Jewel of the North

Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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session 1
Pots and Pans

Signed on as guards for the trader Burran Moor, the party meander north along the Sword Coast, all its number either escaping a past or seeking a future, all bound for the ruined city of Neverwinter, once the Jewel of the North, now a city looking for heroes to rebuild its former glory.

Their employer is engaged on an odd trading mission. He is buying up high quality domestic items crafted in Neverwinter before the Cataclysm – the eruption of Mount Hotenow that almost wiped it off the face of Faerun – and then taking them back to the city.

Just short of their destination the party is ambushed by raiders. The villains are unconcerned with the trader’s goods and more interested in taking the three half elves who had joined the caravan guard at Waterdeep, all of them keen to head north.

Unwilling to abandon their new colleagues, the rest of the party take on the ambushers. The fight almost goes against them when their employer reveals his true nature – a poisonous wererat, and part of the plot to take the half-elves. The battle is desperate until turned by the intervention of a berserk barbarian who wades into the bowmen who had been close to taking a serious toll.

Even with victory, Danforth seems to have been infected by one of the rats. Both he and Malus search the wererat’s body and the wagon.

The one archer who escaped, along with a nice looking bow of eladrin origin, is intercepted by a patrol of the city guard – squat olive skinned southerners – led by a powerful looking woman – General Sabine. She is both pleased and impressed that these ne’er do wells had been dispatched, identifying them as members of the Dead Rats, a street gang that plagues Neverwinter. She is happy to escort the party to the city, and is particularly interested in Rok Alim’s facial markings. Not all are as impressed as Sabine though, the soldier who had dropped the archer and taken the fine looking bow is heard to comment – “I’d like to see how they’d fight on the wall.”

As to who owns the wagonload of trade goods, well . . .

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Session 2
To Live and Die in Neverwinter

Before continuing on to the city, the party are joined by Kierke’s travelling companion, Lucan, a bladesinger and one of the long-lived eladrin, searching out those responsible for looting the ancient eladrin home of Sharandar, set deep in the great Neverwinter Wood. A quest for justice and vengeance that Lucan was obviously set upon to achieve, born to achieve, in fact, no matter how long it would take, or how many sacrifices he would have to make, because his soul would not rest until he had personally meted out justice to the defilers.

On arrival at the city, escorted by the grateful General Sabine, the party is met at the imposing and ancient Hall of Justice by the city mayor, Soman Galt, who congratulates the heroes on the favour they have done for the city in eliminating members of the Dead Rat Gang. The old but powerful-looking dwarf is less keen on allowing them to keep the goods they had been guarding – although a mixture of well-reasoned argument, agreement to serve the city on the wall and outright brown-nosing at least guarantees the team a share of any proceeds of the sale.

Such unseemly haggling is soon put to an end, however, with the arrival of Dagult Neverember, Open Lord of Waterdeep and Lord Protector of Neverwinter, who immediately awards the goods to the heroes in recognition of their deeds, pays particular and courteous attention to Mani, and then proceeds to monologue with gusto about how they are exactly the sort of people the city needs as he sets about building a New Neverwinter, one that draws inspiration from the past to achieve great future prosperity.

The party learn from Neverember of the particular challenges the city faces: the wall that protects it from the chasm opened up by the cataclysm and from which sallies forth the occasional wave of mindless creatures bent on destruction; the orcs of the Many Arrows tribe that occupies one quarter of the city; the Dead Rat Gang who have exported their brand of Luskan throat cutting to the streets of the city; and the Blacklake district that is proving difficult to enthuse with the New Neverwinter project.

Somewhat overtaken by weariness, the party retire to the Moonstone Mask, as Neverember’s guests, to find the tavern full of Mintarn mercenaries, many of whom have already heard of the party’s martial prowess.

The half-elf landlady, Liset Cheldar makes quite an impression on several members of the party with her ale and pies. A somewhat less favourable impression is made by the halfling trader Cullen Skiprock, who the party suspect of outmanoeuvring them in negotiations for the purchase of the wagonload of old Neverwinter hardware.

Such disappointment at their mercantile naivety is short-lived, as the party’s attention is drawn to the Mintarn mercenaries who are now gathered at the window and looking down at the harbour, standing grim-faced as they study a newly-arrived Mintarn ship. The cargo the vessel is discharging promises some encouragement – more Mintarn men and cages of guard drakes – but such optimism is shattered by the sight of bodies of fallen comrades being loaded on the ship for the return journey to Mintarn and the somewhat particular and closely adhered-to burial rights. The tavern soon has the atmosphere of a teetotal wake.

That is until Talak picks up his lute, stands on a chair and launches into the performance of his life. Recalling ancient Mintarn dirges he has learned from Oghma knows where, Talak lifts the mood with a finely constructed set that moves the Mintarns from crying into their beer to dancing on the tables. The revelry seems set to continue far into the night as the Mintarn grief turns to riotous brotherhood when a peal of bells from the east sets them all reaching for their weapons and rushing out of the tavern. It appears our heroes are about to honour their promise to stand on the wall sooner than they expected.

Sent to a section of the wall at the moment of crisis the party see the fortification is close to breached. Bodies of its defenders litter the street, thrown from the wall by twisted humanoids and ogres who stand atop the rampart, bent on its destruction and that of the undefended city beyond, blue fiery ichor streaming from rents in their torsos.

The heroes throw themselves into the battle for the wall. The creatures keep coming, scrabbling up mounds of rubble and lacerating the party with savage blows. Danforth, close to death, is thrown from the wall, saving himself with a miraculous display of controlled falling with style; Malus’s spells and Mani’s bear spirit at least slow the advance of the monstrosities, Rok Alim alternates between fighting and retching as nausea overtakes him while Talak fires warning shots over an ogre’s head.

Great gouts of blue fire spurting from the monsters’ wounds threaten to overwhelm the heroes until in an act of reckless bravery, Lucan steps through the dimensions to stand toe to toe with the most dangerous brute of all, only to be consumed in a great billow of blue flame as his soul is snuffed out, without time for a dying word.

Spurred on by rage at the death of one who might in time have become the friend of all friends, Kierke lunges at the beast in a wrathful whirl of steel and eviscerates it with one savage blow.

As cheers from a grateful crowd echo along the wall, the heroes stand over the body of their fallen comrade, thinking of acts left undone, songs left unsung, stories unmade, all doing their best to remember his name.

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Session 3
The Big Blue

15 Mirtul, The Year of the Trusted Covenant (1479 DR)

Sore, exhausted and relatively grief stricken the party finds itself knee deep in glowing gore as they survey the aftermath of the battle for the wall. Rejoined by Bohdan, who had fought further along the front, the party witness the last act of the encounter as Mintarn guards let loose the drakes of war upon the plague deformed creatures, now retreating through the rubble to The Chasm beyond.

Congratulated on all sides for their bravery and timely arrival at the breach, both Mintarn and Neverwinterese have nothing but praise for the heroes, if not for each other, as even the uniting force of battle against a common foe does little to ease the tension between the old towners and Neverember’s mercenaries. “What do they care,” says Fenton Wilkes, “it’s not their city, is it?”

Thoughts turn to the appropriate disposal of Lucan’s body, as each member of the party denies knowing him that well really, when a figure appears from nowhere, propelled by grief through the plane of the Feywild, who seems to have something of Lucan’s intense mien. After a brief moment of mourning, he introduces himself as Paelias, an eladrin avenger and brother to the fallen, who commits himself to continue the quest against the defilers of ancient eladrin sites.

Returning to their billet, the party see General Sabine examining her men for evidence of plague wounds, sending the worst affected for treatment at Helm’s Hold, the monastery on the edge of Neverwinter Wood famous throughout Faerun for its research, treatment and tolerance of the plaguechanged and the spellscarred. None of the chosen seem too upset at the break from duty, courtesy of a Silvery.

After a quick ritual burning to return Lucan’s spirit on the winds to Neverwinter Wood, the party retire for a nightcap at the Moonstone Mask to enjoy the last of Neverember’s tab while the landlady coos over Kierke’s overdeveloped swordarm as the story of his specatacuar coup de grace quickly circulates.

And so the first day ends, should all days be so lived. Yet it would seem the adventures continue for the heroes even in the realm of dreams, as each of those exposed to the plaguechanged monstrosities fall victim to unsettling visions.

Rok Alim is dozing beneath a clear blue sky, only to realise he is not looking up at the sky at all, but down, falling down, towards a roiling sea of mad blue fire that pulls and pulls at him until he is consumed by it, unable to breathe, drowning in the insane miasma.

Talak stands in front of a huge audience at spectacular party, the biggest crowd he has ever faced, on the brink of the performance of his career, all the great and the good waiting for him to entrance them – but Talak is silent, lost for words or memory of words. No song comes to his lips and no lute string to his finger. The crowd are first bemused, then unsettled, then angry; a piece of fruit is thrown. But the humiliation is not complete as a human steps from the crowd to take the stage, lute in hand, then launches into an awful populist cover of the Voyage of the Sunseeker, its dreadfully clichéd stanzas of adventures on the Trackless Sea still manage to get the party absolutely rocking. Worst, the bard turns out to be that damned third rate balladeer Brandis Middard, general pia nemesis and sarcy scumbag. Talak, head bowed, slinks from the stage, hastened away by Middard’s triumphant leer.

Malus looks up to find comfort and bliss in a clear night sky lit up by the stars. Never has he seen the constellations so clearly, never has pure and total knowledge seemed so close to comprehension, when, gradually and one by one, the stars disappear. And with the snuffing out of each point of light so Malus’ grasp on the big picture weakens and fails, until knowledge itself becomes but a shadow memory, leaving him only to gaze into a deep black void of less than emptiness.

Mani finds herself in the wood sitting among a circle of elves, fellow spirit guides drawing their life force from the abundant natural energies that surround them. She is accepted and safe as the elven spirit companions weave and spin and dance around their contented masters, deer and panthers and brown furry squirrels, until Mani’s bear spirit raises its head and roars a great bloodcurdling bellow before launching right into one, tearing into the spirits with razor teeth and sharpened claws, ripping and biting and crushing, savaging all before it. Mani is left, bereft and shunned, as the elves turn their back on her, excluding her from the circle, leaving her only to taste their malevolent scorn.

Bodahn can see nothing, he is blind perhaps, or blindfolded, or trapped in a lightless space, unable to move. He is paralysed by bedwetting fear. He can hear, though. A flapping. The sound of great reptilian wings getting louder and louder until he can bear it no longer. Then comes the light, and the sight, the bulk of a great green dragon filling his view. Now he can move, so move he does, filled with rage overflowing, anger taking hold of him, reason deserting him. Murderous, furious, boiling emotion negating all control as he stabs and slashes and cuts while the dragon unlooses scream after scream that echo through time. And there is no comfort this time, no platinum scaly sheen to cool his acid burning mind. It is forever lost.

Paelias gets a good night in, mind.

A hearty breakfast does something to ease the burdened minds of the party, made easier still by a showering of gifts from the grateful. First Talak is approached by the doughty Mintarn lieutenant Borya Vilovic, who tells the tiefling that the lads had been so affected by his performance in the bar the previous night that they’d had a whipround and come up with suitable gift, a traditional charm crafted from flakes of an anchor from a Mintarn ship. Vilovic also offers up the opportunity to join his squad for an afternoon rat hunt, as the Mintarns hope to press the advantage against the Dead Rat Gang, opened up by the foiled ambush of the day before.

The party are summoned to the Hall of Justice, expecting only coin for their endeavours on the wall. On their way Bodahn is gratified to see priests of Torm about the place, and also to identify the beautifully Spartan and unassuming temple to Bahamut on the Avenue of Kings. The heroes arrive at Neverember’s court to interrupt an argument between Soman Galt, General Sabine and Neverember himself, as Galt tears a strip off Sabine for the loss of the drakes, so pointlessly wasted by the men who let them loose from the wall. “500 gp each and they’re set on the plaguechanged? Once they’re retreating? For Moradin’s sake, they only arrived yesterday, they weren’t even properly trained. We’re not made of money, you know. The city can’t stand much more taxation.”

“Well, the garrison enjoyed it,” replies Sabine, “and there was sod all else to enjoy on the wall last night.”

The arrival of the heroes halts the argument as Neverember welcomes them. In addition to the payment for their night’s work, he presents them with two longswords forged in Waterdeep for the defenders of that great city, along with his renewed thanks for their presence and their support. He is open with Talak about the challenges he faces in imposing order in the city, and agrees that the Sons of Alagondar are one such problem to overcome – lots of mailed fist in a velvet glove sort of stuff, followed by the heavy is the head that wears the crown speech, or doesn’t actually wear it in his case.

Sabine is happy to encourage the party to join in the rat hunt but it appears the heroes are set on a far more perilous course. Haunted by their dreams, by the horrors of the night before and by simple a desire to play with fire, the heroes decide to investigate the chasm.

“The chasm! Are you mad? That place could swallow an army whole.” Says Sabine

“The chasm! Are you mad? So few return from that place.” Says Galt

“The chasm! Are you mad? When you have only just got here.” Says Neverember

“The chasm! Are you mad?” says pretty much everyone else they come up against.

‘The Rats can wait’, the heroes reply, ‘Anyway, it’s only just over there. Just want to take a look, that’s all.’

  • * *

After some light shopping the party find themselves at the lower door of Neverdeath tower, the guard making all sorts of good luck signs with his hands while shaking his head as he opens it to reveal the rubble strewn landscape beyond.

Threading their way through the ruins, the party approach the nearest lip of the great gash that splits the heart of the city like a swordstroke. Waves of dried heat and dust billow up and around them, a penumbra of glowing blue light above. More threatening are the dozens of winged things that hover about the place, neither advancing nor retreating, heads slowly scanning the debris of the ruined quarter of the city. Between the chasm lip and the party, Malus spots a sinkhole that seems to offer an alternative route to their objective. Unfortunately one of the creatures, identified as some form of plaguechanged harpy, spots them and attacks, strafing Malus with its claws before the heroes manage to gain the safety of the opening into the ground.

The opening leads into a tunnel of sorts, obviously opened up by the cataclysm and that indeed seems to lead towards the chasm, the air around them heated and sulphurous. Scratching sounds in the walls and flickers of blue light ahead draw the party on into a large cavern, where they find out what happened to some of the drakes loosed by the guards the night before, although by the look of them they are unlikely to return to Neverember’s service.

Glistening with the flickering azure of spellplague the drakes stand their ground, until one of the party decides to pre-empt any danger by launching an attack.

In minutes the party are engaged in a furious melee – plaguechanged drakes spitting acid and growing blisters of blue fire that burst to leave smears of residuum; swarms of vile blue miniature replicas of the cursed beasts biting and clawing at Bodahn and Rok Alim, and the more straightforward snarl of the guard drakes as they leap at the heroes and bite at their necks with an unfamiliar rage.

Then, as the party fight their way further into the cave, the discovery of a pool of the nightmare stuff and yet another warped drake, larger than the others, looking hungry . . .

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Session 4

Identity Crisis

16 Mirtul, The Year of the Trusted Covenant (1479 DR)

Committed to a battle to the death with the drakes – once pets of the Mintarn garrison but now transformed into savage plaguechanged creatures – each hero moves forward into the melee: Rok Alim, Bohdan, Paelias and Mani’s bear spirit trade blows with claw and gobbed acid spit, while Malus weaves a web of eldritch fire and Talak alternates between rousing his comrades and loosing stinging shots from his bow.

Indeed, the heat of the fight, the pulsing blue light licking around the edges of his vision and the morale-sapping nightmares of the night before appears to have forged a hardness within the bard’s soul, as his attitude towards his longbow takes a more deadly turn. No longer is it an instrument of beguiling grace in Talak’s hands, but one of cold martial power – on a good day.

* * *

It does not seem a good day to Danforth. Already suffering the creeping sores of filth fever which suppurate over his nether regions, he also has to endure the intrusion of visions unbidden into his dreamworld.

He is in a steaming kitchen, stripped to the waist, stinking of cabbage and sweating with the labour of peeling spud upon spud – after which task he meekly walks the corridors and stairwells of the vast mansion, cleaning every toilet – and there are many toilets – with his bare hands. There is no rest, and he eats only slops from the bins after the lords, ladies, children, servants and dogs have had their fill. No one greets him or encourages him or congratulates him on his work. Most particularly he is ignored by the master of the house – Ranwick – Danforth’s brother.

Left to sleep in at the Moonstone Mask by his comrades, Danforth awakes, determined to escape the weight of his family issues. Pursuing the heroes is not the hardest trail he has ever had to follow, needing only to walk from one incredulous conversation between townspeople to another as they gasp as one – “Those mad bugger mates of yours have gone to the chasm.”

Danforth soon counts himself one of the mad, as he finds his way to a dark tunnel entrance guarded by the same saw-toothed harpy that had earlier raked the party. But there were six of them, while Danforth stands alone, and not feeling too chipper.

* * *

The drakes continue to fight in a coordinated defence of the cavern and the pool. The tactics they use raise Mani’s suspicions, the shaman’s knowledge of the animal kingdom revealing these creatures are fighting far too intelligently – even trained drakes could not behave in such a disciplined fashion. This fear is more than justified when the largest of them advances forward into the fray, its leathery skin striated with glowing blue veins as he snarls, “More,”clearly in the human tongue of Faerun.

A talking drake, a bit of a surprise, and one which shows little concern for the vicious warning shots from Talak’s bow that fly over its head or the fire flashes from the warlock’s hands that writhe around it as it lunges forward, jaws and claws working together in its search for exposed flesh and fresh blood.

* * *

Unlike the fevered Danforth, Kierke has a different sort of affliction to explain his sleep-in.

From admiring his biceps to admiring various other parts of his anatomy, Liset Cheldar reveals a predilection for strong-armed barbarians. It is not long before Kierke decides to sacrifice a night of recuperation in favour of justifying the name of his clan – Thunderbeast – and its hard-won reputation for breeding gentle and sensitive lovers . . . hard won amongst the orcs, at least.

Yet even the considerable charms and prowess of the half-elf cannot save Kierke from the fate of the night as he too, eventually, falls into the same troubled dreamworld as his companions.

He stands united with his clan at Morgur’s Mound, the sacred site of his ancestors and the tribe’s spiritual home. All is well until suddenly the ancient hill begins to bleed. Gallons of heartblood gush from the earth while the elders of his tribe scream madness at this vile desecration. After what seems an agony of time the mound, drained of power, collapses in on itself in a mess of muck and blood while Kierke’s brothers and sisters are savaged by a pack of ravenous wolves that spring from the darkness. The vicious creatures fall upon the defenceless, who seem so resigned to their fate they put up no fight, their spirit spent, leaving Kierke cold and alone in a black-charred and cold-dead wood.

Exhausted, Kierke awakes. His soul heavy with dream-grief he refuses a further dalliance with Cheldar and follows the same path as Danforth, spying him from atop a rubble rise as the ranger nimbly sneaks past the harpy and into the sinkhole unnoticed. At first, Kierke tries to emulate his fleet-footed companion, but eventually settles for a more Uthgardti approach as he charges as fast as he can to the hole before the harpy has a chance to realise that lunch has passed it by, again.

* * *

Strange deep booms echo in the chamber, sometimes faint, sometimes loud, with no discernible rhythm. The sound is coming from behind the pool still defended by the drakes, several of which now lie dead, valuable residuum leaking from their blistering wounds. Mani spots another tunnel behind the elevated area guarded by the beasts, leading away from the cave in the direction of the chasm. Above the din of the fight when the occasional pause occurs a faint scratching can still be heard from above the ceiling of the cavern. Combined with the swirling light from the sunrod grasped by Rok Alim the scene resembles the Dance of the Endless Drum, without the smiling.

Although depleted, the drakes remain a threat, gaining power from where other drakes had fallen. The pool is also a danger, as it spears the occasional spout of foul fluid at the party, powerful enough to dump Bodahn on his tail.

Danforth soon wishes he stayed in bed when he arrives with blades in hand, only to take a searing blow from the leading drake that puts him down. But the ranger continues to prove he is at his best when at his most vulnerable as some rousing words from Talak and Mani raise him from the floor and launch him into a deadly strike against the most dangerous of the lizards, slicing it in half before it has a chance to let forth again with its obscene and disturbing voice.

Somewhat spent, Kierke finally arrives as the encounter comes to a close, leaving only the strange scratching to decipher, the tunnel to be explored and the dripping residuum to harvest.

The odd sounds soon reveal themselves, as a portion of the cavern roof collapses in a cloud of dust while a legion of giant ants crawl out of the hole they have made, flanked by bloodsucking stirges that hover over the heroes, looking for a mark.

Abandoning the effort to recover the residuum, the party make a line for the newly discovered tunnel, drawn on by the strange echoing sounds and preferring not to engage another set of weird blue-warped creatures. Only Rok Alim seems reluctant to leave. His whole essence is drawn to the pool of spellplague in the corner. He stares into the shallow puddle as if it had some fathomless depth that might hold an answer to his questing spirit. But giant ants is giant ants whatever way you slice them, and he too follows the party down the tunnel.

The lava tube twists and turns for a few hundred yards, sloping down and heading towards the echoes that reverberate around the companions. An end is reached. The tunnel is blocked by lumps of stone placed with some deliberation to seal the way from the chasm to the outside world. The top stones can be moved, however, and with a bit of grunt work the party are soon through to descend upon a wide ledge that looks out over the chasm, now bathed in the daylight of the Neverwinter afternoon.

Before approaching the edge of the plateau to look down into the chasm’s maw, first the party discover the reason a few of the blocks were loose. A human figure lies face down, dead, probably for months, preserved by the dessicative heat of the chasm. His skull caved in by some clubbing blow, it seems the victim had been trying to get through to the tunnel before he met his end. It’s not long before Danforth has the boots off him – a nice pair of climbing shoes that obviously were not quite fast enough for their previous owner.

But for Talak there is a discovery more profound than mere loot. As the body is turned over for further rifling, the tattered shirt falls open to reveal a tattoo on his chest, applied with some artistry. Three triangles, apex to apex, contained within a fourth such shape. While the sign is a mystery to most of the heroes, Talak can do little to hide his shock at the sign of the one who has cursed him and his race, the one who many ignorant farmhands would believe the bard in league with, the one whose blood makes up a part of all tieflings since the fall of their kind in the desperate conjoining with devils in ages past. Asmodeus, Lord of the Nine Hells, whose thirst for power is so strong that even becoming a god does not quench it, and which leave his numerous followers, the Ashmadai, a powerful and evil force in the mortal world.

For the rest of the party the shock is delayed until their journey to the lip of the plateau. Overhead, squadrons of Harpies weave and whirl in the thermal updraughts from the chasm, while below the source of the booming crashes is identified. Earthmotes, all travelling at different speeds, banging around the chasm sides like speared boars in the sticking ring. Also below, to the northeast, the party can just about detect a glow of blue light coming from what must be the base of the chasm, hundreds of feet down. Finally, bursts of crackling energy occasionally pulse up from those same depths, forming into balls of blue fire before exploding against the chasm walls.

Looking across the chasm to the opposite wall, the party see such a globe, and more besides. Within the crackling orb is a humanoid figure. Rising up, up and up, until the bubble explodes against the chasm side, leaving the figure clinging to the cliff. It is still at first, but then begins to climb to a plateau similar to the one upon which the party crouch, some 300 yards distant. The figure stops, stands tall and still, and waits.

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Session 5

I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass

16-17 Mirtul, The Year of the Trusted Covenant (1479 DR)

With the column of giant ants behind, the vertiginous chasm below and a corpse beneath the feet to remind the party of their parlous position, our heroes press on in their inimitable fashion. Spooling out lengths of rope they descend the steepening cliff face, pausing at the occasional terrace to rest and to guess at the pattern of blasts of superheated air belched from below that threaten to knock them from their tenuous hold on things.

To the northeast the pulsing glow continues to attract the attention of the keen-eyed, while directly below the approaching floor of the gorge seems densely speckled in pinpricks of mirror flashed blue light.

The climb becomes tougher as even Danforth struggles to grip the surface of the wall, that has moved from firm volcanic rock to something almost spongy and loose and soaked by the moisture heavy atmosphere.

The source of the twinkling light below becomes clearer as the party scramble and scrabble their way down to the floor, correctly guessing the pattern of the blasts of charged air, but occasionally losing their footing on the cliffs. It seems this part of the chasm is covered in a dense cluster of blue glass-like extrusions, like a forest of brittle trees. Finally reaching terra firma the party realise they can see nothing at all, as they weave amongst these strange formations like a traverse of the Mirror Palace of Farngold.

Keeping close to the chasm wall, the party inch their way slowly northeast, towards the source of the blue light. Brief musical interludes of wind-chime tinklings punctuate the journey, which might be relaxing had not the source of such sounds be so mysterious.

Exhausted, and now unaided by the light of the mortal world which seems so distant as night falls over Neverwinter, the party decide to make camp and attempt to regain their composure before the further trials of the hard path they have set themselves upon.

Unfortunately, such respite from the horrors of the day do not come, as all are yet again beset by nightmares, and, on waking, kept awake and fearful by the continuing sounds of glass on glass that seem to come from all over the forest, but often much closer than before.

The disturbing dream visions take on the dark narratives of the previous night, propelling each of the heroes deeper into the maze of their black demesnes.

For Mani, not only has she lost all hope of acceptance by her elven half-kin, but as she looks around the dark forest, she realises she has lost her bear companion as well, leaving her completely and utterly alone and despairing.

As Danforth finishes his degrading chores he looks into a mirror, only to see his brother’s face staring back, as Danforth lifts a dagger and plunges it into his own chest.

Rok Alim continues his descent into the blue mist, to land on some sort of plain. Around him he can see the bodies of his dead parents, maimed and distorted, while above him stands his tutor, a smile on his face that expands into a peal of cruel laughter.

For Bohdan his elemental rage and fury at the green dragon shows no sign of diminishing, particularly when his senses clear enough to enable him to look down and to realise that the green reptilian skin that has raised his ire is, in fact, his own.

For Malus the sight of the night sky blackening becomes more sinister with the realisation that the stars are not blinking out, but are in fact obstructed, by some great dark tentacled horror that fills the sky with its vast impossible bulk.

As for the bard, the story he can never tell continues. After losing his voice and his ability to play, Talak is thrown outside the vast auditorium he was shamed to leave the stage of, with nothing to do but listen to the crowd cheering at his rival Brandis’ songs and laughing at his jokes. Even these sounds begin to lessen as he is slowly pulled away from the gaudily-lit place of entertainments, on his own, out in the darkness, where he’s not sure if it’s the black night he’s drawn into, or the light-choking solidarity of the very earth itself. Down and down he goes, and further still, until all is black and silent, and hopeless. Slowly, his remaining sense of sight picks up on a pin-prick of red light in the void. It grows, and a lake of red fire slowly hoves into view. Always growing in intensity and heat, the inferno comes closer and closer until all is blinding flame and searing heat, white-hot agony consuming everything, suddenly starting Talak from sleep back into the waking world.
A waking world that is not much better than the one he has just left, as the party rouse themselves from a doze that has not refreshed them at all as they lumber on through the glass forest, taking cuts and abrasions with every false step.

At last, the chasm floor begins to clear and the way forward is eased. But such freedom comes at a cost, as the party finally face the source of the mysterious brittle sounds. A cluster of scorpion-like creatures face them across the clearing, their skin formed of the same blue glass of the forest, their claws razor sharp and a single long proboscis extending from their heads that is topped with a vicious stabling point. The telltale tinkling of what must be similar creatures come from the thick terrain behind them.

Rightly afraid of the prospect of being surrounded, the party charge forward in an attempt to break through the ring, only to find that smaller creatures of similar lineage spring from the few trees left in the clearing, slicing and dicing as they land among the party.

Again these plaguechanged creatures have a nasty habit of exploding as they die, sending clouds of razor glass through the heroes.

The battle is savage and the party are close to being overwhelmed when more of the strange creatures arrive from the forest. But eventually the pack is beaten back and the party can trudge on, exhausted, nauseous and crazed at the prospect of facing the source of that that strange blue light.

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Session 6

The Only Way Is Up

17 Mirtul, The Year of the Trusted Covenant (1479 DR)

Exhausted, haunted and quite possibly still hunted by packs of brittle blue scorpions, the heroes have to decide whether to trudge on towards the pulsing light ahead, or to retreat while they can and start the arduous climb up the chasm wall.

Unable to resist the lure of knowledge, Malus leads a faction ahead, while Danforth and Rok Alim start scouting for safe pitches up the hazardous rock face.

It is not long before the source of the light is discovered among the twisted grey and black spirals rock – a giant crystal, at least 30 yards in diameter, held aloft above a dark cavern. The crystal glows bright blue in the centre of the sickening and invisible psychological stench of spellplague that courses through all who stand or crawl in the area. It is a construction beyond the arcane knowledge of the party, although its power is undeniable.

Movement is spotted to the side of the strange cavern. a tall, loathsome foulspawn, not unlike the savage creature put down on the wall to such great effect by the Uthgardti stallion two days and a lifetime ago. He carries under his arms slabs of mangled flesh from an unidentifiable source.

Deciding this might involve a fight too far the party retreat to the rope with their hard-gained knowledge.

But the escape is not that simple. Just as the party attempt the climb, more scorpions emerge from the glass forest and attack, firing shards of deadly glass and presenting the threat of an explosive end that threatens to overwhelm the party.

Bohdan’s charge, Mani’s bear and Malus’s blasts of eldritch fire hold off disaster as eventually the party climb to safety, lacerated with daggers of glass, Danforth hurling stones and Rok Alim finally hauling Malus out of the scorpions’ range.

From the ledge the party get a further sight of the giant crystal, its size undiminished by this elevated view, which also reveals an entire colony of foulspawn haunting the shadows below it.
Finally reunited with Kierke, who had loyally guarded the party’s escape route despite the promise that awaits him in the Moonstone Mask, the party discover the trove of residdum is gone, snaffled up by the column of ants.

All that remains between the party and the walls of the Protector’s Enclave is the harpy, still flapping and cackling outside the cavern entrance.

The race to the wall is on, accompanied by the excited drumming on the shields of the Mintarn mercenaries patrolling the wall and cheering the heroes on. No one flees with greater bravery and panache than Bodahn and Danforth, who are practically over the wall before looking back to see their comrades put an end to the winged horror’s crazed laughter.

And so the heroes reach the relative safety of the city, surrounded by the admiring and the astonished, scarred but strengthened by their experience, and desperate for a good night’s kip.

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Session 7

Pillow Talk

17- 19 Mirtul, The Year of the Trusted Covenant (1479 DR)

Finally back in the comfort of the Protector’s Enclave after their various near-death experiences in chasm, the party are feted by the common soldiery, albeit at a distance, for fear they might have picked up more than just a bit of knowledge on their excursions. Summoned to an audience with the Mayor, the party outline their discoveries.

Admiring of their bravery, and yet somewhat bewildered by their recklessness, Soman Galt is keen for the heroes to share their knowledge with the scholars and priests resident at the monastery of Helm’s Hold, in the hope that the exploration might yield some more clues in finding a method to combat the menace. Although the party are not the mayor’s to command, Galt makes it clear that such a visit will have some benefit in healing the psychological scars inflicted by such close contact with the spellplague.

The mayor seems somewhat reticent in committing support for another expedition into the chasm to face the tribe of plaguechanged monstrosities seen inhabiting the space beneath the great crystal. In defending his lack of derring do, he treats the party to a lesson in the realpolitik that guides the administration’s approach to moulding New Neverwinter. Priority one, states the mayor, is to bring the Blacklake district into line, then the tricky situation with the Many-Arrows orcs in the Northeast quadrant needs to be resolved, only then can the chasm issue be addressed. For the moment, there is not enough manpower, not enough knowledge, and not enough will to attack the depths of the city when so much still needs to be sorted out on its surface level.

The interview with the mayor becomes a bit of a history lesson, as Malus also recalls the complex series of negotiations a century ago which led to the historic treaty between the dwarven citadel of Mithral Hall and the orc tribes united under the original King Obould, which has seen a relatively stable and unprecedented peace, and continues under the present orc king, Obould XVII.

This greater reality puts the administration of Neverwinter in a bit of a bind regarding the orc settlement in the city. At the moment there is no official recognition of the orc holdings as belonging to the Many-Arrows kingdom, and it would be a disaster for the city if such a claim were made. Any action against the orcs, however, could put a strain on the treaty if it was interpreted as a direct act of aggression against Obould. In the meantime, the orcs keep to themselves and do a good job of putting down any vile incursions from the chasm that get across the river, while a neutral meeting ground has been established in the orc quarter where discussions can take place beween Neverember’s court and the orc leaders.

It is this situation, and the continued trouble in establishing Neverember’s right to rule in the face of opposition from some misguided Old Neverwinter factions, which take up most of administration’s attention span. Although that is not to say that a victory against the chasm would not be a great fillip for the city.

This long and somewhat dry exposition on city politics sees some members of the party beginning to nod off, and the thought of a bit of R&R in Helm’s Hold becomes much more attractive, a proposition sweetened by Galt’s offer of payment to escort the pay wagon to Dunfield, the leader of the Mintarn garrison at the monastery town.

The idea of some form of treatment that might ease the recurring nightmares that afflict the party is also welcome, as they all continue to struggle with disturbed sleep patterns and Danforth’s boils of filth fever.

For Mani, there might be other reasons to leave the city for a while, as Liset takes her aside to warn her that a party of elves led by a drow has been asking after someone who matches the shaman’s description. ‘Bounty hunters I reckon, or I’m not half as gorgeous as I obviously am.’

While most of the party retire to wrestle with their inner demons, Talak continues to refine his set of old Mintarn ballads and shanties in the bar. His efforts are rewarded when General Sabine approaches, telling the bard his performances have penetrated beyond the walls of the Moonstone Mask. She extends an invitation from Mordai Vell, a tiefling of high repute, to play at a grand party he is to host at his manor in Blacklake in a fortnight’s time.

The night passes better for some than for others, although the nightmares continue, and the healer sent to Danforth only manages to contain the disease that courses through his veins.

But a new day offers new opportunities and the trip to Helm’s Hold passes off without incident, until the party reaches the busy if ramshackle town that continues to grow around the monastery. Rok Alim, in particular, is struck by the atmosphere of the place, as he finally sees a community that seems to accept those afflicted by the spellplague, rather than treat them as outcasts.

As they enter the market square the party hear a town crier shouting above the noise of the market traders dismantling their stall for the night, ‘The prophet has spoken, the prophet has spoken. One shall come who will banish old evil and open a path to new horizons. The prophet has spoken.’

As the sun sets and the moon rises, the party are also treated to the strange sight of the spectral market, as ghosts of the past continue to puesue their ethereal transactions, heedless of the living around them.

Finally in the great halls of the monastery itself, where the sick and afflicted are treated in a place of calm tranquillity, Brother Vartan introduces himself to the party. It is quickly apparent that the heroes’ reputation had preceded them, with Vartan prepared for their arrival. He is soon grilling them with friendly enthusiasm about their experiences in the hope that their discoveries will add a vital chapter to the growing body of knowledge the brothers are amassing on the chasm and the spellplague.

The interview consists of yet more history, as the party either learn or recall the legend of Helm’s Hold, the last monastery to Helm to be built. The God of law and protection was killed soon after the ground was consecrated and the first stones laid, a year before the death of Mystra unleashed the spellplague that devastated Faerun. This history has a human face, however, as the heroes are introduced to Brother Satarin, an ancient dwarf who made his devotions to Helm shortly before the god’s death and is believed the last surviving priest of Helm in Faerun. The heroes also learn how most of the followers of Oghma, the god of knowledge, have moved here from the original temple in Neverwinter, which is located near the wall facing the chasm and which sustained a great deal of damage in the cataclysm.

With the promise of a day of interviews and treatments on the morrow, Brother Vartan presents the party with a set of corn dream dolls, blessed by Brother Satarin, although he knows not why he has the power to make them work, but believes that perhaps some residue of Helm’s influence remains to fight the good fight. In any case, they are presented as a salve to ease the dreams of those afflicted by the plague. It seems it is true, as indeed the party find they have their first good night’s sleep since arriving in the city, as they drift off to what sounds like an orchestra of quietly discordant lutes, gradually fading away as if pulling down a curtain over the chaos.

All, that is, except Kierke, who, distrustful of such totems, and bored with so little violence, decides to go for a late night tour of the town under the light of the nearly full moon, spurred by the sound of howling wolves in the distance.

He finds the town quiet and dark, the residents withdrawn behind shuttered windows and even the taverns loathe to open their doors to him. His Uthgardt senses are fine tuned, however, and he soon detects someone following him as he investigates the maze of alleys in the seedier part of town. The hunter becomes the hunted as Kierke ambushes his pursuer, only to find himself locked in a desperate struggle with a savage werewolf, who threatens to tear him limb from limb before a few savage blows from the barbarian sends the beast scurrying off, but not before Kierke senses something familiar in his foe’s distorted, bestial and cruel face.

Meanwhile, back in the monastery, those still awake see Brother Vartan accompanied by a beautiful woman, in a falling in love with your first nurse sort of beauty, making their rounds of the wards.

On looking in on the party, her eyes seem to glaze over before she utters the words, ‘Karadhax can search no more, but his knowledge might free us all.’

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Session 8

Q&A

19-20 Mirtul, The Year of the Trusted Covenant (1479 DR)

Present
Malus
Mani
Rok Alim
Talak

Intrigued by the utterances of the mystery woman, Malus abandons his watch to follow her as she accompanies Brother Vartan on their round of the monastery wards. Although no further prophecies escape her lips as Malus watches his mark tuck in the sick and snoring, he does discover something.

An occasional howl drifts up from below the monastery’s ground floor and the two Malus stalks knock on a side door, which opens to reveal some stairs leading down into the depths.

Choosing to rely on his ability to front things out, Malus repeats the knock, only to face a goliath on guard duty who politely but firmly refuses entry, on the grounds that Malus might disturb the more seriously afflicted patients who rest in the rooms below.

The following morning the party awake refreshed, apart from Kierke, who suffers so badly from the nightmares that continue to haunt him he chooses to stay in bed. Danforth, Paelias and Bohdan feel fine, but stay in bed anyway.

It is as well the energy levels are high as the heroes of the chasm are subject to an exhausting series of interviews, as Oghma’s faithful scribes write down every little detail of the party’s experiences in the hope of gaining further insight into the chasm and the effects of the spellplague.

The information flow is not entirely one way, however, as Brother Vartan illuminates the prophecy Malus had overheard.

Karadhan is a name known to him; a dwarf sage, miner and explorer once based in the area in the time before the caraclysm. By all accounts, Vartan explains, he was obsessed with the discovery of Gauntylgrym, the fabled capital of the Delzoun dwarves, lost to legend over a thousand years ago and which, so Karadhan believed, stretched south of the Mount Hotenow ridge deep below Neverwinter Wood. The dwarf and his crew had begun mining operations near the logging village of Thundertrees, but were assumed lost in the cataclysm when Hotenow exploded, burying the village and many others like it under streams of lava and choking ash.

Malus also speaks directly with the woman who made the prophecy, and makes quite an impression as Rohini, for that is her name, coos over his bravery – proving that it is not only Kierke who has a way with the ladies. She reveals she has no idea where the prophecies come from, for she never remembers them, believing them to be the product of some remnant of Helm’s spirit that survived the god’s death. She also confirms the presence of the sanatorium beneath the monastery, where they care for the most deeply afflicted, some of which, Malus sees, are taken out in groups to stroll around the beautifully manicured grounds.

Later, after more interviews, Vartan returns, having further researched Karadhan’s time in the area, saying that apparently the dwarf had a theory that Gauntylgrym was powered and lit by a series of giant crystals that might still be active. Karadhax hoped to create an artefact that could be tuned into these ancient orbs and that, once activated, might lead him to the halls of his ancestors just as a diviner might be led to water by a pointed stick. Of course, if a crystal had been corrupted by the spellplague, then any artifact atuned to its orginal state might become a weapon to use against it.

Unfortunately, Vartan concludes, any such theories must have died with him, as all that remains of Thundertrees is a dustwalker-infested swamp.

Straining under the weight of so much talk, the party decide to spend the evening blowing off steam in the town, to indulge in any random acts of violence that might come their way.

Such ambition seems likely to be fulfilled, as the area outside the Dragon’s Gauntlet is crowded by a baying mob, which the party soon discern is divided into two equally vociferous factions broadly identified as those who think the spellscarred are anathema, responsible for all the ills that have befallen the town and the world beyond, evil, chaotic and less than human; and those that don’t.

The instigators of the disturbance are two heavily scarred men, possibly brothers, who recount the story of their narrow escape from a pack of savage werewolves – surely attracted to the place by the warped power of the spellplague. Their diatribe is supported by the rabble rousing of Deloran Bard, a farmer who claims to be descended from those that built the town, the stout founding fathers who must be turning in their grave at the thought of what has become of the place.

Malus, with the zeal of the newly converted, charges the man with bigotry and irrational hatred and makes an impassioned defence of Helm’s Hold’s reputation for tolerance, an appeal soon backed by the cries of the mob that opposes Bard. Notably, Rok Alim, who knows more than anyone about living with a spellscar, keeps his own counsel.

Before the fists begin to fly, an old woman who stands on the terrace outside the pub, raises her hand and gains some calm as she appeals for a period of reflection.

Talak recognises the frayed purple garment the old woman wears as that belonging to the order of the Purple Dragon Knights of Corymr, and ancient and honoured organisation. She is revealed as Alisara Callum, the Chief Speaker of Helm’s Hold, whose words of reconciliation serve to disperse the grumbling crowd.

Impressed by Malus’ brand of aggressive tolerance, the party is welcomed by the apparent leader of the spellscarred faction, Halas the half-elf, who escorts them to the Hungry Flame, an inn popular with the spellchanged, evidenced by the exotic deformities on show by many of the patrons, and which, the party soon learn is the base of operations for the Heirs of Azure, the radical faction of Spellscarred who believe in direct action to maintain their freedoms in the face of ignorance and bigotry.

As the party get deeper into their cups and Halas’ rhetoric becomes ever more ambitious and flowery with each passing goblet of blue curacao, they realise that there are other voices in the argument, as Malus, ever the searcher for knowledge, speaks to the elf Meryth, who represents a more moderate faction of the spellscarred, and one who would be quite happy with a return to the status quo of tolerance and a degree of anonymity.

One thing they all agree on, however, is that an end to the constant attacks by the lycanthropes and other mysterious disappearances would at least shorten that particular stick the purebloods beat them with.

With the promise of so much potential mayhem and yet still no bloodshed for days, the party tire of talk and with a bellyful of ale decide to patrol the mean streets of Helm’s Hold’s shanty town quarter in the hope of hunting down the beast that attacked Kierke the night before.

It is not long before a scream to wake the dead echoes through the narrow alleys. The party arrive to see the freshly eviscerated carcase of a Mintarn soldier who has made his last patrol. Keen for action, the party try to trace the tracks of the breast responsible.

Removed from the city streets and into the comfortable environment of the forest, Mani is in her element, following the perp’s trail even in the dead of night.

It is slow going, however, and with dawn long past, the tracks lead through a mess of spider webs, both old and newly spun. While thinking about whether to blunder through and stay on the trail, or work around the area and risk losing their quarry, Mani sees movement ahead, about fifty feet away, the dark bulks of a pair of deathjump spiders, and they are not asleep.

At last the time for talking is over as four of our heroes face a danger designed to test the entire party, even though the rest of their comrades are safely tucked up in their beds back at the monastery.

Roll for Initiative!

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Session 9

Less Talk, More Action

20 Mirtul, The Year of the Trusted Covenant (1479 DR)

Present
Bohdan
Danforth
Malus
Mani
Paelias
Rok Alim
Talak

Spiders, schmiders – despite an ambush by a couple of nasty arachnids to join the two deathjumps in front of them followed by a column of cute little spiderlings, the party waste little time in dispatching the close family unit, the quick end guaranteed by the timely arrival of the sluggards who finally get out of bed and follow their comrades’ trail into the forest.

The way through the mess of webs cleared and the tracks of the lycanthropes rejoined, the party soon arrive at a hunting camp set in a clearing surrounded by bent oaks and alders, as if a tornado had created the space.

Four huntsmen greet the heroes with great suspicion, unsurprising when considering Malus’ surly demands to investigate their camp. The inevitable conflict soon follows, as the hunters set a couple of wolves on the advancing heroes, who soon discover the true reason for the crooked trees as their approach is interrupted by the snap of snares around ankles as a couple of the foolhardy find themselves hanging upside down twenty feet above the ground.

Their cover blown, the hunters reveal their true identities as they transform into ghastly human-wolf hybrids, tearing into the party with tooth and claw, while another launches both bolts of primal energy and coils of twisting vines at the adventurers.

The battle is fierce for a while, but the party soon has the measure of the beasts, with their fast evolving group tactics beginning to combine well. The highlights package on this week’s Faerun Fight Night will include a couple of delightful sequences, Bodahn lurching from snare to snare like a plate metalled yoyo as he crashes through the trees to get to the fight and Danforth meting out horrendous damage before taking a quite spectacular lashing himself.

Anyway, all very cinematic, and all over for the werewolves, with two turning into wolf form to scamper away into the forest, while their companions are left to be decapitated as trophies by Slaughter Inc., who are in danger of topping of the charts in Neverwinter and Helms Hold in the same week.

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