Heroes of the Sky

Two Years have passed...
Two years have passed...

It is now winter, 362 UA.

Though repairs are nearly complete to Bahest, the city still bares scares of its battle against the Black Dragon Brood and Red Dragon Brood. Many are still mourning the loss of those who died in the attack.

Far more alarming than the horrors of two years ago however is the the changes in the Dry March since the assault ended. The unnatural desert has continued to expand outward and already small trade towns that used to exist on its fringe have dried up and become a part of the Golden Dunes. If this sudden accelerated rate of expansion continues, the Dry March will expand to the gates of Bahest in 10 years, and the Cascade Mountains 10 years after that. To make matters worse, the rivers flowing into the March from the ocean providing fertile areas are beginning to dry up, causing even the Black Dragon Brood to uproot and finally give up on their beloved homeland. Only the Draconic Wasteland maintains their touch. Rumor still circulate of Red Dragons patrolling the skies throughout the oasis and Bahest releases a general caution to all Airships that travel through the March is not advised, setting back commerce between Bahest and the Hikone Empire a bit. This doesn’t stop daring airships from trying, but more than a couple have met unfortunate ends.

The displaced people of the Logan Oasis have tried to return home only to find it dried up in little time since they’ve been gone. The spells that sustained the Oasis should have held for longer, and so promising arcanists have been sent to the Oasis to search for what happened. Little communication occurs in and out from their operations, but the general impression is that they are not having much success.

This was all concerning to people but was still only on the fringe of their minds until the “The November Nightmare” last month. An airship named Sigmatus, a former Zulick airship trying to maintain trade with Hikone, landed in Bahest with erratic behavior. No sooner did the ship land when it’s corrupted crew of aberrant horrors sprung forth from the hold and murdered all in sight. The crew was put down, but it caused a new fear of aberrant corruption and the public still hasn’t calmed from the panic the assault caused.

While to the public, the nations of Touria struggle to what to make of this phenomena, forces normally hidden from the public eye are already hard at work to counter this aberrant threat, and this group will need heroes to accomplish their ambitious mission.

Mechanics Stuff (Out of Character Info)

Our adventure will begin at level 11 with your character receiving a message (probably via the Whisper ritual) from Hadron Rook asking to meet with him at a location somewhere in the Cascade Mountains that, as best your character knows, is in the middle of nowhere. He will eagerly inform you that he’s working for a new employer, a group called the Vanguard Foundation (or just “Vanguard” for short), on a new project and he can’t wait to show it to you. He’ll even says they might have work for your character, if he/she is looking for some that is.

Once there your character will likely be recruited to assist Vanguard’s special group of heroes and influential individuals attempting to understand and stop the weakening of the Primal Spirits that is causing the Dry March to expand. I want to save more information on how exactly that goes for when we actually role play it, but I wanted to give you this much of a heads up to know what you’re going into.

In my mind, I’d like to see our enemy, at least at first, shift from dragons to the Far Realm and the Elemental Chaos, and the threat change from a threat against a nation (Bahest) to the continent, if not the world, to reflect our rising power level. That’s not to say that old foes won’t rear their ugly heads again (We have yet to deal with the Draconic Wasteland for example).

You have the two years and 2 months between session 10 and the start of session 11 to figure out how your character discovered his/her paragon path and tie up any character development lose ends you’d like to take care of. As stated, if upon reading this plot you don’t see it as being compatible with your character, or you’d like a change of pace, please feel free to take this opprotunity to roll an entirely new level 11 character. Otherwise, feel absolutely free to keep the character you have.

There will be an airship in this campaign, it will not be the Skystrider, but it will be similar in size and capability (specifically the plane shifting). Don’t be surprised if it’s a little more combat worthy but I come up with some reason why it’s weaponry can only be used for air-to-air combat so you can’t use it to auto-win any outdoor fights. Also don’t be surprised if this tier of the adventure puts you in charge of a small group of people.

There’s still a lot of details I’m still working out. If anything else relevant comes up, I’ll let you know. Please feel free to update your character’s profile here with paragon path updates or post them on the Gameknights forum.

Quick note to NEW level 11 characters (as in, you’re not continuing your old one)

You’ll be starting the game with specifically Magical +3 Armor, Magical +3 Weapon OR implement (Not BOTH), and Amulet of Protection +3, all found in PHB1. No, no other properties, just that they are +3 items. No wondrous items. You’ll also start the game with about 5,000g to represent previous adventuring success. If your character is both a weapon user and an implement caster, choose one to be a magic+3 and the other can be any +2magic item of your choice. If your character is a ritual caster, you’ll begin with all your starting rituals as well as six additional rituals of your choice of up to level 11 mastered.

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10 - An Era Protected

((For this adventure, Sin (Sintera Barona)’s player was able to listen in, but not play due to illness)).

((NOTE: This version of this article is being written without the assistance of my session notes atm. I will make revisions when I have access to them again if necessary.))

As the Skystrider approaches Bahest, Claudia Aspiria receives a curious message from an unknown dragonborn, demanding that she speak to Norlan Donaaran. Once Norlan uses Claudia’s tools to speak to her, dragonborn reveals that she is Kulia Silverspear. She warns that the deva Phosta should not be trusted with the The Arcanist’s Compass, as she spotted him consulting with agents of the Order of the Forgotten Fang. She wishes to seek a meeting with the party so that she can arrange a way for them to see Gahzrital without having to go through Phosta. The party sees no reason to trust her at first, and Caelestis Nailo devises a plan to intentionally meet both parties and make them have it out, rather than possibly be manipulated by either. Her plan falls through a little bit when Kulia arrives long before Phosta does, and the dragonborn bejudgingly admits that she is a member of Ghazrital’s The Draconic Guard, a position that earns her some credibility with the party. Still, they decide it is best to hide the compass by embedding it into Ten’s armor – a move that proves fortuitous later.

During their trek to see the gold dragon they are intercepted by Phosta and several hooded figures. At first, the group plays nice, claiming they are only providing escort on their journey, until one of the hooded figures attempts to steal the compass from Ten, becoming dismayed when he realizes a slight of hand will not be sufficient to take it. Ten notices the failed attempt and the party engages in combat with Phosta and his Forgotten Fan thugs. During the combat Phosta reveals himself to be the enigmatic “M”, leader of the fang, and that he has been playing the dragons as a double agent for several incarnations. Despite his arrogance and Invoker powers, Phosta is brought down and our heroes deliver the compass safely, and Calestis claimed several heads by her blade, taking Phosta’s specifically to present to Ghazrital.

Our heroes are brought into a special council meeting with Ghazrital, during which he assumes a Dragonborn form to be less intimidating to those present. Our heroes arrive as the prince of Eursia is finished thanking the dragon for providing his people refuge from the Black Dragon Brood’s assault. The prince promises that the Desert Wind will assist in the event that the dragons attempt to assault Bahest.

As the prince leaves, Captain Kenneth Raptor is called forth, and our heroes take their place in the center of the chamber. While Norlan and several members of Raptor’s original crew bow in respect, Caelstis and Ash stand and speak out of turn when they feel it necessary, making the captain a little nervous. This nervousness was escalated when Ghazrital asked why they weren’t presented by Phosta and Caestlist provided his severed head. Still, despite their outbursts, the compass is delivered, and the crew is rewarded handsomely, all except the captain himself. His reward was special – the dragon had a special team dispatched to search for the true long-lost heir to the Raptor lands, and succeeded in finding a kidnapped boy in the Shadowfell. Happy to see this quest completed, the captain handed over command of his ship to the boy, Augustus Raptor, to much protesting from the crew, especially from Letharyis Skyedge and Hadron Rook. He then followed that up by proposing to Claudia. Though at first flummoxed that she isn’t ready to “settle down,” she accepts. The two happily dismiss themselves from the chambers, while Ghazrital requests that the party remains – he may have work for them.

Things then proceeded to the next order of business: General Bronzescale gave his assessment of the enemy. He said the Black Dragons pose a threat to Bahest, but not one that couldn’t be countered. He then introduced Soleron Skyblade, a General of Everspire and Letharyis’ father. Soleron promised the assistance of his forces in the defense of the city, though during General Bronzescale’s briefing he mentioned a “plan to minimize causalities” that he was unaware of, and asked to for more information about. Bronzescale chose to allow the one who came up with the plan to explain – an elven avenger named Ashia Treme, the same Ashia from Ten’s past.

Ashia explains that she suspects the attack on the Dry March and Bahest is a distraction to allow the chromatic dragons to safely move a relic called the Scale of Io. She believes that with this relic, the dragons can make Tiamat manifest in the world again. At first the council dismisses this theory as rubbish, stating the primal spirits banished the gods from the world long ago. Ashia insists that the Dry March itself represents a weakening of the Primal Spirit’s power in the world, and one need only travel through the Chaos-scape to see that proof. She then explains her plan to use the Arcanist’ Compass to intercept the scale before it can reach the brood masters, and destroy it. She then asks for volunteers, something our heroes quickly jump at. Ten is as overjoyed at the concept of working with Ashia again a Warforged can be, and Caelstis is eager to meet the Avenger that Ten so very looks up to. Norlan gladly seizes this opportunity to bring glory to his clan and Ash and Eve jump at the chance to end this dragon threat before it gets worse.

Caelestis then leads a failed attempt to secure the Skystrider as their ride to intercept the Scale. Her efforts to track down Rook fail, though she does find “Ruin” about to drown himself in drink and succeed in dragging him along. ‘Rys seems eager to aid as well. When they find the ship however, the former-captain Ken is already helping Augustus move in and move the old crew’s stuff out. Their efforts to convince him to retake the ship one last time fail, as the captain already feels that he’s doing the right thing by returning the ship to it’s rightful owners-the true Raptor family. Annoyed, the party makes their meeting with Ashia and the others.

At the meeting the Arcanist’ Compass is used in combination with other Techno-magically relics to allow the party and Ghazrital to track down the Scale of Io and choose an ideal interception point – an abandoned fortress claimed by the Dry March. They use the Linked Portal ritual to travel there and prepare to ambush the group transporting the scale. The caravan moves a little slower than expected, and our heroes end up spending the night in the most stable structure near the fortress. In the night they are attacked by undead, but dispatch them quickly and handily.

The following morning the caravan arrives, protected by Kobolds, dragonborn, and two dragons, one young and one adult. Most of the caravan’s defenders are no match for the party until the adult dragon takes a stake in the fight. After a long and grueling battle, which included some seriously amazing dragonslaying on the part of Ten, the scale was claimed by our heroes. Unable to destroy it, they decided to take it back with them to Bahest to see if Ghazrital could do anything with it.

When our heroes returned Bahest was under attack, but not just by Black Dragons – they had some how aligned the Red Dragon Brood to assist in their assault. Ashia grew immediately worried and rushed off, promising to see the party again soon. ‘Rys declared that this was the last straw and whether Ken liked it or not, she was stealing back the Skystrider and doing something about this, a motion that the heroes more or less jumped on immediately. When they arrived they saw Ken and Claudia already conspiring to do something similar, and Ken shared that Hadron was already at work creating a new weapon using the Arcane Balista and extra Skyjammer core our heroes secured in previous adventures. Using diplomacy and intimidation, our heroes re-secured the Skystrider from Augustus, picked up Hadron and his new weapon, and set out into the sky to assist in the fight. The new arcane ballista was twice it’s previous size and fired a devastating lighting bolt that froze dragons in mid air. While this alone was not enough to slay a dragon, it did hold it in place for Bahest’s allies, especially the cannons of the Desert Wind to tear it to shreds. This eventually drew enough ire from their enemies that a young red dragon took it upon himself to assault the Skystrider directly. Our party quickly immobilized the beast in their own way and set to trying to knock it off the ship. They eventually succeeded (with Claudia’s help) and dragon plummeted to its death on the world below.

Our heroes’ stolen Ballista then helped Ghazrital defeat the elder red dragon leading the assault. With their old leader dead, the dragons retreated and city was successfully defended. Our heroes were part of the victory parade the following day and became known throughout Bahest as important heroes in the defense of the city.

In the days that followed, Ken and Claudia made plans to return to Coreta for now, and the Skystrider was returned to Augustus Raptor, who made plans to confront Duke Horace Fiddler and retake his family’s stolen lands. Norlan was awarded a medal for his service to his clan and his brother, now fully healed, resumed leadership. Ten and Calestis got to spend more time catching up with Ashia, learning what she’d been up to for the last 100 years and what happened after Ten was shut down in their final assault against Brandis. Claudia then got pay back on Caelestis while she was having a private meeting with Rook, and Rook decided to not follow Augustus back to Acktavia, in the hopes that while he’s continuing his studies in Bahest she can come visit him. Ash and Eve received word from Doroga that their tribe was visited by imperial officials from the Hikone Empire and found irrefutable evidence of the WeiShu Clan’s treachery. In exchange the empire handed over Serpent Fang Fortress to the Gargant Tribe and offered them a place in the empire. Doroga wanted Ash and Eve’s opinion on the matter, and they agreed it’d be great for a group of shifters to have political agency anywhere for once and accepted, becoming the tribe’s representatives to the Imperial City.

As the dust settled on Bahest and the chromatic dragons retreated however, a far greater, more dangerous threat began to stir in the depths of the Dry March. . .

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9 - The Mind is Not a Toy

((Sin (Sintera Barona)’s player was not in attendance))

The following morning the crews of the Skystrider and the commandeered Queen Hannah met to discuss the plan of attack against the Serpent Fang Fortress. Two primary assault plans were proposed, the first by Sister Warcross. She proposed that we use the cannons on the Queen Hannah to lay siege on the fortress from a safe distance, while the Skystrider drops an infiltration team to destroy the enemy’s mind control device. Captain Kenneth Raptor expressed concern that this plan would endanger slaves working to defend the fortress under the assault of the Queen Hannah’s guns, and suggested in stage that they fake a full-frontal ground assault so that a smaller team could be dropped off to eliminate the mind control device. In then end our heroes chose Captain Raptor’s plan, and preparations were made. The assault team consisted of Acktavian forces left on the Queen Hannah, lead by Zackary, combined with Shifters of the Gargant Tribe lead by Doroga. The infiltration team consisted of Ash and Eve, both eager to exact more vengeance on the tieflings of the WeiShu Clan, Caelestis Nailo and Ten who decided these tieflings sending slaves to their deaths were playing with their fates and therefore needed to be stopped, and Norlan Donaaran, who wanted to see this through so they could complete their mission of returning the The Arcanist’s Compass to Gahzrital. At Letharyis Skyedge’s recommendation, “Ruin” also joined the away team for “Extra Firepower.”

Thanks once again to Hadron Rook’s feather-fall belts, the away team successfully dropped into the fortress and proceeded to slay their way through what defenders weren’t rushing out to fight Doroga and Zackary’s forces. Along the way they tried to save what slaves they could (at Celstis’s protest), while doing the tieflings in for their evil deeds (the enslaved Ogres were the exception – they could die as far as the party cared). Eventually our heroes were confronted by a Tiefling woman named Calamity who showed familiarity with “Ruin.” They spoke of an group called the “Scions of Baelrune” and how Ruin was once a member. Ruin asked that the party spare Calamity so that he might have words with her. After defeating her, he remained behind while the party continued ((Leading many of the players to think he was “getting it on” with her while they weren’t looking. Rolls took place. It was funny)).

Within the inner sanctum of the fortress, past a hall full of flame jet traps, our heroes found the master mind control device, and the Mind Flayer that once powered it. Said Illithid was now free and using the fortress’s former master as his thrall to try and enslave the away party. They removed the mind flayer from existence (Caelestis claiming many heads in the process) and then helped their friends clear out the fortress. The formerly enslaved helped clear things out and within a few hours, the enemy were all dead, surrendered, or fleeing. Caelestis gave “Ruin” her piece mind about “leaving his friends to do all the fighting while he tried to get his groove on” but our heroes would come to learn his relationship with Calamity was far from positive.

A tense interrogation took place where our heroes tried to get answers from the Teifling, in which she forced Ruin to admit his (former) membership in the Scions of Baelrune. He revealed that by being a member, he is a descendant of the Tiefling Clan who usurped power from the Hikone Empire during the Warlock Crisis nearly 100 years ago, and being born into this thought dead clan, he and Calamity were bred from birth to want revenge. Ruin one day crew sick of what he was being asked to do and left, and though he and Calamity were close then, she know views him as a traitor and seems willing to say or do anything to upset him. In the end he gives up to sulk and leaves her fate in the hands of our heroes, who intimidate her into agreeing to provide them information when they come back to Hikone to track down the remaining Gargant Shifters. This come from much reluctance from Ten who believes Calamity and the tieflings have violated the Raven Queen’s domain of manipulating others fates. Ten wishes to kill Calamity on the spot but after Norlan talks with Ten and informs him she might be best valuable alive for rescuing others, Ten cools down and reluctantly agrees to letting her live for the time being. He makes it clear though he will kill her the instant she is useless or shows any betrayal. She is now a reluctant prisoner on the Skystrider, much like Korin Tyson.

Our heroes then had Claudia Aspiria try to contact someone in Hikone with leadership to inform them of the WeiShu’s evil plans and their long-term goal to overthrow the reigning Setawa dynasty. After Hikone officials agreed to send someone to look into in the next 24 hours, our heroes gave the Queen Hannah to Doroga and left him, along with the other former slaves, to hold out at the Fortress until their eventual return from Bahest. Doroga had the Queen Hannah renamed after his tribe, to The Gargant because he “Doesn’t know who this Queen is and quite frankly, doesn’t give a goblin’s ass who she is anyway.”

Aboard the Skystrider our heroes then depart for Bahest, planing a stop at Eursia in the Logan Oasis on the way so Rook can do a quick spot check on the ship. They awake the next morning outside the ruins of Eursia, the city being attacked and leveled in the night. Erusia was the most powerful city state in the Dry March, no normal army could raise the entire city in one night like this. Then our heroes saw it – a black dragon circling the ruins and Kobolds and Dragonborn looting the ruins. It didn’t take long for them to fear that the Black Dragon Brood was making their move.

As they closed on Bahest, Norlan requested that they take a detour to check on his Clan. When they found him they’d already weathered an attack from the Black Dragons, but many had been killed or wounded, and Norlan’s own older brother, the leader of their clan, was critically injured and barely recovering. Norlan accepted the mantle of temporary leadership. The Skystrider took on the injured and flew escort for the rest of the clan as they proceeded on foot and camel to Bahest to uphold their ancient duty to the Gold Dragons.

Our heroes fly back to Bahest, knowing full well that Karzelai has made her move. Norlan must help stop them if he wants to protect his clan. Ten and Caelstsis have an opportunity to directly confront the very adversaries that caused Ten to follow the Raven Queen in the first place. Ash and Eve must see this assault ended if they ever hope to cross the Dry March to see their people again. The pieces are in place, and the stage is set for our heroes to decide the fate of Touria.

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8 - Interception

((Caelestis Nailo’s player was absent for the first half of the session. She joined after events with the enemy airship were resolved))

After completing their tasks at the Tower of the Hollow Eclipse, our heroes set to work on figuring out how to work the The Arcanist’s Compass. With Ash, Sin (Sintera Barona), and Norlan Donaaran’s help, Hadron Rook was able to identify the primary purpose of the Compass. First, it is an extremely overbuilt wand type implement. Second, it’s compass face is designed to track the arcane energies of a power or ritual that it used to help cast. This allows it to track down the target of that power, pointing in its direction. When not active, the compass simply points to the nearest most powerful magical aura (which is normally the Skystrider’s elemental core). Together, our heroes hatch a plan to purchase Ash the “Sending” ritual from the Tower, then return to the world and have him use it to find their tribal leader, Doroga.

However, once they jumped to the world, they found the Queen Hannah and it’s captain, Korin Tyson lying in wait. The ship came about and tore into the Skystrider with its powerful ArcFire Cannons. Without sufficient fire power to fight back, an away team is formed to leap onto the Acktavian ship and capture it before it can ruin the Skystrider. Ash, Eve, Ten, Sin (Sintera Barona), and Norlan Donaaran leapt aboard the enemy vessel leaving Caelestis Nailo and Karlsvanberg (Karl) to defend the ship in case the enemy tried to come aboard. They would try once, with a weak offering of foot soldiers that the duo handily dispatched.

Aboard the Queen Hannah, the away team defeated the defenders aboard the main deck and then went to the gun deck, slaughtering gun crews and defeating the two gun captains to silence the Hannah’s cannons. Once silenced, the crew headed up to the bridge to defeat Captain Tyson and defeated him handily. By offering to spare the crew’s life, the ship’s second in command Sister Warcross secured the ship’s surrender and our heroes took the decommissioned ship-of-the-line for themselves. Along with taking Tyson prisoner, they also took Acktavian Paladin of Bahamut named Zackery, and an Acktavian Rogue named Cindy.

Still during the assault the Skystrider suffered heavy damage. It was decided that they would stop off in the Dry March city-state of Eursia, figuring it was the the safest, nearest place for a pair of airships to dock for rest and repairs without question. The offer was extended to the Acktavian crew to depart here, but many of them would rather serve their captors until the eventual return to Bahest before disembarking then find their way home from the middle of the desert. After all, Acktavia is quite a ways away.

However, Cindy chooses to leave, but not before Sin used her powers to disguise herself as Warcross and steal Cindy’s blades. When she produced these blades in front of Warcross, she told Ten that she suspected Sin may be a Changeling or Doppelganger. Ten choose to hold off on revealing this until later, but he took into consideration.

As the Queen Hannah takes off again in search of the missing cheiftan, it flies over the mountain range and into Hikone Imperial territory. Following the trail leads them to a small farming village where a mix of races are tending to the fields. This time a team that also includes Caelstis drops onto the farm using Feather-fall belts and scares away the Tiefling taskmasters when they do. It doesn’t take long to find Doroga, and realize that he is deep in some sort of brain-washed condition. Ash and Eve, enraged by this turn of events, lead our heroes into the village where they strong arm some guards into telling them where their leader is, and the source of this mind control: the village hall. There they fight a team of Tieflings working for the WeiShu Clan that are using techo-magical skeleton with a brain inside to control the farmers. Our heroes learn that others are being controlled using a much larger device within the Serpent Fang Fortress to the north. Ash has Caelestis decapitate their leader, before telling the villagers they have an hour to flee their homes before they start looting and pillaging. With the device destroyed, Doroga and the other farmers are freed and brought above the Queen Hannah, potentially to fill in for the gunners our heroes dispatched the day before.

As the night closes and the crew of the Skystrider are brought up to date, Ten accosts Sin about being a changeling. Sin tries to hide it at first, but between Ten not seeing her identity as a changling as an issue and Vas “Ruin” Samuel’s offers of sympathy, reveals her true nature. “Ruin,” in the process reveals his own secret as a member of a brotherhood of infernal-inclined teiflings, who supposedly did “Things he is not proud of.” Though a few are wary, the party assures her that it doesn’t change the fact that they’ve trusted her this far, and still do now. Ten and Caelestis insist all are equal before the queen, and Ten still didn’t understand what the big deal was at all.

As the Skystrider flies towards them, our heroes plan how to assault the fortress and save more of Ash and Eve’s clan.

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7 - A Fight for the Fey

((Sin (Sintera Barona)’s, Ash’s, Eve’s players were absent this session. DM machvergil played Hadron Rook to fill the missing leader role)).

Our adventure begins one extended rest after the events in Coreta. Our heroes are in the Feywild and on their way to Tower of Hallowed Eclipse. On the way Letharyis Skyedge expresses her excitement in being back in the Feywild. Captain Kenneth Raptor goes to speak to Norlan Donaaran as part of his ongoing efforts to get to know his new crew members better. He learns from Norlan about his life in the deserts of the Dry March, and discovers that Norlan’s clan has a history of service to Gahzrital’s brood dating back from before the start of the “United Age”. He sees his adventure with the Skystrider a continuation of that service, as well as an opprotunity to return fame and treasure to his clan.

During the journey the ship flies over a small forested island, thinking it safe and uninhabited. Turns out the island is home to a group of Harpies, and a raiding party assaults the airship. Our heroes dispatch the Harpies, but not before one manages to lure Ten off the edge of the ship and into the ocean below, saved only by the feather fall belt he happened to be wearing. After the battle, Caelestis Nailo leaped in after him, as the crew brought the ship into the sea to rescue them.

Hours later they approach the Tower of the Hollow Eclipse at last. A squadron of Eladrin riding blue flying drakes approach the Skystrider to learn their aims at the Tower. After speaking to the squad’s leader, he brings them to a grove near the tower where the ship lands in the lake. Rook stays behind to guard the ship while the party goes into the tower to meet with it’s lord, an Archfey named Sorethei.

Sorethei explains to the party that he has heard of their quarry, Brandis Aldrin, before. Sorethei is in fact providing him safe haven from a bunch of “dragon worshippers” who seek to kill him, in exchange for a rare eladric artifact. While Sorethei is not interested in handing Brandis over immediately, he does suggest that if our heroes deal with the invading dragon worshipers, he’ll hand over Brandis to us, as we were not the ones he told him to protect him from. Our heroes accept the job and Captain Raptor chooses Ten, Norlan, Cealestis and Rook to go out and deal with the cultists. Rook required much prodding, including Caelstis having to use her womanly charms, but he eventually agreed and went with them. Meanwhile the others made friendly with the denizens of the tower, to make sure Sorethei was on the level and ensure Brandis didn’t escape. Before leaving, Cael introduces ‘Rys to Adelion, the soldier who escorted us to the tower, as she sensed the Eladrin girl’s interest in him. She befriended him while the others went on their adventure, accidentally letting it slip that they were after the compass, and then being let down when she learned that he was already married.

The four of them wander the forests of the island, dispatching guards and avoiding blood thirsty thorns until they reached the beach head that was indeed filled with soldiers loyal to Order of the Forgotten Fang. After using the disguise hat, Cealstis convinced a small group of them to follow her into the forests so they could be picked off piecemeal. This worked great until one of the groups went to their boss to get help. This resulted in our heroes having to fight the leaders and their troops at once, but after a grueling battle they succeeded and Sorethei’s men flew in to clean up the mess.

Once back at the tower, Sorethei has already imprisoned Brandis and brought him to the throne room. He expressed his displeasure at being lied to, claiming that Brandis had said he gave the Archfey his most powerful artifact when he actually had The Arcanist’s Compass. He then stated he would allow our heroes and Brandis to fight before him “for his amusement,” and the victor would get to leave with the Compass. After the fight, our heroes were presented with the compass, with Caelstis showing she was very annoyed with being made a spectacle of.

Bringing the compass back to the ship, our heroes departed quickly, many not wishing to spend another moment in Sorethei’s tower. Caelstis and Rook bonded by the core, complaining about Eladrin, while Ten forced ‘Rys to explain how her attempts to “mate” with the Eldarin man failed, much to Vas “Ruin” Samuel’s amusement.

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6 - Forgotten Academy

(( Sin (Sintera Barona)’s player and Eve’s player were both absent. DM machvergil played Hadron Rook to compensate for the missing Leader. ))

The adventure begins with our heroes traveling to Coreta aboard the Skystrider. During the journey, Kenneth Raptor speaks to the “New hires” to try and get them up to speed. First he talks to them about Korin Tyson, an Actavian bounty hunter looking for the Skystrider, during which Raptor has to explain how he and Claudia Aspiria came to be in charge of the Skystrider (See Raptor’s Backstory for more details), and some debate occurs between him and Hadron Rook over whether or not the ship was stolen.

The second bit of information the captain conveys is his reasons for being hesitant to go to Coreta. The town was his place of birth where he and his sister, Tyra Peters, grew up as orphans. He explains that after he had been tricked into thinking he was a Raptor family heir that he was too enamored with his new life to notice the conspirator’s efforts to rid him of his sister. When she narrowly escaped an attempt on her life, she tried to convince Raptor to come back to Coreta with her. He refused to believe her and left her to leave on her own, betraying a childhood promise to always protect her. He regrets this now, as an adult, especially since the whole “Being an Acktavian Noble” thing didn’t work out, but he knows that she’s okay, and quite influential in Coreta. That being said, they still haven’t spoken since then, and he’s not eager to see her again. Caelestis Nailo takes a stab at Raptor commenting on such a upstanding person he clearly was.

Finally, Captain Raptor takes some time to talk to Caelestis and Ten about their devotion to the Raven Queen, and their long term goals aboard the ship. Content with their answers, he lightly suggests that they be careful they don’t grant the “Raven Queen’s Judgement” to everyone who crosses their path, they may be more useful alive. Ten and Caelestis have a bit of a fight over this.

As the ship approaches Coreta, they find it being blockaded by 5 airships. These ships belong to Acktavia, and are out-of place as Coreta is on the border of Acktavian territory, it is still a city of Riddel. The ships hail the Skystrider and inform them that no one is allowed in or out until they complete their investigations regarding an attack that happened two days ago. Our heroes and the crew discuss many options as to how they could proceed: They could contact the Riddel government, but that might take too long. They could try to sneak in, but there are probably ground forces as well as air. In addition, if the ship got ID’d as the Skystrider, the Acktavians may try to take them in for the stolen ship, and these 5 airships-of-the-line would over power them. Eventually, “Ruin” will suggest that they ask the Acktavians if they need help as mercenaries. Turns out, the Acktavians wanted to track down the Wizard who attacked the town with constructs and took the Mayor’s wife with him when he escaped. They want to track him down, but they can’t because his hide out, an Arcane Sciences Academy called Ashiel, is far enough into Riddel territory they can’t attack without political permission from Acktavia, which is taking for ever to get. As a team of neutral adventures, our heroes could make the assault without the political pressure. In exchange for a hefty pay, they agree to take the job. At mention of Ashiel, Hadron Rook demands that he goes with them. Rook reveals that Ashiel was once an Academy of Arcane Sciences in Riddel that was founded in the early 200’s UA, over 150years ago, and was believed to be a myth. Story says it fell into its own pocket dimension when experiments there went horribly wrong.

The ship heads to the location given by the Acktavians, and the shore party of Ten, Hadron Rook, Caelestis Nailo, Norlan Donaaran, and Ash drop into the forest near a gateway portal. They subdue the mages protecting it, taking control of their arcane ballista and leaving it to guard the portal after they head in. They use the portal to enter Ashiel, and soon find themselves inside a ruined classroom with several panels on the floor. After pressing a panel, portals open to the room and warforged flooded in. After finally pressing the panels in the right sequence, the portals closed and our heroes could proceed.

The party then crossed a bridge between towers that allowed them to see into the courtyard of ghosts below. The ghosts were of the academy’s former students and teachers, still carrying on as if they were still alive. While Caelistis struggled to not find a way down there to send them all to the afterlife, Ash yelled down to them, and got their attention. The ghosts seemed wary of the intruders, and sent a ghostly faculty member to investigate.

After the bridge our heroes ran into Forgemaster Vosk Dawnscale, a dragonborn put in charge of the arcane forges inside of Ashiel. Our heroes managed to convince him they were of friendly intent, claiming to be Riddel soldiers investigating the attacks on Coreta. They manage to get out of him that he worked for a group called The Order of the Forgotten Fang a group that clearly seeks to oppose Gahzrital and the Skystrider’s efforts to aid him. This throws Norlan into enough of a rage to strike, and with the party’s help, Dawnscale is slain and Ten claims his Fullblade for himself. Meanwhile, the ghosts Ash alerted destroy those working on the forge, and after the battle, Hadron and Caelstis work to destroy the forge’s controls so no one can get them running again without substantial effort.

With the forge dealt with our heroes find a hidden passage in Dawnscale’s room. They get the drop on a group of mages and after Norlan convinces one Tiefling to surrender, they slay the others. They convince the tiefling to impart what he knows, and he reveals to them the location of the mayor’s wife, who turns out to be Captain Raptor’s sister. He also hands them their latest orders from the order, signed by an enigmatic commander known only as “M”. The orders explain that Brandis Adrin and the The Arcanist’s Compass had left for the Feywild and were hiding out at a place called the Tower of the Hollow Eclipse on an island in the Verdant Sea of the Feywild. As Ten carried Tyra out, our heroes returned to the ship, and Ken and Tyra had a heartfelt reunion, ending their long spent silence.

Our heroes then used the return of Tyra as a reason to get past the Acktavian blockade and returned her to the mayor. In exchange the crew received the payment from Acktavia and phased into the Feywild before they could be discovered as the Skystrider.

BONUS RP: Before they left Coreta, Tyra told Ken that she hopes he gives up this adventuring thing some day because “She wants her children to get to know their uncle someday.” At the end of the session Caelestis uses the “Hat of Disguise” that she acquired during the adventure to portray herself as Claudia and sneak up on Ken and seduce him saying “Someday maybe you should be more than just someone’s Uncle” and then leave. She does this in front of Rook who is impressed but also a little frightened by her joke. This leads him to try and flirt with her a bit more, and when that turns up empty, he ask Ash about his relationship with Eve. Ash explains that while he and Eve are close, its in more of the pack-brother/sister sense as opposed to as lovers. Rook jokes that this disappoints him since he can’t ask him how Shifter’s are in bed. Caelestis also spends some time re-tailoring her new robes to fit her better, chatting with Letharyis Skyedge while doing so.

Also, they took the Arcane Ballista back with them and affixed it to the bow of the ship.

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5 - What a bitch...

((Player Ten DMed this session. DM machvergil played Letharyis Skyedge. Ten’s character sat out for the adventure. Player Sin (Sintera Barona) was sadly not able to make it. ))

After thanking the party once again for bringing him back to life, Capt. Raptor gathers them together to discuss their next plan of action. Claudia and Ken explain that while Gahzrital has been fairly lenient on their “free time”, he has been on their asses about pursuing the the Compass. Unfortunately they have little leads and are forced to accept a lead from someone they would not normally want to get aid from, an eladrin Lydia Sareal. Due to some incidents in the pasts the Skystrider and her have not been on good terms but the captain believes there is no reason to distrust her. Rook makes some comments about her and the captain explains more then anything Lydia is just a stuck up bitch but shouldn’t harm them. He explains she has taken up residence in the town of Oldsbek. However Oldsbek has not been all that trustful of outsiders nor arcane magic users. Due to this Ten sits out since they believe he will cause a ruckus as most people believe warforged to be of arcane construction from wizards. Sin also volunteers to stay behind to protect the ship in case of an attack.

The Skystrider parks outside of town and the away party heads into Oldsbek. While most of the townsfolk look a bit suspicious of the outsiders, they are able to acquire some knowledge from a fellow dwarf adventurer of where Lydia might be. They learn a blacksmith by the name of Grum has info on where she might be and points them in the general direction of his shop. The party makes their way out but soon discover they are being followed. Ducking behind an alley, they stop a pair of half-orcs who were following them. The party questions them but they go on their way. Ash, still suspicious, transforms and rolls out in house cat form and follows them. He discovers the two half-orcs meeting up with the dwarf the party encountered earlier and overhears them talking about ambushing the party later. Ash catches up with the party as they reach the blacksmith and informs them to be ready.

Caelestis and Letharyis talks shop with the blacksmith, Grum, and he eventually warms up to the crew. He explains she lives in a house just outside of town and gives them directions. With information in hand the party sets out. Shortly there after though the party runs into the dwarf from earlier and his pals. After a tough battle (with a good act of Norlan pretending to be a shaman ) they dispatch of the dwarf, half-orcs, and eladrins and foot it out before the local authorities discover them.

Reaching Lydia’s house, with little trouble thanks to the directions, the party has a brief battle with Lydia’s guard “dogs” before being escorted inside by her servant, Richard. The crew takes a seat in her house and discover that Lydia has apparently aged to that of a 12 year old in appearance. Lydia explains that awhile ago she had a brief run in with a wizard, who happened to be attempting a take over of the town, who placed a curse on her that aged her body. With that explanation, she tells the party that she requires some items that her father put in storage long ago in the catacombs underneath her estate. However the catacombs have degraded and have had monsters move in since that time and requires the party to go there to get a spellbook and a sword. She says if they couldn’t perform this task then there would be no point sending them out after the Compass. Richard gives them a map of the catacombs and some other provisions to assist them. After a good night’s rest, with most of the party sleeping outdoors with the exception of Norlan as they are still distrustful of Lydia, the party heads into the catacombs.

The party eventually makes their way through the catacombs following an underground river, battling crocodiles and a gelatinous cube. A chasm with two odd trees on either side slows them down but after a brief battle with some ghosts they acquire a ritual to help them across. A final showdown with more oozes and some carrion crawlers that had taken up residence is easily handled after the party funnels the large creatures into a short corridor. With them out of the way they acquire the book and sword from the storage area. They briefly think about making away with the possessions but know they need the info and while Lydia is a bitch she can back up her claims of power.

The party makes their way back to the house and Lydia thanks them for their assistance. She holds up her end of the bargain and informs them the wizard who cursed her, a wizard by the name of Brandis Adrin, was the one who had the Compass last. She is unsure if the curse itself was created with the help of the Compass, if it’s a side effect, or if it was just something unrelated Brandis made up to piss her off. In either case, she explains to the party she was able to perform some rituals and discover that Brandis currently has taken up residence in the city of Coreta and she is far too busy with her own tasks to go after him. She informs them he has talked about the Compass but does not know if he is in possession of it currently or not. Either way, he is the next clue and should either have it or know how to get it. Lydia wishes the party dispose of him as she believes this will return her body to normal, not that the party is all that interested in that part of finding Brandis. The party questions how good this info is and Lydia reluctantly agrees that should the info be bad she would attempt to discover more info if they absolutely need it. With that information in hand they head back to the ship to plan their next move.

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Feedback interlude

((Yeah I’m still That guy, that DM who wants to know what he can do to improve the play experience for his players. To that end, I made a topic on our site about feedback. Please take a moment and respond if you have any feedback on the campaign so far.))

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4 - Into the Shadow

((The players for Eve and Ash joined the adventure half-way through))

With the Skystrider’s core repaired, the crew prepared for their journey to the Shadowfell to free Captain Kenneth Raptor’s soul from the clutches of Lord Vyse Endshade. As they are about to make the set sail, they are visited by Phosta, the Deva contact of Gahzrital. He suggests that this trip is for naught, that they clearly don’t need Captain Raptor to find the Compass given how well they’ve done so far. While Claudia and ‘Rys argue that the Captain is an important part to the crew being at “100%,” Caelestis Nailo, who was spying on them at this point, insists the Orcus worshiper there must pay his dues to the Raven Queen, the captain or not. Phosta gives up his case and leave the crew to depart.

They successfully travel to the Shadowfell and land in the town of Balestone, a city of Shaddria, a mortal friendly kingdom believed to be a puppet of Gloomwrought, and an effort to resist the efforts of two nearby Vampire kingdoms over the fertile lands nearby. The group splits into smaller groups, and Ten, Norlan Donaaran, Sin (Sintera Barona), and Caelestis going off into the streets to find info, while Letharyis Skyedge, Claudia Aspiria, Vas “Ruin” Samuel, and Karlsvanberg (Karl) went to look into an old contact they had in town. While ‘Rys’s group was more or less unsuccessful, Ten’s group fought off a group of bounty hunters, made some friends at a local in, and rescued a Gnomish cartographer named Vuul after saving his map shop from Dark Creepers trying to hide the way to Endshade’s fortress. Vuul awarded them a map, and an old suit of plate mail worn by an old friend, to aid them in their journey.

With a map there, our heroes approached the fortress. They were then contacted by Endshade who told them that if more than 5 people showed up, he would crush the Captain’s soul. Together our heroes hatch a plan to use the emergency feather-fall belts to drop un-noticed into the fortress while a skeleton crew remains behind to feign handing over the ship to Endshade. The away party consisted to Ten, Cealestis, Norlan, Sin, Ash, and Eve. As the party on board the ship negotiated with Endshade, Ghouls spotted the away party and a fight broke out. Still managing to avoid raising an alarm, the away party fought their way past Endshade’s Orcus worshiping lieutenants and made it into his throne room.

Our heroes fought the self-styled “Sword of Orcus” with all their might, putting him in his place. Yet the humanoid never faltered in his confidence, and when he was struck with what should have been a mortal blow, a powerful burst of energy fired the party away from him, and a massive hole appeared below him. Our heroes had just enough time to catch their breath before Endshade revealed his true form: A young black dragon! Already drained our heroes struggled a little more with this monster, and it taunted them, telling them their quest for the The Arcanist’s Compass, as well as Ghazrithal’s Brood, were doomed. In the end however, Ten produced an amazing feat of sword play and delivered upon the dragon it’s deathblow.

Shortly after the dragon’s demise the castle began to crumble. A zombie hulk’s defeated corpse crashed through the ceiling, followed by a rope ladder tossed by the Skystrider. As our heroes climbed it, they were greeted by the now very well Captain Raptor, who explained that the entire “holding his soul captive” thing was a ruse to trap our heroes and steal the ship. His soul was indeed delayed in the Shadowfell, unable to escape through a bargain the dragon made with Orcus, a bargain that ended when he died. Now he is quite alive and well, though he remembers nothing from the moment of his demise.

The captain welcomes Eve and Ash formally onto the crew, and sympathizes with the plight of their tribe. While he tells them he wants to do all in his power to help them, he worried about their goals with the Compass competing with the dragon’s. They may need to act quickly when the find the item to save their tribe, before the dragons find out that they didn’t bring it back immediately.

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3 - Silenced Gears

((For official record, Ten and Sin (Sintera Barona)’s players could not attend the session, and Karlsvanberg (Karl)’s player was MIA. Karl’s player has since spoken to me about family issues that have been keeping him away and the likely-hood that he might not get to play in the campaign anymore. This campaign record will now reference when Karl plays instead of references every time he doesn’t show up.))

Following their adventure in Shorne the crew of the Skystrider spend another day recovering from their adventure. Ash learned some rituals, Norlan Donaaran learned more about the ship, and Caelestis Nailo broke up her time between taking care of her flower boxes and getting to know Hadron Rook. During the process, Hadron suggests more than once that he’d like to take a tour of her body with the robes on it, which makes Caelestis decide she’s not talking to him anymore – for the time being.

The following day breakfast is ended when Letharyis Skyedge arrives to announce they have a new job. Claudia Aspiria’s contacts in Bahest have picked up a distress message over psionic pathways coming from deep inside the Golden Dunes of the Dry March. It sounds as if the source is an airship factory, which is a mystery as to why anyone would build one there. While ‘Ris initially thought to have us go just as a mission of search and rescue, Claudia was reached by their contact with Gahzrital, a Deva named Phosta that he would reward the crew of the Skystrider if they acted on Bahest’s behalf and scouted out who built this factory and to what purpose, possibly taking technology or plans to learn more. At the mention of Gahzrital, Norlan Donaaran instantly expresses his interest.

After an afternoon of travel, the ship arrives at the facility named Erziest. Due to Ten needing maintenance, ‘Ris accompanies Caelest, Norlan, and Ash into the facility. Once inside, it is clear that Erziest was attacked although by what is not clear. As our heroes track the dead bodies they eventually find the inner part of the facility where an airship larger than the Skystrider was being built. The party finds two forges, defeating brown-colored Kobolds protecting each. In the second, an intact Skyjammer Core that can be salvaged to help repair theirs. Interrogating the Kobolds reveals that a Young Brown Dragon was ousted by its mother and is now searching for a lair, an decided this keep would do until it could find a better one. On their way out of the area, they attract the dragon’s attention as it prepares to feast upon the adventurers. After a harrowing battle, they defeat the dragon, but barely, and decide to return to the ship for a rest.

The following morning the party is joined by Eve for their second trip into the facility to find out what was going on before the Kobolds attacked. This time they explore the city part of the keep, finding more Kobolds running its streets, pillaging and killing what hasn’t already been taken. They find a barracks in which spinning blade traps are wreaking havoc upon an entire squad of Kobolds. The party dispatches these kobolds easily and Ash decides to deal with the remaining blade trap by trapping it in the training room. Our party then finds survivors hiding in the command room of the barracks. A dragonborn guard captain and his best men are the last line of defense for the noble running this operation. The noble demands that he get to keep the full details of the facility secret as they are important to the national security of the city state of Zulik. When the noble finds out that our heroes had already looted the facilities forges and planned to do more, he orders his men to attack the party. While Caelest intimates them, Norlan and ‘Ris try and convince the guard captain that his boss is being unreasonable. Words win out and the party helps the guards tie up the noble. They spend the rest of the day working the facility to rescue a handful of survivors and take the new Core aboard the Skystrider. They finish their work just in time to escape a patrol of Zulik airships coming to the facility. The Skystrider makes it back to Bahest without being intercepted, but some of the crew can’t help but worry that they’ve made an enemy of Zulik from this action.

((There. That’s what you’re getting from me. If you feel there are role playing details pertaining to your character that are inaccurate or missed, please feel free to add them))

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