Sunday, November 25, 2012

Changes in Town (Month 8)


Tara is on the cusp of turning into a small city, as the population swells and once abandoned parts of town are inhabited once again. Foreigners have swelled the marketplace, selling wares, including those once forbidden. They tend to hide in the shadows and keep a low profile.

One Phoenician wizard, Azmelqart, has begun selling powerful wands, rods and staves. He also sells items considered "evil" and other questionable magic items (like items that protect from Good). He does not seem malicious as much as indifferent to the consequences, an attribute shared by most Phoenician merchants. 

Azmelqart is known to be the possessor of Batnoam, a magic ring with a minor power but with a very strong personality. The ring is of note in that Batnoam speaks a variety of languages, including some very ancient ones that were thought to have been lost. Unfortunately, it's a malicious thing and has sent at least one would-be adventurer to his death. Azmelqart has retreated to his small house since the event, wishing to keep a lower profile. Perhaps Batnoam has a bigger influence on Azmelqart than anyone knows.


Crime, which was out of control when you started your adventuring career, plummeted when you broke up the ring of cultist beggar-thieves. Now, with a population that's nearly half foreigners, it is simply low, normal for a town of its size.

The Economy of the town has improved only slightly, with the crime increase and the drain on the public coffers taking its toll. If more settlers arrive in Tara, and if there is not a way to pay for defenses, this will go down.  

Revenue from the salt mine might pay for this. In fact, it might shift Tara into the category of "prosperous." This would increase Economy by 1, but would greatly increase your magic item gp value. It's also likely to attract a lot of attention to the growing town.

Law, like Crime, has dropped down to a normal level. This was your modifier for getting help from the town guard or city officials using skills like Diplomacy. They've gone from incredibly helpful to somewhat indifferent.

Society was your ability to modify moods or get something you want using social skills from non-government officials. This number is much higher because people are in a far better mood and aren't in constant fear for their lives.


LN Large town

Corruption +0; Crime -1 (from -7); Economy +0 (from -1); Law +0; (from +4) Lore +2; Society +4 (from +1)

Qualities insular (fading)

Danger +5


Government Council

Population 5,000 (on the cusp of small city)


Base Value 2,538 gp; Purchase Limit 12,690 gp; Spellcasting 5th

Magic Items:

arcane scroll of level 1 spell, hold porta 25 gpScroll
arcane scroll of level 1 spell, detect secret doors25 gpScroll
divine scroll of level 1 spell, detect aberration [APG] 25 gpScroll
potion of guidance25 gpPotion / Oil
potion of protection from good50 gpPotion / Oil
potion of nature's exile [APG]300 gpPotion / Oil
divine scroll of level 3 spell, glyph of warding575 gpScroll
manacles of cooperation [APG]2,000 gpWondrous Item
lesser disruptive metamagic rod3,000 gpRod
wand of level 2 spell, darkvision, with 47 charges4,230 gpWand
wand of level 2 spell, darkvision, with 50 charges, function indicated by an inscription in Phoenician4,500 gpWand
wand of level 2 spell, spike growth (caster level 4), with 44 charges5,280 gpWand
wand of level 2 spell, flames of the faithful [APG] (caster level 4), with 50 charges6,000 gpWand
+4 studded leather armour16,175 gpArmour
staff of fire, with 10 charges18,950 gpStave
lesser quicken metamagic rod35,000 gpRod
crystal ball with detect thoughts51,000 gpWondrous Item
maximise metamagic rod

Monday, November 5, 2012

Return to Tara

It has been a month or so since Samhain and the slaughter of the satyr village. With the Curse of Tara lifted, word quickly spread throughout town that Tara was in a New Time, a potential period of prosperity thanks to the Heroes of Tara.

After the celebration, the town returned to normal for a few week. However, about 20 days after Samhain, the ships began arriving. Yan-Ki from Albion, the island to the west, showed up in ramshackle boats. The first group of around 100 people were rough adventurers, seeking an advantage in a safe, bounteous land. They quickly overwhelmed Tara, began squatting in abandoned buildings, and demanding what was promised them, an easy life, free from the curse of whatever town they had come from. As it turned out, The Curse of Tara, was not unique to your town, and other settlements in the region had similar, but different threats under which the population toiled.

The ships kept coming, every day, bringing more people. One ship brought 230 cultists of the goddess Sulis, who heard rumors of hot springs somewhere near Tara. Their public nudity not only irked the folk of Tara, but resulted in several cases of exposure, due to the cooling Fall temperatures in the region. The Sulis cultists apparently come from a town of hot springs in Albion. The cultists now camp outside the city and hope to learn, from you the location of the rumored springs. Until then, they offer their healing powers to those willing to pay, along with curses for their patron's enemies.

After the "Sulis Incident," the king and authorities began processing new refugees into Tara, finding them relevant tasks either in farming or construction, often for the "legacy" projects that the party is developing. The squatters were evicted and new arrivals allowed to pay rent or purchase buildings outright. Those without skills were put into quickly formed apprenticeship programs. Some look promising, but a good number of arrivals are clearly cast offs from other communities. Trouble will surely follow.

Event: With the town in transition, each month is sure to bring positive and negative events that need addressing. This month was quite positive, as the Fall harvest was especially bountiful. In addition, stores usually reserved for the destruction of Samhain are now available to feed the growing population. What could have been a period of unrest has been avoided thanks to the bountiful harvest.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Character Creation

Edition: Pathfinder
Books Allowed: All Pathfinder content, provided it fits theme.
Level: 6

Sandbox. This campaign has no storyline or ready plot hooks to bring you along. You determine where you want to go, what you’re capable of fighting and how you want to engage. NPC groups have plans and timelines and events happen with or without you – lots of people – lots of events.

Starting Point: You're in the stunted town if Tara on the outskirts of civilization. The town is in trouble. You can improve the lot of the town by removing its threats, improving its economy and culture, and helping it thrive.

Where You Can Go: It’s not an urban campaign, so my intention is you don’t stay in town. It’s also assumed that you don’t leave the island (The exception is The Calf, a nearby island that’s part of the same region). Using ships to get around is fine, but far more dangerous.

Hex Bonus: There's a 100 experience point bonus for each hex that's fully explored. This will be helpful early on, but you probably shouldn’t use this as an incentive beyond the first few levels. 

Hexes are 6 miles across. You can see across an open hex if there's no obstruction. The same generally holds if you can get a high view, like on an adjacent hill or other high vantage point. This doesn't mean you've searched it, but you can find or rule out things like structures.

Attributes, Traits and Hero Points: It’s 20 point buy. You get 2 traits and 1 hero point to start.

Races: You must start
with one of the known races and cultures: Human (the standard would be the "yan-ki" Celts, but also Phoenician traders and the native peoples), Elves and Tengu

·         COMMON is the Yan-Ki Celtic.
·         NORTHMAN (Norse): Language of your predecessors on Redstone Island. Northman still populate areas.
·         FUTHARK is a runic language used by wizards and druids (useful, I promise).
·         PHOENICIAN Language of wealthy traders and wizards.
·         EARLY MAN (was Manx) are the native peoples of this island and they’re still around as well.
·         EUBORIAN (Cyclops, Greek) You only hear rumors about the civilization they once ruled.
·         ELVISH there are lots of elves

Magic: Dimension Door has the same chance of mishap as Teleport. Teleport’s chance of mishap is doubled.

Rituals: Can be used to combine power to cast spells. There’s no mechanics yet for this, but know it can be done.

Raising the Dead. Is considered blasphemy by followers of Arawn and most Yan-Ki, unless it happens on Samhain. Some followers (and creatures) of Arawn may come after you if you’re raised. Reincarnation is fine.

RESIDUUM: Another minor rules tweak borrowed from 4E is anyone with a Craft magic item feat can perform a ritual to disenchant an item to obtain it's magical essence, or residuum. This allows you to retain the gp value of a magic item for crafting something new, or even selling the condensed residuum instead of carrying around a golf bag of stuff.


When it comes to issues of player characters, the three major differences in sandbox campaigns is that: 1) the sandbox is lethal and a bit unpredictable, 2) GMs must be more impartial than normal because of this, and 3) the motivations of the character are subordinated to those of the world (over-arching story, or lack thereof) which is not designed around them. In other words, it's a cold, uncaring, lethal world out there that doesn't cater to your needs. How fun!

So when it comes to player character design, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Make a versatile character, more so than normal. Usually, D&D/PF rewards power builds that are often one trick ponies. I think these are fragile in the sandbox. You don't need to match character power levels with encounters in the sandbox, so a slightly more versatile, less lethal fighter-rogue might survive longer than a specialized spear fighter, for example. You might not be as lethal as a party of the same level, but who cares?
  2. Expect lethality. In other words, don't get terribly attached to your character, because the likelihood of character death is higher. This is a bit counter-intuitive because in the beginning, it's all about character motivation, but because of the lethality, the game quickly moves towards party motivation. This is old school and it's actually a lot of fun.
  3. Coming back. I've created more opportunities than in my usual games for coming back from the dead. It's not more opportunities than a normal game, just more than my usual. I also suggest being flexible, such as taking on NPCs as PCs. Reincarnation is the spell of the day with Raise Dead being culturally taboo (but hey, there are other cultures too). I'll even let you roll twice on my custom table and choose the race you want. I'm nice that way. Also, there's no reason in the sandbox that you all need to be the same level.
  4. Bring friends: There's nothing that says you can't find MORE people to adventure with you, like NPCs, animal companions, purchased guard dogs, or minions using the Leadership feat. Heck, create a forward base if you like.

The world has experienced near destruction, with the blame placed on wizardry that opened gateways to other worlds that were never meant to be opened. There is not much left of civilization from this Armageddon, leaving ruins, perverse monsters and the powers of nature to reclaim civilized lands. Everyone blames humanity and the "civilized" races.

The civilized races were laid low and scattered to the winds, losing much of their culture and in many cases, reverting to more tribal ways of life. There are no major cities. Towns and villages are beset by malevolent forces and fail regularly. Those that survive are stunted and stew in their own fears. Trade is hindered by an unknown, wild wilderness that seems bent on the destruction of humanity.

The three main civilizations that are making a comeback in this region: The Yan-Ki (Celts, AKA you), The Northmen (Norse) and the Phoenicians (known for international trade and high magic).

The town of Tara is on an island in the middle of a vast ocean. There are no major continents to speak of, just other islands of various size. When the people think of "outside" the city, they think of traveling to other nearby islands, rather than the wilderness outside their doors. Even that is perilous as the rogue moon Arianna unpredictably arrives at inopportune times to foul the weather, change the tides and lead ocean going travelers astray.

The characters are Celtic in culture, using the Celtic pantheon, dressing as Celts and having various restrictions on technology. They are the Yan-Ki. If they are demi-humans, they are outsiders living in the town with their own set of social mores. 

Celtic name generator:

Classes The druids, witches and bards are feared but respected. Wizards are also feared but despised, as arcane magic is blamed for much of the worlds troubles. Clerics and divine spellcasters are well respected as wielders of the "good" kind of magic. 

Clerics can choose domain powers from their choice of Pathfinder compatible deities with the same domains.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Changes in Town

The sister city, Freyjaborg, has allowed Yan-Ki culture to flourish, although it is still quite early. Where there is suppression of creativity, the people tend to act out in unusual ways, such as crime, cultic worship and general unhappiness. Now they have an outlet, and although a portion of the population has left the city, the remaining people are in a more harmonious position.

Crime has also decreased as the network of beggar Crom cultists has been disrupted. The hag has escaped along with a beggar or two, but for the most part, petty theft and the leak of vital information has been stopped. Stopping a plot to embarrass the king doesn't hurt either.

So we have:
Corruption +0; Crime -7 (from -6) Economy -1; Law +4 (from +3) Lore +2; Society +1 (from 0).
Base Value 2,538 gp (same)
Purchase Limit 12,690 gp (same)
The population decrease doesn't help the Marketplace numbers but it will eventually rise. Also, once the effects of the repaired lighthouses takes effect, there will be increased trade and population.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


The party spends the next day in Freyjaborg resting, assembling a cart, and loading up the valuable statues to return to Tara. On day eight from when they returned to town last, they begin their one day journey back to town. We'll begin again on day nine.

While the party was gone, a strange event occurred in town. Townsfolk report an unusual, black clad man appearing in the town square, coming into existence with a loud popping noise. The man was dressed in blood stained chain armor, an ancient sort worn by the Northmen of old. He proceeded to walk across the town square, entering The Tavern of the Squatting Wolfhound. The black clad man ordered everyone out, speaking with a very thick Northman accent. He informed the barkeep his name was Bloody Erik and he wished to parlay with the heroes of Tara.

The tavern cleared out quickly and the guard was called. Three guardsmen attempted to evict the intruder, but were slain, their bodies reduced to a pile of bones, without the black clad man raising a hand. Upon further investigation, a cleric reported an intense aura of evil emanating from the tavern, and it was concluded that the heroes of Tara may be the best recourse.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Journey South, Part 2

As the party prepared to spend the night in Finrose's tree house, Finrose talked to them about the problems in the Fey Woods. The elven town of Elgar was being harassed by the satyrs of the woods. The satyrs were reported to be under the command of an elephant headed creature named Trikuta. Finrose suggested their best coarse of action would be to contact the elves to try to help. With an introduction from Finrose, this should be fairly easy, once the party figures out the best way to get to Elgar.

In the morning, the party packed up and headed south, in hopes of finding the ruined lighthouse. While following the game trails that followed the geography of the coastal plane, they came upon an abandoned sandstone quarry, the same rock from which Finrose's statues were carved. While investigating, a spectral creature arose from the water with a glowing, rune encrusted sword, intent on destroying the party for trespassing.

The creature turned out to be a cairn wraith, the ancient quarry master who was once responsible for the sight. In death he swore to protect the special rock of the quarry, which it turns out is especially suitable for carving of religious iconography. Once defeated, the old quarry masters sword was found to be magic, and given the name Adalstienn, meaning "noble stone" in Northman. The cold iron longsword (+1) could cast the spell "hairline factures" three times per day, an ability that would prove useful to the party soon.

Continuing south, the party came upon the abandoned town of Freyjaborg. The town was last known as a Northman city of artists, especially stone masons who carved religious statues and objects of worshop from the red limestone of the hills, from which the Redstone island received its name. Statues were scattered throughout the city, some exquisitely carved, while others were abandoned mid-creation. While most were of the Northman gods, such as Freyja, the towns namesake, others were of the Yan-ki deities and some of even stranger, unknown powers. In the center of the town were five ancient standing stones, clearly from the time of the Early Men.

Hoping to gain a better view, Anarod attempted to climb one of the large statues, only to find his first hand hold to be the body of a living creature! Three columns in all sprung to life and brutally attacked the party. The battle was fierce and it was uncertain the party would prevail. Throughout the battle, Tristan's sword was able to reduce the creatures defenses with the hairline factures spell. As they gained the upper hand, the priest Donal called upon Lugh for assistance. A nearby statue of Lugh glowed brightly and concentrated his prayer, giving the party the final push they needed to defeat the creatures.

With the creatures, caryatid columns defeated, the party moved on to the standing stones. Donal discovered that the stones were dedicated to crafting and performance. He was able to activate them by singing a beautiful religious song. Once activated, Donal discovered their purpose. Not only would the activated stones increase the towns craft and perform abilities, but the stones would allow deportation between these stones and other standing stones controlled by the same person.

As the party does not control other standing stones, for now this will be something to make note for future use. Besides teleportation, the stones can also be chained together to amplify the power of any set of standing stones.

Journey South, Part 1

The party headed south from Tara along a game trail. The sky was overcast as they passed through Smuggler's Cove where just a month before they liberated a sailing ship and along the coastal plane between the steep ocean cliffs and foothills. 

While traversing the trail, they heard the cry of a great birds from the sky. Calderone the wizard (some say Calderone the Crazy) was able to discern to large birds of prey fighting above the cloud cover. A light mist began raining down on them, a mist of blood.

Suddenly, as the party looked upward, something fell from the sky, almost crushing Donal, the cleric. It was a huge shark, still heaving after being plucked from the sea. The cries from the creatures continued, with shrieks of pain and great concussive noises. The party waited for the victor to come down to collect its spoils.

Sure enough, a large griffon, badly injured cautiously landed on the opposite side of the shark to collect the prize. The griffon angrily cried at the party hiding in the trees, seemingly looking straight at them. It grabbed its prize and began to fly away, when Calderone unleashed a web spell on the hapless creature. Entangled in the webs, the griffon tumbled to the ground, the enormous shark nearly crushing it in its flailing. Tristan rushed forward with his bastard sword and dispatched the poor animal in a single blow, severing its head. 

The party harvested the animal for its magical bits and took a huge chunk of shark meet for dinner. While they were doing this a grizzly bear approached them quietly in hopes of ambushing them. Tristan was the only one who noticed, and with his bear repellant, created through great hardship, he sent the bear running back to its lair in confusion.

Moving on, the party came across a strange hedge along the game trail. The huge, semicircular hedge was not magical, but certainly didn't occur in nature by itself. Within the hedge were warriors, apparently turned to stone. Using a mirror, as the party had been warned of basilisks, they looked within the hedge to discover a sign! The crudely written sign read "Beware Basilisks," with some of the letters malformed or backwards.

Anarod the rogue climbed the hedge to get a better look, and what he saw was a sea of these stone warriors, and within the center of the hedge, three trees. The trees had an ornate tree house build atop it, with bridges between them, a spiral staircase leading upwards, and even a slide for easy exit. Standing on its hind legs at the base of the stairs was a curious bear.

The party called out for Finrose the druid, who they were told lived in this region, and after a time, the old elf appeared. His young human wife, Marisil  (daughter of Mad Luducus), and their two half-elven children, Lawren and Moira appeared at the windows to see the commotion.

Finrose brought the party into his home and made them welcome, explaining the threats to the region. As it turns out, the statues were of Northmen gods that the Tarans had discarded outside of town. Finrose was using them to scare off intruders, his children having made the basilisk sign.

Updated Map

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Second Month

Tara looks much the same as it did just a month ago, but the attitude is different. The people, once closed in on themselves and fearful of the unknown, now look outwards, to the future. A statue of Daghda, the All Father, looks down on them from on high, offering his protection and wishes for their prosperity. Evil ghosts and spirits no longer haunt their every move. Idle hands now have work to do, both in the crafting of metal items and extra workers for the fields. The shadow over Tara cast by the evil priestess of death has been lifted and the heroes of the land have been woken from their slumber. Yet, there is much to do, as Samhain approaches and the annual threat of fire and destruction looms. But that is still months away, and there is much to do in the towns defenses and the exploration of the region.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Knowledge: Geography - Lighthouses

Historically, light houses were first used in the harbors of cities and towns to guide ships. Only later were light houses placed to warn sailors of dangerous areas. Redstone Island is in the second category for several reasons.

First, the treacherous coasts around Redstone Island, due to its volcanic geography, are more dangerous than most nautical threats. The rocks rise up quickly and are sharp as razors, able to tear out the hull of a ship in a few moments. Historically, scavengers would settle around shipwreck areas to pick up lost cargo. Now imagine that in a fantasy setting with sea monsters and other threats looking for a tasty meal.

Second, in relation to the region, even though the coastline is a coupe hundred miles long, the island is very small and easy to miss as it sits by itself in the Erse Sea. Having multiple lighthouses is crucial to the town getting any trade at all. Miss the island because you can't find it and your next port of call is ten days away, if you make it at all, as you also need to skirt the dangerous Sunken Lands. With no functional lighthouses right now, that means trade is very light to the island as the threat is high.

Third, the island was "settled" by the Northmen, who came from the, you guessed it, north. They did not need a lot of lighthouses as their journey was shorter and less dangerous. Now most of them live far to the east, past the Sunken Lands and they face the same navigational threats as everyone else.

If you want to improve trade, you should definitely repair the various lighthouses, which use natural crystals infused with magic (continual light) to guide ships (you have two such crystals). A lighthouse at the Tara harbor would further increase trade and would be much appreciated.

How to Navigate: The approximate Earth year is zero. This means sailors tended to use the stars and moon to navigate, and most stayed along the coastline using landmarks or even scent (cities smell). There were no compasses or other navigation tools and even maps were rare. The Northmen, with heavy cloud cover many months of the year, could watch the birds. In fact, most voyages were very repetitive. Rather than the oceans as a superhighway, a medieval development, many sailors made the voyage between the same two towns with the same cargo for their entire lives.

 "When you get 11 fathoms and ooze on the lead, you are a day's journey out from Alexandria," wrote Herodotus in the fourth century B.C. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tara at 30 Days

Time to Samhain:  5 months

 The town is functioning better than it has in years. The people are more productive with more farming and iron work being done. Productivity from their faith has improved now that Daghda stands over them. The young heroes have been liberated from their addiction to The Eyes of Crom and are recovering. There is hope that the forest will one be safe for more widespread hunting and that the iron deposits to the north may one day bring them greater wealth.

Much has happened in Tara and the surrounding area in the last 30 days:
  • Internally, half of the town's highly trained young people were liberated from a conspiracy to addict them from drugs and keep them pacified.
  • Bandits to the south were dispatched, providing for safe passage of the iron miners.
  • Smugglers were stopped and tons of iron ore recovered, along with a sailing ship.
  • Old One Eye, a nasty worg that prowled in the southern forests, was taken down.
  • The mystery of Bran the Trapper was solved and his body returned home.
  • Iron ore veins were found to the north, and although not in production, should create quite a windfall for the town.
  • The valley has been full explored and although many threats still exist, as they're are defeated, the area becomes safer.
  • A statue of Daghda was uncovered to the north. This very large statue has magical properties that make the inhabitants of Tara more productive.
Some of the "concrete" results of these actions (changes in red):

Corruption +0; Crime -6 (from -5) Economy -1; Law +3 (from +2) Lore +2; Society +0
Base Value 2,538 gp (up 8%)
Purchase Limit 12,690 gp (up 8%)

 Future thoughts:
  • What the town needs most is more trade and an influx of people who want to live there. 
  • Removing the Samhain Threat will have a huge impact removing the "curse" on the town.

Magic Items Available:
Magic Item Price Type
oil of mending 25 gp Potion / Oil
potion of resist energy (Fire) 10 300 gp Potion / Oil
potion of bear's endurance 300 gp Potion / Oil
arcane scroll of level 3 spell, magic circle against evil (CL5) 375 gp Scroll
arcane scroll of level 3 spell, ray of exhaustion (CL5) 375 gp Scroll
wand of level 1 spell, magic missile (CL1), 26 charges 390 gp Wand
medium sized heavy wood shield, +1 1,170 gp Shield
medium sized heavy wood shield, +1 1,170 gp Shield
lens of detection 3,500 gp Wondrous Item
circlet of persuasion 4,500 gp Wondrous Item
robe of useful items 7,000 gp Wondrous Item
lesser empower metamagic rod 9,000 gp Rod
large steel shield, +3 9,180 gp Shield

Monday, April 16, 2012

Exploring the Hills

The party ventured forth once again into the Awayn River Valley. Their first objective was to find a cave of crystals that the wizard had determined must exist for Blackthorn's druidic rituals. Blackthorn was happy to tell them the location, provided they assist him with a problem. The guardian of an elder grove needed assistance, and the party was to figure out how to help. They headed towards the southern hills, but first had to cross the Cyclopean bridge.

The bridge was ancient, with the caving "They Shall Know Peace," in Hellenic, along with figures of humans being productive in various tasks. A slag pile of rusted metal armor and weapons lay next to the bridge approach. As the party crossed the bridge, the ranger was nearly pulled to the grown as a trap was sprung, his armor weighing him down. Simultaneously, a wolverine was conjured onto the bridge and it attacked mercilessly. Luckily the ranger resisted the magnetic pull and was able to slay the beast with help from the party.

After crossing the bridge, the party was once again attacked, this time by a goblin cleric riding on a dire wolf with her goblin minions. The battle went on for some time, and the dire wolf nearly ripped the throat out of the ranger before the party's cleric could call on Diancecht for healing. Eventually the goblin cleric and wolf were slain and the party discovered the cloak of the rangers father. Like with his sword, the man was nowhere to be found.

From the hills, the party ventured down into the valley into the elder grove. An agitated and badly injured owlbear attacked and the party was able to disable it before the dryad Carmentis appeared to tell her story. The owlbear, Hooty, was her guardian and she was in charge of the grove. 

Carmentis was sent to guard the elder grove as punishment for her inappropriate relationship with a baccae named Terissa. Lately she has been tormented by satyrs who persue her in the grove and who have tormented Hooty. Carmentis gave the general location of the satyrs and her lover, hoping the party may possibly slay the satyrs and bring her lover to her. No promises one way or the other, just an agreement to assist each other. In exchange, Carmentis gave the party a supply of elder boughs to show Blackthorn. The boughs are also known to be spell components for activating stone circles.

Blackthorn thanked the party for assisting Carmentis and sent them on their way to the crystal cave, where they found the crystals they needed for the broken light houses, along with a dead goblin who had fallen to Bran the Trappers arrows. Apparently it had made its way to this cave on its dire wolf before the wolf chewed through the strap attaching the goblin and went on its way. The goblin possessed a note, possibly to Crannog, informing him that the Tarans suspected nothing and would be easy to defeat in the upcoming Samhain raid. Also in the cave was a mountain lion who attacked the distracted party as they studied the note.

The party then made their way to the northern hills, finding additional evidence of iron ore deposits and another trap that nearly flattened the summoners eidolon. They discovered a field of blue poppies (another spell component) and witnessed a battle between two plant creatures that ended with the deaths of both. Finally, they discovered a tall statue of Daghda on a fountain overlooking the town, covered completely in vines, bushes and debris. Upon clearing away the debris, the water in the fountain magically began running clear. Those in town who could see the Daghda statue were nearly brought to tears as their patron of good harvests greeted them the next morning.

Finally, the last act of the party was to take the surveyors to the new iron ore veins. Everything went well over the next couple of days, including a quick dispatch of an angry brown bear, but on their return trip, they were ambushed by four dire wolves. The wolves must have been overconfident, as the party was neither surprised nor acted slowly to attack them. With precision lacking in previous battles, the wolves were dispatched in a difficult battle that found most of the party fighting from the ground by its end.

Cyclopean Stonework

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Musky Zombies

The party started off again from Tara, once again headed down the mine trail. Questioning, the mine foreman, they realized there may be some valuable ore usable in magical creations at the bottom of the mine, but a cave-in made it impassible. Rumors of some scaled beast down below are probably just that, rumors. Something to be explored later.

Instead, they headed into the hills along the Rideline Trail, not much more than an animal track. They found a patch of blue whinnis, a moderately powerful poison and the druid Shade harvested some. He found goblin tracks nearby and tracked them into the hills, where he discovered a young goblin dead on the ground. Stuffed in his mouth was blue whinnis, with no signs of foul play.

The party returned to the trail and came across more goblins, but these were a bit different. These were shambling yellow musk zombies, according to the druid. Six of the creatures shambled down the hill and everyone hid. They spotted the summoner's eidolon and quickly bludgeoned it to death.

The group returned to town to follow up on some leads and returned two days later to find the source of the zombies. In the hills was the the yellow musk creeper living happily in a field of hot peppers, planted, it turned out, by the ranger's father. This was the pepper patch that he was hoping to find (the ranger was busy in town following up some leads). The party attacked the creeper. One of the guardsmen was slain instantly as he rushed in to attack, tendrils ripping into his brain, but the plant creature was quickly slain thereafter, due to the guardsmen sacrifice.

The party returned to town once again, paid a reward to the family of the slain guardsmen, and successfully recruited a young female cleric of Diancecht. With a cleric with them, they decided to finish off the zombies, and sure enough, her channeling of divine power fried them without much trouble.

While in town they had interrogated a smithy who had provided the bloomery for the bandits. He spoke of a shrine to The Horned One in the hills where he was recruited. The party made their way there and discovered the shrine, along with a secret entrance to chambers below.

The area below the shrine was made of a strange, gray crystalline structure that they determined was extraplanar in origin. Besides a staircase down to the structure, they had found a sinkhole that had claimed the life of a forlarren, an evil fey.

Exploring the chambers, they found a hot springs and a pool inhabited by a nereid who attempted unsuccessfully to charm the druid. They party struggled with it for a while, but they eventually brokered a peace.

Moving on, they found a chamber with frightening beetles that were repairing the floor where someone had carved a knot design. The beetles extruded the crystalline material that made up the structure. Beyond this room was a door with a Wall of Force and a Symbol of Sealing. The materials used to create these magical wards appeared to be from a variety of sources, including druidic, elven, divine and arcane. There had been a concerted group effort to seal off this area.

They explored the other side of the complex and found a strange snail like creature sucking out the insides of a chrysalis, a creature had been completely encased in the crystalline material (later discovered to be another Forlarren).

Fighting the snail, a specialized version of a flail snail with carrion crawler like tentacles, the party found their backs to the Nereid pool, and not surprisingly, she used the opportunity to break their pace, dragging the summoner, Maedock, into the water.

Despite the cleric having been sucked into the shell of the mollusk, Shade slammed the door on the snail to focus on the neireid. She was quickly defeated, once the party concentrated their efforts and the snail was turned to next. The Eidolon tore it apart and the slime covered cleric was rescued.

Various treasure was discovered in both the hot pool and the chrysalis with the forlarren, including a couple maps. The forlarren map included instructions to report on new defenses the town may have added and to avoid certain area, notably the area near where Blackthorn the druid lives and an unknown site in the forest. The second map was more of a treasure hunters map, which included this complexes location and the site of a cairn of a famous battle wizard. That is likely the next stop for the party.

Note in infernal: Scout the valley around the town and report back on any new defenses or any more of their nasty children skulking around. There is crude map of the valley showing the town, the hill trail and areas to avoid with a red “x” and a “do not go” (the druid Blackthorn and an area in the forest).
The final room of the complex contained a number of strange chairs that grew out of the floor. Those who sat in the chairs could combine their thoughts to create a kind of "hive mind," while the lead chair could send suggestions to the lesser chairs. This was clearly extraplanar magic and the party decided they would need to come back to this later.

Unholy Symbol of Crom