Heroes of the Sky

Calamity Interrupted

((For this session, Sin (Sintera Barona)’s player did not join until the third encounter. Otherwise, all players were in attendance. DM machvergil did not play Alia Dawnedge as a PC to keep the party size to 5))

((This adventure was 5 encounters worth half the XP necessary to go from level 15 to 16))

Days after the Fortress of Arkanon was banished back beneath the sands, Hadron Rook completed his work on the Arcane-Primal Inverter. Our heroes sat with him and Alexus Salvador to discuss how to deploy the device and put an end to the spell afflicting the Dry March. The problem, as Rook saw it, was that our heroes’ recent adventures made it clear that at least three forces of considerable threat and power would oppose them if they tried. The first being the forces of Orcus attempting to raise the Fortress of Arkanon in the first place. While we don’t know what else they’re up to, it’s likely that was not the last they heard of them. The second was Brandis Aldrin and his Black Dragon allies who recently made their presence known. Finally, there’s whomever is behind these Aberrant assaults across Touria as of late, who the party assumes are originating from the Chaos-Scape. With these powerful forces gathering in the Dry March, deploying and protecting the inverter for the time it would take to work it’s magic would be no simple, if not impossible, task.

Ten and Caelestis Nailo seem primarily concerned with striking down Orcus first, and Brandis and his Black Dragon allies first. Norlan Donaaran, on the other hand, expresses his concern that Brandis hinted that Ravekai may still live, and if that’s true, he’s a great threat to Gahzrital and Bahest, making his clan loyalties draw him to want to take them out first. Alia Dawnedge showed her continued drive to strike down the corruption of the Far Realm by insisting that the aberrants be dealt with.

Ultimately, it is suggested that rather than hunt down these foes on their own, perhaps it would be best to place the inverter in the Dry March, and draw their enemies to them. It seems unlikely that their foes would act in tandem with each other, and if they could successfully fortify a position, they could fight them on their terms. Alexus’ concern with this plan is that while Guardian’s Peak might be able to muster the resources to build such a fortress, protecting it with adequate soldiers might be more difficult. They would need help from other Vanguard posts, and possibly allied nations. Alia is quick to suggest she could probably get the help of Riddel, and others suggest that perhaps Norlan can work his connections with Bahest to get help from the Gold Dragons as well. Rook remembers the Acktavian warship they liberated years ago, the Queen Hannah and how it wound up in the hands of the Gargant Tribe. He suggests that maybe Ash and Eve can get Doroga to bring the ship in tow for defense as the ship has proven itself quite capable in ground assault and defense. The shifters agree to the idea. The more they talk, the more Ash likes the idea of a fortress defended by a coalition of their allies striking down these great enemies, and the party builds in support for the plan.

Alia takes off on her own to speak to Riddel. Meanwhile, Ash and Eve lead the party through a linked portal to see Doroga. After a short time, they are granted audience and the gregarious chieftain catches up with our heroes. He sounds more than willing to bring the airship to the fortress’s defense, and says he will await for their signal on when and where they need him and his men. Afterwards our heroes teleported back to Guardian’s Peak and boarded the Gungnir to head to Bahest to make their requests there.

On the way, our heroes encounter a pair of suspicious looking airships. Upon further inspection, they see that any national icons or flags were ripped from the ship, leaving only tattered cloth in their wake. When they approached, the ships changed course to try and ram the Gungir. Lacking any weapons themselves, the merchant airships could only give futile chase as the Gungir and her crew “sunk” the first ship, causing it to crash land via the Aero-Burst Cannons’ ability to ground airborne targets. They gave chase to the second ship, and sufficiently damaged it to cause it crash to the ground and explode into a ruined hulk of wood and steel. During the air battle however, our heroes did see aberrant monsters on the deck, so rather than allow the survivors of the second ship roam the countryside, they decided to board it and exterminate any survivors.

They met first with a group of aberrant beasts, lead by a pair of Heralds of Hadar. Despite their odd powers, our heroes triumphed in their battle. Sin (Sintera Barona) left the at this point to join the party in their purge efforts. Within the bowls of the ship however they found a party of Foulspawn, lead by a Mystic who warned them to leave least they become corrupted followers of “The Avatar of the Stars.” The party mocked his warning and tore into the foulspawn with all their might. The monsters make use of the cramped confines of the ship as well as their powers to keep the party at bay, even managing to injure a couple of heroes before they were struck down. With the creatures purged, our heroes got back aboard the Gungir and made their way for Bahest, proud they’d prevented another November Nightmare.

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Friends and Foes

((For this session, Ash and Sin (Sintera Barona)‘s players were absent. Eve’s player had to leave just before the final battle))

The next day, as our heroes were just rising from their slumber after returning from the Fortress of Arkanon, alarm bells rang throughout Guardian’s Peak. Quickly, our heroes rose to action, learning from random guards that Black Dragons were seen approaching the Peak. After meeting up with the Seven Sisters, our heroes form a defense plan with them and stand before the front gates of Guardian’s Peak, ready to intercept the dragons should they come.

The black dragons landed before the gate, and from there backs dismounted two Warforged bearing a striking resemblance to Ten, and then a lich, who Ten finds familiar. The lich acts as the messenger to the party, informing them that he wants to form a partnership with them to send this fortress to “the Worm that Walks” back under the sands. He explains that long long ago during the reign of the great Dragonborn empire of Arkosia, this Fortress first became a stronghold of Kyuss, and then the threat was such that all of Dragon-kind united to stop the evil before it could corrupt the land too much. They used a powerful ritual invoking the Platinum Dragon to bury the Fortress deep below the sands, supposedly never to be risen again.

However, the same weakness of the Primal Spirits that is allowing all the oddities in the Dry March to occur allowed followers of Orcus to shatter the ritual and raise the Fortress once again. There is no love between the dragons and Orcus, and whether the Demon prince’s forces can control Kyuss is irrelevant: the threat the “Worm that Walks” poses to the world is too great for anyone to ignore.

Our heroes contemplate the lich’s offer, but have many misgivings. Caelestis Nailo and Ten both want to kill the lich on sight for being such a horrid offense against the Raven Queen, though both stay their hand to hear him out first (also, they figure the concept of fight a lich, 3 adult black dragons, and two warforged of Ten’s quality with only five of them might not go well). Norlan Donaaran sees the validity in the lich’s proposal, but at the same time his clan loyalties cause him to question the honesty of the dragons, as well as wonder if they can’t get help from their friends in Bahest instead, especially since his betrothed, Kulia Silverspear, is a member of The Draconic Guard. In the end, they temporarily decline the lich’s offer, saying they’ll use the Sending ritual to contact them if they change their mind.

The lich begrudgingly accepts this outcome. Before he leaves however, he and Ten have a conversation that results in this lich claiming to be the true Brandis Aldrin, his original creator. Brandis introduces Ten to the warforged, claiming them to be a part of “Gamma series” and continues to call Ten “Alpha Ten” as if to suggest he belonged to an “Alpha series” of his creations. The two warforged with him were “Gamma Twelve” and “Gamma Fourteen.” The lich claims that the Brandis our heroes killed in the search for the Arcanist’s Compass was really his apprentice who was given his identity to keep Brandis’ “ascension” to lich-dom a secret. Said apprentice went AWOL eventually and the lich thanks the party for “putting him down before he could have caused more harm.” Cealestis uses this opportunity to force a thanks from the lich’s sarcasm, and is quite amused with herself.

Our heroes then fly off to Bahest to talk to Kulia and the rest of the Draconic Guard. After filling them in on the situation, they talk things over with the gold dragon brood. In a matter of hours, they have organized a plan to assault the fortress using two units of the Draconic Guard. Twenty members of the Draconic Guard in total lead the assault, and 5 young gold dragons who do not yet have riders ferry our hero’s group, Alia Dawnedge, Caelestis, Eve, Norlan, and Ten to the Fortress.

Our heroes lead their dragons into battle against Vrock demons that move to interrupt them, as the dragons dodge the anti-airship harpoons firing at them. After the long battle, the dragons drop our heroes off before the final tower. Within the tower a multi-headed demon waited, and confidently engaged the party. Little did it know that it’s attacks would prove nearly useless against Ten’s defenses and furious onslaught and the party’s combined assault. Even as it grew more heads, it didn’t stand a chance. The monster tried to bargain for it’s life, but ultimately it was slain, its treasures claimed. Norlan had to BS the ritual to re-seal the fortress since they killed the demon before he could reveal the secret, nor did they get that information from the lich, but luckily they were able to re-complete the ritual, and the fortress sunk into the sand in a whirlpool, as three black dragons watched from afar. Victorious, our heroes spent the night in Bahest before returning to Guardian’s Peak the following morning.

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Rising Threat

((For this session, Sin (Sintera Barona) and Ten were out.))

Two days have passed since our heroes returned to Guardian’s Peak with the materials they gained. Hadron Rook worked with them to begin construction on his new Arcane-Primal Inverter, which he has code named “Plane Savior.” As our heroes are taking a lunch break, Cynthia interrupts them, looking for Norlan Donaaran. She informs him that reports have come in that someone is Bahest is looking for him, and that it might be a matter of concern for his clan. Rook feels that things are progressing well enough with his project, so he agrees to the team taking off, even taking the Gungnir with them. With Ten needing maintenance, Alia Dawnedge, Ash, Caelestis Nailo, and Eve journey with Norlan to Bahest.

Once there, our heroes travel to the Saavy Sow and catch up with Robert Thermicle. After some pleasantries, he tells the party that some Dragonborn had been looking for Norlan. Ash decides to use his Sending ritual to contact Norlan’s brother, Zangeon, the clan’s leader. He informs them quickly that there’s something amiss, an undead threat, and that it might spell danger for the clan. The party takes off again aboard Gungir to meet them at their current camp outside an oasis in the Dry March.

Our heroes make the trip to the camp without issue, and converse with Zangeon. He tells the party that a month ago, a fortress emerged from the sands of the Dry March to the east of them. At the time, it was very far away, and so they didn’t pay it any heed, but it’s much closer to their current camp, so they decided to send a scout group. Most of the scout group didn’t return, the few who did in the care of adventurers lead by an elven woman, who the party suspects was Ashia Treme. The group spoke of a fearful undead army, the size of which they’d never seen, and it appeared to be on the march for the fortress.

Ash decides that now is a good time to use his Speak with Ancient Sages ritual to divine some information about this. After discussion, the party decides to ask, “What is the reason for this fortress’ raising from the desert?” The sage tells them that the Fortress of Arkanon rises due to the weakening bounds between planes allowing the power of Orcus to draw it forth once again. It is possible that his minions seek to gain the power of the Worm that Walks. Celestis reflects on this for a few minutes, but then recalls a detailed prophecy she heard of during her Avenger training about this Worm that Walks. It’s a apocalyptic prophecy that speaks of a great swarm of worms that act together to devour all life, and yet leave mangled carcasses to walk the world as their minions. The name affixed to this is Kyuss.

Content in this information our heroes took the the skies to investigate the fortress. After skirting the edges of it for some time, the fortress’s cannons succeeded in hitting the ship with a massive anchor with a chain on the end, holding it in place. Then three Falchion armed Vrocks with demons in their talons flew towards the ship, while reanimated servants of Kyuss crawled up the chain towards them. Ash, who was in the gunnery deck, rallied the gunners to fire on the chain and hold the approaching minions at bay while the rest of the party engaged the demons on the main deck. The battle waged for quite some time, with Ash’s men severing the chain with the ship’s cannons, sending many Kyuss monsters to their deaths. They also managed to knock one of the Vrocks out of the sky, but his plummet didn’t kill him and he returned to deliver his demonic cargo all the same. Celestis managed to teleport one of the demonic eviserators off the ship to its doom, but then one of the Vrocks pushed her off the ship with a horrid scream. Though Celestis survived the fall, she was exposed to the Touch of Kyuss disease from the undead she landed near. Shortly there after our heroes proved victorious, Alia having scored severe blow after severe blow upon their foes, and despite their best efforts to try and kill Eve and Norlan while she was tied up. Together they picked up Celestis and went back to the clan’s camp.

As they went to fly away, they saw a massive army of ghouls assaulting the front gates of the fortress, lead by a black dragon being ridden by a warforged. The dragon and his rider allowed the ship to flee, but the two parties no doubt noticed each other’s presence.

Back at the camp, they informed Zangeon of what they saw. Together they theorized what could possible be the meaning of what they saw. Were the ghouls lead by the Black Dragons, seeking to take the fortress and the power of Kyuss themselves? The demon presence in the fortress suggests Orcus, but what part does this Worm that Walks play into all of this? While they stewed on these questions, Zangeon had one of the clan’s clerics cleanse Celetsis of her disease. For now, our heroes returned to guardian’s peak, having to contemplate what to do from here.

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16 Beta: Arcane Crystals

((Due to logistics, there are two Session 16s, one run by DM Machvergil playing Alia Dawnedge, with Ash and Eve playing. The second was run by Co-DM Dominion playing Ten, with Caelestis Nailo, Sin (Sintera Barona), and Norlan Donaaran. These games were held in person instead of online using Map-Tool as per normal

This article is about DM Dominion’s session 16. Read below for Machvergil’s session and brief introduction to both sessions.))

Rook requests that Caelestis, Norlan, Sin and Ten acquire a rare cystal by the name of Phase Crystal whilst Alia, Ash and Eve acquire the Spirit Timber. Rook informs Caelestis’s group that the Phase Crystal, while rare in this plane of reality is easier found in the Shadowfell. However it is still hard to come by but the Vanguard Foundation has been able to strike a deal with a town in the Shadowfell by the name of Duskvale that has a surplus of the rare crystal and is willing to trade. Wishing to spare no time, the group boards the Gungnir to make the trip westward and plane shift to the Shadowfell.

After a short travel, the party arrives at the town of Duskvale. The town is of average size for a trade port on a lake. The Gungnir lands and Rook with the Vanguard crews help moors the ship to the dock. A tiefling approaches the ship with a bodyguard escort. He introduces himself as Morthos, the town’s commerce director, and is glad to see they have made the trip safely. Morthos informs the party that the crystal, still being uncommon and valuable, is currently being held in the town’s bank further in town until they arrive. Rook asks the party to head in and acquire it and sends some of the crew to go assist.

Morthos directs the party into town towards the bank while making small talk with them. However a thick fog starts to descend upon the town. In short time the fog becomes so thick that Morthos and the party get separated. Trying to get their bearings, the party notices that the Vanguard men accompanying them have also disappeared. Before they can get an idea of what has happened, they are attacked by undead creatures and what looks to be an old crazed man. The party handily dispatches the creatures and attempts to figure out where everyone is. Remembering that Morthos spoke of where the crystals are being held, they decide the best bet is to head towards the bank.

Despite the thick fog and not knowing much about the town, the party is able to discern directions and reach the bank where the crystals are being held. On their way they find no other people on the streets. However upon entering the bank they find three bearded devils guarding the vault which looks to be holding crystals. While the devils look to hold their own quite well, the party is able to take each of the devils down, weakening their defenses and ultimately killing them. Finding the crystals in the vault they also find a note stating “Protect the Phase Crystals from being disturbed. They are needed in the dark ritual.” along with a map on the back marking two locations, one being the bank.

The party heads out, wishing to stop the ritual but not sure where it is, they follow the map hoping to find more clues. Again easily finding their way around town, they get to the other marked location on the map in a warehouse. They find more Phase Crystals along with another note stating “We are performing the ritual at the town hall. Do not bring these crystals unless requested for.” Content with knowing the location, they stash the crystals on their person and depart. However before getting out they are attacked by two shadowy guards riding Nightmare steeds. The steeds prove to be a bit of trouble but are taken down by the party with one assassin escaping.

Being able to back track to the town hall, the party enters to find two more assassins guarding a Maw of Acamar in the middle of a ritual. They notice more of the crystals being used in the ritual and the maw warns the party to leave. Finding the notion to be silly, the party attacks the unearthly creature. While the maw proves to be a worthy opponent they are able to take him and the ritual down before any more damage is done. Removing the crystals from the circle, the ritual seems to fade, as well as the fog from the town.

The party searches the town hall to find any more clues on what has happened but find nothing. They however head outside to find Morthos, the guards, and Rook surrounded by corpses of devils and undead creatures. While there are a few casualties most are unharmed. Morthos explains that he became separated and couldn’t find any clue of them or their guards. Rook tells a similar story of a dense fog setting in and not being able to find anyone and fought his way into town with some guards help. While unsure of what has happened Morthos is thankful for the party’s help in dispatching the maw from the town and stopping the ritual. He gives a discount to the Vanguard for the assistance and brings extra help in moving any remaining crystals back to the ship.

The town safe and the trade complete, the team plane shifts and heads back to Guardian’s Peak.

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16 - Appeasing the Totem

((Due to logistics, there are two Session 16s, one run by DM Machvergil playing Alia Dawnedge, with Ash and Eve playing. The second was run by Co-DM Dominion playing Ten, with Caelestis Nailo, Sin (Sintera Barona), and Norlan Donaaran. These games were held in person instead of online using Map-Tool as per normal

This article is about DM Machvergil’s session 16)).

Two days passed after our heroes’ return from the Brandis Estate. Though there are experts at Guardian’s Peak who could read Deep Speech, the texts of interests were also encoded in a simple cypher. While there’s no question they will translate it, it will still take time.

During these two days, Hadron Rook drew up blueprints for an improved Arcane-Primal Inverter, one that would be powerful enough to end the corruption, given Ashia Treme‘s theory about it’s origin is correct. However, for the device to be powerful enough, he required some very particular resources to construct the improved device. While he assembled a team to collect one element, Alia Dawnedge lead the other to complete a trade with the Whisperstone Tribe of shifters for some Spirit Timber, an enchanted wood often used for creating superior totems. Alia gladly took the task and asked if she could have Ash and Eve’s assistance, which they happily obliged.

Before departing, the team was made aware by Savatri that the deal made with the Whsiperstone was a bit difficult. Apparently they didn’t feel that the Spirit Timber’s was being undervalued by the Vanguard Foundation and demanded a very specific payment to be willing to part with the precious lumber. That payment was in an arcane-locked chest our heroes brought with them on their Aero Skiff. While curious of its contents, they resisted the urge to open it and proceeded directly to the trade point.

When they arrived at the lake shore by the Whisperstone forest however, no one was there to great them. After a short trek into the woods and the party was nearly ambushed by enraged Dryads. Eve spotted them and then had Alia conduct negotiations with them (since Alia was the only one of the three of them who could speak Elven). The Dryads revealed that the forest was under attack by the taint of the Far Realm, which filled Alia with determination. She got drew her sword and kneeled before the Dryads, swearing to them that she would not leave until this evil was purged. Ash and Eve followed suit, drawing their weapons and demonstrating their dedication as well. The dryads were swayed and granted upon the three of them a boon that would allow them to more easily damage any aberrant foes who stood before them.

With the Dryad’s blessing they proceeded further into the forest, stumbling upon a group of shifters lying in ambush. The shifters, terrified by the events of the previous night and suspicious of any outsiders, were dubious of the party, but Eve and Ash used their fame as members of the Gargant Tribe and their dedication to helping their people to convince the Shifters they not only meant no harm, but also would gladly assist in their plight. A hunting party of 10 shifters joined our heroes and they went in search of the main hunting party who left last night to end the corruption at its source.

The team was ambushed by a pair of raging foulspawn, who began tearing the shifters apart. Our heroes handily contained them however, and they were able to save all but 1 of the shifters who fell in that fight and they pressed on. Finally they found the first Spirit Timber tree, and around it discovered a Foulspawn Seer and his minions, created from the corpses of last night’s hunting party. At his feet lay the defeated champion of the Whipserstones, breathing some of his last breaths. Our heroes sprung into action, Alia directing the shifters to move for a surrounding action while charging towards the tentacled beats and the Seer. Ash’s lightning strikes and the shifter hunters made short work of the horrific minions, while Alia leaped into action against the Seer and Eve healed the shifter’s champion, causing him to spring back into action and enter the fray. The Seer, confident in its success, teleported behind them and unleashed a horrid attack that destroyed half of the supporting shifters. They then had their revenge, impailing the Seer with their javelins several times, leaving him more than weak enough for our heroes to defeat the Foulspawn leader. With their leader dead, there was no one left to continue to spread the corruption and the forest was saved.

The Whipserstone shifters thanked our heroes for their life saving efforts, granting them rest for the night and a small party in their honor. The following day they rested as the shifters prepared an entire tree’s worth of Spirit Timber to take back to Guardian’s peak. In exchange our heroes gave the shifter’s their payment. The chest contained a Spirit Wolf, the son of the spirit who once protected these forests. It had been lost, and was now found thanks to the Vanguard foundation, and now returned to the forest. It was only such a payment that they would be willing to part with as much Spirit Timber as Rook needed to complete the device.

Their mission accomplished, our heroes returned to Guardian’s peak.

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Session 15 - What once was young...
Session 15

((Player/DM Alia Dawnedge and Norlan Donaaran were unable to attend. Player Ten played and ran this session.))

((Party played 5 encounters, enough to get half way through level 13))

A few days after having returned to Guardian’s Peak, the team assembles in Alexus’s office upon her request in the morning. Alexus once again thanks the party for the efforts in saving Avaok and the dwarves from the Vanguard outpost as well as retrieval of the Arcane-Primal Inverter. She informs the group that Avaok and the other researchers are finding ways to put it to use in the Dry March.

In the meantime, Alexus introduces the group to a young eladrin by the name of Corrin. He informs the group that upon rising in rank and learning more about the goings on with the Vanguard and learning more about the problems in the Dry March that he has discovered that his own family’s recent happenings have been connected to the Dry March. Corrin tells him of his older sister, a rather talented wizard, some years ago was stricken upon by a curse. However his sister never told him of the details and when he pressed her for details she informed him that he shouldn’t worry as it was far from life threatening. In service at the time, Corrin couldn’t check on her and learned later that she was cured of it much to his relief. Things continued pleasantly until a few weeks ago when she contacted him again. She told him that she had discovered a powerful spell that was draining arcane energy from various sources, including people. When he pressed for details though she told him that it couldn’t wait and that she needed to get to the Vanguard Fortress immediately. He offered a guard escort if it was of such importance but she said she couldn’t wait for it to clear the “bureaucracy” and left immediatly. Corrin estimates that she should’ve arrived by now even if accounting for moving slowly.

When the party attempts to learn more info from him, a guard busts into Alexus’s chambers. In a bit of frantic state, the guard informs everyone that there are two travelers on the perimeter being attacked by monsters. When Alexus asks why he isn’t informing Clare of this, he tells them that it was a Beholder that was attacking them. Corrin asks what the travelers look like and when informed it was an old man and an eladrin woman he deducts it must be his sister traveling with their butler. Alexus asks the group to help assist the travelers as the current guards would not be able to handle such a monster and the party is dispatched to slay the beholder and rescue Corrin’s sister and butler.

After slaying the monsters, Eve is able to heal the two travelers. Upon healing them, the party quickly discovers that the old man is in fact Richard, Lydia Sareal’s butler. Upon taking a closer look at the eladrin, they put memories from a previous adventure together and discover that the eladrin is in fact Lydia, though much older. They can only assume that the curse that was put on her by Brandis Adrin has been lifted after slaying him. However despite Eve being able to stabilize Lydia, she remains unconscious. Clare and the Vanguard Peak guard comprised of more seasoned fighters eventually catch up and escort everyone back.

Several hours later, Savatri informs the group that Richard is well enough to talk. Upon entering the medical ward, they see that Corrin has come by and learn that in fact Corrin is Lydia’s younger brother. The medical staff inform the group that Lydia is still unconscious though it is probably due to the extensive trip and the battle with the monsters. The group questions Richard wondering what important info Lydia had to tell them. Richard explains that shortly after their last meeting , Lydia and himself assumed that the group was successful in slaying Brandis as Lydia soon returned to her normal age. However, it wasn’t long before she discovered that something else was missing: her arcane power. Lydia discovered that the curse placed upon her was not in fact a spell that reduced your age to that of child. No, your age was just the ransom, your arcane power was the payment. It was too late for Lydia though as it was quickly drained and left her as a fledgling wizard. Richard informs them that thankfully such power can not be removed entirely from a person but it has still been a challenge for Lydia to regain anything remotely close to her original power. Caelestis Nailo makes note that it’s no wonder the two got battered so badly by the beholder.

Richard tells the group that Lydia and himself began to research the curse and try to find any leads on how Brandis acquired the spell. Their investigations uncovered a few things of note. One, they were able to discover the general area where her power had been taken too: the Dry March. However they couldn’t pin point the exact location. Second, they discovered the real reason why Brandis had the the Arcanist’s Compass, to assist him in finding strong arcane power sources and using the spell on them. Lastly, they knew that Brandis did not create this spell himself. They did however find that he learned the spell back at his real home, further to the east.

After discovering all this they contacted Corrin at the Vanguard Peak. They knew that the Vanguard were looking into the problems with the Dry March and with Lydia’s power drained Richard and her couldn’t investigate it any deeper. After stopping at the Peak and getting Corrin their plans were to head to Brandis home. Lydia strongly believed that they would discover clues has to where or who Brandis learned the spell from. Now with Lydia out and Richard injured, he requests that the Vanguard investigate this without them. Savtri tells the group that they should be the ones to look, knowing that if they tangled with Brandis before then the reasoning is sound that if there are any defenses left at his house then they should have no trouble getting rid of them and finding clues. Before the party heads out, Corrin thanks the group for rescuing his sister and Richard. He lets them know that Lydia hasn’t always been his favorite sister but she is family and has no doubt that she’d thank them upon waking, even if she would be rather reluctant to say so.

The group heads out, resting up as the trip takes about half the day on the Gungnir. They soon spot Brandis’s house from the airship and head down to investigate. After breaking a window to get in, the group searches the house. They discover that the house has a layer of dust about but nothing is ruined so it’s possible it has been left undisturbed. Searching the rooms, Ash finds a rather odd note donating directions underneath the bed. Sin discovers a trap door hiding underneath a rug that doesn’t look nearly as dusty as the rest of the house. Descending the stairs the group finds an underground tunnel. After having a scuffle with some gibbering mouthers and chuuls, the group enters a room that looks like it’s floor has been charged with arcane energy. They quickly deduce the directions found earlier must take them safely across. After this they get to a lit room where a pair of neogi are searching bookcases and tables with various notes and books. The group charge in catching them unawares, taking down their umber hulk protector and dispatching the neogi with ease. After searching the room themselves they find various notes and books written in Deep Speech along with a map of the Dry March and some other places they are not familiar with. They find one book in particular that was next to most of the notes that while written in Deep Speech had a title written in common: The Arcane Energies Between Worlds. Satisified, the group gathers up the notes and most important books and head out.

Fairly angry by now that Brandis continues to annoy them even after his death, the group sets fire to his house, watching it burn to the ground. Satisfied he’d no longer haunt them, they jump back aboard the ship to return to the Vanguard Peak.

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Insanity's Foot-soldiers

((The players for Eve, Sin (Sintera Barona), and Norlan Donaaran, were all absent for this session. Due to the lack of leader, DM machvergil played Hadron Rook as a PC and switched Alia Dawnedge into NPC mode))

((This adventure was designed for four players, consisted of 5 encounters: 1 RP, 2 combat, 2 skill. It totaled in ?? XP, raising the party to level 13))

((Note: Some details will be fleshed out when I can work on this from home)).

Our adventure began in Alexus Salvador‘s office, where the Elan spoke to the party regarding the recent events between themselves and the Seven Sisters. She explained to the party that Savatri had made her aware of their efforts to track down the saboteurs plaguing Guardian’s Peak, but not whom she suspected they were. Had she known the heroes of The most recent Battle of Bahest were suspect, she might have intervened. The party gave her the impression that this was so much water under the bridge at this point, Ten going as far as to say “I believe the expression is ‘Shit happens.’”

Alexus then went on to prepare our heroes for the maiden voyage of Guardian’s Peak’s newest airship, constructed by Hadron Rook himself. The goal was to have Rook captain the ship, while the party would serve as his officers. Unlike on the Skystrider, this airship would be staffed by several Vanguard agents, allowing the party to not worry about the ship when they are aboard it, as well as giving them some support staff to draw from. Alexus pointed out also that she wants Alia Dawnedge to serve as the ship’s first mate so that they can deflect any political criticism they may gain for having an Acktavian captain by appointing a Riddel first mate. Caelestis Nailo displays barely contained excitement at the news of Rook’s new project.

Rook then takes the party down to the docks to introduce them to the new ship. He mentions the only missing piece is the name, and mentions he couldn’t settle on anything he liked more than Skystrider II which felt too cliche to him. He and the party eventually settled on Gungnir, a reference to a weapon wielded by a god slain during the Dawn War ((Which, IRL, references Odin’s Spear)). Happy with the name, our party boarded the ship and made with the journey. Caelestis drove, Sin (Sintera Barona) became head chef, and the rest of the party felt their way around, including Ash who jumped on Rook’s bed just to annoy him. Caelestis’ driving worked fine, aside from a moment where she rushed off to hand Alia a magic scabbard she no longer had use for, leaving a confused Ten take the wheel with comical results.

Shortly after take off, Rook and Alia had a brief confrontation. Rook attempted to break the ice between them by getting their respective national stereotypes out of their system, but the exchange left Alia quite angry after he refereed to her as a “Mutt.” Rook insisted the comment was a joke, pointing to his collaboration with Ash and Eve to prove any preconceived notions Alia might have of his “racism” would be unfounded. While the the conversation ended in Rook’s favor, Alia still smoldered with an unexpressed irritation at Rook’s ‘mutt’ comment, choosing to “take the high road” rather than start a conflict.

Caelestis received a distress signal from a Vanguard outpost that was under attack. The outpost claimed that they had important research to protect, but that they would be overrun shortly. The party then resolved to head to this outpost, and try and save those they could. Upon arriving they found it under attack by Foulspawn – humanoids corrupted by the touch of the Far Realm. Alia seemed both enraged and excited at the sight of them, and became quite eager to engage them. The party formed a plan to break up onto two groups, one that would fight off the invasion on the ground, and another to enter the facility and rescue who and what they could. The assault party was lead by Alia, backed up by Eve, Sin, and Norlan as well as a handful of Vanguard Marines. The rescue party was lead by Rook and backed up by Caelstis, Ten, and Ash.

The rescue party then descended a 50 foot broken elevator shaft (not without taking some falling damage), and fought a group of foulspawn in a trapped room with crushing walls and ceilings. They searched the research they found for clues as to what the team here was building, finding new rituals for Ash in the process as well, including Raise Dead. Finally our heroes confronted a group of powerful fowulspawn about to slay the last of the survivors and defeated them. They rescued two dwarven defenders and a dragonboard researcher named Avaok. Hidden in the room with them was a prototype techno-magic device that withdrew nearby arcane power to empower nearby primal spirits. The device would only work in a small area, and a much more powerful version would have to be built if it stood any prayer of saving the Dry March. It was built using the foundations of an Airship core, and as such was much to large to carry out of the facility with a broken elevator. It was decided they would have to disassemble the device and then reassemble it at Guardian’s Peak.

Avaok suggested that they try to raise key researchers from the dead to assist them in this endeavor, but this lead to an outcry from one of the dwarves who didn’t understand why they would raise the researchers and not all those who were lost in the facility. This notion that death should be so easily reversed caused consternation in Ten and Caelestis, and Ten issued to both the dwarf and Rook the warning that The Raven Queen would not approve of mass raising the whole base. Not sure what to do, Rook was caught in a moment of conflict, as the Dwarf got closer and closer to wanting to fight Ten over the idea of not raising his dead friends. Finally, Alia reminded Rook of his station as captain, and reassured him that it was his job to make the decision, and that the crew would honor it. Rook resolved to raise the key researchers and bring any others who might be save-able aboard, but their ultimate fate would be left in the hands of the gods and if Alexus was willing to spend the resources.

With that resolved, our party boarded Gungnir and returned to Guardian’s Peak.

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An Old Acquaintance
Session 13

((Sin (Sintera Barona)’s player joined half way through this session. Session included 4 encounters totaling 3,500 experience for all characters.))

With Miria‘s warning fresh in their minds the party struck out into the outpost cave. The cave appeared to be a natural structure. The only sign of stonework done to it was to place crude brackets for torches. In the first widening in the cave the party encountered a group of ogres. Ten and Alia formed a wall of steel in a tight passageway and taunted the ogres into charging. Unable to make their way past the heavily armored duo and channeled into a tight passage, the ogres were shredded by blasts of magic and blades from the party. The party next encountered a group of two-headed ettins along with a small contingent of guards from Guardian’s Peak. Attempts to lure these beasts into a similar trap as the ogres fell for failed when the guards recognized the danger and directed the ettins to hurl large rocks at the party until they broke and charged. Despite this the ettins and their handlers met the same fate as the ogres. One of the guards attempted to flee during the fighting, telling the ettins to “Kill the intruders while I go warn the mistress” but he did not survive to tell anyone.

Sin, who had been left with the wounded Sisters and their guard contingent, found the party in the cave at this point, warning them that the guards had spotting an unknown force approaching from the southeast. Miria had asked Sin to tell the party to hurry and finish their business in the cave in case those approaching were hostile.

In the next chamber the party found a mixed group of an ettin, two ogres, several guards, and a figure they recognized from two years ago. Cindy, it seemed, was in charge of the traitors and their brutish allies. The Acktavian ranted briefly about how she suffered after the party left her in Eursia and how she would destroy them now before the party grew sick of the noise she was making. During the fight it became obvious that something was different about Cindy and Ash eventually figured out that she had somehow been changed into a vampire. After a long and bloody struggle (literally, since Norlan Donaaran ended up on the receiving end of a sucking from Cindy) the vampire was finally destroyed. As she breathed her last Cindy taunted that this would not save them; that something was coming from beyond the gods that would destroy them all.

An unsigned letter was found on Cindy’s body that spoke of the imminent arrival of ogre and ettin troops. The letter claimed it should give her sufficient strength to overrun Guardian’s Peak once her plans to weaken the mountain stronghold from within succeeded. Upon emerging from the cave the party found the Sisters and their guard forces pressed back nearly to the mouth of the cave by more ogres and ettins. Though the Sisters had fought valiantly and bloodied nearly all of the attackers, they were on the brink of being overwhelmed. The party was able to swiftly dispatch the wounded attackers and finally made their way back to Guardian’s Peak. Savatri thanked the party for their defense of the mountain stronghold and saving the Sisters’ lives. The deva assured the party that they had more than earned her trust now and apologize for having doubted them.

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Deceit Upon Arrival
Session 12

((This session contained 5 encounters totaling 4000exp. All player characters should advance to level 12, but daily powers, health, and healing surges should NOT be restored to full as the characters have not taken an extended rest. For example, if you were at 74/86 HP and gain 6 health per level then you will be at 80/92 at the start of the next session. Session 13 will start immediately where this session ended.))

It is the morning of the third day since the party arrived at Guardian’s Peak. Everyone had been busy acclimating themselves to the mountain stronghold and its surrounding so had not spent a great deal of time in each other’s company. Alia Dawnedge was sent to check on Hadron Rook. The new airship that Rook had been working on for the Vanguard Foundation is due for its maiden flight that evening and Alia was sent to confirm that Rook thought the ship would be ready. On her way up to the airship docks Alia overheard two cloaked and shrouded figures discussing sabotage that was done to the ship, but the figures fled before Alia could identify them. Alia made her way to the airship to find Rook and Caelestis cuddling on board. She informed them of what she overheard and Rook was able to find tampering to the ship’s skyjammer core that would have caused it to explode during flight. While Rook set about fixing the core and going over the rest of the ship in detail Caelestis Nailo dragged Alia off to find the rest of the party and gather them for a meeting.

After Alia reported her eavesdropping to the party they were discussing what it could mean an eladrin woman approached the party to warn them that poisons had appeared in the kitchens over night. The eladrin revealed herself to be Sin (Sintera Barona). Sin had been disguised as a cook at Guardian’s Peak for some time. That morning she had found hemlock and other poisons in unlabeled jars in the spice cabinet. She is sure they were not there last night and secreted them away this morning before the morning’s cooking began.

Norlan Donaaran then informed his comrades that the airship sabotage and poisons weren’t the only attempts on lives since their arrival. The day after they all arrived at Guardian’s Peak Norlan set out with a group of laborers to retrieve his camel and see if there was anything worth salvaging from the air skiff’s wreckage. While the camel was recovered alive and well the skiff itself was smashed beyond any hope of salvage. Even the core was completely demolished. On the way back, however, when his crew was nearly to the mountain stronghold they came across a guard leaving. The guard panicked when confronted and tried to stab Norlan. Norlan easily captured the guard and while searching his belongings found an unsigned letter stating that “the Gensai had failed and the adventurers arrived alive.” This traitorous guard was turned over to Savatri and Norlan had not yet heard of any interrogation results.

Ten then chimed in, telling the others that over the past couple days he had been approached by a total of seven blonde women of the human, half-elf, elf, and eladrin races. The women came individually or in pairs and asked questions about the party’s past ranging from personal histories to how they fought their battles. Some of the women seemed very business-like about the questions they asked and others were excited to hear harrowing battle tales. Alia recognized the women from Ten’s description as a group that works for Savatri but wasn’t able to provide any details of what they do.

At this point our heroes decided to split up into three group. Ash and Eve would head upstairs to the ship docks and living quarters to investigate the sabotage more. Norlan, Ten, and Caelestis would go to Savatri to see if any new information had turned up in questioning the traitor guard that tried to knife Norlan. Sin (still in her eladrin form) and Alia would head down to the kitchens to investigate the poisons further.

At the docks Ash and Eve found Rook and a small crew of workers going over the new airship with a fine-toothed comb for problems, though no new ones had been found. Rook dismissed his workers, explained the repairs to the core he had made, and talked with the shifter a bit about the blondes. Rook told them that the blondes are called the Seven Sisters, that they work in different areas of the stronghold to keep it running smoothly, and report to Savatri. He bragged that the Sister who was in charge of technomagic research had been working on the ship before he joined up, saying that it wouldn’t be flightworthy yet if he hadn’t taken over, and he pointed out one who worked in supplies and logistics named Yuma who was in the docks right now. Ash and Eve spoke with Yuma about her job (Yuma appears to be run ragged by her work and is in a fit over large quantities of supplies that have been going missing lately) and informed her of some of the trouble the party had uncovered so far. Yuma took off to report the situation to Savatri while Ash and Eve searched the living quarters for anything suspicious without turning up anything of note.

Meanwhile, Ten, Norlan, and Caelestis entered Savatri’s office and spoke with two blondes sitting at desks by the door working on paperwork. They were directed to a bench to wait for Savatri to see them. Ten recognized the two blondes as two of the women who had questioned him about the party and informed his companions. About as he finished up telling them another blonde entered and spoke briefly with the two at the desk before taking a seat. Savatri then called Norlan, Ten, and Caelestis forward. Norlan asked if anything had been learned from the guard who tried to kill him to which Savatri replied that there wasn’t any news she could tell him. Ten, suspicious that the deva was withholding information confronted her with the details of the ship’s sabotage and the poisons. Savatri took notes, asking questions for more specific details, then beckoned the blonde on the bench forward. Savatri passed the notes to the blonde and told her to have it looked into immediately. Ten, Norlan, and Caelestis were thanked for their report and dismissed, much to Ten’s distaste at being ordered around without being told anything.

Alia and eladrin form Sin chat about their pasts as Alia nearly went to bardic college on their way down to the kitchens. When they eventually arrive the speak with the head cook and show her the poisons. The head cook is absolutely shocked and appalled to hear that poisons were smuggled into the kitchens and starts to raise a ruckus by yelling at the kitchen staff about it. Alia notices one of the kitchen staff trying to slink out the door and starts to go after him but runs into two blondes in the doorway. After a short exchange where everyone demands to know what everyone else is doing the blondes tell Alia and Sin that Yuma had them come look for poisons, and Sin turns the poisons over to the blondes. Alia and Sin depart the kitchen as the blondes begin a thorough search of it, but the kitchen helper who fled is long gone.

The party meets back up on the main floor to share what they all discovered. At this point Ash and Eve tell the party that while they were exploring the mountainside around the stronghold they stumbled across a cave that was well stocked with supplies from Guardian’s Peak. The cave appeared to be regularly used but no one was there when they discovered it. They assumed it was an outpost for the Vanguard until coming back and asking guards about it. The guards told them that no such outpost should exist. The party makes a short tour of Guardian’s Peak and discovers a fair amount of information about the Seven Sisters‘s work and jobs, as well as that the Sisters departed half an hour ago with nearly a score of guards to supposedly salvage the wrecked air skiff. The party, knowing that this must be a fake story sets out to follow the Sisters trail. By riding Ash’s shadow steeds the party is able to follow the Sisters’ trail south, then on a sharp cut west towards the outpost cave, and arrive shortly after the Sisters.

The Sisters had deployed their guards in a wide net around the cave, giving them orders that no one was to get by them. The guards, convinced that the party is there to assist the Sisters, point them to the women. The party catch the blonde women unawares and demand answers as to what they are doing. The Sisters refuse to answer, insisting that the party return to Guardian’s Peak. Both groups stubbornly refuse to budge and come to blows, though both groups make it a point in battle to not kill their foes (the Sisters by declaring they need the party alive and complimenting them on their skills, and the party by not killing the Sisters when kicking their pretty, blonde asses).

The party disarms the unconscious Sisters and rouses them for questioning. The Sisters tell the party that they were ordered to not work together and to share no information. Some of the Sisters suspect that Savatri was testing the party in this, but others disagree. The party, finding it hypocritical for the Sisters to say they are working in the party’s best interest while refusing to share anything they know and being stubborn about it to the point of violence, doesn’t find this at all satisfactory, stating that if they don’t find something to explain all this in the cave that they will most likely be leaving the Vanguard.

Miria, the seeming leader of the Sisters, finally asks to be allowed to speak uninterrupted, to make a statement that, if the party is on their side, they may find helpful. She tells the party that the largest reason the Sisters weren’t to work with the party is that Savatri fears the party might be working with the traitors at Guardian’s Peak. She tells the party that about a month ago she intercepted a message going to the traitors. The message said that the traitors would be receiving powerful reinforcements in a month’s time and then at that time their true plans could begin. Since the party’s arrival the Sisters have been covertly interrupting a seemingly endless chain of sabotages and assassination attempts at high ranking Vanguard members. Miria said that Savatri could not dare trust the party yet when so many lives were in danger. Furthermore, Miria explains that the Sisters came to the cave today fearing a trap and thought the party was there to spring it on them. She tells the party to be careful in the cave; that if the party is really an ally then the trap could still be in the cave, but so could evidence to back up her word.

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Vanguard Rising

((Note: this session begins the new trend of half-level adventures instead of full level adventures. Posting DMs should indicate the number of Encounters and total XP the session was worth for the sake of future DMs))

((This adventure was worth 5 encounters at 3000xp in total. Sin (Sintera Barona)’s player was not present)).

After the two years of waiting, our heroes, Caelestis Nailo, Ten, Norlan Donaaran, Ash, and Eve all head to the Saavy Sow in Bahest to meet Hadron Rook about a new business opportunity. All they know is that it involves the Vanguard Foundation and has something to do with researching and countering the growth of Aberrant attack on Bahest last month. However, after waiting for some time, Rook doesn’t show and instead, a Half-Elf named Alia Dawnedge appears looking for the party. While Norlan helps keep Cealestis’ initial jelousy at bay, Alia explains that Rook regrets he can’t join them but that she has been sent by their boss in his stead. Something about a project that needed finishing. She has a converted Astral Skiff for them to ride to Guardian’s Peak where they can meet Rook and talk with her boss.

During their travel, our heroes are attacked by another Astral Skiff piolted by Gensai. The Gensai summon fire elementals on the ship while one preforms their own signature “Skyjammer” technique to leap onto our heroes’ ship. They find the duplication of the technique concerning. Though the Gensai and his elemental allies are defeated, the Fire Elementals manage to damage the ship and force them to make a crash landing. Our heroes regain consciousness on the mountains, battered but not too worse for wear thanks to their featherfall belts. Norlan’s new camel breaks a leg but otherwise lives thanks to Eve’s healing. Ten attempts to interrogate one of the Gensai, but he fails to provide useful answers before passing out from pain. Alia takes a look around and suggests that she can lead the party to Guardian’s Peak from here, and so they use Ash’s Shadow Steeds to ride there, though slightly hampered by the heavy snow.

The bitting cold wears on the travelers, making them decide to take a shortcut through a cave. Doing so they encounter a group of hungry Ogres hiding from the cold and looking for food, which they decide the party is. After a grueling battle the Ogres are overcome and our heroes complete their journey to Guardian’s Peak.

Hadron Rook is waiting for them there, and enjoys the jubilant welcome he receives from Cealestis. He then leads our heroes up to see the location’s director, Alexus Salvador, who is attended by her Deva, Savatri. Eve successfully identifies Alexus as an Elan. The transcript of her discussion went as such:

“I’m sure you’ve all head of the ‘November Nightmare’ incident that occurred early last month. While to most people they think this was a freak occurrence, we here at Guardian’s Peak see this as the worst of a growing trend of issues over the last hundred years. I’ve been told that you have worked with Ashia Treme, so you have probably heard our group’s theories on the Dry March already? It was her work with us that helped her learn of this concept, that the Dry March is an expression of the weakening of the Primal Spirits in that area. Our group has two running theories on why this is. The first theory, which is being researched by another group, is that the weakening is caused by the machinations of evil deities. At one point, we thought it Lolth, her servant’s deviant activities in the Cascade Mountains washing over into the March below. However, then we suspected it was Vecna or Orcus after the massive undead buildup we saw in the region headed up by Ravekai. It was Ashia’s work on this region that lead her to work with that group. However, her adventures caused a second theory to be formed.

“Near the center of the Dry march is a lay line of incredible arcane power. Ashia and her fellow adventurers encountered this entity while pursuing a cult of Orcus worshipers across the desert. This line of power contains a magnitude the likes of which we’ve never seen, but the current theory is it’s a curse of some kind. Where once we thought gods were to blame for this sullying of our world, we now wonder if there isn’t some sort of unchecked, irresponsible form for Sorcery that was used in to create the Dry March, or perhaps a curse placed upon the world itself by someone.

“Either way, we have a number of brilliant minds and experts in the field of arcana here at Guardian’s Peak researching possible causes and solutions. The problem we’ve run into now however is that due to having a different line of research, we cannot use the other group’s adventurers to gather information, resources, or deploy any solutions we might come up with. So, I put it to our staff to ask where we could find powerful adventures capable of more than just diving a dusty old ruin and slaying some Orcs and Goblins, and Hadron Rook spoke highly of the lot of you.

“So now we come to the part where I offer you each a business proposition. Join us in our struggle to heal the Dry March and you can live with us in our advanced facility, eat when you want, sleep when you want, and rest away from the weary world around you until we solve this crisis. In exchange, when we need to send a team out to somewhere dangerous, we can rely on you to scour the world itself for the answers we seek. What do you say?”

Our heroes accept, though Ten makes the caveat of the Raven Queen still comes first to him over the goals of this organization. Alexus finds this acceptable and bids Savatri to lead our heroes to their new home-away-from-homes. Norlan succeeds in going with a group to retrieve his camel.

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