Deities

Session 22 - Shinael?

With the travails of Bathyal behind them, the party and their swashbuckling companions set off North to Shinael, the isle of the elves.

Hearalded by the call of ‘land ho!’ from the crows nest, the isle of Shinael resolves itself through the cloudy winter day. Thick bitter cold rain droplets soak the deck and your cloak, and all but Prism look eagerly at the isle for respite from the foul tempered sea.

Graced by sweeping emerald green cliffsides and bursting with thriving verdant plant life, it’s hard to resist the sheer feeling of awe that washes over you. Even on a miserable day like this, the isle exudes a feeling of ancient and graceful mystery. Soon the scent of the sea is washed away by the heavy smell of rich earth and deep forest. Ahead, a village of sweeping moss-covered marble arches reaches out invitingly to the sea. The place seems forgotten, and a strange melancholy hovers about it.

The Sea Bitch makes way for the elven port’s docks – through the mist a crew member deduces they’ve come upon the town of Tavrobel. Things are eerily quiet in the town at they approach…

Tiny droplets of moisture swirl about heavily in the air, adding a sleepy quality to the grey wetness that infuses the port town of Tavrobel. Aside from the unusually gentle lapping of the ocean’s waves upon the shore, the town is utterly and eerily silent. Gathered atop the masterpiece of artistry that is the town’s dock carved into a massive soaring eagle, you surround an unconscious elven man. He’s soaked to the bone and chill to the touch, but doesn’t shiver and seems to be sleeping peacefully.

Laurian offers little in the way of insight into what may have caused the elf to slumber. The party has only a bit of luck deducing that the ailment is not inject poison (lack of wounds). Obviously, the sleep came gradually enough to allow the man to control his slump to the ground, but quickly enough that no other villagers could come to help.

In the dock master’s office, the party locates a shipping manifest detailing the location of some expensive emeralds and a cache of alchemical distillation agents. Following the trail of breadcrumbs, the party stumbles upon a band of satyrs taking advantage of the unconscious village…

Passing through the first screen of underbrush, the faint sounds of pan pipes and riotous laughter can be heard from deeper within the forested streets. Though you are not stealthy, the group of boisterous and drunk goat men in the village square seem to take no notice of you as you turn a corner, instead they are focused on picking clean the unconscious elves of their jewellery and gold – pausing in their thieving to inappropriately grope the pretty ones.

Satyr by Yayashin
by Yayashin

Engaging the satyrs, the party drives them off and continues to the alchemical works where the distillation agents were delivered. There they deduce the source of the unnatural slumber – modified spider egg paralysis poison, aerosolized in an experiment to distill the substance into a more potent form. With their expertise, they conclude that the poison must’ve unintentionally mixed with the mist surrounding the town and knocked out everyone within it; additionally the poison, though gone from the air, must’ve somehow become soporific in their bodies – meaning it could be decades before the elves awake (not a death sentence in Shinael).

Before they can process the information they’ve gathered, the party is attacked by a strange creature – an indistinct figure with a nightmarish shape, not quite human or animal or fiend.

Animate Dream by Paizo
by Paizo

The party engages and defeats the creature, identifying it as an animate dream, likely a manifestation of the unnatural sumber of the village residents.

With the mystery of the slumbering village at least somewhat solved, the party expresses their interest in relieving the town of their cache of emeralds while they sleep. Before they set off however, they spot another vessel approaching the town…

Meanwhile, in the waking world…

Nemos, Verthos, Dantalion, Leatha, and Kaetoridax didn’t succumb to the sleeping spell that fell over the Sea Bitch earlier that day. And though they put up a valiant fight, they could not adequately defend the ship from another vessel (the Salty Hag) when it attacked. Holding the unconscious Marsala hostage, the crew that remained awake surrendered.

The whole crew – awake and sleeping, were taken into the hold of the other ship and locked below; the conscious crew were locked in cells. It was obvious that the sleeping crew were trapped in some sort of dream as they could not be roused to help their imprisoned comrades. The rival ship’s crew underestimated Dantalion however, who used his teleportation ability to move into Leatha’s cell and his horns to cut her bindings. The time had come for these unlikely allies to plot their escape…

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Session 21 - WMDs

Vault of the Exalted by Dylan Pierpont
by Dylan Pierpont

Having defeated the pretender gods at the threshold of the vault, the party brings their key to bear, opens the seals, and descends into the ancient room…

A metallic tang hangs heavy in the misty air of Xxiphu’s vault. What meager light you’ve brought pales in comparison to the powerful glow of potent items gathered in the central dais. That glow is reflected in golden color hundreds of thousands of times throughout the room among scattered piles of gold, jewelry, trinkets and gems.

Wispy forms of tattered cloth hover about the dais as if gazing upon it in desire. The red-clawed creatures have no gaze however, just shattered red skulls resting atop open maws, all of it leaking a milky substance.

The party faced the Dark Choir – a trio of soul eaters bound to the vault as guardians over the terrible weapons gathered within.

The Dark Choir by Dylan Pierpont
by Dylan Pierpont

As before, their enemies fell before the might of the Gods, and the long-forgotten wealth of Xxiphu was theirs. Among a sea of gold and gems filling the dias, they took note of powerful artifacts:

  • The Brahmastra Crystal – Said to have formed from the tears of the holy light, weeping in sadness as he cast the rebellious angels from the heavens.
  • Death Warden’s Scarf – Said to be woven from the stolen breath of widows first learning of the death of their husbands.
  • Spellbreaker Blade – Said to have been forged in the eternal fires left behind by the first fire primordial as it was banished from creation and strippped of magic.
  • The Phoenix Cloak – Rumored to be the immortality of a phoenix, relinquished when it’s Samsaran creator was cursed to become a Rakshasa.
  • Legendsbane – The weapon feared by the gods of the first age, rumored to have been forged with the last vestiges of creation magic left to the dragons and honed to a point with their collective bitterness and rage at their curse from Awareness.
  • Asmodean War Banner, Vashathros – Said to have bound the wounds of the high angel himself, suffered in the final push for Mount Celestia when the demons of the Darkness betrayed their new allies.

In a swirl of brimstone smoke, Dantalion manifests in the vault…

A gravelly voice echoes in the vast chamber over your excited chatter and eager visages, “I wouldn’t touch that dagger if I were you.” Greeting you with a fanged smile, the handsome horned phistophilus Dantalion approaches the dias. His deep red skin and wreath of horns lending even the glittering light of gold a sinister glare.

He carries a word of warning about even touching Legendsbane, but speaks lovingly of Vashathros, “Ah, but this pennant – this is abjectly perfect. As always my dear friend Cyrus, our arrangements are as mutually beneficial as they are pleasant.”

Taking up the pennant, Dantalion attempts to teleport away, but quickly realizes the war banner cannot travel with him in such a manner. After a few attempts, the frustrated philostophilous sighs with resignation and declares that he shall travel with the party, guarding the cloth until they draw near to a path of Addaric – then he will take the artifact back to hell. Waving his hands once more, an orangish-yellow mist surrounds him…

As the infernal mists pull away, a strikingly handsome man stands before you. He’s got a dangerous smile on his lips framed with a devil-may-care dusting of stubble and a dark look in his smokey eyes. He wears a comfortable sleeveless red silk tunic that matches the former tone of his skin and tight black leather breeches polished so as to be reminiscent of the many horns of his true form.

The Devil’s Eyes by Natalie Hijazi
by Natalie Hijazi

Before the party could begin claiming their prizes however, Krossbyr – self-proclaimed king of Bathyal – arrived with a squad of Sahuagin at his back.

“Excellent work adventurers! You’ve done a great service to Bathyal in discovering such a large cache of strategic assets. Yes, all these objects and coinage I think shall be vital to the reclamation of the city. Wouldn’t you agree?”

To which Dantalion interjected and responded, “Like hell it is; there are few things in this shit hole of a world that annoy me more than those who break their word. Let’s see how strategic these assets are when they’re shoved up your ass.”

Battle ensues, and the crew of the Sea Bitch soon makes an appearance – running into the vault shortly after Krossbyr’s army. In a chaotic melee, their enemies again are struck down and the party leaves Bathyal without a king and an empty vault.

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Session 20 - Xxiphu's Vault

Water Temple by samburley
by samburley

The battle with the adventurer band assembled by Erathis and Hextor is brief and brutal. Only a single member of the opposing party managed to escape – diving into the water pooled at the bottom of the massive chamber.

The chill air is heavy with the salty scent of the sea spiced with the acrid stench of burnt flesh. The steam from Graver’s magical fire refuses to disburse, and instead seems to writhe with a life of its own in the breezes created by the water features of the room and feeding on the clouds of breath escaping from your mouths.

The party picks over the remains of their foolish challengers, and soon sets off in pursuit of the pretender gods…

Venturing behind the massive marble statue of a long-forgotten Samsaran, you see obvious signs that another party has ventured ahead of you. A wide set of bronze double doors, heavily crusted with a brilliant turquoise patina, lay wide open. By all rights, that simple fact should mean that this chamber should be flood with seawater, but it is not.

Beyond the door you see a tunnel bored through the water as if it was solid. An dim, eerie, neon blue light shimmers and reflects of the reflective surface of the water walls and ceiling, rippling as if churned by some unseen force. Totems cascading with energy are the source of light, and presumably the source of the tunnel as well. Through the water walls, you can see the tunnel curves, meandering its way through the broken streets of sunken Xxiphu. The dim and indistinct shapes of dilapidated buildings frame the mystical passage on both sides and nearly 200 feet above the water’s true surface looks similar to a much closer skysea.

Venturing bravely into the water tunnel, the party engaged a cadre of Kapoacinths (water gargoyles) looking for an easy meal. The creatures were cunning and attacked the totems creating the water tunnel when the battle turned against them. Even so, our heroes prevailed and trudged on deeper into the Samasaran/Aboleth ruins.

Gargoyle by canetiskol
by canetiskol

The tunnel of air snaking along the bottom of the sea and through the ruins of Xxiphu terminates just ahead at the threshold of a large domed building. Relief washes over you at the sight – the air of the tunnel has scratched at the necessary moisture of your lungs for too long.

The building’s entrance is framed by a half-closed set of thick adamantine double doors. Carved shapes of strange fish-like creatures in alien vistas seem to tug at your basest animal instincts, urging you to run away and cast aside your sanity. The other door is colored differently – a much darker tarnished black, and is mostly hacked away – leaving only a bit of the door still within the frame. A strange mechanical device sits on the floor next to the door; it’s covered in prongs and needles, and sports a glass bulb with a silvery liquid inside.

The party concluded that the device was an apparatus designed to apply the fluid of a philosopher’s stone to the adamantine door – thus alchemically transmuting it into a softer substance. Beyond the breached door…

Inside, the eerie blue light of the water tunnel gives way to the orange warmth of large fires burning in braziers. The alien chill is less here in a physical sense, though metaphysically no fire could burn away the foreboding you feel starting at the dilapidated building at the center of the dome. You can hear soft chanting within.

Tomb by tituslunter
by tituslunter

In short order, the party is confronted again by the former goddess of civilization – Erathis. True to form, she spends some time in hiding, spouting a petulant monologue about how unworthy they are to possess their deific gifts and how the contents of Xxiphu’s vault will let her take their squandered power from them. At that, she reveals herself, upgraded again by Dumathoin and wreathed in magic. The battle is longer than before, but still she is trounced. To add insult to injury, the party glues her – face down – the the floor of the ancient building with some sovereign glue.

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Session 19 - Xxphiu

Ice Tower by yagaminoue
by yagaminoue

Amist a day that dawns a depressing grey seasoned with sea salt and served chilled, the Sea Bitch reaches the shores of the Archipelago. The crew is tense – even Marsala is up early to assist guiding the vessel amongst the dangerous reefs in the poor visibility. It is not long in the day before a sharp mountain, utterly barren and unforgiving, resolves itself from the mist. It juts from the sea like a dagger, the ocean bleeding its frothy blood upon its jagged shore.

Nimbly, the Sea Bitch dances around the dangerous rocks like a cat in a room of rocking chairs. A tense hour passes, punctuated by sudden strained orders to steer and adjust rigging. At the end, looking exhausted, the crew rallies again under a universal visage of dread. The city of Xxiphu lies ahead, all grandiose arches in elegant decay, piercing the surface of the sea but clearly not of it. No, this was no Aboleth city, it is unmistakably Samsaran in origin.

As the Sea Bitch glides closer to Xxiphu, gillmen riding hippocampus rise from the depths surrounding the ship…

Beneath the churning sea, dark shapes rise into visibility, emerging as strange fishmen wielding menacing bows and riding strange horse-fish creatures. Girded in uniform, carefully shaped coral armor, they bear an official mien, and one calls out in a clear voice weighted with authority. “You sail within the borders of the kingdom of Bathyal – which imposes a toll to keep these waterways safe. State your purpose and cargo.”

A peaceful interchange occurs and the crew learns that the ancient city Xxiphu is now named Bathyal and its king would have an audience with all adventures coming to the city. The ship docks, and the party assembles to meet the king…

Damp ruin, wrapped in the chill embrace of the Sea, surrounds you. Various structures, once undoubtedly majestic, lie in forgotten but elegant decay. The sheer weight of loss is hard to deny – this was once a jewel of a powerful and learned civilization, struck down by an offended god who never once spoke to his people.

Sunken temples by Tryingtofly
by Tryingtofly

A deep booming laughter echoes through the exposed and weathered halls. It reminds you of the noise of storm waves crashing against a massive rock. Rounding one last corner, you come to a neglected throne room, filled with a motley court of young gillmen. Towering above all others in front of the throne is a massive giant, sporting coral armor similar to the others…though you do not know where he ends and his armor begins. The fool of the court, an over-painted gillwoman, prances out of the way as you enter, and the laughter gives way to shrewd smiles and looks of interest.

Nyxborn Triton by ClintCearley
by ClintCearley

In a voice booming like crashing waves, the Sea Giant King of Bathyal spoke to the gathered party:

“I am Krossbyr, duly elected king of Bathyal. You arrive at the cusp of glory adventurers, for we seek to reclaim the lost city in the name of the kingdom. Are you here to lend your sword to our cause?”

The party learns that Krossbyr rules over a tribe of gillmen seeking to reclaim the lost city of Xxiphu under the new name Bathyal. They authorize excursions into the fallen city in exchange for half of the wealth found there. Additionally, the party learns that the pretender gods have arrived at the city ahead of them. The party agrees to the terms and ventures into the fallen city…

Discovering the old entrance by Tryingtofly
by Tryingtofly

Huge marble Samsaran faces tower before you, neglected, defaced, and forgotten among the ruined halls. Their empty eyes stare blankly ahead, their stoic countenance lending a sense of ancient respect to the desolation. The scent of sea and the sound of running water are ever present.

In the buried halls, the party encounters Botilda, a Grodair who has been tasked by Hextor and Erathis to drain the catacombs of their water…for a time. Apparently, the creature remembers an embarrassment inflicted upon it by the first age Goddess of Hope and agreed to help the pretender gods in exchange for help in case the opportunity for revenge ever presents itself.

Grodair by unknown

After a peaceful interaction, the party presses forward, into a massive ancient hall where an expedition force left behind by Hextor tries to block their way. Battle ensues, and the force is no match for the growing power of the new gods.

Water Temple by samburley
by samburley

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Session 18 - Hired Help

As the party emerges from the ocean after retrieving the key to the Vault of Xxiphu…

Rising slowly above the surface of the dark waters, your eyes ache from the sudden unfiltered brightness of the world around you. Salt water pours from your nose, mouth, and lungs – the magic of the spell shields you from gagging or coughing, but does not spare you from the foul taste. A chill winter breeze blows in from the skysea curve, bringing with it a fresh set of shivers and casting a purple hue to most your lips. Laurian stands at the railing of the Sea Bitch, a concerned look on his face – he speaks but you cannot hear over the sound of sea water emptying from plate armor.

Eventually, Laurian gets his story out:

“I searched the expedition ship and found in the captain’s quarters a collection of annotated historical texts pilfered from Paravahl’s archival department. As the former folklore preservation expert at the department, it was easy for me to make the connections in their line of research.”

“Alarmingly, the three purported former gods are working in concert to access the Abolethian weapon vault in Xxiphu. Their research points to a weapon crafted by Thoduan Stormherald, a Samsaran who, according to the texts, forged a weapon to harm the very essence of Awareness itself. Granted, it was crafted near the end of the first century of the Age of Primes, so if the stories are to be believed, then the weapon was designed to harm the Darkness and the Light – or really anything bearing the over-deity’s power.”

Extracting a single parchement from a bundle of rumpled sheets in his hand, Laurian continues…

“This letter here speaks about that very conclusion, in a missive between Hextor and Dumathoin. Apparently they and Erathis believe that the weapon can harm members of your pantheon.”

“Other notes seem to hint at some sort of time-based vulnerability in the vault, but most of the details are not here. I believe some documents have been taken by Erathis and Dumathoin to Xxiphu, and they left Hextor behind to see if he can secure the key as a backup plan for accessing the vault.”

“One other thing as well – Orrin and I believe that the so-called ‘old pantheon’ is using the Paravahlian communication stones, and it’s likely that Hextor managed to get a warning out to Erathis and Dumathoin.”

Chiming in, Orrin holds up a small and unremarkable chalkboard…

“This is the bounty board. When new bounties crop up, the board is filled back at Paravahl. I saw an assignment pop up earlier, to venture to Xxiphu with combat involved. I think the city can somehow spy on the messages sent by the stones….and I think that someone there is interested in the contents of that vault.”

Following that information, the party still decides to continue to Xxiphu. During the journey, Prisim shares a bit of her history and follows up the conversation with a divination. With the help of Laurian and Kaetoridax, they determine that a recently-reborn Brine wyrm by the name of Sorventhane seeks to attack them the next day.

Sea Fight by 88grzes
by 88grzes

The portent proved true, and battle was met on the seas. Sorventhane attacked the Sea Bitch along with two of his sea drake spawn. Before the attack, the Brine dragon spoke to his mates: “Come my children, Erathis will reward us handsomely for striking down these upstarts.”

Sorventhane was overmatched however, and the party struck him down. It was at that time that a terrible ability possessed by the nascent deities manifested – the ability interrupt the rebirth cycle of a killed dragon and absorb its essence. The party did so, and gained a boon in the action.

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Session 17 - Xxiphu’s Vault Key

In the wake of their escape from the destruction of Penumbra at the hands of the primordial they summoned, the party and the crew of the Sea Bitch hold a celebration. The companions they’ve acquired on their travels each contribute to the party – either with music, magically-conjured lights, or activities.

As the party grew quiet, Laurian shares a story of the Separated Samsarans Oliea and Farthagrin. Oliea was cursed with most of the other Samsarans by Awareness when he returned to Senium to punish the race for uplifting the mortal races to sentience to fight in their proxy wars. Farthagrin, distraught over being separated from his love, paired himself with the efforts of the dwarves to mine deep into the earth for an ancient temple. From the temple Farthagrin took a crystal and used the power of the crystal to restore Oliea. The crystal was so powerful that it instead returned Oliea to original form – whatever it was before the high magic of the dragons created them. Farthagrin disappeared along with any knowledge of what Oliea transformed into.

After the story was told, Cyrus summoned Dantalion and asked for advice about what to wish for. Dantalion advised him to wish for the ability to locate a key and then a aboleth vault that was rumored to contain a potent weapon to battle angels. Dantalion also shared that the vault contained a powerful weapon to battle demons, and he would gladly pay a high price to receive such a potent gift. Cyrus agreed with the suggestion, and wished for the recommended abilities.

Steamboat by Togman Studio
from Togman Studio

The wish for the vault key led the Sea Bitch north to a ship anchored directly above the key’s location. The party made their way onto the ship, overpowered the crew, and observed a strange mechanical device operating on board. The party recognized the technology as being the work of Dumathoin and Graver immediately sabotaged it, causing the underwater vault the device was pumping full of air to immediately collapse, killing all inside. The key itself was ejected from the temple during the explosion and the party ventured undersea to retrieve it. After a battle with an undersea creature, the party began their journey back to the surface.

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Session 16 - Phlogiston, Shard of the First Flame

The plan is underway now, and the party makes haste with Marsala to the center of Penumbra. Laurian waxes professor-like as the ritual begins, speaking about some older musings of an elven archmage that postulated on the existence of mortals like Marsala whom could manipulate the power of the elements without the aid of magic.

The wafting dust of the elemental’s ashes are still rising in defiance of the cold light rain when Marsala begins her process. A strange light catches on the surface of her eyes as if she was looking into a great bonfire – though none exists. Her hands stretch forth as if to warm herself, but instead you see the ashes begin to glow with a renewed heat.

After a moment, Marsala says in a voice betraying only slight distraction, “It will take me a few minutes to bring this creature back from the empty oblivion you sent it to. You can go…” Her voice trails off as if some great revelation has dawned upon her. She turns her gaze to you Graver, the fiery glow still shining eerily in her eyes; she’s looking at you as if seeing you in an entirely different light. Slowly, she extends her tiny hand towards you, reaching out as if for an alm.

With the recklessness of youth, Graver takes Marsala’s hand and lends some of his deific power to the fire resurrection process. She accepts greedily and the rest of the party set off to complete the plan, leaving the two behind to their ritual.

A blast of usually warm air blows past you from behind with surprising force and you spot an hellishly orange light reflecting off the back of Leatha’s breastplate. Turning, your eyes arch upward in involuntary surprise at the sight of the creature roaring at the center of Penumbra. It is not the fire elemental you cut down originally – not by far. This creature sports a massive crown of horns upon its head and a raiment of authority similar to that which surrounds each of you.

Fire Demon from Free HD Wallpaper
from FreeHDWallpaper

It is Laurian who, in between surprised gasps, identifies the dread creature Marsala and Graver summoned into the center of the port town. It is Phlogiston, shard of the first flame; a part of the creature that first formed the world from chaos on behalf of Awareness the creator. The wizard quickly points out that Phlogiston is a primordial – banished from creation by Awareness because their forms were too extreme to explore the world they built. Against all reason, Laurian runs off towards the creature, stating he must study it more closely.

In spite of the unusual turn of events, the party continues with their plan to free the halflings of Penumbra amidst the chaos in the town. They make their way to the barracks, and encounter a motley group of hired gate guards who watch with amusement as Phlogiston burns the town to the ground.

Under the bridge by trejoeeee
from trejoeeee

A battle ensues, and the party, aided by Orrin and even Kaetoridax, is victorious. With a raging Primordial as a backdrop, they have little trouble convincing the halflings to make their way to Sanctuary.

In spite of the raging of Phlogiston, the battle with the gate guards caught the attention of their wayang majordomo Karucil. Angry at the destruction the party wrought upon his beloved town, the shadow creature called upon an innate ability of their race and summoned a Praetorian Guard to battle the party.

Dark Knight Ver 2.0 by reaper78
from reaper78

Battle ensues again, but this time the party is outmatched. In a short few seconds, one of them is nearly cut down and Leantha has taken several powerful blows. Seeing that they’re overmatched, Cyrus calls in the favor owed to him by Dantalion. Summoning a bone devil to distract the knight, Dantalion captures Karucil and orders him to call off the guard. The battle is resolved, and Cyrus kills the wayang, sacrificing it to Dantalion in exchange for more wishes.

With the halfling free and the town burning around them, the party makes haste to flee themselves onto the Sea Bitch and to the safety of the ocean waters. Everyone chips in to survive as Phlogiston’s attention shifts back and forth between them and the forces sent by Paravahl to take him down. With the concerted effort of the entire crew and the party, the Sea Bitch survives Phlogiston’s onslaught and escapes.

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Session 15 - Penumbra's Problem

With Paravahl’s enchantment restored, the city no longer had to rely on the rice teleported into the city from Penumbra to fill its populace’s bellies with gruel. The value of rice had plummeted, and so had the usefulness of the halfling slaves that worked the fields. The fate of the slaves was in jeapordy.

Though the evening’s activities were lost to the fog of drink, the party did find themselves the next morning aboard a ship chartered to travel north…

A gloomy dawn twilight rises over Penumbra – the sun filtered through the skysea, a high cloud cover, and the shadows of the port itself. A light steady rain falls from the sky casting the floorboards of the docks in a slippery silver sheen. The chill in the air wraps your breath in a mist that sinks into the brackish waters below the town.

Aboard the Sea Bitch, the party meets the irrepressible Marsala – a halfling and captain of the vessel. The sharp woman immediately picks up on the deific nature of her passengers and points out that one of her crew – Prism – is just like them. She also remarks on the liberated halfling slaves that came on board the night before – and that’s where things got interesting.

In short order, the fiery captain and Graver find much in common at their disdain for the rampant slavery in Penumbra. Marsala is quick to mention a dangerous plan she’s let stew in her mind for days, but lacked the muscle to pull it off:

Penumbra has a bound elder fire elemental which stands as a lighthouse to warn ships away from beaching against the burnt isle. Marsala thinks that, if the party can defeat the creature, she can resurrect it from the ashes in the middle of Penumbra – causing a healthy distraction since the city is all planks and wood covered in tar. In the ensuing fiery chaos, the party can overrun the barrak guards, free the halflings, and set them on the path to Sanctuary.

Desolation by leojr
by leojr

The party agrees to the plan (dragging Leantha along really) to free the halflings and rows their way out to the burnt isle. All lack any skill with boats however, and the trip soons requires magic to pull off. However, they eventually reach the isle, and with the elder fire elemental bound to a platform, they make quick work of it and return to the Sea Bitch.

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Session 14 - Reclaim and retreat

At the top of their ascent of tower magnificent…

Light – brilliant, bright, yellow-orange sunlight filtered through the skysea; that’s the first thing that strikes you as you emerge from the long ascent pillar of Tower Magnificent. The structure’s bluish-tinted crystal composition catches the afternoon sunlight along the many-varied surface of the tower pinnacle. Borne on an invisible current of magic, you rise with perfect smoothness from a hole in the ground ringed by an ornate decorative railing.

It seems natural and comforting to step once again on solid ground after so many minutes. The surface itself though, is strong and unyielding, and strangely resonant under your feet. The rooms themselves up here (and there are several) are sparsely adorned with the accouterments of wizardry. Bookcases of rich dark wood sport thick tomes of yellowing paper and flaking bindings. Other signs of habitation are evident, but through the slight distortion of the clear crystal walls you spy no bed, nor any chamber pots. You see here and there at least two unseen servants going about the tasks of keeping the pinnacle clean.

After a time of exploration, you spy a figure, regal and tall and clothed in the iconic dark purple robes favored by Kayal wizards. He stands on a rail-less balcony, gazing outwards towards the magnificent view of the surrounding mountains. Paravahl, a dark blot in the sky, hovers ominously in the distance. To his left is a podium-cage of polished glittering bronze, holding within it a floating albino snake with a forked tail. To his right is a simple writing desk – atop which rest the tools of a scrivener. No breeze kicks up to disturb the parchment or the arcanist’s robes.

“Impressive,” Kettoras said, greeting the party, “I expected that the Age of Silence may have ended, and here I am presented with proof.”

After a brief moment of discussion, Kettoras attacked the party – and though irritating to pin down, he was defeated without too much trouble and fled by jumping off the high tower. During the battle, it was revealed that the being they faced was a mere simulacrum of Kettoras – an old one at that, left behind to watch over the abandoned valley.

Simulacrum-Kettoras’ prisoner in the bronze cage identified himself Abihu, a Hypnalis originally from the lost ethereal plane. In thanks for his release, he promised to carry the tale of his rescue to his people in story and myth – a favor to be owed.

After a bit of looting, the party returned to the halflings, left safe and warm in Fee-air-fin’s cave. They led them out into the reclaimed Eldoreem Valley – the re-founding of the Kingdom of Concopion. There the halfings founded the city of Sanctum among the buttresses of Tower Magnificent, and elected the leaders of their community:

  • Pimpernell – Mayor
  • Bolger – Sheriff
  • Figgery – Head of Temple Hospital to Cyrus

Sanctum was founded that day, on the principles of peaceful independent existence for all halfling slaves, and mercy and healing for those in need. A dark shadow was formed that day as well in Porto, who kept vengeance in their hearts for the oppressive Paravahlians.

In deference to the Emerald Regent, several halflings began their lives as ambassadors to the fey nation and the start of a druid faction within the community.

Their work done, the party continued East, making their way to the port city of Penumbra, an annex of Paravahl…

shanty town by jbrown67
by jbrown67

This port is a true annex of Paravahl – decadent decay drapes everything in a twisted apocalyptic elegance. Murky water tainted with sewage swirls about the buildings, all built upon stilts to make space for the vast fields of rice, aqueducts, and windmills.

The party quickly discovered the strange and morally decrepit inhabitants of Penumbra – the wayang. Odd little creatures of twisted shadow they were, conniving at the behest of their Kayal masters and worshiping desperately the empty shadow. Karucil was a prime specimen of his race, and obviously selected by Paravahl to ease the party’s transition through and out of Penumbra as quickly as possible.

The party wasn’t content to leave the city alone however, as they quickly discovered among the sins of the city was the hospitality offered to Verito – a human slavelord. Instead of fighting the slavelord directly however, Cyrus overpaid for the freedom of Verito’s halfing slaves. Such an act inspired the halflings, who informed the party of a dire situation forming for the halflings of Penumbra.

With Paravahl’s enchantment restored, the city no longer had to rely on the rice teleported into the city from Penumbra to fill its populace’s bellies with gruel. The value of rice had plummeted, and so had the usefulness of the halfling slaves that worked the fields. The fate of the slaves was in jeopardy.

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Session 13 - Tower Magnificent

With the Behren defeated and the path to the underdark opened for the Myceloids of Eldoreem valley, the party regrouped and struck off towards the center of the mist-shrouded land. There, by word of the Emerald Regent, they were to hunt for a staff which perpetuated the curse of eternal fog upon the land.

On their trek, after fighting off several of the valley’s dangerous inhabitants, the band of fledgling gods came upon a curious camp. Heavy canvas, wet with moisture and supported by stout wooden poles, formed a ring of tents. A metallic miasma hung heavy in the air, and soon revealed itself to be the roiling the alchemical experiments of a wyrwood from Galgate.

Calling itself Regare, it explained that it was a member of a race of artificial warrior life forms created by a Samsaran to defend the Free Cities Peninsula. Regare was in the valley to study the telepathic properties of Mindslayer Mold and how the mold might be incorporated into the form of the wyrwood to enable better battlefield communications. Considering the wyrwood had a culture of the mold growing upon its back, you figured Regare took the work quite seriously.

The alchemist asked for assistance from the party, explaining that supplies of bodily fluids to sustain the mold were running low and Regare cannot generate the correct fluids on his own. In spite of its pleas however, only Cyrus agrees to help. Afterwards, they move on.

In short order, the party finds itself at the base of Tower Magnificent, the half mile-high glass structure built by the mighty Ketoras at the center of the Eldoreem Valley. They combat and soundly defeat Erathis in a different artificial form here. Apparently, she made her way into another artificial body and then set out for the staff (containing a fraction of deific power that it does). Erathis appeared to be acting in collusion with a strange insect-like creature called a Xill. Laurian later explained that the Xill are a creature from what was once called the ethereal plane. With that plane lost, it’s natural the Xill would be seeking other perpetually misty places to make their home.

Not breaking their stride, the party enters Tower Magnificent, to find it little more than a hollow glass tube. Inside they battle a trio of salt mephits and air mephits and are triumphant, but not before losing all of their potions. Even still, the party manages to secure a hidden cache of strangely powerful potions of levitation and make their way up the tower. Along the way, they claim former staff of the Emerald Regent, breaking it down into its individual components. As a result, the mist that once shrouded the valley begins to break apart – truly, the staff’s power had been twisted to form the mist.

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