The Woodlands Scales of War

We're in the desert, and we're walking...

Investigating the rendez-vous location their informant had been found, it was revealed that he had managed to hide a significant piece of information that his murderers hadn’t burned: the deed to the warehouse itself. As it turned out, the warehouse was owned by the Elsir Consortium, the number one employer and caravan runner in the vale. They reached out to Bram Ironfell, their only contact in the consortium (and also a good friend to Kalad).

Bram claimed ignorance of the goings on in the warehouse, and Kalad continued to vouch for his honesty. Ironfell also offered the party a potentially incredibly lucrative job, deciding they were the only people in the town capable of pulling it off. His family had lost a gold mine centuries ago, claiming it to be cursed. No one could remember where it was as a result…until now. Bram had finally found conclusive evidence of its location, and offered the party a notable stake in the mine if they found it.

Gizmo was still comatose after his near death experience in the shadowfell, so the party hired on new help by way of Heterodyne, a warforged with some very handy healing darts and a noble countenance.

With promises of massive amounts of gold ringing in their ears, the party set off into the thornwastes, seeking the desert on the other side. With the help of a rather dashing druid (whom Reysha is determined to find again) they managed to reach the other side, despite the efforts of a rival dwarven clan to thwart Ironfell’s reclamation efforts. Arriving in the desert, they found a town being threatened by a Gnoll and his giant Snake pal. Never one to stand for the oppression of innocents, Kathak and Heterodyne led the charge and eventually defeated the beasts. In gratitude, the citizens offered what little information on the mine they could, while also not-so-casually dropping hints that the Desert Queen oppressing them could likely be found in the same location.

The following morning, the party began the two day trek through the desert. The town sent their best guide, a warlord named Kat, to assist them. After a harrowing encounter with a hag (whom Heterodyne mistook for an ailing old woman), the party found a massive, partially buried dwarven fortress. After heedlessly charging into a trap set by the troglodytes, the party faced a difficult challenge in escaping with their lives. Thanks in large part to Reysha’s arrows, Kathak’s massive strength, and Anhur’s teleportation, they managed to dispatch with the towers’ ersatz “guards.”

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Shadowfell Adventures
Another catch up post

The heroes of brindol, now dubbed the heroes of Overlook for their efforts in saving the dwarf city-and indeed the realm at large-from an orc invasion, have been living large in the city of late. After a lengthy series of parties and free nights at the inn (as well as the purchase of a rather unfortunate Pomeranian), Anhur began to wonder who this mysterious emissary was that had been arming the goblins and orcs in the vale. After the town’s hospitality had been fully exploited, they set about their investigation.

Through a combination of espionage, investigation, and torture, the heroes attracted the attention of a half-elf named Eliana who was searching for her missing sister. She gave them information on the mysterious “modra” mentioned in the note, and they in turn informed her that her sister was one of the doomed Farstriders.

Pooling their information together, they realized that modra worked for the emissary-or perhaps WAS the emissary?-and that he was a frequent customer of the Happy Beggar inn. Investigating it, they found (to Kathak’s delight) the inn was run by retired paladins of Pelor. He led the customers and owners in a round of Pelor hymns, abd the party took advantage of that to create a distraction. That distraction was essentially the invention of mardi gras.

With the inn succesfully cleared out, the party met a strange old man who told them of an ancient secret room below the inn even the owners knew nothing about. When they finally found it, they caught modra in the act of opening a portal, which they of course promptly entered, finding themselves in the Shadowfell.

They found a mercenary camp at the base of a tower, and promptly made friends by beating the hell out of the biggest and ugliest mercs around. There they learned modra was only the first lieutenant of a man named Sarshan who ran their outfit: the Black Arrow Company, whose banner matched the weapons they found on the orcs and goblins. They found Modra in a room loaded with terrifying experiments, one of which he turned loose on them. After handily defeating him, he killed himself rather than surrender, claiming he was a dead man if Sarshan knew he had come back anyway.

Trapped between a rock and a hard place as Modra’s plan to detonate the tower went into action, the heroes were forced to take the hard way out: through an underground tunnel, into the tower itself. After fighting off and killing dozens of guards (and an unfortunate scientist), they were captured and brought to Sarshan’s chambers. When they arrived, the old man from the tavern was the one who took a seat at the desk before them, his true form revealing itself as he leaned out of the shadows.

Despite their murder of half his tower guard and his first lieutenant, Sarshan seemed pleased with them. It transpired that Modra had betrayed him by arming the orcs, whom
sarshan thought incapable of actually winning the city, in the hopes that he could use their strength to take over the outfit. Sarshan offered them positions in his “new world order,” so to speak, as when all was said and done, the Vale was not going to be inhabitable anymore…

He gave them some time to think it over, and as they were locked into their “new quarters” an explosion rocked the tower. They heard most of the guard leaving and chose to make their escape…only to find Sarshan’s second liuetenant and his hounds at the exit portal, having anticipated their betrayal.

Gizmo valiantly sacrificed what little energy he had left to buy Anhur time to open the portal, finally collapsing just as the door home reopened. Everyone poured through the door, Reysha pausing to save her best buddy before making her escape. The dogs followed them, but the lieutenant did not. After dispatching the invisible hounds, they apologized to the owners of the in and went to find all of Sarshan’s bases in the city with their friend Kalad, now a city guardsman.

They reached out to the shadar-kai they had interroagred earlier, who offered to show them the last of Sarshan’s hidden bases. When they met at the arranged location, they found his blood and entrails smeared about the warehouse, a mysterious symbol painted on the wall in his blood.

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The War on Orc Terror
Catch-Up time!

Following the daring rescue at Rivenroar, the party became celebrated heroes in Brindol. This led to them being summoned to Overlook to assist with an Orc issue. The PCs and two other adventuring parties, the Freeriders and the Farstriders, all climbed the mountains to deal with the monstrous enemies. The PCs discovered that a temple of Moradin had been horrendously desecrated by the beasts and helped to cleanse it, saving a paladin named Kalad along the way. They suggested that the Freeriders protect the Temple while the party dove deeper into the labyrinth.

Inside the vents in the mountainside, the party met Kathak, former Farstrider, who seemed to be having a hard time remembering where his party went. As they pushed deeper into the vents they began to realize that the Farstriders had been mercilessly killed, their bodies strewn around as decoration. Kathak’s vengeance was great, as was the parties’ usual murdering acumen, and the Vents were cleared of all threats. A Shadar-kai interloper found outside of the main chamber dropped a key when she vanished, as well as a note for someone named “Modra.”

The party discovered the Orc warlord Tusk and his shadar-kai mistress in the massive tank and battled him and his armies while Creek and Kalad climbed to the control panel. After a lengthy battle left most of the party drained, winded, and in the case of Kage the Tenacious, quite throroughly unconscious, Creek managed to flood the chamber and drown the Orcs. As the rest of the group escaped, Kathak attempted a daring rescue of the unconscious bard, escaping with the scalding hot water lapping at his heels as the anguished cries of Tusk echoed behind him.

Returning to Overlook, the party were hailed as heroes (much to the bitterness of the Freeriders) and Kathak decided to tag along (he was reported to have said “Pelor shine on new friends. Kathak like new friends now.”). This also conincided with the retirement of Kage, who, in light of his injuries, decided to return to Brindol with the wealthy family of Jalissa.

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Guard Report from the city of Overlook

Guardsman,

A particularly panicked citizen reported overhearing a death threat. He reported that he was passing along through the busy streets of Tradetown, somewhere around Merty’s and The Salty Mug. He reported hearing, “killing my father,” and, “gonna teach those uppity elves a lesson.”

He was not able to see where the words came from, only that it seemed like it came from below him. We can only assume that our suspect may be one of the wee folk, so keep an eye out for gnomes and halflings.

I know this is not much to go on, but keep your eyes and ears open and we’ll make sure no one in this city gets hurt.

Captain Heiram Stanson

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Excerpt from Creek's Journal
Journal

scribbled in Elven

Rented a horse and setting off momentarily to seek out and kill every last Orc we can find. I can only hope my search for wealth will be a success, I’m eager to return to the city and its merchants. Need to visit alchemist for some formulas. Immediately after I’ll hit the streets, the Nine Hells if I have to, somebodies got to know where I can acquire Burglar’s Gloves. Need a hidden item compartment to safely hide some of my gold!

[Shopping List]
Burglars Gloves
Herbal Poultice Formula
Blinding Bomb Formula

Time to ride..

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The (Actual) Rescue at Rivenroar

After a lengthy recovery from their battle with Sinruth, the heroes continued exploring the dungeons of Castle Rivenroar. They saved a child from the clutches of a host of zombies (by “saved a child” I of course mean "were ambushed by an 8-year-old) and discovered a Wight residing in the Rivenroar throne room, which had sunk into the dungeons over time. The wight told them that he had struck a deal with the goblins: they would feed him and his skeletal companion any living creatures they captured, and they could use the crypt for their own purposes.

Though Gizmo atempted to claim to be part of the goblin army, his association with elves (Sinruth’s most hated race) proved to undo his deception. The Wight and his minions were strong, but did not manage to overcome the party. In that room the remaining artifacts were discovered: A platinum sword, and two shields bearing the sigil of the red hand. Heading back downstairs, the party stumbled upon the old man Sertanian, curator of the Hall of Valor. He offered to care for the treasures until they were returned and went back to the entrance with Jalissa.

Meanwhile, in the course of re-examining the dungeon, the party noticed that there were signs of the goblins having abandoned their camps. Similarly, they abandoned a prisoner: Mirtala the cook, who was found in shock and covered in rats. Eventually she was calmed down and led out of the dungeon along with her fellows. Upon returning to Brindol safely, they were given a generous bonus and offered a week’s stay in their finest inn, and the celebration they were owed several days prior.

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Excerpt from the journal of The Viridian Flame
A look into the early life of a goblin hero

Journal,

It’s been a rough couple of days and a lot has happened since I last wrote.

Quick summary: I just escaped from Sinruth’s army camp in order to warn the city of Brindol in hopes of earning my freedom to go home. However, I got wrangled into taking down Sinruth, since I knew the way (plus, there’s this really possessive Elven woman who’s trying to claim me as her pet).

As we got deeper into Castle Rivenroar where Sinruth set up base, we rescued some hostages and eventually hunkered down for the night. During the night, Sinruth passed by incredibly close, and so the team decided to take advantage and take the fight to him. And that’s when I learned that life is a cruel prankster.

Sinruth is my father.

When I was a kid, my dad escaped our village when adventurers attacked us, thinking we were a threat to their city’s safety. He left me with my Uncle Jaka and Aunt Beru and went back to find my mother. He never returned. Needless to say, with a goblin’s average life expectancy, I figured he died out there somewhere. Uncle Jaka and Aunt Beru raised me up in a small village far away from any “civilized” settlements. We didn’t want to compete and risk losing what little we already had.

And so these years went by, and my dad, who was still alive, actually managed to become captain of a hobgoblin horde. He changed his name to Sinruth to instill fear and respect from his subordinates, and went on to “restore the honor of our goblin race.”

Unsurprisingly enough, the people of Brindol didn’t take too well to this news, and now I’m stuck between a rock father and the rest of the hard place party (who, coincidentally, were the ones who attacked my village so many years ago).

I didn’t want to choose between either of them, but they were determined to kill each other. We’ll cut to the end and say it was not a fun time for everyone involved.

My dad, scary as he was, couldn’t hold out.

I had to do some serious soul searching that night…

I could have killed them all while they slept… I thought about it… they probably would have killed me, and I probably would have been fine with it. At least I’d be with my family again… But all that would do was just be another bloodstain on fabric of history. It wouldn’t wipe the slate clean, wouldn’t wash away the sins of our past, our collective murders against one another.

I thought, “If I’m gonna die, I might as well die trying to make a difference.” I’m gonna change goblin relations. I’m gonna uphold my father’s goals. Not through bloodshed, not through a back-and-forth dialogue of, “He killed, she killed…”

I’m gonna show the whole world that goblins are to be respected, not feared…

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Unexpected Reunion

Crashing “heroically” through the door, the bard called out to the fair maiden. The last thing the players heard of her were screams being muffled by the door. After taking a fairly savage beating, Kage the Tenacious decided to hold back and allow his comrades to take their positions. The hobgoblin captain (which Gizmo identified as one of several named Gruk) attacked the goblin traitor while his archers rained arrows onto the party.

During the chaos, spitting lizards from the back nearly removed Creek and Gizmo’s faces with their acidic saliva. While the party engaged the minions, a Goblin sorceror emerged from the room containing the (still shrieking) prisoner. A confounding cloud of some sort erupted in the center of the room, leading to more chaos.

Creek, meanwhile, summarily decapitated one of the lizards as Gizmo torched the hobgoblin archers. Reysha kept Captain Gruk pinned while Kage attempted to support the party at range, still smarting from his earlier charge. Anhur, with his knowledge of military tactics, directed Creek towards the Goblin, and they destroyed him before his hexes could take effect. With the cloud dissipated, the Captain and his remaining pet were easy prey.

Kage ran to save his fair maiden, who collapsed sobbing into his chest, tears streaming from her decidedly non-crooked (and very blue) eyes. She introduced herself as Jalissa, a student from the college of Ioun, and asked them if they had found the young son of the guard captain Kartenix. When they responded in the negative, she told them of where she had last seen him (beign taken deeper into the castle).

Exhausted, battered, and bloodied, the group decided to barricade themselves in the room for the night. The first watch passed quietly enough, but during the second, Creek heard the sounds of chains being dragged and hushed talking. Looking around the corner, he saw a Goblin with a spiked chain and stolen armor chatting quietly with a hobgoblin (who was probably also named Gruk). He alerted his meditating comrades and decided to strike while they were unaware.

Unfortunately, as Reysha’s arrows rained down on them, the Goblin was revealed to be the mysterious Sinruth. Gizmo had previously claimed to be a hobgoblin, and judging by his surprise when he prepared to attack. Even more surprising was the fact that Sinruth recognized him.

Initially the pair of goblinoids proved difficult to attack: their formation was nigh impenetrable, and the adventurers were pinned into the corner. Anhur teleported behind Captain Gruk, and was able to finish him off once a lucky shot from Reysha managed to knock them off course.

Gizmo, finally recognizing the goblin as his estranged father, called the battle to halt. Shade lay at death’s door on the ground, Sinruth’s pointed boot poised to kill her the moment anything went wrong. He would only surrender, he claimed, if the elves that destroyed the red hand were brought to justice. The prisoners would be released, and Brindol would be spared. Anhur was having none of that, however, and fortunately Sinruth was caught off-guard by Creek before he had the chance to kill Shade.

After a long protracted battle full of missed shots and failure (like, seriously epic level failure), the party finally defeated Sinruth. Gizmo, however, decided to support the party rather than fight, and saved the lives of Shade and Creek. With most of the aprty severely injured, they retreated back into their makeshift room for the night, deciding to deal with Gizmo in the morning.

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The Tomb of Rivenroar

Our heroes managed the eight hour trek to Castle Rivenroar, the abandoned ruin that Gizmo claimed was the home to the new Red Hand rebellion and their leader Sinruth. Due to Creek and Reysha’s tracking expertise, the trip passed without incident. When they entered the first room of the elaborate tomb to Rhest’s three noble families, a frightening display of dancing fire startled the party. Gizmo, the smallest and most agile, was able to duck under the flames easily. When he opened the door at the end of the hall, the fires stopped.

The party went downstairs into a musty chamber full of strange fungi, the area clearly unfinished and open to the moldering graveyard dirt in which the tomb was built. There, they easily defeated two guard drakes protecting a small chamber on the eastern side of the room. Inside the room they found the crone Zerriska imprisoned within a magic circle. After some amusing goblin pantomime, Anhur found a way to weaken the circle enough to break it, and she was freed. She told them that she was brought in alongside the guard captain Kartenix, who had allowed himself to be captured in order to find his son Thurann, who went missing after the attack. She mentioned that Kartenix had gotten free and ran upstairs in the western side of the dungeon, and the last thing she saw was him being dragged away by something other than the goblins. After some debate, it was decided to send her back to Brindol with Reysha as her escort.

Heading back into the main chamber, this time the party headed east. At the top of these stairs they found a strange series of teleporting runes. Anhur’s arcane knowledge and Creek’s keen eyesight allowed them to find the pattern after some trial and error. Across the tiles was another where the dwarf Adronsius was held prisoner, beaten and left for dead by the hobgoblins. Shade’s healing powers restored him to be fit enough to move, and the party freed him from his restraints after realizing that most manacles had locks. He also told the party that he knew of the locations of two prisoners: the crone who had already been saved, and a beautiful student of Ioun known as Jalissa, who had been taken upstairs.

Back in the main chamber, the dwarf offered to wait there for the other prisoners so they could make their escape together. The party agreed to this and headed off into the eastern section of the tomb. After fighting their way through a small squad of goblins and hobgoblins, the party found some wonderful fat loots and continued on into a room containing a portal to a peaceful looking castle. However, when approached, the castle suddenly transformed into a ruin in the shadowfell. Anhur warned the others, who nevertheless came dangerously close to succumbing to the portal’s magic as he did. Giving it a wide berth, they continued on and defeated a small horde of the undead. After robbing a coffin or two (just a little bit), they found the mauled and mangled corpse of a man in the armor of a Brindol guardsman.

Determining his armor to be unworthy of poaching, they had a choice between north and south. North went downstairs to a small chamber, south went upstairs to a door. Either way, it was clear that bot exits were leaving the tomb and entering the castle proper. Remembering the dwarf’s words, Tenacious chose to lead the party upwards. Sure enough, when the door was opened, the party saw a young blonde female being thrown into a side chamber by a particularly brutish looking hobgoblin, who challenged the party to a fight.

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The Story so Far...

Fifty years ago, a band of young elves, some still half a century from maturity, came together to drive the Red Hand invasion out of their village. The goblins were routed so severely because of this that the city of Brindol was able to drive them back. No one knows why they were so successful, and for a time the young elves were a local legend. Nowadays, only the older people in the village still speak of it, and commerce with the elves has reached a new low.

Newly appointed councilman Eoffram Troyas wanted to see that changed. As a half-elf he is descended from the same tribe as our heroes, and remembers tales of their day in the sun from his childhood. Determined to repair relations, he decided to have a lavish parade for the 5th anniversary of the event. For many of our heroes, this is the first time they’ve seen each other in decades.

The adventurers arrived early, with Troyas and his bodyguard Alys the only guests present as they presided over the servants. They picked at the feast and caused some mild chaos in search of dessert pastries before their first guest arrived ahead of schedule, the dwarven merchant Bram Ironfell. Creek spoke with him about some problems he’d overheard, and Bram mentioned one of his caravans failed to make its appointed destination, depriving Brindol of much needed trade from the large city of Overlook to the west.

At that moment, the sound of something scrambling down the side of the building caught Creek’s ear. As he headed to the door to listen, he heard a loud thud and saw the door crack open to reveal a small hooded figure peeking through. Assuming the figure to be goblinoid for its size, he turned away in disgust and allowed Shade to handle it. Shade lost track of the creature, who instead had chosen to crash into the kitchen, alerting Reysha. Working together, the two caused a ruckus and stole some cake. With that, Gizmo became Reysha’s new pet.

After causing a commotion, Gizmo exited the kitchens to find Alys’s sword at his throat. He warned them that the hobgoblins were coming, more than he could count, to lay siege to the town. Troyas did his best to prepare for the siege but they came too quickly, and Alys only managed to save her charge and Ironfell. The adventurers decided to take the fighting to the streets, allowing the servants time to escape. After cutting down several waves of reinforcements, a large Ogre came lumbering down the streets towards them, hurling casks of pitch left and right. They defeated him and the archers he was escorting, at great risk to both Anhur and Creek.

After the battle, the goblins retreated. Anhur noted, due to his knowledge of military strategy, that they were probably going for a “shock and awe” opening battle, just showing the town what they were capable of before retreating. Alys reappeared with a message from the council, offering them the opportunity to work for them. They are tasked with retrieving artifacts stolen from the hall of valor, and saving six prisoners carried off to gods know where.

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