Archive for the 'D&D: Elderyn' Category


D&D: Elderyn – Campaign Conclusion

NEXT: D&D: Elderyn – Home

Looking back on this campaign, I had a lot of fun and good memories. Compared to my other games I have run, it was definitely far more casual. Compared to my other, concurrently run, games, I got to play this one far more frequently. While my Shadowrun: Denver campaign was run once every two to four weeks, this campaign was played weekly (generally) on a fixed schedule. Getting to play that frequently was awesome!

That said, I do feel like I didn’t do much to “push” my game. It was very casual, very safe and very by the numbers. I don’t find anything wrong with that specifically, it was still one of my first campaigns (my second actually, followed closely by my D&D: The Eighth One campaign) and I had new group of players whom a number of were new or inexperienced to tabletop role-playing games in general as well as playing in a system I was new to.

While playing often was a lot of fun, it did demand far more of my week to week spare time. While running this campaign, I was also finishing up my Shadowrun campaign with my original group, preparing for and eventually playing the D&D game that group played between Shadowrun campaigns as well as preparing for the follow up Shadowrun: Seattle campaign for the future.

All of that meant I was doing a lot of tabletop prep work every week. While it was fun and rewarding, I don’t think I would do it again, or at least I would be vary careful about doing so and would insist on running a game that took less week to week prep work. While I didn’t completely burn out from the process, I definitely felt the lingering danger of it and I chose to put a lot of other things on back burner to allocate time.

If / when I were to run another campaign, I’d like to push my game a little bit further out of the completely linear, story focused experience I’ve always done so far. I would also like to start exploring prep-lite games run with more spontaneous interactions and events, especially in an situation where I might be running multiple campaigns simultaneously. I’ll probably never fully break away from some structure and front end planning for the campaign arc, simply because I do enjoy that aspect of GMing.

Because I suspected my players wouldn’t be interested in doing them and given the expected length and involvement in the campaign, I also chose not to give my players character logs to do like I did for my other group. On the one hand, I feel like this made things go a lot smoother between games. I was never harassing my players to get me a log or worrying about a player not delivering a promised write-up. On the other hand, documenting the adventure and the decisions made, both for this blog and for my own notes, created a lot more work for me. As became evident, this quickly overwhelmed my ability to keep up. If I were to do another campaign with this group again, I’m not sure how I’d resolve this issue. On the one hand, I enjoy and want a record of my games, both for myself, my players and for putting up here. On the other, doing it myself is a significant burden given my other duties as GM.

Overall, I’m glad I took the opportunity to play with this group of players and that I put together and told my own story (albeit with plenty of “inspiration” from other sources). It ended up being a lot of work, but the best things usually are.

– Geoff

NEXT: D&D: Elderyn – Home

D&D: Elderyn – Act 3: Session 15

NEXT: Campaign Conclusion

Pushing open the doors, Clotor led the party into the large chamber on the other side. The room, built out of the same marble as the exterior, was large and round with pillars supporting the heavy roof. At the far side of the room, a large alter supported the decrepit, skeletal remains of a dragon that had been laid to rest there. Before the alter, a large fire burned in a ceremonial pit, illuminating the room. Around that fire, now staring back at the intruding party, stood four human warriors and an old dwarf, presumably Zandak Swordsteel.

Two of the humans wore matching black armor from head to toe and were standing on either side of the room, guarding the other three at the center of the room. They drew their swords and turned to face the party, their shields at the ready. Besides the dwarf, one of the humans, strapped in leather armor, was immediately recognized as Udion, the merchant council member from Liam’s Point. The other, larger than the first two guards but wearing similar, massive black armor stood next to the dwarf. On his large, black helmet a single eye was carved in white on the helm’s surface. A growl escaped Clotor’s lips as she set eyes on the warrior.

The old dwarf interrupted the moment, “Ignore them! Is the ritual complete? What now, Balin? I have delivered what you requested, now give me the power you promised!”

The human in the black armor with the white eye emblazoned on his forehead, Balin, turned to the dwarf, “A great power will be unleashed, as promised. All we require is a sacrifice.” From the warriors belt, Balin produced a shining silver dagger, Clotor immediately recognized it from the stories of Shath Helath as the legendary instrument of Bahumat. Without hesitation, Balin plunged the dagger into Zandack Swordsteel’s throat. Blood poured out of the wound onto the marble floor as the dwarf collapsed to his knees, then the floor. “Now to deal with you fools.”

Clotor let out a rage filled below and charged Balin, her sword swung forward to meet Balins massive two handed blade. Udion stepped to the side of the two warrior’s battle and conjured up a blast of magic energy which he hurled at the other three. Nedda dodged to the side of the energy blast, charging one of the other heavily armored guards. Recoiling from the attack, Scourage managed to intercept one of the other guards as he charged for Harold.

Nimble and quick, Nedda was able to easily dodge the attacks of the slow, heavily armored human she faced. Unfortunately, she found it equally difficult to find a hole in his armor to strike back. Her flurry of blows failed to find purchase, screeching as they only scratched the surface of his armor.

Clotor and Balin traded staggering blows in the center of the room. Neither seemed much concerned with their safety and were more interested in the death of the other. Clotor pivoted around Balin and belched out a blast of acid which scorched the other’s armor and even managed to catch Udion off guard. The caster grimaced, his face twisting strangely in pain.

Harold used the opening Clotor created to get off a flurry of magic missiles which struck the traitorous council member. Each arcane blast ripped small holes through his leather armor and into his chest. The caster replied with his own dark magic, throwing a bolt of red energy which nearly took Harold off his feet.

The battle continued to rage as the last bit of life in Zandak Swordsteel’s eyes drained out of his body. His dark red blood poured into grooves cut into the marble floor, pooling and running towards the flame that burned at the center of the chamber. Though blood splattered, the silver dagger continued to glimmer brightly.

Cut and bloodied, Scourage finally got the upper hand against his opponnent. Throwing him off balance with a quick thrust to one side, Scourage swung his blade around and cut deep into the knee joint of his opponents armor. As the man fell to one knee with a cry of pain, the tiefling slammed his shield into his helmet, knocking it free of his head and dropping the man to the ground. A final swing of his sword was all it took to end the man’s life.

Turning, Scourage passed his sword to his shield hand and pulled up his loaded crossbow from where it was slung. Crossing the room towards Nedda, he let a single bolt fly from the crossbow, striking Udion square in ribs. The caster howled in pain, clutching at his side. The moment was all Harold needed, conjuring the energies necessary, the wizard cast a cloak of flame that wrapped around his oppenent, squeezing and burning the life out of him. As the flame dissipated, Udion fell to his knees and slumped slowly forward. As he did so, his features first twisted, then relaxed and softened, morphing into an indistinct and unremarkable humanoid face.

With the guard’s attention distracted between Scourage and herself, Nedda’s blades quickly found marks in his exposed flanks. A series of quick stabbing blows as the warlord held his attention made short work of the guard. He dropped to the ground, too weak from blood loss to even raise his weapons, staring back at them defiantly even as Scourage ran him through.

Both battered and bloody, Clotor continued to trade blows with Balin, though the large warrior was quickly giving out before the dragonborn’s rage filled onslaught. In a flurry of blows, Clotor beat him back, staggering him under each swing. In a deft maneuver, she smashed his double handed sword aside with her shield and buried her sword in his shoulder as deep as she could muster.

Balin fell to one knee before the dragonborn, still glaring up at her with eyes burning with hatred. He refused, even  now, to cry out in pain. “I die for my god, pathetic worm. I will have glory in her service. When you meet her, remember her face for she will be the one who carries you to the afterlife.” Clotor’s armored boot smashed into his chest, wrenching her sword free and shoving Balin up against a pillar. With a quick swipe, Balin’s head was severed from his body and fell into his lap.

Scourage poked through the dead as Nedda moved over to the alter, checking out the dragon bones left there. Harold stood over Udion’s corpse, staring down at his twisted form, “Udion… well, this Udion, is a shapeshifter.” he declared.

I wanted to reflect the party’s opinion that Udion had been involved in the attacks on Liam’s Point. Though Udion was ultimately innocent and his body disposed of in the fires after the attacks, they had discovered there was a duplicate of Udion running around the town that was the culprit they sought.

Before anyone could respond, the fire at the center of the room suddenly flared up, large, hot and red. The party had to shield their eyes from the light and took a few steps back from the intense heat as the top of the top of the flames played across the high ceiling of the chamber.

When the flames died down, they looked around the room in confusion. Nedda’s eyes returned to the dragon’s skeleton on the alter. A skeleton that now stood on its legs on the platform and stared back at her through hollow eyes. The jaws of the skull opened wide and an unearthly roar leapt forth.

Letting out a cry of surprise, Nedda leaped back as the dragon skeleton climbed down from the alter. Even as they watched, the creature seemed to be regenerating, regaining its former life. Black sinew and muscle began to grow and attach the skeletal pieces. Dark, leathery flesh stretched between the spines of the wings. Glowing red eyes filled the empty eye cavities as it gazed around the room.

Another, deeper, earth shaking roar filled the chamber as the dragon reared back on its hind legs before them. Around its neck and body, thick metal chains held a protective metal plate over its chest. Adorning the plate were the markings of the dragon god, Tiamat. As the roar faded, the party heard a faint scraping sound. Glancing around the room, the five dead individuals began to rise. Their eyes and flesh sunk into their faces in a matter of moments and their flesh held the unhealthy white pallor of the resurrected dead.

“Clotor! You… uh…” Uncharacteristically, Scourage seemed at a loss for words.

“I’ve got the avatar of Tiamat!” Clotor shouted back before charging headlong at the beast.

Harold turned and blasted a pair of the zombies with a gout of flame from his hands. Scourage and Nedda set off as a pair, overwhelming one of the undead at a time, making short work of their target and then moving onto the next.

Clotor battled with the dragon which, though recently dead, was surprisingly agile and deadly. She feinted with the creature, trying to find an opening to stick her sword but having little luck. The dragon snapped and bit, but Clotor’s shield held it at bay.

The other three made quick work of the resurrected dead, then turned to help Clotor with the dragon. Scourage and Nedda surrounded the avatar while Harold hurled spells into the fray. Despite the onslaught, the party found they were having little effect. For every wound they inflicted, it seemed another would close and heal.

Finally, the dragon stood tall on its hind legs and let fourth a blast of black smoke from its mouth. The heavy smoke filled the air, obscuring visibility and confusing the battle. Scourage and Clotor fumbled around in the darkness, trying to find the dragon. Harold conjured a magical light on the end of his wand, but it did little to cut through the thick smoke. Stumbling around, Nedda came across the fallen body of Zandack Swordsteel, the shining silver dagger still stuck in his throat.

Sheathing one of her own daggers, Nedda grasped the silver dagger of Bahumat and wrenched it from the dwarf’s throat. As she held it aloft, the smoke around her cleared noticeably. Waving it around, she was able to clear enough smoke to see a part of the dragon’s body as it slithered through the smoke, snapping at the other three in sudden and deadly sneak attacks.

Charging forward, the halfling leaped and buried the silver dagger in the dragon’s exposed flank. The creature let out a terrifying roar as the small blade easily pierced its flesh. In her hand, the dagger itself seemed to glow with divine light as Nedda pulled it through the dragon’s flesh. The wound itself seared and smoked, bubbling over with black blood. The black smoke around the room cleared as the dragon reeled away from the attack.

Now able to see their target, the others relaunched their attacks. The dragon wheeled and snapped, trying to keep its attackers at bay, but its divided attention was all Nedda needed to slide through its defenses and deal another flurry of slashing blows. In a combined attack, Harold stunned the creature with a blast of acid while Clotor and Scourage each cut out a front leg. As the dragon fell forward, Nedda leaped onto the back of its neck. With scarcely time to breath, the halfling buried the dagger into one side of the dragon’s neck and drug the blade across its throat.

The dragon thrashed and flailed as black blood poured from its body. The party stood back as its thrashing slowed and, finally, the dragon collapsed to the ground and lay dead.

Battered and beaten, the party slowly exited the shrine of Tiamat, closing the massive iron doors behind them. They walked for two days back to the portal that led them there, then for several more days back through the underground tunnels. Finally, exhausted and battered, they walked out of the tunnels and back into Erberek.

Khor Ironshard, the guard captain, met them not far into the city. “My friends! I am surprised, but glad to see you have returned! Come with me, we will get you taken care of, Maglynn wishes to hear what news you bring.”

The four returned to their inn where they bathed, their battered weapons and armor were repaired and cleaned, they were fitted into fine, comfortable clothing and then returned with the guard to the governor’s estate. There they were greeted by Maglynn Ironshard, the brave warrior Leaf Ironguard and the dwarven Paragon Thorak Ironguard, who seemed to have grown even older and frailer in the past few days. They ate a great feast as they told Maglynn of their adventure.

At the end of the session, I wanted to give the players an opportunity to give closure to their character’s stories. Similar to how we had done a short character development session at the beginning of the game, I asked the players to tell me what their characters did going forward, after their adventure. Somewhat surprisingly, they all decided to go their separate ways. No one mentioned that they would continue adventuring with their fellow party members.

After several days in the Citadel of Erberek as Maglynn Ironshard’s esteemed guests, Clotor finally bid his friends farewell. With the dagger of Bahumat in hand, the dragonborn was returning to Liam’s Point. There was much to rebuild and the church would need attention in the absence of Father Opdrop.

It was not long after that Harold also bid his goodbyes. After much thought, Harold decided that he would travel a bit more and then found his own school of magic. Unlike the Arcane University he had studied and taught in, his school would be made open to all the people of Elderyn.

Nedda left at the same time, intent on returning to Rickenmyre to finish school. While there, she told the other halflings there of her adventure and taught them how to survive and find adventure of their own. Sometime later, she penned her own book, an autobiography of her journey with her friends.

Scourage continued to stay in Erberek for several days before heading out as well. He had not found the answers he sought in his last adventure and he was finally coming to believe the answers he sought might not be out there. He headed south, to Frangel, hoping for some relaxed time on the beaches looking out over the endless ocean might bring him the perspective and peace he sought.

NEXT: Campaign Conclusion

D&D: Elderyn – Act 3: Session 14


This week, Nedda was not able to join us. We had her charcter sheet, so Scourage ran her character during combat encounters.

With the dwarf warrior, Leaf Ironguard, disappearing into the tunnels behind them with his ancestor, the party again turned their attention to their destination. Zandak Swordsteel was somewhere in the tunnels before them with more than a days head start. Ignoring their growing fatigue, the party pressed forward into the subterranean tunnels.

The tunnels ran deeper into the earth, branching off in several points. Inspecting the ground at these intersections, Scourage was able to determine which tunnels showed signs of recent travel and guided the party down them. Though it was difficult to determine time this far underground, the party eventually made camp in the rocky tunnel when they believed the end of the day had come. Rising early, they set out once more.

Several hours in, the party came upon a wide open cavern. A large lava flow emerged from one side of the chamber and continued out the other. Pockets of rock poked out of the lava surface, creating a dangerous but passable series of stepping stones across the molten rock. Unfortunately, a small army of skeletons wandered the area on both sides of the lava flow. On the far side, they could make out two Kor’Kron guards standing watch.

I was a big fan of this combat encounter map. It was fairly large as our encounters go, with lots of ranged attackers that forced the party to move around. Playing around the lava was lots of fun too. It was laid out so that there was a “safe” route through, I ruled that they could easily cross a single square of lava without a difficulty check, but it was very round about and would force them to take extra time to reach the enemies on the rocks. Alternately, they could make a difficulty check to jump across a specified distance to quickly cross larger gaps for a more direct route.

Knowing they couldn’t cross the open ground without being spotted, Scourage formed them up into a defensive line. Clotor and Scourage stood at the front, their shields creating a wall to protect the party from the skeletal archers that wandered the rocks of the lava flow. Nedda, with her crossbow, and Harold stood behind the two armored defenders and the four marched out into the open, quickly making for the lava flow.

Almost immediately, the dwarves on the far side let out a startled cry and the skeletons nearby began moving forward. Scourage smashed his shield into the first that reached them, knocking it to the side and continuing past. As she passed by, Nedda swung her crossbow around and scooped the off balance skeleton’s feet out from under it, sending it clattering to the ground.

Clotor’s weapon bit nearly through a skeleton’s arm as she charged forward, driving it back towards the lava pool. As they reached the river’s edge, the skeletons on their side were converging inward. At the warlord’s command, the two warriors broke to the sides, clustering the skeletons around them on their side of the river and leaving a clear spot on the lava’s edge for Nedda and Harold.

Nedda, continuing forward, leaped nimbly from rock to rock, quickly crossing the stream of magma to the first skeletal archer. Harold let loose a spell, a bolt of acid which arced over the halfling’s head and smashed into another skeleton’s rib cage. Not far away from the mage, Clotor let out a roar followed by a massive belch of acid which burned through the skeletons facing her. On the other side, Scourage danced and weaved through the rusted swords and maces of the skeletal forces.

Cutting through the skeleton’s bow string, Nedda followed up with a kick to the back of the archer’s legs and shoved the skeleton off the rock landing and into the burning lava. An arrow clattered off the stones next to her and once again the halfling was off, making her way across the lave river towards another archer. With most of the skeletons focusing on Nedda, Harold turned his attention towards the guards across the river, who were arcing crossbow bolts across the room at him. Conjuring up a ball of fire in his hands, Harold sent the mass of flame back across in response, catching both dwarves and a pair of skeletons in the fiery blast.

With most of the skeletons on their side of the river handily defeated, Scourage left Clotor to mop up the rest. The tiefling bounded across the rocks, taking running leaps across the lava to cross it in record time. Under cover of Harold’s spells, Scourage passed the halfling as she dumped another skeleton to the ground and leaped to the far bank, closing quickly with the injured dwarven guards, Nedda followed close behind.

Before long, the battle was done. Scourage and Nedda cleaned their blades, standing over the fallen dwarves, as they waited for Harold and Clotor to pick their way across the lava flow. “We must be on the right track.” Clotor observed, poking at one of the bodies with her foot.

The party headed out again, finishing up their travel for another day. They made camp once again in the tunnels, taking the time to clean their wounds and prepare their weapons for, what they hoped, would be their final battle the next day. Rising early again after another fitful, uncomfortable sleep on the rocks, the party headed out.

It didn’t take long for the party to reach the end of their journey. The tunnel rounded a bend and, at the far end, a black, marble wall with a massive iron gate capped the tunnel. Marble pillars lined the corridor leading up to the entrance and magical braziers cast a pale blue glow over the tunnel. Standing outside the gates, almost a dozen Kor’Kron guards stood by.

As the party came to a stop, the captain of the guard stepped forward, “Halt! Turn back now and Lord Swordsteel will forget your transgressions. There is nothing you can do, the ritual has already begun. Soon the Kor’Krons will gain the power necessary to return the dwarves to their former glory!”

“Zandak Swordsteel and his entourage are in there? Then you better get out of my way.” Clotor growled, then charged forward. The dwarves barely got a chance to move forward to meet the charge when the dragonborn smashed into them. Harold’s fireball arced past the paladin’s shoulder, crashing into the dwarven archers at the rear of the group. Scourage and Nedda scrambled after her, moving to prevent the warrior from being surrounded.

The battle was lightning quick and equally brutal. In her rage, Clotor tore through rank after rank of the dwarven guard. In the midst of the ferocious battle, Scourage called out orders, expertly guiding the flow of combat despite the chaos. He and Nedda slipped through the dwarven ranks, pulling them out of their defensive positions leaving them vulnerable to a lightning quick stab of Nedda’s daggers or to be run through by Scourage’s swords.

Though the battle went worse for the dwarves, the sheer ferocity of the battle ensured the party took their wounds as well. As the final guard fell before their swords, Harold was barely able to delay Clotor long enough for them to catch their breath and to bandage their most pressing wounds. As soon as they were taken care of, the dragonborn pressed forward, pushing the iron doors inwards with the other three at her back.

We ended a bit early so that Nedda could be there. Next time, on D&D: Elderyn, the thrilling conclusion!


D&D: Elderyn – Act 3: Session 13


Clotor was the first to speak, she turned to the guides, “Is this where Zandak went? Is he in here?” They nodded, yes. “Then we follow them.”

“I will not take my men in there. I will not enter Morodania. You are fools to enter there.” Khor Ironshard’s voice had not regained any of it’s previous confidence.

“You would abandon us here?” Scourage’s voice was filled with distain. “Maglynn Ironshard spoke better of you than that.”

“Yes… Well, Maglynn did not foresee Morodania. I will ask my men for… Volunteers. If any of these men here wish to travel with you, that is their own fate. You will find none here.” Khor turned towards his men, holding his arms out from his sides as though daring any to volunteer.

From one side of the room, a rustling of armor could be heard. One stocky dwarf pushed his way to the front. “I, Leaf Ironguard of Clan Ironguard will see them through the gates of Morodania.”

This week, the nephew of one of my players was in town and was interested in playing for a session. The bulk of this adventure was written in response to that to incorporate a new character, briefly, into the adventure. I made use of the Dwarf Fighter pre-generated character sheet, conveniently one of the left over character sheets out of the six the party had originally chosen their characters from. He was advanced to level three to match them and I gave him a few magical items to balance him out with the rest of the players. We did a quick orientation and hammered out a few basic character details in an accelerated version of character creation I did with the party, then got down to playing.

Khor could do little to conceal his surprised expression. Glancing around, he turned back to the party. “Very well, you have your guard. May the Pragons watch over you… Though I suspect not even they set foot in that blasted place.” Khor turned away and headed back into the tunnels, leading his guards away and leaving the party on their own in the tunnel.

The four greeted their new companion, then turned and pushed upon the black iron doors. Beyond was a cave like tunnel that led deep under ground. Following it down, it ended in a round chamber with a magic circle carved into the floor of the room. Surrounding the circle were numerous Dwarven runes. With Leaf’s help deciphering the old Dwarven language, Harold determined that the circle was in fact a magical portal that would transport them to another, matching portal somewhe far away. To activate it, the user had but to stand on the portal and speak aloud their darkest secret about themselves. The secret would become known to the one who created the portal.

This was another event blatantly ripped from a D&D webcast, this time from the PAX 2011Penny-Arcade game.

The party stood in silence. Finally, Scourage seized the initiative, stepping forward onto the portal. “I once had a half brother… He stole something from me as a child and I… In my anger… Killed him.” In a flash of red light, Scourage disappeared.

Taking a deep breath, Clotor stepped forward. “When I was young, still uncontrolled and more beast than woman… I snuck into Father Opdrop’s study and I stole something from him…” She waited expectantly, but the flash taking him away did not come. She sighed deeply. “I ate one of his toes. That’s why he walked with a limp.” There was a flash and she disappeared.

Taking his stand on the portal, Harold said, “When I was a young man, I was forced to study Acadamia by my father instead of ballet like I wanted when he found out I preferred… Petite males…” There was a flash and he was gone.

Nedda cast a sidelong glance at Leaf. “Before I left with Harold to go adventuring, I had a secret dog. He was a runt, a stray. I kept him in the woods outside my school, because we weren’t allowed pets inside. When we left… I knew I couldn’t take him with me and I knew he wouldn’t live without me… I didn’t want him to suffer, so I killed him.”

Left alone in the room, Leaf stepped forward onto the portal. “I carry an amulet of my father’s, bearing a crossed sword and hammer. I took it from him after he died… He died because I was not there at his back to protect him during a goblin attack. I failed my father.”

Leaf felt vertigo in the pit of his stomach, the feeling of twisting through the air over a great distance. As it settled, he looked up and saw a chamber very similar to the one he had just stood in, only the other four adventurers now stood around the room, checking it’s walls. Assembling, they head out the tunnel down deeper underground to another set of black iron doors. Pushing them open, the tunnel beyond was hewn out of the very stone. Molten lava dripped through cracks in the wall, running in small rivers along or out cracks in the floor.

Travelling miles through the underground tunnels, they suddenly could hear the sounds of battle and clashing steel echoing through the tunnels. Hurrying forward, the came out in a tunnel that narrowed to a choke point. A single dwarf warrior stood in the tunnel entrance, fighting back a small army of skeletons. The party rushed forward to his aide, drawing their weapons as they charged.

Between the six of them, they made short work of the skeletons. Leaf rushed to the old dwarfs side but, even as he reached him, the dwarf stiffened and was bathed in golden light. As the light faded, his wounds were healed and his vigor returned to his old face. The dwarf squared his shoulders and turned to them, his battle scarred axe still glittered as though it was new, his silver shield glissened, the crossed sword and hammer emblazoned on it caught Leaf’s eyes. “Thank you for your assistance, brave heroes. I am Thorak Ironguard.”

“Thorak Ironguard? Paragon of Clan Ironguard!? We believed you lost over three hundred years ago. Shortly after you were granted Paragon status for your actions defeating an army of goblins at the Citadel of Shaz’Kar.” Leaf bowed his head to the Paragon of his clan.

“Three hundred years? Has it been that long already? I lose track of time in this… Place.”

“How is it you are still here after all this time?” Herold asked.

“I came here some years ago… Three hundred you say? I came here with a band of adventureres; the great Elven ranger Trillian Longarrow, the mighty paladin Shath Helath and the wise wizard Morgan of Feidol. We came to battle the Avatar of Evil Tiamat. Before the avatar was defeated, he opened many portals in the underground tunnels. We slew the dragon and retreated out, but we could not allow the evil contained herein to ever access the surface. I made a deal with my god, Moradin. In exchange for eternal life and strength, I promised to stand vigil at the entrance to these tunnels to safeguardthesurfaceuntil my life was no longer needed. Through his divine will, I have stood watch here all these many years.

“Over these many years, many adventurers have come and gone. Many more have come than have gone… It becomes difficult to keep them all straight, to remember who came just yesterday and who left a hundred years ago. They come to seek their fates, to test their skills in the tunnels and to seek their fortunes.”

“Was one of these men a dwarf named Zandak Swordsteel?” Clotor interrupted.

The old dwarf turned to the dragon born, “Swordsteel… Yes… I remember a man by that name. He visited here…yesterday? Or was it a year ago? I cannot remember time so clearly these days. But I do remember where he went. I could point you after him.”

“Then do so. We must find him immediately.” Clotor was buzzing with anticipation.

“Calm yourself young warriors. Over the years, many adventurers have explored the depths of these tunnels and closed many portals that Tiamat opened. I sense that my service here is nearing and end. I will direct you to the last remaining portal. Go there and close it, prove to me that you are true warriors. Do this for me, relieve me of my burden, and I will tell you what you wish to know.”

Following the Paragon’s directions, the party delved deeper into the depths of the tunnels. After many hours of walking, they came upon a large chamber. At the center, brimming with energy, a portal was projected from a pedestal. A small army of undead skeletons wandered the open area, waiting to assemble enough forces to advance on the dwarf again.

“Ready?” Scourage asked. “Clotor and Leaf, take point.” Following the two warriors down, the other three readied their weapons. The first skeleton turned, it’s bones scraping, and raised a mace above it’s head, jaw open in a non existent war cry, before Leaf’s battle axe cut through it. Harolds spells flew out while Nedda and Scourage’s bolts lanced out and into targets, the warriors led the charge, cutting a swath towards the portal. As they neared it, the pedestal supporting the portal began lashing out with angry red lances of energy. One seared across Leaf’s body, leaving a raised welt beneath his armor.

Summoning his magical energies, using Clotor as a shield to get in close, Herold unleashed a fireball that consumed the pedestal and the undead just exiting the portal. As the firre cleared, the pedestal fizzled and cracked and the portal collapsed. With the steady stream of reinforcements cut off, the remaining skeletons were easily and quickly put down.

Sifting through the remains of the pedestal, Harold picked up a shard of the rod that maintained the portal. Inspecting it, Harold realized he could use the rod to channel old energies and enhance his spells. Pocketing the rod for later, the party returned to the dwarf.

At the tunnel where they left him, they found the Dwarven Paragon. In the last few hours, he seemed to have grown older, more frail. His weapons and armor did not glint the way they used to, appearing more worn and used than they had before. The dwarf settled against the wall, a slight stoop in his back.

As they approached, his old, lined face broke into a smile, “You have done it, brave warriors. Truly, you are warriors of legend. You have released me from my contract with Moradin. I will tell you what you seek.” Briefly, he outlined the route Zandash Swordsteel had taken, pointing them down a nearby tunnel. Clotor was off before the dwarf had finished his sentence.

Leaf knelt next to the old man. “Sir, what is it that we can do for you, for a man of your lineage? Where will you go?”

“I think I will return to the dwarves. Yes, I would like to see the citadel one last time before I pass.” The old man nodded, more to himself than anyone else.

“Then I will guide and protect you, Thorak Ironguard.” He turned to the others, “Forgive me, but I must see him home. It is only fitting given a man of his honor. Good luck in your quest.” The party bid their fairwells, then turned and walked down the tunnel after Clotor. Leaf watched them go for a moment, then turned and took the old warrior by the arm, leading him out of the caves.


D&D: Elderyn – Act 2: Session 12


As the party returns to the entrance hall, they’re suddenly aware of a tremor in the stones beneath their feet. With each passing moment, the strength of the tremors grew. Making quickly for the door, the first sign of the coming danger emerged as large stones were pushed out of the entrance hall roof and fell to the ground below behind them. Attracted by the deafening blows of the iron war drums in the burial chamber, the Kruthik returned to the Citadel of Kaga’Chik.

Out in the hallway they sprinted for the entrance. More of the creatures burrowed into the hallway around them, seeking new flesh. As they fled out across the bridge leading away from the burial chambers, their gaze looked out over the citadel where hundreds of the creatures, large and small, burrowed from the walls and crossed the grounds towards the hammering blows they had sensed from miles away through the rock.

The escape was another challenge. If the players had utterly failed it, there was a battle with the Kruthik planned, not that it came up. In retrospect, this would have been an excellent opportunity to change up combat to have a running escape against a large or limitless horde of creatures.

Fleeing back into the tunnels, the party was fortunate to avoid the surge of Kruthik that sought out their disturbance. Once safely into the deep tunnels again, the party retraced their steps to Erberek. Just as their journey to Kaga’Chik, their travel took the days.

As they entered a familiar, burned out outpost, just outside of Erberek, Scourage felt the small dark hairs on the back of his neck begin to prickle, a sensation that had served him many times in the years before. He placed his hand on the hilt of his sword as their progress slowed through the outpost. It was only a rustle of stones that gave away the ambush before a flurry of crossbow bolts arced out of the ruins.

“Ambush!” Scourage cried. Dwarven war cries joined the fray as a squad of Erverek City Guards broke from behind a half collapsed wall and charged the party. Clotor met their cries and charged headlong, bending the horns of her helm forward and piercing the first guards shoulder as she crashed into him. Nedda pulled her crossbow from her belt and fired it with a thundering snap at one of the crossbowmen arrayed in the ruins. Harold unleashed a dazzling burst of arcane missiles from his hands, toppling one of the dwarves out of a second story window.

Scourage unleashed two quick shots from his crossbow, then dropped it to the ground and drew his longsword, crackling with electric energy, as the guards reached melee range. He and Clotor cut through the first rank of guards with a series of swift strikes. As Clotor cut down one of the guards, Scourage slipped into the middle of the group and swung his sword at the guard captain at the rear. He uttererd the arcane rune carved into the sword’s hilt, unlocking it’s energies which arced out from the guard captain to the nearest two dwarves, shocking and burning them where they stood.

As quickly as the ambush began, the party cut them down. Continuing their journey, the party emerges once again in the great Citadel of Erberek. Returning quickly to the merchant district and the Hammersmith’s political office. As they enter, Maglynn Ironshard is in deep conversation with her planning committee. She turns half a glance their way and then do a double take before standing with a half smile. “Did you find it? Do you have the proof with you?”

Entering the room, Scourage produced both the seal and the parchment, laying them on the table. “We found them, but we were also found by a contingent of city guard outside the city. Obviously the Kor’Krons are on to your play.”

“That may be,” Maglynn answered confidently. “They rare obviously scared and with these we now have the upper hand. You requested my aid, you will have it. Once this election is secured, we will have the full resources of the government at our disposal. We will pay for rooms at the inn for the next few days. We have much to do, please, leave us to our tasks.”

Reluctantly, the four nodded and followed an errand boy back to the inn with enough gold to cover several nights stay. Four days passed before the errand boy again appeared at their door, this time all smiles. “Sirs, the election is finished. The Hammersmiths have won! Long live the Hammersmiths! Maglynn Ironshard wishes to see you immediately at her father’s estate.” Just as they had done four days prior, the party again followed the errand boy to Maglynn.

At the Ironshard estate, servants were busy scurrying everywhere packing and moving items for the family’s move to the capital. They found Maglynn in her fathers study, personally packing the belongings she will need as the High Chancellor of Erberek. “Greetings!” Maglynn was all smiles. “I trust you have heard the good news.”

“We have,” Harold answered. “Congratulations on your election.”

“Thank you. I could not have done it without your help. You have broken the Kor’Krons stranglehold on Erberek. As promised, I have been looking into the previous administrations involvement at Liam’s Point and trying to track down this artifact you believe has come to the city. The captain of the guard proved unhelpful to our cause, so I appointed a new captain with more… Sympathetic views. My brother, Khor Ironshard.

“I have had my brother digging through the old captain’s records. The prior chancellor, Zandak Swordsteel, managed to destroy most of his records prior to our taking office, but the captain was not so thorough. It seems Zandak and his representatives travelled all over Elderyn, including a recent trip to Liam’s Point. It appears they were seeking some sort of tools, much like the dagger you say they found. It also appears they took several long trips into the Deep Roads, trips forbidden for others to make by the previous administration. A trip Zandak has made in as recently as the last day, taking a contingent of his personal guards, his top aides and even a few humans with him into the deep roads.

“We don’t know exactly what he is up to or where he was going. However, my brother has been very persuasive with a few of Zandak’s trusted guardsman, and they have agreed to escort you into the deep roads and take you as far as they can along Zandak Swordsteel’s route. My brother and a contingent of his trusted guards will escort you along the way. I pray to the Paragons that you find what you are looking for and find a way to stop Zandak from whatever it is he is planning. My brother is outside waiting for you now. Travel safely.”

The four bowed their heads and then left the manor. Outside, they found Khor Ironshard with a small detachment of some twenty guards. “Greetings my friends! These dirty swine here have agreed to lead us on a grand adventure. I trust you are ready to depart?”

The group travelled for several days through the deep roads. As they progressed, the pair of guards grew more visibly agitated and fearful. Nedda sidled up beside one and attempted to find out more about where they were going and what it was that made them so fearful. They muttered something about Mordania.

Approaching Khor Ironshard about it, the captain laughed at the thought. “Morodania? Superstition. Nonsense. It is… Dwarven underworld. Dwarven hell. It does not exist. They a just trying to scare you. Fear not. We dwarves will protect you.”

After another day of travel, the tunnel ended at a pair of massive, black iron doors adorned with rubies and carved with glowing Dwarven runes. Harold approaches the doors and can readily tell that the runes are a simple magical trick designed to induce a glowing aura in the doors’ writing. A rise in the dwarves muttering behind him drew the wizard’s attention. The other guards now sharered the concerned looks of their guides.

“Blessed Paragons…” Khor Ironshard’s voice was breathless. “The Gates of Morodania… The Gates of Hell.”


D&D: Elderyn – Act 2: Session 11


Grasping one set of chains outside the massive doors, Clotor began pulling the thick links through the pulley system that opened and closed the doors. Through an incredible feat of dwarven engineering, the massive stone doors began to scrape open with minimal effort. In short order, the tomb hallway was open and they crept carefully inside.

As they stepped inside, braziers on either side of the hallway began to ignite with the same enchanted light they turned on in the dwarven tunnels. Doors lined both sides of the hallway as far as the eye could see. Proceeding down the hallway, they checked each door for the markings of Clan Bronze Spear. Finally, they came upon the Paragon’s final burial place.

Clotor grabbed the chains outside the door and started cranking the great doors open. As the massive doors swung open to the Paragon’s tomb, braziers inside the dark tomb began to illuminate the interior. Stepping inside the long entrance hall, they look around the room. Painted along the walls, murals detail the many accomplishments of Paragon Bronze Spear. From the paintings, it appears the Paragon was a renowned smith. His weapons and armor were depicted as arming many Dwarven champions. More notably, he is shown building an army of automotons to fight at the dwarves sides, similar to the dog like constructs Nedda and Clotor encountered just a week prior in Erberek.

Ominously, lining the edge of the room, there are sixteen metal statues of Dwarven Warriors that look strikingly similar to the automotons in the murals. At the far side of the room, a large set of double doors with the image of the Dwarven Paragon carved into it. On both sides of the room, smaller doors lead out of the main chamber. Unlike the entrance, no chains or handles could be seen to open the doors with.

At the center of the room, a raised platform with a pedestal finally drew their attention. Approaching cautiously, the find the pedestal holds a copper sphere covered in Dwarven runes. After a few minutes of inspecting it and cautious poking at it, Harold determines that it’s a sort of Dwarven puzzle, likely one that will open the nearby doors if solved. He and Nedda begin spinning and rotatinig the sphere, attempting to lock each of the runes into the appropriate spot.

As the first two runes are locked into the correct position, they begin to glow with a soft blue light. Confidently, Nedda locks another rune into place, but is met with an angry red glow. Harold slaps her hand away, “No! That was the wrong position, be careful!” As though to punctuate his words, the sound of metal grinding could be heard around the room. Scourage and Clotor drew their weapons and turned as the metal statues around the room came to life and stepped down off their pedestals.

“Keep going with that, we’ll deal with them!” Scourage shouted. As the automatons approached, he and Clotor rushed forward to meet them. The armored hides of the constructs prooved difficult to overcome, but their slow, ponderous movements also made them easy to move around. Finally, Clotor’s sword found a hole in one of the constructs defenses and punctured it’s mechanical innards. The sound of grinding metal greeted her ears as it came to a stop.

In my experience designing combat encounters, these kind of combined challenge/combat encounters are among my favorite to create. This one was pretty simple, with a wave of bad guys being thrown against the players after enough failures on the challenge, they could short cut the combat by completing the challenge or ignore the challenge and focus on the fight. In the future, I’d like to play around with more complex challenges that force the players to move around the battlefield during combat.

On the other side of the room, Scourage was not having as much luck and the sheer number of constructs threatened to overwhelm him. Harold locked a third rune into place, then stepped away from the pedestal leaving Nedda to continue. The wizard moved to Scourage’s aid, unleashing a blast of flame from his hands which cooked several of the constructs. Clotor drove her weapon into one then turned and belched acid from her mouth onto a second. Nedda let out a brief cheer as she locked a forth rune into place, halfway through the puzzle.

Once Scourage had his side of the chamber under control, Herald returned to the puzzle and continued working rough it with Nedda. The paladin and warlord continued to strike down constructs as the other two lock in two more runes.

Grabbing the haft of an axe as it is swung towards her, Clotor rammed her sword through the constructs chest as Nedda locked in the eighth and final rune. The runes glow hot blue and the few remaining constructs come to a halt. Not one to let a threat remain, Clotor walked through the remaining machines, cutting and shredding the gears to disable the creatures.

Exploring the side doors first, the part finds that both doors lead up a flight of stairs to separate mass burial rooms. Dozens of sarcophaguses lined each of the walls with the names of the Dwarven family members that made up the founding members of the Paragon’s new clan. Divided into families, each group of sarcophaguses carries a placard describing the family’s connection to the Paragon.

Finally, they find the inscription for the Hammersmiths. Scourage pulls charcoal and parchment from his pack and proceeds to make a copy of the inscription. Stowing away safely, they head back down to the entry hall.

Heading through the doors at the far end of the room, the party finds the tomb proper of Paragon Bronze Spear. The smaller room on the other side of the doors is as immaculately decorated as the other room. Just inside of the room, four columns support the roof, each with a metal dwarf statue fused into them. The dwarf statues hold large warhammers over their heads with iron wardrums before them. At the far end of the room, a series of steps lead up to a raised platform. On the pedestal, a large metal dragon statue clutches a metal sarcophagus in it’s claws. The sarcophagus, shaped after a Dwarven warrior, clutches the Seal of Clan Bronze Spear to it’s chest.

After pausing at the door, Nedda creeps into the room. Step by step, she deeps by the Dwarven drums and up the steps towards the sarcophagus. As she reaches the second step, however, Dwarven runes carved into the stairs suddenly flare red. The dragon statue behind the sarcophagus begins moving, the sounds of scraping metal filled the chamber. As Nedda began backing down the stairs and out of the room, a thundering bang reverberated through the room. Turning, she saw one of the Dwarven statues slowly raising its warhammer after smashing it down on the iron drum.

The four pounding iron drums was a blatant rip off from the Robot Chicken/D&D webcasts, though it was not as smoothly pulled off in my campaign as the DM in the webcasts, Chris Perkins, managed to do.

As Nedda retreats down off the stairs and into the center of the room, the dragon construct crawls down off it’s perch, it’s body slithering like a serpent. A second Dwarven drum goes off as the statue swings it’s warhammer down with a thundering smash, this time much closer to the half elf. The thundering sound staggered Neda, stunning her momentarily as the dragon crawls down towards her, snapping it’s jaws.

Rushing to her aid, Clotor leads the charge into the room. The dragonorn lunged forward with her longsword, incepting the dragon construct as it lunged for the rogue. As she drive the sword into it’s side, a third drum went off with a thundering crash. Scourage charged in to help the Paladin while Harold stood in the doorway flinging spells.

Before the fourth drum sounded, Clotor and Scourage steered the dragon construct away to a safe distance. The tow kept the constructs attention as they stabbed and moved. Nedda slinked between them and the statues, diving in with her daggers at it’s exposed flanks. Quickly, they figured out a a routine, slashing at the construct and dodging to the side to lead it away from the thundering drums.

The dragon construct began to slow as it’s wounds took their toll. Finally, Harold unleashed a bolt of acid from his hands. The blast of acid hit the dragons exposed core and dissolved it’s sensitive innards. The dragon finally came to a stop, collapsing to the ground. As the construct died, the drumming came to a stop as well.

Climbing the steps, Scourage retrieves the seal from the sarcophagus’s hands while the others dig through the treasures left in the room as tribute to the Paragon. Pocketing the gems and gold, the party finds several masterfully crafted pieces of armor left in tribute, among them a set of legendary Curseforged Chainmail created by Tiefling smiths, heavy Black Iron Plate Armor cavorts by the elite Dwarven Warriors of the Paragon’s time and finally a light set of Sunleaf Leather Armor worn by elven rangers.

Scourage claims the Tiefling crafted chain mail while Clotor dons the Black Iron Plate Armor. Though a little large for her, the halfling manages to fit the leather armor to her frame. Clearly pleased with themselves, the three head for the entrance hall.

It wasn’t until I wrote the log that I realized the ridiculousness of a dragonborn wearing a set of plate armor created for short dwarven warriors and a halfling wearing armor crafted for tall elves. I certainly intended for the armor to go to those players, but I didn’t think my flavor text through very well. Fortunately the players didn’t either.


D&D: Elderyn – Act 2: Session 10


In the back room of the Hammersmiths political office, the dwarven political candidate, Maglynn Ironshard, greated the party before getting down to business. “As Marley mentioned, with the election coming up we need to secure our victory. Despite the Kor’Kron’s draconian rule, they have the resources and support to ensure another election win if we don’t do something. Some have questioned the connection between the Ironshards and the Hammersmiths and the greatness we have in our blood. Elections here have become contests of ancestry more than political views. We need to prove our history.”

Pulling down an old, rolled parchment, Maglynn unrolled it on the table so the party could see. “Records of the great Paragons that make up our blood line have been conveniently lost since the Kor’Kron’s took office some thirty years ago. But records still exist in the Citadel of Kaga’Chik, here.” She pointed to a spot on the old parchment, a map of the underground dwarven tunnels and cities. “Kag’Chik served as the communal burial grounds for our revered dead, the dwarven Paragons. You must go there and find the tomb of the Paragon Bronze Spear. Return with the Seal of the Bronze Spears and proof of his lineage and and relation to the Hammersmiths and Clan Ironshard. With that we will secure the election and we will then be able to help you with your quest, help you to find this artifact you believe has come to Erberek.”

If it wasn’t apparent before, the dwarven culture in Erberek was shamelessly ripped off from Dragon Age: Origins, including the use of Paragons as ancestors, the lost underground Deep Roads, etc. This let me knock out prep much more quickly, since I didn’t need to write a bunch of background. I don’t believe any of my players had played the game, so they probably didn’t even notice.

The party agreed to her terms, gathered new supplies and then set off for the undercity. Maglynn’s men had told them that the old tunnels had been closed off after the other dwarven citadels had been lost thousands of years ago, but there was an entrance that had been accidentally reopened by the classless in the lower caves. No living dwarves knew what dangers still lay in wait in the old cities, only that their ancestors had abandoned them and fled before some terrible force.

Traveling through the dark tunnels, illuminated only by torch light, Clotor mused on the stories of Shath Helath, remembering that Father Opdrop’s book made mention of Shath Helath’s visit to the dwarven lands. While they made camp that day, she flipped through the old book until she found the page and read it aloud to the rest of the party.

The story told of Shath Helath’s visit to the very Citadel of Kaga’Chik. He came to celebrate the death of an old friend he had met in his travels, a dwarven hero who was to be honored as a Paragon. Shath Helath came and celebrated his friend’s life for several weeks, enjoying the then famous hospitality of the dwarves, their delcious feasts for the dead and competing in their games and competitions held for the honored dead. At the end of the celebration, the dwarves gave Shath Helath a silver dagger from the dwarven hero’s own arsenal. The dragonborn greatly respected the gift and valued it, keeping it with him until the end of his days.

Traveling a second day, Harold began to wonder about the magical lamps lining the halls. None seemed to function any more, but neither did they show signs of conventional fuel having been used and they bore magical runes. Tracing the magical lay lines, he was eventually able to find a secret room that housed a power crystal. Completing a restorative ritual, Harold was able to recharge the magic crystals, repowering the light network in the section of tunnels they traveled. The added light made travel faster and they closed quickly with their destination.

This was created entirely on the fly at the prodding of my players. I described the magical brazers as setting fluff, but the players were intrigued enough to investigate further, thinking that they might be able to save themselves a bit of time and work traveling underground. The D&D challenge system made it easy to quickly whip something together on the fly, using a guesstimated Difficulty Check and complexity testing skills that seemed reasonable.

On the third day of travel, the party entered tunnels which showed much more significant signs of damage and wear. In places, the walls were partially collapsed in and the massive paving stones lining the floor had been pushed or smashed aside from underneath. Moving forward cautiously, they hear scratching sounds seemingly coming from the walls themselves. As they stop, the exposed dirt in the walls and floor began to shudder and move as creatures burrowed out of the ground and into the hall.

The creatures were insect like, but as big as horses. Hard, chitinous armor protected their body and came to sharp digging points at the ends of their limbs. Harold recognized the creatures immediately as the Kruthik, an ancient, burrowing creature said to live in only the deepest caves and hunting only by sound. With an angry hiss, the creatures attacked.

Clotor bellowed as she charged forward to meet the largest of the creatures while Scorage fell to the rear to protect the party from those that had surrounded them. As Harold unleashed a blast of acid from his hands, the ground shook next to him and Nedda. A second creature tore out of the ground before the wizard, but Nedda’s blades flew sharp and fast as she tore into the creature.

Just as quickly as it began, the creatures were dead and, with the exception of their heavy breathing, silence returned to the tunnels. Once their wounds are dressed, Harold tells the party what he knows of the Kruthik. Hive like, insect creatures from deep in the earth, he suspects they are at least some of the Creatures of the Deep that dwarven legend speak of as driving the dwarves from many of their underground cities over the last thousand years.

Continuing on carefully, they finally find the grand entrance to the Citadel of Kaga’Chik. The large, underground cavern the city is built into has fallen into disrepair over the hundreds of years since dwarves last tread there, but the grandeur and majesty of the old city is not lost on them. Signs of the Kruthik, however, are everywhere. More disturbingly, some very large burrowed holes exist in the old rock showing signs of incredibly large creatures attacking the city. Fortunately, there are few signs of any actual Kruthik still hanging around.

We never explored the back story of what had gone on with the ancient Dwarven Citadels, but my notion had been that the dwarves had been slowly pushed out of them over the last thousand years or so by various creatures. Obviously, the Kruthik had been the attackers in the Citadel of Kaga’Chik, though the forces they were encountering now were much smaller remnants of the creatures that had attacked them a few hundred years prior.

As they wind their way through the city, they eventually approach a long, stone bridge that leads to massive stone doors, the burial hall of the Paragons. Clicking along outside the doors, a small group of Kruthik pick through the moss and growth that has crept over the stone work, looking for edibles. Sneaking as close as they dare, the party springs a surprise attack. Nedda and Scourage let loose a volley from their crossbows while Harold conjures a maelstrom of magic. Clotor positions herself in the center of the bridge, ready to meet the Kruthik charge head on.

One of the insectoid creatures went down under the withering fire before it could even turn. A second fell to the stones as it charged towards Clotor. As the third finally reached her, Clotor belched a blast of acid that engulfed several of the creatures and then side stepped and drove her longsword through the leading Kruthik.

With ease, the party eliminated the remaining creatures. Catching their breath, they gazed up at the large, intricately carved, stone doors that marked the burial chambers.


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