Thursday, May 21, 2015

Session 25 Synopsis

Previously, on Phoenix Rising...
So our heroes cleared out the storage room attached to the main gatehouse so they could rest for the night, recuperate from their wounds, and regain memorized spells to be ready for the next day where the group had plans to descend into the catacombs underneath the temple. On their way to the temple proper Zerak hung back a bit with Jobi and the two of them had a short conversation (read it below)

Our heroes descended the stairs down into the catacombs of the temple and found something entirely unexpected at the bottom of the stairs, which made them all the more suspicious. Four sarcophagi, one broken open, stand in the outer portion of this irregularly shaped room. Beyond, seven armored humans kneel in worship before an ornate altar decorated with twin rearing dragon heads. The room is softly lift by several wall sconces holding low burning, smokey torches. As the group warily entered the room, one of the armored knights stood up and bid them, "Welcome. Won't you please join us in our prayers to Bahamut?" Naturally the party was skeptical about any group of living knights that still were in this place so they began questioning them as some of them slowly began to spread out. The leader of the knights revealed that his band came here to pray before they left on a mission for their holy order and the last time they were there was several months ago.

Detect magic spells only revealed that only the creatures themselves were radiating illusion magic, but not whether it was coming from equipment or from the knights themselves. Zola took no chances and decided to cast a spell to help make them invisible to undead, thinking that this surely must be a trap. Turns out she was right for in the next few moments the "knights" ended up dropping their charade and revealed their true nature - which turned out to be shadows, and not the fun kind you can make do things in the sunlight like making a bunny or flying bird, or, ahem... I digress. Where was, ah yes, nasty evil shadows that drain your strength until you wither, die, and turn into a shadow! Those kinds of shadows.

For a little bit it looked like the party was going to have some real problems with these things. Zola, Zerak, Asphodel, Jobi, and Kel all ended up getting hit and getting some of their strength drained. But through judicious spell use and some luck with standard attacks, they were able to beat down these shadows and prevail. After the fight, the members used some of the bandages of recovery and a restoration spell that Kel had to help speed up the ability damage healing. After listening at both doors leading out of this chamber and not hearing much activity at all, they decided to make camp and rest, trying to gather their strength back up (no pun intended). Blackwell decided that he was going to open up the three remaining coffins to see if there was anything of value in them. This openly disturbed Zerak who, eventually seemed OK with opening ones that had already been disturbed, but he got vehemently upset when Blackwell moved to search a still sealed coffin. Kel and Jobi backed Zerak on this and Blackwell reluctantly agreed to leave them alone.

After their rest and again listening at both doors out of this room, they decided on the southern door. When it was opened they saw another oddly shaped room, but this one looked like it had some kind of fountain on the far southern wall as well as two more sealed coffins. Kel and Asphodel advanced into the room and saw some more undead coming from the hidden parts of the room to investigate who made the noise opening up the door. This time our heroes were facing a couple skeleton champions, two soul knights, and a handful of burning skeletons. It didn't take long for the party to eliminate these threats and there were only a couple of interesting moments during the battle, like when the skeleton champions were found out by Kel and Blackwell to be skilled in disarming and tripping their opponents. Then Zerak had cast an enlarge spell on Zola and she was able to squeeze through the door and basically block the creatures from getting around to the other party members in back of her. And most of the burning skeletons ended up dying and exploding near Asphodel, who wasn't hurt a bit by the fiery explosions.

Inside the room they found a fountain that still had very clear and cold water coming out of it - in fact the water had healing properties, which only one or tow of the party took advantage of for now (the battle with the skeletons was not very dangerous to them). They also saw that tile mosaics were laid into the floor and walls - mostly depicting Bahamut and the like. They also listened at the two door leading out of this room (south and north) and decided to take the north door, figuring that it may connect up to an area with the western door that was in the first room they explored of the catacombs. Opening this door led to a short hallway that ended in another pair of doors. And it was these doors that led to another room with several sealed coffins, and some half-round alcoves on the far west wall of the room. It also had a couple of mummies and four strange stone statues that advanced for the attack.

Still being double her normal size, Zola advanced into the room just far enough to block the enemies from getting around her and into the hallway to the less armored of the group. THis proved to be a good tactic, allowing the spell casters to cast spells from the safety of the back plus it allowed others, like Asphodel and Blackwell to get into the room and attack in melee. Fortunately, no one contracted mummy rot and the stone statues were a bit easier to destroy than they looked and soon the party had won the battle. With the battle over, Zola returned to her normal size and the group began searching this room carefully since there were many more mosaics on the floors and walls of this room. This room also had four sealed coffins in here that Blackwell stayed away from, albeit reluctantly. The four alcoves had the following scenes laid out in colored tiles:

Crusade of Conquest: The knights ofGardmore Abbey fought orcs, lizardfolk, and the minotaur remnants of Saruun Khel, killing thousands of the monsters before establishing the abbey as a safe bastion in the north. Stonemarch Crusade: A few decades after the founding of the abbey, the orcs of the Stonemarch became a significant threat. After the orcs launched several attacks on the abbey, the knights ventured into the Stonemarch to wipe them out and put an end to the raids. It took a full century for the orcs to recover from the losses they suffered. Serpent Crusade: When a temple dedicated to Norgorber arose in the depths of the Witchlight Fens, the problem quickly warranted the abbey's attention. The knights suffered devastating losses in this campaign, primarily because the cult of Norgorber was so adept at recruiting converts to their faith from within the ranks of the knights, creating highly effective spies. War of the Infernal Bastion: The greatest threat to the empire of Nerath before its eventual downfall was the hobgoblin warlord Hur-Tharak, the greatest in a long line of goblin leaders to arise in the southern lands. Aided by devils and powerful priests of Asmodeus, Hur-Tharak gained a strong foothold in the empire's southern lands, in the region called the Dragondown Coast. When Nerath launched a counterassault to take back those lands and sack the warlord's Infernal Bastion, the knights of Gardmore Abbey marched alongside other paladins and armies in what is heralded as one of Nerath's most glorious moments of unity and victory.

Sidebar: Only Nerath thought itself important. It was basically a feeble attempt to disengage from Cheliax and, although it had succeeded in doing that for about 100 years, Nerath was devastated by Cheliax when they decided to take them seriously. Gardmore Abbey for too far north for the Chelaxians to bother with at the time.

While examining the alcoves, the party noticed that the third one, about the serpent crusade, had a secret door in it. Blackwell discovered the latch and opened it up. Behind the door a long, low ceiling room had only one item in it, a coffin. They approached cautiously and noticed that the coffin lid was partly open. They pushed it aside and took a look inside and saw noting but velvet pillows and dark, rich looking dirt inside the coffin, but nothing else. After a few moments of silence, Blackwell said something to the effect of, "Oh ****! This looks like it belongs to a vampire!" And the rest of our heroes definitely got just that much more nervous in here and decided to back out and close the door as quickly as they could.

There was one more set of doors out of this room that they didn't hear anything behind, plus they had also found another secret door; this one on the southern wall of the room between the door they came in through and the western door they had just listened at. Blackwell once again deftly found and opened the secret door. What was revealed behind the door made Jobi's heart skip a beat, just before the anger set in. What they saw was what was obviously once a small temple/shrine to Sarenrae. But it was now defiled and ruined by followers of Asmodeus. The walls had profane graffiti written in blood all over them. The altar and likeness of Sarenrae hanging above it were defaced, chipped, gouged, etc. Jobi just knew that she had to re-consecrate this site as soon as possible. But first they would finish clearing out the catacombs, plus she had to do a little research in order to figure out exactly what she needed to do in order to re-consecrate this shrine to her god. So the group closed the secret door, in hopes that it stays secret until they could come back to reclaim the shrine for good.

So they opened up the western set of doors and found another room with sealed coffins in it plus something extra - some wraiths and some shadows!

Stayed tuned for next week's exciting adventures that may have the answer to, "Do wraiths and shadows really have more fun?"


  1. This is a bit of dialog Dani and I worked on together. The conversation occurs after last session but before the next (or at the beginning of at least).

    PART 1

    The dawning sun peaked over the horizon, casting the first rays of daylight upon the surrounding forest hugging the plateau. The six adventurers arose from their makeshift camp inside the storage room and promptly gathered their belongings. Before the sun had completely arisen from its nightly slumber the group had left the scene of their last battle and made their way towards the corrupted abbey. Wary of the orc encampment behind them, the mysterious group from the previous day’s encounter, and the possibility of interplanar ships appearing most kept alert with eyes and ears open for almost any possibilities. Only in the back of the group there walked the two arcane spellcasters were there any minds not focused on the short walk. Zerak stared out to the open space beyond the forest. As he watched the sunlight radiate out from the clouds he saw burning tentacles form within the sky. He blinked and shook his head as he turned his gaze to the ground.

    Just a little apophenia, he thought, At least this time. Otherwise… yes, it’s nothing.

    He glanced over to the teifling sorceress who walked beside him. Zerak sucked in a quick breath and started to fidget with his dagger and crossbow. Jobi caught the positioning out of the corner of her eye and glanced over to her companion.

    “What’s wrong now?” she asked quietly.
    Zerak blushed slightly behind his hood.
    “No. Well, yes,” he sighed, “Jobi… your… goddess… and many of the other dieties of… purity… find the necromantic arts, or at least the ones involving reanimation of undead… well, they find it… to put it bluntly…. evil, correct?”

    Jobi raised her eyebrow. After the incident with the bulette such a question did not surprise her.
    “Yes, she views them as evil. They are unnatural and… just not right.”
    Zerak nodded as they approached the abbey entrance. He lowered his voice and leaned in a bit closer.

    “I… I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking… and I’m not sure… no, I am sure… I… I don’t want to… I don’t want to deal with it anymore.”
    “Deal… deal with what?” she asked.
    “…Undeath,” he replied flatly.
    Jobi stared at him blankly.

  2. PART 2

    “Look,” he said as he leaned back, raising up his right to count, “After encountering the crypt thing, the vampires, dealing with noble and werewolf politics, and… well… having an arm bit off by a beholder… certain former priorities seem not so important and other matters that were never of note are suddenly in the forefront. And part of this paradigm shift is causing me to question my studies and realize it will take me down a path I no longer wish to travel.”

    “Well… well then, what are you going to do? If you change your ways, will it… how will that change your… well, witchcraft?”
    Zerak blew out a sigh.
    “Part of that answer depends on what Valthruun can find out. And part of it kinda depends on the answer to another question.”
    “Uhm, may I pry?”
    “More than that, it will acquire your answer,” Zerak let out a soft laugh, “I’m asking you since you’ve been closest to me. As in geographically closest. ‘Neverwinter is close to Waterdeep.’”
    Jobi laughed, “Alright, what do you want?”

    “When we get back to Neverwinter…” Zerak paused, wincing as if in pain, “Could… could you come with me when I… when I go talk to a priest or priestess of Pharasma?”
    “Pharasma?” Jobi paused and glanced up in thought, “Alright.”
    “…Thank you,” Zerak replied softly.
    “…Are you becoming a cleric?”
    “And walk around in a suit of clanging armor in cramped dungeons like canned goods sneaking around the cupboard? No thank you.”
    Jobi let out another laugh. “Yes, I will go. I see no problem in supporting a friend.”

    Jobi walked on ahead, then noticed that Zerak was no longer beside her. She stopped and turned to face him. Even through his hood she saw his face. Upon it was not the visage of the creepy man in the Bloated Front, not the crazed maniac who returned to Neverwinter talking to a dismembered head, and not the bitter cynic that had emerged from Undermountain. Instead was a gentler face bearing a small, soft smile with no malice or madness behind it, but one that allowed onlookers to see genuine warmth peaking out from deep within. Jobi smirked a bit before a small, playfully derisive snort.

    “Come along and don’t fall behind just because you think we had a moment,” Jobi shook her head, then added with less derision and more affection than usual, “Idiot.”

    “Besides,” Jobi added in a rushed tone, “We did already—”
    “Look, I have felt really bad bout the way—”
    “It was’t that bad—”
    “Well I did grow up around priest and priestesses of Calistria—”
    “Hhhh… Nhhh,” a muffled voice from Zerak’s pack muttered, “Deetaailss…”

    The conversation abruptly ended with Zerak’s elbow colliding with his backpack.