Loudwater & Beyond

Session 1

Well, the peaceful morning in Loudwater was shattered as the goblins blew a hole in the town’s south wall and poured through. The town militia was nowhere in sight, but thankfully some visiting adventurers rushed into the fray. Rapidly despatching the green-skinned menace. Unfortunately one unlucky townsman was caught in the initial assault, Lady Moonfire has sent her condolences to the family.

Gnarsh (the half-orc ranger), Rhogar (the dragonborn warlord), Richard D’eath (the human paladin), Temegin (the goliath barbarian), and the mage known only as “Buttercup”, later discovered the goblins were attempting to retrieve the “horn totem” from Garwens Curiosities.

Further investigation revealed that the goblins were raiding local caravans from a hidden base in nearby ruins. On their way there they were waylaid by more goblins. Once defeated they discovered that the goblins needed to totem to complete a ritual of some sort to raise “The Ogre King”.

Upon finding the goblins lair Gnarsh unfortunately triggered a trap on the entrance, and another fight ensued with the entry guards. Next they encountered more goblins and dwarven zombies.

Will the intrepid heroes-to-be survive the further terrors that await? Will the warlord end up on his rear once more? Will we ever discover “Buttercup“s real identity?

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Session 2

After a rejuvenating rest Temegin the Barbarian waited above ground with the party’s oil laden cart (to guard the rear) as the remaining four heroes ventured further into the dwarven barrow.

They were soon met by a mixed group of Goblins and Hobgoblins and made short work of them, relieving them of the contents of their treasure chest before investigating the deep growling noises the ranger detected behind the locked door.

They opened the door to reveal another chamber housing a group of hobgoblins led by a warcaster and accompanied by a grey and dire wolf. Unfortunately it was during this furious melee that a couple of the heroes hit the dirt, and Rhogar the Dragonborn Warlord fell to the friendly fire side effects of Æðelric’s (Buttercup) Acid Arrow attack against the warcaster . Though saddened by their loss, the heroes hackles were raised when they discovered amongst the warcasters belongings a message from the chief of the orc Bloodreaver tribe instructing the hobgoblin/goblin forces to begin taking villagers as slaves.

After another rest to regroup and recuperate the remaining 3 heroes descended the narrow spiral walkway of the catacombs narrowly defeated a small group of Stirges that infested the chamber. The heroes finally confronted the High Shaman Sancossug in an effort to prevent him raising the Ogre King. Æðelric opened up with a spell which would have dealt the Shaman a mighty blow, only to see Sancossug use his power of misdirection to cause the magic to target Gnarsh the half-orc ranger that had courageously charged into melee with him. Richard the Paladin also entered the fray but the Shaman’s powers proved to much and soon the two warriors were lying helplessly on the ground before him.

Æðelric decided that retreat was the best option heard the hideous laughter of the High Shaman echoing after him up the catacombs as he finished the hapless heroes off.

Æðelric and Temegin returned to Loudwater to lick their wounds and find new allies so that they can return to the dwarven barrow and put a stop to the goblin menace and prevent the coming of the Ogre King.

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Session 3

A merchant caravan en route to Loudwater was being accompanied by a group of adventerous souls when they were waylaid by some human thugs led by a tiefling bandit. The heroes in training made short work of them and once they reached Loudwater learnt they were part of a local group of ne’er-do-wells under the control of the mysterious Lady of Shadows.

After some digging around they found that the group were extorting protection money from local businesses and were responsible for several locals going missing. A brawl in a bar turned nasty and the heroes discovered the time and location of a “secret” meeting.

Upon investigating they found the lady of shadows (a dark creeper) and her cohorts, despatching them with out too much trouble. Further noseying around unearthed the fact that slaves had been taken to the Zelbross bandits and the “snake men”.

The local store owners were quite grateful.

Who are the Zelbross Bandits and the snake men? What are they doing with the slaves? Why has it begun to snow so late into the sping season? What happened to the intrepid band that set out to stop the Goblins?

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Session 4

Aethelric returned to Loudwater and linked up with the hardy souls that had removed the threat of the Lady of Shadows.

After plying them with copius amounts of brandy and the promise of treasure and splitting goblin skulls they agreed to help put an end to the threat of Sancossug and his goblins.

An unseasonal snowfall made travelling interesting until a sudden blizzard struck, the heroes weathered it but discovered that its origin may well have been fey induced.

The entrance to the goblin lair showed signs of recent traffic and so the heroes cautiously made their way into the complex.

Encountering minimal resistance they made their way to the crypt where their valiant predecessors perished only to be confronted by the horrror of the fallen heroes reanimated undead corpses, along with a brutishly huge zombie accompanying the Goblin High Shaman.

The heroes threw themselves into the melee and although Thoradin the Druid fell to the unnatural strength of the hulking undead his comrades managed to bring him back into the fray. Many were the cheers when Fargrim, the Paladin of Moradin, dropped the monster to the gore slicked floor, but their high spirits were short lived as it stood back up, albeit dripping ooze and ichor from its many wounds.

Although the two dwarfs ended up on the floor again, the heroes did manage to overcome the High Shaman and his abomination. As the goblin’s last breath escaped its lips the heroes took the time to pause and regroup.

Sancossug (image courtesy of The Crystal Shard, graphic novel by DDP

Is this the end of the Goblin threat? What has Chief Krand and the Bloodreavers to do with the goblins? What is causing the unusual weather patterns?

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Session 5

After a brief rest, albeit interrupted by a minor skirmish with some nosy Orcs, the intrepid heroes returned to the surface. A crisp fresh snowfall covered the courtyard as they set out for Loudwater.

En route they encountered some strange blue-skinned goblins that seemed to relish the cold weather.

Upon reaching Loudwater they reported to Lady Moonfire, trading the severed head of Sancossug for the promised reward. Then they trundled to the docks to see if they could sell the paired Horn Totems from the Barrow to Zark. Banjo the halfling rogue spotted two individuals that he recognised from his time in Baldurs Gate, realising that a past indescretion was about to messily catch up with him, he decided that it would be in his best interest to depart Loudwater as quickly and quietly as possible.

Zark (courtesy of WotC – FRCG)

While Æðelric bartered with the surly dwarf, Fargrim and Thoradin helped load the barrels onto the waiting barge. Everything was going well until Fargrim dropped a barrel, it broke open revealing its contents – a bound and gagged human child!

Zark made a run for it but was swiftly brought down by the party as the crew of the barge dove into the raging waters of the Delimbiyr, pursued by the enraged Fargrim. They party managed to capture 2 alive and 1 escaped, the other 3 perished in the attempt.

What is causing the preternatural winter? Why was Zark smuggling children out of the city? What threat do the Bloodreaver Orcs pose?

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Session 6

Our intrepid heroes handed over their prisoners (Zark and the remaining barge operator) to the Loudwater militia, trusting justice to be done. While there Captain Harrowleaf introduced them to another pair of adventurers looking to make a name for themselves. The hulking Goliath, Garusk, and his lithe associate Li, who after an evening of discussion and much brandy joined our merry band.

Fearing the slavers would try to recover the barge, Æðelric and Thoradin decided to lie in wait on board. Their prudence paid off in the early hours of the morning, as three furtive figures snuck aboard the snow covered deck, though they soon wished they hadn’t as the wizard and druid made short work of them.

In the morning Captain Harrowleaf revealed that under interrogation Zark had revealed the slavers were holed up in a disused temple of Tyr just outside Zelbross. The heroes set off to investigate further.

Arriving near the temple Li scouted forward, her stealth training letting her discover several bandits hidden in wait amongst the ruins, unfortunately her aim was a little off and her crossbow shot which should have taken the nearest sentry out merely alerted him to the party’s presence.

Several thugs armed with cheap maces rushed to the attack, led by a swarthy man in heavy chain. Battle was joined with the thugs menacing the druid, wizard and rogue, while the doughty paladin charged the man in chain in an effort to prevent bringing his deadly looking crossbow into play.

Another figure appeared from deeper within the ruins, human in shape but scaled, and the barbarian Garusk charged towards him.

Marsh mystic (image courtesy of “Riverwind the Plainsman” – a dragonlance novel)

The melee was brutal, with several members of the party being repeatedly dazed by the mace attacks of the thugs, and the barbarian taking the brunt of the marsh mystics poison cloud attacks, but eventually, bruised and battered, the heroes prevailed.

A thorough search of the bandits and the ruins revealed a dozen children caged ready for sale as slaves and the treasure cache of their captors.

While the heroes decided on their next course of action they noticed a group of the strange, blue-skinned goblins approaching. Though outnumbered more than 2:1 the party made short work of the smurf-like attackers. A search of their corpses revealed a small amount of gold, some healing potions and around the goblin spellcasters neck, a chain sporting the symbol of Auril the Frostmaiden.

With their base raided, is this the end of the Zelbross Bandits? What was their connection to the reptilians? What sentance have the Loudwater Magistrate’s handed out to Zark and his asscociate? Where are these blue-skinned goblins with a penchant for ice magic coming from, and why?

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Session 7

GaruskOur heroes escorted the rescued children back to Loudwater, reuniting them with their relevant parents and garnering the thanks of the gathered townsfolk.

Curious as to the fate of Zark and the river slaver they went to see Captain Harrowleaf, only to find that both had been released due to “inconclusive evidence” by the Magistrate, though the good captain murmured of court corruption at the highest of levels.

Retiring to the warm embrace of the Inn’s common room the party enjoyed an evening of food, drink and good company. Making the acquaintance of Curavar, a local sage and former adventurer, who was impressed with their prowess and skills so far and wished to share his findings about the inclement weather patterns in the area. After several more flagons were quaffed they slumped off to their rooms.

Their sweet slumber was disturbed however when Li heard unskilled fumbling at the door’s lock and quietly roused her companions. As the four men entered their chamber the party suprised them and quickly overcame them. Of the two survivors one gave in to intimidation quickly and readily admitted that the other had hired them has thugs to “put the frighteners” on the party. The party kept to their word and released him for his honesty, turning their attention to the remaining intruder. When threats didnt work, and neither did following them through. So they tied him up and locked him in the hold of their barge. After going through his belongings the only identifying item was a ring emblazoned with a hawk motif.

When they went to check on their prisoner next morning they found him still locked in the hold but someone had gotten in and stabbed an exquisitely crafted silver dagger with a carved hawk hilt into the base of his neck.

Perturbed by this turn of events the heroes followed Curavar’s directions and headed off towards the Dire Wood and Draigdurroch’s Tower, encountering a blizzard en route which delayed them only slightly. They arrived at the Dire Wood to find that something had been destroying the forrest and leaving a barren winter wasteland. It wasnt unpopulated though, as a large group of Frost Goblins lay in ambush. In the ensuing battle it began to look grim for the heroes as the powerhouse Barbarian succumbed to the repeated magical assault of the goblin Hexer. Luckily the remaining party members rallied and with the combined abilities of the paladin Fargrim and Aetholric channeling healing energies through his spirit wolf, Garusk rose again to fight on beside his comrades to victory.

As they gathered their wits, they could see their goal in the distance. As they approached they could see the warlocks tower was encased in a block of ice, as they attempted to break through it several of the decorative statues lining the approach leapt into life and attacked. The heroes fought bravely against the diminuative foes as the towers outer doors opened to reveal another hidden figue which proceeded to attack their resolve and attemp to daze them. After defeating their foes and smashing the remaining statues (just to be on the safe side) the party paused to gather their strength before entering the tower proper.

What terrors await inside the Warlocks tower? What has been destroying the forest of the Dire Wood, in some cases snapping the trees at their bases? If the Frost Goblins are involved, why weren’t their tracks around the tower?

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Session 8

The heroes entered the Warlock’s tower to find the contents covered in a thirty year layer of frost. A huge banquet was laid out in the dining room and Li was quite amused by the tinkling noises the frosted fruit made when she dropped them to the floor.

Garusk was poking the frozen blue flames in the corner fireplace when it spat out a pair of creatures, apparently made of ice themselves, which proceeded to attack the party. Though the heroes were quickly able to deal with them, they discovered more had appeared from other frozen fireplaces within the surrounding rooms, and some were more difficult to dispatch.

Once they had dealt with the icy intruders, the heroes made their way upstairs to be confronted by yet more varied forms of the ice creatures. Aetholric sensed that they were creatures of the Elemental Chaos and coming through portals contained within the frozen flames. After finally despatching the freezing foes, the companions made sure that all the fireplaces were clear of the remaining ice-flames. When they felt more secure they set about searching the ground and first floors more thoroughly, discovering as they did a pair of frozen corpses, and several books on alchemical research and processes.

Aetholric managed to carefully damage Draigdurroch’s summoning circle, ensuring that no-one could use it to “safely” summon demons again. Our daring delvers then investigated and used the teleport pad to gain access to the third floor.

A thorough search ensued of the living quarters revealed little more than frost-damaged tapestries though the small library gave up several of the warlocks books relating to his study of the failed deity Karsus and the subsequent destruction of this Netherese demi-god, indicating that he was working on creating a dark pact to draw upon the lingering power of scattered fragments of Karsus.

Hidden behind one of the tapestries was a door protected by magic, which Aetholric was able to bypass, and Li was then able to open, revealing Draigdurroch’s study.

Before anyone could stop her Li searched the heavy oak desk for traps, and not finding any, proceeded to open the drawer. The magical glyph of warding exploded causing considerable damage not only to the heroes in the room but also to the drawers contents, leaving only charred blackened remnants of the warlocks notes.

Another teleportation pad was found and used, depositing the party on the roof of the tower, amidst the full splendour of the magical winter. Their attention was immediately drawn to the very large sapphire floating at the centre of the roof, pulsing menacingly with eldritch might, and then also to the hulking brute that stepped into view behind it.

Spirit (Image courtesy of Dungeon Magazine Annual 2010)

A tense struggle ensued, during which several members of the party were blown off the tower-top to land with bone-crunching force at its base. Eventually through their combined efforts the heroes were able to overcome the foe, Li dealing the final blow that not only killed the fearsome beast but sent it tumbling over the low parapet. As it breathed its last breath Li heard it say “Sorry Mistress” as its form melted into the ether and the glowing gem which was linked to its life force exploded, knocking the heroes to the floor once more.

As they recovered their wits the icy shroud crumbled around the tower as the eldritch-powered curse was broken and the wintry weather dissipated.

With the weather returning to normal the heroes thoughts turn to other questions. What link if any was there between the tower and the blue-skinned goblins? Why weren’t there any in or around the tower? What caused the massive damage to the surrounding woodland?

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Session 9

Game session 9: “If you go down to the woods today….” As the last of the icy cocoon fell away the air was split with a bone chilling roar from the north-west, none looked more shocked than Thoradin as a supressed memory resurfaced of a leering hobgoblin face mounted on dragonback, laughing as his eladrin mentor lay dying.

With the weather and the forest returning to normal our intrepid band set off back to Loudwater to resupply and recover. Unfortunately, they fey-inhabited forest had other ideas and it wasn’t long before they ran afoul of the creatures within.

Feypanther

A group of fey panthers and an elven archer ambushed they party, though the tables were turned when the mighty Goliath charged the archer, first smashing him into the air, and before he could recover hammering him to the ground. Satisfied that his foe wasnt going to get back up he immediately engaged another of the panthers. The rest of the party managed to weather the assault with minor wounds also, before continuing their journey.

Several hours marching later, the forest threw up another surprise as a very grumpy owlbear waylaid our weary band.

Owlbear

Garusk, Thoradin, and Fargrim charged the creature, hoping to overwhelm it but it proved more resilient and released its shrill screech, stunning the trio. Before Fargrim could recover the owlbear had grabbed him in its mighty claws and only the timely intervention of his allies helped free him before it could rend him with its deadly beak. As Li joined the fray the beast began to show signs of weakening and the found herself in the terrible embrace. It was a close call but eventually the heroes managed a victory but needed to find a secure site to recover and lick their wounds.

Setting of refreshed once more (with Garusk wearing his new owlbear loincloth), the increasingly anxious band surprised a band of orcs. The greenskins proved no obstacle and a search of their corpses revealed that they were a raiding party of the Bloodreaver’s. Li was happy to discover an exquisite short sword in their loot.

Finally clearing the confines of the forest and with Loudwater in sight our weary heroes hearts lifted, until they heard the howls and jeers of a group of the blue-skinned goblins mounted on wolves chasing after them. Swiftly gaining the upperhand our merry band soon despatched all but one of their foes, the last one fleeing back into the wilderness, its tail between its leg, and the flagons of the Green Tankard Tavern beckoned.

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Session 10

Game Session 10: “Nice night for a walk” (quote taken from punks meeting the Terminator on the street)

After an evening of rest our heroic band descended upon Garwan’s Curiosities intent on unloading some of their spoils. The friendly dwarven shopkeeper happily traded with them, buying several items and selling them a few new items in return.

A visit to Lady Moonfire followed, with our heroes receiving their promised reward for restoring the weather to normality, before returning to the Green Tankard for further celebration. Thoradin, feeling a little worse for wear, decided to take a stroll in the hopes that the night air would help to clear his head. This proved to be a poor decision as he was accosted by a pair of thugs who surprised him in his inebriated state and bludgeoned him into unconsciousness. Unfortunately by the time a passing militia man found him, the thugs had relieved him of his cash and Thoradin had died from his wounds.

The rest of the party were still carousing in the Inn when Captain Harrowleaf entered, sombrely telling them of their companions demise and that his remains had been taken to the temple. There they met Brother Griffon, an Uthgardt foundling and priest of Silvanus. As none of them knew Thoradin’s wishes regardig burial, Brother Griffon performed a Speak With Dead ritual, discovering that the dwarf wished to be returned to Nature’s embrace and getting a description of his murderers.

The heroes took their fallen comrades possessions, leaving Brother Griffon to arrange a suitable burial, and the knowledge that those responsible wore the insignia of a hawk on a split field of red/purple. Enquiries with Curavaar and Captain Harrowleaf revealed possible links between merchant caravans and Sebren the Magistrate. And so they set out to enquire further of him in person.

As they walked up the street many of the townsfolk gasped in fear as a large shadow passed overhead. A large white dragon,surrounded by cloud of frosty air, alighted on the temple roof, its scaly talon punching through and, as the heroes watched, plucking the corpse of their fallen dwarven comrade from the interior.

Aussiroth

In a rare emotional burst, Aetholric launched a magical assault at the beast, as Fargrim ran down the street towards it. In answer to the challenge the beast jumped down to street level and loosed a blast of its chilling breath at the paladin before facing the mighty goliath barbarian charging toward it. An epic battle ensued with the barbarian and paladin suffering as much from the intense cold radiating off the beast as from its actual attacks. Li the rogue took the opportunity to drag the dwarven corpse out of the melee as Garusk succumbed to his wounds and dropped heavily to the icy floor. As luck would have it a visiting priest emerged from the temples interior, waves of healing energy flowing towards the fallen goliath before striking the dragon with his holy ire, dazing the massive beast and forcing down the street away from the temple.

Fargrim the paladin took advantage of the beasts distracted state to charge it once more, his mighty craghammer leading the way. As if it barely noticed the beast took to wing, albeit briefly as it landed heavily once more upon the fallen druids body, its claws curling predatorily around its prize. Determined not to let their comrades remains be taken, Garusk, Fargrim and Li all charged forward to surround the terrible reptile. Its massive haunches tensed as it launched itself skyway, the dwarf clutched tightly in its talon, despite receiving solid hits from the assembled heroes, and flying off in the general direction of High Forest.

After thanking the priest for his timely intervention, he agreed to accompany them as they resolved to discover more of Thoradins murderers by confronting the Magistrate. Upon admittance to the Magistrates residence the arrogant man dismissed their achievements, even stating that the town had suffered more since their arrival than beforehand. This incensed the paladin, and he grabbed Sebren by the front of his robes. The sound of hidden crossbows being readied convinced the enraged dwarf that discretion would in this case be the better part of valour, and he released his hold.

The party grudgingly left, though once outside the goliath and dwarf began a grappling match, taking the interest of the door guards, as Li skulked around to the rear of the building. Climbing to an upper floor window she gained entrance to an unused guest room. Finding nothing of interest beyond the fact that there was movement on the foyer balcony beyond the chambers door, she decided to try another window. This room appeared similar in all respects to the first apart from a leather bound book closed with a clasp on the nightstand. Before Li could examine it further an Eye of Alarm triggered, shouting “Intruders, Intruders, Intruders”. Grabbing the book, Li dove out of the window, her training helping her to tumble safely to her feet as she hit the floor and running as if the very devils were after her. At the sound of the interior alarms the door guards lost interest in the wrestling party members and assumed a protective pose before the doors as the rest of the party took their cue to return to the Green Tankard.

Confident that she had made good her escape Li stopped in a secluded alley to examine the tome. Her training allowed her to detect some sort of magical trap within the book and she set about removing it, unfortunately it proved beyond her skill, exploding in an acidic burst. Li’s quick reflexes allowed her to escape it unscathed, the book however was not so lucky. She quickly tried to recover what she could of it, and was able to make out that the book had been some sort of ledger, detailing the sale of what appeared to be several of the missing persons from the surrounding area – though the part which would have shown their destination and buyer had been destroyed in the blast. As she returned to her companions she became aware of someone following her, someone well trained. As she entered the Green Tankard she could see no trace of her pursuer. Tossing the damaged volume to her friends she quickly exited from the rear entrance and climbed up to the roof in an attempt to spot her tail. She didnt have to look far. On the roof opposite the man calmly sat watching her and flashed a brief salute before disappearing behind the building and out of sight.

What does the dragon want with Thoradins corpse?
What link is there between Thoradins murderers and Li’s mysterious follower, if any?
What response will the Magistrate and his allies have to the party’s actions?

As our intrepid heroes continue their adventures, several reports come to light of cattle mutilations on some of the outlying farmsteads, and the sounds of howls in the woods at night.

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