Randolpho's Campaigns

Dragonlance Session 4
Wherin the PCs Are Captured by the Forces of Evil

The PCs spent the night in the Temple of Mishakal before pushing on. Thorim argued that Qualinesti would be the logical choice to find a leader of the people, elves being a superior species and all. Surprising racism, coming from a half-elf. It was eventually decided to stop in at the Que Shu village on the way to Qualinesti.

Unfortunately, the PCs discovered cinders and rubble where Que Shu should have been. Examining the tracks, Silentstorm determined that a large army of dragconians, had come through as recently as the previous day. Although there were a few bodies strewn about, most of the Que Shu appeared to have survived the battle. Some ran toward the hills east of the village, but most were loaded onto some carts of some sort which went west.

In addition to rubble and tracks, the PCs encountered three things in the village. On the outskirts of the ruined village as the PCs approached, they noticed a makeshift gallows of a sort that had strung up several humanoids, who were promptly burned to a very crispy crisp. Investigation eventually determined them to be hobgoblin. Next to the gallows was a crude sign that read:

“Behold all who would disobey me. Even my own armies are not immune. Kill when ordered. Captured when ordered. Disobey, and die.

“”/campaign/randolphocampaigns/wikis/Dragonlance%20Verminaard/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”> Lord Verminaard"

Further in, near the rubble of the Chieftain’s home, the PCs encountered another gallows. This did not have a sign, and held only a single humanoid occupant. As they approached they heard a low groan — this one was alive! Rushing closer, they discovered the Chieftain himself, Arrowthorn. He had been strung up by his hands and legs, and a large iron spike had been driven through his stomach, nailing him to the main support pole. The PCs took down the support pole and lowered him to the ground. Goldmoon prayed to Mishakal to heal Arrowthorn, but the spike caused trouble. Silentstorm attempted to pull the iron spike from the wood, which evoked a scream of pain from Arrowthorn. This brought out the third encounter:

A group of draconians appeared from behind a large pile of rubble a hundred yards away. One of them was saying “What’s that ‘Chief’? You want another beating? Well, we can — hey! Intruders! Get them!”

The PCs quickly took out the draconians, but chose to capture one for interrogation. From it, they learned that Verminaard was the Dragon Highlord for the Red Army of Takhisis, and that he had conquered almost all of Abanasinia, save Qualinesti, which was next on the list. They learned that he was part of a rear patrol that had decided to do a little looting. Although they asked and even tortured (to the point of actually cutting off one leg, over Goldmoon’s objection), they failed to learn the origin of the draconian species. They did learn, however, that the slaves were being taken, ultimately, to Pax Tharkas (which Verminaard had already taken) to work in the iron mines there.

When the PCs returned to Arrowthorn, they found him already dead. They arranged for a funeral pyre for the Chieftain and those dead they found in the village, then pushed onward. They chose to follow the wagon tracks along the road west toward Que Kiri and eventually Solace. Before they left, they strung the draconian upside down in the gallows that had previously held Arrowthorn.

When the PCs reached Que Kiri, they found a similar scene to that of Que Shu. The tracks they were following went around the village, following an older set of tracks that left from the village west toward Solace. The PCs pushed further to the outskirts of Solace.

Hiding in a copse of woods on the other side of some farmland east of Solace, the PCs observed the city proper. Very quickly they ascertained that it was an occupied town; the dragon armies had apparently chosen Solace, a crossroads in Abanasinia, as a base of operation for their armies. Parked in neat rows in the harvested fields outside of town were dozens of large wagons bearing large steel cages.

Silentstorm changed shape into a raven and flew around the town to scout the area. He learned that although the dragonarmies (several thousand strong) had occupied the town, the townspeople themselves were apparently free (for the most part) to go about their daily lives, which consisted chiefly of servicing the dragon army.

Some were even paid.

Every one of the beautiful Valenwood trees for which Solace was famous had been razed to the ground. Useful buildings had apparently been removed from the tree beforehand. The Inn of the Last Home was a mere shadow of itself, lying half-cocked next to the stump of its former foundation, and yet into it Silentstorm went. There he discovered that Tika still worked in the inn, although she mostly was there to provide ale for the draconians to drink and flesh for the draconians to pinch. She barely acknowledged Silentstorm, hissing that he needed to get out of town before it was too late. So he left and reported back to the PCs.

As they watched from their copse and argued about what to do, most of the wagons parked outside of Solace began to move down the road south, even as several more came up from the western road out of Haven. At almost the same time, Tasselhoff, Flint, and Tika were dragged out and thrown into one of the caged wagons. What their crimes were was not ascertained.

Making up their minds, the PCs chose to follow the wagon train south in the hopes of ambushing it before it could reach Pax Tharkas. Although the train was slow moving, the PCs were forced to be slower, lest they risk discovery. The train was soon out of sight, but the column of dust it kicked up along the road was still very visible. Which is why the PCs almost didn’t see the patrol of draconians, hobgoblins and goblins coming north up the road. Although the patrol consisted of more than a dozen, the PCs quickly chose to set up an ambush, which they very nearly successfully pulled off. One draconian immediately flew off over the tree-line and raised an alarm to the two young red dragons that were flying nearby as part of the patrol — the trees that provided the PCs cover had given as much to the dragons, and the PCs had failed utterly to notice them.

They settled down in flanking positions after alighting the forest to the rear of the PCs ablaze and immediately demanded the party’s surrender. Seeing no alternative, the PCs did so. Or most of them did, anyway. Thorim, using teleportation spells and his considerable skill at hiding, managed to elude capture. What became of him will be revealed in the next session.

The remainder of the party were stripped of their gear and most of their clothing (brr! it’s early-autumn, after all!) then marched back to Solace, where they were placed in the same cage containing Tasselhoff, Tika, and Flint. Their gear, along with Disks of Mishakal, was placed in a fortified wagon nearby. The draconians proved unable to remove the holy symbols worn by Goldmoon and Helrak

Shortly thereafter a fat hobgoblin came out of a nearby building bellowing “Where are they?”. It was Fewmaster Toede, the leader of the hobgoblins the PCs had encountered in Solace a short week and a half ago. “You! I remember you! Lord Verminaard will be very pleased when I bring the folks responsible for the destruction of Xak Tsaroth to him! He has your description spread to the entire Red Army now, and he has special plans in store for you. But you, foul dwarf! Before I give you to him, we have a score to settle. Take him, boys!”

Several hobgoblins then pulled Helrak out of the cage and into the recently harvested wheat fields nearby. Each grabbed an arm and leg, while a fifth sat on his chest. Then, in full view of the entire wagon train, the hobgoblins proceded to saw off Helrak’s right arm (the one without a hand) with an old, rusty wood-saw. This was not done without cost: Helrak called upon the aid of Reorx and smote many of them even from his prone position—that single arm cost the hobgoblins a full dozen men. But their gristly work was accomplished, and the dwarf was tossed back into the cage, bleeding out, too exhausted to heal himself.

Toed stuck his head against the bars and leered at Helrak. “Let’s see your God give you a helping hand now, stumpy!” Then he turned back and shouted “Get this train moving, now! I want double speed. Triple the guard! Verminaard will want them in Pax Tharkas yesterday! MOVE IT!” And with that, the wagon train headed south.

Goldmoon, meanwhile, tended to Helrak, quickly healing his arm. Although she couldn’t grow it back, the flesh knit together through the power of her Goddess and soon Helrak was merely sleeping deeply. Mutters and whispers circulated around the wagon train as those who witnessed the power of the Gods were duly impressed.

Here ends Session 4

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Dragonlance Session 3
Wherin an ancient evil is discovered and defeated, and the greatest treasure is found.

The party did their best to recover from the draconian assault and decided to push on. Silentstorm noticed almost immediately that there were additional fresh tracks leading away from the encounter; apparently the four Draconians had not been alone.

Following the tracks (really the only passable trail through the swamp), the party began to see signs of a former civilization; broken pottery, the occasional broken wall or column sticking out of the murky water, and so forth. Soon the trail began to head uphill and the party found that the swamp drained into a river. The trail led uphill alongside the river, which quickly turned into a shallow canyon.

Before they knew it, the party found themselves standing at the top of two cliff faces; on the north/left side, the cliff fell away fifteen feet to the river below. Ahead of them to the east, the cliff fell well over a thousand feet. At the bottom, the New Sea. The river disgorged its contents in a fine spray to the sea.

Across the canyon lay a narrow tree trunk, the only means of crossing; the draconian tracks led across. The PCs began to cross, but halfway across Beldan fell off the log and was quickly swept over the falls by the now swift-flowing river. Beldan was gone. (DM’s Note: Player dropped out of group due to scheduling pressure; “obscure” death arranged)

The party was stunned by the sudden loss of their long-time companion. Thoughts of going after him were dashed by a single glance at the sharp-looking rocks at the bottom of the falls. After a brief mourning period, the party pushed on.

The trail led back into the swamp. As the ruins increased in frequency, Silentstorm was finally able to put words to the feeling that had been creeping up on him since they had entered the swamp, and those words were “I’ve been here before.” He was now certain that this is where he had first received the Blue Crystal Staff. As the late afternoon turned to dusk the party came upon the ruins of an obelisk of the blackest obsidian. At the base was written the following: “Welcome to Xak Tsaroth, beloved city of the Gods.”

Crossing past the obelisk, the party found themselves on a large clearing of solid ground. The ground was ancient cobblestone; an ancient plaza ringed by the ruins of several buildings. One building to the north appeared almost intact. In the center of the plaza stood a large well. The tracks led into the well. As the party clustered around the well, two things happened.

First, Silentstorm noticed that both Goldmoon and Helrak had disappeared. Only he and Thorim were standing near the well as the second thing occurred: a shadowy bulk emerged from the well and flew up above the PCs heads. The fading light revealed a figure that any child could instantly recognize: a large dragon with scales of the blackest night.

A reptilian yet clearly female voice roared from the dragon as it flew overhead, looking down at Silentstorm: “You! I should have killed you before, but no matter! I shall rectify the situation now!” And with that, it flew straight at Silentstorm, emitting a large splash of powerful acid upon him, wounding him grievously. Cowed, the party attempted to flee as Thorim fired spell after ineffectual spell on the dragon in an attempt to cover their escape, but the dragon was not to be denied. With another swoop and another belch of acid, Silentstorm was dead, melting slowly onto the cobblestones.

As the dragon turned toward the other PCs Goldmoon and Helrak reappeared, stepping out of the building to the north. Goldmoon held the Blue Crystal Staff aloft and a piercing ray of blue light erupted from it and struck the dragon in the chest. With a scream of pain and apparent fear, the dragon turned and dived back into the well.

Seeing her beloved dead on cobblestones, Goldmoon rushed to him and knelt. Whispering under her breath for several moments, she then touched the remains with the Blue Crystal Staff. Blue light flashed and where once had been a blob of melting flesh now lay Silentstorm, alive and intact.

Goldmoon and Helrak then explained where they had been for the last few minutes:

Helrak and Goldmoon, upon entering the plaza, had found themselves inexplicably drawn to the building to the north. Pushing open the golden doors, they had found themselves in a large domed room, clearly a temple. In the center of the room stood a giant statue of a woman in flowing robes, with her hands outstretched as if she were holding something. Helrak watched as Goldmoon walked up to the statue and placed the Blue Crystal Staff into the hands of the statue.

The statue came alive and smiled warmly down at Goldmoon. With a warm voice, it said:

“Beloved daughter, welcome. I am Mishakal, Goddess of Mercy and Healing. Know this: the true Gods did not turn away from the world as mortals currently believe; it was the world that turned its back on the Gods. But in this time of stuggle…”

As the statue continued speaking to Goldmoon, Helrak heard “Psst! Hey, over hear!” Turning to look, he watched as a dwarf stepped out from an alcove. He was dressed in flowing silks, rather like a merchant, with a long black beard. Helrak hurried over to him.

“I am the God Reorx,” said the dwarf, and Helrak instantly fell to his knees. “You know this in your heart, even as you answered my summons. Your faith will be rewarded.”

The dwarf looked almost embarrassed as he continued: “Normally I don’t involve myself in the affairs of the other Gods, but there’s something not right about the things Takhisis has set in motion, and I’ve decided to ally myself with Mishakal and Paladine in the war that’s coming.”

Reorx glanced over at Goldmoon. “Protect her, and help her in her mission. Below is an artifact called the Disks of Mishakal. With its help you can ordain yourself as a paladin in my service.

“The road ahead of you will not be easy. You will be asked to sacrifice much in my service, but if you present yourself with courage and faith you will be rewarded.

“There is more to you than you know. You will find—” Reorx broke off in mid-sentence and glanced behind him. “Darkness is on the move. You’d better get back out there.”

Instantly Helrak was on his feet and running out the door, Goldmoon beside him.

As they finished their tale, Goldmoon explained their instructions. Deep below the plaza lay the ruins of the city of Xak Tsaroth. Somewhere within those ruins, likely guarded by the dragon, lay an artifact known as the Disks of Mishakal. They must retrieve the Disks and take them to a leader who could unite the people against the coming darkness.

Goldmoon indicated that the way lay through the Temple of Mishakal to the north. The party entered the temple and found a stairs in a back room leading down. As they descended, Thorim suddenly recalled (without understanding the source or why he was suddenly recalling it) that Xak Tsaroth was the last known location of the Ritual Book of Fistandantilus.

The stairs emptied on what was clearly a crypt or mausoleum; dead, mummified bodies lined alcoves on the wall. Dim light filtered up through holes in the floor, which was clearly unstable. As the party explored the crypt, they encountered a group of more than two dozen Gully Dwarves standing in line along a narrow corridor. Aside from occasionally shushing the PCs, the dwarves ignored them. As the PCs stood there, a commotion further down the corridor occurred. They could just make out in the dim light a group of draconians marching in one doorway and out another further down the corridor. Almost immediately afterward they heard the crack of a whip and a guttural voice shouting “Get going!” Half of the gully dwarves filed down the hall and disappeared through the same doorway that had emitted the draconians.

The party braced themselves for combat from the draconians, but they never reappeared; instead, after several long moments, another dozen or so gully dwarves came around the corner, brushed passed the PCs, and stood in line behind the remaining dwarves.

Curious as to this behavior, Thorim approached the last dwarf in line, a grubby half-naked female who introduced herself as “Me Bupu!”. When asked about the line she said “We go down, bosses go up.” When asked where she had come from, she said “We come back up. We go down. Bosses go up.” She also indicated an interest in Thorim, apparently fascinated by the fact that he was a magician.

At this point, Silentstorm recalled the location and explained to the party that a large clockwork that consisted of two large cookpots attached to a chain and suspended by that chain on a wheel allowed the draconians to lift themselves to the surface by filling one pot with more weight in gully dwarves than was in the ascending pot.

After some exchanges with Bupu, the PCs worked out a deal with her: in exchange for a shiny spoon which Thorim produced from a deep pocket of his robes, Bupu would lead the PCs down without the knowledge of the “bosses”. She led the PCs to what was apparently once a sewer pipe but which was now sticking up at an angle through one of the rooms in the crypt. The PCs began to climb down the pipe, but the pipe was coated in a slimy algae and the PCs soon found themselves sliding down the pipe at breakneck speeds. As they passed a junction in the pipe, Silentstorm managed to grab hold and hold back most of the other PCs. Unfortunately, Helrak was in front of him and missed the grab. He plummeted down into a room that was clearly a basement, but upside-down. He soon discovered that he was in the basement of an upside-down tavern, which was inhabited by the ghostly remains of a rather rousing party. The ghosts proved interested only in their ghostly drink, and Helrak eventually made his way back up the pipe to the junction.

After extricating themselves from the sewer pipe, the PCs eventually found themselves in a small dimly-lit ruined street. Wandering through, they found a swift-moving stream running through the street, having cut a rather deep channel through the cobblestones. Across it lay a fortified building still apparently intact, unlike the ruined buildings that lined the street. Entering it despite Bupu’s suggestion that it was a dead-end, the encountered another ghost, apparently a tax collector, who mistook them for one of his tax collecting minions. The ghost demanded the final payment. When the PCs shrugged and plopped 50 GP on the table, the ghost took it (or a ghostly representation of it) and faded away.

In the next room the party found dozens of rotting sacks of some sort of clay coin; apparently Xak Tsaroth used this clay as its currency, but it was utterly worthless now, except to a historian or collector. Thorim grabbed a small handful, just in case.

The party also found two alcoves that were dimension doors leading to some other portion of the ruins… the bottom of a fallen tower that was apparently embedded in the cliff wall of a large cavern. It was also surrounded by a somewhat high wall, so the PCs returned to the treasury / tax collector’s building and began followed Bupu.

Bupu led them down the street-stream until they came to the top of a large waterfall overlooking a larger cavern. Ghostly gaslights illuminated the ruins of the city proper 300 feet below. On the far side of the caverns another waterfall emptied into the ruins; the streams collected in a large pool at the bottom of the ruins, which drained away again to the right side of the cavern. Near the exiting stream, the PCs recognized the ruined tower they had discovered through the dimension doors in the treasury. They could also observe the cook pot elevator Silentstorm had described stretching to the ceiling, apparently taking another small squad of draconians to the surface.

As the party watched at the top of the falls, they heard the booming voice of the dragon bellowing “GHAKAN!!!!” Startling fearfully, they noticed the dragon emerging from a cave mouth at the bottom of the cave south of the pool, but she was not looking in their direction. Instead she waited impatiently as a group of draconians came out of a cluster of buildings underneath the cook pot elevator. They stopped at the pool and one flew over the pool to the dragon.

There followed a hurried conversation between the two which the PCs couldn’t overhear. The dragon grew more and more agitated with whatever the draconian had to say, and the conversation ended with the dragon bellowing “Do whatever it takes! Find them! KILL THEM AND BRING ME THE STAFF!!” With that the dragon turned back into her cave and the draconian returned to his fellows.

At this point Bupu suggested that they climb down the waterfall. By now the PCs had explained to her that they were hoping to find something owned by the dragon, and she had suggested that they meet the Highbulp, the leader of the gully dwarves, who was rumored to know a secret way into the dragon’s lair. Thorim, recalling the ruined tower, suggested that they take the dimension doors instead. Very shortly the party found themselves in the “throneroom” of the Highbulp.

The “throne” of the Highbulp consisted of an ancient wooden high-chair that had somehow survived the Cataclysm and 350 years of ruinous swamp. The royal robes were an old mauve curtain. The royal crown was the ring of a bottomless metal pail.

The negotiations with the Highbulp were long and consisted chiefly of the Highbulp insisting that the PCs kill the dragon while the PCs insisted that the Highbulp organize the gully dwarves in revolt as a distraction. When it eventually became clear to the PCs that the gully dwarves were cowards to the last man, the PCs agreed (with their fingers crossed) to take on the dragon. The plan was to sneak in when the dragon was sleeping, grab the disks (“kill the dragon”) and get out of Dodge.

When they arrived at the dragon’s lair, they found themselves in utter darkness. Magical darkness. They crept carefully around but were unable to penetrate it. After several moments, the dragon, in a somewhat testy voice, said “how pathetic” and the darkness cleared up. The light coming from the main cavern revealed a pile of gold and jewels, the Disks of Mishakal nestled atop it, and a very large, very angry black dragon standing with one claw over the Disks.

The dragon spoke. “Did you think I wouldn’t know your goal? Puny mortals. I have the Disks, and I will not give them up. I can kill you all with a single breath, but I am prepared to be merciful. Bring the staff to me, lay it at my feet, and kneel before me. If you do so, I will spare your lives. I will even let you go free. The choice is yours.”

Thorim took the opportunity while the dragon was speaking to scan the treasure for the Ritual Book of Fistandantilus, but was unable to find it.

As the dragon finished speaking, Goldmoon then turned to the others and said “Trust me. Stay back. When the time comes, grab the Disks and flee.” She then walked forward as if to present the staff to the dragon. As she stepped forward, Helrak accompanied her, propelled forward by a message from Reorx: “Stay with her. When the time comes, strike.”

Goldmoon and Helrak approached the dragon, but instead of surrendering the staff, Goldmoon cried “knowledge of the Gods will return to Krynn!” and swung the staff at the dragon. At that same instant Helrak swung his hammer at the dragon. The staff hit the dragon on the claw, and Helrak’s hammer hit the staff, which shattered. Blue light poured out, engulfing the dragon, Goldmoon, and Helrak in a blinding explosion, which knocked the rest of the party prone. When the party managed to get to their feet, they found Goldmoon, Helrak, and the dragon completely gone. Disintegrated.

The explosion apparently did some damage to the cavern as well, as stalactites began falling from the cavern roof onto the treasure pile. An ominous rumbling began to shake the cavern. Silentstorm grabbed the Disks of Mishakal while Thorim, after another fruitless search for the Ritual Book of Fistandantilus, quickly stuffed several hands full of gemstones and jewelry into his pouches. Grabbing Bupu, who having apparently fallen in love with Thorim had refused to leave his side, Thorim, Silentstorm, and Muffin ran for it. The party made their way back to the Temple of Mishakal, dodging falling rocks and running gully dwarves as Xak Tsaroth fell aparat. By the time they had reached the Temple, the rumbling was over and Xak Tsaroth was at the bottom of the New Sea.

When they entered the room with the statue, they observed an interesting sight. Lying at the foot of the statue were Goldmoon and Helrak, sleeping peacefully. Around their necks were medallions of platinum, each with a symbol engraved on the disk. Goldmoon’s was shaped like an infinity symbol, while Helrak’s appeared to be a hammer.

Finding the Temple defensible, the party rested for the night, then pushed on out of the swamp. But first, it was time to say goodbye to Bupu. She pulled Thorim aside in tears, explaining in her halting common that although she loved him (oblivious to the fact that he found her disgusting), she would not be able to go with him. She had to stay and help the rest of her clan find a new place to live.

She then presented Thorim with a gift: a book of magic she had found in the dragon’s lair. It was the Ritual Book of Fistandantilus. Thorim was overwhelmed by the gift and in return gave her a large emerald from the booty he had collected in the lair. He then knelt down and kissed her. Then, with a final “me always remember you!” she was gone.

Here ends Session 3

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Dragonlance Session 2
Wherein discoveries are made.

After resting the night in the cave, the PCs decided to follow the Haven road northwest and eventually north around Crystalmir Lake, the better to avoid pursuit from Solace and still head east to Xak Tsaroth.

They hadn’t gone far before they encountered a group of heavily robed and hooded pilgrims travelling out of Haven. There were four surrounding a simple ox-pulled cart. One of the pilgrims hailed them and, in a muffled voice, asked if they had heard news of a staff of blue crystal, claiming that one of their number was ill and that only the staff could heal him.

The PCs, exchanging glances, claimed not to know of such a staff. The pilgrims, clearly disappointed, indicated their wish to continue down the road, and the PCs stepped aside. As the pilgrims passed the PCs, Thorim attempted to pickpocket one of them. He had failed to note a loose stone on the road and instead tripped, falling into the pilgrim. As he did so he heard the unmistakable chink of armor under the robes, even as the pilgrim hissed and backhanded Thorim, knocking him to the ground.

As Helrak stepped up to defend him, the pilgrims ripped off their robes (they appeared to have been designed for easy removal), revealing scaly hides, wings, and reptilian faces. Draconian? Such a race had never been heard of on Krynn. Whence had they come? Unfortunately, those questions were to remain unanswered; the dragon-men attacked. Some launched themselves in the air, but they could not remain aloft long and quickly returned to earth. The fight was difficult for the PCs, and was compounded when the PCs discovered that the dragon men turned to stone when killed, frequently encasing the weapon of those who had killed them.

Eventually the PCs prevailed. Soon after the combat was over, the dragon man statues crumbled to dust, allowing the PCs to retrieve their lost weapons. The equipment of the dragon men had similarly survived, and the PCs decided to load it onto the cart (the ox had remained calmly chewing its cud throughout the entire combat) with the intent of selling it, along with the cart, at the next village they encountered. They continued on their way.

Less than half a mile down the road, the PCs encountered a white stag standing in the middle of the road. When they attempted to go around the stag, the stag moved in front of the cart. It then bounded to the side of the road and turned back to watch the cart. As the PCs attempted to move on, the stag bounded back in front of the cart. This sequence repeated itself several times and eventually the PCs decided that the stag wished them to follow it. At this point Silentstorm recalled that the white stag was, according to certain lores, good luck and that those who followed it would be blessed. Thorim, on the other hand, noted that the stag was clearly headed toward Darken Wood and that Darken Wood was rumored to be haunted by undead and that none who entered it ever returned. After a long argument, it was decided to ignore the stag and continue on their way.

The stag stared at them until it was no longer in sight. After an hour or so on the road, it was by this time still before lunch, the light woods through which the road ran opened up into rolling farmland; Crystalmir Lake was now fully behind them. The PCs found a small track leading north and began to follow it. Soon they came upon a small village, but a quick investigation determined that it had been hastily abandoned either last night or the night before. Silentstorm, investigating the road, discovered strange tracks reminiscent of a lizard near the track of a cart; he determined that they must have been the tracks of the dragon-men they had fought earlier that morning. The tracks led from the north.

After lunch, the party released the ox, abandoned their hard-won gear, and continued north up the road. After a couple hours they were now firmly north of Crystalmir Lake, so they began to trek east across farmland. As they continued east they noticed a column of smoke which gradually revealed itself to be the smoldering remains of a lonely farmstead. Investigating the fire revealed more dragon-man tracks, this time coming from the north-east but eventually leading away to the east.

The party chose to follow the tracks east and barely a mile further they crested a small hill that provided a very interesting view of the farmland below. Marching slowly (almost lazily) in a narrow file that stretched as far as the party could see in either direction was a large army of dragon-men. The party quickly hid and watched the army as it progressed. After an hour dusk began to come on in earnest and the army stopped for the night. Campfires sprung up in a string from horizon to horizon.

The party quickly realized their way east was blocked, and retreated to the ruined farmhouse to rest for the night. It was debated and eventually decided that the party would wait for the army to pass and then head east.

That night, Silentstorm and Helrak dreamed of the white stag they had seen earlier that day, looking forlorn and somewhat annoyed. How they knew this they couldn’t tell. Believing the stag was perhaps a sign from the Gods, the party decided to return to where they had last seen the stag rather than push onward east.

They arrived that afternoon at, more or less, the spot where they had last seen the stag, but it was not there. They waited for a fruitless hour and were just on the verge of heading north again when the stag stepped from the woods to the south. After waiting barely a moment, it immediately bounded back into the woods to the south. The party followed, frequently losing sight of the beast but always catching a flash of its tail to lead them further south. The land began to slope up and eventually they came to a near-vertical wall of stone 20 feet high. At the top of the wall stood a further column of stone that from most viewing angles looked like two hands pressed together; the peak known locally as Prayer’s Eye peak.

Directly under the column of stone was a narrow crack in the wall about three feet wide that stretched all the way up the wall and continued all the way up into Prayer’s Eye peak. The party watched as the stag disappeared into the crack and quickly followed.

After several hundred feet, the crack opened up into a large clearing of hills rolling down into a dark forest of very twisted and knobby trees. Darken Wood. The party watched as the stag disappeared into the woods.

Thorim warned that he feared the stag was leading them into ambush, reminding the party of the ill rumors surrounding Darken Wood, but Silentstorm and Helrak merely shrugged and continued down the hill. The fading sunlight quickly turned to blackness as the party plunged into the woods. After stumbling blindly about they came upon a track and began to follow it; there had been no further signs of the stag since they entered the woods.

The track shortly entered a large clearing in the woods, but the party stopped short as a dozen spectral beings stepped into the clearing from the other side. They appeared to be warriors with skeletal faces, but were translucent and spectral; clearly undead. Thorim immediately looked over at Silentstorm and said “I told you so!”

Before the party could react further, one spectral warrior stepped forward and demanded in a thin voice: “Who dares enter Darken Wood?” The party stared at one another and provided their names, at which the warrior stated: “Welcome; you are expected. The Forestmaster awaits you.”

The other specters faded into the woods while the speaker led the party further into the woods. The woods shortly opened up into a large clearing, revealing the Forestmaster—a white unicorn. With a melodious woman’s voice, the Forestmaster invited the party to dine and relax before their quest was to continue, explaining that she had been visited by “an old friend” who required that the party be in Xak Tsaroth within two days to obtain the greatest treasure on Krynn.

The Forestmaster provided a hearty meal to the party; they were served by centaurs, fawns, nymphs, and pixies. During the meal the Forestmaster explained that the forces of dragon-men (whom she called “Draconians”) were on the move and that she feared that Darken Wood, which had always been a force of good despite the evil rumors that surround it (evil rumors, she explained, that were cultivated by her for their safety), would fall to the approaching armies. She would hold out as long as she could, but eventually the fey creatures would need to retreat or be destroyed utterly.

She explained that the fey creatures were willing to do their part and, gesturing with her horn, she indicated the edge of the clearing, where a large tiger had stepped out. “This is Muffin. He is more than he appears. He will accompany you on your journey, to represent all of the fey creatures of Krynn. For now, rest. Recuperate. Your journey is only beginning.”

The party spent some time conversing with the Forestmaster, particularly Thorim, who was very interested in the history of Krynn (especially Xak Tsaroth and the eras before the Cataclysm), and the Forestmaster was an expert, having lived through much of it. The Forestmaster said that she would be glad to discuss the era but feared that it would help the party little; the magic of Darken Wood would prevent them from recalling anything that had happened within it after the party left. They would simply believe that Muffin had always been a companion. After a relaxing meal, the Forestmaster clopped her hoof on a stone three times and soon several Pegasus flew into the clearing—two carrying a large leather harness between them, obviously meant for Muffin.

The PCs saddled up and, with a final farewell from the Forestmaster, found themselves in the air over Solace. As the PCs noted the line of the draconian armies advancing on Solace, a wave of lethargy swept over them and they were soon all asleep. Only Silentstorm was able to hold off the lethargy for the entire flight; he watched as they flew over his home village of Que Shu and despaired as he noted another army approaching his homeland in the distance. Only when they had finally landed on the outskirts of a dark swamp did he finally succumb to the clearly magical sleep, but not before his Pegasus mount had explained that they could fly no further and that Xak Tsaroth was within the swamp.

When the party awoke, they awoke as from a dream, believing they had traveled around the draconian armies to the north; their original plan before they chose to return to follow the White Stag. The events of the previous night,the Forestmaster, the flight, the introduction of Muffin—all were forgotten entirely. Why, Muffin had always been a pet of Silentstorm; they were sure of it.

As they approached the swamp, Silenstorm noted draconian tracks all over the only trail into the swamp, both coming and going. The party entered with caution, but soon found themselves ambushed by a group of spellcasting draconains. Several members of the party were overcome by sleep and web spells, but Silentstorm, Thorim, and Muffin managed to overcome the draconians. Unlike the draconians they had faced yesterday, when killed, the flesh of these draconians crumpled away, revealing glowing bones that then exploded.

After the fight the party did what they could to recouperate.

Here ended Session 2.

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Dragonlance Session 1
Wherein old friends reunite

As the session began, the PCs ran into each other on the outskirts of town, each headed to the reunion at the Inn of the Last Home in Solace.

The PCs are: Thorim, a half-elven Warlock, Helrak, a dwarven Paladin (not currently ordained), Silentstorm, a human Druid, and Beldan, an Elven Ranger.

They are joined by the NPC Goldmoon, a human cleric (not currently ordained). Goldmoon is the fiancee of Silentstorm and the bearer of the Blue Crystal Staff

After catching up, the party began to make its way into Solace proper, where they met a bunch of hobgoblins, under the leadership of one Fewmaster Toede, who was mounted on a stout pony. The hobgoblins had set up a roadblock and were inspecting all entries for a staff of blue crystal. They claimed to work for the town of Solace.

The party was skeptical; they had been gone for two years, but they’d never heard of hobgoblins working for Solace. When the hobgoblins demanded the staff Goldmoon was carrying, the party refused. Toede ordered the hobgoblins to kill them and take the staff for inspection.

Combat ensued. In the end, the hobgoblins were dead and Toede was being dragged by his pony across the fields, his foot stuck in the stirrup, cursing the whole way and swearing revenge—particularly on Helrak who had done much to make Toede’s life a living hell over the last few moments. Not knowing what to do with the aftermath of the combat, the party stashed the dead hobgoblins on the side of the road and did their best to look nonchalant as they strolled into Solace.

The first thing they learned as they entered the Inn of the Last Home, because the place was simply abuzz with the news, was that hobgoblins has been recently hired by the High Theocrat Hederick to augment the local militia. The rumor was that they were inspecting all travelers for a staff of blue crystal, which was apparently of extreme importance to the Seekers. Exchanging glances and raised eyebrows, they quickly sat down at the table where Flint and Tasselhoff were awaiting them.

The first thing Thorim asked Flint was for news of Kitiara, whom he had missed terribly. A grim-faced Flint handed over a letter he had received from a strange man dressed in deeply hooded full-length robes. The letter was from Kitiara, claiming that she had taken up with an employer to the northeast near Kalaman. She regretted her inability to rejoin the group. Thorim began to brood.

They were served by Tika Waylan, a young dwarven lass who works as a barmaid for Otik, the proprietor of the Inn of the Last Home. Helrak, who on his previous visits to Solace had considered Tika nothing but a scrappy girl, now found himself quite unable to look away from her, and began to flirt quite earnestly. Thorim, upset over Kitiara’s absence, did his best to disrupt Helrak’s flirting, but soon became distracted by the religious argument in the corner.

The party soon became aware that the High Theocrat Hederick was at the Inn of the Last Home with them, and was involved in a somewhat heated discussion with an old man wearing shabby robes that may once have been white, but had long ago faded to a dirty gray. The discussion appeared to surround the old Gods verses the New Gods. Hederick, a high-standing member of the Seekers of the Lordcity of Haven, appeared to be allowing the other man to argue that the old Gods existed and that the New Gods were non-existent. Hederick had been known on more than one occasion to have people put in the stocks (or worse) for such blasphemy, and yet he was frequently allowing the old man to continue, even as he decried his arguments.

The party asked Flint about the old man, who shrugged. The man had showed up a few weeks ago and spent every evening at the Inn arguing religion with Hederick. He was stumped as to how he had survived this long.

Around this point Thorim, disappointed at his inability to disrupt the flirting between Tika and Helrak, decided to go have a chat with this strange man. The man introduced himself as Fizban the Fabulous, and was quite disappointed when Thorim confessed at never having heard of him. Fizban claimed to be a wizard of some repute, and spent some time leafing through his spellbooks for the spell “Fireball” before he was (eventually) interrupted by Thorim to ask him a few questions. They began to chat about the old Gods (interrupted frequently by Hederick’s claims of blasphemy) for a few minutes, at which point several children, clearly dressed for bed, rushed into the Inn demanding a story from Fizban. This was apparently a regular thing, as the entire common room hushed in anticipation. Fizban, with a glance at Thorim and the rest of the party across the room, began to relate the Canticle of the Dragon. Afterward Hederick snorted, claiming that there were no such things as Dragons. The children were sent to bed, and Thorim attempted to re-engage Fizban in a religious discussion, but Fizban would have none of it. Instead, he called across the room to Goldmoon, saying to her: “You have a song in your heart, Chieftan’s Daughter. Sing it for us, please”. At which point Goldmoon, to the surprise of the entire party, began to sing (see Song of Goldmoon).

At mention of the Blue Crystal Staff, Hederick stood up during the song, but was calmed down, somehow, by Fizban. Instead, Fizban looked at Goldmoon and asked her “Could you be the ones? You, chieftan’s daughter, and your companions? I wonder. May I see the staff please?”

Goldmoon got up and joined Fizban at his table near the fire; she was accompanied by the other PCs, who were wary of Fizban and the staff, given the reception with the Hobgoblins. She handed Fizban the Blue Crystal Staff, currently appearing as a simple quarterstaff. As he took the staff it flashed with blue light and revealed its true form, that of a slender staff of the purest blue crystal. “Ahh,” he said. “I’ve not seen this since… well, not for a very long time. If you use it with faith and conviction, it will serve you well.” He handed it back to Goldmoon and said: “You must take it to Xak Tsaroth. There you will find the greatest treasure in the world.”

As he handed the staff to Goldmoon, whatever spell Fizban had cast upon Hederick shattered, and, perceiving the staff, he demanded it from Goldmoon. When she refused to give it to him, he attempted to take it from her by force. When he grabbed the staff, blue light flashed from it, injuring his hand. Hederick began to call for the guards.

At this point, the PCs were in full motion. Silentstorm, defending his fiancee, pushed Hederick into the fire, where he lit up like a torch. The other PCs each attacked him as well as he ran around the room on fire. Goldmoon, a look of pain on her face, quipped “What is wrong with you people?” and hit Hederick with her staff. Immediately the fire vanished and Hederick was fully healed. With the boots of many feet on the stairs outside the inn, the PCs decided to go out the back door. Tika, with a kiss to Helrak for luck, suggested that they head to her place to get supplies, then get out of town until things died down. Flint and Tasselhoff, who had not been part of the combat, elected to stay at the Inn and try to help calm things down.

Outside, Helrak obstinately refused to go to Tika’s house, on the grounds that it might get her in trouble. Guessing that the bridges and porches of Solace would likely be searched first, the party decided to take to the ground and make their way out of Solace to the east, towards the last known location of Xak Tsaroth, which reportedly fell into the New Sea during the Cataclysm. Choosing stealth over speed, the party crept east along the forest floor, but soon discovered that going east would run them into several dozen hobgoblins, who had apparently already set up a blockade. They opted for north, instead, and as they passed one of the only buildings on the ground in Solace, the forge, they were beckoned inside by the local blacksmith, Theros Ironfeld.

Theros, a long friend of the PCs, told them that their best bet was to head across the Crystalmir Lake. He had a boat along the shore on the other side of Solace that he used for fishing. The way was mostly under cover, so they could have a better chance of avoiding being seen. The PCs agreed to this plan and set off.

Unfortunately, they were forced to leave cover to get to the boat, and the PCs were spotted just as they were beginning to get the boat into the water. Several hobgoblin bowmen advanced on the PCs and began firing. Beldan returned fire and Thorim rained down arcane hurt on the hobgoblins as Helrak and Silentstorm rowed. Soon the hobgoblins were dead, and the PCs were safe.

They rowed for the remainder of the night. Around midnight, the overcast sky cleared, and the stars came out. Goldmoon, lying in the boat attempting to rest as Helrak and Silentstorm rowed, noticed that there was something wrong with the sky. There were large swaths of nothingness where stars should be.

The two constellations known as Paladine and Takhisis were gone. What this meant, the PCs didn’t know.

The PCs set ashore several miles away, along the Haven road. They knew from previous adventures that there was a cave in the hills alongside the road that they could use for shelter and defense. The holed up for the night there.

Here ends Session 1.

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