Shrines of Legend

Session Thirteen: Let's Play Castle Explorer!
In which pacts are made and trap doors lie in wait.
Session Twelve: Unexpected Guest
In which an ally arrives and a side is chosen.
Session Eleven: Haunted
In which yetis slay Xin and the castle is breached.

November 27, 2010

The party arrived in Worek eager to pursue their vision. A helpful goldsmith purchased Thalord’s gold bars and informed them of the local custom: all foreigners were invited to the Baron’s Feast, three nights from now. “Normally the Festival of the Harvest would be held right now,” he added, “but nobody wants to celebrate with the Blight spreading over the farmlands.”

The party attended the banquet and, to some surprise, learned that Baron Vortok was the man from their vision.

At the feast, the baron announced that he had an idea as to what was causing the disease that was draining the country’s coffers and population. He called for all proud foreigners to aid him and his personal guard in questing through the mountains to a site he knew, and promised coin and glory for those that accompanied him.

The party, naturally, went along with this.

The next evening, the expedition was launched. The party formed a sort of advance guard, and the Baron and his 40 soldiers followed behind.

After a few days of travel, the group engaged in combat against a pair of vicious yetis! Despite valiant efforts to put the creatures down, one of the savage beasts managed to rend Xin, limb from limb.

Three days later, the party was cut off from the baron and his men during a particularly intense blizzard. Before they could make their way back to the main party, a whole group of yetis cut them off. The party elected to run; with just moments to spare, they made it to the castle they had been approaching all day.

This castle was old. The baron had explained that it had once belonged to Hemar Tannet and his lady, Lyssa Tannet, nearly two hundred years ago when these lands were not yet part of Telvan and Korvikus was not yet its own country. Strange occurrences and shadowy disturbances in some of the mining towns belonging to Tannet prompted him to lead an expedition to rout the evils. He never came back, and his widow eventually wasted away … or so the story goes.

The party fought off an ambush of ghouls and, on the second floor, a few sinister shadows, although Kyanna nearly succumbed to the draining touch of the creatures.

Session Ten: Familiar Faces
In which travel is eventful and news is received.

November 26, 2010

The party encountered several things along their travels to Korvikus.

The first night, they handily fended off a savage pack of worgs.

The second day, a wizard of the Hex Arcana [note: this is the name of the “Transport” guild] made a brief appearance to the heroes. He gave them news of yet another war in the south. Zarukan had invaded Rastalia after the latest insurgent attack from the latter country, and the invading nation held the upper hand. The wizard appropriated Timtim’s reserve spell and vanished with the whish-crack of a teleport.

On the fourth day, the party was ambushed by a motley crew of bandits. Xin handily insta-killed one with excessive force, Silos and Mayve knocked out two more, and the others surrendered.

The bandit leader explained that the group had only taken up banditry as a way to escape the perils of the Blight, a wasting disease that was spreading over the baronies of Korvikus. The party recruited a few of the bandits [secretly to be used as cannon fodder] and set off again.

The fifth day was marked by the party’s joining with a group of dwarven pilgrims headed to Woren, the seat of power in Vortok’s barony, in order to visit the grand shrine of Gorum there.

Session Nine: Secret of the Forest
In which powers are gained and the heroes travel.

November 19, 2010

Green energy shot out from the magical well, surrounding each hero in green light. Their ancient weapons and items glowed with this energy too, and some of them even changed form; for example, Mayve’s shortsword became a pair of bracers. Silos in particular took a large blast of energy [this is the reasoning for him becoming a plant-based sorcerer].

Having received new power in their items, the party left the shrine and trekked back to the capital city with their guards. Along the way, they noticed many dead owlbears slumped over trees or collapsed on the ground.

When they got back, the king himself was waiting, along with hundreds of nobles, merchants, and peasants alike. In a booming voice, the king proclaimed that somehow the heroes had killed all the owlbears of the forest. This meant that trade could resume through the Forest of Gardakan, and the party members were national saviors. There would be a feast in their honor the following night!

On the feast night they were seated by the king himself, who presented the group with E. Arborian signet rings. However, most of the party members had post-banquet plans for the night.

Zogs, Mayve, and Timtim were approached by Kyanna, who paid Mayve a small fee in return for being allowed to join up with the group when they left the city the next day. Kyanna then left to speak with Thalord while the other three went off looking for loot. Eventually they broke into an armory and stole some swords.

Xin [formerly known as Schism]slipped past several guards and posed as a courtesan in order to gain entry to a noblewoman’s bedchamber. Once in, he scurried about inspecting for false walls and trap doors, much to the surprise of the ladies within.

The next day, the party of heroes was wrapping up their errands when they suddenly experienced a set of shared visions.

The first of these showed a grave-looking elf, middle-aged, surrounded by advisors. The elf was evidently someone of importance, judging by the way the advisors acted towards him. They engaged in some worried discussion (the vision was silent and dream-like) until the kingly man stood up and slammed his signet ring down on a map of the continent. As he raised his ring, the vision blurred and shifted. The same man was shown staring, worried, out of a window in a luxurious chamber. Through the window, a massive volcano could be seen as ominous roils of smoke drifted from its top.

The second showed a human man, resplendent in blue dress, as he sighed and paced in an austere chamber. The view from his window showed the streets of a city, unusually quiet for one so large. He stared out the window, elbows on the sill; with a little concentration, he imagined the streets full of life, with people of all types putting aside prejudice to celebrate tradition. The second part of the vision was brief. The same sad-eyed man stood next to his wife, fitting the last of his ornaments and medals onto his attire. There was the sound of cheering and applause as his eyes looked over at the wooden door of the small room; taking his wife’s hand, the two walked towards the entryway.

The party members reasoned that these two visions must be directing them towards a certain two of the remaining shrines. Thalord thought for a while about the customs of other countries, and finally announced that clothing of the second man matched that worn by nobles of Korvikus, one of the northernmost countries on the continent.

With their newest goal in mind, the party (now including Kyanna) set off to the north, crossing into the country of Verdek Vos by the end of the first day. Unfortunately, their progress would be slower, as the relatively smooth plains of East Arboria’s borders soon gave way to the Barrier Foothills of Verdek Vos.

Session Eight: Climbing is Hard!
In which pillars are tricky and the Lifegiver is revealed.

November 5, 2010

Having successfully won over the Strange Rod from the kobolds, the party camped outside the temple for a few days to heal their wounds. Rested and restored, our heroes went into the Forest Shrine again, this time taking the west corridor.

The first thing they encountered was a set of three copper statues similar to the ones they had encountered in the east wing of the building. One was shaped like a gnome, one an elf, and one a human; however, the statues were twisted and deformed, as if their sculptor had ruined them on purpose. With much grunting and heave-ho, the party managed to move the smallest statue, the gnome, a few feet off its pedestal, but, having found nothing too unusual about it save a magic aura, the party continued onward into the left wing.

The next room they found themselves in was one both curious and deadly. In the large room were five rows of two pillars each, and every few seconds, these lines of pillars would shift one direction or the other. One hoping to cross the pillars would need patience and good coordination. To make matters worse, crystalline mage statues occupied three of the pillars!

The party entered a brief but furious fight and emerged victorious, with Zogs shining as he got the others to help him pull two of three statues down with judicious use of rope. When the statues had all been rendered immobile, the pillars stopped shifting. After healing, the party turned their attention to crossing the room.

Zogs and Mayve nimbly made their way across the pillars, but the others weren’t as able. Timtim tried to float across on his floating disk, only to crash down forty feet into the pit. While Silos used a rope to climb down, Thalord put aside personal safety in favor of expedience and jumped down, taking the injury like a man (or dwarf). Tamarie elected to wait for the others to find a way to cross.

Having gone to the bottom of the pit, Timtim, Silos, and Thalord explored around. They found a gear system that they guessed was part of the machinery behind moving the pillars, but not much else, and elected to climb up to the other side of the room with the help of Zogs’ rope. Timtim and Silos made it up without too much trouble, but the well-armored Thalord was another matter.

After nearly an hour of trying, Thalord made it up the rope when Zogs used himself as a counterweight. The perilous climb thus bested, the party moved on.

They next found themselves in a room full of lava. A goblin tribe charged them money to cross with a set of boards, and went through a secret door before the party could cross fully. A few near-fatal mishaps were had with the lava pools, but the party made it across safely.

The next room had a steep slant to it. Gnolls bared their teeth and guarded a treasure chest similar to the one that had contained the Strange Rod. However, as the party prepared for battle, the gnolls stiffened and fell down, killed by a mysterious force! Not ones to waste an opportunity, the party members looted the chest and found the Strange Ring; as they did so, a strange rumbling echoed through the temple.

The slot on the Strange Ring matched the end of the Strange Rod. When the two were put together, they formed an odd-looking key!

The party now navigated the treacherous lava expanse and the pillar room, the latter with some difficulty. Having returned to the front of the temple, they noticed that a new door—with an impressive lock—had risen from the ground. The Strange Key fit the lock perfectly, and the door opened into a gloomy dirt tunnel.

This tunnel descended a good distance below the earth at a fairly gentle slope; after nearly ten minutes of walking, the party came out into an enormous room. Each corner of the room had something different: moss, a few trees, a standing pool, rocks. At the far end of the room was a well. The party spread out to examine the room’s features.

After a few minutes, however, a large thing of stone and whirling dirt burrowed up from the middle of the room. It resembled a humanoid upper body with two flaming dots for eyes.

The thing declared itself to be the Lifegiver, and moved to attack!

The party faced this hardy foe valiantly, despite its ability to move through the ground with ease and resist many of their abilities. When it was near death, however, the Lifegiver surrendered, and freed the statue-slaves it had created so many years ago—with memories modified to fit the current time. The Lifegiver then swirled around and collapsed into the ground.

The well began to glow with a calming green light. The party clustered around it and … the session ended here!

Session Seven: ¡Koboldes!
In which statues are creepy and kobolds forge alliances.

October 29, 2010

The party stepped cautiously into the marble temple. The riddle pertaining to this shrine had warned them of “ageless sentinels,” so it was probably best to be on guard.

Upon entering, two things became apparent. First, there was a fork in the path. Second, a curious verse was inscribed upon a flat section of wall between the forks. The poem warned of an ancient curse on the “frozen ones,” and encourage the party to turn back—unless, of course, they thought they could break the curse. Having read this, the party elected to take the right-hand path.

Their first test of combat was with two rough copper statues that fought like warriors. As they fought our heroes, the statues said phrases like “Defend the Lifegiver” and “My soul for the Lifegiver” in an eerie, monotonous voice. In a disturbing turn of events, a few times during the fight, the statues spoke a few words in a frightened regular voice … usually just before dropping to the floor, motionless, unresponsive.

In the next room, the marble had given way to the environment. Roots and dirt formed the walls, and strands of more roots draped from the ceiling. As the party made to pass swiftly through the “empty” room, they encountered a pair of nasty shocker lizards! These foes were dealt with fairly swiftly, but not swiftly enough to prevent them getting off a few deadly zaps of electricity.

The party then elected to rest for eight hours, to freshen up, regain spells, and be prepared after two exhausting fights. Luckily, nothing came to investigate in the night, and the party woke in the late afternoon, ready for some more baddy-bashing.

Their next challenge came in the form of more statues! These ones fought like wizards, with illusions and armor spells making them tougher than they appeared. Again came the disturbing rallying cries for the “Lifegiver”; again, the creepy changes in voice and tone before being rendered immobile.

Finally, the adventurers made their way into a curious room—and a large one. It was filled with mud, and a large contingent of kobolds in snowshoe-like footwear charged busily towards them. However, Silos, thinking quickly, recognized the language they spoke, Terran, and responded in kind.

With some lucky bluffing, Silos pretended that the party was a group of servants to the Lifegiver, and that they would free the kobolds later when their services were no longer needed. The kobolds agreed to not kill them, and they brought forth a strange item they had been guarding: a smooth copper rod with strange spikes going around one end.

The party having escaped a fight thusly, they turned their sights to the other fork of the road …

Session Six: Into the Woods
In which rivers provide amusement and ants lay the smack down.

October 15, 2010

[The session took a while to get on track; after an hour spent gossiping, the players settled in and got the ball rolling.]

The heroes woke bright and early and met with their guides, then ventured into the forest in search of the first shrine.

Notable encounters:

The first menace to … menace them was a group of goblins. These were tricky foes; they sniped with bows from high trees and used the thick tree trunks for cover from return fire.

With the help of their hired aides (the scout, Braz, and the warrior, So-Crates the Slayer), the party was able to put down the goblin menace and continue unmolested.

A few days later, they had to cross a river. The river moved at a fairly decent clip, but with the aid of a rope arrow from Silos, everyone made it across with only a few mishaps.

The deadliest encounter, by far, was their nighttime rude awakening by a swarm of army ants. Zogs nearly lost his life to the vicious beasties, but luckily they chose not to attack him after downing him.

After about two weeks of tiring travel through the Forest of Gardakan, the party felt their items tugging, as if indicating a direction. An hour later, they were standing before a green marble building—the first Shrine!

A wall of vegetation cut them off from their guides, and the party ventured onward … into the foreboding shrine.

Session Five: Embarking on a Journey
In which the plot kicks off and Thalord gets laid to the max.

September 25, 2010

The party stepped from the chapel, weary from their encounter with the troll. However, a well-deserved rest was not in store. Two Transport wizards teleported in front of them and took them back to the town of Invar.

In the town, there was the aftermath of chaos. “Some crazy wizard dude” had come through not an hour before, killing people and raising the dead. As a final act, he had punched out the mayor of Invar and ridden away in some kind of skeletal contrivance.

Our heroes rushed to see the mayor of Invar, who was recovering from the wound. He described the man in question—the mayor of Ocloma!

Upon hearing that they knew of the perpetrator, the mayor of Invar made the heroes Invarrian Protectors—honorary guardsmen—and sent them off to the castle of Lord Omarvana with a missive requesting magical aid.

They set off at once. Along the way, they had to fight through a group of skeletons and zombies left as a deterrent.

Upon arriving at the grounds, Omarvana’s personal Transporter took the missive and escorted them instantly over the next few miles and into the castle proper. As soon as they materialized, however, the mayor of Ocloma gated in, created more mooks, and gated out. Another battle was won, and the heroes went in to see the lord of the northern portion of Mytria.

Along the walls of the castle’s halls were strange magic items and artifacts, their purposes and histories known only to Omarvana, a collector of such things. Before he could really begin speaking, however, the sounds of commotion echoed from a further room. The heroes were made to stay put as Omarvana and his knights went to investigate.

As it turned out, the mayor had gated into another portion of the castle and begun wreaking havoc. He wounded Omarvana in the process, but was eventually driven back by the knights.

After a night of rest for everyone, Omarvana revealed that he knew the mayor before this time—the two of them had fought in the Telvanese army together before Omarvana came south. The mayor, whose name is Kavinus, betrayed Omarvana’s unit for his own gain.

Omarvana cautioned that Kavinus’ powers were too much for the heroes at this time, but he believed he could provide them with a long-term solution. He gifted to each of them a magic item of little power—for now. He said that these items were unique among magic items because they had no recorded history—just a set of rhyming clues pointing the way towards several shrines hidden around the world.

As part of the bargain, Omarvana charged the heroes with visiting these shrines and empowering their weapons and tools; only then would he truly bequeath them. At that point, they would also be strong enough to take on Kavinus, who, according to Omarvana, had gated to one of the far-off planes. Finally, Omarvana took from them the items they found in the cave, promising that these new items would be much better.

Intriguing new items in hand, the heroes decided to set off for what seemed the closest riddle location—the biggest forest on the continent, the Forests of Gardakan. To get there, they had to cross west of Mytria and then north until they reached the kingdom of East Arboria (sister to West Arboria, on the other side of the Forest.)

This they did, and once in the kingdom, they made their way to the capital city of Keystone, stopping only to deal with Timtim’s rabid desire to kill poor, innocent peasants (they clocked him on the head and carried him the rest of the way).

Once there, exhausted after a couple weeks of travel [and the night traveling steadily onward in real life], the heroes decided to unwind. After booking a couple combat guards to enter the forest in a week’s time, they set off in search of merriment. Notable events are as follows:

Silos and Timtim encountered a strange shop run by a stranger man, who took useless things as payment and gave haphazardly labeled potions to anyone who would listen to his ponderings of the universe.

Sir Bonerus engaged in solemn ritual with a street-corner prophet of Testikles. With great reverence did they perform the Thunking of the Brews.

Zogs, Thalord, Mayve, and Bonerus got high off a strange purple weed they purchased from a corner dealer. Having thus prepared, they patronized a brothel, with Thalord engaging in a five-way with great gusto. “My religion is very progressive!” he said as he came up for air. “I’m not breaking any vows here.”

And so did the band of heroes make merry while they still could. The days passed, and soon it was the evening before their excursion.

The Forests of Gardakan loomed just outside the city walls—and somewhere within that massive natural maze lay their first goal.

Session Four: Errands and Reprimands
In which the party buys things and gets in fights.

September 17, 2010

The party began their trek into Mytria, with Bardock and Zella left behind to fill in as the new joint mayors of Ocloma.

Halfway through the ninety-mile journey to Invar, the first major town, the party was ambushed at night by several goblins. They were defeated with some ease, although some scrapes were had by Sir Bonerus in particular.

As the battle concluded, two guards on horseback from the nearby settlement of Jydavon approached. They thanked the party for taking care of the goblins, who were part of a group that had been terrorizing the village.

The PCs received a few days’ free billeting in the inn. Notable events: Sir Bonerus’ powers increasing, although not to any useful stage yet, and being used to assault a bartender. He had to do a weeks’ work with the town guards as punishment.

After a week, the party walked onward toward Invar. Along the way, they met some traveling merchants. Sir Bonerus purchased eyewear to stop his powers from manifesting everywhere, Thalord bought a miner’s pick, and the party moved on after a hushed debate over whether or not to murder the peaceful traders.

The party had several days’ errands to run upon reaching Invar. Thalord, accompanied by Tamarie, went to get his unrefined gold turned into bars of the same. Bonerus and Silos went weapon-shopping but found nothing to their liking. Zogs and Mayve purchased some poisons under the counter at an apothecary. Finally, Timtim, Bonerus, and Silos purchased a modified Scroll of Magic Missile, a Brew of Battle, and nothing (respectively) from a friendly old magic-user.

Having completed their tasks, the party looked for work in the town square. They decided to take care of a monster infestation in the chapel of Calanoel, to the south. Once arrived, they burst into the chapel and were greeted with a powerful and angry troll. It took a while, but the beast was defeated. His orc cronies in the next room were child’s play for the team; the last one was so frightened by their prowess that he killed himself to avoid his friends’ fate.


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