Talowdale

Wherein the party becomes enslaved
Smash and grab is a legitimate tactic.

The era of exploring Undermountain with the aid of Halastair’s Horned Ring nearly came to an end in the last session.

Things began in the midst of the action. The party had locked themselves in the armory of the fire giants and had been looting it when they heard the sound of the armored giant strike force returning to their colony. Grim advocated a frontal assault on more than a dozen fully armed fire giants, their dragon, and hell hounds. Before Leeroy Genkins could commit the party to suicide, Glauben noticed a camouflaged face creeping amongst the giants ankles. Then there was a gentle knock on the door to the armory. A team of dwarvish tunnel runners had infiltrated the giant colony to assist the gnomes in rescuing the dwarvish slaves.

The tunnel runners had created diversions at the known entrances to the fire giant colony with steam-driven automated war machines that were set to self-destruct, so the colony was clear of giants and most guards. The party was able to move through the colony, through the main mess hall, past the kitchens, and into the servants section without even seeing a single giant.

When they did find one, the party blundered around a corner into a fire giant guard. But Grim was able to bluff the guard into walking into an ambush. The gnomes and dwarves didn’t even come up to the giant’s knees, so they took the opportunity to shorten his legs for him. And then applied a hair cut that may have been a bit extreme. A fifth dwarf tunnel runner linked up with the party and the party found the dwarf slaves that the fire giants had been keeping. With the help of teleportation, the slaves and their slain family members were safely delivered to Dun Glordel.

King Faldar informed the party that a team had been sent to the surface to plug the exit that had been used by the Bloody Hand, along with two squads of soldiers to help keep the village of Tern’s Roost safe from any assassins or vampires that might start trouble. Reminded by the King that there were still loos ends to run down, the party returned to the surface and Durnan’s Inn. The inn was packed with townsfolk seeking refuge from the remnants of the assassin’s guild which had erupted upon the surface. After scanning the crowd with the goggles of lifesight and talking with the men of the village the party learned of a dozen or so missing persons. The party armed the villagers with spoils from the fire giants and set out to search the village for the missing people.

Through the square and across the creek the party encountered a beautiful young woman in a dark cloak that they did not recognize. She was screaming that a vampire had attacked her husband. The party followed her into a dark alley only to be fired on by a hidden gang of slavers using poison.

Later the members of the party awoke in individual stone cells with iron bars and no windows, completely stripped of all their equipment. Some harsh words were exchanged between the gnomes and the guard. About three minutes later the entire slave prison was in a full blown riot. The party had a difficult battle against gargoyle guards and then broke free of the slave prison. In the yard of the stronghold the party determined that they were underground in a modified natural cavern. They used the crowd of revolting slaves as cover to run for the central ziggurat where the Eye was said to reside. All around the slaves were being shot by guards, and disintegrated by undead beholders. Having seen what beholders can do the party hid against the center of the ziggurat and considered their options. Eventually the party decided on a smash and grab in front of the Eye itself to reclaim Halastair’s Ring. Grim and Glauben got separated from the party and went on an involuntary tour of various dangerous locations until they were deposited in the room of the bone throne near Dun Glordel.

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Wherein the party defeats Altroth the Green
Who?

Fresh from a night’s sleep and a few gallons of beer to wash away the ordeal of breaking free from slavery the party considered establishing a mithril forge and blacksmithing operation with Garron Bellows. Because some specialized equipment was necessary, the party decided to teleport back to their home continent, Artha. After a few days of acquiring stud fees to cover some travel expenses the party set out across the snowy forest, following the Raerae River toward Silver Hills.

Along the way, the party battled numerous dangerous creatures. Many goblins and orcs were slain. Two wyverns provided target practice for a newly acquired wand of lightning. A herd of Triceretops were left to water themselves unmolested. The most significant encounter was that with Altroth the Green, a young adult green dragon.

Altroth had recently established his lair near the home range of a tribe of centaurs and the conflict between the horse men and the dragon left the centaur tribe decimated. The party befriended Ternner Tyr, a centaur, who led them to the dragon. A short but intense battle ensued where the party employed excellent planning and expended several single-use magic items. Fatty Fat Scaredy Cat the Pony Winston aka Fatty Winston nearly was slain by the fell dragon and lost his nose and several teeth in the fight.

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Wherein the party succeeds in solving Garron Bellows' legal troubles
And no one was killed.

The gnome party succeeded in managing a political conflict without murdering any of their enemies. This is an achievement the epic party has had trouble mastering.

After gathering information from barmaids, soldiers, and clerics, the Gnomes hired informants and an attorney. New fancy armor and weapons were purchased. Everyone was equipped with sturdy helms to protect against the face-rending fate that befell Fatty in the fight against the green dragon. After displaying superior ability to utilize violence, the Guild agreed to withdraw the Reeve’s hired goons, in exchange for promises and gold. Always keeping their eye on the prize, the party pushed through Garron Bellows’ legal difficulties to clear away any impediment to the business partnership in the mithril forge.

The party whipped up a religious fervor just by their presence in the city and provoked a candle light protest in front of the courthouse on the day of the trial. Fatty presented the party’s testimony that Garron was not a pirate and in fact was a victim of piracy and the real thief was Reeve Gunning. During the recess the chef and baker in the party managed to cater the protest with a feast of local trout and cream puffs. The decision came down to credibility of witnesses where on one side there was a notoriously selfish petty local polititian and on the other side was a witness bathed in the holy aura of Clangedden.

The Reeve lost. He got pied by the crowd on the way out of the courthouse. And the party were declared officers of the court for the purposes of repossessing Garron Bellows’ goods that had been taken by the Reeve. In the inspection of one of the Reeve’s warehouses the party discovered a massive shipment of Mad Cactus. The Sheriff confiscated the narcotics and arrested the Reeve. The party participated in the arrest by insulting the Reeve’s sour wife, conspiring to kidnap his 2-year-old son, ransacking his house, and threatening to use area of effect magic indoors.

Justice was served up with a side of cream puffs and the party returned to Tern’s Roost to get back to the serious business of giant slaying.

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Wherein the party slaughters women and childeren
Fire giants attacked from the rear.

There was some preliminary business talk. Loans, shops, office space, airport, professionals and employees, a roof over your head that you own.

Then back to the business of giant slaying. Information was had from the Dun Glordel dwarves that the giants had spread out into the territory of the Citadel of the Bloody Hand. The party examined the map and compared the known knowns with the known unknowns and chose a place to attack from.

On the way the party encountered a rather large snake. It was befriended with promises of showing the snake to a warmer location.

Teleport into the back rooms of the Citadel was essentially a teleportation directly into combat with the women and children of the fire giants. Combat lasted 9 rounds and saw 6 hell hounds, 5 adult and 5 child fire giants fall to the party. The party then retreated when more fire giants came charging in with their guard dragon.

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Wherein the Fire Giants Retaliate
Battle Royale

Mere minutes after the party fled from the giant’s colony, the fire giants mobilized a massive counter attack on Dun Golorel. The party healed up and rose to the defense of the dwarves.

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Wherein Karaflan Dies in Glory
Do I shoot the angel?

The Death of Karaflan was epic.

The waves of expendables fell under the blows and arrows and magic of the party. Then the fire giants pressed their main attack. A young adult red dragon charged through the melee crushing scores of kobalds, knocking over statues, and stomping Grim and Karaflan into paste. Holding against the charge, Karaflan and Grim inflicted tremendous damage on the dragon. Karaflan, dead but too enraged to know it, leapt at the dragon that had just trampled him. Grim charged with his halberd. The dragon turned his head toward Grim just in time to have his eye stabbed by the halberd. Karaflan gained the back of the dragon and stabbed down hard with his giant sword, slaying the tremendous beast. Karaflan turned, bloody foam on his lips, organs dripping from the sides of his armor, insane rage in his eyes, and screamed a terrifying threat at the fire giants advancing on him. And died.

Seconds later an angel was summoned who used magic to bring a peaceful end to the feud between the giants and the wee folk.

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Wherein the party ties up loose ends
"I shake the magic bone at the wall"

Last session the party returned to the glacially slow process of grinding the dungeon crawl. Faced with the option of striking out to level 2 or tying up some loose ends on level 1, and with some prodding by the GM, the party decided to check out the southern 4/6 of the unexplored first level.

Intending to proceed south from a place where the party encountered a ghostly apparition, without confronting the ghost, the party moved to investigate some double doors that had not yet been explored. A trap was detected but not successfully disabled and the party was enveloped in a cloud of corrosive chlorine gas. Rufus was nearly killed. Once the gas had dissipated, the party proceeded into the hall of a hundred candles. There they encountered and slew a carrion crawler which had been devouring some kind of huge glowing maggot. Past the hideous giant bugs the party encountered several poetic passages written on the wall at the end of the hall. After some thinking about the passages, that was probably interrupted a few times by the GM, the party set out south again in search of the secret door that the magic axe had detected. In the search the party came upon, surprised, and slew a group of goblins that were being led by a mimic. More loot than is reasonable for non-Blue Fist goblins to possess was found. The gobs had a magic die and a magic human arm bone. The bone was identified and it turned out to be an unholy relic of a saint of the goblin god. The party decided to go back and use the magic bone to poke the wall that had the word “bones” etched in it. After some experimentation and teleportation, the party teleported back to the room with Nimraith’s bones in it. They did everything possible to molest the skeleton without “searching” it. After a few more teleports, Nimraith’s back pack was searched to reveal an ivory scroll tube with a map and a spell scroll.

Since the etchings mentioned bones and thrones the party decided to place Nimraith’s bones in the bone throne they had “encountered” elsewhere. This caused the throne to transform into spitting vipers which were quickly dispatched. Investigation of the throne revealed a scepter of imprisonment which in turn revealed an imprisoned and enraged wyvern. The party made quick work of the wyvern. They then pried all the gems from the now non-threatening throne.

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Wherein the party battles drow
"We finally have an NPC with a class and she turns out to be an idiot!"

More dungeon grinding. Wandering monster ambushes, puzzling poetic clues, and drow sacrifices. The party entered a pair of large lit rooms. The first with the mouldering corpses of long dead nobility where a cryptic poem was found and pondered. Attempting to follow the lead and to join up two places on the map the party briefly explored a side hallway only to find and slay a manticore. Fortunately, the manticore had a decent sized pile of loot and serious thought was paid to repaying the loan to the Guild. Rats swarmed over the body of the fallen manticore. Rufus gorged himself on dungeon rats and fell asleep. Most of the party was disgusted by the spectacle, except Glauben, who sang “The Circle of Life.” Giving up on the side halls, the party returned to the second of the large purple-lit rooms to find a huge spider altar to the spider god Selvetarm, a kidnapped moon elf maiden, and two drow guards.

Things quickly escalated. The first two drow guards fell in a round. After a brief respite, the rest of the drow group arrived with their evil priestess. Magic was slung about and soon 10 drow added three zombies and 20 giant spiders to the battle.

Drow are often formidable foes because of their superior equipment and innate magic. When the DM fails to properly use that innate magic, the drow still have their powerful technological advantage. Drow tend to be armored with magical suits of mithril chain mail and magical mithril swords. In a world such as this, where magic has been rare until recently on the surface, one would expect drow to have a substantial advantage. However, here they were fighting an uncanny group of battle hardened gnomes who have powerful sponsors. These gnomes have slain three dragons and bear the spoils of those victories into battle. In a contest of armor there are few that can contend with The Gnomes of Raer Baer.

After the battle the gnomes had captured the dark elf priestess. A difficult interrogation was followed by a long and intense discussion of what to do with the prisoner. Faced with a lack of detention facilities and an uncooperative prisoner, the party opted for an execution.

During the fight, the party had rescued Maith Slenderbow, a moon elf maiden of 40 years. She had been captured by the drow and was being magically interrogated. She was separated from her father, a bowyer, on a market trip to the port of Arconston. Clad only in a silken shift, the party armed her with a bow from their surplus and the magic leather curiass they had just found. After the battle and discovering the ordeal she had been through, Fatty fed her with cream puffs and bread and pastry which Maith hungrily devoured between sobs. After the interrogation and execution of the dark elf prisoner and the obscure revelation to the party that Maith’s father was most likely dead, Maith collapsed in a corner vomiting up the mass of sugar she had been fed and sobbing between convulsions.

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Wherein the party is bitten by spiders
For the night is dark, and full of spiders.

IN the last session the party set out to return Maith Slenderbow to her people. The going was hindered by bad information, bad weather, and millions of spiders. A curse was suspected and magic was tested. Then drider attacked and were slain. There was also a unicorn.

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Wherein the party travels north
"I give her noble ass a treat"

The party successfully returned Maith Slenderbow to her mother and her home in the village of Heirhorne. On the road north there was some bullshit with kobald grave robbers. Grave robbers were tracked and rode down and their ill gotten plunder confiscated. There was retaliation the next day by 12 kobalds who attempted to lay a trap. Tracks of a 13th foe, who wore boots where the kobalds went unshod, led to a blind chase into the forest in the night but no enemy. The next morning mail was found in the box. Garfanglor had sent a letter telling the gnomes to give up the loot and stay out of his business. After long discussion the gnomes decided to dump the loot. They then proceeded to town, hired a barge, and traveled to the far north of Verland to return the girl home.

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