After Hours

Skirmish at Borkhold Keep
Compiled from Milan's journal

Well, that could have gone better. Then again, it could have gone a lot worse.

We approached the keep mounted, and as we drew near, we spotted a helmeted head peeking over the battlements of the outer wall. The figure to which it was attached launched several sling stones at us, which went wide, after which it shouted an alarm in what I recognized as Goblin. The main gate had been left open wide enough to permit a person to slip through, and JD, Lumi, Gorbash, and Nova dismounted and dashed to it while Opie and I finished hobbling the horses. Three or maybe four goblins on the wall loosed arrows at us, and two of them struck Nova. As Opie and I made for the gate as well, Opie called up a magical bank of fog which rapidly rose in and around the gate; in retrospect, this may have been the one thing that kept us from being pinned down and picked off. I made it to the gate, but Opie also took an arrow from one of the goblins on the wall.

However, I was now in the fog and spent most of the fight within it, so I’ve had to piece together the following from walking the battlefield and talking to the others in our group once the fight was over. The layout of the keep was roughly square, with a courtyard in the center, the main gate in the south wall, a five-story tower making up the south-east corner, the residence making up the north-west corner, and lean-to stables against the east wall. At the time of our approach, four goblins were on the south wall, while two more were on the north wall; one of the latter was evidently the party’s leader. All but the leader were armed with shortbows and scimitars, and they were well placed to pick off anyone coming through the gate, and they might well have done so were it not for Opie’s bank of fog.

JD and Lumi made for the ground floor door to the tower, fatally shooting two of the goblins on the south wall, and one on the north wall, along the way. Once inside the tower, they made their way up the stairs, where JD encountered and dispatched another of the goblins from the south wall, who had run into the tower as well. Lumi continued up to come level with the battlements, where she shot and killed the last goblin on the south wall.

Meanwhile, Gorbash headed across the courtyard for the stairs to the north wall, followed by Nova. The goblin leader moved to intercept them, and they joined battle by the well. I had invoked the power of Pelor to partially heal Nova’s wounds, but he was still hurting; during the fight, he first took a slash from the goblin leader’s scimitar and then an errant blow from Gorbash’s hammer. By the time I emerged from the fog, I saw Gorbash still locked in combat with the goblin, while Nova was prostrate in a pool of his own blood. As I uttered a healing word to prevent him from dying, JD and Lumi emerged onto the south wall and each put an arrow into the goblin leader, finishing off the job Gorbash had started.

Briefly, there was silence. Then we set about tending to the wounded and searching the dead. The amount of injury is beyond the power that Pelor grants me to heal (Lumi is the only one who didn’t get wounded during the fight), so we will likely have to rest up for a while before we search the rest of the keep.

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Life on the Road
Compiled from Milan's journal

Day 1.
Spent the day traveling between fields. Road very quiet. Reached edge of the forest around sundown. Lumi managed to bring down a small boar for dinner, and I smoked the leftovers to supplement our trail rations.

Day 2.
Spent the day traveling through the forest. Road still quiet. At our mid-afternoon rest stop, we were ambushed by a pack of wolves; if it wasn’t for Lumi, they’d have been on us before we could even have got our weapons out. As it was, both Lumi and Opie were mortally wounded in the first attack, and Nova was severely injured as well. I managed to keep everyone alive while JD’s arrows and Gorbash’s hammer did for most of the animals. Afterwards, I patched up the wounded while Gorbash and JD skinned the wolves. Now camping at the site of the fight. Two horses bolted during the fight, Opie’s and mine, and we only managed to recover mine. I’m lending him my horse while I drive the cart.

Day 3.
Came out of the forest into rolling hills. Along the road, we came upon a tent by the side of the road, occupied by a man and a small girl. With some questioning and educated guesswork, we figured out they are Yrsa, daughter of Duke Borkhold, and the family’s butler. Bad news: apparently, there was a magical mishap at the castle and the inhabitants were attacked by a large number of elementals two weeks ago. The butler was ordered to take the girl away and keep her safe. He’d been wanting to go back and check on the castle but had been reluctant to do so without an escort. We offered him passage with us, which he accepted.

By dusk we reached the village of Hillside, consisting of a dozen or so houses, a small temple, an inn, and a general store. We got lodgings at the inn and managed to extract some information from the locals. Things have been quiet in the direction of the castle, but a fire can be seen from the tower at night. The villagers keep their shutters closed.

Day 4.
Left the butler and the girl in the village and headed for the castle. Lumi and JD had taken a closer look before dawn but were unable to glean much.

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Unfinished Business in Littlebrook
Compiled from Milan's journal

After the incident on the docks, the group reconvened at the Siren’s Call, and shortly after JD told us about his discovery, we were approached by a rather foppishly dressed invidividual who introduced himself as “The Mongoose.” He informed us that he was a representative of the Longshoremen’s Guild and was aware of our conflict with the Wachowskis. He continued that Igor Wachowski and his gang had become a liability to the Guild, that as a result the Guild wished to end its association with Igor in a very permanent manner, and was willing to provide us with a substantial reward (say, passage by ship to practically anywhere we pleased) if we would eliminate Igor and as many of his underlings as possible. Seeing the opportunity to strike two birds with one stone, we accepted, though we managed to convince The Mongoose to pay us in cash rather than in services.

Once we had taken the job, he told us Wachowski and his men had a habit of gathering weekly in the cellar of a disreputable tavern on the waterfront to play cards, and that the next game would be the following night. This would not only provide us with our best chance of catching them as a group, but more importantly, our best chance of keeping our activity hidden from the city watch. The tavern staff were all in the pay of the Guild, and would assist us in completing the job, but on no account were we allow anyone outside the tavern to notice what we were doing. The Mongoose then took his leave, and we conferred about how to approach the job. After considering several options, and discarding most of them as impractical, we concluded that softening up the opposition by poisoning their drinks was our best bet, after which we would finish off any survivors. As the closest thing to a herbalist in the group, the task of acquiring a poison fell to me. After all too brief a night’s rest, I studied my small pharmacopeia over breakfast, and then set off to market to acquire my components (which set me back a fair amount of money), which I then spent the afternoon mixing. I settled on a mixture consisting of ground nightshade root dissolved in oleander sap, reduced over simmering heat, and finished off with ground grains of paradise, the latter both to mask the flavor and speed the digestion.

We arrived at the tavern perhaps an hour before sundown. Gorbash concealed himself in an empty barrel in the cellar, and the rest of us posed ourselves as regular patrons around the ground floor of the tavern, though all with eyes on the cellar door. Some time after dusk, Wachowski and seven of his cronies arrived and made their way downstairs. The barmaid prepared their first round of ale, into which I introduced generous doses of the poison I had concocted. Then, we settled down to wait; I had calculated that the poison would take half an hour to an hour to take effect. After an hour, nobody had emerged from the cellar, so those of us upstairs went down to see what had happened. The poison had proved more effective than I’d dared to hope: Wachowski and his associates lay dead to a man, and Gorbash was already busily dismembering their corpses and stuffing them into empty barrels for disposal. Having thus quit ourselves of our task without physical violence, we met with The Mongoose and collected our earnings.

Early the following morning, we made our way to the livery stable, where we were to meet the mayor. The previous day, while I had been busy with my mortar and pestle, the others had talked to Mother Shael and the mayor and accepted another task: to take word of the events in Trisk to Duke Borkhold, the ruler of the province, at his castle four days’ ride to the south. The Borkhold family lives in comparative isolation because they are sorcerors. By way of payment, my companions had negotiated riding horses for all of us, along with a mule-drawn cart for our baggage. Speaking of companions, the mayor had an addition for our group: Opirium, a human man in his fifties(?), bearded and dressed in earth tones. The mayor thought we’d want to have him along for his specialized wilderness knowledge. Perhaps, but I hope he’s handy with the scimitar he wears.

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Returning to Littlebrook

Having completed their visit to what was once the village Trisk, the party set course towards Littlebrook once more, to report back on what they had found. On their way out, they saw more of the Inflicted, but left them alone. At night, they set up camp along the road, as before.

It wasn’t until they were well within sight of the wooden gates of Littlebrook, that they spotted what might have been a lookout. A scraggly figure, clearly looking in their direction, who took off in the direction of the docks, before the heroes arrived at the gates. In case this was a sign of bad things to come, the group decided to head straight for the Pelorian temple, to deliver their report.

At the temple, Lumi the wood elf discovered that the 5 vials of purple ink she had found in Trisk, by request from the Littlebrook scribe, had somehow gone missing. Thinking back, she remembered seeing the vials in her pack the night before, as she made herself comfortable in a tree, as she likes to do. However, though she tried retracing her steps, and went so far as to talk to other merchants in town, no trace of the vials was uncovered.

Mother Shael in the temple of Pelor, was deeply disturbed by the findings from Trisk, and asked the heroes to return the next day, leaving her to do more research about their findings.

Leaving the temple, it became clear that a group of street urchins were following the heroes from a distance, keeping an eye on their activities. Figuring that an ambush might in their future, the party convened at the inn. After a few drinks, the barkeep warned them that one of Igor Wachowski’s men had just left. Given their history with the Wachowski brothers, the party wasted no time.

The two elves immediately got in position on the rooftops across from the inn, hoping to ambush the would-be ambushers. Gorbash and Nova decided to head to the docks, toward the green warehouse known as the Wachowski gang’s hideout. Once there, they found the gang gathered inside the warehouse, getting a pep-talk from Igor himself. The gang leader wanted vengeance for his dead brother, despite what the local thieves guild would have to say about it.

Gorbash, thinking quickly, decided to tie the warehouse gate shut with rope, and proceeded to set the warehouse on fire. Though the flames were quickly discovered, the gang escaping by rolling a cart through the burning gate, the hangout was destroyed, and no ambush happened that night.

JD saw the flames from the rooftop, and hurried to the docks to see what was going on. Once there, he volunteered to help put it out, checking for any valuable trinkets among the gangs’ scorched belongings. Not finding any valuables, he instead decided to follow Igor, as he left the scene.

The gang leader walked alone to the Longshoreman’s Guild house, where he entered.

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Excerpt from Milan's report to Mother Shael

Following our skirmish with the Inflicted, we surveyed our surroundings; while more of them were in the area, the fate of the two we killed seemed to deter them from engaging us further. Evidently, they have some sense of self-preservation. Subsequently, introductions were made between our group and the two newcomers. One is Gorbash, a dwarf (who rattled off a list of his lineage which I cannot remember), and the other a human named Nova; both are professional fighters, so their presence was welcome. Lumi having been wounded in the fight, I applied healing to her wounds.

While we were discussing our next course of action, Cirrus noticed what appeared to be a trail of blood on the ground leading through the tannery yard, entering from the west and departing to the north (or vice-versa). Upon closer inspection, however, the fluid proved to be purple ink. For reasons not clear to me, this excited Lumi, who hared off following the trail westwards. She was pursued initially by JD who was apparently remonstrating with her in Elvish. The rest of us set off towards the crater in the center of town, following the trail of ink spots along the way. By the time we reached and descended into the crater, JD rejoined us.

The lower half of the crater gave the impression of having been some kind of… arena, perhaps? From the bottom to halfway up the slopes, we found tiers of what appeared to have been holding cells, while at the bottom itself, we found the ruins of what had once been a domed, open-walled building, much like a large stone gazebo. This structure had what had once been warding glyphs carved into its pillars, and apparently, bars of energy had once blocked off the spaces between the pillars. Both Cirrus and Gorbash estimated that the entire complex might be as much as four thousand (!) years old, and Cirrus stated that the central structure emanated strong but dissipating traces of enchantment. But part of the reason I surmise the central structure was some sort of arena was that the floor of the complex was littered with hundreds, possibly thousands of corpses of humanoid creatures of demonic appearance, many up to three times the size of an adult male human. The bodies were of a wide range of antiquity, ranging from possibly thousands of years old—almost as old as the complex, in fact—to comparatively fresh, as in perhaps a week old. It’s worth remarking that no decomposition had occurred, and the older bodies were thoroughly desiccated. All the bodies I examined displayed claw and bite marks, similar to those that would have been inflicted by the creatures themselves, only generally larger. Similar claw marks were to be found on what had been the inside of the central structure, again, ranging from thousands of years old to comparatively fresh.

In the center of it all, we found one living soul: a studious looking human male, making notes in a book. Later examination found that he was either copying the glyphs from the pillars, or writing something in the same script (a script unknown to any in the party). We did also notice that he was writing with purple ink, and we gauged him to thus have been the source of the ink trail. Unfortunately, we were unable to gain much useful information from him directly. He appeared to be quite insane, stating that we were not “the cavalry” and accusing us of having caused the cataclysm (on the basis that I was carrying the obsidian tablet we acquired from the tanner). He then challenged Gorbash to a duel to the death, in which he intended only to use his quill. Gorbash hit him twice, once with the shield, once with the warhammer. The latter blow was a mortal wound, but I was ready to step in and managed to leave him unconscious but stable.

Feeling that we had completed our investigation of the crater, we collected various artifacts (including the head from one of the demonic corpses) for later examination, and while Gorbash, Nova, and I returned to where we had left the mule and cart, Cirrus, Diero, and JD made a quick foray to the temple of Lathander to search its small library. They returned empty-handed. At the cart, we found Lumi, who told us a rather incredible story of having been trapped in the local herbalist’s house by five Inflicted, but managing to escape. Presumably, the herbalist was the fellow whom Gorbash beat up and whose bacon I saved. When he recovers, he probably won’t be too pleased about Lumi burning down his house, even if (as she claims) there were five Inflicted inside.

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Excerpt from the journal of an unknown elf:

…After the wreckage outside the Temple of Lathander, the peace within was welcome, despite the corpse of the Priest we had been sent to locate. Alas, I was hoping the Dawnpriest might help me shed some fresh light on my lost memories, but for now I have no choice but to keep looking for answers. The priest indicated in his journal that he suspected the local tanner of malfeasance. While he was short on specifics in his missive, it could be linked to the fate of the town, the priest’s murder, or both but there is no clear proof here. I will suggest our next stop be the tannery, to see what we can discover there…

… skirted the edge of the village to get to the river, successfully avoiding any direct encounters with the black creatures that used to be the residents of Trisk. As I suspected, the tannery turned out to be a point of interest after all. Most of the complex appears to have been consumed in whatever cataclysm claimed this town, but the Main structure stands. We have found our first survivor, who appears to be the tanner who the priest suspected to be a cult leader of some kind. After much shouting and flailing about, Diero caught him as he leapt out the window. While there was little of interest in the tannery building, I did come across a black robe and a bloody dagger secreted under the tanner’s bed. It looks like the priest was accurate in his suspicions, but whatever this man may have known, he seems to have become little more than a babbling idiot. I will leave the cause of his madness to speculation by the more scholarly in our group, but all he does is now is claim to be the chosen one while begging for the obsidian tablet we pried from his fingers. It seems rather special, and the Halfling says it’s magical, so I am disinclined to acquiesce to his requests.
I suggested we tie the tanner to a boat and let him float to Littlebrook, or beyond for all I care… Alas, the others insist on keeping him around for some reason. He’d better stop his babbling before my headache gets any worse though, or I may take things into my own hands…
…While interrogating the mad tanner, we were approached by a lone dwarf, drawn by the commotion. He claims to be a traveler investigating the village like we are, but I haven’t decided whether I can trust him. He looks pretty normal, for a dwarf, and seems to be handy with an axe, so having him around could be a good thing, especially as it seems our investigation is likely to take us underground in the near future…

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A Letter from Diero

Ena,

Against my better judgment, I have embarked on an increasingly perilous journey with a collection of drifters: two elves who are mysterious in everything except that they are lodestones for trouble; a cleric of Pelor who seems to know even less than we do, though he was sent along by “special order” of the Pelorian priestess; and finally that bumbling halfling Finder. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t even be in this mess, but Kael insisted that Cirrus is the one who will help us, so I am forced to suffer his penchant for ridiculous escapades in order to find what was taken from us.

Our camp was passed in the night by a group of soulless villagers, shells of human beings, and no sooner had the halfling pronounced them “harmlessly unfortunate” than we took off in the direction that these Inflicted had come from. JD ruefully intoned that we appeared to be heading into the danger rather than away, but Cirrus was singly-focused. Luckily, none of the Inflicted we encountered before the town seemed to be aware of our presence, let alone harmful. Perhaps JD is right, though, as he suffered a debilitating headache on the road.

Lumi has earned some of my regard, as her sense of her surroundings is keen and in-tune with the unnatural. Huge rocks appear to have fallen from somewhere and destroyed this town; the center of the village has erupted debris everywhere, and whatever the cause, it does not appear to be friendly. The poor villagers closest to the explosion appear to have changed, Ena. Their physical bodies are stretched, and their minds are demoralized. One Inflicted sat in the open, gnawing on a human arm.

When we finally reached the temple, it was in terrible shape and Shael will be disappointed to learn that her priest friend has been murdered. Perhaps his death will be of use to us, though, as we may be able to determine what has happened here. He appears to have been murdered for his knowledge of something called “Black Dawn”, which he wrote about in his journal just before he died.

Ena, you will not believe it: there is talk of a secret society. I hoped briefly that this would lead me to her, but the priest’s notes talk of demonic powers and forgotten lore. I am not afraid to battle dark powers to punish that woman, but what would become of our treasure if exposed to that? I shudder to think.

We are seeking out the local tanner, as the priest seemed to believe he was connected with this affair. If this reaches you, stand firm in the knowledge that I will retrieve what we have lost. I will rest at nothing.

Yours,
Diero

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A Trip to Trisk
As told by Cirrus

Day 1
In the future I believe it would be best if I refrained from participating in any games of chance with JD, especially ones involving alcohol as I have no recollection of the evening past.

Fortunately, the locals were kind enough to provide an account of our drunken exploits, and apparently my companions and I had the pleasure of sharing a near death experience, courtesy of the Wachowski brothers. However, I believe this dance with death may have been a little more intimate than we realize, despite the local’s delight with the evening’s itinerary.

Weary from our waltz, we headed to the temple of Pelor in hope of finding some medical attention. Though reluctant at first, the lovely Mother Shael was kind enough to aid each of us in return for a small favor.

Mother Shael has been unable to contact the temple of Trisk for many days now and has grown worried. In return for her hospitality, she asked only that we travel to the town of Trisk and return with report as she fears the worst of the mysterious noise.

We agreed to the cleric’s request and decided to head for Trisk in the morning. I invited my companions to reside with me for the remainder of the evening, but Lumi, hesitant of this invitation, required some assurance of my accommodations. I assured her that I could comfortably accommodate a lady and I have promised her Penelope’s room, which I always keep in pristine condition.

Day 2
I returned to the tavern this morning to inquire after our new found friends the Wachowski brothers. This proved to be a fruitless endeavor as most of the information I gathered was mere rumor. There were many claims that a Wachowski brother had been slain, but no Wachowski was among the bodies collected from the alley.

Not particularly fond of the idea of traveling to Trisk on foot, I set out to see if I could acquire some means of transport. Barry, a kind but simple man and common patron of Trinkets and Treasures, offered the use of his mule and flatbed if I delivered a letter to his brother in Trisk. His mule, also named Barry, is old but dependable, so long as one has carrots of course. I graciously accepted Barry’s offer, but the poor man can neither read nor write and so required my assistance in the production of his letter. Fortunately it was a short letter and did not take long to write. I then inquired of his brother’s name and he replied… “Barry”. I have no idea who I am delivering this letter to as I am beginning to think that he calls everyone Barry.

I returned home to find my companions awake and preparing for our trip to Trisk, so I invited them to help themselves to whatever they could find within my shop. Diero took liking to a bow, Lumi collected eight or so various arrows to add to her quiver, and JD found a healing potion. At least, I think it’s a healing potion.

Our trip has been uneventful so far, though the road appears less-traveled than I remember. We have stopped for the evening, the elves agreeing to keep watch, and will continue on to Trisk in the morning. I can sense the inklings of ancient magic. Perhaps I will finally find what I seek in Trisk.

Day 3 – morning
The strangest thing just occurred. JD spotted a group of Inflicted traveling from Trisk towards Littlebrook during his watch. While harmless, their existence was rather disconcerting. Destined to travel the familiar until they starve or are slain, there was unfortunately nothing we could do for them. I suggested we leave them be and continue on to Trisk.

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A Night at the Siren's Call
The very first session

The story began in the port town of Littlebrook, in an inn called The Siren’s Call, where a strange group – three rogues and a wizard – recent friends, perhaps mostly due to not fitting in well with the regular townsfolk, sat tossing back a few tankards.

The rumor of the day, was that shortly before entering Littlebrook, a caravan of merchants heard a deep, low rumble from the east, out towards the neighboring village of Trisk. Speculations run wild at the inn, though all agree, that whatever caused the noise could only be bad.

As one of the rogues stepped out in the alley to relieve himself, he was surprised to find a gang of local ruffians waiting. Unhappy with the elven thief amongst them, the locals were set to jump the poor fellow. Six ruffians in all, two of them armed and seemingly talented with a blade, the rogue found himself hopelessly outnumbered. Through clever banter, he did manage to stall the attackers long enough for his fellow outsiders to get suspicious, and they burst into the alley just as the fighting began.

It turned out to be a bloody night. Bones were broken, guts were spilled. The rogues did their best to outmaneuver the attackers, but brute strength nearly got the best of them all. The wizard, not wanting to call attention to his spell casting abilities, utterly failed trying to negotiate a truce, and in the end it nearly meant the end of it for the gang of rogues.

When the last two ruffians finally ran off, carrying the wizard’s coin purse, the gravely wounded outsiders retreated back inside the inn, where everyone had all but forgotten the merchant’s rumors, after the fight had broken out.

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Welcome to your campaign!
A blog for your campaign

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

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