Saturday, January 28, 2012

The One with the Dragon and the TPK ("Seeds of Chaos," Session 7)

The highlights of “Seeds of Chaos,” Session #7 included a dragon!, a TPK!, and a special cameo appearance by a god! 

The heroes of our campaign are: 

  • Boojum—a pixie wizard, played by Steve
  • Silas—an eladrin vampire, played by Drew
  • Blake—a razorclaw shifter barbarian, played by Andy
  • Dagon—a watersoul genasi artificer, played by Robert
  • Gaultis—a goliath warden, played by Chad 

All the PCs started off this session at Level 4. We’re following a bit of an accelerated schedule of level advancement, since the purpose of our new campaign is to get us up to Level 8 as quickly as possible so we can have a go at Madness at Gardmore Abbey. We’re having a lot of fun along the way to the abbey, though, so we’re actually finding that the journey itself is the reward.

Arrival at the Hermitage 

When our heroes arrived at the Hermitage, they discovered that the place had already been attacked, and that its inhabitants had barricaded themselves inside. After the PCs established their credentials as champions of Lord Bothwell, Ofeen Nole —a cleric of Pelor— emerged from her hut. She welcomed the party and provided aid to the refugees from Treewater. 

After the wounded refugees were made comfortable and everyone had settled down for the night, Ofeen discussed matters with the adventurers. She told them she was puzzled by the brutal lizardfolk attack since they had never before been particularly aggressive, even though they’re thralls of the Fens’ self-proclaimed overlord, the black dragon Shadowmire. Just before dropping off into an exhausted sleep, Ofeen said there was one more thing that puzzled her about the day’s events: several of the lizardfolk hadn’t taken part in the attack, but could be seen gathering on a nearby island where local legend says some old standing stones mark the location of a long-abandoned sacred circle. From what she had seen, it looked as if they were rooting around, looking for something in the mud and muck on the island. 

Attack of the Lizardfolk 

After an uneventful night, shafts of sunlight started to pierce the dawn mist here and there. Suddenly, a lookout’s cry rang out, followed quickly by other calls of alarm. All around, hissing tongues shouted menacing taunts as several lizardfolk burst from the mist. As our heroes charged out of the huts where they had spent the night, they could see that a watery monster with only a vague physical form seemed to be directing the vicious lizardfolk with the all-too-familiar black eyes (a sure sign that the creatures had been caught up by the unpredictable and destructive power of a chaos crystal)

  • Water Elemental (Level 9 Controller)
  • Lizardfolk Shocker (Level 5 Artillery)
  • 3 Lizardfolk Mire Scouts (Level 5 Skirmisher)
  • 4 Lizardfolk Mire Scouts (Level 3 Minion), did not take part in the assault, but were placed on the nearby island with the old sacred circle 

DM Tip: For this chapter in our campaign, I used the published adventure, “Battle of the Witchlight Hermitage” by Sterling Hershey. It appeared in Dungeon 191. The adventure uses the cool swamp map found in Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale. Shadowmire doesn’t make an appearance in the published adventure, but I wanted to make the heroes’ discovery of the fourth chaos crystal a memorable occasion… and, I ask you, what better way to do that than to bring in a wicked black dragon? 

Enter the Dragon

After the PCs had gained the upper hand in the battle with the monsters and were just about to drop the water elemental, I brought in Shadowmire. He rose up out of the icky swamp water and roared, “Who dares subvert my minions?” 

The players were a bit taken aback at the thought they’d actually be taking on a real, live dragon. Drew engaged in a bit of unrestrained wishful thinking when he said, “Maybe it’s a minion.” 

  • Young Black Dragon (Level 7 Solo Lurker) 

Boojum gets credit for the most audacious action during the party’s battle with Shadowmire. The pixie was pretty pleased with himself when he whipped out Slimy Transmutation and turned the big, bad dragon into a teensy, weensy toad. Everyone (well, except for me) was very excited at this development. There was even talk of popping the poor toad into the party’s bag of holding. Unfortunately for our heroes, the power’s effect only lasted until the end of the target’s next turn… and the dragon just happened to be up right after Boojum. I was just glad I didn’t have to adjudicate what would’ve happened if they’d managed to put the toad in the bag.

Okay, so when building this encounter, I figured that once the dragon appeared on the scene and the battle started to get away from them, the guys would figure out that the key to the encounter was investigating whatever was hidden on the nearby island. If they would’ve done that, they’d have quickly found the water chaos crystal, and easily been able to use it to convince Shadowmire that they’d had nothing to do with subverting his lizardfolk. But they didn’t think of this until too late. By the time they came to the conclusion that something about the island might perhaps be significant, three of the PCs had already been cut down and were taking dirt naps. A few moments after that, Dagon and Boojum also fell. Can you say “TPK,” dear reader? 

Fortunately, I’d planned for just such an eventuality, so… 

“Hello, Silas.” 

Silas awakened on a cold, stone floor. A hooded figure stood quite close to the disoriented eladrin. The mysterious figure was silhouetted by a bright light shining from somewhere behind it. The raven feather that he always carried on a string around his neck started to feel like it was burning Silas’ skin. And then the figure spoke. “Hello, Silas.” 

The vampire recognized the sultry female voice. He had heard it only once before, but he would never forget it. Now it filled him with equal measures of dread and excitement. 

“I did not expect to see you again so soon, but from my abode in the Shadowfell I keep watch over all that lives and dies,” said the Raven Queen. “In my eyes, the weave of fate turns, twists, and unravels… but my purposes shall not be denied. Do you remember your debt to me? The debt by which your soul is bound to my will?” 

Now Silas was sensibly feeling more dread than excitement, but he still managed to say that he remembered the debt. 

“Then know that I still have work for you to do among the living. Return to the Citadel and there slay the agent of my enemy. To help you complete this quest, I give you three gifts.”

And with that, the figure disappeared and the light went out. Silas lit a torch and could see that on the floor where the figure had stood was a beautiful longsword. Gift #1: A ravenclaw warblade. 

After opening the door before him, the eladrin vampire found a chamber with four coffins inside it. As he examined the coffins and blew dust and cobwebs off them, he saw that on each was written the name of one of his fallen companions. He opened the coffins, one by one, and freed his friends from the bonds of death which had held them. Gift #2: Restoration of the party. 

Gift #3: A bag of holding emblazoned with the symbol of Avandra that Silas found in the chamber with the coffins. Inside the bag? Four chaos crystals. 

That, of course, is all well and good, but just where are our supernaturally revived heroes? Tune in next week to find out.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Three Down, One to Go ("Seeds of Chaos," Session 6)

So, of course, the hot topic of discussion as we gathered together at Total Escape Games on this particular Thursday night was WotC’s recent announcement that a new edition of D&D was in the works. The initial reaction at our game table was: “Change is bad!” But I think that has more to do with our personalities than with whether D&D Next will actually be an improvement on 4e.

As the DM of an ongoing 4e campaign, my first thought was something along the lines of, “Well, it’s not going to happen for a while, so let’s just keep playing and we’ll cross the new edition bridge when/if we have to.” Then I was kind of sad since it seems like WotC has just recently (finally) started to get 4e “right,” and now 4e is going to just be a sad lame duck until the new edition comes out. Then I was kind of worried as I read more about WotC’s ambitious plans for the new edition and wondered, “Really? How on earth are they going to make it do all that?” Then I decided not to worry about it anymore and just concentrate on our ongoing campaign. So, without further ado…

The Heart of the Refinery 

In their quest to find the third chaos crystal, our heroes continued to make their way down, down, down toward the heart of the metalworking refinery. Upon reaching the bottom of another set of stairs, the sheer heat of the room before them told the party that they’d reached their destination. Much of the floor’s stonework had been removed, revealing the corrupted lava flow seeping out of the rocks, pulsing as it coursed through the channel below the floor and into the metalworks. Inside the lava flow, a trio of magma elementals looked as if they ready to rumble. Besides the elementals, the PCs could see that the far corner of the room harbored a small imp and a surly looking, fiery dwarf carrying an enormous warhammer. Time to roll initiative! 

  • Imp (Level 3 Lurker)
  • Duergar Theurge (Level 5 Controller)
  • 3 Magma Runners (Level 2 Skirmisher) 

After combat started, Boojum was dismayed to discover that all of the monsters had some degree of resistance to fire, so his spells were much less effective against them. While his comrades engaged in melee on the far side of the chamber, the pixie was even more dismayed when one of the elementals began to stalk him. Luckily, Dagon came back over to distract the pyrogenic monster away from the squishy little wizard. 

Barulg, the surly dwarf with the warhammer, was able to recharge his Brimstone Hail and Hammer Strike attacks (both of which did 3d6+4 or 5 fire damage) quite a few times, so that was fun (at least for me), but eventually the PCs ganged up on him and he was cut down. At the conclusion of the battle, our heroes discovered the fire chaos crystal hidden in some supplies in the back corner of the room. They also found 125 gp, a 100 gp gem, and an orb of fiery condemnation that was claimed by Boojum. Blake picked up the fallen Barulg’s wicked warhammer +1. 

DM Tip: For this part of the story, I used the published adventure “The Hammer Falls” by Corwin Riddle, which appeared in Dungeon 170. The only real change I made to the adventure was to add the room with the pit traps, lava flow, and fire elemental sparks.

River Rafter 

Rather than return to the Citadel after they secured the fire crystal, the party decided to press on to the Witchlight Fens and investigate the location of the last chaos crystal. 

As they approached the river, they heard a quiet rhythmic splashing coming from upstream. Within moments, they saw a small log raft turn the bend. A desperate-looking human in tattered clothes stood atop the raft, holding a tall pole. He appeared to be trying to push the vessel downstream as quickly as possible. After calling out to the man, the PCs found out that his name was Lajo and that he was fleeing the small settlement of Treewater. After Treewater was attacked by lizardfolk, Lajo had set out on a journey downriver to the halfling enclave of Renefik, where he hoped to gather boats and assistance for the embattled inhabitants of Treewater. While he continued on to Renefik, Lajo asked the adventurers to head for Treewater and help the locals battle the vicious lizardfolk. 

Lizardfolk Ambush 

As the party followed Lajo’s directions through the swamp, they were about to cross a rickety wooden bridge, but suddenly spied a reptilian humanoid blending in with the surrounding foliage and concealed by dark shadows. The subtle rustling of nearby branches and oversized fern fronds suggested that the creature wasn’t alone. 

  • 6 Lizardfolk Mire Scouts (Level 3 Skirmisher) 

This was a lightning-quick skirmish. After the ambush was detected, one of the scouts beat a hasty retreat at the first opportunity. The others stayed behind to occupy the heroes by fighting to the last. Even as the PCs were making short work of their enemies, they noticed that the lizardfolk had the same strange, black eyes that they had already seen in the corrupted elves and dwarves.

Treewater Refugees 

After ridding themselves of the Lizardfolk scouts, our heroes continued to follow Lajo’s directions deeper into the swamp. The party quickly hid themselves when they heard voices speaking in Common, accompanying what sounded like a large group moving through the foliage. The voices shouted words of encouragement and direction. A younger voice pleaded for them to keep quiet, but to no avail. 

Our heroes had plenty of opportunity to plan their approach to the group, so they decided the best course of action was to have Boojum show himself. Unfortunately, in his exuberance, the pixie suddenly popped out of hiding and shouted, “We’re here to save you from Lord Bothwell!” At which point, the terrified refugees dove for cover and started to scurry off through the dense vegetation. (The well-intentioned Boojum, of course, meant to shout, “We’re here from Lord Bothwell to save you!”) 

After the excitable pixie’s failure to diplomasize the refugees, Silas stepped out into the open and shouted at the poor people, trying to intimidate them into coming back. He rolled a 1.

Despite Boojum and Silas’ spectacular failures, a muddy young half-elf crept cautiously out of the brush and introduced himself as Greo. He said he was the son of the mayor of Treewater. Greo told our heroes that when the lizardfolk attack started to overrun the poorly defended settlement, a few skilled warriors sacrificed themselves to give the other villagers time to escape. Greo’s father charged him with getting the refugees to safety. As Greo led the group out of the settlement, he saw his father and the other warriors fall, surrounded by lizardfolk. 

Greo asked the PCs to help the refugees, some of them badly wounded, reach “the Hermitage.” The young half-elf said that the Hermitage is a small settlement about five hours away. It stood abandoned for the last fifteen years, but before that it had been used as a religious retreat for almost a century by clerics of Pelor. Recently, Greo said, a female cleric of Pelor named Ofeen had shown up in the Fens and started to work at reestablishing the Hermitage. 

Arrival at the Hermitage 

As our game session drew to a close, the heroes arrived at the Hermitage with the refugees, only to discover the aftermath of a lizardfolk attack. While Greo kept his charges at a safe distance, the PCs approached the place. They saw a cluster of three small buildings ahead of them. The buildings stood ten feet above the marshy ground and were linked by wooden walkways. Three sets of stairs led from the ground up to the walkways. Each building had a sturdy-looking wooden door, windows, and a small stone chimney. No smoke rose from the chimneys. The closed windows revealed nothing of what lay within, except that they had been boarded up from the inside. 

As our heroes pushed through the thick undergrowth, they saw a lizardfolk body draped over a walkway railing. A crude barricade blocked the bottom of each of the stairways. Two other crumpled lizardfolk bodies lay half-buried in the muck and mud, apparently having fallen (or been pushed) from the walkway above. Suddenly, sounds of someone moving about came from inside the hut nearest them. 

Tune in next week to find out what our heroes discover at the embattled Hermitage!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Out of the Frying Pan... ("Seeds of Chaos," Session 5)

Out of the frying pan… and into the fire. That’s where our heroes found themselves in Session #5 of our “Seeds of Chaos” adventure. After leaving the Citadel (where they had informed Lord Bothwell that he not only had a traitor in his midst but that an attack by dastardly cultists of Orcus might be imminent), the party headed for the Grey Hills where mysterious fiery creatures were wreaking havoc. As they descended into the heart of a metalworking refinery, the party battled corrupted dwarves and infernal elemental creatures in their quest to reach the third chaos crystal. 

Before we get to the action, let’s review the cast of characters: 

  • Boojum— a pixie wizard (played by Steve)
  • Blake— a razorclaw shifter barbarian (played by Andy)
  • Dagon— a watersoul genasi artificer (played by Robert)
  • Gaultis— a goliath warden (played by Chad)
  • Silas— an eladrin vampire (played by Drew) 

“Is it hot in here, or is it just me?” 

After reaching the Grey Hills, information gleaned from the local population about the recent disturbances led the party to investigate a refinery operated by the Stonehammer Clan of dwarves. When our heroes approached the entrance to the refinery, an overpowering stench of sulfur assaulted their nostrils. Other than the icky stench of sulfur, everything seemed normal as steam and smoke billowed from chimneys and the faint sound of hammers on anvils echoed from within the refinery.

Just inside the entrance, in the only room at ground level, the PCs found themselves battling Stonehammer dwarves corrupted by the chaos power of the fire crystal. A flickering halo of red flame outlined each dwarf. 

  • 2 Duergar Guards (Level 4 Soldier)
  • 2 Duergar Scouts (Level 4 Lurker) 

I tweaked the monsters’ damage stats so that each time one of them hit with a warhammer, crossbow, or beard quills, the target took 2 ongoing fire damage and a -2 penalty to attack rolls in addition to the regular weapon damage. 

As the battle in this room was winding down, one of the scouts up on the rickety wooden balcony fled through a secret door disguised as a ventilation shaft.

DM Tip: We use these Goody Ouchless Mini Gentle Elastics as markers to show if PCs or monsters are bloodied, marked, or subject to some other type of an ongoing condition (slowed, dazed, ongoing damage, etc). The elastics are available in most stores that have hair styling accessories (I got mine at Walmart). To get them, of course, you’ll either have to send your wife into “the girlie section” or just man up and plunge in there yourself. 

What Goes Up… 

After clearing the refinery’s entrance hall of bad guys, our heroes decided not to check out the inviting tunnel from which a pale orange light poured, along with the rhythmic pounding of hammers on anvils. Instead, they chose to investigate what lay beyond the secret door up on the balcony. 

Silas and Blake stealthed forward and saw that beyond a short tunnel was a large chamber. Across the way were another short tunnel and a doorway. After a pitiful Perception check, Silas threw a dagger into the room to see if anything happened. Nope, nothing. So as Blake went back to bring the others forward, Silas went traipsing into the room to retrieve his dagger. Whereupon, the vampire promptly fell into a hidden pit trap. Oops. 

Once Boojum arrived on the scene he sprinkled Silas with pixie dust so that the vampire could soar up and out of the pit. Unfortunately, after Silas came soaring up and out of the pit, when he landed he triggered another hidden pit trap. Oops. What goes up, must come down, I guess. Hee hee.

Oh, and did I mention that even as this one-vampire comedy routine was unfolding in the center of the chamber, the secret door slammed shut behind the party and molten lava began to flow out of three holes that suddenly popped open on each wall. Uh oh. The molten lava would advance a bit farther into the chamber each round and any PC that ended his turn in it would take 5 fire damage. Each round, two Fire Elemental Sparks (Level 5 Minion) would also emerge from the holes. Meanwhile, there was a hidden panel over by the far door that the party would first have to find, then spend some time fiddling around with the mechanism inside (three successful Thievery checks) to unlock the door and shut off the lava flow. 

This encounter went right down to the wire, with our heroes just barely managing to fend off the sparks and get the door open before the lava flow reached them. 

If the Furnaces Are Rocking, Don’t Come Knocking 

After escaping the chamber with the lava flow, our heroes descended deeper into the refinery. As they made their way down a hallway, they were met with a sudden wall of hot air and ash. The hallway opened up into a giant metalworking facility where two giant iron furnaces were spouting fire and shaking violently. The metal walls of the furnaces were screeching as they strained to hold together. Even as the PCs watched, a geyser of fire erupted from inside one of the furnaces, throwing flaming slag and magma in every direction.

Several corrupted dwarves surrounded the furnaces, working on warped and melted weapons. An imp flew around nearby, floating casually while looking bored. From a river of lava near the back of the room, what seemed to be a head of molten rock rose above the lava for a second, glaring about with fiery eyes before falling back into the surging river of magma. 

  • Duergar Guard (Level 4 Soldier)
  • 3 Duergar Miners (Level 5 Minion)
  • Imp (Level 3 Lurker)
  • Magma Hurler (Level 4 Artillery) 

By the time we started this encounter, closing time at Total Escape Games was drawing ever nearer, so I kind of sped this battle along by using really bad tactics for the bad guys and also adding a few extra points of damage whenever the PCs hit a monster. We managed to finish up before they turned the lights out on us, and Dagon even had time to find a defensive staff among the detritus of the battle’s aftermath. 

Tune in next week as our heroes delve deeper into the refinery as they search for the fire chaos crystal.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Seeds of Chaos, Session 4

In the latest session of our “Seeds of Chaos” adventure, Silas returns, Dagon gets punk’d, and Boojum is bullied by a really mean tiefling chick.

We kicked off this past Thursday night’s game with Blake (razorclaw shifter barbarian), Boojum (pixie wizard), Dagon (watersoul genasi artificer), and Gaultis (goliath warden) having defeated several elemental ice creatures on the second floor of Draigdurroch Tower. Boojum had just discovered a section of the floor that he thought would act like a Tenser’s Floating Disk and allow the party to ascend to the tower’s third floor.

Before heading up to the third floor, Boojum and Dagon decided to go outside and see if they could lead poor, lost Silas (Drew missed our last session) to the tower with some nifty prestidigitation fireworks that Boojum sent soaring skyward. Sure enough, as he was wandering around out on the unnaturally snowy landscape, Silas saw the fireworks and started to make his way toward the tower.

The eladrin vampire wasn’t sure what transpired between the time he saw the fireworks and his arrival at the tower, but as he walked up, he saw Dagon with his tongue stuck to a metal pole and Boojum flitting around, giggling. Silas heard the mischievous pixie say something about being sorry and that he could warm up the pole with one of his fire spells. Silas saw Dagon’s eyes widen in horror and the genasi made frantic “No! No!” gestures with his hands. As Silas came up to them, Dagon was saying something that sounded like, “Dust go intide, Boodum!” so the vampire corralled the still giggling pixie and headed into the tower.

(Robert would miss this game session, so I decided his character would be just outside the tower, with his tongue stuck to a frozen metal pole.)

As they made their way up to the second floor, Boojum told Silas all that he had missed while the vampire was wandering around after the blizzard. When Silas had greeted Blake and Gaultis, everyone hopped onto the levitation platform and went up to the third floor.

The third floor of the tower housed Draigdurroch’s personal study and living quarters. Our heroes once again found that everything was covered with frost and ice, but after breaking into the desk in the wizard’s study, they discovered a journal that detailed Draigdurroch’s quest to find the locations of “the Seeds of Chaos” and then gather them together under his control. The journal spoke of four elemental crystals— earth, ice, fire, and water. The journal also contained many notes from Draigdurroch’s magical research as he attempted to modify the chaos crystals through rituals and thereby control their power.

Entering the wizard’s chambre à coucher, they found the original furnishings damaged by decades of neglect, but a newer bedroll and pack were in the room. Distracted by Gaultis’ discovery of a secret door behind a tapestry, our heroes failed to search the pack at this time.

Behind the secret door was a small chamber. Another levitation platform, identical to the one between the second floor and the third floor, operated between this room and the top floor of the tower.

Ask Not For Whom the Ice Monster Roars

As the platform deposited the party on the tower’s top floor, they saw that some kind of altar was set inside a magic circle at the room’s center. It looked as if each side of the altar had a small receptacle built into it— examining the altar would have to wait, though, because across the chamber a fearsome creature turned toward our heroes.

The creature looked as if it might have been a tiefling at one time, but now it was a massive, thickly muscled, white-furred monster. Thick mist rolled off the monster’s hide, congealing the air into heavy frost that clung to everything nearby. The creature roared, and in its howl our heroes heard the pure elemental fury at the heart of a raging blizzard. Oh, and did I mention the white crystal embedded in the creature’s chest, pulsing rhythmically, as if it were the beating of the very heart of winter?

Whatever magic Thaliost had tried to use in his attempt to harness the power of the ice crystal had obviously gone horribly wrong, but the brute was no match for our four heroes. Thaliost folded like a cheap suit. Well, a cheap suit that has 150 hit points. It also helped that Boojum laid down one of his dadgum fire spells right in front of the frozen fireplace where the elemental ice shardlings tried to appear and join the fight. I say “tried to appear” because as soon as they popped out of the frozen fireplace and entered the area of the spell’s effect, they took 2 fire damage… and since they were minions, that damage caused them to instantly vaporize. Poof!

As Blake landed the blow that actually felled Thaliost, the monster clutched its chest and howled in agony as it collapsed to the floor, dead as a doornail. Within seconds, the ice that covered everything inside the tower began to shudder and tremble, and then started to quickly melt. Outside the tower, the swirling snow stopped falling and the chill wind fell silent. The world appeared suddenly peaceful, as if nature recognized that its proper course had been restored.

DM Tip: For the series of encounters centering on the ice crystal, I used “Menace of the Icy Spire,” an adventure by Sean Molley appearing in Dungeon 159. I adapted some elements to fit the story-line I have chosen for our campaign, but otherwise I pretty much stuck to the published adventure.

After securing the ice crystal that had been embedded in Thaliost’s chest, the PCs investigated the strange altar on the top floor of the tower. They saw that each receptacle looked as if it might hold one of the elemental crystals— but all four were empty. Above each receptacle was writing in primordial that Dagon was able to translate as “EarthIceFireWater.”

Heading back downstairs, our heroes paused to check out the pack they had found before. It contained 50 gp, two gems (turquoise, moonstone), and leather bloodcut armor that was claimed by Silas. They also found a note to Thaliost and Deneith, written by someone named Kalarel. The note said:

Denieth and Thaliost,

Greetings in the name of Orcus!

When you finish planting the elemental shards, contact Aunn at The Citadel. As soon as he gives you the signal that Bothwell’s soldiers are sufficiently scattered around the countryside, trying to put down the disturbances caused by the crystals, I will come with the forces I am gathering beyond the frontier. With Orcus’ blessing, we will capture The Citadel and be masters of Newhaven!


Back at The Citadel

The party made their way back to The Citadel with no problem and then the rest of last Thursday night’s session was taken up with quite a bit of roleplaying. This was a big change from the combat-heavy sessions that we usually run, but it let the players pick up a lot of useful information about the various NPCs residing at The Citadel.

Lord Bothwell was understandably dismayed to learn that there was a traitor in The Citadel and that the chaos crystals were part of a larger strategy to empty the fortress of guards so that it’d be vulnerable to a surprise attack. He surmised that Thaliost and Deneith had allied themselves with cultists of Orcus in order to recapture The Citadel and become the rulers of Newhaven again. The two Hands must have somehow stumbled upon the long-hidden secrets on the top floors of Draigdurroch’s tower and decided to use the elemental shards in their plan to unseat Bothwell.

Bothwell asked our heroes to head out into the countryside and secure the two missing crystals. If they would agree to undertake that quest, he’d be able to keep all of his guards at The Citadel and thereby derail the cultists’ plan to capture the fortress. Of course, while the party was out hunting for the crystals, Bothwell would also be hard at work ferreting out the traitor in his midst.

Before leaving The Citadel, Boojum decided to consult with Sora Harrowcrown regarding the journal they’d found in the desk at the tower. Sora is a female tiefling mage and the third member of Lord Bothwell’s Privy Council (along with Halix Breland and Beren Kell). As the pixie and Gaultis approached Sora, the tiefling was already in a foul mood due to some not-so-subtle hints that Silas had let drop in front of Lord Bothwell that the traitor was probably a trusted member of his inner council. So after giving the journal a quick once-over and making some snide remarks regarding Boojum’s inability to decipher the magic involved in the rituals, Sora refused to give the book back to the pixie. Even Boojum’s threat to tattle to Lord Bothwell failed to move the rude mage. The deflated pixie and Gaultis finally retreated back to the Chapel of Avandra, where Silas, Blake, and Dagon had been chatting with Halix Breland.

Halix offered to go retrieve the book, but his good intentions came to naught when Silas and Blake decided to try and stealth over to the mage’s house and spy on her. Sora saw Blake peeking through a window and the enraged tiefling threw Halix out on his ear.

It was a subdued party that set out the next morning, heading for the Grey Hills where they will investigate recent disturbances involving some small fire elementals.