4th Ed D&D In London

Meanwhile...

Meanwhile…
 
The skinny figure of the warlock was sitting on the top stair, black eyes staring into the darkness from behind long dirty black hair that trailed on the ground.

 
"The Archer is in conjunction with The Hare. The Maiden exits The Well. Four times does The Moon of Odol pass Aventus, and the tail of Bezakiel burns green as the Sea of Eyes. This bodes ill. Nought but ill…"

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Victory
The Elf Takes The Fall

As the blade slid home, the evil Elf that had set these events in motion fell backwards, out of the protection of his magical circle. As he fell he saw around the room that his skeleton warriors lay in pieces, destroyed by Theron's repearted Thunderwaves and Magic Missiles. As he hit the floor, his last thought was that he hadn't even managed to kill the two boys…

With the Elf dead, the last skeleton was quickly dispatched, clearing the room. However, the statues were still proving a problem. The Elfs malevolent spirit had been driving them forwards, and Cass, Rangrim and Aran Thule had found them a true handful. Suddenly, though, that spirit was gone – and the statues grew sluggish. Aran was able to attack them from behind, almost running up their backs to stab true with his shortswords. Rangrim's warhammer crunched home, Cass's axe slammed into them and in short order the two statues were reduced to nothing more than rubble.

The magic circle's that had gleamed in both rooms started to fade, and the terrified boys were finally able to make themselves heard over the sound of battle.

"Thank you! Thank you! But be careful – when that elf put us in here, he said that if we left the circle the room would come crashing down on us!"
-
This marks the end of the first full session of the campaign.

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Undead Bottleneck
"Stay Put, Bony!"

As the skeletons surged forwards, racing down the narrow corridor to engage Des in combat, he and Theron used a remarkable piece of teamwork to slow them down.

Firstly, Theron called upon the power of the magical orb that he carries to cast Icy Terrain. The rock froze and became icy, with fingers of frost creeping up the legs of the on-running undead creatures. Several collapsed with a horrible click of bone on rock, unable to keep their footing. Des was forced to back up as one skeleton reached him and swung it's sword, pushing him back, but then he raised his Holy Symbol and a shining light emanated from it. The skeletons were burned in the radiance, and several of those that were prone on the floor were pushed back into the room from which they'd come, their bones smouldering.

Seeing his minions scattered, the Elf on the platform mustered his second forces. Two sharp taps on a particular sigil in the magical circle seemed to have no effect for a second, until Cass, Aran Thule and Rangrim began to hear the grinding of stone on stone coming from the room behind the demon door. Two of the large guardian statues that had been staring down at the captive boys began to move, their heads turning towards the door.

Cass didn't wait for them to arrive – she smashed the lock with a blow from her greataxe before kicking it open and waiting for the statue to arrive. Rangrim ran into to block the other statue, his warhammer and shield gleaming oddly by the light of the magic circle. It's thick stone arms took up a fighting pose as it attempted to club him to the ground, but he caught the blow on his shield and avoided being ground under it's heels.

Elwanen took advantage of the skeleton's dispersal. Seeing through to the Elf on the platform, he disappeared – only to reappear (as if he had only taken a step) alongside the villainous foe. Drawing on his own Eladrin heritage, he gestured and attempted to knock the Elf off the platform with a spell. However, the magic circle again absorbed the energy, rendering it harmless. The Elf sneered and struck back, trying to suck the life out his racial cousin and transfer his vitality across. The circle around them both glowed greater as he utilised it's powers.

Cass had not been doing quite so well against the statues. As it crashed forwards, it struck at her with one huge fist and clubbed her to the ground. As she fell, it quickly raised a heavy foot to stamp down on her, and only her quick reflexes allowed her to roll out of the way and to her feet, dodging another bunch as she did so.

However, whilst the statue concentrated on her it lost track of Aran. The halfling, small even for his race, was able to duck forwards, spin beneath another fist and strike hard with his shortswords. Finding tiny cracks in it's exterior, Aran damaged it severely. It spun again, confused between these two capable warriors. Over it's shoulder it could sense it's brother statue trading blows with Rangrim, with neither being able to gain much advantage.

Cass got back to her feet and focussed her mind, bringing up memories of chopping timber in the tavern's back yard. It didn't always matter if you hit hard, so long as you hit in the right place…She wound up a subtle strike, the greataxe taking a chunk out of the shoulder of the statue, and then brought the axe high above her head, slamming into it brutally. A fine network of cracks appeared in the statues right arm and across it's chest, and Aran drove his own swords home again in response.

The skeletons had regrouped, but the careful wiles of Theron and Des meant that they had no chance of success. Theron used a series of Thunderwaves to push the skeletons back, with Des backing him with further blasts of radiant energy. Taking a risk, Des ran forwards, dodging a wild swing from a skeleton warrior, and made his way to the platform where the Elf and the Eladrin were exchanging blows. Although Elwanen seemed to be winning, Des fired off another burst of radiant energy, leaving the villain reeling and close to death. Elwanen, sensing weakness, took advantage of the guiding light that Des' prayer had left – dimming the magic circle – and drove his weapon home. The Elf gasped, struggled with his footing for a second and then took a long, slow step backwards…

...off the platform.

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Cave of Battle
What Lies Beneath

Peering around the corner, Aran Thule sees in to the next room. It is a large natural-looking cavern, lit by moss and rugged in appearance. There is an exit on the far side of the room, a small corridor leading away.

To one side, an alcove holds a closed door in the shape of a fearsome demonic face. Around the wall is writing that Des and Theron both recognise as being that of Bael Turath. The writing indicates that this was once some sort of tomb, although the origninal inhabitants can only be guessed at now.

Aran Thule and Cass move forwards to investigate the door, quickly noticing that the glowing eyes of the face are actually windows through to the room beyond. Looking through, they see two young human boys in chains in the midst of a magical looking circle, surrounded by two rows of identical statues.

Moving across the rough floor, Des seeks to see down this other corridor. Dimly seen at the far end is a raised platform, with a shadowy figure stood on top of it. He is lit by the emerald energy of the circle, the magic almost visibly coiling up around him, and he is reading a book. He clutches a staff in his other hand.

Without a pause for discussion, Des recklessly steps forwards and attempts to install fear into this figure – hoping to force him to flee the circle and come down to the floor. The prayer arcs across the room, but as it reaches it's target it dissipates and fails to affect him. The robed figure pushes back it's cowl, revealing an elven face twisted with dark secrets and hate, and he speaks "Pathetic! Forward, my minions, and let your swords taste his blood!"

Five skeletons begin to move round from behind the platform, brandishing swords… 

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The Shadow Speaks
A Potion?

The strange spectral figure coalesced out of the stone wall, forming again into a humanoid shape, it's outline obscured by it's robes that seemed to trail away into nothingness.

Ignoring the fallen hobgoblins, it gestured at the bones littering the floor of the room, and spoke two words: "Honour them."

Des, Elwanen and Rangrim all realised that the spirit meant that the despoiled remains of the members of the Kaius Dynasty should be properly honoured by returning them to the scarcophagi, even if it was badly damaged. With a little work from the party, the bones were carefully cleared and laid to rest, with the spirit watching all the while.

Once the final bone was placed inside, and a short blessing said over the top, the spirit drifted up towards the stairs and held it's hand towards the lowest step. Cass approached the step, and quickly found a latch that allowed her to lift up the step. Revealed beneath was a single potion bottle – Theron pronounced it to be a potion of healing. Lacking magical means to heal herself, it was agreed that Cass should keep it for herself.

With Aran Thule again taking point, removing the lantern from the third scarcophagus to disarm it, the group moved further into the darkness.

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Into The Darkness
First Fights

The group quickly establish a marching order, with Aran Thule acting as point. Sabbat Fau decides to stay at the top of the stairs in case the group need a swift way out (see below).

Moving carefully down the stairs, the room ahead appears to be worked stone. The remains of some more scarcophagi line the walls, shattered into pieces, with the desecrated bones scattered across the floor. Two intact scarcophagi block each of the two exits from the room, and on each one a single lantern sits, lighting the space in front.

Both Aran and Elwanen notice that the smell of oil in the air is very strong for only two lanterns.

As Aran steps forwards to explore further, everyone in the group hears a low voice issuing from further down the tunnel, saying "Delay them as long as you can. I need a little more time to complete the ritual." Departing footsteps echo back up the hall.

A second later, two figures make themselves known behind the scarcophagi. Both wear well-cared for armour and are holding nocked longbows, their faces pug-faced and ugly. They sight their arrows and release, and the party faces it's first fight!

The battle is swiftly joined, with Aran running forwards to unleash two bow shots of his own in response. The hobgoblin opposite him dodges the arrows, and then drops his bow and reaches down. Straining with the effort, he overturns the scarcophagi – it shatters, spilling a further torrent of oil around the halfling's feet. The lantern then drops into the flood, igniting the pool and burning Aran quite severely!

The Dwarven Palaind Rangrim strode forward, clutching his warhammer and attempted to vault over the other blocking scarcophagi – only for it to break under his weight and dump him into another inferno. The two hobgoblins seemed emboldened by the success of their traps, drawing longswords and pressing the attack. As Cass raced forwards to help out, also getting burned as she ran through the flames, Des stepped up and spoke a Healing Word, and Aran's burns healed over. A third hobgoblin then added his own bowfire to the fight, shooting from behind a further scarcophagus that lay deeper into the tomb.

Theron and Elwanen joined the attack, pressing the hobgoblins back and darting through the fire to assault them. Theron used his arcane prowess to send bolts of black energy arching through the air, and Elwanen channelled the holy power of his deity to guide his attacks.

Glancing around the situation, Theron noted that the third hobgoblin was free to pepper the party with arrows from behind cover, and decided to force him back. Conjuring a cloud of daggers around him, the hobgoblin was forced to try and duck away – however, Cass got there first, blocking him in with sweeps from her greataxe and cutting him down in short order. 

The hobgoblins were disciplined and forthright soldiers, veterans of many battles against lesser foes, but against these heroes-to-be they fell quickly to sword, hammer and spell. As the flames guttered and died, leaving scorched stone in their wake, the party caught it's breath and checked for further attack. For a second, all was quiet…

..until the ghostly figure that had spoken to them before drifted out of the wall.

Note: Joe was not able to make the game, so this was the easiest way to deal with that.

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The Mausoleum
First Encounter

Arriving at the Shadowhaunt Mausoleum, the group fan out and search around the outside first of all, seeking clues as to the location of the two young boys believed to be held inside.

Aran Thule finds some small tracks leading up to the door, suggesting two heavier figures and one lighter.

The Mausoleum doors are heavy, but have been recently opened and the adventurers nervously head inside, wary of stories of haunted spirits. They see a rectangular room with three scarcoughagi on each side, all closed. Above each one, a statue rests on a small niche. The statues on the left are clearly representative of Pelor, God of the Sun, with those on the right being representative of Bahamut, father of Dragons. In the centre of the room, a large obelisk rises, writing in Common along it's side detailing the triumphant history of the Kaius Dynasty.

In the far right hand corner, one statue has been dislodged and lies on it's side on the ground.  

Cass seeks to lever the lid off one scarcouphagus, to the mild dismay of Des, but finds only a skeleton dressed in rusting chainmail. The skeleton is left undisturbed and the lid replaced. The group are baffled – how did three people come into this room with no other visible exits, yet leave without a trace of where they went?

Some more careful examination leads to a further clue – there are strange scuff marks and a slight draught coming from one side of the obelisk – signs of a secret door! However, the group still have no idea how to open it.

Whilst they puzzle this out, their attention is suddenly drawn to the far end of the room. A ghostly figure rises up through the floor. It is dressed in shabby robes that seem to fade away at the sides, drifting in an unfelt breeze. His face is indistinct beneath a cowl, and he bears no clear markings of any kind. He points towards Elwanen and intones in a rasping voice:

"Interlopers beware. If you trespass you shall not recognise the wisdom of my words. From entry sinister, the way becomes clear when the son follows the sire." He then falls silent.

Searching their knowledge and pooling their resources, the party crack the riddle:

* "From entry sinister" refers to a heraldric custom, and means the left hand side.
* "The son" could also be "the Sun" meaning Pelor, God of the Sun.
* "The Sire" could refer to Bahamut, sometimes called the Sire of all Dragonkind.

The party elect to move some of the statues around, eventually settling on a system of Bahamut / Pelor all round the edge of the room, starting with the statue nearest the door on the left hand side. The spirit seems pleased by this action, and as the final statue is placed one side of the obelisk grinds open slowly, revealing a flight of stairs leading down into darkness. The spirit sinks into the floor, and the party gather around the newly-revealed entrance, wondering what lies beneath. 

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Beginnings
Get This Party Started

On a fresh spring day in the town of Fallcrest, various people are drawn together into what might become a group to shake the foundations of the world…one day.

Aran Thule, a young halfling Ranger, and barkeeps daughter Cass Breenan are approached by an old explorer and map enthusiast to head north to the village of Winterhaven and make a map of the old keep that lies in ruins nearby. The two hatch a plan to get someone else to make the map and then to return it to gain the reward. Cass also realises this would be a good opportunity to ask around after her missing brother.

Meanwhile, across town, the sinister-looking Sabbat Fau and the young Wizard Theron speak to the wife of their friend and mentor, Douven Staul. He has gone north to Winterhaven investigating the alleged tomb of a Dragon, reasoning that where there is a tomb, there's treasure, but has not been seen for three months. His wife asks that they bring him back, to which they agree.

Lastly, the Tiefling Des (a Cleric who worships The Reason), and Paladins Elwanen and Rangrim Stoneborn are contacted in the main Temple of Fallcrest. They learn that about a year ago, a small group of Death Cultists were seen to be heading north towards Winterhaven, lead by a man named Kalarel. The priestess asks them to investigate and put a stop to any nefarious activity, offering a hefty monetary reward should they succeed.

The group encounter each other at the stables, seeking passage north – the stable-owner knows Cass as she has grown up in the area and asks them to take the goods caravan to Winterhaven. The spring thaws mean the village will be looking for supplies, and the innkeeper there will be happy to arrange things on his behalf.

After a few days travel, they reach the village of Linden Field, and stay in a small Inn named The Dragon's Tale. In the morning, they are awoken by silversmith Quinn Stasi rushing in looking for help – it seems his two young sons Steven Stasi and Richard Stasi have been kidnapped in the night. He knows roughly where they are being held, but he needs a group to bring them back. The various well armed-and-armoured adventurers agree to help out, to which Quinn is happy to offer a reward.

Asking around, they discover they are likely to be heading towards the Shadowhaunt Mausoleum, the final resting place of the Warlords of the Kaius Dynasty. Old Thom the beggar tells them he saw three hooligans heading that way with the two boys, but he is notoriously unreliable and a teller of tales.

The group head off to the Mausoleum to see what they can find… 

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The Heroes Gather
Their First Adventure!

In a small village south of Winterhaven, the adventurers meet for the first time and accept a quest to rescue two small children from a kidnap.

This adventure comprises the Worldwide D&D Day Adventure Into The Shadowhaunt. I appreciate that some players may have already run through it once (particularly JC, I know) but it should serve as an excellent short introduction to the game that can be finished in one session, on Monday, before we launch into Keep on the Shadowfell in the next session.

Anyone else noticing a preponderance of shadows in all of this?

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The Cathedral of Shadow

“Ok team,” began the Tiefling orator, “If our information is correct this be the final leg of our expedition. It’s been a long and difficult road, and we mean to end well. We shall need the kind of resounding victory worthy of a party of heroic adventurers [such as ourselves]! Now, has everybody prepared their one-liners?”

The adventurers nodded from one to another as they made there way through the passages beyond the hobgoblin guard rooms.

“Once again, I cannot over the importance of good delivery,” the Tiefling continued, “and the components of a well delivered one-liner are?”

Having prevented Winterhaven being overrun by undead the journey back to the keep, when not looking out for ambushes, had been spent engaged in vocal training courtesy of Des, who was now looking expectantly around the group. At first noone wanted to volounteer. Finally, from near the front of the marching order, Elwanen spoke.

”...Posture?”

“Good!” replied Des instantly, “And good posture demands…?”

Elwanen thought for a moment, ”...A wide stance, arms ready as if to grapple, and a… pertinant? ...angle at the neck.”

””Excellent, well remembered!” confirmed Des, “Who’s next?”

After a few moments, Aran, who had been leading the party through a series of junctions, spoke. “Erm… Essential component number two in a good delivery is… projection?”

“Exactly!” congratulated Des, “And projection demands…?”

“Projection demands… good posture… and resoluteness of purpose?”

“Now I can see your really getting it!” affirmed the Tiefling. The party now descended a short flight of stone stairs. The air had grown cold, very cold. There was a lingering sense of malignant forboding that oozed from the very stones themselves. “What comes next? Come on now, we’ve been over this, you should know it!” he continued.

There was some scratching of heads and blank looks as the party proceeded through a large empty chamber.

“If you are a bit eccentric people might say that you are a bit of a… ” prompted Des, helpfully.

“Devil worshipper?” offered Sabbat Fau the warlock.

“Liability?” improved Cass Breenan the fighter.

“Character!” resounded Theron the blue haired wizard, “Component number three in the good delivery of a one-liner is character. Essential the conveyance of character are posture, projection, and a phrase or saying with personal or cultural resonance for the speaker or, in many cases, the recipient. This may be adapted within the specific instance of the delivery.” he concluded. Theron was good at this. He reeled off the lines like one might the most simplest and commonplace of alchelmical formulae.

“Fantastic! 10 out of 10!” applauded des, “So we have: Posture precluding Projection, Projection precluding Character, and what does Character preclude?”

“Oh wait, I know this one!” began Ryam Rateater the halfling warlord, “Character precludes Timing!”

“Precisely!” said Des, “And with Posture, Projection, Character and Timing one may effectively deliver a witty and poignant one-liner, thus improving mole within ones own party, lowering morale amongst the opposition, and [of course] ensuring the worthy embellishment of tavern tales once the victors have repaired to the comfy armchairs of a safe and welcoming drinking establishment.”

“Thats the part i’m looking forward to!” added Aran. There were some nods of agreement.

“Now timing is without doubt the most elusive and unpredictable element of the four, and so we should perhaps spend some time looking at the intricies of opportunistic interjections…” began Des eagerly.

“No time!” interrupted Elwanen, “There’s a crate load of trouble up ahead, and it’s just fallen off the back of the ugly cart.”

The party had reached what looked like an antechamber. Ahead, an archway opened into a vast cavern-like space. Peering through the party could make out figures moving amongst the shadows cast by flickering torches. Idols to unnameable entities adorned the walls, and the smell of blood hung in the air. At an altar half-hidden in the darkness on the far side of the chamber the cowled figure of the Orcus Underpriest appeared brandishing a long, wicked looking dagger that dripped with blood. The floor of the room was slick with the sheen of a dark substance, slowly trickling across the flagstones until reaching a large grate in the center. Moving into view from behind formations of glowing quartz obelisks came wild and feral looking creatures, barely human, wielding axes and serated blades.

“Finally, The Cathedral of Shadow!” declared Ryam, “On my signal!...”

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