Falling Shadows

Prelude, Session 5
Shadows Revealed

Scene One: In Service to Lord Vhennyk

For two years, the party has been in the service of Lord Vhennyk. In that time, they helped to secure peace in the Harkenwold, convincing the residents to acquiesce to the rule of the Iron Circle.

In this time, they have many adventures, generally pursuing leads regarding the cult of Orcus, slavers, or even rumors regarding Scalpel’s origins. They are able to gather from Vhennyk that he believes Scalpel was created long ago, that Agramel merely found a way to erase his memory in order to bring him into servitude.

Rumors arise about the return of Dar Gremath, that he’s gathered an army from around the Nentir Vale to take the Harkenwold. Fearing the re-appearance of his cult and the slavers, the party agrees to take him out.

The party then follows the course of action outlined in the first session – working their way behind enemy lines.

Scene Two: Confronting Gremath

When the party enters Gremath’s tent, they find him sitting at a table, cloaked, smoking a pipe. He welcomes them to enter, and asks them to sit. They refuse, and demand to know who he is.

“Gremath” takes down his cloak to reveal the face of Jarek, one of the sons of Ilyana. He explains that the Iron Circle has come down even harder on the Harkenwold after the Battle of Albridge, and without the heroes to defend them, all hell has broken loose. A year ago, Ilyana was raped and murdered while the boys watched. Jarek and Jarl then set out into the Nentir Vale, seeking help from others in the region in order to put down the Iron Circle.

They returned weeks ago with a full-fledged army, including priests of Pelor, wizards, and siege weaponry, liberating villages as they came. Jarek and Jarl have alternated masquerading as Dar Gremath in order to help inspire the people of the Harkenwold.

The party asks to meet with a priest of Pelor. One comes, and answers questions for the party. The party becomes convinced that, whatever Dar Gremath may have been up to, Jarek and Jarl have pure intentions.

Scene Three: Decisions and Consequences

After some deliberation alone, the party decides to side with Jarek. Lord Vhennyk has been watching their pursuits from afar, and he isn’t pleased. The party hears his voice boom, angry at their betrayal. A flash of light and an earth-shaking boom later, and the party finds themselves surrounded by a number of shadow trolls.

After a hard-fought battle, the last of the trolls falls. As it does, Vhennyk appears. “You fools,” he says. “You had the chance to sit by my side and rule the world. Now, you must learn the lessons that only the shadow can teach.” With a wave of his hand, the party is transported into the Shadowfell.

Scene Four: Mother Grivelda

A much-shocked party finds themselves in a shadow-crossing, with some remnants of the real world seemingly still present, but darker. One of them is a tent, inside of which they find a kindly old woman.

The woman uses the Tarot to read their fates (see below for more on this). She then offers a draw from what she calls the “Deck of Fate.”

The first to draw is Sovelis. He draws the Tower, and is immediately whisked away. Mother Grivelda explains that he’s imprisoned – somewhere – and that the party will find the answers they seek in Gloomwrought.

The rest of the party – save Varis – draws from the deck, with varying impacts.

Here was the reading, without color commentary:

Party is The Hermit.
Past is the Knight of Pentacles.
Future is The Moon.
Ally is The Page of Swords.
Obstacle is the King of Pentacles.
Failure leads to The Devil.
Success brings the High Priestess.

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Prelude, Session 4
Coming to Terms

Scene One: Defeating Redthorn

The party engages Nazim Redthorn and his troops in a ferocious battle. As the last of his army falls, Redthorn attempts to escape. He’s taken down by one of Sovellis’ arrows, and the party begins to celebrate their victory.

Scene Two: Gremath’s Fate

Suddenly, a loud boom and a bright flash draw the party’s attention. In the direction of the Albridge stables – from whence Dar Gremath had been directing the battle – they see a plume of flame and then smoke.

Rushing to the site, they are informed by Bron Torrson that Dar Gremath was struck by some sort of wizardry, and burst into flames.

Bron then takes the party into the stables. He shows them a letter with the following text:


Dar Gremath,

It is with much haste that I pen this note. Nazim Redthorn is preparing an attack on Albridge. I fear the Iron Circle may soon have full control of the Harkenwold. If we are to wrest control back from these interlopers and continue our lucrative association, they must be stopped.

Even more pressing, however, is this: I have heard guards speaking of the arrival of Lord Vhennyk. From what I can gather, the Shadow Lord has discovered our enterprise and intends to put an end to it. He has learned of the location of the Eye of Orcus, and intends to plunge our land into the Shadowfell.

Should Albridge fall to the interlopers, our only hope will be to retrieve the Eye before Vhennyk is able to secure it. It is located in the Tower of Green Flame, guarded by the animated remains of some of our less profitable stock.

As for my disposition, send word to Yisarn at Dal Nystere. He should be able to provide sufficient forces to liberate me once Redthorn’s forces are distracted with the resistance at Albridge. Should he need additional subjects, secure them from Longshadow.

Porro sceptrum Orcus , Procer of nonmortuus!

– J.S.


The party believes the letter to be from Baron Stockmer, and it contains a seal of Orcus.

Scene Three: Pursuing the Eye of Orcus

The party travels to the Tower of Green Flame, which is located in Harken Village near Harken Keep (now the Iron Keep). There, they fight servants of Lord Vhennyk. When defeat is all but certain, Vhennyk appears. He offers the heroes a truce, and indicates that he can help them on their personal quests if they will but yield to him. He says they can end the bloodshed together, and that the atrocities previously committed by the Iron Circle were not intentional.

The party agrees to work with Vhennyk.

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Prelude, Session 3

Scene One: Albridge

The group awakens one morning at the Inn to find an square foot piece of bark on the floor. Scalpel looks at it, and determines that there is an arcane message. The message says:

“The Iron Circle is not the worst of our concerns. One of our own has betrayed us to demons. Please come, tell no one!”

The party determines that the message must come from the Druid Reithann. They leave the inn, and are approached by Gerrad’s granddaughter. She says Dar Gremath wants to meet with them at noon. They head to the stables to get horses, and do not encounter Gremath on the way.

Scene Two: Reithann’s Grove

When the party arrives, they find a horrible sight. Reithann’s grove has been razed, and she is crucified upside down in the center. They find recently-animated corpses and bone footprints headed to Albridge. They also find the body of one of Reithann’s acolytes, clutching another piece of bark.

On the bark is a list of names. Some are circled, some crossed out, others are neither:

Circled:
Bron Torrson
Dar Gremath

Crossed out:
Madeira Lear (the elder in Dardune)
Aldabaer (A trapper from Easthill)

Others:
Old Kellar
Gerrad (The village elder in Abridge)

A feeling of gloom and dread hangs over the party as they leave the grove.

Scene Three: Back to Albridge

Varis asks the Hand of Fate whether to go see Bron Torrson, Dar Gremath, or neither. The hand points them to Albridge.

The party follows the bone footprints to the clearing North of Albridge (where they previously burned the supply cart). Someone has camped here in the last day.

The party continues to become suspicious of Dar Gremath.

Upon arriving in Albridge, they find Gremath – along with Bron Torrson, as well as other leaders in the area – holding a war council. Gremath asks the party to help make preparations, as the Iron Circle will be marching on Albridge within two days. He also says he’d like to keep them in reserve during the battle, as they are his best warriors.

The party meets great difficulty making arrangements, however. They are unable to resolve conflicts between the Woodsinger elves and the dwarves of Tor’s Hold. Scalpel is able to make some alchemical fire to help with defenses, some of which Varis attempts to steal.

The Battle of Albridge

The battle opens with a straightforward attack by the Iron Circle soldiers. Arrows and crossbow bolts fly as the two armies close. The Harkenwolders give ground, but their formation doesn’t break. The battle becomes a desperate, swirling melee that sprawls over several farms and fields a little way south of the town. The area the party is guarding is quiet at first, but then they spy a large band of Iron Circle soldiers heading in their direction, with a reptilian creature trotting at their side. They raise a war cry and charge at the party!

The party dispatches them hastily.

After a short rest, A young Harkenwolder gallops up to the party on horseback. “Dar Gremath says he needs your help over by the Radden farmstead!” he pants, pointing across the battlefield. A couple hundred yards away, the party can make out the rebel leader’s banner, now under attack. Between the party and Dar Gremath, a band of marauding soldiers is busy setting fire to farmhouses and killing off any wounded they come across. Some of the Iron Circle warriors aren’t human. They’re short, scaly creatures with black horns and lashing tails, surrounded in dark fumes. The messenger gallops off again, leaving matters in the party’s hands.

Again, the party dispatches the Iron Circle soldiers, this time with some difficulty.

Only minutes after they finish with their last foes, the party hears a roar of challenge. Another group of lron Circle soldiers is advancing. They are supported by two scaly, humanoid creatures with horns and tails, with dripping globs of burning pitch in their taloned hands. With the band rides a massively muscled human warrior in scale armor. A standard flies from a holder at his stirrup – a black pennant with a red and gold-trimmed gray ring in the center.

“You!” the enemy lord cries. “You are the ones who have caused me so much trouble! Know now that you face Lord Nazin Redthorn, champion of the Iron Circle. With your deaths my victory is assured!”

The game is called at 12:00 AM

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Prelude Interlude

Over the next few months, the party worked in and around Albridge, alongside Dar Gremath, to disrupt Iron Circle activities.

Among the highlights:

The group went on several missions – recruiting the Woodsinger elves to the cause, cutting off Iron Circle supply routes to the South.

Along the way, they’ve discovered a variety of evidence of nefarious dealings in the Harkenwold. There are rumors of strangers visiting towns looking to buy slaves, for example.

After clearing out an Iron Circle outpost in Easthill they found shackled corpses chained to walls in a cellar. A dead priest of Orcus was also discovered at the Easthill outpost.

The party followed rumors regarding a traveling priest of Orcus, finally landing in the city of Northridge to the south of the Harkenwold. There, they were informed by a priest of Moradin that there had been no Cult of Orcus activity there in many years, but that there have been rumors of one starting in the Harkenwold.

They also found (and closed) a portal to the Abyss at the old tower in Allbridge.

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Prelude, Session 2

Just a quick-and-dirty post for this week. Here are some highlights:

  • Party returns with supply caravan. Dar Gremath instructs them to unload it and dispose of the cart in a nearby clearing.
  • The party asks if they should burn it instead, Gremath says to do what they want, just to get rid of it.
  • Party goes to the clearing, investigates. Finds an old set of shackles and lots of footprints.
  • Sovellis burns the wagon.
  • Party asks Gremath if they should clear out the Toadwallow Caverns – he says “sure, why not.”
  • Party clears out Toadwallow Caverns, narrowly living through it. They liberate Tor’s Hold, earning the gratitude of the dwarves and their support against the Iron Circle.

Sorry for the short update! Anyone who wants can feel free to flesh it out a bit.

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Prelude, Session 1

Scene One: Vhennyk’s Mission (9th Level)

As the campaign opens, the heroes find themselves in the midst of a tense and challenging situation. For the past several months, they have been working in the employ of the Iron Keep. Today, that keep is under siege. Rebel forces gather in the outlying areas, preparing to strike and rid the keep of its current occupants.

The leader of that keep, Lord Vhennyk, has instructed the group to find and eliminate the leader of the resistance, a man by the name of Dar Gremath. Scouts have reported that Gremath is located in one of the two groves that lay between the Keep and nearby Harken. Due to their previous dealings with Gremath, they believe that he’s most likely set up in the West Grove. Seeking confirmation, Varis asks the Hand of Fate which way they should go. The Hand points them to the East Grove, causing them to call their assumptions into question.

As the party prepares to leave the keep and head toward the West Grove, they find guards attempting to secure the gates. The party offers their assistance in moving and placing timbers to further fortify the keep’s defenses.

Progressing down the road, the party stops to aid wounded soldiers in a patrol attempting to return to the keep. Working their way around toward the grove, bypassing several groups of warriors, they discover a catapult hidden in a nearby clump of trees. They waylay the catapult operators and use their expertise to disable the catapult. After putting pressure on the engineer, the party now believes Gremath to be hidden in the East Grove. They finish off the catapult operators, and head back around to the east.

Along the way, they discover a group of wizards attempting to perform a ritual which will weaken the keep’s defenses. The party is successfully able to disrupt the arcane forces in the area, in effect turning the ritual on its head and instead strengthening the keep’s walls.

The party then maneuvers their way around the back side of the East Grove, and enters the leader’s tent from the back.

Scene Two: To the Rescue (1st Level flashback)

It is a stormy autumn night on the road toward Albridge. The peaceful homestead of Ilyana and her two sons finds itself host to travelers, driven inside by the cold and the darkness. First to arrive are Gin and Scalpel, followed shortly by Sovellis. Varis arrives, supporting a very weakened Khan D’Sing. (Khan having been waylayed by bandits and left for dead, only to be found and bandaged by Varis.) The motley group begin to become acquainted, just as the shadows start to drive other dark forces into Ilyana’s steading.

A band of Iron Circle brigands – along with a pair of trained attack wolves, attempt to pillage the home. The adventurers band together for the first time, destroying the brigands and driving the wolves back out into the night. Ilyana tells the group that the Iron Circle have invaded the Harkenwold in the past two months, oppressing its people and murdering her husband (as well as many others) along the way.

Ilyana begs the group to aid the humble folk of the Harkenwold, and explains that the people are ready to rebel. They just need a strong and brave group of adventurers to inspire them. She suggests looking for the rebel leaders at the stables in Albridge, or talking to Reithan, the druid, who lives in a grove to the Southwest.

Ilyana indicates that she’ll help Khan convalesce, and send him on to Albridge when he’s feeling well enough to travel.

Scene Three: Meeting Reithan

The following morning, the group visits the druid Reithan and her two acolytes. Reithan tells of the bullywugs who are terrorizing the dwarves in Tor’s Hold, and believes that if the bullywug menace could be dispatched that they would bring serious strength to the resistance.

The party is unconvinced of the immediate benefit of freeing Tor’s hold, and continues on toward Albridge.

Scene Four: Albridge

Upon ariving in Albridge, the party makes their way into White River Mercantile. There they meet the proprietor, Roma Featherton. They ask about the Iron Circle, and whether the locals have been oppressed. Roma seems very deferential, and speaks well of the Iron Circle (especially after Sovellis shows her a glimpse of an Iron Circle cloak.)

The party leaves the Mercantile to head toward the stables. They notice a halfling child darting from the Mercantile to the stables, and Sovellis gives chase. He loses the girl, but believes her to have entered the stables. Accordingly, he climbs on the roof, and listens in through the chimney.

The rest of the party approaches Gremath Stables. They enter, and begin to speak with Dar Gremath, the owner. At first, Gremath believes them to be undercover Iron Circle agents, thanks to the words of the halfling. The party tries to convince him otherwise, but when Sovellis drops out onto the hearth, Gremath flings a knife directly into the wall above Sovellis’ head.

Eventually, the party explains their tale, and ask what they can do to help defeat the Iron Circle. Gremath notes that there is a supply wagon heading for Harken tomorrow, and that if they were to disrupt that wagon it would strike an inspiring blow, giving the people of Harkenwold courage.

Scene Five: Cutting the Supply Route

The next morning, the party sit in wait for the supply wagon. The wagon, which is guarded by several brigands, an Iron Circle acolyte, and a vicious clockwork dog is easily overtaken by the party. They head back toward Albridge with the supply wagon, having fulfilled their mission and brought hope to the Harkenwold.

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