Greyhawk: Return to the Classic

The Wine Harvest
Wine Harvest

Our adventure starts with our heroes in the County of Urnst, at a small hamlet in an Inn called the Adventuring Martyr, where an ad requesting help at a nearby vineyard is posted. Each has come here for their own reason, but they all notice this ad, including a half-orc that only seems to be able to communicate in single word sentances. Sir Arkemus calls to the whole Inn that he is deciding to go after this job, and that if any wish to join him, then they should come see him in his room. Both Galen Woodsoul and Galdor Vardamir take him up on the offer, along with the half-orc tagging along, while Ruhan Lamont is content to head towards the vineyard himself, in his newly found pants, albeit only 50 feet behind the rest.

When they arrive, our heroes are greeted by an old guard in rusted armor, who tells them that the Lady will inform them of what the job entails at dinner tonight, and they are welcome to wait in the barn. The half-orc leaves, and the rest get to talking and getting to know each other, and eventually settle to just waiting for dinner. When dinner comes, the Lady greets them all, and begins to lay out the situation. The Lady’s vineyard has come under a sort of attack of late, with larger and larger patches getting damaged and becoming unusable every night. The wall is missing large chunks out of it where it’s being knocked down, and the workers refuse to go out and patrol because they hear the screaming of children and the laughing of women, along with many bright colored lights. One of the guards pipes up and says that it’s just the Goblins that live up in the hills, that there is no other explaination. Thanking her for the information, our heroes start off by questioning the servants. After giving them just about the same information, the servants let slip that they were questioned by the half-orc earlier. Fearing that they’d been tricked, the heroes rush to find the half-orc, only to find already gone.

Our heroes decide that the best plan of action from here would be to take a look at the scene of the incident first. As they look about, they realize that the vines were most likely manipulated with a simple magic spell, and as for the rest, they decide to create a blind behind a section of the wall and lie in wait for the rest to occur. Not having to wait long, a deep cold settles in, and a large rock with lights surrounding it comes barreling down the hillside. The sounds as described earlier could be heard, but the sounds of children screaming were identified as the spell Ghost Sound, and the lights as the spell Dancing Lights, but the laughter seemed to be genuine laughter coming from somewhere. Just then, many Goblins came running down the hill after the rock, and it slammed into a new section of the wall. In an effort to detour the Goblins, Ruhan created an image of an Ogre. That only stopped a few Goblins, who soon realized it was a trick, and went to join the others. All of a sudden, from above them, the spell Color Spray appears, stunning a good number of the Goblins. Sir Arkemus, believing another foe in his midst, issues a challenge to the being in the area, only to have his sword turned into a rubber chicken. Ruhan, thinking the opposite, went forward and used a Color Spray of his own, while Galen and Galdor fired arrows. Soon, the laughter stopped, and the cold retreated, as the half-orc came running full speed down the hill, yelling for the fighting to stop. Reluctantly, it did, and to the surprise of our heroes the Goblins did not continue fighting. Our heroes come to find out that it was the Good Folk, playing a trick on the Goblins, who did all of this, and the Goblins want to simply worship their sacred stone in peace in the hills.

Healing all but one of the Goblins, who had already passed, the heroes swear to help the Goblins fight the Good Folk who are doing this. Galen and Galdor go to inform the old guard of what has transpired, while Ruhan, Sir Arkemus, and the half-orc go to prepare with the Goblins for the coming night. They remove all the Goblins, minus the chief, and prepare a trap. They lie in wait, and soon the Good Folk, saddened by the lack of Goblins to play a trick on, appears. A Fairy Dragon it is, and our adventurers attack it! The quickly gain the upper hand as Moonbeam, Galen’s Animal Companion, seems to be able to hit it at every weak point. Wind and cold rage as the Fairy is torn asunder, and when it falls, so does the weather. Our heroes have won the day.

The Betrayal of Faith

We begin again with our heroes deciding to risk entering the watchtower in order to light the beacon and summon the Duke’s troops to the area. It is agreed that Gabriel, Yeoman Jimmy, and Peter will stand as a diversion in order to leave the rest of the party unmolested as they try to find the secret entrance in the river. The plan appears to work…For a few seconds. Soon, the archers on the tower refocus their energies on those trying to sneak in. Arrows begin to rain down, one finding a small chink in the armor of the Knight, piercing the flesh of his shoulder. Shrugging off the damage he continues to hold his shield high in an attempt to distract them long enough for the gnome to secure the entrance. He catches a glimpse of his attackers and identifies them as the scourge of the Underdark. Drow have ventured forth into the light for some nefarious purpose, and our heroes discover what it is to be on the receiving end of their bows. Eventually the gnome is successful. He finds a way to open the portal, and they dive in before the arrows prove to be fatal. After a brief swim through some murky waters, they appear in a long narrow hallway. Carefully they approach the other side and find a small hatch in the ceiling. The corridor has shrunk to the point of causing the taller of our heroes to crouch before attempting to open it. They listen and hear muffled voices coming from the other side. Deciding that the voices pose no immediate threat they lift the hatch to find themselves in a small wardrobe. After making the requisite jokes about witches and lions, they start to formulate a plan. It is about this time that the enemy issues its ultimatum. “Come out and surrender yourselves!” The heroes had been found out, and worse, the enemy had time to prepare for their arrival. So they were left with the option of abandoning their quest and retreating, or swinging the doors open wide and bringing on their doom. Of course, not being the brightest of adventurers, they went with the latter of the two options. Six drow were waiting for them on the other side. A volley of arrows nearly dropped our wizard friend riding atop the Druids war dog. But he made it through. In a vicious combat that ensued, the knight decapitated the cleric before being struck down by the blade of one of her minions. Thanks to the courage of his allies he managed to survive as they immediately took up arms to help their fallen comrade. They fought valiantly and struck down the remaining foes, then took up duties healing those who had been injured during the melee. Too injured to continue though, they sought refuge back at the scrying pool. After a quick discussion about where to go, the wizard was sent to go fetch Peter and Gabriel. While he was gone, Gabriel showed back up and informed the party that Peter had fallen in combat. But he brought news in the form of an evil, ancient skull of immense power. Called the Skull of Kas’ Might, this skull has the power to raise an army of the undead and leave them in the control of the wielder. It was then it was determined that the party needed to venture forth back into the watchtower to ensure the beacons lighting. In a turn of luck it seemed that the undead, without the control of the skull, reverted to mindless abominations. This left the tower open to the party with minimal resistance from one of Lolth’s spider minions for them to get through to make it to the top of the tower. After climbing to the top, the beacon was lit. However, much to the party’s chagrin, the Duke had already arrived! Their efforts, though amazing, were unnecessary. Their salvation had already come.
But something was amiss.
The undead were once again in formation. Had something happened to Gabriel and the sleeping Druid? Upon returning to the scrying pool the found the druid still asleep, but Gabriel had fled with the Skull. It was his power that now controlled the horde. After discovering this, the heroes ventured forth to meet with the Duke. After debriefing him, the party found that several more skulls were stored within the Theocracy of the Pale. Considering this was the same place that Peter’s Holy Symbol needed to be laid to rest, it seemed a good direction for the group to travel. And with a letter of welcome from the Duke, and four new horses, they set off into the night to find Gabriel, wherever he may be hiding.

A Summer Home

The party has added another member to our party, a ranger with powerful combat skills using a double-ended mace, named Kit. She has agreed to come along as our guide, as we are now in the Bone Marches searching for clues on the line of Tellit. The party is here because of Ruhan’s research and following clues from an ancient poem, telling them of the line and hinting at their summer home. That may seem odd to say to anyone knowing the Bone Marches, but it used to be a very fertile and beautiful land before it rapidly decayed.

Entering through the escape route, they find it has a mausoleum, of all things, inside with a painting that takes up the whole ceiling. This is no ordinary painting, for it you look close, it’s actually a large portal to another plane! What the plane is will require much more investigation, especially if it’s a pocket dimension, another plane altogether, perhaps even another material plane! Sir Arkemis had the idea to use a grappling hook to teather a rope to the other side, as it is the opposite of us, like a mirror. Ruhan only gets a slight peek, ends up hanging from the rope and quickly found it’s a one way portal, luckily the magic was still affecting the rope, and his compatriots were holding onto the rope from the other side so they could force him back through. They decided to look up the other path first, only to find the starts turn into a slide, and into a pit trap. After braving the dangers a second time, they find on the other side the summer home itself.

The palace is an open air villa, beautifully laid out and stylized, though now nature has had it’s way with it for hundreds of years and it is in bad disarray. The party comes across several different hostile denziens who had made this place home (including one nasty rust monster), and once it was clear, they set forth looking for secret doors using Ruhan and Moonbeam to flush them out. They ended up finding a total of 7 secret doors, not surprising since servants aren’t meant to be seen, and most of them were just that…until they checked the one in what might have been the Vizier’s bedchamber.

A most vile and yet wholly interesting place, they found a vast shrine to Hextor. Murals created down the path, inside were some interesting notations, including what Ruhan thinks to be Vecna’s Anvil. When they reach the first floor they find a 50 foot radius summoning circle! Complete with everything you could want in it…including a voice activated Summon Planar Ally spell that Sir Archemis accidentally activiated, summoning a demon into their midst! On a guess, Ruhan used the correct command and was able to banish it with the help of the same voice command system.

As they take down any information they find, they find there are two other exits from this room, one goes up and one is another room on this level. Deciding to go check out the room on this level, they find another library. As they look through the library/torture chamber combo (like ya do), they find several tomes that emit evil auras (no surprise there), and one that is not only evil, but it has the symbol of Hextor, Lolth, and Vecna inscribed on the spine! Since they don’t want to even touch the vile thing, they caress it out of its spot onto a bag on the floor, and it springs open to a page! It doesn’t lazily turn a few pages then settle, no, it slams open! They both have the smarts to completely avert their gaze and gather the bag up, closing the book and hopefully not trigger anything magical.

The stairs up are apparently just to a hidden cell block which is also hidden behind the throne room. Convenient for sacrifices, no? Sir Arkemis decided to remove the child’s skull so that we could talk to it later. While that has it’s uses, it still unnerves Ruhan, and he’s not sure what to make of Sir Arkemis’ decision to do so.

They go to check the last secret door, the one in the shrine room. The room is a place of worship to the gods that the old kingdom worshipped, that includes good and evil alike. Upon opening the secret door, the find a small room with a mural of none other than the Sun himself, Pelor, on the floor. The group is shocked to see such a development, especially after where they had just been. The session ends with the group considering what this room could possibly have been used for.

Under the Cloak

Tonight we have seen much that can never be unseen. Evils and magical constructs that, while not hard to physically overcome, are left in our minds as scars, the Vileness of sentient creatures has no bounds. We left the Duke’s camp under the cloak of darkness and Silent spells, searching the outer wall of the city with scouts and Elves. At first we were skeptical that we would find anything at all, perhaps a futile attempt at what we could only hope would exist, but when we found the opening…we were simply amazed. The detail and depth of the tunnels we found honeycombed beneath the city was simply astonishing. The amount of time that this took could mean many different things, including, but not limited to, these being here before the war even began. As we are realizing this, the Duke splits us all up into groups of five to investigate the tunnels to look for anything that could be how the drow got here or, for us specifically, looking for the Anvil of Vecna itself.

As we go off, we find another lower level that we immediately begin to search through. A Lolth-touched Spider attacks us through a hidden door, which after all makes perfect sense considering everything that’s happening here. After burning down many webs that block our path, we eventually come across the most Vile thing any of us has ever had the displeasure of laying our eyes upon. A Living Flesh Golem made from one of Sir Archemis’ cousins. The flesh was ripped from the rest of the body and seemed to have life of it’s own, as the muscles were a separate entity that had moving, working organs and blood vessels that we could see with our own eyes.

Unfortunately, Ruhan knew not how the creature could, if possible at all, be returned to herself, as she was being transformed into the Golem in front of our eyes but was not fully there yet…so we ended its miserable existence instead. The muscles were incredibly resilient, so we attacked the skin which was far weaker. As we re-flayed the skin, as horrifying an act as it was, the girl was crying out in agony, and as it died, she cried out the name of her mother. It was a soul shattering experience for all of us.

Playing at Catch-Up

With so much time having elapsed since we last made a log in our adventure, I feel it pertinent to give very rough account of the events that have occurred ever since. I do not attempt this lightly, as there will be things left out due to both memory and time’s effect on it, but I do not attempt it for myself, I attempt this for whoever, or whatever comes next. If we fail in our upcoming mission, then certainly our lives could be forfeit, as it is with adventuring, but this time we go against the law.

We last left off with the tower in the Shieldlands in search of the Anvil of Vecna. The many horrors that we saw and experienced could never be explained in enough detail as to fully describe them, but nonetheless we survived. The Drow occupying the tower were funneling the eternal suffering of dozens upon dozens of people to what I could only assume was a ritual regarding the Anvil itself. All the magicks were taken to a central location where we found a large group of Drow Clerics surrounding the Anvil itself, performing a ritual. We were found out, and greatly wounded by fire before we could act. We plunged into the thick of battle, where Sir Arkemis was permanently injured, and many of us were close to death upon its end. Unfortunately, the ritual was completed, a sort of Vile teleportation spell that could have sent the Anvil anywhere. After defeating the Drow, we were discovered by the Duke and taken back to the encampment, where we explained all that we had found and experienced. The Duke, beset by this seeming defeat, hinted very heavily that we were to leave his employ and take word of this confirmation of the Anvil of Vecna to the Pale. With heavy hearts, and pursued by the Duke’s men as deserters, we eventually made it to the Pale, though our names are forever on the books as traitors to the County of Urnst.

In our travels we come to find out that the High Sunkeeper has died, and a new Conclave is about to begin to elect a new one. It is because of this that we find our travels both more and less difficult. Stopping off in the city that Amelia spent much of her life, we find the dead have been rising in the country where that just doesn’t happen. Acutely aware of how not good this is, we investigate heavily, only to find out that the Priest that has gone missing was actually killed by a servant of the three evil gods and sacrificed in a vile ritual, no unlike the one we had seen in the tower. Defeating the evil, at the sacrifice of the Paladin’s life that helped us, we found that the catacombs underneath the church were ones that held Cardinals, but not any that I had ever heard of, let alone in an area that to my knowledge, held no Cardinal Seat, ever, and the man who had been sacrificed held the identifying markers of a Cardinal as well!

Taken aback by all the new information, we headed to Wintershaven once more only to find the city almost impossible to move around during normal hours. Using the prayer times to move about the city, we were eventually able to get inside to see the heads of the church of Heironeous and St. Cuthbert, the latter only on the word of the former as a favor. With the two Churchs backing us, they petitioned the State of the Pale to hear us and our plea, which was granted. After learning much about the politics of the Pale, we eventually were seen and we presented our case. Two stand out men in the Cardinals spoke, an older man and a younger, who’s names I would rather not spell incorrectly and will be referenced to thus. Eventually they dismissed us, talked amongst themselves, and came to the decision that they would not come to one. There was much infighting of the Cardinals, as it seemed to be between the two men on who would become the new High Sunkeeper. The time allotment came and went, and the Light of Palor went out, and the Church split into two different Churchs. The city went into utter and complete chaos as thousands died in the riots that attempted to destroy the Cardinals for their hubris. The older man took the reigns of the city and attempted to calm the people, while casting out the younger man who, him and his fellow Cardinals, left to make a hold elsewhere. The group followed the younger, if not only because they preferred him to the older. The ceremony was performed at both sites, and both claimed to have spoken to Palor himself. The group showed the High Sunkeeper the letter from the Duke, one that should only be able to be read by the High Sunkeeper, and he offered his help to us, however little he could.

With no absolute direction, we faced a problem: what do we do now? For some time we discussed it, and eventually we came to the consensus that we should find out what happened to our beloved Duke, and the best place to do that would be in the New Shieldlands, and the front of the Eternal Crusade. As we slowly made our way into Furyondy, Kit asked that we stop by her childhood home as it was barely off the path we were going to take anyhow. The group agreed that it was fine and off we went. Come to find out, the area has been ravaged again, but this time by deserters from the Furyondian military who have been destroying the land to the point of magically preventing things from ever growing there again, along with rape (assumed), pillaging, and burning of farmsteads. On behalf of the peasants, we took the issue to the area’s Count, who was not there. So we went up the chain to the Duke of the area. Come to find out, the Count was in court as we presented the case to the Duke, and was chastised for not doing his duty. We offered our services to help the Count clear his area of these bandits, and it was agreed.

Based on the information that we were provided, we came up with a plan to hopefully lure the people to one of their assumed escape routes which seemed to be mining cave networks. We set up a trap that we were to spring in the cave when they arrived, and in an effort to not be surprised by anything already within the caves, we began to explore them. After discovering and clearing out undead, and clearing the cave of a dragon welp, a Paladin of Heironeous stumbled across the group. Cedric the Shiny had been lead here by the call of his god, and with him we explored some deeper reaches of the dungeon.

The group decided that it would be a good idea to take a mine cart ride to the bottom of the shaft we picked, only to find out that was a stupid decision. With the Paladin almost dying, and being saved by Kit, we should have turned around, but didn’t. We continued down for three days. This was a bad sign and we knew it, but we wanted to make sure. Coming across fissures in the earth that the mine cart had originally gone across, but was broken through by something smashing it upwards as if flying up out of the depths, we were drawn down further. The group went down until finally, we came across a cave of glowing moss, a first indicator that the Underdark is near. After battling a giant worm, instead of going down and following cart tracks that we had discovered, we finally went back up to the original area where we had intended to lay our trap.

Finding that humanoids had come and gone already, we kicked ourselves for our stupidity and went after them. With Kit on their trail, we eventually made it to a walled in cave where I shattered a hole in the entrance, enough to get through. There in the cave system, we found a used, inactive Teleportation Circle. Angry and disappointed with losing our quarry, but unwilling to venture in further until we’d had sleep, the group sleeps nearby. Awoken to the sounds of battle, we had been attacked by rogues! After finishing them off, we look to see if there are others, and we find more. Attacking first, asking questions later, we kill the group only to find empty wands and tokens, one for each of them. Confident that we were in the right, we find a stash of 10 cloaks, one for each rogue we fought, plus 4. We lost their trail, as the cave was massive and there could have been any number of ways they could have come from, or gone.

We take our defeat in stride and head back to the city of the Count, and come to find out much has occurred in our absence. The King of Furyandy has been kidnapped, the Duke assumed mortally wounded or dead, the Count is dead, and the Countess is in his place. Determined to report all that we have found, Sir Arkemis gets us an audience with the Countess and we recount the events of the last week or so. She seems….off to several members of the party, as the last time we met her she was a meek, unassuming woman, and now the person that stood before us was powerful, determined, confident yet stressed, fully in control of the affairs of state, and above all else, she had little sadness for her dearly departed husband. A very different picture than was painted initially, especially considering how much she seemed to love the Count the first time we met. It was this that made the group wonder if she had anything to do with the events that had recently transpired, whether she was mind controlled or had simply been playing the Count for some time, though the possibility that she simply took up the mantle incredibly well exists.

With that in mind, we decided to seek the Black Market, without the knowledge of our Paladin of course. With the help of Amelia we found a man to buy and sell things from, most especially information. The man didn’t recognize the token, but he did have a lead for us. The lead we got was that there was a prisoner in the jail sent there directly by the Countess herself. Heading to the jail, and using the Paladin and our resident minor noble as a beating stick, we bug the Countess enough to have her let us question the prisoner, coming to find out that it is the previous Captain of the Guard!

Sir Arkemis questions him, secretly letting him know that we think he is innocent. He also says he in innocent and that he is confident he knows who is behind all of this, but he cannot say who in present company, *cough*the Countess*cough*. The Captain also lets us in on the fact that when morning comes, he is to be executed, and with that the party decides to go on a mission to rescue the man from the very place he was sworn to protect and serve.