Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Campaign Notes: DL 1-4

Title: Resistance
PC Level: 3rd

For this fourth episode of season one (you can find the previous entry here), the PCs along with Sirs Jiran and Plaxus made their way to Thelgaard to see what they were up against. Were the refugees' tales from the second adventure exaggerated? Had dragons truly returned to Krynn?

With Thelgaard still a mile or two away, the group was passing by a farmhouse when they heard a woman's fearful cry. Tall wheat fields straddled the path to the house from which emerged two man-sized blue centipede-like creatures as the PCs rushed ahead. Deedra was first into the house as her companions battled the great vermin. As the minotaur walked over the body of a human male in the doorway, a young girl sprinted out the back door, leaving her mother to fight off a third horax (the name of these Krynnish "centipedes") in the house. The horax outside were eventually defeated but Sir Jiran became increasingly vocal and almost rage-like during the fight. Both knights joined Deedra inside while Beam noted a fourth horax in the corn fields out back going for the terrified girl.

Regrettably, the wizard was a bit too far to cast a spell that might have diverted the vermin and it leapt upon the innocent child with voracious hunger. Beam finally got close enough to explode a fiery attack on the creature but it was too late for the girl. Gundar then closed in to do melee as the horax inside continued to fight off the three companions there after nearly taking off the farmwife's hand. Eventually, these two last horax were killed but Gundar lie outside close to death from his wounds. Plaxus rushed outside to tend to the wounded but Jiran took on a decidedly different appearance after the battle. Deedra was suddenly attacked by the knight, whose skin seemed to melt from his bones as he accused the PCs of being inferior and incapable of fighting the coming darkness. The knight fled the scene and, although dutifully chased by Deedra, seemed to melt away into the wheat field, only a tell-tale yellow glow left behind.

Beam theorized that Sir Jiran's encounter with the magical undead-controlling item from the last adventure was somehow to blame. Meanwhile, the farmwife, also an apothecary, managed to stabilize Gundar and provide for a quicker recovery. Deedra, Beam, and Sir Plaxus investigated one of the horax holes found in the field that foray yielded little beyond a tattered pouch with a few steel pieces the group then gave to the poor woman who had lost both husband and child in the attack. After Gundar's recovery, the woman took what possessions she could and thanked the PCs for their aid before heading west away from the approaching armies of darkness.

Thelgaard is finally reached, a city that is but half intact. The knightly keep at its center is totally destroyed and the eastern half of the city lies in ruins from the attack of dragons and dragon-men some weeks before. Refugees from these destroyed buildings line the main road into the city, begging all who pass for food and aid for their injuries. Gundar stops to pray for a young woman who was badly burned. Her face magically heals thanks to the power of Kiri-Jolith and this, needless to say, attracts the attention of all refugees nearby. They paw at Gundar for more help but he explains that his powers are limited and they must not look to him right now.

Gundar then asks the woman if she knows of a blacksmith's shop. She leads them to the door of a nearby smithy and leaves. Inside, a burly smith named Lanc helps the group more than they expected. He quickly identifies them as "soldiers of fortune" and that such people might do well with the burgeoning resistance movement that has formed to fight the dragonarmy. In fact, the smith also knows the name of the flame icon the PCs found in the last adventure! This is one of three pieces of an artifact capable of opening something called the Promise Hearth, which contains the means to relight the Promise Flames. These are great cauldrons of flame which once burned across Solamnia. It was said that no matter where you were in the country you could see at least one. But that was before the Cataclysm and now their flames are seen no longer (they were originally gifts from the gods to instill hope in the people following the last Dragon War--hope of the promise that Takhisis would never return to threaten the world). For more information on where to find the other Flames and the Promise Hearth, Lanc suggested consulting the Sage Academy (the next populated spot east of Thelgaard).

Certain winks from Lanc and such bountiful knowledge (and fabulous wares in the shop) led the group to believe that they were in the presence of no less than Kiri-Jolith himself! After leaving the shop to find a resistance movement contact in the eastern ruins, the blacksmith's shop did, in fact, fade away to reveal a common residence. The contact for the resistance was a lapidary who Beam directed the clever comment, "I'm looking for a ring of resistance." The man got the subtle hint and excused himself to presumably go and fetch a resistance member. When the man never returned, the party was attacked by a group of club-wielding thugs and a dragon-man (slightly different from the previous one in that it turned to stone when slain instead of exploding).

The party returned to the Ox and Yam inn where they had earlier purchased rooms for the night, certain that the lapidary had betrayed them. While on watch downstairs in the bar overnight, Deedra spoke with a man who bemoaned the recent death of the jeweler, the body just being discovered hours before with vicious claw marks all over him. This information, coupled with the fact that the gems the party decided to loot from the wrecked shop earlier were real, made them rethink their theory of betrayal. Before leaving the inn to head for the Sage Academy, a resistance member made contact with them. She had discovered that the lapidary's loyalities to the resistance had been uncovered by dragonarmy members and that they must have used him to help squelch prospective recruits.

The woman said she was from an established resistance cell in Solanthus and the movement was rather unsuccessful in soliciting more members here in Thelgaard (the group itself had little hope so how were they going to instill it in others?). Now, she needed the PCs help as what few members were here had been captured and were even now being tortured for information at an abandoned cathedral in east town. The cathedral was probably once impressive but the fine arts had been neglected ever since the Cataclysm, for who since then has had time or ambition for such fineries?

Inside the building, the party fought more dragon-men (some stone-turning ones and another which collapsed into a pool of acid on dying). There was also a tiny black dragon which breathed a stream of acid. Fortunately, all of these evil creatures were dispatched without PC death and the resistance members were rescued. They told of a great army of these "draconians" and dragons east of here. A small force had attacked Thelgaard but then was inexplicably called back by a great horn blast. Perhaps the dragonarmy is solidifying itself before moving onward in its conquest?

The resistance fighters said they were heading back to Solanthus and gave the PCs instruction on where and how to contact them should they ever be in that area. The party took note of all they had learned this day and prepared to find more information about the Promise Flames at the Sage Academy. But who knows what they might learn, much less how they will even reach the Academy, as it is behind enemy lines...

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