The Empty Keg

Session 27

Bullets

  • Barnaby develops a Dragonmark!
  • The Keg fails to escape a patrol of demon-hunting Blackscale, as they are on a direct path between Haka’Torvak and the Temple of Three Dragons. The patrol is totally sweet and has a lizardman riding a fucking stegosaurus. Krumruc drowns a dude in quicksand.
  • The Keg makes its way to the caldera, only to find that there is an ancient demon-built city occupied by a few thousand lizardfolk in full scale preparation for war. Not knowing where exactly they need to go, or how to get there, the Keg comes up with a plan.
    • Phase 1 — Jack will use the horn found on the patrol to create a distraction
    • Phase 2 — the Keg will wait in ambush for a supply caravan to ambush at dusk, then take prisoners and figure out what signal to use with the horn
    • Phase 3 — Joshua will turn creepy and make a mask out of a lizardman head but use Jedi mind-tricks to get past the gate, with the other members of the Keg concealed within the caravan.
    • Phase 4 — Joshua will try to bluff his way past the temple guards and use Krumroc as a Wookie Gambit, claiming he is to be sacrificed to the great god, but fails to realize that the sacrifical slab is in the center of town, not in the temple built into the Volcano
    • Phase 5 — when the guards get suspicious, Joshua blasts them to death with lightning from his fingers and runs.
    • Phase 6 — Jack will sneak into town on his own, only he’ll get captured, and kill as many motherfuckers as he can with his new feywild teleporting.
    • Phase 7 — the Keg will disable the magical arcane eye cameras, but fail to check if the door was locked, and then have Barnaby karate punch through an inch of bronze so Jack can open the door from the inside
    • Phase 8 — with the entire town soon to be alerted, Krumroc kicks a door down, gets punched in the face by a dozen lizardmen.
    • Phase 9 — All bets are off!
    • Phase 10 — ???
    • Phase 11 — MISSION. FUCKING. ACCOMPLISHED.

XP
Bloodscale Patrol, 900xp
MISSION. FUCKING. ACCOMPLISHED. 800xp

Treasure
Fire opals worth 1440gp
Demon Amulet, +3 (Jack)

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Session 26

Bullets

  • The Keg comes to the Temple of the Three Dragons, a once holy site, with the intention of freeing the demon bound within and causing a distraction to allow them access to Haka’torvak. They observe the lizardfolk guardians performing some kind of ritual.
  • The company hatches a plan to try to confuse their adversaries but it falls apart when the lizardfolk sentries notice Joshua. After a pitched battle, the Keg slaughters the lizardfolk templars and find their way into the step pyramid.
  • Inside they are met with a strange hallway containing three statutes representing servants of the world dragons. The hallway is curious and suspicions are aroused, but the trap is sprung — crushing walls, jets of fire, and a ghostly guardian attack. The Keg is able to keep the walls from collapsing long enough for the iron doors to be breached and the trap reset.
  • The company finds a pit into hell. Barnaby sets off the angelic guardians, but is rescued by his companions. After the angels are defeated, an eruption of black smoke escapes the chasm from hell and bursts out of the top of the pyramid.

BONUS SCENE!

After picking themselves up and dusting themselves off, the Keg climbs out of the pit and finds their way through the hall of trials back outside to the outer courtyard. There, they find a gruesome sight — a strange amalgam of feline and human crouches over the bodies of the fallen lizardfolk (now horribly mauled), greedily lapping the blood of the fallen from cupped paws. The creature seems to sense the presence of adventurers. It turns to face the party, licking gore from its whiskers, and then its image blurs and shifts as the creature advances, taking the form of an attractive brown skinned half-elven woman with black hair and exotic features wearing a simple red dress. Her arms are still covered in blood to the elbow, and she continues to casually clean her fingertips as she observes the ragged company of adventurers.

When she speaks, her voice is a delicious alto: “Interesting. You were the ones that unfettered my shackles? Alas, the keys to the cell remain out of reach, but I thank you all the same.” Her laughter is disturbing. “Now, however, I would know why.” Her voice takes on a hard edge, and just for an instant her eyes are those of a cat. “Who sent you, and why?”

XP
Guardians of the Three Dragons 720xp
Hall of Trials 640xp
The Pit 720xp

Treasure
Fell Beast Totem +3
Dragonshard swords worth 3500gp

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Session 25

Bullets

  • The Keg defeats a Fang Titan and her child.
  • Cualli, a scout from the Cold Sun tribe of lizardfolk, makes contact with the PCs and brings them to the settlement of High Rock.
  • Xoatla, the chieftan of the tribe, negotiates with the PCs:
    • The tribe will trade meat and fangs for trinkets, supplies, and a magic item.
    • The Codex lays within Haka’torvhak which is guarded by an ancient black dragon named Rhashaak, who is much more powerful than the PCs. They will need to find a way to get him to leave in order to enter the site.
    • She suggests the PCs either help her kill a rival tribe, thus allowing her tribe to hold a sacrificial ceremony which may lure the dragon out, or that the PCs go and destroy the rival tribe’s guards around a sacred site containing evil, which will cause Rhashaak to fly out to deal with the threat.
  • After much discussion, the Keg decides to release evil as bait and travels two days through the jungle to the temple built over the rift to hell.

Recap
Frozen in place by the mother’s roar, the Keg turns in horror to see a Fang Titan barreling out of the foliage directly towards them! By the time the company recovers from the initial shock, the beast is upon them, snapping powerful jaws and trying to pinion her foes underneath her talons. The Keg unleashes blade and spell to subdue the fang titan’s young as quickly as possible, but not before it displays an impressive ability to leap and knock people to the ground. Joshua in particular is savaged, but Barnaby uses his expert knowledge of dinosaur anatomy to knock the young unconscious, though it seems only to enrage the mother.

Jack and Lan work to contain the mother, and at first it works — the eldritch powers of the Feywild blind her, and Lan’s ghostly allies hold her in place. In an act of heroism, Lan steps in front of the mother to keep her from his wounded comrades, and is rewarded by a savage bite, but remains standing. Eventually, however, the Keg’s resources wane and the Fang Titan, driven mad with rage at what she thinks is the death of her young, shows why she is a creature to be feared. Thrashing about with her heavy tail, she knocks several of the company to the ground and then pins them beneath her heavy feet. She seems to delight in picking up both Joshua and Barnaby, shaking them and then letting them fall heavily to the ground while ignoring the rest of the Keg. Barnaby, seeing death loom, sings the Talenta Death Song and throws himself into the beast’s jaws to distract it — the plot works, but perhaps too well, as with a sickening crunch the tiny halfling’s body crumples and the fang titan begins to devour him. But she is on her last legs, and finally a powerful blow from Krumroc breaks her jaw and sends her crashing to the earth.

A small orange-and-yellow banded lizardfolk steps out from the brush and begins to interrogate the Keg, though only Jack can speak her language. She identifies herself as a Sun Rock Finder (scout) of the Cold Sun, and demands to know what the “warmbloods” are doing so far from their land, as well as wanting to know how many of them there are and who their leader is. Jack quickly lies and tells her than “tens of tens” of them are on the shore, but that their presence here is an accident and that they are trying to find a book, which the scout has never heard of. The scout identifies herself as Cualli and informs the PCs that she has the advantage over them, since they fell for her trap, but that they may be able to negotiate with her chieftain especially if they make a gift of the fang titan’s meat (as well as that of the other slain lizardfolk). The Keg agrees to follow her to High Rock, after butchering the fang titan and tying up the young.

High Rock is several hours away and seems to be built on the ruins of a much older settlement, and contains perhaps 50 or so lizardfolk engaged in crafting and making preparations for battle. Leaving their weapons at the door to the chieftain’s hut, the Keg is allowed entrance and meets with Xoatla, the Scarred Mother, an older lizardfolk covered with battle scars.

The Keg parlays with the lizardfolk leader, and ask her if she knows anything of the Codex or the place in which it is rumored to be found. She has never heard of the book, but tells the company that Haka’torvhak (the temple built into the caldera in the center of Q’barra) is the Throne of Holy Dragons, guarded over by the ancient and powerful god — a black dragon named Rhashaak who was charged with guarding the site. Legend has it that during the war between the gods and the demons, a mighty battle was fought and the volcano is the remnant of hell pushing it’s way into this world. Rhashaak and the other dragons bound the demons in their prison and watch ceaselessly to eradicate any evil. If the Keg wants something from inside the temple, they will have to deal with Rhashaak. At first the Keg considers negotiating with the dragon, and once Xoatla hears this she dismisses her attendants and quietly informs Jack that many tribal leaders have begun to believe that Rhashaak has become corrupted by the forces which he guards, and that he can no longer be trusted.

Xoatla ponders for a moment and then suggests that her tribe and the Keg trade services. She is engaged in a difficult war for survival against another tribe of lizardfolk, the Poison Dusk. The Keg wants to find a way into the temple and to avoid Rhashaak. Xoatla only knows of two times when the dragon leaves his lair — when one tribe sacrifices another in his honor, or periodically when he hunts down an escaped lesser evil from one of the many demonic ruptures that dot the jungle landscape. She offers the Keg a choice: either leave her lands with directions back to human settlements, help her defeat her rivals so they may be sacrificed to the dragon god (starting by helping her recover heatstones which would enable her warriors to be active at night), or frame her rivals as incompetents by releasing an evil which they have been charged with guarding and cost them valuable political support. Destroying the rival tribe would take time, and would keep Rhashaak busy for only two or three days. Attacking a rival temple would be fast, and could keep Rhashaak busy for far longer depending on the strength of the evil released.

The Keg confers back and forth, trying to make a decision. Krumroc is opposed to allowing another demon to escape, and Lan seems thrilled by the idea of (finally!) being able to conquer and destroy. Jack is concerned about the timing involved with defeating the rival tribe and fears it may not be enough of a distraction, while Barnaby notes that he simply does not have the time to waste killing lizards because his people are being threatened by abberant terrors who are only growing stronger by the day. Eventually, reluctantly, the Keg decides to opt for the quicker and riskier path — they will attack a rival temple, release a “great evil”, and hope it keeps Rhashaak occupied long enough for them to find the Codex.

After bilking the natives out of some dragonshard jewelry for dinosaur meat no one but Barnaby cared about and resupplying, the Keg is guided by Cualli through the jungle deep into Poison Dusk lands to their destination — a crumbling temple build into the side of a hill, the earth scorched barren by fissures into underground lava tubes which can sometimes be seen, and the air hazy with toxic smoke.

Treasure
1750gp in dragonshards scammed from natives
+3 Amulet of Physical Resolve made from Fang Titan fangs.

XP
Mama T-Rex 800xp
Roleplaying Award 1000xp

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Session 24

Bullets

  • The Keg sets out for Q’barra aboard the Dauntless.
  • Valenar pirates attack, seriously damaging the ship, though the boarding action is repelled.
  • Crippled, the Keg races to restore the Dauntless to functioning while a second Valenar ship approaches. Unable to slip away, Moille turns the ship directly into the path of a storm.
  • The ship is lost at sea with almost all hands seemingly lost. The Keg floats ashore on debris, finding themselves on a jungle beach.
  • Exploring the jungle, the PCs are set upon by lizardfolk who seemed to be chasing a member of another lizardfolk tribe.
  • Pressing on, the PCs encounter a small dinosaur which is spooked into crying out before they can try to soothe it, triggering a response from it’s mother.

Recap
Meeting with Captain Moille of the Dauntless, the Keg at first tries to simply book passage on her boat, but quickly allows her to spin whatever tale she wants — she seems convinced that Jack is a Trust agent and that this is some sort of “deep cover” assignment, due to the fact that no one is searching her ship. Deciding to let the good captain talk herself into letting the company on her boat, the Keg just nods, smiles, and takes their cabin.

En route to Q’barra after 5 days of brisk sailing, the company is rudely awakened by an enormous impact which rocks the Dauntless. Cries of alarm sound across the boat — “Valenar! The Valenar! Pirates!” Reaching the main deck, the Keg finds Moille shouting orders at the top of her lungs and swearing roundly about the elves ability to pick her ship out of the darkness. There is little time to prepare before the elven ship rams the Dauntless at top speed. A boarding ramp is dropped and a detachment of Valenar marines swarms the ship, cutting down the lesser skilled sailors with ruthless efficiency.

Joshua positions himself at the front of the boarding ramp, but is overwhelmed by sheer numbers combined with the ferocious skill of the elves — it is easy to see why the Valenar are so widely feared. Krumroc comes to Joshua’s aid but is soon entangled in his own troubles when one canny marine blinds him with the enormous main sail, and the rest of the assault party takes advantage of the blinded dwarf.

Still, the Keg soon finds its balance and begins to recover. Barnaby leaps into the Dauntless’ air ring and blows himself to the mizzen mast, then leaps across to the elven vessel and begins to assault the archers. With some help from Jack, he quickly scales the enemy’s crow’s nest and sends its occupant into the ocean. Lan sends Kharif to keep the main body of his countrymen off balance while skirmishing with the stray marine which slips past the lines, then moves closer to the action to end the lives of the enemy with quiet efficiency. Jack slips through the Feywild constantly, picking his targets, until he reaches the Dauntless’ deck gun which he unleashes on the unsuspecting elves (and Joshua, but who’s counting?). Finally, Barnaby finishes off one of the last Valenar warriors by kicking him into the path of one of their own cannons and firing it, tearing the elf apart.

Exhausted, Lan’s sharp eyes spot a second black Valenar ship slipping through the waves towards the Dauntless just as the sun rises, revealing thick black storm clouds. Furiously, the Keg works to release the docking ramp, extinguish fires, pump water, and restart the ship’s engines. It soon becomes obvious that they will not be able to repair the ship in time, and Captain Moille takes it upon herself to turn the ship into the storm, hoping to lose the elves.

Though the Keg does what it can to keep the ship going, it soon becomes a battle for survival as the ship is lashed by rain and swamped by heavy chop which puts a strain on the already damaged timbers of the vessel.The Dauntless begins to give way — the main mast snaps with a terrific crack and narrowly misses Krumroc. It is just the beginning. Soon water begins to flood the hold, forcing Jack and Joshua to abandon the engine room, and the deck begins to pull itself apart. The main deck proves no safer — an enormous wave tilts the ship almost on it’s side, sending Jack and Krumroc plunging into the water. Lan rushes to save Jack with a quickly thrown line while Barnaby catches Krumroc and clings to the railing for dear life.

Finally, the Dauntless surrenders, the hull snapping, and begins to tip backwards. Barnaby and Krumroc, at the bow of the ship, are launched rapidly skywards and just barely manage to hang on. Lan dives into the ocean and begins to swim as fast as he can away from the vortex caused by the sinking vessel, but Jack and Joshua are not so lucky — when the elemental ring contacts the water, the Dauntless rockets straight down at breakneck speed too fast for either to escape. Krumroc throws himself clear and finds his way to the mast, which he rechristens the S.S. Empty Keg. Barnaby and Lan dive in search of their missing comrades; quickly they find Joshua who is already swimming to the surface, but Jack, a poor swimmer, proves harder to locate. Just before Jack is unable to prevent himself from breathing water, Barnaby finds him and presses an air-filled Bag of Holding into his hand so that he can breathe. The two make their way to the surface and are rescued by Krumroc and the others. Many grueling hours later, exhausted, the Keg (and 3 crewmen) wash ashore on a sandy white beach, surrounded by thick jungle alive with the hum of insects and calls of strange birds.

Taking stock of their situation, the Keg has some food, but precious little water. One crewmen is too sick to move, and promising to return with fresh water and healing supplies (but knowing it is hopeless), the company moves to explore the jungle — Lan decides the crewman is a liability and ends his life quickly before rejoining the others. After hours of cutting their way through dense jungle, tormented by thirst, fatigue, and insects, Lan manages to locate a washed out stream bed which still has a few inches of water and sends Barnaby down to fill what waterskins the company has. Suddenly, a green scaled lizardman with brilliant orange and yellow markings bursts out of the undergrowth and tumbles practically at the Keg’s feet, scrambling to regain its balance. It is followed by half a dozen brown lizardfolk marked with ritual scars, pushing their way through the foliage. Upon seeking the company, the brown lizardfolk hiss and attack, while the green lizardman flees.

“Death to the warmbloods!” howls the shaman as he charges down the slope and brings the jungle itself to life — covering Krumroc and Joshua with thick vines that hold them in place and nearly tear limbs from sockets, while killing one of the Dauntless’ remaining crew. Snarling their own challenges, several lizardmen leap down the slope and toss cruelly barbed and poisoned javelins towards the company, inflicting heavy wounds, while other more heavily armed lizards take up defensive positions around their weaker comrades.

Lan senses the danger posed by the lizardmen and sacrifices Kharif in an explosion of necrotic energy to limit their ability to respond, while at the same time calling ghostly allies to cut the vines which bind his comrades. Freed, Joshua and Krumroc charge forward towards the shaman, trying to lock down as many enemies as possible, while Jack engages in a game of cat-and-mouse (or cat-and-also-cat) with the javelin throwers, searching for the best angle to gain cover. Barnaby is a blur of motion as he unleashes flurry after flurry of punches, kicks, and slashes with his tangat. All seems to be going well for the Keg — until they learn that these lizardfolk can spew poison.

Lizard after lizard spits poison over the Keg’s melee combatants, burning when it contacts skin. Some inevitably gets into eyes and mouths, causing further pain. The club wielding lizardfolk rush forward at unbelievable speed, dodging weapons and knocking footing out from beneath anyone in range, then hiss in satisfaction when they can take advantage of their prone foes. The shaman causes his allies’ wounds to close, and causes an eruption of noxious fumes to explode in the dead center of the melee — inflicting heavy damage. While the Keg struggles to recover, limited by choking and couching from the poison, the javelin throwers take advantage and launch deadly missiles towards any targets of opportunity. Lan responds by limiting their movement with Kharif and a second ancestor — Satina, a cruelly beautiful elven woman.

The lizardfolk are astonishingly brutal. Joshua falls first, surrounded by club wielding foes, and then Barnaby, blasted by poison from several sources. Lan is so damaged by javelins that he is forced to remain behind cover. Krumroc is able to awaken both of his comrades and tries to serve as the center of the conflict, but he cannot hold and eventually he falls as well only to be dragged behind cover by Lan who desperately tries to staunch the wounds and cure the poison. The dwarf’s skin is ashen, his pulse erratic, nails and lips turning blue from the poison. Barnaby and Jack try to finish off the remaining javelin tossers, but once Barnaby gets close enough he is poisoned by a vicious bite and falls to his knees from the pain. He struggles to recover, but his distraction buys Jack enough time to finish the artillery off. Lan manages to breathe life into Krumroc, though the old dwarf is in no shape for a fight, and the company takes shelter in the ancient shrine near the ravine to lick their wounds.

Deciding to follow the yellow and orange lizardman, the Keg pushes east through the jungle. Lan’s senses detect the overwhelming stench of carrion. Investigating, Barnaby finds a young fang titan dinosaur consuming a fallen brontosaurus. Thrilled, he attempts to tame it — his calls seem to attract the thing’s attention as it begins to move inquisitively towards him. Before it can reach the brush, a dart flies out from the foliage and strikes the dinosaur in the throat. It roars in pain and terror — a roar which is answered by something much, much larger and much, much angrier. The jungle shakes and trees topple to the ground. Frozen in terror, the Keg can only watch as an adult Fang Titan rushes towards her infant’s cry.

(TUNE IN NEXT WEEK FOR THE CONTINUING ADVENTURES OF: THE EMPTY KEG!)

Treasure
1750gp worth of dragonshard jewelry
+3 Drowmesh Veteran’s Leather Armor

XP
Elven Pirates! 600xp
A Perfect Storm. 600xp
Welcome to Q’barra. 700xp

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Session 23

Recap BULLETS!

  • The Keg leaves Darguun, avoiding the turmoil of the civil war. They cause a scene at the Brelish border but are let through. They hand off Jelia to the authorities and telegraph the Citadel to come get her.
    • Krumroc holds a board meeting about restructuring and expanding the company.
  • The Keg travels through Zilargo — the happiest place on earth — and reaches the port city of Korranberg. There they resupply, book passage on an elemental galleon to New Galifar (Q’Barra) and ask questions at the Library of Korranberg about the Maruk Codex and the Blood of Khyber..
    • The librarian gives them the run around and later turns out to be a Trust informant.
  • Later, in their hotel, Krumroc is rudely awakened by a Woman in Grey and her associates who interrogate him about why the Keg is searching for the Codex, who sent them, where they are headed, and what their purpose is.
    • Krumroc is resistant and tells her half truths. She tries to get more information out of Jack and lets slip that uncovering the Codex is a danger to the entire world and the Keg should abandon their quest.
  • Trust Spec Ops burst through the windows suddenly and begin to try to neutralize the Keg. There is a heated fight and the Keg eventually prevails.
    • Woman in Grey tells Jack that he’s been betrayed and that someone wants him dead; that she had nothing to do with this order, and tries to distract the teams moving in towards the hotel. Also she tells him his ship has been compromised and to use another ship.
  • The Keg climbs down the side of the hotel and escapes through the streets, splitting up and trying to shake their pursuers. After some close calls they manage to meet up at the pier and bluff their way onto a different ship to Q’Barra.

Treasure
Lightning Dagger (+2)
8 stun rods (100gp each)

XP
Gninjas Attack! 700xp
Polizei! Halt! 500xp
Roleplaying award 650xp

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Session 22

BULLET POINTS!

  • Joshua tries to break the Blood of Khyber with the Blade of Ashurta and is instead tempted by the demons within. The Keg and Joshua defeat the demons and seem to neutralize the Blood (for now).
  • Joshua, Krumroc, and Fleng disagree on what to do with Jelia. Ultimately, they decide to worry about it once they get her out of the Mist.
  • While escaping the Forge, the Keg blows up the entry tunnel with the “assistance” of Sietch (the hobgoblin mercenary they had ordered to kill her compatriot) who had been waiting in ambush for them, but only to get Valsath’s sword. The Keg gives Sietch the sword and brings her with them.
  • The Keg makes their way through the Mist and find themselves in Dharguun. The country side seems to be burned and looted.
  • Using the dowsing rod function of the cord, the Keg follows the location of Barnaby’s gem. It leads to the Old Man’s monastery.
    • Govaan and Barnaby are within. Barnaby was captured by mercenaries after he ran away, Govaan rescued him. They got lost in the Mist and ended up in Talenta where they learned of what seems to be a daelkyr invasion (Far Realm), searching the halfling lands for something called the Tear. Barnaby requests the help of the Keg in defending his people.
    • Dharguun has fallen into civil war. The goblinoid leader has been assassinated and Breland and Karnnath are at
    • The Old Man describes the Blood of Khyber as an actual drop of blood from one of the great dragons during the creation myth of the world. As part of a world before this one, it cannot be destroyed by something from this world. It is rumored to be a focus between this world and the realm of demons, but he doesn’t know much more than that.
    • The Old Man thinks the Crown may be older than presumed. Ashurta was rumored to “trod the denizens of hell beneath his feet” and the Crown has powers not only over life and death, but also against the aberrations of the daelkyr. It may have the ability to control planar gateways and it is possible that the gems in the Crown now were not the original gems — the Blood of Khyber, the Tear of Siberys, and the Sweat of Eberron may be able to be controlled.
    • The knowledge of the Crown and the Prophesy concerning it are contained in something called the Maruc Codex, as far as the Old Man knows. He has heard of only one copy of the book — deep within an ancient burned out volcano in the center of the jungle nation of Qbarra.
  • The Keg considers their options and determines that their best course of action is to try to find the Codex before dealing with either Barnaby’s request to find the Tear or any attempts to deal with the Blood. They plan to go via Zilargo to charter a ship.

RECAP!

After some preliminary discussion, Joshua lifts the blade of Ashurta in both hands and brings it down on the Blood of Khyber. But instead of shattering the gem, time seems to slow down. He hears the sound of the blade connecting with the stone, and then his world goes black. When he comes to, Joshua finds himself sitting in a blank room at a table. An ebon skinned gentleman dressed in finery approaches Joshua and makes him a bargain — help him transport the Blood outside of the Mist, and Joshua can have anything he wants. Money, power, the ability to shed himself of useless companions and be able to give in to his anger.

As Joshua struck the gem, there was a flash of black energy, and the rest of the Keg finds themselves in an orderly looking octagonal room, flanked by bookshelves, and dominated by a raised dias containing what appears to be the Blood of Khyber. Between the bookshelves are a series of statutes, Within the gem, the Keg can see and hear Joshua’s struggle, and note that lines of arcane force seem to be connecting the statutes and the gem itself. Krumroc handles one of the statutes and it comes to life, filling the minds of the Keg with images of drunken debauchery. While Joshua struggles internally, the Keg systematically begins attacking statutes, creating more and more temptation creatures. Finally, Joshua rejects the offer of the ebon skinned man (Mr. Black) and turns to blast him with lightning which Mr. Black deftly blocks. Sneering and expressing his disappointment, Mr. Black and Joshua fade back into the statute room, appearing near the gem.

“Such a waste, Mr. Cooper. This is what you could have become.” Mr. Black vanishes and is replaced by another image of Joshua (only wearing black, with slicked back hair, and yes, a goatee). The remaining statutes shatter and more temptation demons appear. Joshua and his doppleganger battle alongside the Keg. Dark Joshua has all of Joshua’s abilities, only enhanced, but it’s not enough to save him from the Keg. Finally the demonic images fade, and the Keg finds themselves in the Forge, with apparently no time having passed. The Blood of Khyber has shrunk to fist sized, seated in the palm of Joshua’s hand.

Afterwards there is a lengthy discussion about the fate of Jelia. Krumroc and Fleng think she should be imprisoned with the Old Man, while Joshua feels that the Keg has a duty to return her to Breland — he cares little for goblin problems and goblin artifacts. Things get heated after a while, with Fleng and Krumroc having a secret conversation, and then later Joshua and Krumroc have one of their own. The two sides agree to disagree, for now, and want to focus on getting out of the Forge. After resting for a night, the Keg decide to try to fabricate some explosives while searching for Jelia’s lost partner. They are unsuccessful at locating Jelia’s partner, surmising that perhaps someone has come in to spirit him away based on the kicked down door, but do recover some of his notes. Noting that the Mist seems to somehow have penetrated the compound, the company makes haste to leave the Forge, sapping the tunnel on their way out.

While running out the exit tunnel, they are briefly detained by a hobgoblin who claims she is going to blow the tunnel unless they give in to her demands. Fleng hesitates for a moment, and then politely informs her that his compatriots have already set charges in the tunnel which are set to go off, so they really must move. Taken aback, the woman stammers, and then the explosion happens — people riding the shockwave out, and burying the Forge in a mountain of dust and debris. Parlaying with the woman, the Keg realizes it is Sietch (the hobgoblin mercenary who they let go). She only wants Valsath’s sword, to use to take control of the clan and remove them from any struggle between Bladebearer and Wordbearer. The Keg is only too happy to consent, even going so far as to offer to escort her out of the Mist.

The Keg finds their way through the Mournland, but Joshua, Fleng, and Krumroc all have to fight off the mind-distorting effects of the Mists. Once they are in Dharguun, they see evidence of armies moving and burnt out farmholds. Following Krumroc’s piece of the Crown and trying to find Barnaby, the company passes through the mountains to the Old Man’s monastery where they find an old friend and learn some surprising information …

XP
Dark Joshua 500 xp
Temptation Skill Challenge 300xp
Roleplaying Award 800xp

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Session 21

Highlights of the battle included:

  • Joshua getting into base to base with the boss on turn one! (and then spending the rest of the fight sitting on his own private island). But let’s not forget his very daring charge trying to present a target of opportunity to prevent Calmachia from squishing Krumroc like a bug, nor his lightning lure which FINALLY got a guy into the lava. And of course the “death saves? how about a natural 20. I. Am. Just. That. Hard. Core.” moment at the end where he was bleeding out and then decided to STAND UP on his own.
  • Jack’s daring teleportation rescue of Fleng after he took his lava bath sinking Calmachia like a tent pole into the lava. Then his subsequent team up with Lan rendering Calmachia blind, immobilized, prone or ON FIRE for basically the rest of the encounter. Honorable mention goes to setting Fleng’s fists on fire for the entire encounter. Really he was the unsung hero, because his +2 to this attack and -2 to that defense or -5 to hit for a round ended up tipping a bunch of rolls in your favor.
  • Krumroc’s hand to hand sissy slap fight with a deathforged on the bridge, prone under the hopper, and finally on the conveyor belt until FINALLY the bastard ended up in the lava, as well as his “the SILVER FLAME does not retreat!” moment when he was on something like 20hp and decided to stand in the aura of “you can’t save against ongoing damage, nor can you spend healing surges” to smack Calmachia down with Weapon of the Gods only to end up beat up as all hell (then taking a step back to catch his breath and going to almost full HP)
  • Fleng’s acts of daring acrobatics, including standing on Calmachia’s head, dangling from her ankle, running up Joshua’s back to flip himself up onto a catwalk. Also his tent-pole maneuver as mentioned as well as various dunkings of deathforged into lava. Pretty much nothing would have died w/o Fleng’s ninja punches, and given how hard this map was to move around (see also: Joshua) the flipping helped too.
  • Lan’s “it’s all part of the plan” waiting for Calmachia to eat his spirit so he could make it EXPLODE INSIDE HER SOUL, and the team-up with Jack which honestly probably saved everyone’s lives given how difficult it was to heal and how much damage she could put out (30 DPR on average, more if her stupid greater mark of death would have worked). And, of course, the kill shot, dropping Calmachia over the edge into the lava where her body will never be recovered — and conveniently where she can’t rise again, since the body is a slag heap.

XP
780xp per person

View
Session 20

BULLET POINTS FOR ADD PEOPLE

  • Valsath’s interrogation goes poorly.
  • The Keg locates the control room to the Forge and sets off something that blocks their way into the inner Forge with a magical barrier.
  • The Keg finds Haestus apartment.
  • Haestus is a mad scientist type who rose from the dead with the help of “the Whisperer” and integrated something called the Blood of Khyber into the Forge to create Deathforged — warforged bearing the Mark of Death.
  • The Keg locates Jelia
  • Jelia came to the Forge on her own accord to try to advance her career. She collaborated with Haestus to get the Forge back online. She seems more naive than dangerous.
  • The Keg broach the inner Forge and come face to face with a strange deathforged who claims to be the spirit of Calmachia d’Vol, who seems detached and non-threatening, but her stated goal is to bring the rest of her line back into the bodies of more deathforged.

Recap

After bandaging their wounds, Lan secures the hobgoblin leader — Valsath — and takes her over towards some dangerous machinery. Krumroc brings her around and begins to intimidate her, but her instincts are to fight rather than cooperate. She snarls her challenge at Fleng, accusing him and his kind of having ruined her country. She breaks free from Lan and with a howl of rage throws herself at Fleng, battering him into unconsciousness before Lan thrusts a spear through her back. Krumroc is the smooth stone.

The company decides that they are in no position to be taking on anything, including an interrogation, and make their way back to the hobgoblin barracks. They secure the entrances and try to make themselves as comfortable as possible. Their sleep is uneasy, disrupted somewhat by the sound of heavy machinery activating underneath them. Jack is somewhat improved, but Lan still struggles to shake off the effects of the Mournland.

Returning to the lower level, the Keg forces their way into a room filled with control machinery, quietly humming and somehow modulating the flow of some unknown kind of energy through a series of crystal panels embedded into the floor. Investigating, Lan’s eyes are drawn to a soft blue light underneath some of the machinery and Jack goes to investigate, but is unable to make heads or tails of it. Joshua sighs and takes a look, determining that the mechanism seems to be some kind of metal press designed to inscribe the dragonmarks of all the great houses — and one unknown mark that he’s never seen before.

Joshua fiddles with the mechanism, trying to see what he can make work, when suddenly the system seems to go haywire. Lights flash on and off and text scrolls across crystal panels at a rapid pace, too fast for anyone to read. Finally the entire system works itself up to a fevered pitch, then abruptly powers down. The silence lingers for a few seconds before lights begin to blink on again — panel after panel flashing the symbol of each dragonmarked house in it’s own hue, before those marks are extinguished, the energy from the consoles flowing into the center of the room. In the floor, an enormous, mysterious 13th dragonmark takes shape, powered by the consoles. Krumroc takes his hammer to the consoles and equipment to no avail, trying to shut down the process. He is the smooth stone.

Lan detects the flow of air coming from the back of the room and points out a small indentation in the wall. Fleng investigates and correctly determines that Haestus’ ring might open the sliding wall. Inside, the company finds a series of apartments that have been untouched for years — writing desk, wardrobe, bed, clothing. Investigating, the Keg quickly determines these were the forge master’s private rooms. His desk contains an automatic writer which has been put to much use over the years. Joshua takes Haestus’ diary, Fleng recovers his notes, but Jack is delighted to discover both a set of black leather robes with a distinctly unpleasantly sticky texture, a strange ashen rod set with a crystal, and vial after vial of rare arcane components. Deciding to look at the writing later, the company moves on.

Returning the the manufacturing floor, the Keg discovers that the control room seems to have set up some kind of lock on the enormous doors to the west — purplish energy that they quickly discover is highly dangerous bars their passage. Instead the company tries the door to the north only to find it barricaded from the other side, and a female voice claiming to have dangerous mercenaries inside, warning the Keg to leave as quickly as possible if they don’t want trouble. While Krumroc is, once again, the smooth stone and begins to kick and bash the door down (and gets a shot fired next to his head for his troubles), Fleng and Jack use their disciplines to get inside and survey the scene: a scared eladrin woman hiding behind a desk. After many false starts and being unable to talk her down, Krumroc forces the door open and Joshua tells the eladrin woman, Jelia, how it’s going to be in a tone that brooks no disagreement. Her wand slips from nerveless fingers and she surrenders.

Calming Jelia down, they learn that she discovered the location of a lost forge inside Cyran territory and, wishing to be rewarded for her brilliance, seized the initiative and went off to learn about it on her own. She hired a group of hobgoblin mercenaries to protect her, and together they braved the Mournland. They had to blast their way inside, and once inside found Haestus’ spirit with whom they made a bargain — he would teach them the workings of the forge, and in return they would be his hands and muscle, constructing warforged to his specifications.

Jelia recounts her interactions with Haestus — a brilliant but flawed artificer of house Cannith who was banished to the fringes to try to bring him inline and stop him from performing dangerous experiments. It didn’t work and he continued to work on his projects in secret, developing artificial dragonmarks that he could, in theory, imprint on warforged. Before he could put his theory into practice, his compound was sealed off by what he believes was a Cannith strike team. Shortly thereafter the Mourning struck and he was completely cut off. Desperate, he erected a temporal field to keep the Mist out, which seemed to work, but what was left of his work force slowly starved to death. Rather than face that fate, he killed himself — but did not stay dead.

Jack gets the rest of the story from Haestus’ journal. Something whispered the artificer back from the grave and rose him as a forgewraith. Haestus was lead by this “Whisperer” to a gem floating unharmed in the volcanic tunnels that powered the forge, and he uses his last remaining ability to affect the world in retrieving it. He was unable to perform any work on his own, being unable to affect the real world, and so devoted himself to tireless study and refining of his techniques. Eventually, he discovered a way to create the forbidden Mark of Death, guided by the whispers from beyond. The key was the obsidian gem — the Blood of Khyber. Once Valsath and Jelia found their way inside, he knew he had his chance — he struck a bargain with them to help them create dragonmarked warforged, but in reality his goal was darker. He convinced the goblins to create warforged which would serve as his hands and set to work modifying his machinery to bring back the Mark of Death. The Deathforged were to be his masterpiece.

Working together, Jelia and Joshua get the control room back on line and disable the security protocol preventing access to the inner forge. Steeling themselves for the unknown, the company pulls the doors open and finds themselves inside an enormous lava dome. Floating in the lava are several islands on which arcane machinery rests — one of which is obviously the Forge itself. Catwalks and moving bridges connect the islands, and several Deathforged work controls or guard passage across. Dominating the scene is a floating, featureless humanoid carved with numerous runes including a Mark of Death which covers its entire torso. Kharif, Lan’s spiritual companion, is terrified — he claims to see a vortex of spirits surrounding her, all of them being destroyed one at a time. Krumroc is uncertain as to whether he should be the smooth stone.

In the back of each person’s mind comes a scratching sensation and then they sense rather than hear a voice asking them their purpose. The speaker is the floating construct, who claims to be called Calmachia d’Vol. She seems detached from reality and uncertain about the workings of the world, but does not threaten the company with any harm. She claims that she has already achieved her purpose and is bringing back her family. The Keg, not being her enemies, are free to leave or do what they wish so long as they stay out of her way. Her Master has shown her the way back and the Forge is operational at last. The company is taken aback, uncertain what to do, but from within the heart of the forge, bathed in molten fire, a dark gem glimmers menacingly.

XP
800xp roleplay award

Treasure
+2 shadow warlock armor
+2 rod of time distortion
2500gp in residuum and other arcane components

View
Session 19

Recap

After fetching Twocopper and Joshua, the Keg decides to make their way down the access hatch to whatever lays below. Descending first, Joshua sees an extensive catwalk over what appears to be low intensity magma — probably for powering the Forge itself. He also spots two ebon warforged marked with the strange violet mark. Not being particularly quiet, the constructs notice him as well. Things start off poorly for the company as there is great confusion and congestion trying to all descend through the passageway at once — everyone but Twocopper and Lan ends up sprawling on the catwalk, only to see incorporeal figures rising from the lava. Dressed in Cannith finery, one figures dominates the others — Haestus, master of the forge.

Haestus taunts the company, cursing them for meddling fools who are unwelcome in his forge. He hurls balls of ghostly flame at the Keg and lays about himself with blasts of soul-scorching power. Meanwhile, his forgewraith workers, bound to him in death, hurl themselves unthinkingly at the party, howling in incoherent fury and exploding in bursts of spectral fire when they are inevitably destroyed. The ebon warforged advance and try to hold the line, but Joshua’s spatial rifts break their line and clear a path towards the forge master himself. While Lan keeps the warforged at bay and Fleng effortlessly defeats the workers, Jack focuses his attention on Haestus.

Joshua turns one of the warforged to slag with a blast of fire and leaves the other for Lan, who has been staying safely out of reach halfway up the ladder entrance, to take care of, and moves to intercept Haestus. He joins Fleng on the razorwire above the lava — painful to be sure, but better than the agony of actual lava. Krumroc and Fleng join him and engage in a game of cat and mouse with Haestus who attempts to make use of his ability to pass through walls to escape. Some well coordinated tactics bring the wraith within reach of Krumroc’s hammer blows, but the wraith fights back with blasts of spectral fire. It is not enough. With a stunned look on his face, Haestus’ form fades into mist after Fleng twists the head from his body. All that remains is a signet ring carrying his name which the goblin saves from the fire.

Deciding to press on, the company investigates the door to the north and finds what appears to be a factory floor designed to mass produce components for creating warforged, surrounded by a lengthy catwalk. The room hums with activity, automated systems of chains and hampers delivering parts to a large hamper in one corner of the room. Lan spots shadowy humanoid figures below, but attracts their attention when he tries to call them out to Joshua. A pair of bugbears rush the company from different directions while two hobgoblins armed with bow and song take aim. Finally, a hobgoblin sporting close cropped white hair and carrying a scimitar moves carefully into position, assuming a duelist’s stance.

The start of the conflict is marked by numerous attempts on both sides to knock enemies off the catwalk and onto the factory floor some thirty feet below. These attempts are largely unsuccessful save for a chance attack against Joshua while he gleefully rams his boot into the face of a bugbear. Meanwhile, the other bugbear was quickly dispatched and replaced by the duelist who seems to have a particular enmity towards Fleng, who she refers to as a “traitor and a coward” who is responsible for “the destruction of our homeland.” Displaying impressive skill with the blade, Valsath manages to knock Fleng from the ledge to her compatriots. After exchanging some blows with Krumroc and Lan, she manages to do the same thing to the elf, but the dwarf’s low center of gravity saves him from a similar fate.

Meanwhile, Jack takes potshots from safety against every target of opportunity, the hobgoblins are defty removed by Lan and Fleng, and Joshua decides that Valsath must be stopped. He makes his way up the ladder towards her but cannot reach her. Snarling her disdain at Krumroc, she absorbs a solid hit from the dwarf’s hammer and nimbly slides down the ladder to land a booted foot on Joshua’s face. The swordmage manages to retain his grip, but something inside him snaps. When Twocopper deftly alters the situation by moving through the Feywild to change places with Joshua, then teleporting away, Joshua sees his chance.

The rage on his face is evident as he rushes towards the ladder, leaping down without care towards Valsath and landing a booted foot on the back of her head. “Hey bitch, remember five minutes ago?” he snarls. The savage blow is enough to send her reeling, toppling off the ladder onto the factory floor. Joshua follows and raises his sword overhead in both hands, bringing it down with staggering force that cracks the cement below and sends ripples of force outwards. Pushing herself to her feet, Valsath, enraged, brutally slices Joshua across his midsection, causing an eruption of blood that stains the walls, but her eyes catch sight of Fleng — so close. Deciding to make her last moments count, the duelist hurls herself away from Joshua and impales Fleng with her scimitar. Reeling, the goblin falls and begins to bleed out!

From his vantage point above, Krumroc decides enough is enough. In contrast to Joshua’s unbridled fury, Krumroc is the model of calm decorum. He carefully removes his vambrace, climbs on top of the railing, totters for a moment, and then simply falls — elbow first, of course. No one, and I mean no one, expects a dwarf to fall on them; Valsath is no exception. The two fall together in a heap. Dazed and unable to protect herself, Valsath is knocked unconscious by a simple blast of eldritch energy.

The standing members of the company rush to aid their wounded and narrowly manage to revive Fleng and Krumroc. Battered and bruised, but undefeated, the Keg limps away from the fight the victors.

XP
Haestus’ Shocking Murder by Death — 410xp
Haestus’ Encoutner that NEVER WAS — 350xp
Valsath Makes People Bleed — 480xp

Total = 1240xp

Treasure
Signet ring of Haestus d’Cannith
Valsath’s Blade is a Wounding Scimitar +1 (haha)
Valsath wears an intricately hand-crafted suit of overlapping tough hide and dull grey wyvern scales inscribed with detailed scrollwork in a traditional goblin fashion. Krumroc is no smith, but even he can tell that it is ancient, yet made by dwarves. Dwarven Wyvernscale Armor +3.

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Session 18

Recap
Lan shakes himself awake to the sound of goblin voices and heavy footfalls. Quickly he wakes the others and retrieves his weapon before the patrol figures out that something is wrong and the golems which should be here are not. A hobgoblin face spots Lan crouching behind the debris the Keg piled at the door to conceal themselves, and quickly orders an enormous warforged to retrieve the company! An enormous brute of a construct, carrying various bits of other warforged, kicks over the makeshift barricade and attacks. At first the fight is entirely mired in the tight quarters of the entrance, and it’s obvious that the Keg is running on empty. Fleng manages to slip past the warforged and engage the hobgoblin guards, meeting scimitar with fist. In the background, a small goblin uses various arcane instruments to control his servitor and hurls grenades at the party. Finally, after much back and forth, the brute of a warforged is pushed back and the rest of the company springs into action. The two sides trade blows, and Lan manages to stop the artificer goblin from escaping for help, while Krumroc calls upon the Flame to keep what’s left of the Keg functional. Once the warforged becomes enraged, he drops his weapons and grabs Joshua by the throat, then hurls him through the wall with terrifying force. Even that isn’t enough, and once the Keg manages to surround the beast and drop it, the remaining two goblinoids surrender.

Engaging the hobgoblin warrior, a female named Sietch, in conversation, Fleng realizes that she is no Bladebearer. Indeed, she claims to be a mercenary hired for coin, and is uninterested in paying with her life. She only wishes to be on her way, and she will leave the Keg to their business. The artificer, however, bears the hated marks. Krumroc agrees to let Sietch live if she proves herself by executing the other goblin and providing information. With a shrug, the sellsword retrieves her scimitar and ends the life of the wretched artificer. She can tell the Keg some useful information — the number of goblins under Valsath’s command and the location of two traps on the upper level — but she has never had to go below and has no idea what Valsath or Jelia are doing together, only that somehow these strange warforged seem to be under Valsath’s command. Honoring their agreement, the Keg lets Sietch go and she walks back out into the mists. The Keg decides to sleep again — trying to cure the despondency which afflicts half their number. Krumroc manages to shake off the disease, but both Lan and Jack sink deeper and deeper into depression; without proper care things will not go well for them. Krumroc’s realization about his order to Barnaby sinks in, and the old dwarf is overcome with remorse.

Exploring further on, the Keg finds a room from which they can hear voices in goblin trading numbers. Counting, perhaps? Deciding that action is the best plan, they kick the door down to find a room which quarters perhaps a dozen hobgoblins. The room is cramped with gear, and footing is uneven. Unprepared, the Bladebearers do not pose much of a threat; the fight is brutal and short, decisive for the Empty Keg, who take no prisoners this time. The goblins inflict their fair share of wounds, but nothing serious before Fleng snaps the neck of their leader. The Keg claims their wages as their own. Searching the room they discover ample usable supplies and a strange pressurized hatch underneath some food crates which they are unable to pry open. Deciding to leave it, for now, they explore further.

Down the hall, the Keg hears a repetitive sound of metal scraping against metal. Shrugging, Joshua and Krumroc batter down the door simultaneously and find a handful of hobgoblin guards standing in a room dominated by a strange glowing rune carved into the floor. Before the guards have a chance to react, the company charges — most die before they can even draw steel, but one manages to shout a warning to someone named “Dakai” before he falls as well. There is an ominous rumble from the door to the north, and the Keg moves into position to strike. With a roar, the doors are flung open with staggering force, catching several people in the resulting explosion, and two enormous, chain covered hands pull an equally massive metallic body through the resulting opening. The company reacts, battering the chain golem with everything they have, but the creature makes it through the doorway and begins to swing its chains about to force a defensive posture. Lashing out, the golem catches several of the Keg in its chains and pulls them closer. At one point Fleng is grappled in it’s meaty fist and subject to the golem’s terrifying strength.

While the company tries to deal with the golem, another goblin artificer hurls orb after orb of force into their midst, battering them with concussive force and orders another one of his minions to attack — a perfectly polished, ebon black warforged with a strange glowing rune on its chest. Though the warforged’s movements are smooth, it attempts and fails to draw out Krumroc’s life-force, before it is quickly surrounded and dismantled by the combined attacks of the company. It’s destruction does not stop the chain golem from wreaking more havoc, clutching Joshua firmly in hand while it whips chains at everything it can see and knocks people off their feet. A second enormous hand grabs Krumroc and begins to crush the life out of him as well, but the company rallies and directs all their fire into the golem. Finally Joshua topples it with a deft sword strike into what passes for a head, sending the construct crashing to the ground. At this point the artificer, Dakai, surrenders.

The Keg make a pact with Dakai — if he successfully opens the hatch, they will let him life. He protests that he does not have the key, but agrees to try. Upon questioning, he stammers that he is responsible for helping put the finishing touches on some of the constructs, but is not their true master. Valsath has the key to the hatch, and Jelia is probably below — she made some sort of a deal with the hobgoblins, but if the Keg wants her alive they will have to move fast since Dakai overheard Valsath speaking that the eladrin woman had outlived her usefulness. Trembling, the tiny goblin retrieves his tools and accompanies some of the Keg to the hatch. Joshua and Jack remain behind to brew potions and catalog the vast number of arcane powders and ingredients. Amazingly, the artificer manages to open the hatch, which leads down a cramped tunnel lit by a faint reddish glow. Industrial sounds can be heard from below. Looking up, Dakai asks if he’s free to go, and gets his answer at the other end of Krumroc’s hammer. The Keg reunites and ponders what to do next, having a bit of a heated conversation about both the best course of action and their treatment of prisoners.

Treasure
1100 gp in hobgoblin silver
1000 gm in pure, unadulterated residuum
4 potions of clarity
Rushing Cleats (Lan)

XP (total 1450xp per character)
Rude Interruption — 350xp
With Their Pants Down — 350xp
Chain Golem Smash! — 400xp
Interrogation, RP awards — 350xp

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