Raygun Lounge Keep on the Borderlands

Ghosts of the Past
Episode 8: The Vault

Veronica as Euna Dunhall the Human Fighter
Anna as Zesvyrae Melduis the Drow Cleric
Bob as Malklyr the Drow Assassin
Robert as Grobash the Half-Orc Fighter
Casey as Caerwyn the Satyr Bard
Shelley as Rhiannon the Half-Elf Ranger
Tim as DM

Using the iron key and the crystal key recovered from the last two battles, the adventures unlock and open the final set of doors leading to the bandit lord’s vault.

Luminous blue runes adorn the floor and walls of this large chamber. They surround four thick pillars and a wide, shallow pit. At the base of each pillar is what looks like a shattered statue. Dried bones fill most of the pit.

Alcoves line the east and west walls of this chamber. Deeper in the room are two large stone boxes, coffins perhaps. Another pit of bones sits between them. Beyond the bones is a pile of scattered rubble.

Again the adventures enter cautiously. Zesvyrae makes a short prayer to Lolth for guidance, but receives no insight. Rhiannon moves the farthest into the room and some how awakens the ghost of Greysen Ramthane.

A gust of cold wind blows through the chamber, stirring dust and chilling the air. Just beyond the farthest stone box, dim light coalesces into the spectral form of a dwarf dressed in scale armor.

Ramethane.jpg
“So, ye’ve taken me life and me home, Bertak, and now ye’ve come for me treasure?” he says.

Blood starts to pour from spots in his armor, and his face contorts in rage. “Ye’ll never take me treasure! Never!”

Euna attempts to calm Greysen and converse with him, but the other have little patience for that and attack him.

As they move closer to Greysen, bones from the pit clatter together, forming skeletal creatures with oversized arms that end in vicious clawed hands.

The heroes battle against Greysen and the witherlings and it becomes clear that Greysen is mad as he rambles on about Bertak and his hidden treasure in the column. In battle, Greysen fluctuates between insanity and murderous glee.

Greysen tries to turn invisible but is hampered by the darkfire from Mallyr. This is balanced by Greysen hovering above the pits and attacking the heroes, keeping him out of reach for many attacks.

The witherlings boost each other and surround Malklyr and take him down. As he bleeds out, Zesvyrae asks him if he wants to be healed he needs to come back to lovely Lolth. Malklyr stares at her and continues to bleed. “Alright, how about just kissing my feet?” Malklyr nds and she sends divine healing towards him and he feels 1000 spiders crawling over him.
Lolth.jpg

As the fight nears the end, Caerwyn sneaks off to search the pillars and he finds the hidden compartment with the dwarven heirloom, the Gaunlets of Blood.

The last of the witherlings and Greysen is destroyed. They search the treasure boxes and recover 600 gp to split with Benwick and Gorn, and two magical items, but no heirlooms. They search the pillar and find the hidden compartment, but no treasure.

Zesvyrae activates the Serpent’s Eye and informs Benwick that they recovered the treasure. The good friar responds, “We shall await you in the first chamber. As I said before, it’s best to divide the treasure there, where no one can watch us and wonder where all the goods came from. See you soon, friends!”

The heroes catch their breath and make their way back to the first chamber.

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Keep Away
Episode 7: The Second Gauntlet

Veronica as Euna Dunhall the Human Fighter
Anna as Zesvyrae Melduis the Drow Cleric
Bob as Malklyr the Drow Assassin
Robert as Grobash the Half-Orc Fighter
Casey as Caerwyn the Satyr Bard
Collin as Shoka Tanno the Jedi Padawan
Tim as DM

After a short rest, the adventures unlock and open the northern doors and proceed through the doors into the next chamber.

This chamber contains a shallow pool in its center. A blue glow issues from the water, shedding dim light over the room. Something sparkles in the pool’s far end.

Dwarven runes, similar to those in the last room, line the wall around the ledge. Two staircases ascend to the ledge.

At the far side of the room, they can see the top of another pair of stone doors.

The adventures enter slowly and cautiously. A quick check reveals that the pool exudes a faint magical aura and the runes on the ledge are also faintly magical, although their sole function is to provide light.

After spreading out a bit, Malklyr moves into the water to examine the sparkling object. Figures emerge from the walls. Four are stone humanoids fashioned to look like dwarf warriors with spiked fists. Another, upon the far ledge, looks like an oversized crossbow with legs.

Defenders.jpg

Only Ashoka notices that a small winged creature, like a tiny devil, crawls out of a small hole in the wall. She keeps that information to herself to prevent the creature from suspecting she sees it.

The stonefist defenders damage the adventures while the arbalester shoots them from the far ledge and scuttles around.

Ashoka tries to make her way to the clay scout, but she is psychically blinded by the scout. As the heroes battle the defenders, Malkyr recovers the crystal key and suddenly all the creatures start to target him.

The clay scout proves to be difficult to destroy as it often redirects the attacks against it to another hero adjacent to it.

Malkyr is seriously damaged and tosses to key to the Drow Priestess. And the other heroes destroy the last of the guardians.

The heroes take a short rest then move on to the next chamber.

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Greysen's Cache
Episode 6: The First Gauntlet

Veronica as Euna Dunhall the Human Fighter
Anna as Zesvyrae Melduis the Drow Cleric
Bob as Malklyr the Drow Assassin
Jacob as Aurochs the Minotaur Warden
Robert as Grobash the Half-Orc Fighter
Casey as Caerwyn the Satyr Bard
Tim as DM

After some rest from their earlier heroics, the adventures find themselves again at the comfortable apartment of their patron, Benwick. The friar summoned them here, suggesting he had another task for them and the Serpent’s Eye, a jewel the helped recover. Benwick’s acolytes, Venn and Jarell, serve them dinner. A red-haired dwarf who has an air of authority is also in attendance. Benwick introduces the dwarf as Gorn Hammerfall, a captain of the watch.

Gorn is dressed in fine, thick leather and armed with two hammers. He is stern, smiles little, and speaks forthrightly. One noticeable quirk is his habit of raising one eyebrow while narrowing the opposite eye when he finds a subject questionable or disagreeable.Gorn.jpg

Benwick is jolly and bright-eyed, given to smiling and laughing. His acolytes grin and react briefly if addressed, but they say little. They are priests who revere Avandra, Ioun, and Sehanine. The friar doesn’t like Lord Drysdale or the lord’s intent to make the keep a military bastion.

“Friends, I am ashamed to burden you with another difficult task, but I believe you can succeed where others would fail.

“The esteemed captain here is the descendant of a dwarf who once occupied this keep. This ancestor was the bandit lord Greysen Ramthane.

“When Nerath’s warriors overthrew Greysen, they found little of his ill-gotten loot. Tales say that Greysen hid his wealth somewhere in this keep.”

Gorn interrupts, “Enough history, Benwick. You’ll put us all to sleep. Anyway, turns out the stories are true. Took me years, but I found the bandit’s cache.

“Thing is, it’s too well guarded. Almost got myself skinned when I went in with a buddy of mine. Poor Ralv didn’t even make it out.”

“Benwick says you’re made of stout stuff and the rumor mill says the same. Benwick thinks we might make a deal.”

Benwick takes up the conversation. “Yes. Gorn and I are concerned that Lord Drysdale might confiscate the treasure. Gorn deserves any dwarven relics as the rightful heir. As adventurers, you have more use for magic items than Gorn or me, so you can keep those. We were hoping you’d consider a friendly three-way split of any monetary wealth.”

Gorn adds, “I’d also be much obliged if you could recover Ralv’s body for me.”

Benwick looks gravely at Gorn and lays a hand on the dwarf ’s shoulder. He looks at you and says, “I can also lend you the Serpent’s Eye. I’ve activated some of its latent power, so it should aid your quest
.
“So, will you accept?”

Gorn describes the attackers in the first area as “metal constructs with hammers and pincers, and a trapped statue that swings a great flail. The hammerers come out of the walls.” Discretion is required. No one else can know of Ramthane’s hidden vault yet.

Benwick again gives each character one herbal poultice to aid in the job.

After some discussion the adventures agree and are told to meet an hour before down.

The adventures return to their rooms in the inn and ask a few questions in the Stumbling Giant. Mother Aran, the alehouse’s owner, reveals that Benwick’s suspicions of Lord Drysdale are misguided if well-intentioned. The lord is a follower of Erathis, but Mother Aran doesn’t believe he’s going to enforce Erathis worship or a military takeover of the keep.

Zesvyrae examines the herbal poultices and it attests to Benwick’s herbalist skills. Someone else recalls that the creatures Gorn described sound like homunculi, guardian constructs that come in numerous forms and are very good at defending the objects, creatures, or areas they were designed to protect. The statue sounds more like a contraption than a creature.

The adventures retire for the night and arise early to meet their appointment.

The keep is quiet at this early hour, the rain keeping most folks indoors. Benwick and Gorn lead the way to a tower on the south side of the castle, near the keep’s Fountain Square. They descend into a dark basement. Gorn opens a secret staircase into a tunnel below the fortress’s foundations. It opens into a small antechamber before great stone doors that are slightly open. A soft blue glow issues from between them, as does the slight smell of something dead.

“This is it, mates,” says Gorn, “Go carefully. Last time, almost as soon as we entered the room, everything went crazy.

“I got to finish up my shift. If you recover Ralv’s body, leave it near these outer doors, will you?”

Benwick adds, “I have a few brief errands to attend. Gorn and I will be close at hand when you return, so we can divide the treasure away from Drysdale’s greedy eyes. Remember, you can use the Serpent’s Eye to call me when you finish. Gods’ speed, friends.”

Centered in the chamber is a large stone statue of a dwarf wielding a flail in one hand. In the statue’s other hand is an open loop that has a oversized iron key. Around the statue, the floor is cracked as if hit by a massive crushing force.

Dim blue light from glowing dwarven runes along the walls also reveals a set of four alcoves carved in the east and west sides of the room. The walls adjacent to the alcoves look dangerous, for they bear intricate spiked carvings of stylized weapons and armor.

Ahead the adventures perceive the crumpled form of Ralv a few paces from the northern doors. The form is the body of an armored man, crushed and twisted in death.

The runes and walls within the alcoves are weakly magical. Aurochs, who reads Dwarven, realizes that the runes are only there to illuminate the room. (So much for the DM sending the players after a red herring.)

Grobash peeks around the room and slowly makes his way to the statue. With a grinding sound, the central statue starts to rotate and swing its flail. Metal and stone humanoids fashioned to look like dwarves emerge from some of the alcoves. Three have hammers and pincers for hands, and one is a shorter figure with spears for handsStone_Guardian.jpg

The adventurers fight off the homunculi and try to dodge the statuses flails. The statue knocks them into the walls where the spiked carvings of weapons swing out and slash at them. The homunculi either try to pin them down in range of the statue or pull them closer to statue.

The homunculi are destroyed one by one, and the statue is deactivated through the an access panel on the bottom of the statue.

After taking a short rest, the heroes find the remains of Ralv, a brawny human soldier who was hammered to death. He has ruined armor, a broken shield, a mace, a potion of healing, and 12 gp.

They move Ralv to near the entrance of the room and prepare themselves to enter the next room.

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Catching Up With Ronnik
Episode 5: The Serpent’s Eye

Veronica as Euna Dunhall the Human Fighter
Anna as Zesvyrae Melduis the Drow Cleric
Bob as Malklyr the Drow Assassin
Jacob as Aurochs the Minotaur Warden
Ed as Brandis the Human Mage.
Robert as Orsino the Human Rogue
Tim as DM

The adventures take a short rest and debate their route up to the next level. They finally decide to go up by the stairs and the lift to the next floor. The lift is loud and the stairs is magically warded to shout, “Greetings, unknown creatures!” The element of surprise is not with them as they reach the top.

Other than the fire braziers that light this large room, daylight pours in through large double doors that are open to an outdoor balcony at the top of a broad staircase. The room contains new and out-of-place furnishings—such as a cage and a card table—and lots of unopened supplies. The inhabitants clearly arrived recently.

Two armored, shield-bearing kobolds and a leather-clad, axewielding dragonborn look ready for a fight. Aurochs rush in and attacks the dragonborn mercenary. While fighting the mercenary, Aurochs notices a young dragon hiding in the corner cage. Aurochs decides to not let the mercenary know that he saw the dragon and he keeps silent.

Copper_wyrmling.jpgAs the adventures fight off the kobolds and the dragonborn, the young dragon comes bounding out of the cage and unsuccessfully attacks Euna. “Grwarrr!” it yells as it attacks Euna, “I’m a dangerous dragon!”

The heroes finish off the kobolds and dragonborn, but keep the dragon alive by smacking it on the nose and telling it to heel. They quickly realize the dragon is mostly harmless and misdirected. The dragon says her name is Moxulhar, but says they can call her Mox.

She explains that Ronnik was at Dragontooth Hill this morning, but he left a while ago. Mox divulges that the banker used a magical ritual to contact his lizardfolk allies, planning to ambush and murder Benwick this very day. The friar trades for herbs with local lizardfolk on a predictable schedule at a usual place—the end of an old road near the swamp, where older dolmens stand.

A quick search of the tables by the party reveals Ronnik’s maps and plans. These documents reveal the same plot that Mox told, as well as the old road/dolmen meeting location. The papers also sketch out Ronnik’s plan to finance the refitting of Dragontooth Hill as a small fortress for Tiamat. One letter indicates that he has established relations with a small kobold tribe, the Burning Scales. The adventurers just defeated several of these kobolds at Dragontooth Hill.

The adventures also recover a large, polished tiger-eye jewel with the symbol of Avandra on one side and the symbol of Zehir on the other. They quickly determine that this must be the Serpent’s Eye they were hired to recover.

The cage holds a small hoard: the Serpent’s Eye, a level 4 magic weapon, a level 3 magic neck item, and hidden under one of the cage’s floor cobbles is a potion of healing.

Knowing that Benwick is headed for an ambush, the team decides to race to his rescue. They use the zip line on the balcony to get back to the valley below.

Armed with their map, they rush across the countryside, out of the Chaos Scar, and beyond the King’s Wall. They quickly find the old road they were looking for and follow it north toward the swamp. The trees close in as the land descends and becomes marshier. Their haste pays off. Approaching the location, they hear furious yelling and Benwick’s cries for help.

Benwick kneels on one side of the clearing, his hands raised defensively. A dragonborn has its weapon raised, menacing him. Nearby, Benwick’s companions, Gordi and Sal, lie motionless on the ground. Above them stands Ronnik, looking around wildly.

Three lizardfolk stand near Ronnik. At your approach, they look expectantly at Ronnik and hiss words at him in Draconic. Euna, who speaks Draconic translate that the lizardfolk are asking what to do with the strangers. Ronnik looks around, and before he can answer, the dragonborn glares at the lizardfolk and in Common says “We shall seal our agreement with blood. Come, Ronnik, we shall kill them together and welcome our reptilian brethren into Tiamat’s fold.”

With that, all four reptilian humanoids turn and attack.Lizardfolk.jpg

The adventures fight back with gusto to make a bard tear up. Aurochs charges into battle with the lizardfolk. Ronnik yells at the heroes and engages Aurochs. Brandis discharges his Font of Fire and catches Ronnik and a lizardman in the blast. Ronnik makes an attack on Aurochs and Aurochs returns with a flurry of blows. As Aurochs goes down for the second time, he smashes Ronnik’s skull and Ronnik crumples in the Font of Fire.

The last of the enemies fall and the heroes are victorious. They check on Benwick, Gordi, and Sal and administer aid to get them back on their fee. Aurochs is suspicious of the coincidence that Sal and Gordi were taken down, but says nothing out loud.

Benwick expresses grief that it had to come to Ronnik’s death, but he’s relieved that it’s over. Benwick offers each character a 75 gp reward for recovering the jewel. He says that for now, the gem should remain with Chendera at the temple of Avandra for safekeeping.

The friar requests that the characters, after a well earned rest, speak to Gorn Hammerfell, captain of the watch. Benwick believes that Gorn has a problem that the Serpent’s Eye and the adventurers can help solve. Benwick says he’d like to see the Serpent’s Eye do some good before it’s returned to Fallcrest.

Citizens of the outer bailey treat the characters like saviors for ridding the keep of “that snake, Ronnik.” The heroes also enjoy occasional discounts in the shops (never the inn) and a few free drinks at The Stumbling Giant.

(If the characters ask about the symbol of Zehir on the jewel, he tells them that a cult of Zehir stole the gem from the temple of Avandra in Fallcrest and placed the symbol on it. Much later, Ronnik stole the gem from the cult and “selfishly refused to return it.”)

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Strong Fire
Episode 4: Into the Dragontooth

Veronica as Euna Dunhall the Human Fighter
Anna as Zesvyrae Melduis the Drow Cleric
Bob as Malklyr the Drow Assassin
Jacob as Aurochs the Minotaur Warden
Keith as Xian the Drow Archer.
Ed as Brandis the Human Mage.
Tim as DM

The adventures awaken early to clear skies and head northwest, away from the King’s Wall. The ominous wall of the Chaos Scar looms to the west, but they have another destination. Soon enough, a crooked, rocky hill comes into view. Their path leads against the current of a brisk stream, which they discover flows from a waterfall. The water spills out of the mouth of a dark, elevated cave in Dragontooth Hill. A short climb is required to get into the cave

The cliff is 20 feet high. Malklyr tries to climb up first and comes tumbling down.. Aurochs, on the other hand, soars up the cliff while carrying Zesvyrae. With the help of some rope, the rest of the party makes it up into the cavern.

Though the cave seemed dark from outside, a dim blue light pervades, issuing from an unknown source. A rope lies coiled to the east at the top of the cliff.

A second waterfall roars to the rear of the cavern. Water flows through the cave’s center where a few flat rocks protrude from it. Mixed with the scent of fresh water and earth is a slight odor of decay.

A short distance from the entrance, illuminated by the light from outside, a rope dangles from the ceiling. A piton holds it fast. The cavern’s denizens appear to use the rope to traverse the stream.

The adventures slowly make their way into the cavern before they are ambushed by some oozes and a kobold. After one volley from the Kobold, he begs them to leave him alone, which they do. The oozes prove to be little challenge and the cavern in cleared in a short time.

At the base of the next waterfall Malklyr spots something glittering at the base of the waterfall. Taking a chance, he dives to the bottom and find a magical armor and 70 gp worth of jewels and gems. He declares he’s keeping the armor and give his share of the rest of the treasure for the part to divide among themselves.

After a short rest, the adventurers scale the inner waterfall to continue. Like the outer cliff, the ledge is 20 feet high.

Flickering orange light illuminates the ledge from a carved archway to the east. Fires must illuminate the room there. Squeaking voices chatter beyond the doorway.

Over the sound of the waterfalls, the adventures can barely make out a few mundane phrases in Draconic. The voices sound like kobolds.

This cavern is walled and paved in cut s stone. Draconic runes are carved in the floor.

Four pillars surround a raised stone dais upon which a red runic symbol is carved. Small motes of fire dance on its arcane lines.

Past the symbol and pillars are two doorways; orange, flickering light shows through them. In between the doors, a huge platform for a lift bears a hand-operated crank. The far side of the lift opens to another area beyond it.

A few kobolds move about, involving themselves in various tasks. At their approach, their eyes go wide and they begin chattering in Draconic.

Kobold_Shaman.jpgEuna, who speaks Draconic, realizes that the wyrmpriest at the back of the cavern is chanting, “Ixenstrix!” It means “strong fire” and the adventures quickly learn what it means when the rune flashes widely and flames lash out from one of the fire places to burn them.

Brandis order the adventures to chant with him to wrist control of the rune away from the wyrmpriest. As both sides chant, they attack each other to whittle down the opponents. The kobolds are no match for the mighty adventures and their numbers are quickly lowered. Brandis finally takes control of the rune and the wyrmpriest, realizing things are going badly, orders one of the kobolds to escape up the stairs to warn “Moxulhar and the others” about the intruders.

The adventures finally kill the last of the kobolds and are left with the choice if they should go up by stairs or by the lift. Either way, the element of surprise has already been lost.

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Chasing Ronnik
Episode 3: Ambush at The Wall

Pat as Mika the Human Wandslinger
Veronica as Euna Dunhall the Human Fighter
Anna as Zesvyrae Melduis the Drow Cleric
Incendius the Human Fire Wizard
Tim as DM

After the flames subsided, the adventures recover a map of the nearby area. Most of the map’s labels appear to indicate locations around the Chaos Scar. They take interest in one part near the King’s Wall that is labeled “Well Hideout.” If that location is indeed Ronnik’s hideout, they might be able to catch him if they hurry.

The rain intensifies during their dark trip to the King’s Wall. After a short search, they find a section of the wall that has an old well house in it, as depicted on the map they found.

Darkness has fallen by the time the adventurers reach Ronnik’s hideout in the King’s Wall. Despite the darkness, it is easy to find the hideout using the map.

The well looks as weathered as the surrounding ruins. They can also see a new wooden frame has been erected above the well, and a rope is tied to this frame. An old bucket has been cast aside nearby, and a coil of unused rope lies beside it.

Also, not far from the well is a portion of wall that looks odd. (The players fail their Dungeonerring check.) As they adventures mill around well investigate the well and fail to discern the weak wall, the kobolds move in closer. (Players fail a Perception check.)

Kobolds.jpgThe kobolds spring their ambush on the adventures and collapse the wall with little success. Euna moves to fight with the kobolds while the wizards and cleric play “who can hide behind each.” The fighting is fast and furious as the party quickly destroys all the kobolds. (DM Note: So fast that I threw in another full wave of kobolds just to get us past round 3.)

The blood lust filled adventures realize they killed all the kobolds and didn’t leave any for questioning. (DM Note: I allow them a Heal check to revive one.) But a quick search of the battlefield reveals one kobold less hurt than the other and they quickly patch him up to questions him.

The kobold reveals that the adventures fell for their trap and that Ronnik is their patron and actually at Dragontooth Hill. After gaining the info, the adventures let the kobold expire.
Chaos_Scar_map.jpg

The hour is late and the area is secure, so the adventures plan to camp out here for the night before heading to Dragontooth Hill the next morning.

(DM Note: This week’s Encounter was pretty weak. Five minions and four kobolds were no match for the party. Even doubling the Encounters made little impact to the team.)

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Pressure Cooker
Episode 2: Bandits and Elementals

Pat as Mika the Human Wandslinger
Bob as Malklyr the Drow Assassin
Veronica as Euna Dunhall the Human Fighter
Anna as Carrigan the Human Paladin
Kirk as Heretus the Tiefling
Jacob as Aurochs the Minotaur Warden
Tim as DM

As they head back toward Restwell Keep, the afternoon grows late. The rain falls in heavy sheets, soaking you and Gordi. Over the course of the trip, Gordi becomes sicker, babbling incoherently between his heaving coughs.

The team tries to heal him (Heal check with a DC 15) but fail to improve his status. Had they been successful, Gordi would suggest that he be cloaked before entering the keep to avoid arousing undue suspicion. Instead the heroes notice quizzical looks from the gate guards and other citizens as they arrive under thunderous skies with an obviously sick man.

Benwick is happy to have Gordi back and takes some time to treat him in his residence in Fountain Square. The treatment goes well, but Gordi remains too ill to divulge any information. Benwick offers to pay for an early dinner at The Stumbling Giant.

To help essay any suspicion they may have roused with their return of Gordi, the party makes loud comments to be overheard by the townfolk, like, “Good thing we helped save that guy.”

In the boisterous atmosphere of the tavern, Benwick joins you, bringing ale with him. “You were truly sent from on high, friends. Gordi is recovering as we speak. Tomorrow, once this beastly weather passes, we can decide how to move against Ronnik. Enjoy tonight. I’ve paid for your rooms in the Travelers Inn next door. Rest well.”

His voice drops to a whisper. “I have secured the aid of a spy among Ronnik’s guards. Her name is Sal. She’s a human with blond hair and gray eyes. She’ll help us in what’s to come.” Benwick then stands up to leave.

While speaking with Benwick, Aurochs notices a suspicious halfling near the alehouse’s front door. The halfling has long, braided hair and nice leather armor. He seems interested in the adventurers’ meeting. Aurochs walks Benwick to the door, then doubles back and drops into the seat next to the halfling.

The halfling bolts out the door and runs through the rain a and down the wet street toward the keep’s fountain. The party quickly follows in pursuit. At the last possible moment, the halfling veers off to the side, leaving them exposed as several rough-looking individuals come out of the shadows. “They’re onto us,” cries the halfling. “Get ‘em!”

The goons and bandits are not match for the party and they are quickly dispatched by the heroes. Midway through the fight someone notices a human female watching the fight. She matches the description of Sal and does not stop the fight. As the fight winds down to a single goon, Sal steps out of the shadows and finishes him off.

Sal says she saw Ronnik enter the bank several hours ago and hasn’t seen him leave. She suggests the party wait and search his place when it gets dark. When questioned why Sal did not join them in the fight or warn them of the ambush, she answers that she couldn’t risk blowing her cover. She is well known in The Stumbling Giant, and she didn’t want to reveal her connection to Benwick and the adventures.

As they take a short rest ends, smoke starts to come out of a shuttered window of Ronnik’s bank.

The rain has slackened only slightly and the early evening remains gray. Smoke rises from Ronnik’s bank on the other side of the plaza. Flickering flames are visible through gaps in the shutters, and they can hear sinister, crackling laughter. Sal looks at the party anxiously and says, “Ronnik must have seen that his ambush failed and is trying to destroy evidence of his treachery. We must hurry!”

Sal leaves them there as she sprints around the block to watch the back. (DM: I added this to address Sal’s absence in the fight.)

Fire_Elemental.jpgThe windows are barred and the doors are locked. Aurochs bull rushes the door and breaks it down. Ronnik’s bank looks to be part comfortable home, part business. It’s furnished in a manner suitable for a successful merchant—a business counter divides the central hall. All very mundane…if it weren’t for the fiery humanoids capering through the place, and the watery humanoid, gurgling with mirth Behind the counter, a circle of arcane sigils glows blue, pulsing in time with the elementals, who seem fueled by its power. Two other objects, a brazier and a basin, also pulse in time with the circle.

(Attention players! Skill Challenge: requires 4 successes before 3 failures).
Primary Skills: Arcana, Athletics, Thievery. (DM: Or what ever they can RPG)

The adventures fight off the elementals and try to stop the magical fires. Mika drains off some of the magical energy (successful Arcana check). Someone else does a running slide into the brazier to knock it over (successful Athletics check) and it explodes and showers fire around it. The adventures successfully extinguish all the magical fires and destroy all the elementals.Water_Elemental.jpg

Sal returns and they search the building. They find the strongbox in the wall niche and it open and disheveled, but it still contains one red garnet (100gp), 200 sp, and a level 2 magical implement.

Inside the desk, they find singed papers, including a map of the keep’s environs. The map reveals a location called “Well Hideout,” where the adventures assume Ronnick has fled.

(DM Note: I combined the second and third chapter to shorten the season.)

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It Begins at the Restwell Keep
Episode 1: The Rescue Mission

Ace as Drizzt the Drow Scout
Pat as Mika the Human Gunslinger, um Wandslinger
Bob as Myrymma the Drow Assassin
Veronica as Euna the Human Fighter
Anna as Carrigan the Human Paladin
Tim as DM

Restwell_Keep.jpg
After traveling with a trade caravan for a time – common work for beginning adventurers – the heroes arrive at Restwell Keep. They’ve heard that fortune and glory await those bold enough to brave the dangers of the nearby Chaos Scar, a valley carved ages ago by a fallen star. The same tales warn that this Chaos Scar draws wickedness to it. Perhaps they can help stem this tide…and gain some treasure as they do so.

A think, bald human friar named Venn approaches them shortly after their arrival at the Keep. He said his teacher, another holy man named Benwick, craved the pleasure of their company to discuss important matters. A free meal was to be their reward for merely accepting the invitation.

Friar.jpgThus, this evening, they are visiting a comfortable apartment on the west side of the keep’s inner bailey. At the table is their host, the well-proportioned Benwick, along with fellow adventures both familiar and newly met. Venn and another priestly man, Jarell, serve victuals to you and Benwick.

Benwick informs them that he and his followers belong to an order that hold Avandra (good goddess of change, luck, trade and travel), Ioun (the unaligned goddess of knowledge, prophecy and skill, and is a patron of the study of magic and mental power), and Sehanine (the elven goddess of the moons) in high regard. He is also a healer and herbalist of some skill. But he is certain that Lord Drysdale, the keep’s lord and a staunch adherent of Erathis (unaligned goddess of civilization), seems intent on imposing devotion to Erathis, on militarizing the keep, and on launching an ill-prepared attack that will server only to rile up the monsters of the Chaos Scar.

(From Wikipedia: Avandra is friends with Melora, Sehanine and Corellon – they are collectively known as “the Four Free Gods”, and Avandra’s exalted usually spend their afterlives in and around Arvandor, the dominion of Corellon and Sehanine. Avandra’s most hated adversary is Zehir. She is also an enemy of Asmodeus, the lord of tyranny, and Torog, god of jailors, whom her followers fight at any opportunity.)

At the end of the dinner Benewick turns solemn and says to the adventurers, “Friends, here on the borderlands, we must be ever mindful of dark influences creeping in the night. In doing so, I have become suspicious of the banker, Ferdinand Ronnik. His wealth and greed are well known. Also, he has never publically denied that he was once a successful thief in the city of Fallcrest. To learn more, I asked a trusted friend—a man named Gordi who worked for Ronnik—to inform me of anything unusual.

“I say ‘worked,’ because Gordi is now missing. Before his disappearance, Gordi provided me with two grave reports. First, he glimpsed accoutrements of Tiamat (queen and mother of evil dragons) worship hidden among Ronnik’s belongings. Second, Gordi recognized a jewel in Ronnik’s possession known as the Serpent’s Eye. As you might know, that item was treasured by Moonsong Temple in Fallcrest before disciples of Zehir pilfered it.

“Ronnik and his lackeys didn’t try to hide the fact that they spirited Gordi to a grotto near the northern swamps. I believe Ronnik hopes to flush out me and Gordi’s other allies when we attempt a rescue.

“I truly believe that you all are a blessing sent to me. No one in this keep yet knows you. I realize that I’m about to ask much of you, but you can act boldly where I cannot.

“First, I want you to go to Ronnik’s prison grotto and rescue Gordi. Also, I hope that you are able to secure proof that Ronnik is an unholy follower of Tiamat. If all else fails, at least try to recover the Serpent’s Eye so we can return it to Avandra’s chapel.

“If you’re willing, I suggest an early start after a full night’s rest. Although I hope that I’ve impressed on you my sincere purpose, I would take no offense if you wish to confirm my reputation among the folks of the outer bailey. Still, I ask that you be discrete about your task. No need to provide the scoundrels more warning than we must.

“So, what say you?”

Mika recalls that the Sperpent’s Eye was once stored in the Moonsong Temple of Fallcrest and that the jewel was stolen from the temple long ago. Because several of the priests guarding it were poisoned, rumor has it that disciples of Zehir (evil God of darkness and poison) were responsible.

Someone asks about payment and Benwick responds with a wink, a smile, and the promise that Roninik’s lackeys are likely to be funded well, considering their boss’s line of work.

The team agrees and Benwick provides them a map, a Herbal poultice for each adventure, and instructions to leave early the next morning and return directly to him when they finish the task. On the way back to the inn they schmooze with the locals in The Stumbling Giant and learn that what Benwick said is true. Benwick has a stellar reputation in the outer bailey, but the alehouse’s owner, Mother Aran, doesn’t think Lord Drysdale is going to enforce Erathis worship at the keep. Ronnick has a reputation for exorbitant loan rates. Ronnick is often seen at the Stumbling Giant, but he’s been in and out of the keep a lot recently. Ronnik makes no effort to quiet rumors that he was a thief in Fallcrest. And Gordi did work for Ronnick, and he hasn’t been seen for a short while. A check on the Herbal poultice reveals it is genuine and attests to Benwick’s skill in herbalism.

The adventures depart early under a gloomy sky and travel northwest from the keep. The ridges of the Chaos Scar loom in the distant west as they pass over a rolling, sparsely wooded plain and enter marshy woodlands punctuated with stony outcroppings. In the late morning, they come to the bog surrounding the hill that contains the prison grotto. Wisps of smoke curl from a cave on the hill’s south side.

One of the adventures sneaks up to get a peak and then reports back. Redolent with the smell of swamp and the smoke of two small fires, the grotto is a well-lit cave featuring a couple pools. Near the fire to the left of the entrance is a pile of furs and a hole in the floor. A reptilian humanoid with yellow-green scales and a net and spear rests there. A dragonborn in heavy leather tends the other campfire to the right of the entrance, with a green drake at his side. The firelight doesn’t reach the rear of the grotto.

Dragonborn_Merc.jpgThe adventures step into the cave and the dragonborn mercenary shouts out at them in draconic. One of the adventures, who speak draconic, says the dragonborn asked them who they are and what did they want. Another adventure notices that there’s movement on the ledge in the back of the cave. But the time for talking has passed and the adventures attack.

The fighting is intense. The drakes, the greenscale, and the dragonborn quickly damage the heroes, even blooding a few of them. But the doughty heroes quickly recover and Euna destroys the first drake, Carrigan kills the greenscale, the dragonborn takes enough damage that he surrenders.

The heroes quickly dispatch the remaining needlers and the second drake. Kesk, the dragonborn mercenary, bargains for his life. He says that he was hired by a human named Ronnik to kidnap Gordi. After rummaging through the items in the cave, Myrymma decides to end the negotiation by coming up behind Kesh and assassinating him. (Ah, so much for bringing back a witness.)

A quick search of the cave reveals Gordi in the pit, 30 gp, and a pendant bearing the symbol of Tiamat (worth 50 gp) around Kesk’s neck. An examination of Gordi reveals he is ill from some sort of slow acting poison. The heroes must quickly return him to the keep.
Tiamat_Necklace.jpg

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