Saturday, 11 June 2016

D&D 5th Ed. Campaign - The Champions of Oakvale (Part One)

The continuing adventures of the Heroes of Oakvale.
Other adventures from this campaign and those from other systems we've played over the years can be found at this link.


The Champions of Oakvale (Part One) - 'The Council'
The Heroes...
Andrew's PC: Gur'ash Ironjaw - Half Orc Fighter (Lvl 5) (Soldier)
Dave's PC: Darrius Evermier - Human Rogue (Lvl 5) (Criminal)
Garreth's PC: Lucius Glimmerscale - Dragonborn Sorcerer (Lvl 5) (Noble)
Steph's PC: Fauna and her wolf 'Echo' - Tiefling Ranger/Cleric (Lvl 4/1) (Outlander)
Steve's PC: Sharn Blightender - Half Elf Ranger (Lvl 5) (Folk Hero)

Introduction.
With the immediate threat to Pineham averted it's time to deal with the actual reasons for the heroes trip to the town before returning to Oakvale.

Lucius negotiated with the one remaining person of authority in the town and though he pointed out that he wouldn't be so crass as to ask for a reward he did point out that a token of appreciation for saving all their lives and three times risking their own lives to protect the villagers while they were hiding in a tavern would be a nice gesture. As the towns predominate trade was the sale and hire of coaches and horses the dragonborn noble managed to acquire a fairly decent coach, two horses to draw it and four riding animals as their reward and though he picked the coach himself he left the actual selection of the animals to Fauna due to her superior knowledge in this area.

Editors Note - All our horses now have names...but apparently they're a secret known only to Fauna...



He also raised the subject of the delayed tithe that Pineham had failed to send to Oakvale due to their predicament. He put forward the argument that the town would be far more likely to get support in rebuilding if they kept their financial commitments to the region. The town leader agreed though he did point out that subsequent tithes would no doubt be of a significantly reduced value. Lucius agreed with this assessment and also stated that he'd recommend to The Reeve's representatives in Oakvale that the towns newly appointed leader should be their current spokesperson a fact that pleased their spokesperson considerably.

With their immediate concerns met Lucius, Fauna and Darrius prepare for their return to Oakvale to attend the previously arranged council in Oakvale where many guests from the races of the land have been invited to discuss the rapidly increasing threats to the well-being of them all.

Gur'ash who had recovered quickly from the injuries sustained in the elven forests had joined a group of clerics investigating the previously cleared temple of Myrkul while his comrades were in Pineham and is now making his way back to Oakvale. Sharn had also finished his brief visit to the elven peoples of Cellioed and had returned with several of the elven high council who had been invited to the meeting in Oakvale. He also was in possession of a new bow apparently gifted to him by the elves.

Editors Note - Or more correctly their players had bothered to turn up this time...



Act One - 'The Council of Oakvale'
Upon their return to Oakvale the party were informed by messenger that they had been granted quarters at the palace while they awaited the rest of the dignitaries for what was now being generally referred to as the 'Council of Oakvale'. On the way to the palace Lucius received a note from Quinn which he quickly read and then filed away for an appropriate time.

"Further to our earlier discussion, a location known as 'The Tomb of Shodorn' hides a staff I desire. Should you be able to retrieve this item you will be paid handsomely" - Quinn

The 'palace' was fairly plain to Lucius's eyes but seemed well constructed by human standards and he, Fauna and Darrius were escorted to a group of five rooms with their own small lounge area attached. Much to Lucius's irritation the two best rooms had already been taken by the already arrived Gur'ash and Sharn. Lucius briefly considered taking issue with the arrangement but as the room taken by Gur'ash's now smelt distinctly Orkish and Sharn's for some reason had an eyeball in a jar on the table he decided that they were now effectively ruined so he selected another at random.

Editors Note - Why Sharn bothered to cut out one of our early foes eyeballs and keep it has never been adequately explained...

Food and drink was provided and was somewhat above the quality provided by the tavern. Lucius was somewhat surprised to find that he had apparently gained a liking for the taverns fare with the palaces food seeming unnecessarily flouncy with style apparently being considered more important than nutritional value and Gur'ash was distinctly unimpressed by the portion sizes provided at their new accommodation though the others seemed satisfied enough. Not long after they had finished dining and had a brief rest a messenger arrived at their quarters to escort them to the meeting. They had picked up some gossip about those other than themselves invited to the gathering and these apparently included several dwarfs, some human leaders from the southern region, the elves who had accompanied Sharn from Cellioed and at least one Dragonborn warrior.

The corridors and alcoves were tastefully decorated though there were no items of enough value for Darrius to deem worth the risk to 'liberate' and after a short journey through the building they arrived at the appointed meeting room. The room itself had various tapestries decorating the walls and there was a large table in the centre surrounded by well upholstered seating with a single far grander chair at the tables head which was undoubtedly where the Reeve would be seated.

Many of the seats were already occupied by various local dignitaries and after a short period of time most of the remainder also had occupants. Amongst these was an impressive dragonborn warrior in elaborately decorated silver or possibly platinum inlaid armour and weaponry, an elderly but still impressive elf with a small entourage of elven warriors, a pair of sturdy looking dwarves who seemed unimpressed with the beverages provided and several practically dressed human representatives of various other local kingdoms. Lucius recognised the armour of the dragonborn as being that worn by the guardians of the temple to Bahamet in their homeland. It was rare to see such honoured warriors so far from Kezz'mir.

Gur'ash spent some time talking to the dwarves Marni Craghelm and Wallen Furstpillar about recent events and after some comparing of battle trophies and griping about the quantities of food and the potency of the beverages offered to take them to the tavern after the meeting was completed where he assured them the food was plentiful and the ale actually drinkable.

Once all the guests were settled the Reeve entered the chamber with the halfling Frederick and invited the first of those invited to speak to the others. The Elven elder Vidrin took to the floor and spoke of armies gathering around their territories of which the hobgoblin force discovered recently by the party of adventurers was only a small part. He also reported that the various tribes of Giants had unified for the first time in decades and had brought the local Goliath population under their control. The elves themselves were marshalling themselves for war but until a firm source for the threats was discovered they were unwilling to commit to direct action for fear that they would leave themselves vulnerable to a counter-attack from elsewhere.

Next was a woman introduced as Esteena Greensleeves from the Fief of Firthshire whose fiefdom was under virtual siege from an increasing number of ghoulish shambling forest creatures who had a voracious appetite for human flesh and matched closely the description of the creatures encountered by Fauna in the woods as well as the distant figures observed by the party at various points over the last month.

She then signalled several of her own people who dragged a large cage into the room containing one of the aforementioned ghouls. She added some observations about the creatures being capable of withstanding extreme amounts of damage without being stopped with even decapitation not always being adequate to stop them permanently. With a live specimen in front of her the Tiefling Fauna was now sure that these were the same creatures that had been plaguing her forest home. The Dragonborn warrior Kez'rell left his seat, drew his sword and drove his blade deep into the creature with the damage done seemingly contradicting Esteena's assessment of their invulnerability until he informed all present that his weapon had been coated with silver and he and the other dragonborn defending the borders had found that such creatures were vulnerable to that substance.

The representative of the Fief of Rocford and their dwarfish allies painted a similar picture of increasing threats from ghoulish monstrosities and organised forces of Goliaths that the human warriors were engaging where they could. The dwarfs themselves were giving aid where they could but were currently having issues of their own as even before these new threats they were in a near constant state of warfare from attacks from enemies attempting to take over their mining operations where they intersected with the underdark realms. The mountains themselves had always been dangerous and sparing too many forces could easily result in the loss of their own homes while they defended the homes of others.


Finally the heavily armoured Dragonborn spoke again. He somewhat reluctantly was forced to admit that the timing of the current troubles was suspiciously fortuitous as it coincided with the ancient dragons entering their periodic periods of hibernation. This meant that the dragonborns most deadly weapons were currently unavailable to them meaning that the bulk of their forces must by necessity be kept in Kezz'mir.

Editors Note - Lucius had been keeping this information to himself for four sessions ready to reveal at an appropriately dramatic point and then some NPC just blurts it out during a meeting...

With the worrying state of the realm now revealed the floor was now open for some more informal discussions...

Interlude
With the widespread nature of the threats it was difficult to discern any specific pattern to the increasing powers of darkness threatening the land making a plan of action difficult to decide upon. Several local rumours seemed to point at some of the nearby 'Ghoul' sightings originating from an ancient tomb some distance past the town of Pineham that had suffered so terribly recently at the hands of the undead. Several of those gathered confirmed that many of the Ghoul sightings had indeed occurred near burial mounds or near entrances to underground tunnel networks though none had personally observed them actually emerging from such places.

Sharn enquired about the Dwarves access to silver from their mines due to it's usefulness in battling their foes and was politely (by dwarvish standards at least) informed that this was a matter for discussion with those individuals with the importance to negotiate trade deals of which he was quite obviously not. The dragonborn warrior Kez'rell interjected stating that should they have access to any silver he had enough skills with it's working to silver any weapons they had should it be required.

Lucius moved to talk to his adventuring companions and put forward the idea that in the absence of any other clues that perhaps they should investigate this tomb as given their previous experiences of the locals nothing would be done about it otherwise. Agreeing with his assessment about the usefulness of the populace under such circumstances the rest consented to Lucius volunteering their services in this new investigation. Kez'rell offered to silver any weapons and ammunition they wished as long as they themselves provided the silver as he had none that wasn't currently being utilised as part of his own armament. The Reeve's assistant Frederick offered to provide provisions and equipment for this mission but every-one present was conspicuously silent on the matter of the silver necessary. Other than the provisions the only help provided was a rough map of the area that the tomb was rumoured to be located in.

Mentally adding 'misers' to his list of reasons for disliking the humans of the local populace he took some silver coinage from their various personal funds and respectively asked Kez'rell to do the necessary work to a selection of their own weapons as well as a number of arrows and bolts which would be required by Sharn and Fauna respectively.

Editors Note - I'm becoming suspicious that our DM is deliberately trying to make the first good character I've played in the last fifteen years turn to evil just out of frustration...

As they were already in the good graces of the local blacksmith having rescued his son from the Hobgoblin camp some weeks ago they asked to use his forge to undertake the work and he readily agreed. Kez'rell was as good as his word and soon each member of the party had at least one silvered weapon and both Sharn and Fauna had as much silver-tipped ammunition as they could reasonably carry.

As the hour was getting late it was decided to set out early in the morning rather than journey through the night and the party retired for the evening. Gur'ash decided to keep to his promise and entertain the dwarf with whom he'd been chatting earlier and escorted him to the local tavern for a little drink and some food...

Act Two - 'The Tomb'
The rest of the party met at their newly acquired coach at the appointed time though Gur'ash was absent until fetched from the tavern where he had apparently collapsed unconscious sometime during the early evening several hours after his dwarven drinking companion had suggested they move from ale to spirits...

Despite the reports of danger on the roads the territory around the town of Oakvale was it's usual quiet and danger free self and as before it was only once they left the outskirts of the area that the atmosphere became heavier and the land less fertile. Fauna set her usual rapid pace with Sharn sitting behind her with his bow at the ready. Darrius and Lucius sat inside on one side of the carriage with the significantly wider half-orc Gur'ash occupying the other. If truth be told no-one would have volunteered to sit next to him anyway given his current less than ideal condition.

They reached the town of Pineham as night began to fall and after a brief conversation and a plain but edible meal they spent the night in the large inn before pressing on the next morning.

Editors Note - There was actually some in character chatting relating to the events of the last mission in this location so Andrew and Steve's characters could be brought up to date with those events. You however can just read this if you didn't read it before.

The map was barely accurate enough to lead them to their destination so it was fortunate that Fauna and Sharns tracking skills were up to the task and after a short divergence from the road they found what was no doubt once a tomb to a significant figure judging from the quality of the entrances decoration and it's sturdy construction.

After Darrius's investigations seemed to show no signs of traps near the entrance the party attempted to open the door and were surprised to find it unlocked. The corridor behind it was just wide enough for a person to walk down meaning that any advance would be single file. Darrius was by now resigned to his role as 'point' man and set off ahead with Sharn and Fauna just behind. As usual Lucius brought up the rear with Gur'ash between him and the rangers. Lucius cast a minor magical cantrip that gave dim illumination at various points ahead though several of the others still lit torches of their own.

Several hundred yards head they reached an intricately carved archway above which words were written in a language that none of them understood. Lucius copied them into his journal in the hope that they could be translated later while the others were moving ahead. As he moved through the archway the lights created by his spell suddenly and unexpectedly winked out of existence forcing him to retrieve his own lantern and illuminate the way ahead by more mundane means.

After another few hundred yards they reached a second archway though this one was written in a language similar to one that Fauna was fluent in it was still difficult to make out much in the way of specific information. It did however appear that some of the writings had been recently added to what was seemingly references to some ancient warrior named Shodorn. Lucius scribbled these down as well in case they might prove useful at some future point making particular note of the name Shodorn due to the cryptic note he'd received from Quinn the previous day. As he passed this new archway the spell that had previously ended mysteriously reactivated and magical illumination once again guided their path ahead. As they moved forward Darrius signalled the others to come to a halt as he discovered a trip-wire at ankle level across the corridor but on closer examination he noted that it had already been disabled. This combined with the open entrance doorway began to lead them to believe that they were not the first visitors to the Tomb of Shodorn...


The room that they subsequently entered was a large and lavishly decorated affair whose walls were adorned with intricate writings detailing the career of the previous mentioned 'Shodorn' person. If the writings were to be believed he was a formidable warrior from the underdark who had led an incursion into the surface realm some two hundred years ago.

The only other exit from the room was a large stone door that Darrius assured them had no obvious method of opening that he could detect on the door itself though he did discover a number of pressure plates on the floor in roughly the rooms centre. Careful testing indicated that they didn't seem to activate any traps when depressed though Lucius noted that a strong magical field appeared around the door when they were pressed down that increased as subsequent plates were activated. Having no other alternative they each activated a pressure plate with Lucius monitoring the magical effect in case a magical trap was triggered and they were all pleasantly surprised when the door opened without anything untoward occurring.

Editors Note - This is getting worrying now...our DM is notorious for 'interesting' random encounters and this combined with the lack of night-time ambushes leads me to believe he's building up to something hideous...or he's screwing with us...either is a possibility to be honest...

Beyond the newly opened doorway was a short corridor with recessed alcoves along both sides. Each alcove contained an unusual circular piece of metal like a torc or bracelet and they numbered eight in total. Each was made of a different substance and to Lucius's magical senses they also gave of faint auras relating to different schools of magic. These magical fields were not strong enough to indicate that the items were themselves enchanted but rather that they had been in contact with something that was. As they weighed relatively little it was decided to take them along as at the very least the substances from which they were constructed had some value.

The unusually decorated corridor led to a much more impressive chamber. A short flight of stairs led down to a long area containing some sort of well surrounded by a total of eight open sarcophagi, Lain across the floor between the party and this well were eight skeletal corpses of a mixture of Elven and dwarven warriors equipped with weapons formed of an unfamiliar black steel and beyond the well at the end was another doorway. Being as the last time the group had entered a room full of corpses they'd been attacked by them a moment later the adventurers were understandably reticent to move further into the chamber. Lucius also reminded every-one of the signs discovered earlier that some-one had already penetrated the tomb and that as it had taken four of them to open the magical doorway that this other group must also number at least four. After a tentative advance forward that prompted no reaction from the dead surrounding them they carefully moved deeper into the well chamber.

In the doorway past the well were two very burnt and very dead bodies just inside a room that from their viewpoint seemingly had no exit. Some quick testing revealed the fact that any movement inside the room triggered a raging firestorm from the ceiling that even some-one with resistance to fire would be destroyed by almost instantaneously...a fact confirmed by the two burnt corpses becoming piles of ash upon the second activation. It was certainly puzzling as obviously four of the group ahead of them must have reached this point yet there were only two of their dead in the doorway and no sign that anything could have gotten through the deathtrap ahead leaving the well to be the only point of interest left to investigate. Before they did so however Lucius insisted that the skeletons which were now lying behind them were thoroughly pulverised and their weapons moved away from their remains.

After testing the pool by hurling a number of nearby items into it seemed to be deeper than it's actual appearance would indicate yet was quite obviously the only way any-one could have travelled ahead. As Gur'ash was the largest and strongest of them and presumably had the greatest lung capacity as a result it was decided that they would tie a rope around him and see if there was a way through beyond that which they could see. After removing his armour (a task that took some time) he took the plunge into the well.....Some distance later Gur'ash re-emerged into what was to all intents and purposes the same chamber he's just left though this one was devoid of his companions. It was at this point that he realised that he had no way of communicating his findings to those he'd just left.

In the original location an amount of time had passed that would have resulted in the drowning of any creature so it was presumed that he had found some way through so the rest followed one at a time and arrived in varying degrees of exhaustion and sickness after a brief argument about which one of them was going to bring along the half-orcs arms and armour. While Gur'ash spent the considerable amount of time needed to don his armour again Lucius used a magical cantrip to warm his clothing in order to speed up the drying process though it in no way occurred to him to do the same for the others. Anxious to inform the council of their discovery Fauna attempted to use the scrying spell to communicate their findings she was somewhat perturbed to find that she was unable to make contact. It was almost as if they were somewhere else entirely...Sharn also noted that his new bow seemed to be giving off a strange aura that he somehow perceived as a fairly intense sense of irritation. This combined with the smell of wet animal coming off Fauna's wolf was doing little to raise the groups mood to such a point that they barely even noticed that this new pool was very much in the shape of a large eye.

Editors Note - No idea what the magical bow is about yet and rather worryingly neither does the player who owns the bloody thing...



Leaving the room by what would have been the first rooms entrance they entered yet another corridor that had the unfortunate corpse of a gnome half-way along it's length. The poor creature was riddled with a number of unpleasant looking darts and was presumably the third member of the group who were travelling ahead of them. Forewarned by their predecessor and carefully guided by Darrius they navigated their way safely along this new passageway avoiding several more trip-wire traps as they advanced before arriving at a door with an ornate lock. This door was also open.

This final room was the most ornate of all and was built around a large circular stone circle in the centre that was seemingly once capped by a large cover stone nearby and a stone altar was nearby on which a strange black staff could be seen lying. Beyond this were a selection of three chests and one of these had the petrified body of an adventurer leaning towards it, no doubt the final member of their competitors group. As they advanced towards the rooms centre a strange hideous monstrosity rose from the unsealed pit. It was a creature of legend that none had encountered before and that Lucius had only read about in the archives of his clan. The creature was known to Lucius as a Beholder...

Fauna and Sharn immediately unleashed a hail of deadly projectiles at the monster as Darrius circled it looking for a weak point at which to strike. Gur'ash simply charged at the creature intending to dismember it up close. Lucius swore to himself as he realised that his most powerful magical ability would almost certainly now catch both Darrius and Gurash in it's area of effect so instead defaulted to his trusty Chromatic orb spell which smashed into the floating multi-eyed enemy facing them. Gurash's blows cut deep into the monsters undead flesh but if the creature was in any-way perturbed by this it gave no sign. In retaliation the beholder sent rays of magic from it's many eyes towards it's attackers. Fauna and Gur'ash both narrowly avoided rays that turned the floors on which they'd been standing on into large craters of disintegrated stone. The others were not so lucky.

Sharn was sent flying across the chamber by a sickly ray of necrotic energy which very nearly killed him as was Darrius. The ray that struck Lucius rather than damage him filled him with a sudden feeling of dread and he found himself barely able to keep from fleeing the room and it was only with extreme effort that he could bare to cast more magic against this foe and many of his spells now went wide of the mark. Another wave of attacks from the group tore into the monstrosity and this time it's retaliation caught Darrius a glancing blow of which the full force would no doubt have bought about his sudden demise. Despite the magically induced fear that the dragonborn sorcerer was feeling he managed to launch an orb of power that struck home dead centre in the mass of the beholder and it countered with a blast of powerful energy which drove him into the wall...it was obvious to all nearby that Lucius was if not dead...very nearly dead...


Realising that the battle was at a pivotal moment Fauna ordered her wolf to join the attack while she used one of her newly granted spells to bring Lucius back from the brink of death. This brush with death had also seemingly banished the terror infecting Lucius and he prepared another spell. While Fauna continued to heal those she could the few still able to fight attacked again with spell, blade and arrow as Fauna's wolf echo struck and to every-ones surprise as he dragged the thing to the ground it moved no more. Lucius made a mental note to buy Fauna a present and the wolf a nice juicy steak as soon as they reached civilisation, or what passed for civilisation in this land.

While the half-elf and dragonborn rested briefly the rest investigated the altar and the chests. Fauna could see no traps around the altar but was still unsure about whether to pick the item up while Darrius searched for and disarmed traps on two of the chests. Rather unwisely Gur'ash moved the petrified adventurer and reached to open the chest himself. He felt a brief tightening of his own chest as he opened the container but fortunately the spell protecting it had expended it's power on the previous victim.

Editors Note - ...or our GM decided not to kill Andy's character on the spot despite the extremely unwise decision he'd made and mcguffin'd his survival...we may never know...

Epilogue

Between them the chests contained five vials of clear liquid, a larger one of red liquid, a ball of crystal, and a significant amount of treasure in the form of coins, valuable ornaments and the like. Gur'ash volunteered to carry the chest containing the treasure while Lucius was given custody of the other possibly magical items including the staff which he informed them all he had a potential buyer for back in Oakvale. Fauna put forward the powerful argument that as she had saved at least three of the party from death and her wolf had finished off the creature that if the reward was in the form of an actual item that she should have first refusal of it. Lucius seemed fine with the idea but the others were less enthusiastic about the thought of gaining a smaller share of any bounty.

Back to Reality.
Our GM will have a round-up of the session to go here but he hasn't had a chance to write one yet...as soon as he's done one I'll insert it here.

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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