Campaign of the Month: March 2009

Denizens of the Nentir Vale

Near Death in a Tomb

I. Into the Flames

As gray mists settle across the floor, the six companions, armed with blade, bow, and staff, advance upon the Colossus. The trap is sprung, and tongues of flame shoot forth. Tira runs forward, braving the fire trap, to reach the evil altar. Erik and Barrick follow. The Colossus watches them all – each one prey to his malevolence.

Words are whispered in the gloom
Do not disturb the Emperor’s tomb
Six companions descend the stairs
And raise their weapons in defiance
The path is filled with terror
As the Colossus strides ever near
Tendrils of flame shoot forth
To wreath the great one’s brow.

II. Atop the Altar

The altar to Asmodeus radiates evil. The Colossus is strong, and the fighter falls first. The pillars are the key. Cold and water quench the flames, but Torrock and Rift are defeated. Erik the Ranger falls last, his magic arrow having done its work, he can rest in peace.

Towering over the altar
Guarding the empty tomb
Crushing every creature
Bravely do they stand
Gaze into his eyes
A weakness do they spy
Bow and axe spring forth
Too late to save them all
Barrick slays his foe.

III. Return of the Champions

Enter the Paladin – long gone, he returns as the shaman and spirit depart to other lands. The Colossus is defeated. The brave travelers venture down into the tomb below. A strange scene is found – the dead Emperor and his Empress – goblet and food still fresh.

Steathily approaching
The paladin he appears
The ring upon Numea’s finger
Her summoned spirit bows
Lorvas must not know
The ring must be destroyed
The shield remade to fight again
And free the dragon outside.

The Colossus


Amazing survival on the Tomb of Laarn met with equally amazing treasure. Good work!

So, XP from Berbalang to Colossus- Berbalang and Cave-In: 4300; Skill Challenge to open door to Tomb of Laarn: 3000; Defeating Wraiths, dwarven armor animi, and crushing walls: 2400; Defeating Invulnerable Colossus of Laarn and Fire Trap: 4200.

Total XP: 13,900 / 6. = 2,316 per player. You had 17,640 per player + 2,316 per player = 19,976 XP per player. Very close to 10th level.

Time elapsed in hours since last extended rest in the Forge Room: 1.5 for fights, skills challenges, exploring; 10.5 waiting in tomb for extended rest; 6 hours resting = 18 hours. Did Rift make any potions during the long wait or during the 2 hours that she doesn’t have to be resting? Time elapsed since extended rest in Tomb: 1.0 for more exploring, plus finding Felsmon. 11 hours until next extended rest can start.

Near Death in a Tomb

Successfully evading Lacertil and his goons with a clever set of teleports away from the Tomb of Laarn, you come to the enchanted door to the Hammerfell Forge room. After the Key of Bonderstrong forms a handle in the magic door, you enter the room. The door closes behind you, a handle present on this side.

The heat from the glowing pool of molten metal is just as intense as before. This time, you can feel its effects almost immediately. Surprisingly, they do not feel beneficial. While all of you endure it, you can feel that proximity to the magic and heat radiating from the pool will be difficult to endure for more than 3 or 4 hours. You suspect that even such for a short time, the effect of being close to the pool may come at some cost to yourself.

You hear the clang of a hammer on metal. Rounding the corner to the entrance of the room, the female dwarven spirit you saw previously is not at the Anvil. Instead, a hearty female Dragonborn dressed in leather and a blacksmith’s apron holds the same tongs and hammer that you saw before in the hands of the dwarf. The Dragonborn is at work on a shield. The shield looks to be the same size as the Shield of Bonderstrong would be. She looks up.

“You have returned. Excellent! How did you fare?” the apparently Dragonborn blacksmith says.

Near Death in a Tomb

Erik replies, “We have fared well, but I am reluctant to admit only by the graces of some unseen power. The colossus in Laarn’s tomb was defeated and we have recovered both a piece of the Shield of Bonderstong and the Ring of Nemeia. We must reform the shield and destroy this ring at once! Can you help us?”

Near Death in a Tomb

The Dragonborn woman’s eyes widen. “The missing piece of the Shield of Bonderstrong!” She smiles. You see that she is translucent, as the Dwarven smith spirit was before. “And, the ring of Nemeia! So much evil and so much good here at the Forge.”

She stands before the Anvil like a lectern. It seems not as big you as once thought, maybe just 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Perhaps it just an illusion now that she is so much larger than the Dwarven figure who was here previously. Her dim eyes almost tear as she begins to speak.

“The symbol which the Key and Shield were made to bear has a reminder of a golden age. All of the noble peoples use the forge. All those who do give some allegiance to the Master of all Blacksmith, even if they know it not. There was a blessed time when all of the races openly shared in the worship of Moradin and saw in him their own form. As one of his servants, I, Warbella Ironfell, can now take on any form of those who give him tribute. While his worship has faded among many, the Dragonborn remember the greatness of Arkhosia and still openly honor him who made their steel hard and their blades sharp.”

“This golden age is captured in the symbol of the Key. You know that the triangle represents the three great Holds: Hammerfell and Hammerfast, and Hammerhold at the nexus. But, do you know that the rod extending from the Hammerhold point represents the Astral connection that the Holds shared among each other and with all of the temples of Moradin, forming an Arch of greatness throughout the land to support the free peoples? From the great temple Mountainroot of Hammerhold, clerics and worshipers would teleport freely along the Astral veins that are so strong in the Dawnforge mountains and that run throughout the world to appear instantly at the blacksmith temples of Moradin across the lands of the Dragonborn, Elves, Gnomes, Halflings, and even Humans. But, even in my time, some of those veins were being allowed to weaken as the races looked inward to themselves as the Tieflings came with their Empire of Bael Turath. And, some of the dwarven clerics little liked the generosity of Moradin being so freely extended to other races. They too began to look inward and let the Astral veins lie dormant. Still, they are there, emanating from Mountainroot. Mayhap, one day, the peoples can be joined again to share their knowledge and stand together against the forces of Darkness.”

“By recovering the Shield, you have done a small part to push back against the Darkness. If only you could put it to use! Alas, it cannot be re-made as it was. To do that, we would need the ore from the Mines of Karak in Hammerhold. Only Hammerhold’s mines descended far enough to come close to the Elemental Chaos.” She stares into space for moment.

“Indeed, it is the wealth of not just gold, silver, and iron, but the connections to the Astral plane and the raw stuff of the Elemental Chaos that made the Dawnforge such a prize for the Tieflings.” She shakes her head. “Never mind. The Mines of Karak are far from here and only Moradin knows what has happened to them in the last 600 years.”

She brightens. “But, the Key of Bonderstrong itself was made from that same Elemental metal. Here, in this Forge, I could use the Key to remake the Shield. The Shield might not have all of the power it contained when Bonderstrong held it before Laarn stole it and Valius Ironfell broke it in a battle with that Tielfling scum, but it would do well in the company of a valiant dwarven warrior and his companions to continue to push back the Darkness. There is a risk that my powers are weak, our faith together will flounder, and Key and Shield will be destroyed with nothing remaining but slag.”

“It would be safer to reforge the Shield using only the metal from my pool. You could hardly call what would result the Shield of Bonderstrong, but I do have some skill and could reforge it with some power to continue the struggle that the Key has called you to. It is your choice.”

“As to the Ring of Nemeia, now there is an item of power. It could be destroyed in the molten pool that is before you. Simply toss it in. If you destroy it, you will have delivered a setback to the forces of Darkness and all the spawn of Hell. Unfortunately its connection is to the Nine Hells and the diabolical slime, so I cannot use it in the reforging of the Shield.”

She pauses, reflecting for a moment, considering. She looks at Tira. “Sorceress, you had asked me if I could imbue your dagger with enhanced magic. Even still, I myself cannot. However, if you or anyone else chooses to destroy the Ring in the molten pool, and that one is quick, then a dip of a single bladed weapon into the pool followed by a quick working of my Hammer might permanently enhance the enchantment of that weapon. We cannot be sure that all of a weapon’s magic would stay the same. Some or all of its powers might be lost. The diabolical powers in the Ring might alter the magic of any blade. It might destory it. Still, something more powerful might result.”

“For this to happen, you must manipulate the residuum with your arcane knowledge and direct it into the weapon even as that residuum is being generated from the ring’s destruction in the molten metal. The heat and magical force will be excruciating. You must be able to withstand this and concentrate on directing the magic of the transformation. And there are other risks. You must deftly manipulate the weapon. Put the weapon into the molten pool too soon, and the power of the melting Ring might destroy the weapon’s entire original enchantment. Put the weapon in too late, after the delicate moment of arcane power has passed, and the weapon itself would begin to melt beyond repair. And, of course, leaving the weapon in too long will damage it, while taking it out too soon will render it disenchanted. Regardless, when you feel it is ready, hand the weapon to me, and I could finish the task with whatever you have accomplished.”

DM: What do you do?

Near Death in a Tomb

Tira looks fondly at her dagger, gently sliding her fingertips along the flat of the blade. Looking up she says to her friends, “This dagger has served me well; but, it is just a dagger. I would be willing to take the risk to see if its powers can be enhanced. At the worst, I find myself in need of a dagger and we finally have something on which to spend these coins we have been lugging across the lands. Does anyone else also wish to try? It sounds like only one weapon could attempt a transformation, so if someone else also wishes the same, then perchance we can decide with a quick game of hammer, parchment, sword. Of course this all assumes we are still planning on destroying the ring, to which I vote yes”

Near Death in a Tomb

Looking most earnestly at Tira, Erik exclaims, “You must take the chance to increase the power of your dagger. I can aide with my steady hands and keen eye. Perhaps I can even shield you from the incredible heat so that you can concentrate better. Alas, my knowledge of the arcane is no match for Rift’s. She must help you there. Shall we give it a go? I say ‘yes’ and the sooner the better. This ring must be destroyed now.”

Near Death in a Tomb

“Aye, we must all help Tira.” Rift will use her extreme arcane knowledge to help Tira know when to pull the dagger out of the molten metal. She steps up to the molten pool with Tira and Erik, ready to toss in the ring.

“Regarding the Shield of Bonderstrong, perhaps it is better to wait until we can obtain the ore from the Mines of Karak. It seems a shame to reforge the shield without the proper components. Besides, it sounds like an adventure to me!”

“Warbella, do you know where an entrance is to the Mines of Karak?”

Near Death in a Tomb

Warbella looks intently at Rift. “Aye, I know how to reach an entrance. But be warned there is no surety that the Mine is still there. The Astral veins and Elemental Chaos shift the very land in the Dawnforge Mountains.”

Near Death in a Tomb

Tira looks at her companions, takes the ring from Rift in one hand and readies her dagger in the other. “Here goes nothing, or something.” Tira makes a wish and tosses the ring forward into the pool. Crouching down, Tira intently watches the ring and the molten pool, shielding her face as best she can from the searing heat. Waiting for what feels like the perfect moment, and helped by her friends nudgings, Tira suddenly plunges the blade of the dagger into the pool. She instantly wishes she had better gloves. Moments later, again, listening to the suggestions of those beside her, Tira pulls the dagger back out, waits for everything to finish dripping off the blade, then stands and turns to Warbella holding the hot weapon before her, “Please, do what you can.”

Near Death in a Tomb

Almost as soon as the Ring is tossed in the pool, a massive fireburst fills the room. Though, Erik, Tira, and Rift are the closest to the molten metal, and Felsmon, Prescott, and Barrick might have thought they were safely away, none are spared. Evil, swirling black and green flames scorch each adventurer (18 hit points of damage). Then, Tira and Rift can see the magic of the Ring begin to escape in tendrils of red and black. Quickly, Tira gets the dagger into the powerful swirling energy and in contact with the molten pool. A column of pure, red hot magical light erupts towards the ceiling. Evil permeates the room and assaults the adventurers’ minds. All withstand this attack.

Focusing, Rift then assists Tira in manipulating the magical essence. Tira concentrates, directing the power into her own dagger. Frustratingly, it evades her. Another fireburst erupts from the Ring. Prepared for such, everyone but Barrick is able to dodge the fiery magic (Barrick takes 7 hp of damage). Then, the almost overwhelming heat assaults the three companions. Together, they endure it by drawing on each other’s powers to hold their ground and concentrate on the task at hand.

Before Tira can focus her concentration on directing the power, her Amulet nearly speaks to her, tugging her astral self towards the melting ring. She has the sense of being drawn inward, into a silvery-black swirl of mystical power. Tira’s amulet is allowing her to see the portal to the Nine Hells. Then, in an instant, she can see hundreds of connecting tunnels to portals, all being cut off as the Ring melts and the connection fades. In the split-second, she can see hundreds upon hundreds of devils near those portals in the Hellish plane. Wait, she realizes, not all of those portals are in the Nine Hells. Some are on other planes. Some are on this one. The Amulet nearly wrenches her astral vision to a portal on this plane. Anger and hatred swell from the Amulet. She sees a chain devil throwing a human soldier wearing a symbol of Zehir into the portal. The human races by her helplessly. He seems very much surpised by this event. He is not an astral presence but quite real. In just an instant, she sees 5 devils with huge wings on their backs, absorb the human and then walk through a portal to stand next to the chain devil in some sort of cavern. The chain devil grins, and instantly Tira recognizes him as being the same Ichyrot whose message sphere the group carries. In the cavern, she sees ten other devilish forms. From her perspective, she can see a large hole in the cavern ceiling. It is nighttime and Tira recognizes the familiar north star of Poladis. Ichyrot turns towards Tira but does not seem to notice her.

As quickly as thought, she is back confronting the magic of the Ring. With her amulet, she now knows better how to manipulate the Ring’s power. She looks at Rift, nods, and the two begin again in earnest to work on the powers. This time, Tira reaches for the power, controlling it, mastering it, willing it into the dagger. She revels in its wild, chaotic nature. She had been too controlled the first time. She aligns the magic with that already in the dagger, trying to preserve what is there while enhancing it. The energy swirls, and Tira struggles to move as quickly as it does. She loses touch with the power and feels some of the dagger’s own leave with it. It is almost as if a sentient avoids her control of its will and took pleasure in stealing what power was in Tira’s dagger.

Another fireburst erupts from the Ring. This takes the group more by surprise. The three working on the Ring are able to dodge it, as is Barrick, but Prescott and Felsmon each are burned (11 hp of damage). Then, the heat of the molten pool blasts the three companions, nearly scorching them. Still, they resist it.

Tira and Rift again work to regain control of the magic even as the last traces of the Ring are beginning to fade. They know that they have little time left. Rift directs Tira to the red tendrils. Tira realizes they have a diabolic essence in them. She reaches out with all of her mastery of magic and directs these tendrils into her dagger. The wyrmtooth begins to glow with a reddened hue. With an acrobat’s skill, she twirls the dagger out of the magical column just as it pulls down, whirling, swirling into the last vestige of the Ring. Tira just avoids being sucked into the pool by the force of the magical implosion. A thunderous boom fills the chamber, rocking the adventurers and assaulting their fortitude. Tira and Barrick are able to withstand the thunderous attack ; Rift, Erik, and Prescott each take 28 hp. The thunder resounds in Felsmon’s plate armor. The dragonborn paladin takes 34 hp of thunder damage.

Withstanding the boom, Tira hands the dagger to Warbella. The dragonborn form changes to that of the dwarven spirit. “It is still my native, and I like it best for delicate work.” The hammer of the dwarf is surely no spirit as it rings. A forge forms next to her, as does a pool. She turns the tooth over and over, cooling it, heating it. Red sparks of magical power ring from the hammer. Evil, dark steam leaps out of the pool each time she dips the dagger in to cool it.

The group can feel Warbella drawing on each of them as she works the dagger, shaping it.

After an hour, she stops. “This is what you have called forth from the essence of Nemeia’s Ring. The dagger still contains some of its original power plus more.”

Dagger of Devil’s Bane This wyrmtooth dagger is streaked with red quartz filled with chaotic energy that devils find intensely painful. Level: 14 Weapon: Dagger Enhancement: +3 attack rolls and damage rolls Critical: +3d6 radiant damage, +3d8 radiant damage against devils. Property: You gain a bonus to saving throws against the attacks of devils equal to the enhancement bonus of the weapon.

Property: If the attack hits with an odd roll against devils or creatures with the immortal origin, add 1d6 damage of the type your sorcerer powers are currently resisting.

Power (Daily * Variable): Free Action. Use this power when you hit a devil with the weapon or a power using this weapon as an implement. The target takes an extra 2d8 damage of the type your sorcerer powers are currently resisting and is blinded (save ends).

Power (Daily): Free Action. Until the end of the encounter, sorcerer attack powers you use through this dagger ignore the resistances of any enemy within 10 squares of you.

Near Death in a Tomb

DM: Completing the quest of destroying the Ring: 2400 XP. Safely recovering the parts of the Shield of Bonderstong: 800 XP = 3200 XP or 533 XP per player. With 20,509 XP per player, congratulations! You are now 10th level.

DM: You have been in the room 1 hour. It is 8 more hours until your next extended rest. You can feel the energy of the room beginning to drain you. Perhaps in another hour or so, some of your life energy will begin to fade, maybe permanently.

Near Death in a Tomb
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