticed the second fighter standing up from the rubble to Fo’s left. With a mighty heave, Brune launched the weapon towards the fighter engaging Fo. His aim was true. The javelin struck the black-clad man in the hip, piercing flesh and bone. He cried out in pain, and bent over to grab at the shaft, allowing Fo an opportunity.
Fo smashed his quarterstaff into the top of the injured man’s head, following the strike up with a roundhouse kick. Fo felt the man’s skull give way, and watched as he slumped lifeless to the rough floor of the cave. Fo turned and rushed at the other man. His cloak and armor was still smoldering from the effects of the Magic Missiles. Within mere moments, Fo had mortally wounded this one as well. The battle was over.
Brune reported that he and Deiter had dealt with the Kobolds and all was well on the road. Both Brune and Fo combined their efforts to see to the Drow’s stab wound, and then took some time to investigate the cave. It was small, and apparently being used as a storage area. The only way out of the room was a small natural fissure in the west side. It was large enough for a man-sized humanoid to squeeze through and seemed to lead to a narrow passage that snaked off further to the West.
The cave itself contained ten large crates filled with non-perishable foods like dried beef and fruits, salted fish, grains, bread, brine pickled vegetables, waxed eggs, and rounds of cheese. There were also six chestnut casks of mead and five oak barrels of wine. Along with these was a sizable stock of weapons similar to those used by the Kobolds and Goblins the night before. All of these supplies were hoisted from the cave a little while later with the assistance of the wagon drivers, a block and tackle, and a hoist on one of the wagons.
While loading the crates of supplies on to the wagon from the cave, one of the drivers remarks that the crates are all marked with different trade stamps. After a short explanation, the man explains that most all of the crates are marked with symbols belonging to merchants from small towns ranging from Waterdeep to Baldur’s Gate
The two black-clad fighters were human. They wore medallions marked with a five pointed star and the icon of a dragon. Vrae’ree and Brune both came to the agreement that this was a symbol very close to that of Tiamat, servant of Bane. When the wagon drivers saw the symbol, they crossed themselves and claimed that it resembled the symbol used by the Church of Asmodeus.
As Fo searched through the belongings of the two cultists, he discovered that one of them had a black iron key on a chain around his neck. Making no mention of this to his companions, he slipped it into the folds of his tunic.
Curious as to how the men shrugged off the effects of his Fire Bolt and Ray of Frost, Vrae’ree asked for his companions to bring the cloak of one of the enemy to him at the edge of the pit. After a few moments of concentration, the Drow removed a small pearl and am owl’s feather from the pockets of his cloak. He spoke a few arcane phrases, and gestured over the dark black cloak. Reaching down slowly, he lightly touched the dark material. Both material components were consumed, fading away as small wisps of smoke.
Vrae’ree looked up to his companions. His voice was weak. “The cloak is not magical. It is the garb worn by these cultists who have sworn an oath to the Nemesis of the Gods, the Dark Queen Tiamat. Their faith protected them from the effects of my magic.”
Brune shook his head. “Cult of Tiamat. Ugly ones those. Their dogma is madness. They seek only power, at any cost. They work tirelessly toward the day when Tiamat will banish the gods from Faerûn and unite the world under her rule. Toward this goal, they follow her commands unquestioningly and are willing to sacrifice themselves in her service.”
Fo shook his head and scowled. “Unrighteous.”
When Vrae’ree spread out the cultist’s cloak to cast Identify upon it, a small scroll case falls to the floor. Opening it with care, the Dark Elf Mage found a letter that may prove useful to the Company.
… to be continued …