Spectres of the Last War

The Day of Mourning
First Session!

Let the game begin…

Character creation was had, with our heroes as the result:

20 Olarune 994 YK

Each had their own reason to scout the Tower of Scars, a ruin in the mountains at the border between Cyre and Breland. Upon arriving, the three independent adventurers quickly had common cause to unite as they were attacked by monstrous dolgrims and kruthiks. Almehym took quite a beating during the fight, but thanks to the encouraging words and tactics of Brand was able to stay in there long enough to slay many of the monsters. The mysterious warlock Kritos levied a barrage of eldritch energy from afar, destroying many foes.

After catching their breath, the three new allies decided to scout the tower, choosing to enter from the west where part of the wall had crumbled enough to provide a way in. Inside, Almehym went on ahead to the inner chamber, finding two captives chained against the wall and a strange symbol on the floor reminiscent of a Dragonmark. After deciding to reveal themselves to the captives, Kritos introduced himself and learned what had happened.

The captives: Bren ir’Gadden, a Lieutenant in the Brelish Rangers, and his catatonic aide, Corporal Aric Blacktree, had been ambushed by the dolgrims and kruthiks and their force of twelve decimated. The dolgrims then chained the two survivors in the wall with the strange glowing mark, seemingly in the hope that they would develop Dragonmarks of their own. Bren promised the adventurers a reward for the safe return of Aric and himself and with a mighty heave Brand ripped their chains off the wall of the tower. The eladrin is apparently much stronger than his slight build would indicate.

They also investigated the mark of prophecy on the floor of the tower. Examination revealed an ominous prophecy: four at the brink of desolation stand as one against the tempest’s roar.

On the way out, another ambush lay in wait. A necromancer of the Emerald Claw, two soldiers, and several zombies all wanted to take the prisoner for themselves. Brand was knocked unconscious during the fighting, his life saved by Bren in a key moment. Aric crumpled to the ground in his catatonia, and it was left to Kritos and Almehym to mop up the rest of the outlawed elite soldiers.

As the battle ended, a great and terrible event could be seen from outside the tower. Fire, lightning, and unnatural gray fog swept down from the east along the Saerun Road, destroying the armies fighting there. When the conflagration is over, the gray fog remains, hanging like an ominous tapestry along the border of what was the Kingdom of Cyre. The Day of Mourning has come to pass.

XP: 580 to each character
Loot: The Emerald Claw had some items of great value. More to come next time!

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Sharn: City of Towers

Let’s start off with the loot from last time that you carried with you for four years. Almehym took a Vicious Dagger +1 off of the Emerald Claw Necromancer, while Kritos took a suit of Darkleaf Leather Armor +1 off the same body.

The session begins four years after the Day of Mourning. Kritos, Almehym, and Brand have been invited by Bren ir’Gadden, now Lord Major in the Brelish military, to attend a ceremony at Morgrave University to commemorate the Day of Mourning. A new character, Ockham, is also introduced. Ockham, or Ocks, is a hulking warforged soldier who has been hired as a bodyguard for a rash and impulsive young Brelish noble who is also attending the ceremony.

While a Cyran survivor was giving his speech, a dreadfully familiar mist arose near the staircase. The attendees screamed in terror as they saw the Mourning made manifest in Sharn itself. The mist turned out to be some kind of demon. A disturbing ape-like creature standing even taller than Ox, with twisting horns, milky-white eyes and horrible claws strode forth to attack the gathered crowd.

Ox’s impetuous charge drew his bejeweled sword to face the Mourning Haunt, but was knocked unconscious by his bodyguard before he could get into trouble. The party quickly surrounded the creature, preventing it from attacking any bystanders, who in typical jaded Sharn fashion began to place bets on the outcome of the battle. While the three more close-combat minded adventurers engaged the beast in melee, Kritos wisely stood back and unleashed a barrage of eldritch blasts granted to him by his mysterious fey patron.

After a long battle, the strange creature was defeated, its body dissolving into mist that eerily formed the same pattern as the prophecy mark seen by Brand, Almehym, and Kritos at the Tower of Scars on the Day of Mourning. Ox also recognized the pattern, as it’s identical to his ghulra, the unique sigil inscribed on the forehead of every warforged.

Banded together by curiosity, the four adventurers next sought the source of the strange creature. Almehym noticed a misty-white tuft of the creature’s hair by the stairwell, and Kritos used his knowledge of matters arcane to track the energies used to summon the creature back to the source.

On the way, Almehym once again proved his powers of perception, noticing a trio of halfling burglars exiting the upper floor of a Lower Menthis plateau home with enticing loot. Getting the the bottom of the Mourning Haunt didn’t seem so important at the time, so the party launched an attack on the thieves. After several feats of athleticism and teleportation, the battle was joined on the rooftop. The first halfling never had a chance, for Almehym snuck behind and devastated him with a single blow. Ox decided to find out what sound halflings make when bounced on pavement, knocking the second poor thief to the streets below and a waiting Brand. The third thief chose the better part of valor and tried to escape, giving an ear-piercing cry of alarm. Help from his comrades of the Boromar Clan, Sharn’s premier organized crime syndicate, arrived too late, though the rescue team spied those who killed their kin before fleeing on their flying reptile mounts.

No longer distracted by loot, the party made its way to the townhome at the base of Menthis Tower where the creature was summoned. Kritos confirmed that this was the source, and not seeing another way in, the party went through the front door. There they were met by thugs from the Red Claw gang, some goblins, a half-orc archer, and two shifters. After these were dispatched, the group made their way upstairs, where they found a strange eldritch machine protected by a dolgaunt and two dopplegangers. The machine was clearly unstable, but thanks to Kritos’ arcane insight and Almehym’s knack for disabling devices, the machine was shut down and Menthis Tower was saved!

Brand got a Frost Longsword +1 out of the deal. Kritos was able to scrape up 500gp worth of residuum, a substance of pure magic, from the machines. And the party was met by an Orien courier who delivered a message from the Lord Major. He wants to meet the heroes and reward them further!

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Then there were five...

The session picked up at in Lower Menthis, outside the house where the party disabled an eldritch machine that threatened to topple the entire tower. Lord Major Bren ir’Gadden dispatched a skycoach to bring the party back up to Morgrave University.

The skycoach started winding its way up through Sharn, but on the way was ambushed by none other than Aric Blacktree and some goblin archers riding on magical soarsleds. The party had to fend off arrows and necrotic attacks fueled by Aric’s aberrant dragonmark, while protecting the skycoach pilot from harm.

Almehym managed a daring leap onto Aric’s soarsled and took him captive, dangling him by the ankle from a rope. To the party’s surprise and outrage, the former Brelish soldier cut himself free from the snare and plummeted hundreds of feet into the darkness of lower Sharn.

The party was not happy when they arrived back in Upper Methis to be debriefed by the Lord Major. Things almost got physical on the crown agent, but the situation managed to be defused after ir’Gadden promised to investigate his former aide and what he was up to. The Lord Major also offered the party a job. As an agent of the King’s Citadel, specifically the King’s Swords, he had been investigating two murders of dragonmarked heirs. He then sent the party to meet a leading expert on dragonmarks, Professor Jarim Rem Tasoy. Ockham was also asked by the Lord Major to complete a separate errand.

On the way to Morgrave, the party encountered a halfling running for his life. They then recognized the leader of the group chasing him as one of the Boromar Clan enforcers from earlier. Deciding that the enemy of their enemy was their friend, the party took up arms against the Boromar and swiftly dispatched them. The fleeing halfling introduced himself as Buckskin Buckshot, a bootlegger and archer who didn’t want to become a Clan hitman and was now on the run.

The party continued on to Morgrave and met with the professor. After determining that the party had not brought the professor’s lunch, Jarim proceeded to describe the murders. The first murder was of Thurman d’Vadalis, occuring on the night of the full moon for the moon associated with the Mark of Handling, in the month of the Mark of Handling. A cunning assassination in Dragon Towers, the district housing each house’s main enclave in Sharn, there was no evidence left behind other than the body. Thurman had been stabbed in the heart and his dragonmark skinned from his body.

Krosh had been waylaid by a Darguul merecenary group known as the Skullsplitters down in the Cogs. He was kidnapped by the goblinoids, then his body found later near the Lava Pit, the restaurant featuring Shadow Marches barbecue he had eaten at.

The party also learned that if the pattern continues, an heir of House Lyrandar would be next.

The party went to the Skullsplitters base of operation to investigate and after some quick thinking from Buckshot, told them that they wanted to subcontract the Skullsplitters for some Boromar dirty work. The door was opened, and it was then discovered that the two gangs had bad blood and the fight was on!

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Fall of a Killer

The session picked up back in the Skullsplitters lair. Ascending to the third level of their base, the PCs discovered the seat of the mercenary group’s power. Literally, a big stone throne of ancient Dhakaani construction… as well as dirty rags and a circle of runes.

A giant bugbear rose up, bellowing a challenge at the party. He stood confidently in the runic circle, waiting for the party to challenge him. At the same time, the goblin boss, another goblin, and two gray wolves attacked the party.

After leaving the bugbear disappointed for a bit, Kritos launched him off the ledge, falling 40’ to his death. Things were wrapped up swiftly after that, with the boss taken hostage. Some gems were found in the throne.

Some knifepoint interrogation led to the party being led to the sewers of Sharn. There they encounter some members of The Tribe, a wererat goblin pack. While the fight went well for our heroes, it did result in disease for everyone.

Eventually the PCs made their way deep down underneath the city, to the site of an ancient temple to The Mockery. Crystal mirrors over an altar focus sacrificial energy to an unknown destination. Inside is everyone’s old friend, Aric Blacktree. But Aric has become something greater, and something aberrant, as a result of his predations on Dragonmarked heirs.

With wispy tendrils and psychic powers, Aric did his best to lay waste to the heroes and continue his mad scheme to absorb more dragonmarks. After a long, dangerous battle, the PCs were victorious, though Aric died on the strange altar and his power was siphoned to Sovereigns know where.

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Shadow Marches

Brand, Almehym, Kritos, and Buckskin Buckshot, still afflicted with filth fever, left Bren ir’Gadden‘s offices at the King’s Citadel, headed to House Jorasco for some healing, and then to House Cannith for their Breland-sponsored rewards.

At the Cannith forgehold, they are introduced to Quentin d’Cannith, a Dragonmarked member of the house who specializes in artifice, warforged, as everyone soon found out, prosthetic limbs…

Buck got some new armor that protects a wounded wearer from further harm. Brand received a cold iron amulet that protects the wearer’s mind. Almehym received gauntlets of ogre power, making the already brawny rogue even stronger. And Kritos was given a glass rod of arcane power—of which the tiefling seems unnaturally fond.

As the heroes were examining their new toys, an ominous rumble resonated through the complex, the arcane lift crashing down to Quentin’s laboratory, inoperable. Exclaiming in terror about his “experiments,” Quentin ran further into his lab, Almehym and Buck following sneakily behind.

Deeper within the Cannith forgehold lay Quentin’s latest grand design, a runic circle that stood at the center of two concentric rings of dragonshard lenses. Each ring was attuned to a different energy, the outer ring to ice, the inner ring to fire. All the lenses were focused onto the figure inside the runes, a warforged of unusual design. This warforged, unlike the more common variety, was studded with crystals glowing with the power of the machine as well as some sort of internal energy.

At the controls of the machine was a kobold. This kobold had warforged parts though, parts of its face, one of its arms. As the party rushed into the chamber, more “koborgs” poured in from a holding pen below. Quentin was quickly knocked out by a warforged-sized kick to the head. Almehym and Buck took out the kobold working the controls with ranged attacks, its death-throes knocking some levers askew and sending the beams of fire and ice skittering across the floor, burning and freezing all they touched.

The warforged at the center of the room, released from whatever control the energies had over it, quickly joined the party’s fight against the koborgs. He fought with an indomitable will, projecting force and lightning from his mind, channeled through his giant warhammer. The experimented-on creatures were tougher than they looked, and packed a Cannith-crafted wallop.

With their new ally, and Kritos working the controls of the device to freeze and burn the koborgs, the party was swiftly victorious. Buck slapped Quentin awake and the group proceeded with their usual heavy-handed interrogation techniques. Blackmailing Quentin with exposure of his research seemed to do the trick. He was working on a way to improve the warforged, and warforged prostheses by channelling the power of Thelanis, also known as the Feywild. Unit 314, as Quentin referred to the group’s new psiforged friend, was working willingly with the Cannith heir’s research… Until the crazed koborgs took control of everything.

This information intrigued both Kritos and Brand. Kritos owes his powers to an archfey called the Queen of Air and Darkness, something he has never spoken of, nor of the bargain he made to get them. And Brand was intrigued by the idea that part of Thelanis could be channeled into Eberron, given that his entire race is now trapped here. Could Quentin’s research be used to restore his people to their rightful homes?

With a favor owed to the party and the psiforged given his leave, the heroes returned to Jarim Rem Tasoy. The gnomish professor detailed some new information. He believes that the temple with the altar in the depths of Sharn was used in the Dhakaani war against the daelkyr thousands of years ago. The energy from sacrificial victims was channeled to the orcish Gatekeeper druids in the Shadow Marches to seal the connection to Xoriat, the Plane of Madness.

Believing the terminus to the energy mirrors must lie in the Shadow Marches, Professor Tasoy sent the adventurers to the village of Blackroot to meet with a House Tharashk envoy named Doria Veledaar. The Professor also had arranged lightning rail and overland travel with a House Orien caravan to the Shadow Marches.

Once there, they met the suspiciously suspicious orcish Sheriff of Blackroot, Toraash’Dorrm. Toraash told the adventurers that Doria and her whole family had left Blackroot to move to Sharn. Skeptical, the party went to search Doria’s house. There, Buck’s tracking skills were able to piece together the story of what happened. A group of people had entered the home, caused some violence, and taken someone out against their will, presumably Doria. Buck also found a creepy amulet of obsidian set around a mummified eye, as well as the broken tip of an obsidian dagger.

Back to the sheriff, and a brief interrogation/combat led them to follow the sheriff to a cave not far from the village. They fought some cultists on their way in, including two rather tough orc guards, and continued further into the subterranean complex. One of the orc cultists had a creepy symbiont tongue creature attached to its mouth with a poisoned barb. Some creepy glowing red text lined the walls of the first passage, which the new psiforged member of the party determined to be an endless scrawl of names, with the spiritual essence of the named creature embedded in the text itself. Not a good sign…

Past the hall of living words, more crimson text appeared, this time on the floor. Brand leapt safely across with typical eladrin grace. Buck, not so much, and the power of the text took control of his mind, causing him to sink an arrow into Kritos. Unit 314 and Almehym together were able to disarm the arcane trap, restoring Buck to the dubious amount of self-control he previously had. Chanting could now be heard coming from deeper down the tunnel system. An alcove with three defaced shrines was also found. Apparently this complex used to be a place of worship for Arawai, Balinor, and Olladra, three deities of the Sovereign Host.

The passage opened up to a larger chamber, full of cultists in the throes of religious ecstasy. The chanting was led by a dolgaunt, a creature the adventurers had faced before. Also in the room was another one of the tough orc guards, as well as a giant, two-pupil eye in the back of the chamber. Brand, mistaking his role in the group as a stealthy one, tried to sneak into the room behind the orc. The giant eye immediately turned to him and the fight began. The cultists weren’t much of a challenge, and Unit 314 dispatched several of them with a single blow. The orc and the dolgaunt put up more of a fight, but all said this battle was far easier than the one to get into the complex entrance. After the eye itself was defeated, after some attempted psychic attacks on the party, it shattered, revealing an expanded network of tunnels behind it. Brand also picked up another symbiont, this one attached to the arm and capable of entangling attacks.

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The Coat of Eyes

After smashing through the two-pupil eye the cultists were worshipping, the party made its way further down into the depths of Khyber. The passageways became less like stone and more like spongy flesh. They came across some more dolgrims, huddled around a pool of viscous red and purple liquid—the blood of Khyber. The dolgrims were swiftly dispatched, and the party was able to rest in the glow of Khyber’s blood, rejuvenating them completely. They even bottled some of it, using two of Buckskin’s empty flasks.

In the next chamber, the darkness grew more oppressive, causing even the brightest sunrod to dim to a small spark. The heroes fought a large creature of darkness, insubstantial and deadly, and had quite a battle with it. Unit 314 was engulfed by the creatures dark embrace and nearly perished, but the heroes eventually managed to defeat it, with special mention for Kritos’ psychic attacks.

Venturing forth, the cavern became increasingly more flesh-like, and as the party encountered another group of dolgrims, this time led by a dolgaunt, they rushed in with abandon. This proved foolish, as the cavern floor had hungry mouths ready to snap at their feet. Buckskin and Kritos stayed in back launching arrows and eldritch energy while the rest of the party mixed it up in melee. Once all of the mouths, the battle became futile for the misshapen creatures.

Finally the heroes found what they were looking for, the Sheriff of Blackroot, Toraash’Dorrm, another dolgaunt, holding Doria Veledaar hostage, and several cultists lay within the inner sanctum. Toraash was no longer wounded, and wore a breastplate crafted of raw muscle, studded with over a dozen blinking eyes. Trying to talk their way into having Doria released, Brand tried to offer their halfling archer in trade, but Toraash didn’t seem to like that idea. Unit 314 rushed in and laid waste to several of the cultists with a mighty, psionically-powered blow, but was unable to free Doria from the dolgaunt’s tentacled grip. The dolgaunt executed Doria and the battle was joined. Almehym in particular dealt some vicious stabbings to their enemies. The cultists had reinforcements, however, and midway through the fight more of them entered the chamber from the furthest depths of the cavern. Eventually, the cultists were slain, and Toraash’s disturbing armor crawled off of him onto the floor. Almehym decided it was a good idea to pick it up and wear it, and the alien voice within commanded him to “Show me what this world has to offer.”

The final chamber of the caverns held several coffins lined with pulsing Khyber shards, with villagers trapped within. A crystal outcropping in the center of the room seemed to be corrupting the souls of those trapped in the coffins, warping their minds and making them fanatical zealots of Belashyrra, the Lord of Eyes. The heroes managed to smash and manipulate the controls of the machine until it was destroyed, unleashing a wave of harmful energy upon them all.

The few villagers who had been saved, including Doria’s parents and brother, were very grateful to the party. Doria’s brother told the group of Doria’s investigation into where the dragonmark energy of Aric Blacktree might have been sent to, and agreed to lead them to the site.

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Cairn of the Winter King Summary

After rescuing the remaining villagers from the Cult of the Dragon Below, the party investigated as to where the Dragonmark energy could’ve gone off to. As it so happens, a House Tharashk mining operation existed a day or so’s travel from the village. While traveling to the mining camp, the weather turned from a humid, jungle climate to a frigid winter one. This unnatural cold was obviously magical, though the source didn’t become evident until the heroes arrived on scene.

At the mining camp, miners were busy chopping up furniture and wooden equipment to feed several large bonfires. A group of disgruntled miners had gathered around the camp’s overseer, Bern d’Tharashk complaining bitterly about the cold and grumbling about mutiny. As the heroes began to try to intervene, a longship with ragged, funereal sails and an undead crew descended from the air to the NE, landing with grim tidings. The undead poured from the ship and began to attack all those living in sight.

The heroes ably dispatched the undead, and upon closer inspection of the undead vessel, heard the skeletal dragon figurehead open its mouth to speak, “DO YOU HAVE THE SCEPTER OF THE WINTER KING?!?” After an unfortunate instance where the party replied in the negative, they soon discovered a skulking shape in the crowd. A sailor on a House Lyrandar vessel was trying to sneak away from the camp. Cornered by the heroes, the man, Marko soon confessed to having entered the Cairn of the Winter King and having made off with the scepter.

Approaching the skeletal figurehead again and telling it that they had the scepter, the heroes manned the oars of the skeletal longship and flew to the Cairn of the Winter King. Upon arrival they discovered a chilling obelisk of ice with many skulls of all manner of creature suspended inside. They entered, prepared for battle, only to be welcomed by a jolly barbarian claiming to be the Winter King and a magnificent feat laid out for them. Buckskin Buckshot immediately went for the table, especially the rich-smelling beer in the halfling-sized tankards. Somewhat to his regret, the beer, as well as the rest of the food was cursed. The supposed Winter King, his illusion-disguised wife and his “hounds” (actually dire wolves) attacked.

Victorious, the heroes made their way through the cairn. The encountered many more illusions, a room of solid ice keeping the ghost of a dwarf priest from a restful afterlife, a frozen army, and an owlbear. Eventually they snuck through a secret passage into the throne room of the Winter King himself. Unwilling to hand over the scepter, they fought a glorious battle (mostly because I had to amp up the WK’s hp by about 1,000 to keep it from being a 2 round fight…) and killed the Winter King once and for all. The took his crown as well as a strange ivory card with the symbol of Flames inscribed on it.

Instantly upon retrieving the strange card, the Queen of Air and Darkness appeared, and greeted her son, Brand. She also greeted [[:psi314], whom she implied was now part hers after his Thelanis-fueled experiments, as well as Kritos whom she demonstrated was entirely hers and teleported him away to some dark fey realm to “fulfill his part of the bargain.” The Queen of Air and Darkness then directed her son and his comrades to the Eldeen Reaches where they were to find more pieces of the so-called Deck of Chaos.

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