What Happens in the Harkenwold...

Preludes and Introductions
In which we meet the players and their world
  • Telia, Thornand Barakasare hanging out in Harken Village’s only tavern, when Ciro walks in, looking somewhat bedraggled from a three-day journey by foot, with luggage in tow.
  • Barakas is playing what he believes to be an entrancing Mickey Hart-style drum solo, but he’s about the only one in the room who believes this. The other tavern patrons though, however annoyed they may be, keep these sentiments to themselves for fear of angering his two feral-looking companions.
  • Ciro, seeing that this group doesn’t fit the mold of the usual farmers and tradesmen around these parts, and might therefore make more useful companions than his other options, makes a beeline for their table and starts trying to chat with Barakas, who remains more interested in his bongos.
  • Thorn, having been raised by the Woodsinger Elves, who frequently come into conflict with the goblins of Harken Forest, is even less inclined to cut this newcomer any slack.
  • The goblin doesn’t leave, though, and he’s buying the beer, so they bear his conversation for the free drinks.
  • About this time, Barakas’ mother, who doesn’t approve of his association with Thorn and Telia, enters the tavern to tell Barakas that he’s needed for a job in the early morning. They’ve just received a sending from his rich uncle in Fallcrest, Orest Naerumar, that a shipment he was expecting hasn’t arrived. That he would use a sending to contact them at all indicates how important this package must be to him. The carter would have checked in with the Fel family on his way through Harken Village – that he hasn’t done so indicates that he never made it. Barakas is to scout the King’s Road to the south to see whether he can find any evidence of what’s happened to the cart.
  • While not happy about having to be awake and about at dawn, he has little choice but to agree, and Telia and Thorn decide to accompany him. When Ciro offers to help as well, they grudgingly accept.
  • The next morning, they set out to the south, and after three hours’ walking, find a destroyed cart, its wheels hewn by large axe blows.
  • As they investigate the scene, they’re accosted by a band of wood elves who, seeing the goblin with them, mistake them for members of a kidnapping gang that’s been plaguing their tribe recently.
  • A bit of diplomacy, and Thorn’s ability to communicate using the hand signs and vernacular of the Woodsingers, ultimately convinces their leader, Salvana, that they’re friendly.
  • Her own band came across the broken wagon a short while ago. The blood splashed over its seat indicates that a fight took place, but no bodies or cargo were found. They hadn’t yet followed the tracks they found leading away from the wagon into the woods, and can’t readily do so because they’re tending to a wounded member of their band whom they need to bring back to camp.
  • The party follows the tracks, and despite their care, is surprised by a band of hobgoblins accompanied by a pair of goblin snipers firing from the trees.
  • The snipers concentrate their fire on the largest of the party, Telia, to devastating effect, wounding her badly.
  • After a long, brutal fight, the hobgoblins are ultimately defeated, and the goblins taken prisoner – one badly wounded and unconscious, and one conscious and bound.
  • They question the conscious goblin about the cart’s cargo, and he indicates that it’s hidden in a nearby cave, but that when his band opened the box, “shadows came out and everybody started screaming.” He says he didn’t stick around to find out why.
  • He’s heard about the kidnappings of the elves as well, but doesn’t know who’s doing it. What he’s heard, though, is that the kidnapped elves are being brought to a secret dock in the Witchlight Fens, and are loaded there onto boats to destinations unknown to him.
  • As agreed, in return for his answers, the party releases him with the stipulation that he not attempt to return to his tribe and tell them about the party.
  • They take the unconscious goblin with them as an offering to the elves.
  • Too badly hurt to continue on to the cave, the party returns to the King’s Road with the unconscious goblin, and is faced there with the choice of whether they should return to Harken Village, or try to follow Salvana’s directions to the Woodsinger camp. They opt for the latter, leaving a note on the wagon in case Barakas’ family sends someone looking for them.
  • Thorn, familiar with the elves’ system of describing forest locations, easily follows Salvana’s directions to the camp, leading the party there.
  • The elves accept the unconscious goblin, who has survived the journey, as a sincere token of friendship – he will be able to provide valuable intelligence, they hope.
  • The party accepts the elves’ offer to stay with them for the night.
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Into the Woods
Allies and enemies...
  • An elf named Petrus accuses the party of leading goblin reavers to the elf camp.
  • The party convinces the elves to allow them to prove themselves by ambushing goblins at a river crossing in the forest.
  • Petrus accompanies the party, and the ambush successfully wipes out the goblin band.
  • Two goblins are captured: Stoneskull, the leader of the band, and Garuthik, a soldier.
  • Stoneskull gives the party more information about the slave parties
    • they’re capturing elves and taking them to a location in the Witchlight Fens, where strangely dressed humans buy them and load them onto boats for travel south.
    • A hobgoblin called Brach- a major crime boss in the Daggerburg territories, runs the operation from his keep.
      • He ordered the attack on the Fel family’s caravan as well, but Stoneskull doesn’t know much about that.
      • Ciro gives the goblin soldier his “you can be more than just a goblin” speech.
  • The party dispatches an elf messenger back to Harken Village to tell Barakas’ family about the cave, the package, Brach’s involvement, their elf allies, and the party’s intention to investigate the cave.
  • The party returns to the caravan to find it as they left it.
  • They make their way to the dusty, root-choked cave entrance, clearly once a large animal’s burrow, and find a small, elaborately carved box inside.
  • Barakas inspects the box, and attempts to use his psionic ability to learn more about it. When he does, he falls into a trance, and feels as though something is entering his mind, pressing on it. Then suddenly, it’s gone, and everything’s back to normal.
  • Until they touch the box.
  • Incorporeal forms swirl through the dust surrounding them and attack. Three specters attack them, and Thorn and Barakas are rendered unconscious and nearly killed.
  • Miraculously, Barakas and Thorn, seemingly dead, are nursed back to health after the fight has been won.
  • As evening falls, the party returns to Harken Village to deliver the package to Fel’s family.
  • But they’re not there.
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To Grandmother's House We Go...
...where is everybody?
  • The party returns to Barakas’ house, only to find it dark and empty; food still burning in a pot over the fireplace, a book thrown haphazardly to the floor.
  • Examining the book, Barkasrecognizes it as a Tiefling fairy tale he remembers from his childhood; a story about a family forced to flee by its enemies. He takes it as a signal from his parents that they have fled.
  • Ciro, meanwhile, checks in the tavern, but his attempts to talk to the locals are rebuffed. Nobody wants to talk to the goblin.
  • A Kalashtar cleric named Jane is here in the tavern, and she speaks with Ciro telepathically, ultimately learning of his quest and offering to help.
  • The party rejoins Ciro, and they head to Barakas’ grandmother’s house to see what they can learn.
  • This house, like the previous, is dark and abandoned, but as the party approaches, they are attacked by a tiefling mage and his imps.
  • Once the wizard and his minions have been defeated, the party searches the house for clues.
  • Leafing through a book of Tiefling history, Barakas learns of the Karadas family, long ago disgraced for summoning devils into the city. The family’s actions were uncovered and halted by Barakas’ own inquisitor ancestors.
  • The party finds an Animal Messenger ritual among the grandmother’s library as well.
  • Following a pair of tracks leading from the house into the woods, the party discovers a cave concealed behind a rockfall, into which the tracks apparently lead.
  • It soon becomes clear that one of the tracks has deliberately backtracked, in an apparent attempt to mislead the other.
  • The cave turns out to be an active Kruthik hive, and the party is attacked by the swarm.
  • After a difficult fight, the party emerges victorious, and follows one of the tracks to an egg chamber, where the badly mutilated body of a tiefling is found.
  • The party finds a Shadow Hunter Cloak on the body.
  • Following the other tracks back out of the cave, the party sees that they lead further into the woods.
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Family Reunion
Barakas finds his grandmother and parents on the road
  • Dusk has fallen
  • Outside the Kruthik hive
  • Barakas is reunited with his grandmother, Shaddyk Fel.
    • Barakas shows her the box. She wants to know where he got it, looks concerned.
    • She doesn’t know what it is, but thinks it’s dangerous.
    • Suggests that someone may know what this is.
  • The party chooses to continue on through the night, and sets out along the King’s Road in search of Barakas’ parents.
    • They soon find them, under attack.
    • The party manages to rescue them, but the drake handler leading the attack escapes.
  • As dawn approaches, Barakas speaks further with his grandmother about the box.
    • The question is, who Naerumar wants to sell the box to.
    • Keep it quiet, she recommends, until they know.
  • While breaking camp from a ruin later on, they come under attack by a tiefling assassin, accompanied by animated shadow soldiers.
    • They manage to defeat their attacker and take her prisoner.
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City Life
The party arrives at Fallcrest
  • As dusk falls, the party returns to their camp in the ruins, bringing the captured Karadas assassin with them. They bind her and take her armor, and Barakas begins his interrogation.
    • He’s careful, however, about the questions he asks, not wanting to reveal their ignorance of what the box they’re carrying might really be.
    • The assassin’s name, they learn, is Dhenia Varosh.
    • She is not herself a member of the Karadas family – she was hired for this job by Odesti Karadas.
    • Dhenia insists that the box rightfully belongs with the Karadas family, from whom it was stolen. “If you want to do the right thing,” she tells the party, “you’ll bring it back to Val Haran.”
    • After much debate, the party decides to release Dhenia. They keep her weapons and armor, give her a spare shirt to wear, and send her on her way.
      • Dhenia herself appears surprised by this move.
      • Shadykk approves of the choice.
  • The party makes their way to Fallcrest under a driving rain.
    • Entering through the mud-spattered streets of the lower town, they make their way, at Fel’s parents’ insistence, to the upper town and the Silver Unicorn Inn.
    • On their way to the bank, where the party intends to deposit the box, they are attacked by old friends of Ciro’s, led by the goblin, Gokluk, a street thug with delusions of being a mob boss of sorts.
      • Gokluk (whose name, by the way, means in Goblin “Blood spurting from a wound that will probably kill the guy but is going to take a while to do it.” It’s an onomatopoeic word intended to sound like someone choking on his own blood. Those goblins.) is killed in the battle.
      • The party sets the sole survivor of the battle, a junior street tough named Blugit, free with Ciro’s tophat, and instructions to tell his bosses that Ciro has been killed.
    • The party reaches the bank and deposits the box, paying extra for a binding spell that will allow only Barakas (alive, not dead) to reopen the deposit box holding it.
    • This having been done, they scour the hightown shops for a similar-enough-looking box, which they ultimately find, intending to pass it off to Naerumar as the box they’ve just hidden in the vault.
    • They then return to the Silver Unicorn for much-needed rest, intending to visit Orest Naerumar in the evening.

XP: 232 per party member.

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Bad Dreams and a Good Meal
  • Having left the box in the vault of a Hightown bank in Fallcrest, the party now returns to the Silver Unicorn Inn to recover from the morning’s unexpected battle.

Bad Dreams

  • Telia, Thorn, Ciroand Barakaseach fall asleep, and each soon find themselves engulfed in a nighmare.
    • Barakas sees flashes of a woman on horseback stricken down by an arrow.
      • He realizes that he’s in a forest, and becomes aware of dark shapes around him. Intuitively, as happens in dreams, he knows that they’re hunting him.
      • He tries to muster an effort of will to wake himself, but succeeds instead in transporting himself to a different space. He’s in a vast, sprawling ruin of what must have once been a great city.
    • Thorn, too, is dreaming of these ruins, and manages to spot Barakas from a high vantage point. She sees as well the humanoid shapes closing in on him.
    • Telia finds herself standing in a vast, grassy plain which stretches as far as she can see in all directions.
      • She becomes aware of a dark shape in the distance and realizes that it’s a black horse galloping in her direction.
      • She tries to intercept the horse as it approaches, and is injured by the impact, but manages to calm the beast, which allows her to ride it.
    • Ciro finds himself in a dark swamp, on a raft, with writhing black shapes moving through the water below, bumping the raft.
      • Ciro, after failing to find any sort of land or way off the raft, tries to attack one of the writhing shapes in the water. He manages to hurt it, but lands in the water himself, locked in a desperate battle with the thing.
  • At about this time, Barakas manages a supreme act of will, using his inquisitorial abilities to shape the mind’s image of the space. He manages by this to bring everyone together in the ruins, then with another burst of will, forces everyone awake.
  • They awaken to find themselves back in their beds at the inn, freaked out by their experience of having shared a communal dream, but seemingly unharmed.
  • As Ciro and Barakas enter the hallway to check on Telia and Thorn, however, they become aware of dark shapes, just like those in the dream, standing at the end of the hall.
  • Ciro knows what these are – Shadar-Kai.
  • The three shadar-kai descend on the party and a battle ensues.
  • Just as the fight ends, the inn’s concierge, a haughty halfling, rushes up the stairs to see what the noise is about. Seeing the bodies of the shadar-kai, now already fading to transparency, he falls silent, terrified.
  • Wisara Osterman, the inn’s proprieter, now joins the group, and is equally horrified to see the remains of the shadar-kai fading away. She knows what these are. She tells Barakas that he and his friends cannot stay at the inn. These things will return for them, and this represents an unacceptable danger to her guests.
  • Grudgingly, Barakas and company agree to pack their things and depart. When the time comes, they gather their things and find Barakas’ parents holding court in the Inn’s common room.
  • Wisara signals to Barakas to speak with her further. She apologizes for her earlier rudeness, explaining that she was afraid for her guests. She advises Barakas to seek help – these things are dangerous, and they will be back, she tells him. She recommends that he speak with Grundelmar, a priest of Pelor, who can be found in the House of the Sun.

Family Reunion

  • The party, accompanied by Barakas’ parents and grandmother, make their way to the home of Barakas’ uncle, Orest Naerumar. He is expecting them, they are told – Barakas’ mother sent a messenger informing him of their arrival some time ago, and he has prepared a dinner for them all.
  • They arrive without incident, and are let inside by the servant, Ardic, who offers to take their traveling cloaks and baggage.
  • Orest Naerumar is there, and greets them warmly, showing them around his opulent three-storey house. (The first floor contains the store and the house kitchen, the second contains a dining and entertaining area, and the third contains bedrooms sufficient for an array of guests. He’s clearly set up his house to serve as a sort of inn for traveling merchants doing business with him.
  • Another man is there too. Naerumar introduces him as a business associate, Sirett. He acknowledges the party coolly, and barely speaks throughout the night.
  • Dinner is a fine affair, and afterward, Naerumar invites Barakas to join him on the balcony. Barakas’ parents are clearly offended that the invitation wasn’t similarly directed their way, but make do.
    • Ciro, curious about Sirett, tries to learn more about the man, but can’t manage to engage him in conversation. Taking another tack, he embarks on a plan to annoy the man into a reaction. Barakas’ grandmother seems to be watching this exchange with interest.
    • Telia and Thorn, meanwhile, having little interest in polite social gatherings, make their way outside to the small pasture behind the house, and proceed to slaughter one of the livestock animals for their dessert.
    • Barakas, out on the porch with Naerumar, tries to ascertain how much or how little Naerumar knows about the item they’ve just (allegedly) brought to him. He professes to know little except that the buyer was willing to pay well for it.
    • Barakas is able to confirm that Sirett is in fact the buyer.
    • Barakas tells Naerumar that he believes the box to be dangerous, and suggests that Naerumar not give it to Sirett. Not so easy, Naerumar protests – Sirett already knows they have it, since Barakas’ parents spoke of it at dinner.
    • Ultimately, they manage to come to an accord – Barakas will leave the box with Naerumar, who seems to believe it to be the real item, but Naerumar will hide it in the store’s vault, and tell Sirett that it wasn’t found.
    • Naerumar offers to pay Barakas and his friends one thousand gold for their trouble, but Barakas declines payment until Naerumar has himself been paid for the box. (Not wanting to appear to have ripped off his uncle if the ruse is discovered.)
    • Ciro, meanwhile, having failed to elicit a reaction from Sirett through an escalating series of attempts, suddenly finds his memory of the past hour erased, and his interest in Sirett diminished. He somehow can’t remember anything after dinner.
    • Later on, Ciro sets out from their rooms upstairs to try to spy on Sirett in his own room. He climbs across a balcony to peer in his window, and sees Sirett sitting alone in the room, perfectly motionless, in a chair in the dark.
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Session Eight

Where were we?

Telia and Thorn remain outside.
Naerumar accepts the box as real.

Alston encounters Telia and Thorn in the yard. Is hired by the party.
Amulet of Alertness identified.

The party meets with Grundelmar, a priest of Pelor at Fallcrest’s House of the Sun.
He’s busy, and not willing to spend much time with people who aren’t helping out. He sends the party to bring some grain back from Lowtown.
While in Lowtown, the party is attacked by the local River Rats gang. The River Rats are defeated, but one survivor, a teenage half-elven girl, is brought back to Grundelmar to be cared for.

Grundelmar is now willing to speak with the party.
He doesn’t believe the party at first, but when their descriptions match up with his own memories of the Shadowfell and the Shadar-Kai, he realizes they’re telling the truth.

He tells them that they’ve clearly attracted the attention of someone powerful, who probably won’t quit until satisfied. They need to find out who this is and what they want if they are to have any hope of stopping the attacks.

He suggests that they speak with a mage in Nenlast. When he and Wisara were young adventurers, they guarded a caravan that delivered an obsidian mirror to a mage there. When a few of his cohorts made the mistake of looking into the mirror themselves, they were pulled into a place he believes to have been the shadowfell. Only he and Wisara returned alive. He believes that the mage who now owns this mirror will know more.

The party wants to bring the box with them, but they want to insulate it from scrying during the journey. Grundelmar suggests that Old Nimozoan in the Septarch’s Tower could build such a thing, but he advises that they not tell him what it’s for

The party then heads to the tower of the High Septarch to try to speak with Nimozoan. They manage to secure an audience.

After a protracted negotiation, Nimozoan agrees to build a dampening case for the Box, but wants 2,000gp for the job.
In lieu of the 2,000, he’ll accept an item of equal value from Naerumar, or a sealed promise of payment from House Naerumar.

The party doesn’t have any of these things – they give him 300gp worth of gems as a deposit, and promise to travel to the ruins of Fastormel to retrieve books and a scrying stone from the ruined mage’s tower there.

Nimozoan begins work on the dampener.

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Session Nine

Where were we?

Party warns Naerumar that he needs to get out of town with his whole family. Naerumar agrees to take everybody to Hammerfast.
Sirett has disappeared.

The party retrieves the dampening case from Nimozoan, and heads to the bank to retrieve and encase the Box.

On their way back out of the bank, they are ambushed by small, dark-hooded creatures who disappear when killed.

The characters buy horses for the journey into the wilds.

  • Ciro: Lefty (A pony whose head tilts markedly to the left)
  • Telia: Bop (An unbroken stallion, sold at a discount because the stablemaster believes he can’t be broken)
  • Barakas: Hansl (A white palfrey. Pretty much what you’d expect a bard to ride)
  • Thorn: Cauliflower (Another wild-looking horse, obviously recently caught and untrained)
  • Alston: Fimbulwinter
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Session Ten
Darkness Falls

Rachel’s Notes

The five group members leave Naerumar’s house in Fallcrest toward Nenlast. Several hours into the trip, a commotion at a farm is heard. The commotion is caused by four Half-orcs from Telia’s Iabatha clan, about to storm and raid the place. Through a strange combo of intimidation and diplomacy, the farmhands agree to let the group buy goods for the Half-orcs. The Half-orcs oblige our request to not kill the humans, take our provisions, and join the team temporarily. They are traveling to meet with the Bloodspears, so will part ways when necessary. We agree to pay 60 gp to the farmers as well as fight an ogre for them (this seems ridiculously expensive to me!)

That night, as the snow starts to fall, the group manages to pull an ogre out of the darkness using Lefty as bait. Three more ogres join the party. The strength of the ogres is ridiculous, but all four are eventually taken down with the help of Rangsi, Baidu-ta, and her two hunters.

After looting the ogres’ hovel, we pick up 41 gp, 3 gems worth ~100 gp each, and “plus 2 magic throwing ax”. The next day we split at a fork in the road as they go NW and we go NE.

Darkening wood

As it gets dark out and the snow goes from flurries to still, the group hears howling and Telia notices there are humanoid forms appearing in the falling snowflakes. Suddenly a wolf appears and looks at each person. Mist rising from the melting snow takes shape. Then the wolf does a soul-curdling howl, and bloodies almost all of the party in one hit. Two spectres come out of the dark to attack. The “waver” knocks out Barakas. In his unconscious state, one on one with the waver, Barakas manages to misdirect him with a bluff that his Uncle Naerumar has the box and is hiding in the Harkenwold. The three enemies disappear.

For fear of instant death by Raven Queen lackies, the group must travel straight through the night and all through the next day to Nenlast. A dark tower in the small city leads to Balthias, the mage. He inspects the box, undead pour out of the box into the holding bubble, and then discovers a black arrow with a stone head, maybe obsidian. He then informs the group of the “limited lifetimes”. The call of the Raven Queen must be answered, so the group must go to the Shadowfell to visit her to get the curse removed. The box seems to have some tie to the Raven Queen, obviously. Apparently Baltias doesn’t want payment for his help, he seems to only want information from how to stave off baddies from the Shadowfell. Alston gets a +2 wand of wonder. Then, via a portal mirror method, all make it into the Shadowfell. For Thorn it is the same as in the dream. (Apparently while in the dream, it was also somehow in the Shadowfell.) Now in the Shadowfell everyone follows the “falling stars” which are just souls going to the Raven Queen.

Kmack’s Notes

Where were we?

  • Returning to the game after long hiatus.
  • The party has just bought horses and equipped itself for a journey to the ruins of Fastormel to retrieve a scrying stone for Nimozoan, as payment for the damping case he constructed for the Box.

Adventure Log

  • Party sets out from the Wizard’s Gate, in Fallcrest’s east wall, into the wilds.
  • After a half-day’s journey through overgrown farmlands, they hear a commotion.
    • Telia recognizes the sounds as orcish military commands, and recognizes the dialect of her home clan, the Ayubatha.
  • The party approaches and parlays with the orcs, who turn out to be refugees from a massacre in Telia’s homelands by hobgoblins from Daggerburg.
    • The orcs are about to raid a farmhouse.
    • The party negotiates to buy the supplies the orcs need for them if they’ll spare the farmers.
    • After a protracted negotiation with the leader of the Orc band, a half-orc female named Rangsi, and with the farmer and his wife, an agreement is reached.
  • Among the terms of the agreement, the party agrees to clear out an ogre that has taken up residence in an abandoned farmhouse nearby.
    • They decide to try to lure the ogre out into the open by using Ciro’s pony as bait, and by cooking meat over an open fire.
    • The lure works, and shortly after dusk has fallen, the hulking form of an ogre appears at the edge of a harvested field.
    • It turns out that, instead of a single ogre, this is a band of four. After a brutal fight during which Telia is knocked unconscious, the ogres are defeated, with some help near the end by Rangsi’s band.
    • Scouting the ogre’s lair, the party finds 41gp worth of assorted coins, 3 gems worth 100gp, and a particularly nice Seeker Throwing Axe +2.
  • The following day, the party sets out freshly rested and with fresh provisions for the town of Nenlast, at the eastern edge of Lake Nen. (Fastormel can wait until they’re ready to return to Fallcrest.)
  • Rangsi’s band travels with the party until they reach a fork in the road. The orcs are headed northwest toward the holdfast of the Bloodspear Clan, while the party must head eastward to Nenlast.
  • Not long after they’ve parted ways, Telia becomes aware that she’s seeing humanoid forms outlined in the drifting snow out of the corner of her eye, but they’re not there when she looks directly.
  • They continue on warily, set on edge by the distant sound of a hound’s howl.
  • Thorn suddenly becomes aware of the form of a hound on a rock outcropping in front of them, watching them.
  • A moment later, it’s directly in front of them, seemingly looking directly into the eyes of each party member at once.
  • Then it howls, bloodying half the party in a single blow.
  • From the trees, a wraith appears, then another. As the first approaches, its thoughts invade the minds of the party members, dealing further psychic damage.
  • The second wraith approaches Barakas and whispers to him, “where is it?”
    • Barakas refuses to answer, and the wraith cuts him down with a single blow.
    • Barakas falls unconscious, and suddenly everyone else is gone. Only he and the wraith remain. Again, the wraith asks him where it is. He tries to lie, and the wraith twists the blade. He lies again, telling the wraith that the box is in the Harkenwold, and the wraith disappears with the others.
  • The party manages to revive Barakas and they decide to travel without resting toward Nenlast.
    • They journey through three brutal days without rest or sleep, and with only what food they could consume on horseback, but they manage to make it to the tiny village of Nenlast.
  • There they find the tower of the wizard they’d been sent to find and gain entrance.
  • They tell him about their travels and show him the box. He realizes quickly that this is an item of great power, and agrees with Alston’s suggestion that it has something to do with the Raven Queen.
  • The hound’s howl, the wizard explains, is a summons from the Raven Queen, which ordinarily causes the death of one so cursed. They may answer the summons in another way, however, by using the portal Grundelmar had told them about to cross into the Shadowfell.
  • The wizard loans a +2 wand of wonder to Alston for the journey, and after a feast and a good night’s sleep, the party passes through the portal into the Shadowfell.
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Session Eleven
Into the Dark

I lwiy

Rachel’s Notes

Having arrived in the Shadowfell, everyone begins following the “shooting star” souls through the land. After a good bit of walking in a damp cold, not knowing the time of day, Telia notices that the lands are changing and shifting. After some time they come upon a cozy looking farm house, and it would appear they are turnip farmers. Though the house looks like it was recently inhabited due to the fact it is lit up, food is cooking, and a fire is going, it would seem no one is inside. Ciro gingerly tests the door but it doesn’t open freely. Soon after trying again, slightly more forcefully, he sticks his head in the door and says, “Hello?” to no answer.

Meanwhile, Alston and Thorn examine the turnips while Barakas tries to intimidate the source of this now worrisome house. Alston suddenly falls asleep, crumpling in the doorway. Telia picks him up and runs back, far away from the house. Barakas shoots fiery arrows at the roof and window but neither set the house ablaze. All realize this house is dangerous, but noticing the doll in the rocking chair at the center of the room is the tipping point for all to bolt. Traveling away from the house, over the crest of a hill, Telia spots another identical house. It is the same house, the land had changed around them to lead them to the same place. Finally the group successfully wakes Alston who then uses a super-fire spell to engulf the house while using his magic mage hand to extract the doll. As the doll passes through the threshold, her body turns into that of an infant corpse. Suddenly, the image of corpses litters the yard while the house turns into a heap of rubble.

A terrible zombie fight ensues, complete with a half-orc zombie, a few girl zombies, and one giant zombie. Oh and of course the golden squirrel of doom. Though Thorn goes unconscious and Telia is nearly drug into the house while zombies feast on her, the team manages to win, burn the zombie bodies, and make a pathetic camp in the woods while picking up 84gp and a nice pendant from the ruins of the house worth 250gp. While Ciro is on watch, he notices moving Shadows. These are again noticed by Thorn during her watch.

The next day, Barakas is “trembling”, Ciro is “delusional”, and Telia is “sluggish”. Not too far into the journey, the path leads to a river next to a ravine. It would seem the river must be crossed, which is immediately impeded by Thorn’s immediate drowning. Telia saves her but then both get pulled under. Thankfully Alston’s nimble moves halt the ladies’ movement long enough for Telia to regain her footing and ability to pull the two of them back. A second attempt used Telia’s athleticism and Ciro’s acrobatics to hammer throw him to the other side while attached to a rope. All manage to safely cross except for Barakas who takes 6 damage as he’s pulled to the other side. All save against their “negative trait” and gain a boon.

Now safely on the other side, the Shadows from the previous night increase in number. No amount of diplomacy or intimidation work, so Alston throws a magic missile at one. Multiple shadows come out of the forest and attack the group by ensnaring themselves in the shadow of the victim. Through focused teamwork, each shadow is extracted from the victim and dispatched. Three Shadow Stalker “corpses” become valuable crystal things worth 100gp each.

Finally, exhausted, the team continue through the woods, Barakas takes on an “indomitable spirit” and Alston becomes “jealous”. As the trees thin out, a road appears with a solitary figure in grey robes. Barakas diplomatically deals with the man. Though he is probably not trustworthy, he appears to be a follower of the Raven Queen and says he can take us to her safely. First we must take a ring of his being held at a monastery. We hesitatingly agree. Following the agreement, he holds out his hand to Barakas who then transports all of them to said monastery.

Kmack’s Notes

  • The party journeys through a sullen, dark forest beneath a dimly glowing orb that might be sun or moon. It’s difficult to tell whether this is day or night.
  • They become aware that something seems to be moving in the shadows here, but can’t make out what it is.
A Cabin in the Woods
  • Cresting a low rise in the forest, they come across an incongruously cozy cottage – a tiny turnip farm.
  • A warm light shines through the cottage windows, and smoke rises from the chimney.
  • House is empty, except for an elaborate child’s doll sitting in a chair by the fireplace.
  • A cauldron of soup bubbles over the fire, smelling wonderfully of comfort and home.
  • And everyone is so sleepy.
  • Alston suspects an illusion and attempts to disbelieve it. When he does this, the walls of the cabin darken and shimmer before flickering back into place. He fires a magic missile at the wall to test it further. It appears to burst almost as it should, but not quite exactly right, as though someone were trying to create the impression of a convincingly ordinary impact, and not quite getting it right. He examines one of the turnips, but can’t find anything unusual about it.
  • After further examination and a few unsuccessful attempts to burn down the house, the party, suspecting a trap, moves on, but when they crest another hill in this seemingly endless forest, there’s the cabin again.
  • Alston fires a flame blast into the cottage, and it catches fire – everything but the doll. He reaches out with a mage hand to try to move the doll, and as he does, the illusion starts to collapse. The doll looks more and more like a baby’s dessicated corpse, and the cabin walls begin to fade. The turnip patch surrounding the house is a charnal pit, filled with the mummified remains of countless past victims.
  • They’re moving.
  • One by one, the corpses struggle to their feet, and soon the party finds itself surrounded by reeking, shambling zombies seemingly marshaled by a spectral being in the ruins of the house.
  • After a brutal fight, they manage to defeat the zombies and their spectral controller, and break free of the trap.
  • They burn the remaining corpses, then move on to camp in the woods.
Keeping Watch
  • As the party tries to get some rest, Ciro, on watch, becomes aware that a few of the nearby trees are casting shadows that don’t quite line up with the trees themselves, and that these shadows move when they seem to think he’s not looking.
  • He points it out to Thorn, who sees them as well, but nothing makes a threatening move.
  • The party decides to break camp hastily and keep moving on.
A Difficult Crossing
  • Soon, the party becomes aware of the sound of rushing water somewhere ahead.
  • Telia, meanwhile, realizes that none of the usual sounds of a forest are present here – no birds, no insects, nothing but the sighing wind and the creaking trees.
  • Soon, they find themselves at the edge of a ravine, through which tumbles a river about twenty feet wide, surging over rocky rapids.
  • Their path leads across these rapids, and Thorn makes the first attempt to ford them, but loses her footing and would have been swept away had it not been for Telia’s fast move to rescue her and brace them both against the rocks.
  • When Telia tries to ford the remaining distance, however, she slips, and suddenly the two of them are swept into the surging current.
  • They manage to keep hold of the rope, but up on the shore, the three men are faring poorly with their end of the bargain.
  • Barakas and Ciro lose their grip on the rope, leaving only the tiny gnome, Alston, to arrest its movement. Weighing only fifty pounds as he does, however, he isn’t able to slow it much.
  • The little he’s able to do, at least, is just enough to buy Telia time to regain her purchase and brace against another set of rocks on the near side of the stream. She and Thorn climb back up the ravine wall and rejoin the party.
  • The next plan is to hammer-toss the goblin to the far side.
  • Telia grabs Ciro by the feet, swings him around and releases him with a powerful throw.
  • Against all probability, it works, and Ciro lands without injury on the far side and is able to secure the rope.
  • Barakas is injured in the crossing, but everyone else makes it across safely.
  • Just in time to notice the strange shadows behind the trees here.
Stalking Shadows
  • The party contemplates these shadows, mismatched from the trees supposedly casting them, until Alston decides to solve the question once and for all with a magic missile fired into one of them.
  • Sure enough, here they come.
  • The shadows attack by attempting to rake dark claws across their victim’s flesh, merging with the victim’s own shadow when they succeed.
  • Once merged, they attack their host viciously and with deadly accuracy.
  • It’s a tough fight, but the party is able to defeat all six shadows after a time.
Unexpected Aid
  • Exhausted, wounded and bedraggled, the party continues through the forest until they reach its edge and spy a road winding through a clear valley below.
  • A hooded man walks alone on the road, holding a lit lantern before him.
  • Barakas greets him, and the hooded man immediately recognizes the party members as living beings, still possessed of their souls.
  • He offers to bring the party safely to Letherna if they will retrieve an item for him from a mountainside monastery in the area.
  • The party agrees, and suddenly the five adventurers find themselves in the mountains, looking at a stone building complex carved into the side of a nearby crag. Their destination, according to the hooded man.
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