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Creepy Crawly Dungeon Crawl, part 6

The PCs continue the search and stumble upon an earth elemental riding a giant wasp. The earth elemental, who is really the mite druid wildshaped into elemental form, is wrangling a wasp swarm. All 3 attack the PCs and a long battle ensues. Eventually, the PCs are able to kill the giant wasp and the wasp swarm but the mite druid’s defense are just too good. After he runs out of offensive spells, the mite decides to retreat and disappears, never to be seen again.

The PCs discover the druid’s lair in a nearby cavern. In it are several pits; in the pits are the two human children and an invisible creature that turns out to be a leprechaun. The leprechaun regales the PCs with his tale.

The PCs return to the pech’s mine and take the mithral ore and a giant diamond they found. However, as they are leaving the area, The Man in the Earth rises from the ground to confront them. The odd 3-armed, 3-legged, 3-eyed creature threatens to attack them if they don’t leave the diamond behind. Out of healing and with Deacon dead, the PCs decide that discretion is the better part of valor and relinquish the gem. The creature allows them to keep the mithral ore and leave unmolested.

Although the human children and leprechaun are malnourished, the children are alive and well when returned to their parents. Ahren listens closely to the PC’s tale as the merchant throws the PCs a feast to celebrate their rescue of his child. Meanwhile, arrangements are made for the raising of Deacon Ash from the dead.

The next day, Cazamir the high priest of Zilchus, with funds donated by the merchant, uses a diamond to raise Deacon Ash from the dead. Ahren proclaims the PCs heroes and bestows upon them the Order of the Copper Crescent.

In-game time elapsed this session: 48 hours
Total in-game time elapsed: 25 days and 20.4 hours

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The Journey to Artonsbrueck

Two weeks after the PCs rescued the noblemens’ children, Ahren asked the PCs for help escorting a merchant to the river town of Artonsbrueck. While such a menial task would normally be beneath those of the PCs’ stature, Ahren explains that the city is experiencing a shortage of caravan guards and that the city’s soldiers can’t fill in due to concerns about strange occurrences happening north of the city. As a result, Ahren asks the PCs to escort the Bakluni merchant Amira to Artonsbrueck and back. The PCs agree, hoping to earn more favors from Ahren.

The next morning they head to the Northhaven Tavern where they meet Amira. An attractive middle-aged Bakluni woman, Amira’s no-nonsense attitude and organizational skills quickly have her wagon loaded, horses in their traces, and the group on the road south.

Despite the road being fairly well-patrolled, the group was attacked as they slept after their first night on the road by a group of orcs led by a human archer named Zarishen. After defeating the orcs and their leader, the PCs were surprised to learn that they, not Amira, were the bandits’ targets for Zarishen possessed a note from someone known as The Eye which instructed the bandit to kill the PCs and included their descriptions.

After securing their prisoner, the human leader, the group continued to Artonsbrueck, arriving without further incident. Once there, the PCs quickly met the town’s military leader, Captain Holt, and dropped off their prisoner so that he could be tried for banditry. The PCs then spent the remainder of the day exploring the small trading town. During their explorations, they met Argus Pieper, owner of the Shallow Draft, and enjoyed some entertainment in said tavern. However, the evening’s entertainment wasn’t very entertaining as the comedian, a halfling of sharp wit named Kormick, heckled his own audience.

After the PCs had retired to their rooms, Lireal and Deacon Ash both decided to go on midnight strolls. While Deacon Ash enjoyed a peaceful walk, Lireal watched a man walk off the end of a pier, almost as if he were sleep-walking or attempting to commit suicide. When Lireal jumped into the water to save the man, she was attacked by a formerly invisible imp. Alone in the water, only Lireal’s cries for help saved her from drowning as a group of Rhennee from a nearby barge come to her aid. Unfortunately, the unknown man drowned, his body later recovered. Examination revealed the man, the town’s jailer, had been stung by the imp, the poison making him too weak to swim. Upon her return to the PCs’ rooms, Lireal received a stern lecturing from the other members of the party about wandering off alone.

When Captain Holt investigated further, he discovered that the prisoner, Zarishen, had escaped. The next morning, Holt enlisted the PCs’ aid in an attempt to locate the missing prisoner. Deacon Ash’s tracking skills led to the realization that Zarishen had fled to the home of Tyderius, a man who was knew to the town. When Captain Holt and the PCs confronted Tyderius at his home, Tyderius slammed the door in their faces and spoke mystic words in a variety of odd, planar languages. A moment later, over a dozen man-sized elementals of various types burst out of the house and began attacking the town.

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Elemental Attack on Artonsbrueck

As Tyderius fled back into his house, over a dozen various man-sized elementals escaped from the now-burning house to attack the town. Unable to stop the air or fire elementals due to their speed, the PCs opted to attempt to stop a pair of water elementals. While they were successful, the other elementals quickly spread throughout the town, causing mayhem and destruction.

In this adventure, the players controlled the NPCs as the NPCs attempted to fight various elementals. A brief synopsis follows:

The PCs intercepted the water elementals which were heading for the piers. As a result, the Rhennee barges were safe. The Rhennee, suspicious of evil magicks, stayed on their vessels to protect their cargoes.

A pair of water elementals moved to attack the docks. They were driven off by Bursar Torrin, Teller Rinddel, an ogre, and some town guards. Upon defeating them, Torrin led his men towards the warehouse district where Horst, leader of the town’s militia, was leading the fight against a pair of fire elementals. Horst was joined by Samir, a wealthy land-owner, and town guards. With Torrin’s group’s help, Horst and Samir were able to defeat the fire elementals and prevent the warehouses from being set on fire.

At the same time, a pair of air elementals attacked each of the town’s ballista emplacements. The first was defended by Elrenica, a female elven wizard who lived in the town, Lieutenant Bergeron, a sergeant of the guard, and the ballista’s crew. Alas, the defense of the first ballista dud not go well as the elementals immediately swept several members of the defense team off the walls. Those who survived were unable to return to the fight and watched in horror as, despite of the elementals being slain, the surviving elemental killed the remaining defenders before it pushed the ballista off the wall and fled back towards Tyderius’s house.

The second ballista position fared better. Led by Willum Peiper, the town’s retired constable, Kendrick, a local halfling ranger, and the ballista crew defeated the attacking air elementals with few casualties. Unfortunately, their position allowed them to watch helplessly as the other ballista position was overrun.

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Elemental Attack on Artonsbrueck, pt. 2

Meanwhile, a pair of fire elementals had attacked the Shallow Draft‘s stables. With the stables set ablaze, and the horses and ponies inside panicking in their stalls, a trio of half-orc adventurers, Teesha, G’narl, and L’ron, rescued the equines and defeated the fire elementals just as the PCs arrived to help. Seeing that the stables were on fire but that the horses had been saved, the PCs ran to the tavern’s entrance as they heard the sounds of fighting coming from within.

The tavern, which had been attacked by a pair of earth elementals, was defended by Argus Peiper, Amira, the barmaid, an ogre, Bazin Peiper, and two local sailors. However, during the height of the battle, Bazin turned on his brother and helped the earth elementals to capture Argus. Unfortunately, the PCs arrived too late to stop the earth elementals and Bazin from escaping with their prize, The PCs then ran to the front gate.

At the front gate, the final pair of earth elementals were attempting to sunder the gates. Defending the gates were Captain Holt and the gate guard crew. Unfortunately, they were no match for the earth elementals, which had surprised them by rising out of the ground in their midst. By the time the PCs arrived, Holt and his men were defeated although the PCs were able to stabilize Holt. Despite their efforts, one of the earth elementals fled back into the earth.

With the various battles concluded, the town of Artonsbrueck took stock of the sitation. News of Bazin’s treachery spread quickly. Several of Holt’s men, searching the town’s perimeter walls for breaches, discovered a hidden bolt hole outside the town’s western wall. Horse tracks led south towards the water’s edge.

While the town guard attempted to restore order and determine what happened, Holt asked the PCs to spend the night in the town so that they could investigate the burned remains of Tyderius’s house the next day. While the PCs rested, some of the guards and townsfolk spent the night excavating the ruin that was Tyderius’s burned home and discovered a trap door that led down into a basement.

The next morning, the PCs headed down into Tyderius’s basement.

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The Summoner's Cellar

As the PCs moved down the fire-damaged stairs into the basement, the stairs gave way—making the going treacherous. Upon reaching the bottom landing, the PCs found the cellar door closed.

Upon opening it, the PCs saw that Tyderius had hastily abandoned some sort of summoning chamber/lab. A wooden partition, serving as a portable wall, prevents the PCs from seeing farther into the chamber. However, as they moved into the room, they heard a moaning noise coming from behind the partition. When one of the PCs poked his head around to see what was making the noise, he was surprised to see Argus Peiper lying unconscious on the floor, an air elemental floating in the air above him.

Before the PCs could react, the three missing earth elementals rose out of the earth in the PCs’ midst and a fierce battle ensued. Luckily for the PCs, the elementals had sustained various amounts of damage during their attack on the town and were not at full-strength. While things looked dire for the heroes, the PCs prevailed in the end without any casualties.

As the PCs explored the cellar, they discovered a number of arcane summoning circles etched out on the floor in burnt silver powder. In addition, they discovered a locked chest which they hoped would contain hints as to why Tyderius had summoned so many elementals to attack the town. When they opened it, they triggered one last gift from the summoner: a powerful black tentacles trap.

Although the trap was dangerous, the PCs were able to outlast it and at last they searched the chest. Among other various minor treasures, they discovered a note which read, "The power to summon beings from other planes should not be taken lightly. Before attempting such, be sure to learn the language of the beings you wish to call, otherwise you will not be able to command them. —Cranzer"

With a rescued Argus Peiper in tow, the PCs returned to the surface and briefed Captain Holt on what they had found. They also learned that the town guard had discovered tracks they believed belonging to Bazin near the outside of the western wall. Oddly enough, five more sets of tracks, belonging to three booted humanoids and two equines, appeared out of nowhere. The PCs quickly surmised that Tyderius had used magic to flee the burning building, bringing several accomplices with him—one of whom was most certainly Varishen. The group had then ridden south on magically summoned steeds and somehow had crossed the river.

Captain Holt asked the PCs for help in capturing Tyderius. Due to the casualties inflicted by the elementals and the need to send to Rookroost for reinforcements, Holt was unable to send any of the town’s soldiers after the spellcaster. Holt promised to have his men escort Amira and her wagon back to Rookroost, thereby fulfilling the PCs’ obligation to Ahren. With that, most of the PCs agreed to give chase although Eliab decided instead to stay behind in the town to give care to the wounded and dead. Not wanting him to be alone, Lireal elected to remain behind as well.

The rest of the PCs, given horses by Holt, crossed the river via Argus’s ferry and began tracking Tyderius and his men. Several hours later, a merchant traveling north from Kinemeet reported that a group matching Tyderius’s description had attacked him by casting a black tentacles spell. Luckily for the merchant, the evil wizard had not stuck around to enjoy his handiwork and the merchant’s terrified but stout draft horses had been able to pull themselves and his wagon, with him in it, free of the spell’s area. The merchant advised that he was pretty sure Tyderius and his group were making for the Abandoned Temple of the Herald of Hell.

The PCs continued along the road south, eventually seeing a ruined castle in the distance some ways off the road. Realizing that this was the abandoned temple, they approached cautiously. Just as they could tell that the castle’s upper floors had all been destroyed and collapsed, a bearded devil appeared ahead of them, blocking their way, and demanding a password before allowing them admittance.

Snarling in disdain, the demonic tiefling Deacon Ash refused to discourse with such a creature and a fight ensued. The bearded devil was a vicious fighter and soon Deacon Ash was lying in the dirt, his life’s blood pouring from grievous wounds. Despite their best efforts, the PCs could not staunch the flow and they watched in horror as Deacon Ash perished for the second time.

Despite the loss, the remaining PCs were able to defeat the fiend. Plenty of loose rubble allowed them to build a cairn for Deacon’s body as they searched the area. In the remains of the old keep, they found an old cellar door and a set of large steps leading down into the quiet darkness.

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The Ruined Temple of Hextor, pt. 1

After searching the area and entombing Deacon Ash’s body in a cairn, the PCs who were there, Ephezen, Adeipho, and Kendrick, elected to rest before further exploring the ruined castle. In addition, they hoped that Lireal and Eliab would arrive to help them.

The next morning, Adeipho and crew were relieved when Lireal and Eliab arrived—and they hadn’t arrived alone. Accompanying them was the half-orc druid Grymbull. Enraged by Tyderius’ attack on the town, Grymbull had offered to help Captain Holt deal with the evil spellcaster. Holt then introduced the druidic adventurer to Eliab and Lireal—who then agreed to bring the druid with them on the road south.

After filling them in on Deacon Ash’s death, the group entered the ruins via the large spiral staircase they had discovered. After several revolutions, the stairs opened into a landing room before continuing down into the darkness. If not for the PCs, it would be completely dark. However, it wasn’t silent as the PCs heard a low moaning/babbling noise coming from the open archway ahead.

The PCs moved forth to explore the first dungeon level of the ruins and discovered a huge prison chamber with a dozen 10 ft. square stone cells in it. The babbling grew louder and the PCs were soon having to fight off the effects of two allips’ babbling. As the allips attacked, nine skeletal warriors emerged, one by one, from prison cells and moved to attack. Without Ephezen’s ability to channel positive energy, the PCs would have been in serious trouble—with it, the undead were no match for the party.

The PCs continued to explore the level and discovered several rooms which indicated that the level used to serve as a prison of sorts for the Hextorites. While defeating a strange plant-creature that used spores to induce hallucinations in its prey called a basidirond, one of the PCs fled from the hallucinations into a nearby chamber. In that chamber stood a man-sized, six-armed marble statue of Hextor. As the PC attempted to flee past the statue, it came to life, clubbing the PC. Suddenly the heroes were fighting two foes at once and things looked dire!

With a bit of luck, and after shrugging off the hallucinogenic spores, the PCs were able to defeat both the plant-creature and the animated statue. After tending to their wounded, the PCs continued to explore and discovered a lab devoted to building constructs. Worse, lying on a table in the middle of the room was a man-sized creature fashioned from flesh, leather, and mismatched body parts—a flesh golem! The un-thinking creature rose and attacked but, in the end, proved to be no match for the heroes.

Although there were many rooms left unexplored, the PCs, low on resources, elected to rest to regain their strength. As of yet, they had found no sign of the summoner or his lackeys.

However, their rest was interrupted when the PC on watch was attacked by two hobgoblins, an archer and a swordsman, and their two pets—a leopard and her nearly full-grown cub. After the archer failed to take out the PC quickly, he retreated—leaving his pets and the soldier to guard his back. While the PCs were able to defeat the cats and the solider, the archer was too fleet of foot and his made his escape deeper into the complex down the large spiral stairs.

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The Ruined Temple of Hextor, pt. 2

After resting, the PCs explored the construct crafter’s empty chamber, after being blasted by an order’s wrath trap, and looted it before destroying the valuable lab equipment—the PCs were worried about another construct being crafted while they explored the ruins.

The PCs continued to explore the level—when they discovered and opened the jakes, they were attacked by an otyugh which had taken up residence therein. Covered in filth, the PCs killed the monster.

The PCs eventually found themselves at the end of a hallway standing in front of a sturdy stone door. This was unusual as all the other doors had been wooden. When the PCs opened the door, they were attacked by an ochre jelly which had grown from the moldy food left behind when the Hextorites had been killed by the Iuzians. After accidentally causing the monster to multiply, the PCs eventually figured out how to kill it.

With the level fully explored, the PCs realized their search would have continue in the next level. After making their way back to the stairs, they carefully followed them down. Several revolutions later, they found themselves facing another landing. As the stairs continued downwards, they choose to explore the second level first.

As they exited the stairs, a magical darkness descended and several darkmantles, who had been lurking on the ceiling of the chamber, fell upon the PCs. A furious battle, in which most of the PCs were blind, ensued as the darkmantles, led by a larger-than-normal specimen, attempted to engulf and eat the heroes.

As the noisy battle raged, the PCs could make out the faint sounds of alarm from nearby. Apparently, they had stumbled upon a hobgoblin community! As the PCs finished off the darkmantles and toss their bodies down the spiral stairs, discovering that a cave in blocked their way down, they could hear the approaching boots of a small hobgoblin army.

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The Ruined Temple of Hextor, pt. 3

After defeating the darkmantles, the PCs were attacked by wave after wave of hobgoblins. Included in the waves were an ogre and a handful of leopard.

After a long and furious fight in which a hobgoblin fire-tossing shaman almost incinerated the heroes, less than a dozen hobgoblin soldiers, led by a lone surviving corporal, survived. Retreating, the hobgoblins gathered up their women and children and fled to the surface.

The PCs, themselves grievously wounded from the battle, locked themselves on one of the hobgoblins’ rooms to rest.

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The Ruined Temple of Hextor, pt. 4

After spending the night in the hobgoblin’s room, which appeared to be one of many in a complex that may have formerly housed the Hextorite soldiers, the PCs looted the hobgoblin dead of their weapons and treasure. As they were exploring, a lone hobgoblin came down the spiral stairs; before the PCs could kill him, he had introduced himself and told them that he wanted to help them as he had been exiled by the hobgoblin tribe the PCs had just defeated. When he had seen the refugees streaming from the ruins, he had snuck in to see who or what could have driven his kinfolk away. When Adeipho determined that the hobgoblin was not evil, the PCs decided to let him join them…for now.

As they were exploring, they were ambushed by a dessicated wight who had heard the fight with the hobgoblins.

Although the undead was tough, he died quickly—but not before he could warn his “boss”, a diabolical minotaur. All seemed lost as the brute charged…until he wildly swung and hit the ceiling instead of cleaving a PC’s head off. Seizing their chance, the heroes quickly swarmed the minotaur, felling it.

After exploring the mintaur’s room, which must have been some sort of holding area of prisoners too large or too dangerous for the level above, the PCs discovered a room inhabited by a nearly-naked human male. After asking the PCs for orders and passwords, the man became enraged by the fact that they were clearly not Hextorites. In a shocking display, the man’s form morphed into that of a man-sized underworld dragon! With lightning breath and adamantine claws, the dragon attacked the PCs.

Despite the lightning severely wounding several of the party, and despite the dragon’s fierce melee prowess, the party eventually prevailed. While looting the dragon’s chambers, they were able to surmise that the dragon, too young to be of use to the Hextorites when the Iuzians had attacked, had remained in the ruins awaiting the return of a Hextorite. In the meanwhile, it had conned the hobgoblins, dessicated wight, and infernal minotaur into thinking that it was an avatar of sorts of the Herald of Hell.

With the dragon dead, the level was cleared out the PCs were free to explore a barred iron door which bore goblin words of warning and danger written upon it in chalk. As the bar was on this side of the door, clearly it was meant to keep something out. However, even after removing the bar, the PCs were unable to open the door as it was locked, stuck, and magically held fast. After getting it unlocked and unstuck, the PCs were finally able to break the magical seal as they continued their quest to find Tyderius and his crew. However, when they did so, an intense blast of unholy energy and fire rewarded their efforts.

After surviving the trap, the PCs discovered a large, straight staircase descending deeper into the earth. Upon reaching the bottom of it, they saw a strange creature trapped inside a powerful magic circle. The circle, which was large enough to prevent anyone from passing without going through it, was the prison for a large, brown-furred, bi-pedal, hooved, horned and ape-headed ceustodaemon. It begged, pleaded, cursed, and threatened—all in efforts to get the PCs to free it from its prison where it had been left by the Hextorites many years before. And in talking to it, the PCs realized they were on the right track! The daemon revealed that it had spent many hours recently conversing with Tyderius—who had promised to free it after he had learned all he could from it.

With this information, the PCs grew tired of the creature’s bargains and bellowing and released it from its prison by breaking the magic circle’s perimeter. Immediately the daemon attacked, breathing a scorching cone of fire at the PCs. The creature was very powerful but, in the end, the PCs prevailed.

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The Ruined Temple of Hextor, pt. 5

Despite their many battles, the PCs decided to explore a door they had found in a nearby cavern. Upon opening it, they were greeted by the sight of over a dozen rime-covered humanoid skeletons. Standing behind these was a more impressive skeleton; this one arrayed in the ancient garments of He of Eternal Darkness. As the skeletons attacked, leaping forth through the door and into the PCs’ ranks with undead speed, the chamber crew deathly cold.

Although the skeleton champion cleric was powerful, and although he had more frosty skeletons enter the fight from another room, the PCs were eventually victorious. Sadly, however, Eliab’s cat, Grymbull’s bear, and the new hobgoblin all perished in the fight.

With the fight finished, the PCs took a moment to examine the cleric’s quarters and nearby environs. It was then that they had realized that they had stumbled upon some sort of underground temple to He of Eternal Darkness, one which the Hextorites must have stumbled upon while carving their complex out of the bedrock. Exhausted from the long day of fighting, saddened by their losses, the PCs exited the evil complex and returned to the hobgoblins’ quarters to rest.

The next morning, the PCs returned to the main temple area. The chamber was massive and contained many stone pews. A dark stone alter, fairly reeking of evil mystical energy, stood at the head of the chamber. Behind it, hanging on the wall was a dark tapesty which depicted the odd story of a massive dark dragon rising from the earth.

Although the PCs wished to destroy the altar, they realized it was just too sturdy to damage. When Adeipho turned to examine the tapestry, he was surprised when it came to life and attacked him. He was engulfed by some sort of cloaker!

After killing the cloaker, the PCs saw a door standing where the cloaker had hidden it. When the PCs opened it, they saw a strange zombie-looking undead creature hiding in the darkness of the revealed passageway. Before the PCs could react, the creature waved its hands and three of the four companions (Eliab, Grymbull, and Adeipho) were teleported away against their will. Only Lireal remained behind!

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