Relative to other sessions not much actually happened in session 6 so I am combining the events in posts with session 7A and 7B, which are thankfully on different nights!
With the Spectator dealt with thanks to diplomacy the party then try the same approach when they head south and run straight into Mormesk the wraith. The talks go surprisingly well for them once more and it turns out Mormesk is happy to be sealed off in his private apartments and leave the Rockseekers to their peaceful mining.
This turn of events leaves the mine largely in the hands of the party, only one unexplored corner remains which their prisoner has revealed to be the base of the Black Spider, their rival. As they are planning a full on assault back in the Spectator's area a weary and dishevelled looking Nundro appears... hang on a second, we already got one of those!
The new Nundro reveals that the other Nundro is in fact a beautiful young elf maid called Val who the Black Spider was holding prisoner. The Spider was using her (disguised by some polymorphing and one of his illusions) to distract the party and keep them confused, all the while holding onto Nundro as an emergency hostage. This is a terrible load of rubbish of course but I had most of the party at beautiful elf maid and they lap it up. Old Nundro is Vhalak the doppelganger of course and the Spider has had one of his remaining goblins push new Nundro in to create an opportunity for his favoured henchman to escape. New Nundro is the real thing but is under the influence of a suggestion spell.
Pretty established fantasy trope by now and a simple way for the DM to get his doppelganger out of serious trouble. Thanks to Scorch-D and Deviant Art for the image.
Without really questioning what new Nundro is saying and taking the unlikely plot at face value they free 'Val' and discuss their next move. Nundro reveals that he has been released as a distraction while the Spider escapes with his pets. His remaining retinue have also done a runner but in another direction, apparently carrying a heavy chest full of papers and loot.
So here it is that the party decide to split up. One group will take Nundro and Val back to Phandalin to claim their reward from Gundren while the rest pursue the fleeing Spider.
Party A is formed! (I will drag a collective name out of them eventually).
Tholas Longfeather the Chosen. A barbarian outlander and unparalleled fighter. He searches for answers and the unnatural raiders who killed his tribe.
Fugren Rocksplitter. Fugren is a mountain dwarf of the old Rock clans to the north. He is a former mercenary but has come to work with his cousins, Gundren and Nundro, to help forge a new civilisation from the ashes of the old; in as profitable a way as possible.
Burgem Gabriel, Cleric of Selune. Shepherd to the flock of Phandalin. She seeks to establish a holy Selunite diocese that will bring healing and succour to the folk of Neverwinter's southern marches.
Riardon Silverlight the Wizard, Scrivener of Oghma. Riardon is a high elf and a fellow of the Temple of Knowledge in Neverwinter. He has rededicated the lost altar of Oghma in Neverwinter Wood and a new candle of civilisation and reason, however small, burns brightly in the darkness once more thanks to him.
Varis the Warlock. As a young elf approaching her coming of age she seeks to carry out a mighty deed and earn the right to bear the mantle of adulthood and a surname.
Party A have secured the mine and rescued Nundro, while they mourn the loss of Tharden they are mightily pleased with how their first mission has gone and decide to take on more work. They make it back to Phandalin uneventfully and settle back into some rooms at the Stonehill inn. Val (who has helpfully taken the form of a female elf) is offered the job of party thief to replace Reed but she remains noncommittal for now. She needs to rest up first after her time as a 'prisoner' (she subsequently disappears off to the Black Spiders secret hideout at the earliest opportunity by the way). Gundren and Nundro set up an office for the new mining company in Harbin Wester's former residence. Harbin has been arrested by Lord Corlynn and Sildar Hallwinter (and his property seized) for taking bribes from the criminal Redbrands (it may be that he was simply too weak to stand up to Glasstaff's thugs but frontier justice tends to be harsh and swift). Hallia Thornton, who runs the Phandalin Mining Exchange, is less than happy with Gundren's intrusion on her monopoly but dares not make a move in the current political climate.
The players sell, trade and re-outfit themselves after visits to Lionshield Coster and Barthen's provisions. The Electrum and Platinum currency is exchanged for gold with Hallia. Excess monies are banked with Lord Corlynn.
While chatting amiably with Lord Corlynn he hands them some correspondence which arrived while they were out of town. Riardon learns that his Alma Mater is concerned by visions of a disaster linked to an upcoming astrological event called the Eye of Myrkul but no further details are forthcoming. The next subject to come up is that of Agatha, the elf banshee who lives out in the Neverwinter Woods near the ruins of Conyberry. Burgem had grown close to Sister Garaele over the course of her visits to town and has been gifted the local Shrine and a house by her (as she had been summoned urgently south by an emergency) on the promise that she administers to the spiritual needs of Phandalin. She was also left a silver comb and an instruction to return it to Agatha, a mission Garaele couldn't complete herself. Lord Corlynn suggests that taking the comb now could be useful as the banshee is said to be a powerful seer and could reveal more about the Eye of Myrkul event.
A small glimpse of the future perhaps, a great treasure, and a great enemy. Image from Dungeon magazine.
Having rested and reequipped, the company sets off on a days march to the ruins of Conyberry. They arrive as the light is failing and are concerned to see the ruins are encircled by stakes every few yards with rotting heads atop them. The heads have clearly been prepared with a lot of small fetishes tied into lank hair or piecing flaps of skin, as well as having dark, purplish symbols daubed on them.
The company retreats back up the road for a distance and sets up a late camp so they can explore the ruins in the daylight.
Image is 'Oliver Cromwell's head' from Wikipedia.
When they do they swiftly come under bow fire from four or five hidden archers. The party is lured into the ruins and ambushed by a transformed werewolf and his wolf familiar. All the while the archers keep up a rain of fire at the vulnerable members of the group.
Tholas manages to kill the werewolf and one by one the archers are hunted down and killed. The werewolf corpse transforms into that of a Grey Wolf tribe barbarian. The deceased Uthgardt is very similar racially to Tholas who has come from a very far off land and he wonders at this obvious example of his cultural heritage in such a distant place.
Image from the ERA card game.
With the ruins clear the party sets off north to find Agatha. The trees have other ideas though, the path shifts constantly and though normally graceful as a leopard Tholas suddenly finds himself tripping over every root and being lashed in the face by every branch. It soon becomes so bad that he is separated from the rest of the group. As the party pushes on the opposition to their passage begins to affect all of them. One by one they become disorientated and lost until all are alone. Finally Riardon who bears the silver comb, finds Agatha's dwelling though he has no support from his missing friends. He bravely enters the dilapidated cottage anyway and is permitted an audience with the infamous elf spirit.
Slightly less charismatic elf than previous encounters but still not bad for her age, Agatha or Auglatha in the original elvish. Thanks to Andrew de Felice and Deviant Art for the image.
She reveals that Conyberry and the people there once had her favour but was destroyed by ignorant and superstitious Uthgardt barbarians years ago. No man with the blood of ancient Uthgar may enter this part of the woods safely now and few others ever find the path they seek. She is grateful for the comb, after a fashion, and goes on to explain that the Eye of Myrkul is an ill-omened alignment of certain heavenly bodies that will herald the return of shattered Myrkul the Death God.
Since the Lord Ao rewrote the Tablets of Fate and banished all the Gods except Selune, Lolth and Oghma the world has found a stable balance at last. Lolth seeks to undermine this balance by engineering the resurrection of Myrkul, who lay in dormant pieces in the Mere of Dead Men and thus escaped banishment with the others. In barely two months the Eye of Myrkul will take place and Death himself will once more stride the world in immortal form.
Myrkul by w1tchbones on Deviant Art.
Shocked by the revelations, Riardon takes his leave of the banshee seer and heads back to Conyberry, where he finds all his companions who all seem to have walked in a large circle by accident. Even the barbarian Tholas has made it back with only a few cuts, bruises and a black eye.
The party camps for the night and Riardon imparts his terrible discovery to the rest of them. The next day they head back into Phandalin to prepare for a journey south to the mere. Upon talking to Lord Corlynn and asking for advice they learn that he has a small force in the area based at Iniarv's tower commanded by Sir Nathan the Paladin. Burgem insists on spending a week in Phandalin doing some work on the shrine and organising some staff to take care of things while she is away from town so the remaining party members decide to make use of the time by clearing up a couple of small jobs for Lord Corlynn before they head south. It's a risk to spend this time this way but one they decide to take.
Chatting to Gundren while in town they are introduced to Glim Garrick, a forest gnome thief who works for 10 gold pieces a day. Tholas knows they need somebody with thief skills desperately but is dubious about committing to such a large daily expense so offers 7 gold a day (rolls a nat 20) and Glim appears slightly awestruck by the legendary presence of such a powerful and famous hero agreeing quickly to the deal.
Glim uses the basic spy stats plus a few tweaks for being a forest gnome so he won't drain off any xp from the PC's and is run by Tholas' player. Image 'Gnome Thief' by Cerulean Raven on Pinterest.
While they relax in the bar of the Stonehill inn they are approached by a wandering monk who asks permission to accompany them on their next job. Impressed by a few demonstrations of his martial prowess they agree and are joined by Quinn the monk (late arrival, yet another new player!).
Image courtesy of the community wizards page.
The party, minus Burgem, head back to Conyberry and then cut south to Old Owl Well following the map Lord Corlynn gave them. They do well with the map reading and reach Old Owl Well, and what appears to be an archaeological dig, in good time. As they approach however they are perturbed by the strong smell of death that permeates the area. Proceeding cautiously they start to see shuffling zombies with picks and shovels appear from various parts of the site. The party launches an attack.
The zombies, a dozen in all, fall swiftly at first but then some start to get back up again. At a critical point in the fight one Hamun Kost bursts onto the scene and calls for a halt. As the party are negotiating with the suspicious old necromancer Kost foolishly gets too close to the barbarian. Tholas launches a devastating attack and beheads the Red Wizard. Negotiations over. The last of the Zombies fall eventually though everyone was wounded except Varis (who actually hid in a bush, shamefully). The party pick up some nice loot from Kost's tent and Varis discovers a 'Dream Crystal' on his corpse that appears to project images of the user's thoughts a few feet away once attuned. Kost's digging has uncovered the entrance to some ancient Netherese underground ruins and the party disguise this with some of the materials from the dig site hoping to come back when time allows for some delving.
The erstwhile necromancer Hamun Kost, Red Wizard of Thay. D&D artwork found on Pinterest.
They move south to Wyvern Tor and after a brief detour while disagreeing over the map and ignoring some ogre tracks they come across the party find their objective and climb the narrow path to the summit.
Soon they spy a cave entrance and a lone orc sentry so Varis (keen to make up for the bush debacle) decides it's her time to shine. She uses an illusion to disguise herself as an orc and approaches the sentry hoping to get close enough to take him out. The sentry calmly waves a greeting and calls out in his native tongue. Varis doesn't speak orc. She waves back, smiles and calmly continues walking towards him. Suspicious of the stranger now the sentry calls out more harshly and readies his bow. Varis, sweating, continues closing the distance and smiling. As the orc draws back the bow to shoot Varis unleashes her most powerful spell, missing completely and melting part of the rock face with acid. The orc calmly shoots her and causes maximum possible damage. The party (in their clanky heavy armour) are too far off to do much else but dash forwards and the sentry calls forwards his allies, six more orcs and a lumbering ogre. Arrows rain down on the party as they run up the narrow path causing several injuries, fortunately Tholas gets to the fleeing Varis before the ogre does.
Varis has one more trick up her sleeve, she pulls out the newly acquired dream crystal and concentrates hard. From around the side of the hill comes a huge stone giant, bellowing with rage. Int test, rolls a 2. Unfortunately the giant looks somewhat like a cave painting, two dimensional and with major features missing altogether. The voice is rather high pitched and effeminate too. None of the orcs fall for the poorly realised illusion even for a moment, not even the ogre.
Rarrgh, I is a big mean monster and I is gonna eat your head! Image courtesy of a small child.
Thankfully, Tholas really is a very capable fighter and with Fugren's help they proceed to start hewing into the orcs. Glim shows he is more than capable too as his backstab ability comes into play on the narrow ledge outside the cave entrance. Quinn even gets involved, taking down an orc, despite being only level one and wounded by an arrow.
The party defeats the orcs and explores the cave finding a treasure chest but Glim finds a 1 while picking the lock so Tholas impressively rips off the lid with his bare hands. I didn't like to say afterwards that it was unlocked.
Image from Demon Knights #10.
The party made it back to town without disturbing any nesting owlbears or similar and found Burgem willing to head south to the mere which is where we will pick up next time.
Thanks for stopping by!