D&D

5th Ed. Spelljammer – The Wand of Orcus, Session 18

This post is a wall-of-text because in my excitement over how much work I put in the tournament I failed to take ANY pictures of the table. I had a field with tents, horses, a tavern and everything set out. Nuts.

The Tournament of Flowers kicked off with a speech by Queen Garria:

“Once again, we come together thanks to the generous contributions of the Order of the Sacred Flower.” She pauses for a moment as the crowd cheers for a group of assembled knights with lotus flowers on their tabards.

“May we all compete over the next several days with fairness and grace, that we might earn glory for our peers and ourselves. As in previous years, each individual’s triumphs will contribute to their team’s quest for victory. May the great Wyrm, Morokei Krongrah watch over us as we celebrate victory in his name!”

With that, the tournament began and the crew of the Sea of Stars were approached by Maxim, the tournament scorekeeper and registrar. He introduced the other teams competing: the Order of Truth, Storm Company, the Knights of the Sacred Flower—the tournament sponsors, Companions of the Crucible, and the Free Citizens of Bryttan. The first event was the Grand Melee, a tournament of chivalric, single combat (no magic). Veya and Sumner signed up for that. Zinianna signed up for the Archery Contest. Straxius signed up for Arcane Archery. Straxius signed up for the Joust, and they would all participate as a team in the Urn of Wits challenge and the final Hedge Maze Challenge.

After easily defeating Grinder the Uncouth of the Free Citizens of Bryttan and Jaana the Hammer of the Order of Truth, Veya faced her 3rd Tier opponent, Dupre the Pure, also from the Order of Truth. Meanwhile, Sumner faced off against Shamino the Swift of the Order of Truth, then Grond of the Companions of the Crucible before facing his 3rd Tier opponent, Talos the Elder of Storm Company. Both Veya and Sumner defeated their 3rd Tier opponents, leaving them to face each other in the Champion Round.

That would have to wait a few days, however, to give the tournament participants a chance to rest. Meanwhile, Straxius faced off against Pelgor Quickfingers of the Companions of the Crucible in Arcane Archery and defeated him. Due to a lack of opponents, Straxius merely needed to be Grigori the Dark’s score to advance to the Champion Ship round. Grigori the Dark, of the Companions of the Crucible lost his 3rd Tier challenge to Valen the Ponce of the Knights of the Sacred Flower. Straxius beat his score, then faced Valen the Ponce for the Championship, convincing the boisterous knight that competing drunk and blind-folded would prove their worth. Valen agreed and competed, not knowing Straxius used his connection with his familiar to see through its eyes. Still, Valen’s skill was formidable and he only narrowly lost to Straxius. The Captain of the Sea of Stars was crowned Arcane Archery champion and granted the Earthtender Circlet as a prize (a circlet of blasting).

Sumner geared up for the joust, using his summoned steed after it was deemed that his Celestial Elephant, Stampy, from his figuring would provide him with an unfair and ultimately impractical advantage. (Why yes, I DID buy empty halves of coconut for this.) First, he jousted against an opponent from the Grand Melee, Talos the Elder. He unseated the old man then was challenged by Jaana the Hammer. After defeating her, his opponent was Dupre the Pure. Once again victorious, Sumner’s final opponent was Valen the Ponce. They made multiple passes and with Sumner’s unhorsing their scores were tied! Sumner demanded satisfaction from Valen the Ponce, but was unable to control his rage at the knight’s good natured boasting and the ignorant comments of other participants comparing the minotaur (whose race was unknown on Brintannia) to a bovine. He broke the rules of the contest and was disqualified for using magic to paralyze The Ponce. Valen was crowned Champion of the Joust and accepted the Gweardon Fortress (Daern’s Instant Fortress) as his prize.

Zinni was confident the Archery Contest would be little challenge to her and after defeating Pelgor Quickfingers, Loren Smythe of the Free Citizens of Bryttan, and Katrina Trueeye of the Knights of the Sacred Flower, she faced her final opponent, Garrett the Lame, also of the Knights of the Sacred Flower. Despite his slow, hobbled gait, he proved himself the better, or luckier, archer and limped away with the Champion title and the prize, the Quiver of the Blessed Huntress (a Quiver of Ehlonna).

During the period in which the melee participants rested, the Urn of Wits challenge was held. A pedestal was placed on a large rug in a pavilion. The rug was large enough no one could leap to the center to reach the pedestal. Upon the pedestal was an urn. The object was to retrieve the urn without using magic and without walking on the rug. Heated debates broke out amongst the teams. The crew took knives to the pavilion tent to create a long section of fabric which the placed on the rug to walk on. The challenge proctors called foul and while they were arguing over the wording of the rules, Valen the Ponce knelt down and rolled up the rug to walk on the grass until he reached the urn. The challenge proctors declared the Knights of the Sacred Flower the winners of the Urn of Wits Challenge. This announcement was met with much grumbling by the officers of Sea of Stars.

Nevertheless, the tournament proceeded and, it was time for the presumably rested and healed melee contestants to face off for the Championship. Sumner was reminded in no uncertain terms that magic was prohibited during the challenge and he faced off with Veya. While Sumner provided a bit more of a challenge than her previous opponents, the barbarian powerhouse from Faerun defeated the minotaur from Ansalon (Krynn). She accepted the title of Grand Melee Champion and the prize of an Adamantine Breastplate from the vaults of the Knights of the Sacred Flower.

After a final evening of rest, the last day of the tournament and the Hedge Maze challenge arrived. (I used the Blenheim Palace maze in Oxfordshire, UK as the model for this maze.) Maxim was careful to explain that divination, flying or levitation magic, or any other means to see an overview of the maze by participants would result in instant disqualification. Once the rules were clarified, the challenge began. Luck was with the crew and they entered the maze first. When they estimated they were about halfway through the maze, the skies darkened unnaturally fast and the skies roiled, filled with swirling clouds of unholy color.

Screams from the tournament grounds outside the maze alerted them that the magical storm was not part of the challenge and they called upon their magic to exit the maze quickly. The people in the tournament grounds were panicking while the knights not participating in the maze challenge tried to calm them. After questioning a few people, they learned that Queen Garria was abducted by three shadowy creatures.

The crew set off in pursuit, finding signs of a struggle in a nearby copse of trees and further signs that the three shadow-creatures took to the sky and flew off with the queen. Her majordomo, Lord Blackthorne was reluctant to accept the crew’s help, but finally relented. They returned to the palace and questioned some witnesses. After discussing the issue with others, they decided to go to the Knights of the Sacred Flower and the Order of Truth for assistance.

To their chagrin, Valen the Ponce turned out to be the leader of the Knights of the Sacred Flower. He was all too happy to assist them, however and confided that they had little faith in Lord Blackthorne’s ability to fairly and safely deal with the panicking populace. At the Order of Truth, the crew searched through their library to learn the shadowy creature were, in all likelihood, the Shadowlords. The Shadowlords, three powerful creatures with ties to Orcus, were thought to have been vanquished ages ago. Their lair was located in the Underworld; a dark place of deep caverns to which no one has traveled in decades.

The officers of Sea of Stars began their preparations for a long trek into Brintannia’s underdark….

The tournament went pretty well. I was surprised the PCs didn’t walk away with all the prizes, but at least I feel satisfied that I didn’t just hand them everything without a challenge. I will admit some of the wording for the Urn of Wits challenge could have been better, but I forgot that, when dealing with D&D players, they’re going to Rules Lawyer the absolutely living flesh off the bones of any challenge with in-game rules. I also got so caught up in tracking the challenge results in the brackets I created that I forgot to give out inspiration for some particularly good bits of role-playing. Maybe one of them will see this and remind me at the next session.

Also, I was surprised how quickly they leapt to offer to go after Queen Garria. Damn, that’s heroic!

If I remember when I return from Gary Con, I’ll summarize how I ran the tournament in a separate post. I wasn’t trying to simulate every little detail and I think it worked out pretty well.

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5th Ed. Spelljammer – The Wand of Orcus, Session 17

The tunnel leading from the tomb meandered through the rocky underground until it opened into a flooded cavern. Gnolls filled the shores of the subterranean lake and quickly moved to attack. After dealing with them, the crew heard chanting from deeper within the cavern, so they circumnavigated the lake and proceeded deeper into the depths.

The natural tunnel gave way to a constructed area; a ritual room of sorts. Three druids were bound, up to their necks in a pool of blood while gnolls snarled and chanted around them, led in their dark worship by warlock bent on summoning some fell creature.

The crew of Sea of Stars leapt to the attack, intent on interrupting the foul ritual and saving the druids. After a pitched battle, the crew emerged victorious and pulled the druids out of their bloody prison. They led the druids out and found the fire fog was gone and the bleak pall hanging over the grove was lifted. The healing could begin.

Back in Bryttan Castle, Queen Garria expressed her thanks at their efforts and invited them to stay a while. The Tournament of Flowers was starting a few days and they were all invited to attend and participate if they so chose….

This may seem brief, and it probably is, but I got caught up in doing final edits and revisions to my next novel and really didn’t have a lot of time to do a detailed synopsis while trying to prep for the next session and finalize preparations for Gary Con, too. I could’ve summed it up in two sentences: The PCs killed all the gnolls and their leaders, and saved the druids. In gratitude, the Queen invited them to attend the Tournament of Flowers being held in a few days.

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5th Ed. Spelljammer – The Wand of Orcus, Session 16

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The next morning, Queen Garria gave them a tour of her castle. They noticed an ancient axe above her throne, an heirloom from an ancestor. The same axe was depicted in a statue in her garden of an armored, bearded man battled a fat, goat-headed demonic creature. When asked, she explained he was the ancestor to whom the axe belonged, shown battling Orcus.

Just then, a page ran up to them. Apparently sent by Queen Garria to a nearby druid’s grove, he spun a tale of a mist that ignited flesh where it touched and a disturbing lack of druids. Not only were the druids nowhere to be found, but the trees in the groves were twisted and corrupted.

Queen Garria implored the crew to grant her a favor and investigate. In exchange, she would give them a letter authorizing a line of credit with the ship builder in nearby city of Bryttan. Eager to further customize Sea of Stars, the crew agreed.

They flew the ship north to the grove as indicated by the page’s instructions. A thick mist hung over the trees, obscuring visibility to the point that they could find a safe place to descend into the grove, so they descended the ladder to enter the grove via the road.

The twisted paths winding through the grove led them past gnarled, corrupted treants, one of whom took objection to the fleshlings in their midst. After defeating the angry tree, they found the center of the grove: a massive oak tree with red leaves.

After a quick search, they found a hollow beneath the tree and descended into a small crypt filled with gnolls performing a profane ritual. Several of the gnolls were so gaunt as to be nearly skeletal, and they turned to attack. After a pitched battle, the officers of Sea of Stars searched the crypt for clues as to the gnolls’ purpose. The fire mist was as thick as ever outside, but they found a secret door in the back of the tomb leading deeper underground….

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5th Ed. Spelljammer – The Wand of Orcus, Session 15

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After loading up their treasure, the crew of Sea of Stars departed from Oerth. A few days into the journey, as they were passing through The Grinder (a vast sphere of asteroids separating Greyspace’s inner planets from the outer planets), the lookout noticed a distant light that seemed to be shadowing them.

mindspiderThey approached a large asteroid and hid behind it, intending to let the other ship pass and get behind it. When they emerged, a ship with a claw-like front was dead ahead, it’s finger-like claws enveloping the front of the ship. Straxius recognized the tell-tale shape of a neogi Mindspinder and ordered the Sea of Stars to reserve course and come about. However, the neogi ship collided with Sea of Stars and its umber hulks leapt aboard!

Riding the umber hulks were their snake/spider-like masters, the neogi. The sharp claws of the umber hulks proved a challenge, as did the insidious magic and poison of the neogi, but after a pitched, and desperate battle, the crew of Sea of Stars was victorious.

Exploring the mindspider, they discovered a vast amount of treasure along with half-a-dozen slaves the neogi had been using in their lifejammer helm. The slaves begged the crew to return them to their homes of Brintannia and assured them Queen Garria would reward them handsomely for their efforts.

Brintannia wasn’t exactly on the way, but wasn’t too far out of the way, so after a brief conference, Straxius agreed.

And here’s where I forgot to return to the ship that seemed to be shadowing them which was NOT the mindspider; i.e. it didn’t do an off-screen teleportation to magically get in front of them. Oh bother.

 By the time they reached Heart Sphere, the repairs were complete and they were well-rested from their encounter with the neogi. The former slaves directed the crew where to take them: a resplendent castle near a lake. Queen Garria greeted her peoples’ saviors and invited them to feast with her that night. She offered them lodging in her castle and their bellies grew full as the night grew dark….

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5th ed. Spelljammer – The Wand of Orcus, session 14

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This is going to have some pretty major spoilers for the Tomb of the Scorpion Prince published in Kobold Press’s Book of Lairs, so be warned.

After a brief conference outside of the tomb and a quick healing by Flint, the crew decided to continue their explorations. Once back inside, they quickly scouted both side corridors. To the left, there was a series of sharply angled rooms adorned with sculptures of scorpions with ruby eyes. The floor contained a mosaic pattern of scorpions. To the right there was a large room with a pedestal surrounded by sand.

They opted to investigate the ruby-eyed scorpions, first. Upon closer inspection, they were certain the ruby eyes were a lure to a trap, so they passed by the statues, leaving them unmolested and came upon a room with burial niches and a statue of the Scorpion Prince himself. Among the treasure, they found a gem etched with a number.

Once they defeated the animated statue and its minions, they proceeded deeper into the tomb. An unfinished, rough-hewn corridor led them directly into a trap which flooded the passageway with toxic water and corpse oozes. They defeated the nasty creatures and after finding a set of sealed doors with geometric indentations, backtracked to the angled corridors with ruby-eyed scorpions.

To no great surprise, the ruby eyes were traps. When touched, they shot great gouts of flame, filling the hallway. In addition, the scorpion mosaic on the floor came to life and swarms of scorpions attacked the crew. When they finished dispatching the vermin, they continued their explorations, finding more cleverly hidden traps, and several more gems etched with numbers.

After some deep thought and a brief rest, they deciphered the clues of the gems. The number etched into each gem, 1, 3, 4, and 5, corresponded to a geometric shape in the door.  1 fit into a circular indentation, 3 into a triangular indentation, 4 into a square indentation, and 5 into a pentagonal indentation.  When the gems were in place, the sealed door opened.

Inside the chamber stood a sarcophagus atop a multi-faceted hollow crystal. Four small stone chambers were on opposite walls. After the crew looked around for a moment, the stone chambers opened and night scorpions spilled out. In addition, the sarcophagus opened to reveal a newly awakened Scorpion Prince determined to kill those who awakened him and begin his conquest of the land once more.

During the protracted battle, they noticed the chambers which disgorged the scorpions also contained indentations and Zinniana ran around to each of them, placing a gem inside. Sumner summoned his celestial elephant, Stampy and Straxius polymorphed himself into a thunder lizard (’cause Tyrannosaurus Rex sounds too 20th century, yo) to aid the fray. After a mighty battle, they defeated the Scorpion Prince and his minions, then shattered the hollow crystal to claim the treasure within.

2016-11-26-00-23-22Ra-Jareez’s tip paid off, and they retreated from Oerth once more to take stock of their newly acquired riches…

Funny enough, they figured out the gems in the final battle before it became a slog. The scorpions had to die before the Scorpion Prince could be harmed. The gems had to be placed before the scorpions could be killed. Each gem had a corrected location. They got that part right on the first try and got the first scorpion down at just about the same time, so the fiddly nature of the puzzle never became apparent to them (though once the session was over, I did tell them how lucky they were to pick all the right choices at the end on the first try and congratulated them on their cleverness). The fact that the wizard was tanking as a dinosaur and they had an elephant stomping bugs probably helped.

I used a lair from the Book of Lairs for this for two reasons: I spent a lot of my prep time learning how to play D&D again (the mind forgets after four months and three different systems) and having the NPC Ra-Jareez find a seedy treasure map and say “Look, I contributed!” was totally in-character for him. I just wish I’d had more angled wall pieces because someall of those bulbous-looking sections are supposed to be angled.

And now we’re off on another brief hiatus. December is a difficult gaming month due to holiday-related family activities. We’re playing one session of Doctor Who (a Christmas special!), but no D&D until January 6th.

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5th ed. Spelljammer – The Wand of Orcus, session 13

After a four month hiatus, we returned to our D&D 5th edition Spelljammer campaign! One of our players left the group at the beginning of the hiatus, so henceforth, Flint Rockbottom is Mr. Not-Appearing-in-these-Adventures-as-a-PC. The campaign focus has shifted from Favors of the Arcane to the Wand of Orcus, and posts will be titled accordingly, though the number will remain constant as it’s the same story line.

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Six months have passed since you defeated the dragon and acquired Sea of Stars. Though Ragnar technically owns the ship, he is content to act as Gunnery and Armory Master. Flint Rockbottom has taken up brewing with a new passion and owns a brewery on the Rock of Bral from which he produces ale and beer that is now being exported to other worlds, through your patron, Herzog.

 

After some time spent refitting the ship, and a few quick jobs to shake out the kinks, your spelljammer is ready to fly into the black once more!

 

Still, the specter of the Wand of Orcus looms over you. No new information came your way, and that there have been no obviously related attacks or disturbances is disquieting.

 

As the officers supervised final preparations for launch, Ra-Jareez approached Captain Straxius. He presented the wizard with a treasure map he’d acquired sometime in the past week. “Ra-Jareez knows there is little trust here. This one hopes that by sharing this treasure, you will know this old Nkosi means well. Perhaps a little something for everyone, yes?”

 

After a brief discussion, they decided since this purported lost treasure was on Oerth, it would be worth investigating, despite its location deep in the Sea of Dust in the Imperial Wastes. Fortunately, they were in a flying ship, so the lack of water in which to land was not a problem. Once they arrived in Greyspace and trekked to Oerth, Flint took the helm and hovered the ship above the site.

 

From the air, it was clear the giant scorpion statue protruding from the sand was part of an ancient complex, a forgotten temple deep in a land long bereft of life. Straxius, Sumner, Veya, Zinniana, and Kagark descended the ship’s rope ladder to the site.

 

Immediately, the sun glinting off a stone in the tail of the scorpion caught their eye. Zinniana and Veya climbed the monolithic scorpion’s tail, and saw the stinger was a giant gemstone. With care and cleverness, they removed it and brought it back down to Sumner and Straxius for examination. Before anyone could stop him, Sumner licked the gemstone.

 

Much to the minotaur’s chagrin, the gemstone was cursed. Lacking any means to remove the curse, they were forced to proceed despite this setback. They descended into the underground chamber, presumably a tomb of some sort.

 

At the bottom of the stairs, the corridor split off to the left and right, in addition to continuing straight. Ahead, a pit stretched across the corridor from wall to wall. As soon as they entered the intersection, cultist leapt from concealed crevasses and attacked! One shatter spell later, courtesy Zinniana, and more cultists emerged, ready to kill the intruders.

 

As the battle raged, a cultist’s head bounced into the pit, attracting carrion beetles the size of full-grown hogs to climb up and attack, seeking food. Though the battle was bloody, the crew eventually emerged victorious and paused to evaluate their wounds before moving deeper into the tomb…

Four months of playing other games caused this session to go a little slower than normal; we all had to learn how to play D&D again. Still, progress was made and we’re all looking forward to continuing the campaign.

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5th Edition Spelljammer – Favors of the Arcane, Session 12

spelljammer logoStraxius, Sumner, Zinniana, Veya, and Flint dragged Ra-Jareez and Kagark with them as they called upon Ulfda the Mighty. No one responded when they knocked on the door, so they attempted entry to find the door was unlocked.

Inside, was a horrifying sight. Hanging on the wall opposite the door was Ulfda the Mighty, eviscerated. It was obvious he was killed in some sort of ritualistic fashion. As they searched for clues, Flint recognized that the ritual strongly resembled a sacrifice to Orcus. They continued their investigation and noticed the man hanging on the wall resembled Ulfda the Mighty, but was not, in fact, the wizard who sent them looking for jeweled skulls and spoons.

Just then, a bear of a man burst into the room. He carried an axe larger than a gnome and demanded to know what was going on and why his brother was strewn all over the room. Cool heads prevailed and they convinced the large, angry man that they were not the murderers. He introduced himself as Ragnar, the Great Bear of the North, Ulfda’s brother.

It soon became obvious that whoever sent the crew of Boccob’s Barge on their interplanar journey was not Ulfda the Mighty. Ragner suggested it might have been Zagyg in disguise; the Mad God was fond of impersonating his brother when they weren’t around.

They explained the situation to Ragnar. It turned out he and his brother were from Faerun; he knew of another spelljamming vessel, but he and Ulfda lost it some time ago. He knew where it was, though, and believed the crew’s help could be just what he needed to recover the lost ship.

Ragnar led them into the Gnarly Forest, explaining they were looking for the lair of Feykromaar, a mighty green dragon who took their vessel. The dragon had an arrangement with the werewolves of the Gnarly Forest and his lair opened into a ravine deep in the wood. Ragner knew of a secret entrance beneath an old, dead tree, however. At least, he was pretty sure that’s where the cave under the tree went.

2016-07-08 23.24.32They found the tree of which Ragnar spoke and he led them down. Straxius passed around anti-toxin in preparation for whatever they found down there. The narrow tunnel was choked with spider webs. Unfortunately, the spiders which spun the webs were still there. They were quickly dealt with, but not before enough noise was made to attract the cave’s other denizens: a pack of werewolves.

The crew made short work of the werewolves and proceeded deeper into the cave. Finding the ship in a cave wasn’t difficult, but their hopes of stealing it from the dragon were dashed when they saw a young dragon hunkered down on the ship’s deck. Ragnar noted it was much smaller than Feykromaar; perhaps one of the larger dragon’s young. They had little time to speculate, however, because the dragon leapt to the attack, breathing a noxious cloud that caught the entire group!

Ragnar was most severely injured by the breath attack and as the rest of the group pulled themselves together, he began to change. He transformed into a bear-man hybrid and raised his axe in fury. The werebear Ragnar pressed the attack on the dragon.

Sumner summoned his elephant, which proceeded to charge the dragon, knocking the wyrm over. The rest of the crew, now sufficiently recovered from the breath attack, leapt to the attack, slashing and hacking the young dragon. Finally, Zinniana loosed an arrow which flew true and buried itself deep in the dragon’s eye, killing it.

Stam

Stampy danced a jig on the dragon — cloud giant not included.

 

 

 

And there was much rejoicing.And There Was Much Rejoicing

 

They gathered up what treasure they could find and boarded the ship. It was much like Ragner and Ulfda left it, except filled with the rest of the dragon’s hoard in addition to the deactivated clockwork automatons the brothers were forced to abandoned. Sumner attuned himself to the helm while the others tended to their wounds and kept watch for the other dragon.

As soon as they were able, they departed, using the ship’s helm to fly out of the ravine and back to Wildspace on Sea of Stars….

The idea to make Ulfda the Mighty an avatar of Zagyg the Mad God was inspired by my player’s speculations. I was playing it straight at first; he was just a kooky mage, but when their wild speculations drifted toward him actually being Zagyg, I decided to run with that.

I was amazed how quickly they dealt with the dragon, as well. I was really hoping the spiders and werewolves would eat up more resources. At least I got to use the breath weapon. How fortunate for the party that they all took anti-toxin prior to going into those caves.

Part of the issue is that there’s nothing between a Young (CR8) dragon and an Adult (CR15) dragon. If I had time to prep more, I might have been able to work something up, but I had a lot going on during the week that just ate into my prep time every time I turned around.

Oh well, at least I get to break out the Maiden of the High Seas again!

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5th Edition Spelljammer – Favors of the Arcane, Session 11

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The crew wandered the streets of Sigil for a bit, utterly lost. Their distress was obvious to the planars around them. A young man approached them. His name was Gip and he said they needed a tout, lest they get taken advantage of by less scrupulous berks.

Gip knew about portals, of course, but after accidentally traveling through one and being forced to spend a week with satyrs in Arborea, he actively avoided them after that. “It was a laugh for a few days, but I was glad to get home. If you need the chant on a specific portal, you need a smarter cutter than me. I know a fella.”

Society of Sensation

Society of Sensation

The tout led them to the Civic Festhall, headquarters of one of Sigil’s many factions, The Society of Sensation. He had a friend among the Senates, Grim Barnabus who knew the chant on portals to prime realms.

After being accosted by a Sensate who begged to know what it was like to be shivved by a warrior woman (and Veya kindle obliged), they discovered Grim was not in the Civic Festhall. Another Sensate, Niles, suspected he went to Amoria to go fishing, but quickly corrected himself. Grim Barnabus went to Eronia for fishing.

As Eronia was one of the planes of Elysium, they would need to find a portal and key to take them there. Fortunately, Gip was familiar with that portal, though he never used it. There was a stall in the Grand Bazaar that served as the portal. By happenstance, the herbalist whose booth contained the portal sold the key: a vial of water from Oceanus. Along the way to the Grand Bazaar, they stopped at a tavern to have a grand meal and filled a magical bag they’d acquired with a variety of planar cheeses they belived they could sell on the Rock of Bral for a profit.

After pay 50 gold for a tiny vial of water, the crew used the portal and were transported to Portico on the plane of Eronia. As they stepped through, they saw jagged peaks in the distance and the roar of crashing waves closer. Portico itself was a short distance away, a small seaside village where the buildings appeared to be made from enormous sea shells and the people resembled tall sea elves. They were greeted with smiles and waves by the residents of Portico. They asked one resident if she could direct them to Grim Barnabus, and though she didn’t know him personally, she offered to go around with them and help them look.

They found him lounging on some rocks near the shore with a fishing pole. A fishing pole with no line.

Grim was amenable to leading them back to Greyhawk, though the portal would deposit them a day or so outside of the city in the Steaming Springs. They would have to wait until he was finished with his fishing for the day, unless they had their own foo dog tooth.

Since they didn’t, they waited. Straxius relaxed with Grim by the sea, conjuring his own fishing pole while the others found their own ways to relax. When it was time to depart, Grim took them back to Sigil and led them through the streets to a bricked up doorway in the Hive. He and Gip bid them farewell, and as easy as walking through a door, they departed the City of Doors and were once again on Oerth.

Straxius used the sending stones in an attempt to contact the crew, but only received a message back from Ra-Jareez telling them they needed to return to Greyhawk as soon as possible. A few quick conjurations later, they were cruising down the river toward the city. When they located the Nikosi sailor, he informed them that Boccob’s Barge was attacked in the night while they were gone. Fanged creatures surprised them in the night. He overheard them talking about an orc-something or another and assumed they were after Kagark, so he grabbed the ship’s strongbox and convinced the half-orc to flee.

The attackers took the ship and, as far as Kagark and Ra-Jareez could tell, killed the crew. The Nkosi suspected the young woman from the Rock of Bral, Gwen Sallas was in league with the villains, though he had no evidence.  The crew decided to pay a visit to the man who sent them away, Ulfda the Mighty, as they planned their next move….

That was brief. I intended the jaunt to Sigil and the Outer Planes to last a couple of sessions and have more encounters, but they were having a lot of trouble getting orientated in Sigil and I forgot to mug them before introducing the tout (Gip was supposed to come to their defense as the Harmonium was hassling them about killing some muggers). Oh well.

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5th Edition Spelljammer – Favors of the Arcane, Session 10

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The officers of Boccob’s Barge spent the next several hours poring over Murlynd’s library and holding the stirrup in various ways (and by various people) trying to get the door through which they entered the house to led back to Greyhawk. Unfortunately, their efforts were in vain and they decided to explore the surrounding countryside for another option. As they began their reconnaissance, they discovered that neither their levitation, nor their flying magic worked.

Once outside, they followed the path down to a garden. Divided into four plots, the center of the garden was dominated by eight foot tall glittering flowers. They decided to avoid that section of the garden, in case there was a guardian of some sort, and headed toward a hill just south of the house to get a better sense of their surroundings.

Atop the hill, they could see the whole area was covered by forest. To the south, was an odd field, arranged into alternating plots of trees and clearings with streams dividing them into a grid, or a checkerboard. An unsettling sense overcame them as they stood on top of the hill. When they descended, whichever direction they traveled was the opposite in which they intended. Straxius tried the novel approach of running in his intended direction, tumbling down the hill toward the checkerboard. Upon seeing him arrive at his desired location, the rest of the heroes also chose to tumble down the hill toward the checkerboard. Somewhere, in the distance, a faint refrain of “As you wish…” could be heard.

The plots of the checkerboard field were far larger than they first appeared. The crew could tell there were creatures milling about in each of the square plots, but were unable to positively identify any of them due to the distances involved. After fighting their way through a couple of the fields, a griffon descended onto the field, demanding they stop. They weren’t playing the game right, and Gamemaster Griffon demanded they leave immediately. Straxius and the others asked the griffon where they were, exactly, and how to return to Greyhawk. Gamemaster was unable to help them and suggested they seek out other denizens of the realm.

After knocking the heads together of a pair of incessantly arguing twins and the clueless chirpings of a Jub-Jub bird, they finally found their way out of the overgrown forest to a beach. There, they saw a man and a bipedal walrus walking down the beach talking about clams and the relationship between shucking clams and organized religion. Despite their proclivity for distraction, the Walrus and the Carpenter did, indeed, know a way back. They Way Back, they said, just needed the proper key. Unfortunately, someone tossed it in the ocean in a fit of drunkenness some time ago. They knew where the box was, though, but it was near an ill-tempered, giant clam.

With a bit of help from Sumner’s spells, Veya was prepared to dive to the clam beds to retrieve the key. The Carpenter lent the crew his row boat and showed them where the clam beds were. It didn’t take long for Veya to retrieve the box and, as promised, contained within was a tarnished brass skeleton key.

The Carpenter explained they needed a door for the key to work. A key for a door couldn’t work without one, after all. Straxius obliged by conjuring a door right there on the beach. When they opened it in proximity to the key, they saw a crowded, dingy alley beyond. The Carpenter warned it was one-way.

The crew stepped through. The salt air of the beach instantly changed to the dank, polluted air of a crowded city. Haze obscured the sky, but peeking through they could see the tops of more buildings, seemlingly suspended above. In front of them was the door to a tavern. They could hear the raucous noise of revelers within. The sign hanging above the door read “The Way Back.”

Art by Dana KnutsonThe sight of an abashai pushing its way past them and entering the tavern hammered home Straxius’s suspicion. Not only were they nowhere near the city of Greyhawk, they weren’t even on the Prime Material Plane anymore. They made their first priority finding someone to restore Straxius’s youth, before the ghost’s effect on him became permanent. The barkeep pointed them towards a barely-sober patron. While he was barely coherent, he was more than happy to use some of his restorative magic before asking for payment, realizing after the fact that he should have negotiated for payment before casting the spell. Then, he passed out in his ale.

No one in The Way Back was interested in helping them return to Greyhawk; knowledge of one particular portal to one particular place was hard to come by. They went back out to the main street to take stock of their surroundings. City stretch out as far as they eye could see, looping up and around them in a never-ending loop of ever-changing urban jungle. The good news was there was surely a portal home somewhere. The bad news was they were clueless berks in Sigil, the City of Doors….

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5th Edition Spelljammer – Favors of the Arcane, Session 9

spelljammer logoThe journey to Greyhawk was a simple matter of flying to the Nyr Dyv, then sailing down the Silentan River to the docks. After pay what was almost certain an extortive docking fee, Sumner and Flint split off from Straxius, Veya, and Zinniana. The minotaur and dwarf would scour the High Market for trade goods and inquire at the Temple of Pelor for information regarding the Black Star while Straxius, Veya, and Zinniana sought out Ulfda the Mighty.

Although Sumner and Flint were unable to learn anything from the priests of Pelor, the others did find Ulfda the Mighty. They learned from the College of Magic where he lived (and that he definitely was not affiliated with the college). His tower was a tower only in the academic sense. It was round, with a pointed roof, but was obviously only two stories and towered over nothing. Also Ulfda himself seemed quite mad. He was obsessed with his finger bones and claimed Murlynd never returns what he borrows, though he couldn’t be sure if the spoon was actually his to begin with. He was willing to share some spells with Straxius, though. He just needed someone to retrieve his belongings from Murlynd’s house, especially his spoon, even though it might actually be Murlynd’s. He suggested they bring back ALL the spoons, just in case. And his finger bones. AND a jeweled brain box.

When asked how to get to Murlynd’s house, he produced a tarnished silver stirrup. Straxius quickly learned this was some sort of portal key, as it made the door exiting Ulfda’s tower lead not to the city street from whence they came, but rather some sort of plant-filled conservatory. They briefly thought about going while Sumner and Flint were running their errands, but decided to track them down first instead.

Murlynd's HouseOnce reunited with Flint and Sumner, the five officers of Boccob’s Barge passed through the portal into Murlynd’s House. From Conservatory, to Pantry, to Kitchen, to Sitting Room, they explored the odd home with trepidation, fearful of the wrath of a powerful wizard. They found a hot metal box and a cold metal box in the kitchen and surmised they were for cooking and food preservation, respectively. A collection of tiny colored pieces of paper were in the sitting room, along with glass frames containing pinned insects, as well as a talking clock! They gathered up every spoon they could find, but then found a note:

“Dear Folks,
So happy you were able to stop in during my absence. Please be careful not to disturb anything! Check to see that the plants and pets are being properly cared for—they should all be alive and healthy! Help yourselves to whatever you need to eat. Mind you don’t eat me out of house and home, though! The two scrolls might be of some small use to you in the adventures ahead. If you notice any other small objects you are in need of, help yourselves, but leave the silverware alone. If you should see Zagyg, do tell him that Keoghtom and I are waiting for Denkainen, who will be along soon enough. Have fun! Dr.M.”

Straxius immediately became suspicious: perhaps this mad Ulfda the Mighty was actually Zagyg in disguise! They contemplated the implications while enjoying a brief meal, then continued searching for the finger bones and jeweled brain box.

Nothing was found in the bedrooms, upstairs, so they proceeded to the attic. The clutter was prodigious and they discovered a baleful ghost in the attack. It gave Straxius a fright that greyed some of his hair before Sumner was able to banish it. Near where the ghost attacked was a trunk in which they found a few minor magical items, as well as blackened, gnarled finger bones and a jewel-encrusted skull.

After a quick examination, it was clear the finger bones were another piece of the Wand of Orcus. They skull appeared to be just an oddity. They reluctantly gathered up the bones, aghast that yet another component of the foul wand of a demon god was in their possession and decided to check the basement before returning to Ulfda.

In the basement, they found some more curiosities, such as lightning elemental that apparently provided power, and a tunnel that seemed to stretch for miles, but nothing else of note. They returned to the conservatory, made sure they had the stirrup in hand, and opened the door.

It led outside, to the grounds around Murlynd’s House, not back to the Free City of Greyhawk….

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