Grasp of Orcus

Curse of Strahd - Session 1
Exit Light, Enter Barovia

After rushing her to a temple of Ioun and consulting with life cleric Samhel of Pelor, the party is informed that there is little to be done for Bree and her child – unless they can access stronger magics. Samhel introduces the party to human druid Mika Murrowind, who tells them of the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind – a powerful artifact of the Raven Queen. It has been long lost in Barovia, a cursed land of darkness and misery, ruled over by infamous vampire Strahd von Zarovich. Mika believes that rescuing the relic would incur the Raven Queen’s gratitude. Drawn by the promise of many other legendary treasures, the possibility of saving Bree, and the potential for fame and fortune, Born, Berensir, Honest Bob, Reiko, Alistair, and Truetongue all accept.

The party preps by each silvering a weapon and purchasing Monster Hunter kits. Mika lets them know that at least two parties have recently entered Barovia: famed vampire hunter Rudolch Van Richten more than a year ago, and a large party of adventurers 3 weeks ago. She also warns them of deadly mists surrounding Barovia, and that no one for 3 centuries had ever made it out of Barovia alive. Reiko, having traveled in the area, knows that monsters such as werewolves emerge and attack nearby villages to carry off children.

After a night of rest, Mika meets them at dawn and sends them into Barovia by way of Tree Stride.

DAY 1.
The party lands at the Ivlis River Crossroads. The evil miasma of Barovia is thick and choking, and Truetongue immediately attempts to back out, only to find the passage through the tree has closed. Three roads await them – labeled “Barovia” to the East, “Vallaki” and “Ravensloft” to the southwest, and “Tser Lake” to the northwest. Bob notes additional markings on the “Tser Pool” sign in thieves cant, indicating a friendly welcome.

There is also a long abandoned gallows. When the party do perception checks, Reiko spots three watchers in the woods – but also sees a vision of herself hanging from the gallows. Born immediately attacks the closest watcher. In the battle, the three would-be bandits attempt to flee, but the party easily kills one and captures the other two. The survivors – Drilvia and Dragomir – plead innocence, claiming to be Vistani – “Friends to all!” -
merely defending their home territory. Bob reads them as full of shit – they were lying in wait to attack travelers. When the party presses for information on the Holy Symbol of the Raven Queen, the Vistani suggest the party speaks with Madam Eva. When Berensir searches the body of the slain Vistana, he finds a crude, hand-drawn map of Barovia.

Drilvia and Dragomir ride Born-as-a-horse to the Vistani camp at Tser Pool. Along the way, the party notes 2 ravens watching them, whom Reiko identifies as motivated by human intelligence. Drilvia mentions “It is not wise to harm a raven – they carry the souls of the dead.” Drilvia also mentions that many in Barovia lack souls altogether. She is offended when the party asks if she has a soul – obviously she does!

At the Vistani Camp, they meet with Madam Eva who tells them they are fools to enter Barovia for a mere bauble and that they will die here. Still, she provides them with a card reading. The reading is as follows:
Card 1"This card tells of history. Knowledge of what has passed will help you better understand your enemy." 6 of stars: Evoker. “Search for the crypt of a wizard extraordinaire. His staff is the key.”
Card 2 “This card tells of a powerful force for good and protection, a holy symbol of much hope,. This is what you seek.” 3 of swords: Soldier. “Go to the mountains. Climb the white tower guarded by golden knights.”
Card 3 “This is a card of power and strength, a weapon of vengeance that thirsts for the hand of one who will wield it in revenge, a sword of sunlight.” 1 of stars: Transmuter. “Go to a place of dizzying heights, where the stone itself is alive! You must face evil itself.”
Card 4 “This card sheds light on one who will help you greatly in the battle against darkness.” Queen of Hearts: the Innocent. “Evil’s bride is the one you seek!”
Card 5 “Your enemy is a creature of darkness, whose powers are beyond mortality This card will lead you to him!” Jack of Clubs: Seer. “He waits for you in a place of wisdom, warmth, and despair. Great secrets are there.”

She refuses to elaborate any further upon her answers, ignoring the party’s questions. When Born tries to intimidate her, Madam Eva stares him down without fear, telling him he can do nothing worse than what Strahd would do if she offered more. Berensir gets the read that Madam Eva is a deep well of secrets, but her card reading was given in earnest and delivered honestly to the best of her ability. She tells the adventurers she has seen hundreds like them over the centuries. All have failed to destroy Strahd. The only thing that shakes Madam Eva is when Berensir reveals that Rudolph Van Richten entered Barovia a year ago. Madam Eva retreats into thought and is non-responsive to the party, rising only when Dragomir returns with the slain body of the third Vistani bandit. She conducts what appears to be a basic resurrection spell. While she is distracted with her thoughts, Honest Bob successfully pickpockets a folio of papers off of her.

The party scatters through the camp and finds many of the Vistani open to providing more information:
Truetongue discovers that the “white tower” is Tsolenka Pass to the southwest, and gets a map direction.
Truetongue also discovers that “living stone” may refer to Ravensloft itself, Strahd’s castle.
Honest Bob, using thieves cant and deception, tries to research the wizard’s crypt, and discovers:
1. There is a winery called Wizards of Wine staffed by “good people”.
2. There is a saint called Saint Markovia buried in an abbey in Krezk.
3. There is a mad mage running about somewhere.
4. There is a whole floor of crypts in Castle Ravensloft.
The party also learns that “evil’s bride” may refer to a woman in the village of Barovia, the burgomaster’s daughter, whom Strahd is known to have chosen as his next consort.
Reiko, trying to figure out what her vision of the gallows meant, gets a tale from a Vistana about Strahd conquering the land of Barovia and enslaving a bandit’s ghost as one of his many spies.

After much debate, the party decides to strike out directly across the wilderness in the direction of Tsolenka Pass. Bob takes the opportunity to review the folio he lifted from Madam Eva. It appears to be household accounting notes for Castle Ravensloft, written hundreds of years ago by someone calling herself “Katarina of Ravensloft”. The last pages of notes are preparing for a massive wedding. The bride is “Tatyana” and the groom is “Sergei.” Bob speculates that Sergei might be Strahd’s son.

A couple hours in, their trail is picked up by wolves. Thanks to Berensir’s traps and sharpshooting, the dire wolf and the two regular wolves accompanying him are quickly taken down, and the party continues to the edge of a sheer cliff. Reiko accidentally summons an undead vulture instead of the eagle she wanted. Still, she discovers that the cliffs continue to rise to the west and south. She does not spot the white tower or anything that looks like a pass. After hearty debate, the party votes 4 to 2 to return to the roads rather than climb the cliffs. They take a long rest and have an uneventful night (other than some glares from Berensir at Bob and Born, and some awkward flirting from Truetongue in Reiko’s direction).

DAY 2
In the morning, Alistair uses teleport to zap them back to the Vistani camp, and they hurry back to the road before the startled Vistani can react.

This time they turn north on the dirt road, and find themselves facing a stone bridge, a thousand feet over a chasm carved out by a waterfall, guarded by mossy gargoyles on each end of the bridge. The last thing they see before facing the bridge are three ravens in the trees, who fly off to the north over the bridge when noticed.

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Against the Giant-Slayers - Session 2
Talking your way out

Trapped in the village of Falling Rain, surrounded by the 1000-member army of Tsung Kahn, the party of Honest Bob, Bree, Grizza, Alistair, and Reiko played the only card they had left: parlay.

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Bree, with an unobstructed view of the enemy for the first time, recognized that it was Moku, Born’s highest lieutenant, who had led the army to Falling Rain. Born himself was not in sight. Knowing that Moku would recognize her as well, she stepped boldly out into the field and announced to Moku and every mercenary in earshot that she was Bree, former companion of their army, and close friend of the Great Kahn, bringing news that she was carrying his child.

Moku did not believe her at first, and called her a deserter for leaving the horde. Upon Bree’s insistence that she was pregnant with Born’s child, Moku called the wizard Tojiro, forward from the line to confirm Bree’s story. Tojiro indeed confirmed that Bree was with child and that there was something extremely odd about it.tumblr_npem8mMKOc1r3sqqyo1_500.jpg

Clearly still wanting Bree destroyed, but knowing that by now rumors of her pregnancy had been whispered to half the horde, Moku relented, and promised to lead Bree and her friends to the Great Kahn, who was still in the steading up in the mountains.

The party followed Moku warily, until the reached the steading itself. Having a aversion to being indoors, Reiko waited outside while Moku lead the rest down to the basement level. Rather than taking them to see Born, though, he took them to a dungeon chamber where four enslaved hill giants were chained up. Magically commanding their chains to loose, Moku ordered the giants to kill the party, screaming at Bree that he despised her for her attempts to soften that Great Kahn, and he would no longer stand for her trying to talk Born out of sending the horde into battle.

Thus began a long, hard fight, which Reiko aided from outside by possessing spiders and summoning panthers. As the battle progressed, the party fighting tooth and nail to hold their own against Moku and the four giants, a loud pounding began to sound through the dungeon chamber. As the pounding, smashing sound grew gradually louder, the floor itself began to quake with it.

Minotaur.jpgAfter dealing some damage, Bree collapsed into unconsciousness again due to her complex pregnancy. With Moku and one of the giants standing over her, about to deal killing blows, Bree was suddenly saved by the explosion of the north wall of the chamber. Stone went flying everywhere as Born, deep in the clutches of his Blood Rage, smashed into the room, knocking giant away from Bree so hard that the creature went sailing across the room, and breaking Moku’s neck in a single quick motion with one hand. Tojiro, the wizard who had confirmed Bree’s pregnancy for Moku, peered through the hole, revealing that it had been he who had gone and warned his Kahn that Bree was back and that he suspected Moku of treachery.

At this point, the immediate danger to Bree was passed, but two of the giants were still alive, and in the throes of his Blood Rage, Born had turned to attack the nearest person – Honest Bob.

Bob was already unconscious on the floor by the time Alistair healed Bree enough for her to stand and calm Born. Bob was the next recipient of healing magic but although his wounds healed, he did not regain consciousness. Tojiro examined him and determined that he was suffering from extreme exhaustion and would likely awaken unharmed after a good long rest.

Born, now that his Blood Rage state had passed, collapsed to the floor, weak with hunger. Tojiro revealed to the party that the Great Kahn had been starving himself so as not to take food away from his men, and that the horde was only seizing rice from villages because they hd 1,000 men to feed and were low on supplies.

Reiko, acting through her animals, began rifling through Honest Bob’s possessions. She stole his amulet and an I.O.U. signed by Alcyce Minona (a person unfamiliar to anyone in this party.) The I.O.U was a promise to cast a “Grow Plants” spell at a time and place of Bob’s choosing, in repayment for something Bob had apparently done for Alcyce

Bree and Tojiro quickly realized that this I.O.U. could be the solution to their problems. A Grow Plants spell, used properly, could enrich the rice crop enough to feed both the army and the villagers. The only problem was finding Alcyce and bringing her to Falling Rain in time. A quick scrying spell from Tojiro revealed that Alcyce was a drow paladin, standing peacefully near an apparently docile gelatinous cube, in a very dark place, many miles away and underground.

Tojiro indicated that he had a Gate spell, which could take them to Alcyce and back, but only if they were not on the same plane of existence as her. Bree realized that Bob’s amulet might lead to another plane of existence, and she and Tojiro used it. For the first time ever, Bree saw Honest Bob’s extraplanar tower hideout.

The entryway was not much to see. There was a sealed off staircase and a one-way portal leading to an empty field somewhere on the Prime Material Plane. But the most important thing was that the tower was its own small plane of existence within the Elemental Chaos, meaning Tojiro could now use his Gate spell to reach Alcyce.

Alcyce_PNG.pngTojiro opened the portal and Bree stepped through with the I.O.U., stumbling into the middle of the Evening Group’s campsite in the Underdark. Alcyce was on watch with Glabbagool, but Feral, Uroq, Aramil, and Abrioxiell were all awakened by the portal and quickly on their feet as well. Jaquiche was still unconscious in a wagon, having eaten a very poisonous mushroom the day before. A large expeditionary force the Evening Group was leading at the time slept nearby, but nobody else woke up.

Feral-PNG.pngAbrioxiell telepathically confirmed that Bree was not an enemy to their party, and Bree quickly explained the situation. Alcyce, eager to extend friendship to any surface elf, quickly agreed to follow Bree through the portal and use her spell. Feral insisted on accompanying Alcyce for protection, and Glabbagool asked to go as well, since he had never seen the surface.

13162529_10204635900296186_931400820_n__1_.jpgWith less than a minute to decide before the portal closed, Bree reluctantly agreed, and led the two drow and the gelatinous cube into Honest Bob’s tower. from there, they used the amulet again to return to the last place they had left, and began traveling back to Falling Rain so that Alcyce could bless the crops. Glabbagool ceased movie the instant he was in the sunlight and spent the next eight hours basking in it, emotionally overcome by its beauty.

When Alcyce had finished her spell eight hours later, Tojiro returned her, Feral, and Glabbagool to the Evening Group. Meanwhile, Bree and Born began a heated argument about the fate of their child. Bree was convinced that a half-elf/minotaur hybrid could never survive – a viewpoint shared by both Tojiro and the kenku medicine woman. Born insisted that they must find a way, as such a child was the only hope he had to restore his lost clan. After some back and forth, Bree reluctantly speculated that a direct divine intervention of some sort might save their baby. Born immediately thought of Stern, their former companion who had once channeled the power of two gods simultaneously in order to defeat Orcus in combat.

Thus inspired, Born left his army under the command of Tojiro, with orders to wait for the rice, then head west after Vital’s last known position. Born himself would return the Turnfield to take care of Bree, then seek a temple and a means to earn diving intervention and save their child.

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Against the Giant-Slayers - Session 1
Who's your daddy?

Having taken up residence in their new clubhouse/guild hall and dubbed themselves the Justice Guild of Turnfield, Bree, Honest Bob, Reiko Shadowclaw, Alistair Renard, and Grizza took some time off to rest while Mr. Truetongue, “Lights Out” Sullivan, and Berensir began traveling the countryside to advertise them as adventurers for hire. Bree in particular seemed moody and standoffish, keeping mostly to her room for study.

3f4f02030ac2b857d1d907e58244ab64.jpgAfter a few weeks, three birdlike creatures called kenku appeared at the front door, carrying three urns of rice. The kenku were not capable of humanoid speech, but they had an uncanny ability to mimic any sound they heard, including the speech of others. By reciting a spiel they had heard from Truetongue and a threat they had heard from a bandit leader, they successfully communicated that their village of Falling Rain was under threat, and that they had been sent to seek help.

It seems a large army of thugs had recently killed off a steading of giants near Falling Rain, and was seeking payment from the surrounding villages in the form of all their food. In three weeks, when the rice crop was ready for harvest, the brigands would return and take it all, leaving the kenku of Falling Rain to starve. Adding insult to injury was the fact that the giants themselves had never bothered Falling Rain, as kenku aren’t very meaty and don’t keep livestock.

Despite the dismal attempt at using rice for payment, the party agreed to follow the kenku home and see what could be done to free their village from the menace of the bandit horde. They traveled nearly three weeks to reach the place, but when they were still half a day’s journey away, they were ambushed by a small group of the bandits. The heroes slew several archers and fighters (one of whom appeared to be a former Shadow Academy member who hated Honest Bob for taking over). The warlord leading the bandit party, however, escaped.

In the midst of the fight with the bandit party, Bree suddenly felt a stab of pain in her abdomen and doubled over. Shortly thereafter, she fainted completely and spent the remainder of the battle struggling to regain consciousness. Alistair, using his skill with medicine, examined her. He strongly suspected she was pregnant and that something was wrong with the pregnancy, a fact he shared with the group when the battle was over. Bree was stunned at the news, but not as stunned as Honest Bob, who knew the only likely father was their former Minotaur companion, Born.

Born_on_white.pngBorn had left the party months earlier, after defeating Acerak the Grand Lich and taking command of the barbarian horde of Tsung Khan. He intended to use the horde to help him hunt down and kill his evil twin, Vital. Bree had gone with him at the time, as she suffered some emotional trauma in Acerak’s Tomb of Horrors (e.g. her mother dying and being restored, her own gender and moral alignment being magically swapped multiple times, etc.) and needed some time to get her head together. Her cousin Berensir had accompanied her too, as he wasn’t much in the habit of leaving Bree’s side. Some weeks later, Bree had returned alone to Honest Bob and Valya, never mentioning what had happened with Born or why Berensir was not with her. Berensir had briefly reunited with her after the founding of the Justice Guild, saying he had been home to see his people, before leaving with Truetongue and Sullivan to advertise the group. He had also never said much about what had happened with Born.

Bree_on_white.png It was known within the party that Born had long harbored unrequited feelings for Bree, but nobody suspected that she had ever been with him, and Bree herself was mortified to learn that a Minotaur/Half-elf pregnancy was even possible. Once she was able to walk again, the party had no choice but to continue on to the kenku village.

When they finally reached Falling Rain, they found it to be a village built entirely in the crumbling ruins of an ancient fortress. Kenku, lacking the power to fly but still yearning to, built their homes as close to the sky as possible. They relied on their light bone structures and birdlike frames to allow them to walk safely across floors that would be dangerously unstable to humans.

Upon arrival, the party immediately took Bree to the local kenku medicine woman, who magically confirmed that Bree was, in fact, pregnant. Unable to speak like all other kenku, the medicine woman repeatedly signaled concern along with questions about who the father could be. The terrified and humiliated Bree did not answer her.

It was eventually decided that Honest Bob and Alistair would go into the mountains to recon the bandits’ headquarters, which they had set up in the former steading of the giants they had slain. Meanwhile, Reiko, Bree and Grizza would stay in the village and begin preparations for defending the place. When the latter group questioned the villagers about gear they may have to help with defense, the kenku produced piles and piles of damaged armor and weapons, which the party suspected they had taken from previous adventurers who died trying to slay the giants.

Meanwhile, Bob and Alistair reached the steading, a huge wooden structure, and snuck in past the sleeping guards. They explored a couple of hallways, but quickly realized that the “bandits” were actually a huge army of barbarians, and that there were so many members, it was impossible for them all to know each other. Armed with this knowledge, Honest Bob pretended to be drunk and staggered directly into a feasting hall where numerous members of the horde were partying and drunk nearly off their feet. Bob began pumping one of the revelers for information and had quickly all but confirmed his suspicions that this barbarian horde was in fact, the horde of Tsung Kahn, under the command of Born himself. When he attempted to directly ask whether the “Great Kahn” referenced by his new acquaintance was a Minotaur, the drunken barbarian finally became suspicious, and Bob was forced to beat a hasty retreat. As the two of them exited the steading, Alistair Renard took it upon himself to slit the throats of the three guards sleeping on duty at the front door, figuring that three fewer enemies to fight later could only be a good thing.

The pair returned to the village and informed their allies of their discovery – their enemy in this battle was in fact their former comrade, Born. Bree, while frustrated, was also not entirely surprised. She had spent some time with Born and his army and had already begun to suspect that this was who they now faced. She finally related the tale of why she had left Born, saying that she had at first tried to keep him on the path of righteousness, but that the life of a mercenary horde left little room for scruples. Her own emotional turmoil had led her to Born’s bed during their time together, but the relationship was always doomed by Born’s obsessive need to destroy his brother. She had abandoned him and the army when it became clear that, in the long search for Vital, Born would hire out the army to whoever could pay enough to keep 1000 violent men fed and happy, and that this was frequently going to make them the bad guys.

No sooner had all this information been exchanged, then a magically amplified voice boomed through Falling Rain, announcing that the horde had the village surrounded, and that if the adventurers who had murdered three of their number were not sent out within ten minutes, 1000 screaming barbarians would raze the place and kill every living being.

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Out of the Abyss, Session 11
Dark before the Light

The team regroups. Rue is traumatized, identified as desecrated, and seems to be mute. They tell each other about what happened as they head to the market to restock supplies. The group, replenished, enacts the plan to assassinate the Pudding King while the gnomes keep the slimes busy. They make their way through a back passage but are blocked by slimes. They fight, but struggle against the resistant monsters. Auryon pulls out a glowing sword that blasts them with light, Jaq punches them with glowing fists, and Eldeth swipes at them with a dagger while Alcyce, Uroq, and Abrioxiell provide support. Aramil tries to help, but his hair falls out. Rue does nothing but pick up the hair.

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They then are approached by the Pudding King, who sends two royal slimes to attack them. While the group defends, Jaq leaps over the slimes using his acrobatic ability and the Anklets of Speed. He then Chi slams the Pudding King, making him slam into a wall and collapse. The Pudding King calls for his “children” to help him, but they are kept busy by the rest of the group. Alcyce misty stepped to the Pudding King and stabs him with her sword that glowed with holy light. Rue flew over the battle to beside the Pudding King. Rue asked Abrioxiell if he was hungry. When told yes, Rue shot the Pudding King point-blank in the back of the neck.

The dying Pudding King hoarsely said, “We shall be reborn from our children and feast upon the banquet.. of the… myconid… demoness…..!” As he took his last breath, he melted into a puddle of slime. The group finished off the now insentient slimes. Buppido saunters into the room and spreads the goo from the Pudding King into an arcanic shape. Alcyce tries to tackle him but is flipped over. “You shall not interrupt the sacrifice!” hissed Buppido. Auryon runs up and knocks him out. Abrioxiell reads his mind and discovers that Buppido believes that he is Diinkarazan reincarnated, a god of murder. Abrioxiell shares this with the group.

Uroq walks up to Buppido and places two coins over his eyes and casts heat metal. Buppido awakes screaming to the sensation of his eyes sizzling and melting shut. Alcyce knocks him out with the pommel of her sword. She tells the group that she doesn’t think they should kill him. Uroq suggests that she step out of the room then. She picks up Buppido and walks away. The group meets up with the deep gnomes, who kill Buppido on the spot. Abe eats Buppido’s brain and takes on an aspect of him. All is for the glory of Abrioxiell. The party heads out the next day with some merchants heading to Darkstone Hall, stronghold of dwarves. A feast is held in the group’s honor for their brave deeds as well as for returning their scout, Eldeth.

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The group walks into the open air for the first time in a long time. Rue shoots straight up into the air, until he is lost to sight. The group splits up to report to their organizations. Rue returns the next day, no longer tainted by undeath and more lively than he was ever seen in the underdark.

3 months later, they are summoned back to Darkstone Hall.

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The Moaning Forest - Session2
In which our heroes have a picnic, become grave robbers, exorcise a ghost, and smash spiders.

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After spending the night in their new clubhouse, the party awakened to Bob yelling that he was ate for an important date and pulling out his magic amulet. Reiko immediately grabbed Bob’s cloak and was swept away with him. As the portal was closing, Valya came stumbling out of it.

The group cleared out the basement of its foul victuals, and made preparations to depart their new clubhouse. Bree collected poisonous plants from the hags’ garden and also checked the treasure found in the pit. Since Honest Bob was the first one to find the treasure, the group was uncertain what he might have claimed without them knowing. However, one of the items left behind was an amulet bursting with necrotic energy. Unsure of the best way to dispose of the amulet, Bree called upon her goddess Ioun who promptly replied “Holy Fire.” The amulet was taken outside and destroyed by Bree’s sacred flame.

Valya double-checked the ethereal plane to find the hut clear of dark influences. The adventurers also checked on Minnie Noble,finding her no better, but no worse.

The party finally decided to get on their way, haphazardly locking the door and departing. Bereft of their ranger, the group pooled their experience to find a small trail leading away from their clubhouse. “Lights Out” Sullivan, eager to collect new material for his vile vial of hazardous ingredients, once again enthusiatically picked a toadstool that paralyzed him. Needing a mule for the cart, Bree kindly healed him.

Hearing what could be the babbling of water, the group wandered down the trail until they came upon a beautiful grove of trees. Valya saw an entrance and lead the group through, whereupon they saw a large pond with fish, trees with succulent-looking fruit, and soft grass. It was quite peaceful, and the calm of the grove was in contrast to the howling and moaning of the rest of the forest.

It seemed make an ideal campsite, and Sully and Valya, seeing that the sick child was in need of some care, began to fish and gather fruit. Truetongue, feeling a strange energy around the copse was wary of the bounty, but Sully immediately volunteered to taste test the food. He suffered no immediate detriment. It was at this point that Bree finally determined that the energy was druidic in nature and that the food should be safe. However, the party was still suspicious of the peaceful nature of the grove, and inspeced the campsite more closely. They noticed mounds around some of the trees’ roots, nine in number. Sully dug one up only to find the arm of what appears to be a small humanoid, possibly goblin.

Bree, alarmed, begian looking for an exit and also offered up some gold to the unknown owner of the grove. Truetongue and Valya offered up a song. Bree eventually found what appeares to be an exit.

Truetongue, however, saw an opportunity and prevailed upon the others to dig up some of the mounds. They did not dig up all the mounds due to time, but they did find some coin, an ocarina, a woodland staff, and a pewter decanter with strange markings. In one mound they found what appeared to be druidic clothing and a book. Sullivan immediately poured some wine into the decanter and drank from it. Nothing happened. Upon closer inspection, Bree noticed Elenestra’s symbol on the decanter.

She also noticesd the same marking on the book, which was written in an ancient high elven tongue. Unfortunately, the book was unreadable without a cipher.

Finally deciding to continue their journey, the group moved toward the exit, only to find that the way was blocked by a large plant-like creature with many vine-like arms. After a fierce battle that ended in fire, the adventurers defeates the creature. As it lay dying, an apparition of a druid burst forth and slowly faded into the ether.

Now free to leave, the fearless companions ventured forward once more. As the day progressed, it was apparent that another spring storm waa is about to materialize. They decided to make camp early and fearing flashfloods, the party hammocked the cart to the trees on the trail. The rain did not last long, but they set up watch and slept in the cart. During first watch, Sully saw strange eyes peering through the gloom and immediately threw rocks at them. A cluster of giant spiders attacked the group. Valya, Bree and Sully valiantly fought the menace without the aid of Truetongue, who had mysteriously disappeared. (Sully appeared unworried by this occurrence).

Though the spiders outnumbered the party, our fearless friends easily smashed the spiders to smithereens.

Many hours later, Truetongue nonchalantly wandered back to the camp just in time for his watch. It turns out Truetongue had returned to the grove to dig up the rest of the mounds. Whether he tells the tale of what treasure he found and his valorous escape of a small spider to the rest of the party remains to be heard.

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Out of the Abyss, Session 10 (2/2)
Laughter is the Best Poison

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They killed Ogremack, with much laughter and ineffectual cutting. Glabagool was moonstruck and Auryon was simultaneously inspired and creeped out by Uroq. They succeeded and no party members died. Here’s the Youtube link:

https://youtu.be/5LaKF2HSy0k

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Out of the Abyss, Session 10 (1/2)
Deus Ex Machina Maxed

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Found the myconid refugees, with many Orcus minions in the way. Winds of Jaquiche killed them after Creenyukooru repeatedly failed to sneak attacked them. Rue had his soul sucked out and Jimjar proved himself a steadfast ally. Rue was turned into a ghoul, killed, and brought back to life by an experimental healing potion belonging to a fellow victim of the Devourer. However, Rue gained the affinity to undead and did not level with everyone else. Here’s the video:

https://youtu.be/4PPwXsGBGVA

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Out of the Abyss, Session 9
Ewww... It's Slimey

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The gnomes looked around the group. “It is widely believed that the Pudding King is behind this business with the slimes. He was one of us, a deep gnome. But he was insane and experimented on oozes. He disappeared a while ago, but some say that his experiments continued in the northwest. Find out what is going on, and fix it if you can. Our guards will guide you.”

The group turned and leaves. At the entrance to the room stood a cat-person with a cat on its shoulder. The catman approached the group and looked at Uroq. Uroq exclaimed, “Whoa! Whooooaaaaaah! What the fart?” The catman exitedly says, “You are Uroq?” Uroq responds, “You are from Xendar?” Uroq clapped his hand over his mouth. The catman then introduced himself as Winds of Jaquiche. Uroq whispers aside to Winds of Jaquiche to not reveal where he is from.

Winds of Jaquiche turns to his cat and tells it that it really is Uroq and surely he can help. Uroq says that the group is working on escaping the underdark. Jaq asks how long the group has been down here. Alcyce tells him weeks and asks why he is here. Jaq says that it was her idea (points to cat) and they’ve been down here for weeks too. Alcyce asks again, why are you here. The cat hisses. Jaq calms the cat whom he calls Zizi, saying that the woman is a friend of Uroq. He explains that they were following rumors of orcs, which led them to Gracklestough. They were ambushed, and many died. They were saved by some mushroom people. Rue interjects, “Myconids!”

Jaq continues on, saying that they were healed and split into groups to investigate. They found people encased alive in fungus, and a path down to a giant fungus. Larger than any castle Jaq has ever seen. Many various races were trapped in the spore. One was a paladin who spoke of a great evil. Alcyce asked who or what it is. Jaq replied that it is Zuggtmoy. Alcyce gasped, “The demon goddess of fungus?!” Jaq told how they were preparing for the fetid wedding and wish to take control of Araumycos. Jaq is not sure if it is true, but the dwarf paladin says the largest is Zu and they want control. Jimjar pipes up, saying that he knows what Zu is. It is a large fungus colony. The largest organism in the world. Jaq concludes that it would be end of not only the underdark, but of the world. Everyone agrees that something needs to be done. Jaq finishes his story by telling them that the group he was with escaped and shared intel. Some stayed and started chanting, others split up and ran off.

The group agrees to deal with slimes first, then work on myconids. Winds of Jaquiche says he will follow Uroq, prompting some to inquire about if they know each other. The group, guided by gnome guards, head to the northwest section on the map. They pause in front of large, barred doors. Alcyce casts speak with animals and talks with Zizi. “Why do you come here? And can you sense evil?” Zizi replies, “Evil is your concept.” Alcyce tries again, “Do you sense something wrong?” Zizi replies that Alcyce is simple. Jaq reprimands Zizi for being rude. Alcyce asks Zizi if she has heard of Eilistraee. Zizi ignores her and hops on Jaq’s shoulder.

After some discussion, it is decided that Rue should go first and scout. He finds the cavern filled with slimes, which cover the walls and pillars and floor. The slimes are yellows, greens, and grays. There is a sphere on top of a pillar. A voice rings out, “What’s this? Visitors? Not ready. Begone! The Faceless Lord is not ready for Blingdenstone to know!” Rue returns to the group and reports. Aramil informs the group that the Faceless Lord is the Demon Lord of Oozes.

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Glabagool moves towards the room, feeling the draw of home and brotherhood. Uroq suggests trap. Auryon points out that that would make him an enemy to be fought. Alcyce checks for mind control. Glabagool still wants to go, so Uroq sings to him until he agrees to stay. While the group debated over what all of it meant, they hear a knock at the door. Turvey shouts through the door that he say Rue and they need to let him out. Rue asks Abrioxiell to check his brain. Abrioxiell says he is sad, but sane. They heal Turvey, who is in poor shape, burnt, and having trouble breathing.

Turvey talks to Auryon in a whisper. She then tells the group that Serith went crazy and attacked some fleeing myconids. Alcyce says, “Oh, that’s probably because of the demonic spores in his brain.” People give Alcyce a hard look. The adventurers return to the head gnomes and tell them what they learned. Alcyce wishes to call on her people for help, but they are too far away. Gnomes call a meeting and ask that the group attends to give witness. It is suggested that the Goldwhisker clan is invited too. Strong opposition, but it is agreed that the group will be sent to talk to them and invite them.

Turvey leads the group to them, explaining that he was sent by them to investigate the slimes. He, himself is a wererat. He thought he was the only one, until he met them. The group continues through the tunnels. Jaq strikes up conversations with the other party members, asking about their backstory and sharing bits of his own. They make their way pasts traps and find themselves talking to a wererat gnome sitting on a rough stone throne.

Godenwhisker is gruff but agrees to come since it is so serious a threat. The group escorts him and his men to the council room. The heads of different groups in Blingdenstone argue about the events brought to light as well as the best ways to deal with them. It is decided that materials from the myconids is needed, which may or may not be their fecal matter. They also need to remove Ogremach’s Bane so that the city’s defenses can be restored. After Rue finishes with another breakdown from the stress of being kept underground, the group agrees to split up. Rue and Jaq will go after the fleeing myconids for their special supplies and the rest of the party will fight Ogremach’s Bane.

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Out of the Abyss, Session 8
A Flair for the Dramatic

Blingdenstone was bright, warm, and dry. The contrast between the drow or kuo-toa town and Blingdenstone were stark. The guards surrounded and escorted the group into the city. As the group walked, their escort kept their hands on their hilts, watching warily.

Alcyce smiled at each and every guard that made eye contact. Her jovial," May Eilistraee bless your day!" reverberated through the hallways. The addressed guards would nod or respond with their own deity’s blessings. Alcyce stopped and asked one guard where trade happened in Blingdenstone. The guard led the group to the Trader’s Grotto. Jimjar was still running from guard to guard, assuring each in turn of the group’s trustworthiness and how they escaped the drow.

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The group of adventurers entered into a semi-natural cavern filled with what appeared to be petrified fungi. Abrioxiell noticed that they were magically petrified by a misfired spell. The group split into different directions, keen to buy and sell goods at the stalls set between mushroom stalks.

A bell tolled from the direction of the entrance. A guard ran into the cavern but was engulfed by a gelatinous cube. Another one appeared next to it. Everyone in the cavern froze in shock. Then chaos broke loose.

Aramil ran forward, drawing his bow. He leapt from a boulder and shot over the crowd and into the enemy cubes. Alcyce prayed a blessing onto Aramil, Rue, and the guard stuck in the cube. The brief thought that blessing Abrioxiell might hurt him crossed her mind as she, too, shot a gelatinous cube. Uroq rushed towards the cube with the entrapped guard. He whispered to Abrioxiell as he passed," Your tentacles are so cool!" Uroq spring-boarded off of a petrified mushroom, somersaulted, and spun mid-air to strike at the gelatinous cube around where the guard was closest. Creenyukooru and Auryon began to hail arrows down on the cubes. Abrioxiell sent a blast of ice to slow the cubes as he sent his skeleton minions in to free the guard. They succeeded, but one of the skeletons and Uroq were swallowed up by the cubes.

During this, the civilian deep gnomes were fleeing and guards were approaching. The steady stream of people slowed Jimjar and Buppido, but Eldeth managed to shoot through the crowd and hit a cube. The guard that was just freed from the cube turned around and stabbed it. The gelatinous cube shuddered before it lost its cohesiveness and collapsed into a puddle. Aramil raised his hand and cast a spell. Everyone disappeared.

Alcyce cast faerie magic to outline everyone in a purple light. Her voice cried to her companions to strike while we have the advantage. Uroq threw his sword at the gelatinous cube. As it sank into the monster, he cast a spell. The sword burned a bright red, sizzling the goo around it. Uroq then shouted," Auryon, you’re hair is so glossy it shines through the faerie magic!" Auryon, bolstered by the compliment, shot at the cube with Rue. Abrioxiell again used a blast of ice to slow the enemy and sent his minions to finish it off.

Rue swooped down and bottled some goo while Alcyce shouted the all-clear. Eldeth walked up to Alcyce and patted her shoulder in a patronizing way. Alcyce commented that Eldeth must be tall for a dwarf to reach her shoulder.

The guard who had been captured by the gelatinous cubes approached the group. He introduced himself as Mev. He gave a wary look at the skeletons and took a step away from where they stood. Mev told the group that this was not the first time. The oozes of the dark kept slipping through cracks into the city to wreak destruction. Auryon muttered something about Spackle. Aramil asked the guard why oozes would attack? A disembodied voice spoke," I can tell you why." It was Glabagool. Mev was shocked. He looked around at the group," He is sentient? And friendly?" The adventurers nodded confirmation.

Glabagool’s voice spoke in their minds," There is a call to this city. I can feel it originating from the way the gelatinous cubes came from." Uroq asked Glabagool if he was OK. Glabagool replied," Yes. There is a sinisterness to the call I am sure my less developed brothers would not mind." Glabagool was asked if he wanted to go, but Glabagool responded that he would like to stay with Uroq. Alcyce looked at the collapsed tunnel that the oozes came from. She turned back to the group and suggested that they restock before heading out.

While the group was selling their found treasures and buying equipment, Rue snuck over to Auryon and looked into her bag. Inside was a cloak that allows wall-climbing, web immunity, and casting a web. Concerned, Rue told Alcyce about his find. Alcyce asked Rue if he looked through her own things too. Rue look puzzled and said," No, why? You are my friend."

Jimjar returned from talking with the citizens and guards. He sighed," People are tolerant of our group being here, but everyone is worried with the attacks. Everyone might feel less… edgy if we went to see the Diggermattocks." Alcyce replied," We killed monsters that would have killed them. Isn’t that enough? But very well. Let’s go see these Diggermattocks." The group agreed.

They headed west, through what looked like a temple. There were barricades blocking steel doors. Two dozen deep gnomes walked around the large cavern they entered. Stone tables covered in papers were arranged around a dais. On the dais was two opposing desks. At each sat a deep gnome, one female and one male. Around the desks were advisers, whispering in guttural voices to the two seated gnomes. When they noticed the newcomers, the whispering choked off.

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Alcyce and Jimjar stepped forward. Alcyce spoke first," Blessings of Eilistraee." The sitting, female deep gnome continued signing the papers in front of her. Alcyce, confused by the disregarding gnome, continued. “We- uh… don’t mean any harm or-” The female gnome did not look up when she demanded," Why are you here?" Alcyce explained how the group seeks a way to return to the surface but found that Blingdenstone has a monster problem. The female gnome looked up. She stood and walked over to Jimjar. The advisers grab their sword hilts.

The female gnome looks Jimjar over. “Are you okay?” Jimjar nodded. The female gnome looked sharply around the group before asking Jimjar," Are they holding you hostage? Controlling you?" Jimjar protested," No!" He waved his hands. “My friends helped me escape the drow prison.” The male gnome spoke," Why did you bring them here?" Jimjar wrung his hands," I know, I know, but my friends! They saved my life! Plus I owe some money…" Alcyce interjected," Our group only wants to reach the surface and maybe provide assistance if it desired. We can tell that something is drawing monsters in, and we can locate the source."

The female deep gnome looked at Alcyce and then the elf and half-elves of the group. “The drow is with you?” A moment of silence. Uroq replied," She means no harm and speaks the truth. We would be glad to help but we wish to return to the surface." Abrioxiell quietly cast mage hand to make Uroq’s cape flutter. Uroq noticed and posed as the non-existance air made the cape flap behind him. A ray of light shines down from above, bestowing a halo of light around Uroq. Eldeth rushed forward and started grabbing at the ends of his cape.

The whole room stared. Auryon fell to her knees and covered her face. The male gnome approached the group as well. “You mean us no harm. I believe you. You saved Mev from an ooze. You can… stop that now.” He looked over to where Eldeth was still attempting to snatch at the cape. She was whispering to Uroq," Your cape was moving! MOVING. On its own. It was moving by itself!" The male gnome turned back to the group as a whole. “We thank you for the offer. For centuries we have been terrorized by monsters. We are just starting to take back out dear Blingdenstone. What you see that we have settled is less than a fourth of the city. You are right. Something draws them here” The make gnome addressed Uroq," If you can bring us worthy information, we would be grateful. I must ask, how did you tame this gelatinous cube?"

Uroq shrugged. “He is a smart cube?” The gnome persisted," But how did you befriend it?" Uroq looked at the Glabagool," We bonded through battles together." Glabagool spoke up," He is the first person I met. He is my friend." The female gnome’s brows knit together," But isn’t it odd when there is a foul magic drawing monsters that you find the same type of monster that is also drawn here?" Alcyce shook her head. “It’s okay though. We had our illithid read its mind and he says Glabagool is OK.” Abrioxiell found some anxiety in being the verification when most did not trust him. The male gnome only threw up his hands in exasperation.

The male gnome continued," If you can get to the northwest passages and find out what is going on, it would help. We can discuss your need to return to the surface when you return." Alcyce protested that Blingdenstone should provide the rations for the endeavor. The advisers and two deep gnomes quickly discussed and agreed. The gnomes produced a map and indicated what was generally found in each of the areas.

To the southwest was Goldenwhiskers, wererat gnomes. The female gnome wished to reincorporate them into gnome society but the male gnome cut her off, saying that they should be driven out and the land reclaimed. To the northeast is Rockblight. There is a creature there named Ogremach’s Bane. A cloud of magical dust that first appeared 100 years ago, when the drow attacked Blingdenstone. Any who touch him fall under his control as Nehedra did. Now Nehedra the earth elemental lures others to Ogremach’s Bane. Alcyce recalls that Ogremach’s Bane is a vastly powerful evil entity, a earth elemental to be feared. Lastly, to the northwest is the caverns where the slimes are drawn.

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The Moaning Forest - Session 1
In which the party gets lost in the woods, beats up some ladies, and gets a new clubhouse

At the halfling village of Turnfield, the Daytime Group was approached at the tavern by Lady Min Noble, a young noblewoman seeking a cure for her ailing daughter, Minnie. She claimed to have tired every possible treatment and now sought help from a lost temple in the Moaning Forest. Reiko Shadowclae, a new acquiatnce of the party, and Bree determined that the girl’s illness had no natural cause.

Despite warnings from the barkeep and a lack of a map, our intrepid adventurers set forth into the creepy forest following what they suspected were the footprints of the half-orc Grizza’s, whom they believed to have absconded with the map.

During the first day of travel, Sullivan decided to collect and consume some interesting specimens of flora which had dubious and varied effects. Luckily Bree and Reiko were on hand to dispense cures. From then on, Sullivan began collecting bits of every deadly mushroom he could find, and adding them all to a special vial containing flammable oil.

Our intrepid adventurers also discovered some goblin footprints but decided to continue tracking the larger, singular humanoid ones.

The adventurers made camp, setting the fire well away from the group, and leaving the sick girl in the cart. Truetongue the bard regaled the group with stories and solicited more info from the desperate mother. The party learned that woman’s husband had also succumbed to a similar wasting illness.

It rained through the night, but the well prepared companions were only slightly damp. Unfortunately, all the footprints they were following had disappeared in the rain storm. Reiko, using her ranger skills, determined that no large creatures had passed through the area, but that some smaller ones had. After more special mushroom foraging, the group continued schlepping through the forest.

Towards evening, the group came upon a ramshackle hut and were greeted enthusiastically by a young girl. The girl was excited to see a some visitors and eagerly called for her mothers. The party was invited to eat dinner and stay the night. For some reason, the party was suspicious of the family of three women (Myra, Glyra, and Fyra) living alone in a haunted forest and welcoming strangers, so were hesitant to partake of their hospitality. Reiko, in fact, stayed outside with the sick girl and her mother and kept watch while the rest entered the hut.

Inside, the party noticed some stairs, a table with benches, a trapdoor, and in the corner a pot of bubbling stew. Myra offered up the “bear” stew, but the party was quite skeptical regarding the nature of the meat. While Sully and Truetongue distracted Myra, Glyra and Fyra; Bob and Bree explored the upstairs room—only to find three beds and a rag doll. Bree did not find anything of a magical nature upstairs.

Bob and Bree snuck back downstairs. Meanwhile Sully had secretly spiked the stew with his strange mushroom. While the rest of the party pretended to consume the stew, Reiko makes a salve for the sick girl who was steadily getting worse outside, exposed to the elements.

The ladies of the house were the only ones to consume the stew. The “youngest” immediately passed out, while the “mothers” started nodding off. Truetongue tied them up in elven rope and Bob netted them. After situating their clients on the second floor loft, the group then made their way to the trapdoor and ventured into the basement. There they found a long, dark hallway with hanging meat hooks and tables lining the sides.

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They found a pendant on one of the tables, which Sully immediately smashed. They heard a horrendous shrieking upstairs and found that their hostesses had turned into hags, the pendant having been part of he glamour that made them appear human. Bob stayed downstairs, but Bree, Truetongue, Sully and Reiko headed back upstairs to deal with the shrieking. Despite Truetongue blowing up the stew pot and getting the contents all over everyone, Sully subdued the blinded hags with his whip, while Reiko gave the adult hags the coup de grace. Bree placed a magic sphere around Glyra, the daughter hag.

Heading back downstairs, the group discovered that Bob has fallen in a deep pit. Bob offered to share some of the treasure he found in the pit for a hand up. Truetongue and Bob got into a skill war but eventually came to a truce. While Bree checked the treasure for magical resonance, Reiko burned the hags’ bodies, and Sully decided to roll the magic sphere containing Glyra to the pit downstairs, where he promptly exploded it. Glyra, in a last act of spite, threw lightning in his face.

Our intrepid adventurers, after a bit of clean-up, decided the hut ouldl make a decent clubhouse—-ignoring the fact that it is in the middle of a dark and dangerous forest. Bree was prevailed upon to set up some magical fortifications around the house.

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