Campaign of the Month: March 2009

Denizens of the Nentir Vale

Beyond the Great Tree

Vine, Scale, and Snake

Light … yes, light, and heat too, I am moving, slow, always seems so slow, now speeding up, speeding up, can’t wait, maybe the fire witch will be there, she alone visited me, maybe she alone can, and now I am out!!! and I see … nobody close, all far behind, as so often, none as brave as I, none as sleek as I, none as fast, no, not that old dwarf, like a dog he fights, barking and scrabbling with head down, blood everywhere, but he always stays alive, – Wait! wait, stare, something not right here, claws out, something under that tree, coil up, something dnagerous, coil yet more, a vine, rising up to grab… to grab Him … now pounce! All my speed! Slash, slash and slash again, AARGH! hard blow I took, gather strength, fire burst, from my visitor maybe, but it missed, lightning bolt, the lightning witch maybe, strength back, bite down now, hard, and twist and twist until, yes, He is free! I am the proudest! AAAARRGH! Never saw that, broken back, only two legs working, cannot hold on, He grimaces, and I know I am going, going back again, into the cold and the half-light, alone again or …

ARGH! my back, the cursed vine broke Hers, now it will know my rage! Twin panthers to avenge Her, now! Nooo! Too hasty, both missed, I am failing Her, I breathe help to Erik, must regain control, oversight, deadly vine, Kruthiks flow like lava below, might overrun Barrick and Tira, Rift torched some babies, now a Hive Lord is down there, and … what? ... Erik down, all the way down, in the vine’s clutches, thrashing to escape, and the Kruthiks have overrun Tira! No rest today, come back, there, now!

Light … and heat, wait for it, I am out again, and whole again, among bugs, He needs me, they all need me, He is safe above, I feel Him strike this bug, my claws steal its strength, channel to lightning witch, she is always nice to me, not like old dwarf, tells Him to send me high into air just to watch me fall, not that He ever would, now fire witch summons mini-sun, my favorite, hurts biggest bug, it shoots acid, but hurts me not, I am the toughest! Lightning witch sends a blast, old dwarf hunkers down, scared for once of the fight, but I am not scared, coil, coil more, pounce on fleeing bug, my jaws latch, I break its neck, I am the strongest!

A bug dead at Her jaws, feel the thrill, Erik freed himself, Rift fighting a bug climbing up, best protect this high spot, come up here, now!

Coil, leap, none can leap so high, reach big bug fighting fire witch, claws sink in, fire witch blasts, bug is strong, it does not fall, I see Him, safe, now fire witch is pulled off, same Vine that broke my back I think, so long ago, if she can visit me she can escape, yes, she is beside me again, I sink my claws again into bug, it claws back, but does not hurt me, I am the toughest!

Stay in control, rage or calm, oversight, Barrick surrounded, good for him, bad for them, Rift free, Tira healthy and blasting thunder, Erik taken a second time, nothing he cannot handle, all safe for now, so it’s rage, the Hive Lord feels my wintry wrath, now! Rift and She have killed their Kruthik, on to help Barrick, now!

That bug dead, I leap down, protect the dwarf, I am the most dutiful! Biggest bug is here, shooting acid, lightning witch hurt again, healing herself, arrows hit bug, from fast hands I think, everything chaos now, I miss a pounce, lightning witch kills biggest bug! Triumph, one bug remains, but no anger, no energy, I stand and watch now, as so often, but cannot see Him.

AARGH! Caught by the vine, dropped hard! Must stay in control. A bad bite, restrained, nothing broken, no spear in hand, only my totem, Erik coming to assist, just stay alive, they’ll have me out in no time, ah, drink the Kruthik potion, strength flowing through me, try a punch! No good, need a spear, what’s that, a lightning bolt, the hold is loosening, now Barrick is charging, head down, AARGH! Felt that, but the vine falls dead, I am free.


Trilleste’s Hut

Don’t like this shack, nor this howling hag. Hallway feels like a trap – Barrick knows, his axe twitching – there! Archers! Punch one, ha! He missed! Punch another, AARGH, my side, got me, there’s Barrick swinging, and a fire blast from Rift, and … ohhh, an ogre! Must duck, too late, AAARGH! Rift and I down and hurt, the hag shows her true self – a Dracoman, breathing lightning, arrows in from Erik, ogre misses Rift, might have been death, no time, where is potion, got it, down it, use it, scrabble out like a Kruthik, safe now I think, blast from Tira, Rift gets clear, Barrick kills the Dracohag, but now the ogre is on him, help him, now!

Light again, and heat, it has been so long, next to old dwarf, facing an ogre, I am the best protector! Ready claws, coil and – BOOM! thunder from lightning witch I think, lost footing, glancing blow, down, not hurt though, arrows fly over me, He sends Twins but they miss, must have been the thunder, now ogre down, old dwarf misses anyway, fast hands runs in close, He calls to Mother, and the ogre is hurt! Everyone hitting now, but ogre is up again, fire witch brings ice, coil and … I miss my pounce, He misses too, must have been the ice, lightning witch ferocious today, old dwarf and fast hands, He misses again, old dwarf and fast hands and lightning witch, He misses yet again, He must be hurt, finally! fire witch puts ogre down, he was tough, and I relax, unhurt, He is standing, tired, I stand beside Him, I am the proudest!

Comments

Tira looks down at the dead ogre and what used to be an old hag. She nods to herself, as if just now understanding a thought she has had before. She speaks aloud, to anyone listening, but to no one in particular, “Without that PowerBark, I think I might have been knocked unconscious earlier, maybe even killed. If we pass that tree again I must remember to give it thanks, and another hug.”

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Erik hears Tira’s words but with recent events in mind starts to drift off. Magic arrows. A succubus. A wizard impressed with Erik’s arcana intuition. A great tree. Draco. Ogre. Eyes. Glazing over…

It was a dark day as Erik the wizard stood upon the top of his tower with the winds of storm swirling about him, blowing open his robe to reveal the heavily muscled chest of the former ranger. His meaty fist grasped his ethereal bow, crafted from magics only the most talented of wizards could ever harness, and it did release bolts of light that struck true with every skilled shot from the hunter’s eye. Still the hordes of orcs flowed forth like so many droplets of water to crash upon the rocky base of his tower. In the distance Erik’s eagle eyes could see the super-orcs waiting their turn. Behind them stood Erik’s arch nemesis, the evil wizard Mordain, who would seek to enslave all of mankind but it were not for Erik.

The catapults moved forward into position and Erik’s gorgeous, everlasting, succubus companion did cast her spells to freeze them in place. Just as there can be great evil among men, she possessed great good despite her origin. Turned from the darkness by the open hand of Erik, she now stood beside him in all things and mastered the ways of the wizard. Under the direction of the most foul Moardain, red dragons would dive from above to arch a their necks back and then shoot forward spit their fire. Then Erik would feel her soft, warm bosom upon his back – her leathery wings tightly enveloping him in her magical protection from the conflagration. With dragons threatening overhead, Erik’s wand would raise. A pulse of energy flowing from the wizard’s precious life force…

“Huh, what?”, says Erik, waking from his daydream. “Oh yeah, Tira, power bark. Good stuff.”

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After Erik’s reverie is completed, he spies a stone in the floor underneath the rocking chair that Trilleste occupied that appears to be a hidden covering of something.

Meanwhile, Torrock looks closely at the light oaken shield that was found. He discovers it is a
Healer’s Shield This plain-looking light oaken shield with steel trim shores healing powers as well as blocks enemy blows. Level: 10 Price: 5,000 gp Item Slot: Arms *Power (Daily • Healing): * Free Action. Use this power when you or an ally within line of sight regains hit points. You or the ally regains hit points equal to the maximum possible result of the healing effect and also regains hit points equal to your Wisdom or Charisma modifier, whichever is higher.

Erik and everyone realizes that they are now more experienced than they were before reaching the wizard’s tower.

DM: Total XP = Skill challenge at the Wizard’s Tower 800 , Trilleste and Friends 2550, Kruthiks and the Vine 2790,= 6140 / 5 = 1228 per player + 13,827 previous = 15,055 XP per player.

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DM: since the fall of Trilleste, you have been in the Hag’s shack 30 minutes. It is almost 5pm. The sun has set behind the mountains, and it is dim light outside. What do you do?

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lets get the heck out of here

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Erik moves over to the rocking chair, doing his best to perceive traps or anything out of the ordinary with that stone. If everything looks okay, he’ll very carefully lift up the stone to see what’s under it. If it doesn’t look safe, he’ll enlist Rift to disarm any traps.

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Erik does not perceive any traps. The stone appears to be ordinary. Lifting up the stone, he sees a recessed nook hidden underneath the stone. the nook is about an 18 inch cube. In the nook, he sees a writing quill, a lidded pot with ink stains down the side, and a leather book of a size about 1 foot by 1 foot.

Erik does not perceive any traps or poison on the book or anything else inside the nook.

DM: What does Erik do?

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Erik takes the book, quill and ink pot out of the nook and exclaims, “Tira. Rift. Come see what I found.”

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Rift examples the book carefully. She uses her arcane skills to detect any magic upon it or any of the other items. Assuming nothing seems amiss, she opens the book to reveal what is inside.

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There does not appear to be any magic associated with the book.

Opening the book, the pages appear to be some sort of skin, possibly human. The writing is in a language that Erik, Tira, and Rift do not know. Based on their time in Kengistan, they suspect it is Draconic.

The opening page has a single line and then subsequent pages are filled top to bottom with writing, separated by what appears to be some type of date indicator, but in a date system they do not recognize. There are many such entries throughout the approximately 600 or more pages.

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Erik sits in the chair and rocks back and forth. [DM, is it comfortable? If so Erik will continue to sit and the chair and rock as if it’s his long-time personal favorite chair.]

“Hey, how about those glasses that allow you to read anything? Tira, didn’t you tell me about that time you and that wizard, um, Skamos, and the others defeated some tentacled demon creature and there was some kind of altar where you found them?”, asks Erik. “Torrock, can your read it?”

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Erik finds that the chair is very comfortable. The chair has a leather seat and back. Both are extremely soft.

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Tira’s head tilts to one side as she listens to Erik. “Oh yes, the red spectacles!” She rummages around in the bag of holding for a bit, then pulls out the glasses. She puts the glasses on, pauses to examine her reflection in Barrick’s shield, then asks to see the book. Tira starts at page one, reading aloud until the purpose of the book is known.

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Erik sinks into the chair, relaxing all muscles after a long day’s walk and adventures. Closing his eyes for a bit of peace, he thinks about how such moments should be cherished, as should the moments of incredible focus during battle. He ponders how such seemingly opposite moments are actually not so different.

When it’s his time to give up the chair, Erik does a thorough search of the entire building, looking for secret nooks, doors and clues to what this place is, who has been here and why.

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Starting on page one

The writings of Trilleste, servant of Zehir, soon to be queen of the Kengi.

On the second and most pages after that, this apparent diary has pages of mostly incoherent rambling dated from the “Day and Year in the Reign of Queen Trilleste”.

In a quick look at the first few pages, there are moments of clarity with snippets about Trilleste’s 14 acolytes and their poor service to Zehir. How the Serpent God deserves better, and that they should be fed to his presence. How she sometimes finds adventurers on her paths, slays them, and feeds them to Borsnot.

Pages describe the elaborate sacrifices of their goods and coins to Zehir at the Temple. A mighty liquid of Slitheral’s sends the sacrifice to Zehir.

DM: How long do you try to read the book? Do you flip to the middle or anywhere else specific, or page through carefully, so as not to miss anything?

DM: Erik’s thorough search could be expected to take about half an hour. In that time, Tira would expect she could have at least glanced at every page. Does she do that?

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Tira reads the first dozen or so pages, then stops, finding the babbling to be more tedious than the facts are interesting. About to close the book she sees Erik on his hands and knees, trying to pry out a small misshapen block in the lower portion of the eastern wall. Turning around, she sees what she hopes for. Sensing that the others in the party might want a more thorough investigation of the book, Tira plops into the chair, swings her legs over one of the arms, and so long as Erik searches the room, Tira searches the book, flipping one page at a time.

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Using is incredibly keen and ranger-honed perception skills, Erik notices that his comfy chair has been seized by the beautiful but cleverly crafty sorceress. He knows that a diplomatic approach to regaining what is rightfully his will utterly fail against the onslaught of her charms. As Erik continues his labor with the stone block, his wry grin reveals a mind plotting action by force – shall the chair rock too far forward or will its occupant be lifted skyward?

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Erik finds that the block was simply loose. His search of about 30 minutes returns little new, other than finding 10 rolled pallets stacked in the northern room, with only 4 unrolled. In the southern room, he finds an unlocked chest with incense and 15 non-magical symbols of Zehir meant to be worn on the head. In the southwestern room are a kitchen-type counter, a knife, and a small stone stove. Here the meat-scent is strongest. Everything is incredibly clean. In the Ogre’s cavern, he notices very small holes riddling the western wall.

Erik hadn’t considered the lighting of this shack with no windows and now takes notice that there are very bright candle sets on each wall.

Meanwhile

During this time, Tira is able to scan the entire book and sort the rambling from the passages that may have some meaning.

She finds that many pages describe Zehir as a mighty crocodile. Others describe him as a Snake or a Dragon that is the sum of all dragons.

In one clear page, she writes I stood on the Symbol before the flaming mouth of the Crocodile, and held the diamond Tear in offering to the Crocodile. My own symbol glowed. I was found worthy. The flames parted, and I passed to the Temple. I am always found worthy now. Zehir is great.

Often, she writes about how Borsnot’s flail is so mighty. How Zehir will soon rule all of Nerrakis and Kengistan.

There are pages upon pages of nothing but ramblings of the same.

Then, in a section of lucidity, she describes:

Lord Serpentine has repaired the great obelisk and made it shroud the Temple and all inside the great mouth of Zehir. And, now, by Zehir’s gift, the mouth and all inside begins to move northward each month when the moon is in shadow. More sacrifices are needed. The Tieflings ancient treasure gives much. Fresh blood gives much.

Pages upon pages of incoherent rambling about Zehir’s greatness and his servants, her masters Lorvas and Slitheral.

Then a clear section: Master Lorvas has found the Tiefling witch’s crypt. Lacertil, beloved Lacertil, protects him from their hideous creatures. Zehir keep him safe from their wretched undead. Lorvas fears them not, he says. Lacertil is brave, so brave. My hatchmate tells me how he slays many undead to protect Lorvas and obtain the Tiefling treasures to sacrifice.

Incoherent rambling for pages upon pages. Another section of lucidity:

Two days ago, Lacertil told me how Master Lorvas found a scroll in a Tiefling chamber and summoned my new friend and her servants. Oh, I went to the Temple! At Master Slitheral’s instruction, Xeriope and I hatched a plan (Oh, I am the clever dragon girl). Xeriope agreed that the Fort must be made weak to allow Zehir’s greatness to grow and move. How I love her wings. Zehir grant me wings instead of this accursed teleporting. Each time I make my prophesies, we meet and I tell her the needs of the Temple. Zehir be praised, Xeriope always delivers good sacrifices. Master Slitheral is so pleased with me. Zehir be pleased.

Many pages of incoherent rambling describing her prophesies at the Fort.

A clear entry: _Oh, the best, best one to make the Fort folk fear any heroes that might come. That crone of an elf shopkeep looked so horrified. Her heart will be good on Zehir’s altar. I am a clever dragon girl. Xeriope has done well. Revince is entranced. Many sacrifices. When will Slitheral sacrifice the farmer’s daughter?_

Near the end: Now, the Temple moves northward a great distance each month with so many sacrifices. Two days ago, Lacertil (Oh, Zehir, thank you that my hatchmate and I are so close) brought me the new map to the Temple. Lacertil says Lorvas thinks he is close to her ring. Soon, the Temple will appear in the land of the accursed dragonborn. The horde will be unleashed. Lacertil and I will rule those we do not sacrifice.

The last entry: Finally, the moon has passed shadow again, another month has passed. Lacertil will come with a map of the Temple’s new location, and I will go to the sacrifice. Zehir be praised. Maybe the Temple is as far north as that horrid white mountain. With the white dragon dead, why does Xeriope say I must not go there? She is my friend, so I will follow her wisdom. And, she brings such great soldiers as sacrifices. I gave her 10 of my acolytes when she said she needed them to help her gather sacrifices. Zehir is kind to send such friends. Oh, accursed sun! Fall so that Lacertil will arrive.

Tira immediately recalls that last night was a new moon. Just as she gathers the party and finishes explaining the lucid parts, a horrid smell comes from behind the leather entrance. Some combination of dog feces left in the sun and rotten eggs. A voice speaks in a language that Torrock understands and the others recognize as Draconic. “Sister, the Temple has moved very far. Slitheral has made the sacrifice of a large treasure. Let us be off.”

With just enough time for Torrock to translate, a black reptilian hand is on the leather door-curtain. DM: What do you do?

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Regretting not getting a surprise shot at Trilleste, Erik quickly reaches for his bow…

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Torrock prepares elemental ice while silently thinking: we must get this news to the kengi as soon as posibble! I wonder if their forces are strong enough to take the Kengi, and if so who would be the emmisary too the blackspears?

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Tira stops using her dagger to file her nails and points the dagger toward the door and the hand. Thinking the talking pile of dung outside is actually Lacertil, Tira calls a lightning spell to the front of her mind.
Tira readies Dancing Lightning, to be cast if the face to the creature is revealed, the face looks evil, and if no other evil creatures are visible behind it. If there is time, Tira also quietly stands up from the chair.

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Assuming that Rift was still near Tira, she darts over against the front wall, to the left of the doorway as you are entering (in the map above that would be the bottom-right corner of the main room). She will ready her Spectral Ram spell. As soon as the creature fully enters the room, she will call out “Lacertil, your hatchmate is dead. And you will join her.” Then Rift will blast it!

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Erik kneels behind the table for cover and draws back his bow. An arrow is primed and ready to sink into the foul flesh of the dracoman with the ferocity of a hawk’s talon.

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The figure that pulls back the leather curtain is a dragon man in the same way that Trilleste was a dragon women. His black face is that of a dragon, more distorted and ugly than the charismatic dragonborn. It is not an obviously evil face, however. His hands end in claws and his feet are unshod with talon ends. He is dressed in black robes with a thick silky black cape and hood. The robes are decorated with many small red crocodiles. Around his forehead is a red symbol of Zehir, similar to those that Erik found earlier. Around his neck is the same teardrop shaped diamond that the adventurers found on Trilleste. At his waist is a moderate sized pouch. He does not appear to have any weapons, not even a staff. He does not enter the room, remaining in the doorway instead.

Immediately behind this dracoman is a Troglodyte. Another is to the dracoman’s right. They are medium sized but anyone with a view of the door can see both. The two Troglodytes are dressed in leather. They also carry no weapons. You suspect that they are the source of the foul stench. Even at this distance, it is nearly distracting. Up close, it would affect your combat skills.

The Troglodytes are clearly surprised by your presence. The dracoman does not appear startled, though. He seems phlegmatic. It is unclear if you have achieved surprise with him. He says in common,”It appears my sister has visitors.” He says louder, “Trilleste, we are hot and thirsty. We will need the usual.”

DM: Tira can stand up. Tira’s spell does not go off since she sees another besides the dracoman. Rift’s spell does not go off since he does not enter the room. Erik’s arrow with Hawk’s Talon and Torrock’s spell can both fly if they want to attack an unarmed humanoid who has done nothing to them.

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Erik’s arrow flies swift and true like the hawk upon its prey.

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Erik’s arrow strikes true on the dracoman, wounding his shoulder. A wintery blast of ice and freezing wind erupts from the shaman Torrock’s taloned fingers, punishing the dracoman with full fury in the face. Painful frost rimes his nose, mouth, ears, and eyes. Torrock’s spirit companion then appears as a murky cloud in front of the black-robed creature, blocking his further progress into the room.

The dracoman’s black cape appears to darken with wetness of fresh blood to a menacing shade, but the creature appears resolute and in control. No, the darkening is not wetness. It is a wave of absolute blackness that extinguishes all light in this room and in the next. Even the dim twilight is gone to an inky blackness. In the total darkness, without any of the adventurers possessing darkvision, the dracoman and the troglodytes are effectively invisible.

Torrock’s deft ears hear the dracoman whisper in Draconic, “Back to the Temple, as fast as you go, you scum of the muck!”

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DM: Note that all characters still have line of effect to all of the same squares but not line of sight.

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Erik stows his bow, draws his blades and starts a whirlwind pattern around himself. He calls out, “Rift. Tira. Magical light?”. He then steps back one staff length.

[DM: Please let us know when the darkness lifts.]

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Here are the positions of the engaged parties before the darkness descended.

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Note that Torrock’s companion spirit occupies the square immediately to the south of “L”acertil’s location before the darkness descended.

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Tira smiles, not that anyone can see it, no turning back now. “I do not have light, but I can flash some lightning.” As Tira already had her dagger aimed at Lacertil, it should be a simple matter of unleashing the Dancing Lightning storm mentally queued up.
DM: If she gets the shot off, does the lightning provide any illumination, even if brief?
Tira then slides around to the other side of the chair and crouches down behind it.

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The brief flash of brilliant lightning illuminates not Lacertil but a Troglodyte in that spot. The charged bolt sears the Troglodyte and he cries out in pain. The lightning ceases its dance at one target. In the brief flash, Lacertil was nowhere to be seen.

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A roll of deafening Thunder from Tira’s spell is answered by a grunt of pain. In the blackness, it is unclear who or what grunted.

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Rift mentally imagines a patch of ground, four staff lengths outside the door (North of the door). She twists the fabric of reality and appears instantly in that space. Letting out a growl, she looks around. If she spots Lacertil, she will let fly with her Spectral Ram, hopefully pushing him through the doorway into the hut. If she only sees a troglodyte, then she will use Icy Terrain to freeze the toad spawn in his tracks.

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Erik pulls out and activates a sun rod. He also uses his best perception to determine what’s going on around him – sounds, vibrations in the ground, odors, echos off of the stone walls, air currents and heat given off by nasty creatures.

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Using her most powerful daily teleport, Rift is able to traverse the complete darkness. she finds herself still in inky blackness outside the shack. She has no idea how far it extends.

Suddenly, in a radius out to 20 squares that stops only at the solid walls, Erik’s sunrod turns the blackness into bright light. Erik can see a Troglodyte in the doorway where Lacertil was previously, and a second Troglodyte still in the same position to the west of the doorway. From Erik’s vantage point, Lacertil is nowhere to be seen or heard. The misty form of Torrock’s spirit blocks the doorway, preventing any Troglodyte entry.

Rift is surprised by how dark it is beyond the bright light that escapes the shack out to 17 staff lengths. She is unable to tell how far the darkness extends behind Erik’s bright circle. She cannot see or hear Lacertil.

Her intense growl gets the attention of both Troglodytes, as the icy shards fly from her fingers onto them. The Troglodyte blocking the door falls to the ground, as painful ice encases his feet, causing tremendous pain. The second Troglodyte moves with a nimbleness that astonishes Rift and avoids the icy blast. He is equally astonished at the icy terrain that now confronts him 2 staff lengths beyond his location to the North and one staff length to the west. He is equally astonished by his now prone companion.

DM: If Rift did not center the Icy Terrain just to the north of T2, let me know. Rift can still make a minor action.

DM: Erik can still move and make a standard action. DM: Everyone else can take a full set of actions. Initiative is in the true sense of the word (in post order). Note that T1 is prone and blocks the doorway but Torrock’s spirit companion occupies the space to his south, so T1 will have cover from any melee attack that does not have Reach 2.

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Erik tosses the sunrod one or two staff lengths into the middle of the room (free action?), stows his sword (presumably the other one was already stowed when he got the sunrod out), and with a quick draw of the bow does a twin strike with arrows at the prone troglodyte in the doorway.

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Torrock will use his twin panthers power on the trogledytes

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When Erik’s sunrod lands with a crack on the floor just behind the spirit companion, Rift is surprised that she still cannot see beyond the edge of the darkness. She is not surprised when Erik’s two arrows come flying out of the shack at the prone Troglodyte. The first one hits with a precision that happens rarely for anyone, getting under a loose flap of the hard hide and wounding critically. So much martial energy was put into the first arrow! That is the only explanation for how the second arrow missed entirely.

Then, a black shape emerges from the shack. Concerned for an instant, Rift immediately recognizes it as an attack of her comrade Torrock. The ebony shape forms into a panther and pounces on the prone Troglodyte. He shifts his body at the last second, and the spirit panther’s claws just miss his face. The black form dissipates. But, a second panther spirit leaps from the dragonborn’s totem and rips into the Troglodyte, almost as if Torrock had anticipated the movement and directed the second panther to just the right location.

The spirit companion swells and swirls, distracting both Troglodytes and weakening their defenses.

DM: Melee attacks by any of Torrock’s allies (or by Torrock) against any enemy adjacent to the spirit companion have combat advantage.

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Rift will quickly cast Light on the end of her staff. (Burst 4, so she should be able to see in a 9×9 square). Does she spot Lacertil? If she does, she will blast him with Spectral Ram.

If not, she shouts, “Lacertil, come out and fight, coward! Xeriope and Trilleste are both dead. Will you die with more honor than they did?”

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Erik stows his bow and as he moves forward to the prone troglodyte he draws his twin blades. Barrick joins him on the other side of their prey and together they strike: Erik with twin attacks and Barrick with a mighty cleave from his axe.

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After Barrick, outside the shack now, withdraws his bloody axe from the Troglogyte, he turns his back on the prone beast and looks around to survey the situation.

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Barrick’s axe, like a wave of iron riding on the tide, rends a gash in the prone troglodyte and pushes him only one staff length through the difficult icy terrain created by Rift’s magic. Barrick is unable to shift onto the ice.

The troglodyte near the wall mutters something in Draconic that only Torrock understands but Barrick can sense the meaning in the hulking brute’s eyes, “I could take this little one but I must obey the Master.” He then turns and dashes west. The troglodyte moves rapidly westward and, in just a few seconds, has vanished in the deep darkness that still persists beyond the dim light of the shadowed wall from Erik’s sunrod. He leaves his prone companion behind.

The more injured troglodyte is still in the icy terrain. He stands up on the ice, and moves with difficulty through one staff length through it. He then reaches normal ground and also runs and quickly vanishes into the gloom.

Rift’s burst of light illuminates 9 staff lengths in all directions, not even as far as the 20 around a sunrod. Her light does not reveal the locations of Lacertil or the Troglodytes. Rift for the first time notices that the ground around the shack is hard and rocky.

DM: Erik’s next actions could not have happened until after the Troglodytes have had their actions. As they have moved and are no longer in sight, Erik will probably choose to take other actions. Rift can still move and make a standard action or move twice. Torrock and Tira have all 3 actions. Barrick can take another set of all 3 actions, also.

DM: updated map coming soon.

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The blackness and the light surrounding Trilleste’s hut. Green arrows show the direction that the Troglodytes went. The red boundary rectangle shows the area illuminated from Rift’s Light. The yellow boundary shows the area illuminated as Erik’s sunrod comes out of the door.

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I think we should head back to the fort.

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DM: The fort is at least a 4 hour walk from Trilleste’s hut. Aside from the absolute darkness, you estimate that it is twilight or darker outside under normal conditions.

DM: Note that the more injured troglodyte actually had to move 2 squares through the icy terrain, not one as stated in a post above.

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DM: Note that Rift’s Light is burst 4 and is correct on the map, not burst 9 as mentioned a few posts above.

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Erik dashes back to the rocking chair and plunks down, smiling. “Let’s spend the night here”, he says calmly.

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Rift shouts “After them!” and charges westward, her lighted staff guiding her way.

Does anyone else want to follow? We should track them to the temple that they referred to.

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Erik continues to relax in the chair. “Rift!”, he shouts, knowing that she probably can’t hear, “we need to rest and we know the temple is in the forest. Let’s go there tomorrow. We should also swing by the fort to warn them and perhaps Captain Revince will send a messenger to Kengistan for us.”

Erik rocks back and forth a bit while he waits for Rift to return and the others to weigh in.

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Tira looks out the doorway, wondering how Rift is faring in the darkness. Then she stands up from her position beside the chair and looks down at Erik. She sighs and smiles at him, “This sure is a comfortable chair.”

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Erik just grins at Tira with satisfaction but he hides the fact that his joy is actually greatly diminished by the urgent necessity to visit the outhouse. After a minute he relents and gets up to take his nature break. Maybe by then Rift will have returned from her crusade.

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DM: Which way does Erik go to the outhouse? Does he take his sunrod with him?

DM: Magical interference prevents updating the map until Wednesday. I have been transported to another dimension called the York of New City.

Rift moves quickly and sees that the her light obliterates the darkness. After moving at her usual speed she does not see the Troglodytes or Lacertil.

DM: Does she run? Does she double move and, if so, does she run again or move normally?

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Erik heads off to the west with his sun rod, carefully following Rift’s tracks (if he can discern them). The sun rod is tucked in his belt, so he can only see forward and to the sides. The shadows are long and creep. He feels a bit like a walking bullseye, but with a sword in each hand he’s feeling a bit more confident.

[DM: Does he see Rift’s tracks (or Lacertil’s or the troglodytes’)? Does he hear her or see any light? Does she see his?]

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Rift slows down. Wait, where is she? Oh no, she’s lost! Rift starts shouting loudly. “Erik! Torrock! Barrick! Tiraaaaaaaaa!” She then runs around in a circle for a while.

Rift will console herself with a bit of dried ankheg. She will use prestidigitation to temporarily transform her water flask into a wine skin.

Does she see Erik?

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Rift stops not all that far from where she started (6 staff lengths), disappointed to not see any Troglodytes or old Dragonface. Her shouts bring forth Erik. Rift marvels at just how far a sunrod’s light extends. She marvels even more that she did not run into the Troglodyte who is not much further away.

After moving 5 staff lengths, Erik’s sunrod has illuminated a wide swath, driving back the blackness. He can see Rift, the small area of her light spell, and the more wounded of the two Troglodytes.

The Troglodyte looks like he was planning to continue running away, but he hestitates when Erik’s light illuminates him. Oh, that face turns for an instant. How he longs to attack!

DM: Erik still has a standard action. Tira, Torrock, and Barrack can take a full set of actions.

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Erik moves up alongside Rift and shouts (using his best intimidation) at the troglodyte, “Begone you filthy wretch for I wish not to stain my fine blades with your vile stench.”

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The Troglodyte pauses momentarily. While he does not appear to understand Erik’s words, he certainly catches Erik’s meaning. He simply growls in response. Erik isn’t sure if this means that the Trog will continue running away, or if he is planning to attack.

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As if in response to the growl, Torrock dashes directly behind Erik. A wintery blast from Torrock’s totem roars into the face of the Troglodyte, stinging his eyes and making him howl in pain. The Spirit then appears next to the Troglodyte and takes the form of a whirling being of blood. The Blood Dancer lashes at the Troglodyte, wounding him, and leaving streaks of spirit blood that expose his weakest points.

DM: Any ally can score a critical hit on a roll of 18-20 and gains a bonus of +3 to all damage while adjacent to the Spirit on any kind of attack. The spirit is in the square due east of T1.

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Looking at the Troglodyte, the adventurers realize that much of the blood covering him is not from the spirit, it is the beast’s own.

DM: T1 is Bloodied. The critical hit and bonus to damage are for any attack that is launched next to the Spirit Companion. It need not include T1. Of course, there is no T2 at the moment.

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If Rift is able, she will move up kitty-corner to the Spirit (two away from the troglodyte). She will pause for a moment, and steal a glance at the Spirit Companion. Somehow it makes her nervous, like it has thoughts of its own. Rift quickly shakes her head. “I must be imagining things…” she mutters.

Then Rift will let fly with her Spectral Ram spell. “Take that, you spawn of a tadpole!”

If she can, she will try to stun the troglodyte rather than killing him. “We need to find out more about the temple” she thinks to herself.

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The spectral ram forms at Rift’s staff and batters into the Troglodyte. it is a though the blood spirit directed Rift’s magic. She knows just where to direct the Ram to maximum effectiveness. The overgrown tadpole is thumped in the chest and sent flaying back 3 staff lengths. He falls to the grown with his hands and legs splayed. He looks shaken but far from dead.

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Erik stows his two blades and quickly draws his bow, carefully attacking the troglodyte, so as to wound without a necessarily a kill.

[DM: “Careful Attack” has been updated. With Erik it’s +15 v. AC and 1d10+6. Also, does he have prime shot?]

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The wounded Troglodyte stands up and roars in Draconic, “Brother to me!” He charges at Rift, seemingly oblivious to the Spirit. The whirling red being is not oblivious to him, though, with red claws drawing more blood from the malodorous beast. Still, his charge continues into Rift. His evil claws reach to rip the Eladrin but find only a staff as the deft wizard blocks the blows.

From out of the west, an answering roar is heard. Breaking the blackness, the second Troglodyte appears, eyes full of blood lust. He charges at the Spirit. His fierce claws find something substantial. The Spirit is torn to shreds of energy and vanishes! Torrock feels the pain of the loss of his Spirit Companion.

DM: Torrock takes 8 hp of damage.

DM: Rift is closer, so no prime shot.

Erik’s arrow flies out at the wounded Troglodyte, striking true just behind his ear. The Trog howls in pain. Drool falls from his lips but his eyes show that he is ready to fight.

DM: The characters have inflicted 165 hp of damage on this Troglodyte. Though bloodied, he looks to be quite far from falling over. Rift, Tira, Torrock, and Barrick can all take actions. Erik can take free actions.

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Rift realizes that the stench of this creature next to her is almost more than she can bear. It is infecting her senses.

DM: Living beings within 1 square of the Troglodyte have a -2 penalty to attack rolls from the horror of the stench.

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Tira, hearing all the commotion from outside, finally allows her curiosity to override the comfort of the chair. She steps outside of the hut, next to Erik, does a quick survey of the situation, laughs at seeing the wizard again up in melee combat, and then launches a Chaos Bolt at the wounded Trog, hoping for a ricochet into the one with the cleaner teeth.

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Rift will shift back a staff length (out of the foul stench). She will then fling her arms wide, shooting out blue flames in all directions.

OOC: Fire Shroud, close burst 3, each enemy, +12 vs Fortitude, 1d8+7 fire and ongoing 5 fire.

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Wild magic leaps forth in a bolt from Tira’s dagger. The chaotic energy jars the brain of the Troglodyte, and rivulets of blood form around the eyes. Tira is pleased to feel the magic surround her to protect her, even as the bolt leaps from the one and jumps to the other Troglodyte. His brain is wracked in pain as the Chaos Bolt sears his weak mind. He snarls in response to the pain.

DM: Tira has +1 AC until the start of her next turn.

The bloodied Troglodyte is visibly astonished as the wizard nimbly shifts away. A look of horror breaks across the repitilian’s face as flames surround him, burning his skin and igniting to continue the fiery pain. His brother is equally horrified as the magical flames reach him, continually burning his flesh.

The stench is now truly horrifying but Rift feels that she can handle it.

DM: Torrock and Barrick can both take actions.

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Barrick (assuming he is close enough to the action, a generally safe assumption with him) moves up and swings at the bloodied troglodyte, intending to use his momentum in a Passing Attack to strike the other as well. If he is not close enough for a melee attack, he will instead go to his best ranged attack, using the Key of Bonderstrong around his neck.

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Torrock;s spirit will use its at will attack

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Barrick shakes his head in wonder. He has been missing a battle! He thought Rift was simply making silly noises. Coming out of the shack, he realizes that he cannot reach either Troglodyte and sink his axe into their feeble flesh. He grabs the Key of Bonderstrong. A shower of flaming golden axes descends on the reptiles. The bloodied Troglodyte cannot move quickly enough to escape the flaming dwarven weapons. They sear and bite into his flesh. He howls in pain. The second looks to move. He seems quick, then one of the falling axes rips into his flesh. He merely grunts but is visibly startled by the area of burning embers that surrounds his companion and includes him.

Then, the healthier Troglodyte almost gasps in surprise when the Spirit he had so recently vanquished appears again in front of him with a shadowy humanoid shape. The shadowy claws rip into the Troglodyte, tearing his lizard-like armored scales.

[DM: Until the end of Torrock’s next turn, the spirit companion can flank with Torrock or his allies.]

The bloodied Troglodyte in front of Rift howls in pain from the fire that she had started on his flesh. He looks at Rift with blood lust and then makes a gesture to his brother. The wizrd fire on the brother continues to burn. Still, he moves in a wide circle avoiding Rift’s staff, but he is not able to avoid the claws of the Spirit, which draw a pool of blood even as the Troglodyte moves to flank the wizard. As the Troglodyte moves out of the area of burning embers, he almost yelps comically as they char his feet and ankles.

He extracts his revenge on the Eladrin, his claws raking across her face. Distracted by both Troglodytes, Rift is not able to block the bloodied Troglodyte’s claws. They get well past her defenses with a painful, critical blow.

DM: Rift takes thirty-nine (39) hp of damage from the two attacks. Rift is now bloodied. Note that Rift has already used her encounter teleport with the Special Daily enhancement. If Rift had Dimension Door learned for the day, she still has a teleport available.

DM: Rift, Erik, Tira, Torrock, and Barrick can all take actions. Remember that if you want a blow to render a monster unconscious, it must be explicitly stated.

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The burning wizard fire goes out on both Troglodytes.

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The stench of both Troglodytes is nearly overpowering to Rift’s senses. The rotten of the odor and its horrific combination makes the wizard almost wretch.

DM: Rift has a -4 to attack rolls while within the 1 square malodorous aura of both Troglodytes.

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Erik’s blood turns cold as he sees the effects of the troglodyte’s vicious attack on Rift. Now she is flanked! Erik moves directly west to the very corner of the building and takes aim at the more wounded troglodyte, whom he also makes his quarry. Two arrows strike out at the target.

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The light from Erik’s sunrod continues to push back the darkness. It shows that the narrow path continues further to the west. With expert eyes, the Ranger studies the movement of the bloodied Troglodyte, drawing a bead on his heaving chest. He takes aim with his first arrow. Immediately as it leaves the bow, Erik knows that the arrow flies true. With the hunter’s precision, it pierces the scaled skin straight to the brute’s heart. The bloodied Troglodyte drops to the ground in a heap. He is no longer in the land of the living.

Quickly shifting his focus to the remaining Troglodyte, the second arrow also strikes true, landing squarely in the back of the monster. He roars in pain but returns his focus to slaying the Eladrin in front of him.

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A white misty spirit bursts forth from Torrock’s totem towards Rift. For the wizard, it is like breathing in the freshest pine forest after a spring rain.

DM: Rift regains the hit points of her healing surge value + 4 = 18 hp without spending a surge. She is still down 21 but is no longer bloodied.

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Tira moves toward Rift and her Troglodyte dancer, stopping when she is 3 staff lengths from the brute. She swirls her dagger rapidly in a circle sending forth a wintry vortex of frozen air; Tira knows that Rift’s cloak will protect her from the cold, but she hopes to freeze the beast’s legs, toppling him over.

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Rift shifts back one staff length, out of harm’s way. Shaking her hair out of her face, she then walks calmly as far away from the brute as possible. Finally, as a minor action, she will gnaw on her piece of power bark from the Great Tree.

“Whew!” she exclaims. “That’s better.”

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Tira’s wintry blast covers the legs of the Troglodyte in ice. Thick blood forms underneath the ice. He is unable to maintain his footing and emits a Draconic string of profanities as he falls prone.

Moving away from the Troglodyte, after the healing from Torrock’s Spirit and the nurturing tree bark, Rift feels energized and revitalized. She is glad to be 7 staff lengths to the north of the Troglodyte.

DM: After spending a healing surge, Rift is now down only 11 hp.

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The frozen Troglodyte stands up, howls, and charges at Tira. As his claws come towards her, it appears that they will hit. Then, they encounter the protective magical barrier that had enveloped her after the winter blast left her dagger. It absorbs his blows, and the half-elf is unscathed.

DM: Barrick, Rift, Erik, Tira, and Torrock can all take actions.

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[DM: Note that when Erik moved, though he drove away darkness on the west, darkness on the east filled in the unlit area.

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Despite her recent ability to escape damage, Tira decides that being the closest to the beast is not her best option. This time she raises an arm and twists her dagger around her head, she whirls like a tornado and quickly moves one step south-eastward. The air collapses on the space in which she just resided, thunder exploding north-westward, into the Troglodyte. After her Storm Walk, Tira swiftly moves back near the entrance to the hut and turns to (hopefully) watch her friends cut down the brute.

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The tornado forms. The Troglodyte’s eyes grow wide as the thunderous sound and force assaults his body. He winces he pain as his fortitude is too weak to withstand the pain.

DM: the surviving Troglodyte has received 95 hp in damage. Tira is just south of the open curtain entrance.

Beyond the Great Tree
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