THE PLAYER CHARACTERS (may be subject to some changes)
THE PLAYER CHARACTERS (may be subject to some changes)
* Cull Longshadow (Rusty), bugbear barbarian/fighter gladiator whose body has been infected with ruidium, a strange magical mineral granting him shadowy combat powers.
* Enkidu (James), drow bard college of lore, street urchin whose soul previously underwent the act of consecution, a religious rite to keep former lives’ memories intact after rebirth. Some of these past lives continue to speak their knowledge through the current body.
* Excellence Bran (Lexi), a tiefling adventurer from a criminally-connected family, she now works as an intern for the Allegiance of Allsight in Ank’Harel.
* Fen (Jake), lizardfolk cleric of light (The Luxon?), coming from an extremely distant land unknown to the locals in Xhorhas. He has been experiencing prophetic visions about an alien horror.
* Maks Waccoh (Colette), half-orc ranger/rogue archeologist, “armed to the teeth,” parents missing and raised by her aunt, the Kryn Dynasty’s head artificer with extensive connections to the ruling Bright Queen and her court.
* Millicent “Mimsy” Ayllion (Cecilia), nomadic human of high tribal status (stats as dragonborn), blessed with the powers of a circle of stars druid, and haunted by visions and memories of draconic fury – perhaps the destructive wrath of a previous life as a dragon.
* Tulen Mir (Joshua), tiefling warlock, bound to an alien old one and rumored to be a smuggler of some sort within the Kryn Dynasty. He keeps his past private. He also has a pet sprite familiar named Astrid.
CREATING CHARACTERS FOR “CALL OF THE NETHERDEEP”
Stats: Use the standard array (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8).
Races: Your characters are natives of Xhorhas, a land of northern wastelands and southern marshes. Most people are of good alignment despite how foreigners tend to see them.
* Common Peoples: Human (nomads), Drow, Half-Orc, Goblin, Orc. (Note that the drow of Xhorhas don’t worship Lolth, live above ground, and tend to be of good or neutral alignment.)
* Also Good Picks: Aarakocra, Bugbear, Firbolg, Genasi, Goliath, Gnoll, Hobgoblin, Lizardfolk, Minotaur, Tabaxi, Tiefling.
* AVOID: Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Halfling, Half Elf. (These peoples typically don’t live here.)
Classes: Anything from the Player’s Handbook, Xanathar’s Guide, Tasha’s Cauldron, or Guide to Wildemount books. (Yes Rusty, this means Echo Knight is back on the menu.)
If playing a cleric or paladin, your patron deity is probably The Luxon (aka “The Light”), a genderless celestial symbolized by a hollow dodecahedron. The Luxon’s domains are usually Light or Arcana, but domains of Life, Knowledge, or Peace could also be appropriate. People of all races across Xhorhas worship The Luxon, and reincarnation (rebirth after death) into other races is a firm tenet of the faith uniting these various peoples.
All characters start at 3rd level but will level up quickly during the adventure.
Background: Folk Hero, Guild Artisan, Guild Merchant, Outlander, and Urchin fit the tone of the adventurer’s starting point, but any background from the PHB could work. (Note the module does NOT have anything to do with the Dwendalian Empire, so don’t tie your characters too closely to the recent war. Being a veteran Soldier or Spy returning home would work fine.)
Starting Equipment: As normal, plus some gunpowder weapons are available. Budget for characters to have 500 gp worth of gear, but no magical items.
Character Questions: Don’t go crazy on backstory, but use your Traits, Ideal, Bond, and Flaw for answering the following (or wait to brainstorm answers with other players)…
1.) What’s one small heroic deed you’ve already accomplished?
2.) Do you give your trust easily, or do people have to earn your trust?
3.) What’s one thing you want more than anything else? (And, how will being an adventurer help you achieve it?)
CRASH COURSE IN MATT MERCER’S EXANDRIA CAMPAIGN SETTING
You don’t need to watch all 265+ episodes of the Critical Role web series to play “Call of the Netherdeep.” The module creates a unique story designed for a new set of core heroes, their rivals, and a threat unknown to the Vox Machina, Mighty Nein, or Bells Hells campaign characters. Here are my notes; Colette will no doubt know WAY more details…
WHAT THE CHARACTERS KNOW
KRYN DYNASTY. The Kryn Dynasty is the dominant nation in Xhorhas. It was founded by a drow queen named Leylas Kryn, who fled the Underdark and the tyrannical rule of Lolth the Spider Queen along with her disciples. The Bright Queen still rules the dynasty centuries later, and its cities contain more than just drow. Orcs, goblinoids, tieflings, humans, and many others call the cities of the dynasty their home. Countless more denizens of the dynasty are nomads who roam the wastes in clans, hunting mastodons and other Xhorhasian megafauna.
JIGOW. This coastal settlement is actually a string of villages that are home to a collection of folk from all over Xhorhas. Goblin and orc clans founded Jigow, which explains why the settlement is governed by two elders—a goblin and an orc. The Aurora Watch (the military arm of the Kryn Dynasty) maintains a presence here, under the command of a drow called Taskhand Durth Mirimm. Townsfolk tend to be competitive, and friendly rivalries are commonplace. Most of Jigow’s residents live in a central region called the Jumble.
* Meatwaters, main dock area on the shores of the Ifolon River.
* The Wetwalks, houses on stilts closest to the wetlands and marshes.
* The Jumble, densely populated among giant mangrove trees and houses on young horizonback tortoises.
* Durth Mirimm, Taskhand of the Aurora Watch, drow political liaison for Kryn Dynasty. (Think state sheriff.)
* Elder Ushru, orc tribal leader, civic and religious leader. (Think co-mayor.)
* Elder Colbu Kaz, goblin tribal leader, loves riddles and games. (Think co-mayor.)
THE LUXON. The official deity of the Kryn Dynasty, whose symbol appears on the nation’s heraldry, is the Luxon. This mysterious divine entity of light and rebirth has granted its faithful several esoteric secrets, the greatest of which is consecution—the act of preparing one’s soul for rebirth. Through consecution, some people within the Kryn Dynasty have lived many lifetimes, often in bodies different from the ones they were first born in. In the sequence of consecution, a drow might become a goblin, then be reborn as a bugbear, then an orc, and so on—all the while gaining greater knowledge about the world through their experiences. This process has no mechanical benefit, but players can make consecution and rebirth an interesting part of their characters’ backstories.
If a follower of the Luxon who has undergone the ritual of consecution dies within 100 miles of a Luxon beacon, their soul is ensnared by it and reincarnated within the body of a random Humanoid newborn within 100 miles of the beacon.
MYTHIC HISTORY: Proficiency in Religion or History automatically gets a character this knowledge…
Shortly after the gods formed the planet Exandria, Primordial titans attacked this new creation. A schism arose between those gods who wanted to abandon this world (those later called The Betrayer Gods) and those who stood to fight the elemental titans (those later called The Prime Deities). Some of the gods who would not fight even sided with the elemental Primordials and shared their fate when the Prime Deities were victorious, banishing their traitorous kin into secluded prison planes. These Betrayer Gods would remain restrained until the archmage Vespin Chloras freed them during the Age of Arcanum, setting off The Calamity of gods directly waging war across the mortal world. In the aftermath, the most lawful deities appeared before the City of Vasselheim (on the continent of Issylra) and announced a Divine Gate would block any god from manifesting directly on Exandria except through clerics and magical items later known as the Vestiges of Divergence.
THE PRIME DEITIES (who fought the Primordials)
* Avandra, The Change Bringer (CG) (Change, Freedom, Luck)
* Bahamut, The Platinum Dragon (LG) (Honor, Justice, Good Dragons)
* Corellon, The Arch Heart (CG) (Art, Beauty, Elves)
* Erathis, The Law Bearer (LN) (Civilization, Law, Peace)
* Ioun, The Knowing Mentor (N) (Knowledge, Learning, Teaching)
* Kord, The Storm Lord (CN) (Battle, Competition, Storms)
* Melora, The Wild Mother (N) (Seas, Wilderness)
* Moradin, The All-Hammer (LG) (Craft, Creation, Dwarves)
* Pelor, The Dawnfather (NG) (Healing, Sun)
* Sarenrae, The Everlight (NG) (Atonement, Compassion)
* Sehanine, The Moon Weaver (CG) (Illusion, Moonlight, Night, Wood Elves)
* The Raven Queen, The Matron of Death (LN) (Death, Fate, Winter)
THE BETRAYER GODS (who refused to fight the Primordials)
* Asmodeus, The Lord of the Nine Hells (LE) (Political Power, Devils)
* Bane, The Strife Emperor (LE) (Conquest, Tyranny)
* Gruumsh, The Ruiner (CE) (Slaughter, Warfare, Orcs)
* Lolth, The Spider Queen (CE) (Deceit, Spiders, underdark Drow)
* Tharizdun, The Chained Oblivion (CE) (Darkness, Destruction)
* Tiamat, The Scaled Tyrant (LE) (Evil Dragons) (Greed?)
* Torog, The Crawling King (NE) (Enslavement, Torture)
* Vecna, The Whispered One (NE) (Necromancy, Secrets)
* Zehir, The Cloaked Serpent (CE) (Assassins, Poison, Snakes)
ANCIENT HISTORY: No proficiency needed to know this info, it’s the much-simplified version of history told in oral traditions and tales to children.
In the beginning, the gods came and seized upon primordial chaos, creating the world Exandria and populating it with mortal beings (first elves, then dragons, later came humans, and so forth). About 1,000 years ago, mortals became so powerful with magic during a time called the Age of Arcanum that they challenged the gods themselves, accidentally releasing the evil Betrayer Gods that had been held in check by the good and neutral Prime Deities. War escalated until many gods themselves walked the world, causing an apocalypse known as The Calamity and ending with The Divergence, a permanent ban on divine beings physically entering the prime material plane.
RECENT HISTORY: It is now the year 836 PD (“Post-Divergence”) on the continent of Wildemount, a year into the ceasefire between the Dwendalian Empire in the west and the Kryn Dynasty in the east. Tensions between the two states had been building for decades, and after an inciting flashpoint involving stolen relics, both sides suffered violent losses during eight months of open warfare until the truce was made.
The adventure begins in a rural northern coastal area of Xhorhas, the home nation of the Kryn Dynasty. This land was once the seat of power for many evil gods during The Calamity, though hundreds of generations later the goblin, drow, and orc decedents of those monstrous armies now live together in peace and prosperity. Kryn military forces known as the Aurora Watch patrol against the dangerous demons and mutant creatures that still roam the local wilderness.
ELSEWHERE AROUND THE WORLD…
* Wildemount: Your home continent, largely divided among the Dwendalian Empire (think: pre-Aragorn Gondor) in the west, Kryn Dynasty/Xhorhas (think: a recovered post-Sauron Mordor) in the east, and The Clovis Concord trade empire (naval merchant princes) along the southern coast.
* Tal’Dorei: Continent beyond the seas to the far west; feudal lands of humans, elves, and hobgoblins.
* Marquet: Continent beyond the seas to the south; lands of deserts and mountains, exotic merchants and scholars.
* Issylra: Continent beyond the seas, on the other side of the planet; mostly wilderness and home to the world’s “cradle of civilization” in ancient times.
* The Underdark: Subterranean regions with significant connections to the alien Far Realm.
* Catha: Exandria’s bright moon, very similar to Earth’s moon in size, cycles, and mythic significance (lycanthropy, sacred to some elves).
* Ruidus: Exandria’s smaller red moon, an unpredictable object associated with strange magics, curses, and overall bad luck.
FYI: The module begins with characters meeting in Jigow, a fishing town on the far northern coast of Xhorhas, during the fun-filled day-long party called the Festival of Merit.
EXANDRIA-WIDE ORGANIZATIONS. I’m just listing these here as non-Xhorhas options if anyone wants to expand their character’s background beyond the scope of the adventure set-up…
* Library of the Cobalt Soul, guild-ish independent archivists and archaeologists.
* The Ashari, elementalists who guard rifts between the Elemental Planes and Exandria.
* The Claret Orders, secretive users of blood magic (blood clerics, blood mages, blood hunters) who seek to destroy undead.
* Houses of Kraghammer, ancient ancestral dwarven subterranean city-state below Tal’Dorei. (Pretty much the only dwarf community in Exandria?)
* The Myriad, an organized crime organization active on the continents of Wildemount (Dwendalian and Clovis Concord lands) and Tal’Dorei.
More Campaign Setting Background: See https://criticalrole.fandom.com/wiki/Critical_Role_Wiki but be aware little of it comes into play for this “Netherdeep” module. The wiki is for fans of the shows that have been running for, like, seven years of real time.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2022
Session 1 of “Call of the Netherdeep,” part 1 of Chapter 1: A Fateful Competition.
WHERE: The coastal city of Jigow, a fishing enclave of goblin and orc clans living along the northern shores of Xhorhas, home nation of the Kryn Dynasty.
WHEN: The Festival of Merit, a city holiday halfway through the month of Fessuran, about two weeks into the autumn season when the annual rice harvest happens.
* The weather on the Festival Of Merit was mild (upper 60s F / 18 C), partly cloudy, though druids and rangers could feel a cold front full of storms wrapping around the area as if magic was keeping the skies nice in Jigow for just the day.
WHAT: The party took part in several competition events that mark the Festival of Merit in Jigow. They ended heading to the riverfront before sundown where the day’s grand finale contest is to take place.
NPCS MET THROUGHOUT THE DAY…
* Adan, orc animal trainer who organizes moving out the young horizonback tortoises hatched inside the city. (This year’s property damage was only the loss of one house and a merchant’s food cart, relatively light compared to past festivals.)
* Agathe Silverspoon, orc baker of meat pies and head of the pie-eating competition.
* Dermot Wurder, a stuttering goblin cleric of The Luxon, said he was looking to meet someone down by the river.
* Elder Colbu Kaz, goblin tribal leader of the Gakthash, Uvuroh, and Zetek goblin clans; a popular priest known for frustrating the official Kryn authorities, runs the annual riddle contest.
* Galsariad Ardyth, androgynous male drow spellcaster who blasted the invisible quasit demon during the pie eating competition and followed the party to the riddle contest.
* Irvan “Irv” Wastewalker, a scruffy-looking human whose last name is linked to a notorious human tribe (think reputation like Roman-era Huns, much feared).
* Maggie Keeneyes, a 12-foot-tall female ogre in fancy leather armor who caught the eye of Cull and lost to him during the arm wrestling tournament qualifiers.
* Maryl Bronzefang, big female orc soldier of the Aurora Watch, former arm wrestling champion and victim of Tullen Mir’s Dissonant Whispers spell.
* Vars, goblin owner of a butcher shop, organizer of the arm wrestling competition.
* Several red-capped goblin bookies who arrange bets on various things.
* A stern aarakocra (bird person) supervising the festival’s maze challenge game.
* Lots of goblin children trying to steal whatever they can.
HEARD OF BUT NOT MET IN PERSON…
* Taskhand Durth Mirimm, drow political liaison for Kryn Dynasty, Aurora Watch local commander and governor.
* Elder Ushru, orc tribal leader; an aging hunter eager to maintain the cultural heritage of the Norgab and Shoomat orcish people, popular civic and religious figure.
* Medal of Muscle (Cull Longshadow)
* Medal of Wit (everyone got one)
* Medal of the Horizonback (everyone got one)
* Medal of the Maze (Maks Waccoh)
* Medal of the Meat Pie (Cull Longshadow)
FESTIVAL OF MERIT MEDALS
All Wondrous Items, Common
MEDAL OF MUSCLE: You can squeeze this medal tightly in the palm of your hand as an action. Doing so gives you advantage on Strength checks and Strength Saving Throws for 1 hour. Once this property has been used, it can’t be used again, and the medal becomes nonmagical.
MEDAL OF WIT: You can press this medal to your Temple as an action. Doing so gives you advantage on Intelligence checks and Intelligence Saving Throws for 1 hour. Once this property has been used, it can’t be used again, and the medal becomes nonmagical.
MEDAL OF THE CONCH: When you use an action to rub this medal, you gain a Swimming speed equal to your walking speed for 1 hour. Once this property has been used, it can’t be used again, and the medal becomes nonmagical.
MEDAL OF THE HORIZONBACK: When you would be hit by an Attack, you can use your Reaction to increase your AC by 5 until the start of your next turn, including against the triggering Attack. You must be wearing the medal and able to see the creature that made the triggering Attack to use this property. Once this property has been used, it can’t be used again, and the medal becomes nonmagical.
MEDAL OF THE MAZE: When you use an action to trace the maze inscribed on this medal, you gain advantage on Wisdom checks and know the quickest route to the end of any nonmagical path or maze for 1 hour. Once this property has been used, it can’t be used again, and the medal becomes nonmagical.
MEDAL OF THE MEAT PIE: You gain 2d4 + 2 temporary Hit Points when you use an action to press this medal to your mouth. Once this property has been used, it can’t be used again, and the medal becomes nonmagical. While magical, this medal is slightly warm to the touch (as if it’s fresh from the oven) and smells faintly of baked pie crust.
MEDAL OF THE WETLANDS: When you use an action to trace the edge of this medal, Difficult Terrain doesn’t cost you extra Movement for 1 hour. Once this property has been used, it can’t be used again, and the medal becomes nonmagical.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6, 2022
Session 2 of “Call of the Netherdeep,” part 2 of Chapter 1: A Fateful Competition.
Amid this year’s Festival of Merit events in the coastal city of Jigow, the lizardfolk cleric Fen entered a swimming competition and beat out three opponents, including the blue orc woman named Ayo Jabe. After being awarded the Medal of the Conch, Fen met up with the other heroes for the end-of-festival grand finale, a team race through the underwater Emerald Grotto. The party found themselves facing off some familiar rivals:
* Ayo Jabe, a brash blue-skinned orc woman who grew up in Jigow.
* Dermot Wurder, a stuttering goblin cleric of The Luxon.
* Galsariad Ardyth, androgynous male drow spellcaster who suspects the party cheated during some of the festival events.
* Irvan “Irv” Wastewalker, a scruffy-looking human whose last name is linked to a notorious human tribe.
* Maggie Keeneyes, a 12-foot-tall female ogre in fancy leather armor who caught the eye of Cull and lost to him during the arm wrestling tournament qualifiers.
The two teams raced through different routes to a cave where the contest’s prize, the Emerald Eye, was found lashed to a very angry giant shark. The party recovered the Eye pendant snatched by Ayo, allowing Fen, Cull, Enkidu, and Tullen to whisk it away to the Jigow elders waiting back at the race’s starting point.
Maks, noticing golden light radiating from a partially hidden tunnel, followed a hidden shaft up out of the water and into a hidden Prayer Site of Sehanine, The Moon Weaver (chaotic good goddess of illusion, moonlight, night, and wood elves). Once there, Maks experienced a strange vision and acquired a small amulet she hid away before returning. (COLETTE: Details of this vision and the amulet have been added to your character’s journal in Roll20.)
The party’s “Shark Swag” team was named as Champions of Merit and awarded 100 gp – of which 40 gp was quickly spent on buying multiple rounds of drinks for themselves, the rival team, and various passers-by at Jigow’s Unbroken Tusk Inn. After much wooing, Cull and Maggie were last seen retiring together for the night, and Enkidu sang songs praising their day’s rivals. Tullen snuck off to do… stuff.
* the tender love of a 12-foot-tall ogre
* one Potion of Healing
* one Spell Scroll of Thunderwave
* one amulet (in Maks possession)
* 60 gp (net prize after carousing)
FOR NEXT GAME: Level up to 4th level!
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2022
Session 3 of “Call of the Netherdeep,” part 1 of Chapter 2: The Leave-Taking.
The victorious Champions of Merit celebrate their festival grand finale victory at the Unbroken Tusk Inn. Enkidu performs songs for the crowd, including Mimsy Ayllion; Cull Longshadow woos Maggie Keeneyes; Maks Waccoh retires early to her private room; Tullen Mir and Fen slip away into the city’s rainy streets. As for the Jigow natives, Ayo Jabe and Dermot Wurder get loud and quiet drunk, respectively; Irvan Wastewalker and Galsariad Ardyth sneak off together; and various drow, orcs, and goblins join in the merriment.
In the early morning, Orc Elder Ushru and Goblin Elder Colbu Kaz meet with Maks Waccoh and discuss the magical item she has found, something called the Jewel of Three Prayers.
Later – after a brunch of spicy mastodon kor’rundl stew and smoky-flavored kor-run red squash – Maks shares her discovery and her visionary experience in the hidden Prayer Site of Sehanine. The tale triggers one of Enkidu’s past lives to sing a sad hymn called the “Song of Alyxian,” suggesting some ancient lore that may relate to the vision. Based on advice from the local tribal elders, Maks makes a case for taking the Jewel of Three Prayers eastward to the fortress of Bazzoxan where expert archeological sages study The Betrayers’ Rise, a temple of extreme evil. The Aurora Watch stationed there have guarded that cursed place against demonic incursions for centuries.
The party learns their rival counterparts have been tasked to deliver messages for Maks Waccoh, racing on ahead using the city’s last available moorbounders (panther-like beasts the size of horses). As thunderstorms increase, the party buys six horses and heads out of Jigow.
ADVICE ON BEST ROUTE: “Cross the bridge over of the Ifolon River south of Jigow and follow The Emerald Loop road due south for about eight days until you come to a caravan stop at a crossroads, a good point to rest and get information from other travelers. Then take the Hallowed Path east into The Barbed Fields for about four days, keeping the rusty orange mountains on your right, until you reach the military outpost of Bazzoxan and the tall spires of black stone that mark the old evil fortress of Betrayers’ Rise. Among the soldiers there you will also find sages who know of such things as your amulet.”
BARBED FIELDS (from “Explorer’s Guide To Wildemount,” p. 134)
The valley north of Rosohna (capital city of the Kryn Dynasty and Xhorhas at large) is covered by a broken and marred landscape of jagged rock, sunken craters, and scabrous, hooked spires of glass and rock jutting from the ground. It is said that the final battles of the Calamity were fought on this valley floor. The earth is so scarred here that few question the veracity of this legend. Treacherously unpredictable earth crumbles into sinkholes surrounded by thick, caustic tar pits that swallow careless wanderers, while the storms common to the region bring rain-slicked mud traps and flash floods.
Travel Pace Options
* Normal: 12 days total.
* Fast: 9 days total, but suffer -5 to passive Wisdom (Perception) scores to spot encounters at a distance.
* Slow: 15 days total, but able to use Stealth while travelling to either sneak up on or avoid possible encounters.
* Travel Day 1: Uneventful. Many goblin clans atop horizonback tortoises and other Jigow festival visitors head out as well.
* Travel Day 2: The party rescues a tiefling caravan scout named Justice and her moorbounder mount Rice Pudding who were being harrassed by a hungry pair of feral bristled moorbounders (horse-sized porcupine-like beasts). The scout promises her employers can reward the party for their aid at the Emerald Loop caravan stop to the south.
* Travel Day 3: The party comes across a squad of six Aurora Guard patrol soldiers and their cook, and together the groups share a friendly meal. (The food grants each character 5 temporary hit points for 24 hours.)
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 27, 2022
Session 4 of “Call of the Netherdeep,” part 2 of Chapter 2: The Leave-Taking.
REMINDER: Level up your characters to 5th level for next game!
(NOTE: The DM added a couple of dull days to match the projected travel time between map points.)
* Travel Day 4: Windy and raining. The party investigates a crashed wagon, finding the corpses of three merchants (two drow and an orc) and their corrupted spirits manifesting as ghostly will o’ wisps. Upon vanquishing the undead, Maks was imprinted with a Charm of Heroism (a one-time use power equal to a potion of the same name). The group also recovered 12 silver pieces off the bodies plus 50 gold pieces and a Potion of Hill Giant Strength from a lockbox. The bodies of the slain merchants were given a proper ceremonial burial.
* Travel Day 5: Rain. Uneventful.
* Travel Day 6: More rain. The group comes across a gloomstalker (a wyvern-like monster made of shadowstuff) using its shrieking and teleporting power to hunt down one of three panicked mammoths in the wastelands. Tullen’s pixie familiar is briefly destroyed by the shrieks, but the party chooses to sneak around and avoid the encounter.
* Travel Day 7: Light rain and wind. Uneventful.
* Travel Day 8: Stronger winds and heavier rain. The party comes across an Aurora Watch patrol out hunting a rogue demon (14-foot-tall half frog/half ape fiend with an overpowering stench), which the group helps put down. The grateful Watch soliders give the group 50 gold pieces as a bounty for their help and promise to put in a good word about them to their commander, Taskhand Verin Thelyss. As a magical boon for delivering the deathblow, Cull is imprinted with a Charm of Vitality (a one-time use power equal to a potion of the same name).
* Travel Day 9: The group arrives at the Emerald Loop Caravan Stop, finding new and recently met friends: scout Justice and her moorbounder mount Rice Pudding, along with her bugbear merchant companions; the Acorn Sisters Lanata and Robur, dryad protectors of this wooded crossroads; the Aurora Guard patrol soldiers and their cook met on Day 3; and a family of goblins tending to Big Yuyo, their horizonback tortoise topped with crude structures made of wood, thatch, canvas and rope.
Another shared meal of spicy kor’rundl (mastodon stew) and kor’run (deep red smoky-flavored squash) is enjoyed by all. (Gain 5 temp hit points for next 24 hours.)
The bugbears are selling a variety of wares (mostly outdoor gear), as well as four Potions of Healing priced at 50 gp each.
* 12 sp (Maks)
* 100 gp (divided to 20 gp per character)
* one Potion of Hill Giant Strength (boosts Strength score to 21 / modifier +5 for one hour).
* Charm of Heroism (Maks only): For 1 hour after activating as an action, you gain 10 temporary hit points that last for 1 hour. For the same duration, you are under the effect of the Bless spell (+1d4 attacks and saving throws; no concentration required). Once used, the charm is lost.
* Charm of Vitality (Cul only): When activated as an action, this charm removes any exhaustion you are suffering and cures any disease or poison affecting you. For the next 24 hours, you regain the maximum number of hit points for any Hit Die you spend. Once used, the charm is lost.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 4, 2022
Session 5 of “Call of the Netherdeep,” Chapter 2: The Leave-Taking into Chapter 3: Bazzoxan
* Travel Day 10: Each member of the party gains Inspiration for having socialized at the Emerald Loop Caravan Stop. A half day’s journey east, the party investigates the body of an impaled pack horse stuck 30 feet off the ground atop a spire of glass, a common land feature in the Barbed Fields. Tulen recovers a +1 magical dagger and 25 gold pieces from the dead animal.
* Travel Day 11: Light rain under cloudy skies. Enkidu and Fen suffer disturbing nightmares related to various Betrayer Gods (generals wearing crowns of ram horns, bloated spiders fused with dark elves, three colossal arms rising from a pit).
* Travel Day 12: Exandria’s smaller moon, Rudius, flares full with bright red light. For weeks it had only been a slim crescent. Cull Longshadow suddenly screams as long red fleshy tendrils erupt from both his body and his shadow, lifting him off the ground as he continuously twists and squirms in agony. He is left physically and psychically drained (two levels of exhaustion, only one of which is removed by expending his charm of vitality).
* Travel Day 13: The party comes across the body of an udaak, a gargantuan-sized four-eyed demon with features of both a gorilla and an ox. (Such fiends prowl Xhorhas wastelands and eat anything, often swallowing treasure.) A humanoid vulture creature erupts from the carcass along with three demonic winged maggots, all telepathically broadcasting thoughts encouraging evil and self-hate while their foul bodies spray toxic spores. After the battle, a +1 magical battleaxe was found inside the udaak’s corpse, and Maks salvages pieces of the fiend’s body.
* Travel Day 14: Light rain as gray clouds begin to part, revealing clearer views of the rust-colored mountains to the north. Cull recovers fully from his exhaustion, though he is left with red rashes beneath his fur.
* Travel Day 15: Shortly after midday, the tall spires of black stone that make up Betrayer’s Rise fortress come into view behind the iron walls of the Bazzoxan military outpost. Maks signals the guards for entrance, and Endiku sings an ancient song as the group enters – only to witness a half-dozen gibbering mouthers drop from rooftops to attack commoners in a public square. A fiery battle dispatches the creatures, much to the thanks of the site’s Aurora Watch commander, Taskhand Verin Thelyss.
* 4 potions of healing (purchased from bugbear merchants at the caravan stop)
* 25 gp (divided to 5 gp each character)
* one +1 magic dagger
* one +1 magic battleaxe
WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2022
Session 5 of “Call of the Netherdeep,” Chapter 3: Bazzoxan
Having slain several gibbering mouther creatures within the walls of the outpost, the party earned the attention and gratitude of Taskhand Verin Thelyss, commander of the Aurora Watch at Bazzoxan. The group retired to the Gatehold Barracks to share news and drink. Thelyss noted civilian experts allowed to study within the Betrayer’s Rise dungeon were arrested and sent away during the war, but now the Bright Queen has allowed a new group of foreign sages to resume archeological work.
All these new sages, here the past five weeks or so, come from the far away City of Ank’Harel on the continent of Marquet. One of them, a “bright elf” (non-drow), was given a sharp warning after she tried to bribe Aurora Watch guards to serve as her personal escort into the dungeon outside the permitted times. Thelyss doesn’t really trust any of these foreigners, but he’d never question orders from the high court of the Kryn Dynasty.
Maks Waccoh shared news from Jigow, but no reply from the Xhorhas capital was waiting for her yet. As thanks for helping fight monsters at the gate, the party was given:
* 25 silver-tipped arrows (split between Maks and Enkidu)
* 2 silver-tipped javelins (to Cull)
Maks, Enkidu, Fen and Tulen then went to the mess hall next door and eavesdropped on the dining Watch soldiers (some reading lips, some telepathy), picking up something about a question and annoyance about the bright elf named Aloysia.
Meanwhile, Cull Longshadow went to the adjoining training area and immediately joined in a sparring match against a huge orc named Whiprack. The pair battered each other with padded swords (more like greatclubs), ending with Longshadow knocked out just as the orc was about to fall down himself. (Impressed Aurora Watch guards will treat Cull as “friendly” instead of “neutral” on future social ability checks.)
The group was directed to the only lodging in town, The Ready Room – less of an “inn” than a former animal barn with cots in the beast stalls and a crappy “bar” area set up in the loft. There’s no privacy and offers to purchase equipment come at 200% inflated prices, but it’s the only option within Bazzoxan.
FYI: I got the names/genders of the drow siblings switched (the NPCs running The Ready Room inn); corrected…
* Delez Demona – brother, he/him, running back and forth to back office
* Prima Demona – sister, she/her, barkeep and front-shop manager in the loft
Here the group found Question, a verbose tiefling sage associated with the Library of the Cobalt Soul (a scholarly society). Question was lecturing to a bored goblin about those unsung heroes who died fighting evil during The Calamity (war between the gods), and how centuries later the Aurora Watch of today wage that same fight – a type of “mythic resonance.” She also had a sketchbook full of things she’d seen inside Betrayer’s Rise – including the Jewel of Three Prayers, which Maks confirmed she had found in Jigow. Question called the item a “lost Vestige,” and she’s eager to learn more.
However, about a week ago, Question says she had a panic attack of sorts within the dungeon of Betrayer’s Rise – triggered by voices reminding her of abuse in her youth – and she had to leave her research team behind. She said they have supplies to continue working for days, but she’s worried they haven’t returned – yet she remains too shaken to go back in herself. (Character Insight checks confirm her to seem sincere.)
Listening in on this conversation was Aloysia Telfan, a high elf in scarlet robes who identified herself as a member of the Consortium of the Vermillion Dream (an arcane research society). She dismisses Question’s folk ballad about an unnamed “halfway god” who championed the Prime Deities during The Calamity. (“Everyone knows Avandra the Change Bringer brought him back to life as a vengeful revenant.”)
Aloysia shows off a vial infused with a familiar stringy red substance she called “ruidium,” a potent tool in spellcasting she hopes to find in abundance below Betrayer’s Rise. She claims to know the Knock spell needed to get in and out of the sealed doors to the dungeon, and she’ll pay 50 gp to each character who escorts her back in for her search. (Character Insight checks suggest she’s going to be very untrustworthy.)
A third Ank’Harel archeologist staying at The Ready Room was not around at the time, a tiefling named Prolix. So to recap…
* Question, a tiefling sage from the Library of the Cobalt Soul, worried about her overdue research team within the dungeon.
* Aloysia Telfan, a high elf and member of the Consortium of the Vermillion Dream, seeks a ruidium deposit under the dungeon.
* Prolix Yusaf, tiefling archeologist from the Allegiance of Allsight, agenda unknown.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1, 2022
Session 6 of “Call of the Netherdeep,” Chapter 3: Bazzoxan
The party waits for Prolix Yusaf to come back to The Ready Room inn, but nightfall comes without his return. Enkidu stays watch, noticing Aloysia Telfan keeping an eye on them all night. Outside, the Aurora Watch marches in patrol and shadowy ghosts are spotted crossing the central square.
In the morning, Taskhand Verin Thelyss invites Maks Waccoh to join him for the day to catch up on old times. Question agrees to help look for Prolix on the west side of Bazzoxan. Along the way the party encounters an exasperated Aurora Watch guard breaking up a fight between two crying men, Hobb and Shug, arguing over the final possessions of a dead woman named Emerald. (Apparently Hobb and Emerald had been married but she left him for Shug, who plans to carry out her last wishes to burn her wedding poems that Hobb demands back.) The party offers to cast Speak With Dead on Emerald before learning her corpse had already been cremated.
The party follows the trio to the Crematorium, using Tulen’s familiar to swap Emerald’s letters out for Hobb. At the Crematorium is found Prolix attempting to convince the pair of humans there to let him do an autopsy on the remains of a vrock demon. Question vouches for the party to Prolix, who reveals although his Allegiance of Allsight is a scholarly group, his real secret mission to Bazzoxan is to spy on Aloysia Telfan and find out what she’s really up to. The party reveals the high elf is searching for ruidium below Betrayer’s Rise. Prolix claims ruidium can be used to enhance spellcasting but is unstable, as well as physically and spiritually dangerous to any who handle it.
While everyone is arguing and distracted, Fen makes quick work on the demonic corpse and secretly pockets several items hidden in the fiend’s gullet:
* a pair of gold-trimmed goggles
* three different rings set with large gemstones
* a cube-shaped puzzle box made of onyx
(These items may be treasure or may be trash, further study is needed.)
The party convinces Prolix the gullet was empty, and the rest of the demon’s body is burned. Tulen then departs to join Maks and Verin Thelyss back at the Aurora Watch barracks.
After leaving the Crematorium, the group goes to the Wall of the Unforgotten memorial written around the outside wall of a dilapidated temple once dedicated to the goddess Avandra the Change Bringer. There the group meets Prolix’s friend Foghome the Gardener, a firbolg (forest giant) follower of the goddess Melora the Wild Mother who has become a caretaker of sorts for the temple ruin and the makeshift memorials outside it. Foghome invites the party to share in his daily “trance ritual” where everyone sits in a circle and smokes pipes of a strange herb. Foghome, Prolix, Question, and Cull all bliss out, but Enkidu and Fen experience a detailed vision of a young human with curls of golden hair pleading the gods for aid in battle. Five hazy silhouettes – two recognized as manifestations of Avandra and Melora – appear to embrace the young man, lift him up, and lead him to war on a battlefield beneath a blood-red sun. Fen recognizes this scene likely as an echo back to the days of The Calamity when the Kryn capital of Rosohna was known as Ghor Dranas, the citadel of the evil Betrayer Gods.
In the afternoon, the party returns to The Ready Room inn and makes arrangements with Aloysia Telfan and Prolix Yusaf for an initial test foray into the dungeons within Betrayer’s Rise. Aurora Watch guards allow them into the first entrance – a bloodstained bridge over a chasm full of swirling silver mist – but as Aloysia prepares to read Knock from a spell scroll, two gloomstalkers crawl up from below and viciously attack – using sonic shrieks to leave several people paralyzed and nearly slaying Cull Longshadow. After the wyvern-like shadow creatures are struck down, without even opening the dungeon’s proper doors, the party decides to withdraw and try again after resting overnight.
TREASURE RECAP (as of 6/15/2022)
* 539 gp (10 gp debt to Aurora Watch)
* 2 silver javelins, +1 battleaxe, potion of hill giant strength, medal of meat pie, muscle, horizonback; potion of healing
* chain whip of Torog
* 512 gp
* spell scroll of thunderwave, 10 silvered arrows, medal of wit, scroll of greater restoration
* 206 gp
* medal of swimming, scroll of bestow curse
* 719 gp
* jewel of three prayers, elixir of health, blessing of heroism, medal of the maze, shield of expression, medal of horizonback, 14 silvered arrows, 2 crossbow bolts of wholluping (DC 10 Str save or prone), eyes of the eagle, scroll of earthquake
* chain whip of Torog
* 490 gp
* healing potion, medal of wit, horizonback, dagger +1,
* onyx puzzle box (empty)
RECAP FROM WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8, AND WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15, 2022
Sessions 6 and 7 of “Call of the Netherdeep,” part 2 of Chapter 3: Bazzoxan.
After an almost deadly first attempt at entering the dungeon below Betrayers’ Rise, the party finds great success in defeating the maddening slimes of the Hall of Holes, the undead flying skulls of the Cloister of Penitence, the blood sacrifice blades of the Flagellant’s Path, and the wailing corruption of the Theshold of the Excoriated. Cull Longshadow’s bold explorations almost trigger a solo confrontation with orc warriors mutated by the Blood Font of the Ruiner, but the party escapes and slips into the iron doors set within a shrine to Torog the Crawling King, god of torture.
Below the first two level of the dungeon is found a cavern of blade-sharp, amber-colored crystals surrounding a simple altar at the base of an underground crater. There Maks reveals the Jewel of Three Prayers, triggering a vision seen by all who are present:
A spectral figure blossoms forth from the amulet. This warrior, who called himself Alyxian, looks up at you with a faint smile and says, “You came … you followed … you can find me.” The crystals around you glow brightly, and your vision goes white. Then you see a company of armored soldiers, Alyxian among them, marching into the Betrayers’ Rise. Their expressions are grim. Though they do not speak, you can tell that none of them expects to come home.
The vision shifts again, and everyone in the company of soldiers is dead except for Alyxian, who continues to fight while surrounded by the corpses of mortals and demons. He is hurled across the battlefield by the claws of a gorilla-like demon. The scene blurs, and he falls to his knees, pleading, before a simple wooden altar that bears the holy symbol of Avandra the Change Bringer, goddess of luck and freedom. At the end of his prayer, he’s lifted to his feet by a tall young woman with light brown skin and flowing black hair.
A foreboding voice cuts through this scene of divine intervention, and Alyxian freezes. “The Change Bringer and a mortal,” the voice intones. “What brings you into my sacred, devouring darkness? Even if you save him, Change Bringer, he will suffer. He will die. He will be forgotten. All that he has worked to save will crumble and be devoured by worms. Why invite further suffering? Let go. Give in. All is futile in the end, so why …”
As the voice trails off, Alyxian turns to face you and falls to his knees in tears. The scenery shifts, and the forsaken warrior is now underwater, amid the ruins of a sunken city. “The Crawling King spoke true,” he mutters. “All was futile. All has been forgotten … and I am lost in darkness. Please, help me set it right.”
Given a chance to interact with the vision, the projection of Alyxian says he was born in the lands of Wildemount under a full Ruidus moon, cursing him to endure a life of suffering. He decided to spend his life shielding others from pain, since he was already doomed to suffer.
He fought in the Calamity and was called the Apotheon because he beseeched the gods for power three times and three times received it – first on the shores of Wildemount, again in the depths of the Betrayers’ Rise, and once more in a temple of Corellon the Arch Heart in a city of elves and orcs in the lost jungles of Marquet. These divine gifts transformed him from a mortal being into something more. Alyxian says that the city of elves and orcs was destroyed centuries ago, a fact well known in historical lore.
The vision of Alyxian also says that he feels trapped underwater and mortals are harvesting his essence, leaving him in darkness, and that this act is torture for him.
Mentioning both “Alyxian” and “Apotheon” reminds Maks and Enkidu about an obscure psalm sung among some rural faithful on the continent of Tal’Dorei:
PROLOGUE TO THE SONG OF ALYXIAN (from “Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting: Reborn” p. 10)
O Ruidus, grant humble chorus leave
To sing the song which hails the zenith of
Your accursed, thrice-blessed Apotheon;
Remember’d best by deeds in war, and yet
Whose acts were driven oft by fate most foul.
His kindly brow bore gifts from gods of change,
And art, and moon, yet in his soul was pain,
The suffering of your vermilion light
Drove the Paragon to a desert realm
Bestrewn with blades and drenched in crimson blood.
So hear, O moon of cursed deeds and fates!
The song of he who rose above the great
And mighty pow’r, to save Exandria.
From flames of war fanned by the Ruiner’s blade.
At the conclusion of the psalm, the vision of Alyxian fades and the Jewel of Three Prayers transforms to reveal a new portion with three blue orbs and expanded magical powers.
The duplicitous Aloysia Telfan clumsily tries to grab the Jewel of Three Prayers – falling into Cull’s arms in the process – and is restrained from first using a spell scroll of earthquake to trap the party and then from using a tablet of teleportation which would have allow her alone to escape. Enkidu’s enchantment compels her to lead the party safely back out of the dungeon as well as reveal that she knows Question’s missing archeologists are already dead, slain at the Blood Font of the Ruiner and cast into a portal directly into the Abyss found deeper below Betrayers’ Rise.
Once back outside and returning down the mountain to the outpost of Bazzoxan, the party and scholar Prolix Yusaf turn Aloysia Telfan over to Aurora Watch Taskhand Verin Thelyss. The commander of Bazzoxan is all too happy to have testimony enough to send the Vermilion Dream agent to trial at the Kryn Empire’s capital. In going through Aloysia’s possessions, Verin Thelyss confiscates her maps of individual chambers below Betrayers’ Rise, but he leaves her magical items to the party.
Bautha Dyrr, drow priest at the Infirmary, rids each party member of any lingering curses put upon them by the evil found within Betrayers’ Rise.
Question, monastic archivist of the Library of the Cobalt Soul, is heartbroken to hear her survey team met a foul end, but she is overwhelmed with excitement upon hearing from Prolix about the Alyxian vision and the Jewel’s transformation. She begs the party to return with her to the City of Ank’Harel to share their experiences directly with her Cobalt Soul peers. (“My research team must not have died in vain.”)
Prolix Yusaf also offers to help the party further investigate the vision’s mysteries in Ank’Harel, as he has a teleportation tablet just as the one Aloysia carried (though he assures the group his tablet goes to a public Allegiance of Allsight location, not some random and possibly dangerous Consortium of the Vermilion Dream safehouse). Regarding the Jewel itself, Prolix is oddly tight-lipped. At one point he says the stone spell tablets are used “because paper scrolls can get wet,” but he says no more about it.
Meanwhile, at The Ready Room Inn, the Jigow rivals of plane-touched orc Ayo Jabe, goblin cleric Dermot Wurder, drow mage Galsariad Ardyth, human wanderer Irvan “Irv” Wastewalker, and ogre warrior Maggie Keeneyes have been recovering from their errand to the Kryn capitol on behalf of Maks. The dour nature of life in Bazzoxan has done little to lift their spirits.
RECAP FROM WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22, AND WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2022
Sessions 8 and 9 of “Call of the Netherdeep,” part 1 of Chapter 4: The Jewel of Hope
After turning Consortium of the Vermillion Soul scholar Aloysia Telfan over to Aurora Watch custody under Taskhand Verin Thelyss, the party joined Allegiance of Allsight scholar Prolix Yusaf and Library of the Cobalt Soul archeologist Question in teleporting to the desert metropolis of Ank’Harel, aka “The Jewel of Hope,” the city found in the center of the continent of Marquet on the other side of the planet Exandria.
Pictures and details about Ank’Harel
In a flash the damp chill of Xhorhas was replaced by the dry heat of the Ank’Harel’s academic Sigil District. Prolix quickly negotiated entry with the Hands of Ord watch stationed within the Teleportation Atrium, promising the Allegiance of Allsight would serve as the party’s sponsors. The tiefling proudly pointed out the surrounding university campus and bought lunch at nearby The Frog and Kebab tavern.
Question begged the party to appear before a Libary of the Cobalt Soul symposium to share what they have experienced since recovering the Jewel of Three Prayers, a Vestige of Divergence relic, which the party agreed to two days hence. Upon hearing this, Prolix got the party to agree to appear before his Allegiance of Allsight tomorrow, a day before the Cobalt Soul could meet. Prolix then introduced the group to the Crystal Chateau university’s pair of headmasters, high elf James Cryon and goblin Gryz Alakritos. Prolix also offered to put the group up in his apartment that first night.
The group wanted to get some shopping in, so Prolix assigned an 18-year-old student named Britni to act as a city tour guide over to the Suncut Bazaar district. There the party visited Mystic Pursuits (a spell component shop run by a somewhat charlatan “soothsayer” named Amkezne and guarded by an invisible stalker elemental) and The Bone Garden (a shop of “oddities and exceptionalities” run by a nonverbal woman named Rerosha).
Magic Item Shopping In Ank’Harel
One the same block was found the First Eclipse tavern, a maroon-colored building with an ash-black door, into which Enkidu burst in to serenade its barkeep, a blue dragonborn named Satzrak Runestrider. The party immediately took note that half the patrons in the same venue wore the scarlet cloak and floppy hat uniform of Vermillion Dream membership. Millicent “Mimsy” Ayllion, last seen in the Xhorhas fishing village of Jigow, was also present. She had begun having strange dreams and was befriended by a traveler named Howard Dendarron who teleported them both to Ank’Harel a few days ago.
A gnome immediately cast a Sleep spell that brough down tour guide Britni, whom Satzrak immediately ordered to be killed. An elderly goliath (half-giant) woman named Aradrine the Owl quickly intervened, saying they should take this encounter out of public eyes. Britni was left behind as the group passed through a secret door behind the bar into an underground room below a neighboring building. Just then, a young tiefling named Excellence Bran arrived with Fen.
It quickly became apparent the spellcasting gnome Ashann and elderly Aradrine recognized both Cull Longshadow as the ruidium-infected gladiator, and Maks Waccoh as niece to Kryn Dynasty weaponsmith Tuss Waccoh – facts given to them telepathically from Aloysia Telfan a few days earlier. The Vermillion Dream members rapidly asked several probing questions: What happened to Aloysia? How far along is Cull Longshadow’s corruption? Was a source of ruidium found below Betrayers’ Rise? How many ruidium weapons have reached the Dwendalian Empire so far? The party answered truthfully, though they exaggerated a bit about what they might already know.
Aradrine says that Aloysia was “always more ruthless and ambitious for her own good,” and she’s not surprised the elven scholar is now under arrest in Bazzoxan. She asked the party to at least go to Telfan villa in the Circlet Walk district and bring news to Aloysia Telfan’s family of her situation in Xhorhas.
It is also revealed that while the Vermillion Dream does seek to find more ruidium, their greater goal is to curb its harvesting from an underground source below the City of Ank’Harel – a site called Cael Morrow that is completely under the control of the Allegiance of Allsight. It is feared this source is extra-planar, and anything that weakens Exandria’s wards against breaches to other planes risks causing a second Calamity and the return once again of the Betrayer Gods. The Vermillion Dream has resorted to using spies to learn more, but politically they have found only limited public support. (One dubious ally is the Sentinels of Memory, anti-knowledge fanatics who seek to prevent anyone from messing with the sunken city ruins below Ank’Harel.) Upon hearing about this threat, Fen shares he has had dreams about some underwater horror speaking to him about The Calamity and its anger at the Prime Deities.
Worse, the Dream members claim someone within the Allegiance has been helping smuggle ruidium into Wildemount and intentionally infecting people as a sort of “field test” experiment on mutation. Somehow Cull Longshadow became one of these corrupted individuals. Aradrine claims the Vermillion Dream just learned this Allegiance member was going to meet that night with someone from the Dwendalian Empire at the Luck’s Run casino across the street from the First Eclipse to further such schemes.
Returning upstairs, the party found the First Eclipse tavern completely empty of people and smelling of electrical ozone or petrichor (like after a thunderstorm). A blood-soaked note was left on the bar:
Our attempts to gain access to the rift have been disastrous. An aboleth haunts the Drowned City. It slaughtered all but one member of our last expedition. The creature calls itself Alyxian – certainly not an aboleth name, but not one I am familiar with either. But know this: Cael Morrow is where we must focus our efforts, lest the Allegiance of Allsight claim the only known source of ruidium for itself.
Our key to the rift is lost, but we have a spy in the Drowned City searching for it. Meanwhile, we have decided to secure a new headquarters. Please see that First Eclipse is cleared out – and quickly – before the Hands of Ord search the place.
Sneaking back down into the Vermillion Dream safehouse and out into a nearby alley, the party spotted a Hand of Ord city guard patrol entering the First Eclipse. Excellence led the group away, suggesting the finest inn in Ank’Harel would be Lap Of The Gods resort in the Sand-Herald district. Maks pays the 10 gp a day rate to cover everyone for a couple days in a four-room suite (total cost: 150 gp), and for a few hours, the group enjoys a life of luxury: unlimited drinks, exquisite room service food, attentive bathing by attractive servants…
After nightfall, the group returned to the Subcut Bazaar district to check out the Luck’s Run casino’s southern entrance hall, the supposed site of the meeting Aradrine described. Cull Longshadow won 150 gp playing a card game called the Gambit of Ord. Fen discovered magical slot machines and, over the course of several pulls, was up 10 gp. Excellence said hello to several drow servants working the room (Sorah, Iggabella, Omma, Xofia, Emilia, Iva – all under the watchful gaze of pit boss/bouncer Cinders Ella the fire giant). Enkidu cast Disguise Self to change his appearance, and Maks spotted several bodyguards around the casino who, despite their Marquesian clothing, were clearly of Dwendalian heritage.
Looking to the private VIP lounge overlooking the casino hall, Maks recognizes two people standing there: Allegiance of Allsight Headmaster James Cryon and Vice-Emissary Zora Graf, niece to Emissary Lord Zeddan Graf (a beloved noble and socialite from the House of Graf, a top foreign diplomat for the Dwendalian Empire). Makes successfully sneaks into a bathroom to disguise herself before Graf notices her…
* Events are underway in the Luck’s Run casino.
* Britni, the Allegiance student/tour guide, has disappeared.
* Satzrak Runestrider of the Vermillion Dream has disappeared. Aradrine and Ashann plan to go into hiding.
* Allegiance scholar Yusif Prolix is expecting the party to arrive at his Sigil District apartment that night.
* The party has agreed to appear before an Allegiance of Allsight research group the following day.
* The party has agreed to appear before Question and a Cobalt Soul research group in two days.
* The Allegiance of Allsight controls something called Cael Morrow below Ank’Harel, and Vermillion Dream members claim a dangerous source of ruidium is found there.
* Vermillion Dream members also claim someone is smuggling ruidium into Wildemount and may be weaponizing it for the Dwendalian Empire.
* Master Dendarron’s letter warns about an aboleth called Alyxian – the same name used by the sandy-haired youth seen in multiple visions connected to the Jewel of Three Prayers.
* Aradrine the Owl asks that the Telfan family be informed about Aloysia’s arrest in Bazzoxan.
RECAP FROM WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 2022
Session 10 of “Call of the Netherdeep,” part 2 of Chapter 4: The Jewel of Hope
While playing games at the Luck’s Run casino, the party spotted Allegiance of Allsight Headmaster James Cryon and Vice-Emissary Zora Graf, niece to Dwendalian Emissary Lord Zeddan Graf, meeting in a VIP area overlooking the southern gambling hall. Maks Waccoh disguised herself as a tiefling to avoid detection by Graf, who very likely would have recognized Maks as someone closely tied to the Kryn Bright Queen’s court – hostile enemies of the Dwendalian Empire. Casino floor pit boss/security chief “Cinders” Ella, a fire giant rumored to “see lies,” seemed to acknowledge Maks’ deception but sent a waitstaff messenger away for reasons unknown.
Allegiance intern Excellence Bran deftly snuck past the Dwendalian bodyguards to listen in and rob the pair upstairs, pickpocketing off Graf a Scroll of Disintegrate, a Wand of Enemy Detection, an illustration of areas below Ank’Harel, and a white marble figurine. Fen positioned himself below the balcony, and both of them overheard Cryon and Graf talking about Allsight’s planned meeting with the party the next day, bringing in a vivisectionist (presumably to dissect the ruidium-infected Cull Longshadow), and seizing the Jewel of Three Prayers for their own purposes. Graf clearly spoke as if seeking instruments of war should the Kryn-Dwendalian truce in Wildemount break down. The pair also mention that, if necessary, Allsight scholar Prolix Yusaf – the party’s civic sponsor in the City Ank’Harel – might “also need to be dealt away with.”
As Cull, Maks, Fen, and Enkidu gathered near the foot of the stairs where Dwendalian bodyguards stood, Maks began a chant of “Cull Longshadow!” – and then all hell broke loose. Cull, who had sensed the ruidium in his body coming to life, sprouted red tendrils (but not in the crippling fashion he suffered the previous week). The white marble figurine – which Excellence found to be laced with ruidium and starting to grow before being slipped back into Zora Graf’s pocket – transformed into a full-sized, scarlet-red elephant, breaking the railing and tumbling (along with Graf and Cryon) to the gambling hall floor below. Amid the chaos, the party hastily retreated (via Dimension Door or just running) to regroup at the abandoned and shuttered First Eclipse tavern across the street.
The party then traveled to the Sigil District apartment of Yusif Prolix, finding him awake and awaiting their arrival to spend the night. Upon learning his life was now in danger, Prolix joined the group’s late night run to the Guided District’s Temple of the Mentor – a site dedicated to the knowledge goddess Ioun and local headquarters of the Cobalt Soul. (Along the way, Excellence confirms Britni is safely asleep in her dormitory bed, somehow returned after begin put into a magical slumber by Consortium of the Vermillion Dream agents earlier that day.)
Finding sanctuary among the library-like temple’s darkened halls, the party was introduced by Curator Question to her group’s leaders, High Curator Jamil A’alithiya (a Marquesian human in his mid-20s) and Archivist Ever (a blue medusa who claimed to have been the one to create the Jewel of Three Prayers by orders of three deities: Avandra the Change Bringer, Corellon the Arch Heart, and Sehanine the Moon Weaver). Enkidu reveals he remembers Ever from three past lives: In one she was his lover, in another she was enslaved by the gods, and in another she murdered him. Enkidu and Ever wander off to share some private words together and exchange gifts.
Jamil A’alithiya agrees to shelter the party within the Temple of the Mentor and points out that if the Allegiance of Allsight are gathering in the morning, there’s a chance the Cael Morrow site will be understaffed and less protected. However, he fearfully confirmed hearing reports that the site is being harassed by an unusual aboleth calling itself Alyxian. (Normally such abominations share an alien hive mind and lack personal names.) In addition to lodging, the Colbalt Soul offers to broker an exchange of magical items on the party’s behalf by sending shoppers back to the Suncut Bazaar’s marketplaces.
The next morning, stories spread quickly about a “conjuration run amok” at the Luck’s Run casino. Most tales describe “a magical prank gone horribly wrong,” but an arch-conservative bardsheet called “Vixen News: Standing Up For What’s Lawful” has the following story on its front page:
MONSTER ATTACK DESTROYS GAMBLING HALL AT LUCK’S RUN, ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT BLAMED
ANK’HAREL (Vixen News) – Screams and mayhem were heard in the Suncut Bazaar last night when a crazed blood-red elephantine horror magically appeared in the Luck’s Run casino, exploding into violence and leading to the utter destruction of the famed venue’s southern gambling hall.
Witnesses say the monster appeared in midair about two hours before midnight, falling from an upper lounge where visiting Dwendalian Empire dignitary Vice-Emissary Zora Graf was being entertained by Crystal Chateau headmaster James Cryon, an esteemed scholar from the Allegiance of Allsight academic institute.
A warning cry of “CULL THE LONG SHADOWS” was heard being shouted on the casino floor moments before the attack. A source connected to the Dwendalian delegation said the assassination attempt may have been the work of agents from the Kryn Dynasty of Xhorhas, dangerous spies who arrived in Ank’Harel just hours earlier that same day.
The Kryn Dynasty and Dwendalian Empire had been engaged in open warfare on the continent of Wildemount for eight months before a ceasefire was brokered between the two nations earlier this year.
Other sources say the actual target of the attack may have been Cryon due to the Allegiance of Allsight’s exclusive archeology project to uncover Cael Morrow, the pre-Divergence ruins recently discovered below Ank’Harel’s urban foundations. The work, which has been sanctioned by J’mon Sa Ord herself, is opposed by fanatics from the Sentinels of Memory who claim the ancient site is a dimensional prison that must be kept sealed at all costs.
A member of casino owner Adima Shemsilver’s security team, a fire giant known as “Cinders” Ella, was gravely injured defeating the scarlet-red giant elephant that witnesses report as having a hide as tough as stone. A spokeswoman for Shemsilver said it was unclear if any casino treasure was stolen during the melee.
The Hands of Ord have arrested several survivors from the scene for questioning under compulsory enchantment. Among those cited were gnome artificer/shipwright Simeon Goldfeather and his unnamed female companion, Marquesian merchants Sej and Mollez, the local Scarbearer mercenary captain Zun, and a foreign half-elf named Pelleck.
A reward of 1,000 gold pieces has been offered by the Cerulean Palace for any information about the magical attack or the whereabouts of those responsible.
COMPLETED: The Luck’s Run casino meeting; Britni confirmed safe; Yusif Prolix contacted; Cobalt Soul leaders contacted.
* Political rumormongers (either from the Dwendalian embassy or the Allegiance of Allsight) are wasting no time in framing the party as dangerous foreign assassins.
* The party has agreed to appear before an Allegiance of Allsight research group later that day (but have learned it is a trap).
* The Allegiance of Allsight controls an underground site called Cael Morrow below Ank’Harel. Vermillion Dream members claim a dangerous source of ruidium is found there. A group called the Sentinels of Memory want the site permanently shut down.
* Vermillion Dream members claimed someone is smuggling ruidium into Wildemount and may be weaponizing it for the Dwendalian Empire.
* A Vermillion Dream letter – and now Colbalt Soul leaders – all warn about an aboleth called Alyxian, the same name used by the sandy-haired youth seen in multiple visions connected to the Jewel of Three Prayers.
* Archivist Ever, a blue medusa, claims to have made the Jewel of Three Prayers by orders of three chaotic good deities: Avandra the Change Bringer (change, freedom, luck),
Corellon the Arch Heart (art, beauty, elves), and Sehanine the Moon Weaver (illusion, moonlight, night).
* Aradrine the Owl asks that the Telfan family be informed about Aloysia’s arrest in Bazzoxan.
RECAP FROM LATE JULY SESSIONS
Sessions 11-13 of “Call of the Netherdeep,” part 2 of Chapter 4: The Jewel of Hope
The heroes bluffed their way past some guards into the Maw of Cael Morrow, a former public square in Ank’Harel now transformed into a huge stairway winding down hundreds of feet to a flooded cavernous ruin under the city.
At the Allegiance of Allsight base camp, a few botched deception rolls prompted combat with the archeological team of the tiefling Insight Acuere, the kenku Scribble, the goliath Xot, and a few other guards. Subduing them with mighty arms and summoned dire wolves, the researchers were left bound outside the magically-warded first building. Looting uncovered two breathing bubbles, three potions of water breathing.
Connecting a few submerged buildings are magical air tunnels, allowing researchers to move easily from site to site across the ruined city. Outside in the dark water are seen various fish and strange, vaguely humanoid white squid creatures who watch with malice from a distance. At one point, Cull Longshadow leap into the water – and did not drown – to pursue and battle these creatures.
Moving forward the party spotted the Last Willow Inn, a completed flooded establishment west of a crumbling guard tower. There the group met its proprietor, a kindly sea elf named Olara who was busy serving two rooms full of elven and orcish ghosts. The undead patrons only seemed to react when the party started talking about Alyxian the Apotheon, though things did not escalate into a fight there. The party enjoyed Olara’s magically preserved wine and learned this tavern existed before the Calamity, perhaps surviving due to its nature of shifting between the Feywild, the Shadowfell, and the mortal world. The party purchased a couple bottles of wine, five potions of healing, and two potions of heroism.
Upon leaving the Last Willow Inn, each party member felt stronger (leveled up to 9) and had minor damage to their equipment – evidence perhaps that they had been adventuring elsewhere for a time without having any memories of where or why. (Such missing time events are not unknown to happen when dealing with anyplace connected to the Feywild.)
The nearby air tunnel had vanished, but the party soon ran into Insight Acuere, unbound and unharmed, who reacted with shock. She claimed the party were assumed to be Sentinel of Memory saboteurs who disappeared two weeks ago. (To the party, their arrival into Cael Morrow had only been less than an hour hence.) Acuere flees back to the north.
Next the party found the Hall of the Royal Library, triggering an angry pod of sorrowfish but causing no great harm. The group also found Galeokaerda and her Shield Guardian, Allight archivists sorting through piles of waterlogged books in search of something useful. Galeokaerda is unfriendly but does nothing to impede the party’s own efforts.
At this point, three party member had been affected by some sort of psychic possession speaking pained words – all of which Fen had heard before in a dream.
Excellence: “Ungrateful wretches – they have forgotten all I have done!”
Tulen: “They were right. I bring nothing but despair.”
Maks: “If I can’t live, I will burn this world with me.”
In the southern library hall, a few party members witness elf and orc ghosts appear and reenact the fall of the city, it’s shining alabaster spires being smashed by Gruumsh the Ruiner, the Betrayer God of slaughter and warfare. Afterwares the party acquires three teleportation tablets, anchors for others to safely teleport to wherever the tablet is placed. (Note: These tablets themselves do not help teleport away to other locations.)
As the party ventured westward toward a once majestic temple in the middle of a sunken courtyard, Tulen and Prolix Yusef held back with Galeokaerda. More of the strange “aboleth spawn” began to appear, heralding the eventual attack by their master, a mutant aboleth covered in ruidium infection. It broadcasts terrible telepathic thoughts, revealing itself as the psionic source of the phrases spoken by Excellence, Tulen, and Maks.
During the fight against the tentacled abomination, Cull at last recognizes Tulen as the smuggler who sold ruidium (“performance enhancing drug”) to his goblin managers. Tulen, Galeokaerda, and the Shield Guardian turn on the party, but Enkidu’s summoned sharks keep them busy for a while. Galeokaerda is slain, but Tulen teleports away (with 1 hit point remaining).
Comparing stories with Excellence, the group can piece together that Galeokaerda and Tulen had been working for the criminal organization known as The Veil, a group keenly interested in getting their hands on more ruidium. Vice-Emissary Zora Graf had been approached by Veil operatives to buy ruidium to the Dwendalian Empire, but she mistakenly thought she could improve the offer by going directly to Crystal Chateau headmaster James Cryon and the Allegiance of Allsight itself. After all, they “control” the dig site where ruidium comes from, right? Cryon appears to have played along only to learn more about the smuggling operation and change the security details of the Cael Morrow site to shut off further looting.
Battered but still able, the party stands victorious outside the ruidium-covered Temple of the Arch Heart; the now-inert Shield Guardian blocks the entrance. The construct’s control crystal was left on Galeokaerda’s corpse. Just to the north in the watery gloom, the massive coral dome covered in ruidium pulses with a deep red light…