Week 1 -
As the spell completes your journey home, your eyes open from the brief pressure that feels much like your head being forced under water. All of you have returned back to the open area near the well in front of the Guild. Dyson is leaning against the front wall, talking to Dreggar the dwarven warrior. He cuts his conversation in mid-sentence and scrambles over to you as you begin to sit up among the swollen bags and trophies you have returned with.
“Is everyone alright, shall I summon the healer?” He asks, eyes darting between each of you.
“Actually,” Jaris mutters. “I don’t believe we were even hit…” He follows with a stifled laugh.
“I see.” Dyson smiles, throwing a curious glance at the giant mandible and lizard man carcass littering the courtyard.
“Well, I do have some good news for you, then.” he says loudly over the scraping of metal plates and clanging of tools rearranged in their bags as the group stands up. “Come and see.”
Several other guildmembers, and those of the other guilds, gather at the sight as you drag your bounty into the front room of the guild.
“Well done. Leave it there.” Dyson remarks. “We’ll sort that out later.”
He gestures to the tables in front of you. “Welcome to the guild.”
You each find a masterwork version of your primary weapon with a guild insignia on its hilt or handle.
“Now eat your fill and get your deserved rest. I’ll let Sirazde know that everything went…well, perfectly.”
Week 4 -
Within moments of your arrival, some members of the rival guild Champions of the Silver Star rush to your location and help bring Olaf’s body to your guild hall entrance. The door opens and Askir stands before you.
“Oh, what has happened?” He says with a pained expression that suggests he knows the answer full well. He scans the courtyard. “The others have not arrived back either. I fear this may be a dark day for us.”
He exhales deeply. “Bring him inside.”
“Is there nothing we can do for him?” Zeit asks.
“Lay him to rest,” Askir shakes his head. “as a warrior deserves. He died in battle, I presume.”
“Of course,” Zeit interjects. “Taking on a dozen orcs.”
“I tried to warn him to measure himself”." Askir mumbles as he bows his head. Slowly, his gaze returns upwards as he realizes there are two new figures in his midst. His body stiffens unconsciously.
“Who are they?”
“We wish to join…” comes the reply.
With a solemn march down the narrow footpath that lines the fractured white cliffs that support the great walls and towers of Tirg-Ath-Anon, the entirety of the five raiding guilds, unfortunately led by the tilted banner of the League of Seven Ideals, makes its way past the crudely cut dwarven doorways and hobbit holes that pocket the cliff walls facing the darkened harbor. Three patrol ships, hewn from alabaster wood, tread broadside in the shallow current, their tattered banners hanging mid-mast.
The procession finally reaches the desolate shoreline just next to the huge frame of the Gallant which is nearing completion in dry-dock. Workers on the massive ship and farmers in the nearby fields lay down their tools carefully and approach at a respectful distance.
The bodies of the five fallen heroes are brought to the water’s edge and carefully placed on their own raft pyres. A small rabbit struggles slightly in Dyson’s arms as the tow lines are tightened from the lead patrol ship and the rafts are slowly tugged out to the sea gates. With a mighty steam whoosh, the gates creak open and the harbor is filled with the warm sunlight of another day’s dawn.
Small fires ignite on each raft, as the bodies are slowly pulled for the last time beyond the gates of the fortress.
Siradze speaks, his strong voice humbled with emotion.
“It is again this day. This terrible day that we have come to witness all too often. Four more have laid down their honor for this place. This blessed and cursed place. And so we gift their bodies back to this world. As they should be entombed not in this place that has surrounded them from their very birth, but in the great endless sea that represents the very freedom that we all fight for, and will die for, one day.”
Horns on the cliff sound four sharp blasts, and the gates close once again.
A lone fiddle plays a mournful tune, as the guilds make their way back up the steep path to the fortress, to face another day.
Week 6 -
A few of the party members are still reeling from the effects of the sleep spell as you sit up next to the transport stone. Huldur groans, covered almost completely with blood (his and theirs), and smiles at the rest of you.
“Well that was close.”
Rahl helps the wounded Miro to his feet and thanks him for reciting the spell just in time.
A few members of rival guilds walk by you in the courtyard as you gingerly stand up and carry the transport stone inside the guild.
Dyson and Siradze sit at the closest table and look up as you enter the hall. The air is quiet enough to hear the drops of kobold blood drip from Huldur ’s scalemail onto the stone floor.
“Did everyone make it?” Siradze asks, eyeing each of you.
“Heh. Yeah, but there were a few more than fifteen, boss.”
Siradze sighs into his drink. “That has been happening frequently these days. We scout out two, and when we return the next day, there are six.” He turns to Dyson. “I’m afraid it is true.”
“What is true?” you ask.
Dyson casts a glance at Siradze, searching for approval, before he turns to you. “They are gathering against us. It’s only going to get worse.”
Dyson gathers you and lets you know that it is imperative that you return to the research hall from last week and delve further into the facility. The Wizard’s guild did not get all the information they expected from the materials you brought back. In addition to your normal gear, you will be loaned shovels and pickaxes in order to breach the cave-in that you couldn’t last time.
Week 7 -
Dyson gathers you all just after dinner. “We weren’t expecting to send you out tonight. We have a situation.” He says as his spreads out a crudely drawn map on the table next to used plates and mugs.
“We sent out a scouting party this morning to investigate a set of caves in the Anduran mountains. Bastian and Serbos led the group, I believe Abraham and Tylian were with them. They have not returned, we need you to go their location and figure out what went wrong.”
The map shows a path leading up a mountainside from a small village.
“You must go as soon as you are ready. Their lives may be in danger.”
“More dead?” Dyson hangs his head. “Everywhere we turn, the foul creatures outnumber us. Were there too many to risk a return mission? What became of the bloodstone and transport stone they took? We cannot allow that to fall into the wrong hands.”
Your group stares at one another, looking for a consensus.
When told of the overheard plans of attack, he nods. “We know, all signs point to invasion. Just last week, a surprising number of kobolds on our very doorstep nearly took poor Mindel from us. But how could they suddenly be so bold. They have tried for ages to scale these walls. They know it is a hopeless task. Do they wish to die?”
“I must tell Siradze. I must tell him we cannot keep risking the guild with these foolhardy missions into unknown hordes, or all of you will eventually suffer the same fate as Serbos and Bastian.”
The next morning, the following note is tacked to the door of each adventuring guild hall, including the League of Seven Ideals…
Tired of Seeing Your Companions Sacrificed to Satisfy the Whims of Your Guild Leader’s Greed?
Do Not Be the Next to Fall!
JOIN THE BLOOD OATH BROTHERHOOD
Fallion: search the bones
Rahl attempts to hide.
Fraus returns and shout out. “We need to get going now! Get what we can and get the stone ready.”
Fraus “Move fast. The two orcs can buy us a few minutes I hope.”
Fallion: just grab what you can and let’s RUN!
Huldur: grab what armor and weapon I can hold and grab the stone
Rahl follows Huldar’s actions doing the same.
Fallion: grabbing stuff
Fraus grabs some of the stuff too.
Miro retrieves his cat quickly. Everyone returns to the guild via teleport.
Huldur: “Wait, where are the people?”
Fraus sat down and rubbed his head. “They are already dead.”
Huldur: …. “Dammit!”
Fraus continued, “We took too long fighting.”
Fallion: “I guess the blood had to come from somewhere.”
Huldur: punches floor
Fraus “I wanted us to avoid fighting at all chance. Time was of the essence. That’s why I let that orc hit me. I needed an opening to charm him which you spoiled in your assault. I need to go tell one of the leaders about the impending attack and what I say.”
Week 8 -
Fraus mutters the final words of the incantation.
With a blink, the caves around you begin to swirl and disappear. You feel the familiar tug on your insides as the spell grips your very being. You instinctively close your eyes, eager to smell the familiar grass outside the guildhall once again.
But instead of the soft grass of the courtyard under your outstretched hands you feel the prickly combination of jagged stone and barbed vines. You open your eyes in the middle of a dark forest. Although a few glimpses of sunlight tells you it is daytime wherever you are, the dense overgrowth and smothering canopy hide you from it.
Your sudden arrival has startled the native dwellers of this place. The sounds and calls of a dozen different species echo around you, near and far.
Something tells you that you should tread very carefully in this strange land.
Week 9 -
The group returns (finally) later that night. Remarkably, they carry the bodies of their fallen comrades as well as much assorted loot. They are greeted by their resting guildmates as well those from several of the other rival guilds at the front door. The doors open quickly.
Dyson and Seriea step out from the guild hall. Dyson sees the fallen bodies. “Again, I see it is as I feared.”
Zeit moves forward with Serbos’ limp frame, dried strings of blood still encircling the stump of his neck. “He has died a hero to this fortress. He refused to let them find their way here. At the cost of his life and dignity. And his quick thinking has saved our lives as well.”
Seriea quickly loosens her cloak and covers the decapitation from view. “We will honor him as such.”
And three more boats are loosed in the harbor the next day.
When you return from the mission, the guild leaders are apparently having a meeting in the guild hall. Hesitant to disturb them, you open the front doors gingerly and avert your eyes slightly. Keriassa breaks off in mid-sentence and looks down. Dyson greets you and listens impatiently to your mission wrap-up. When you are finished, he welcomes you to the leftover food in the kitchen and tells you to return to your bunks and rest up.
There will be an all guild meeting tonight.
Week 10 -
Aeonge thanks you for the “nature hike”. She assures you the fortress will put the wood gathered to good use.
Within a week’s time, any guild member who uses a short or long bow will receive a new one, courtesy of the elvish archer/craftsman of the fortress. It should be considered a masterwork weapon (+1 to hit) and once per day it can be specially aimed as a standard action. By doing this, the archer can roll twice and use the higher roll as the actual to hit roll. Characters with rapid shot can still make their other attack as normal.
Week 11 –
Dyson pulls your group together the night before.
“The Wizard’s guild has analyzed the books you pulled from under that fire elemental shrine a few weeks ago and we’ve determined that there is likely still more to be learned. It turns out the wizards that you found dead in their lab were actually from an order that had its headquarters in a keep just off the coast of the sea no more than a twenty miles from Tirg-Ath-Anon.
So tomorrow we will arrange passage on board one of our ships. You can still take a transport stone and gem just in case, but we figured we would conserve it on the way out. We are starting to run low on the gems actually.
So search the keep for any more information or books and then head back. We’ve been hearing of foul activity in the area."
Week 12 -
Strangely, Seriea and Dyson are both present to deliver your next mission briefing. They talk nervously among themselves as you gather.
Dyson begins by letting you know that the guild has now determined the final destination for all of those orc and goblin corpses you had discovered in the caves of Mengorath. They are being shipped to a large barbarian tomb on the island of Trykhes, where necromantic rituals are turning them into zombies and worse. Before the process gets out of control, they are sending this group there to destroy the operation, as well as any entities now created.
Seriea carefully unveils several necklaces from within cloth sheets.
“These are firebeads, and I have constructed one necklace for each of you. When pulled off and thrown, they will be most useful in destroying large groups of the undead. However, they must be handled with extreme care, as a sudden thump may set them off and cause anyone near great harm. I would understand if you do not wish to endanger yourself with such a burden.”
Mindel takes one “No success with out sacrifice…”
“Wait, Mindel” Seria shrieks “If you remove a bead from the chain, you will only have a few moments until it detonates. You must keep it on the chain until you are ready to throw it. I don’t believe you will have time to fasten it to your arrow.”
Dyson and Sirazde are pleased to see you have returned in one piece, albeit a little late. Dyson smiles.
“We were starting to worry that you had succumbed to one of Seriea’s baubles.” Noting your rather bulky haul he adds “But I see it would have been worth it, either way.”
Seriea and Keriassa sit in the back of the guild dining hall with a hooded figure. The three of them finish their conversation and stand up to greet you. The mysterious stranger appears to be an old elf, clad in the robes of an elder mage, but his eyes lack the curious glimmer of elvish heritage. Instead they are pupil-less and solid grey.
“Everyone.” Keriassa speaks up as they approach “Please meet Gindareth. He will be gathering the powders and ingredients you no doubt have brought back for us today.” She smiles courteously towards you and then him. Gindareth remains perfectly still, save his daunting eyes that quickly dart across your faces.
“Oh,” Seriea adds, sensing the tension, “and if you have any remaining beads, I’d like them back, please.”
Week 13 -
Dyson meets with you and informs you the mission will be to a wizard’s tower that was mentioned in the books you brought back a few weeks ago. You are to investigate it and bring back any books or information you can find. There have been reports of heavy orc activity in the area, so be careful.
Gamble takes some time while they’ve got the Orcs charmed to ask them about the surrounding area. He gathers them around and with Fraus translating tells them to listen closely. He asks If they’ve seen anything large in the air or unnaturally large groups of buzzards, rooks, or Eagles. He also asks if they’ve sighted any large nests, adding that they would be made of whole tree trunks and perhaps some masonry.
Huldur lies against the tree, clutching the dagger wound and trying to fight off the poison. He asks them “Which appendage are you least fond of? I’ll be nice and start the removal process there….” He then asks Fraus to see if any of the orcs have an anti-toxin, and if not, whether anyone knows some good first aid. Or has some nice whiskey.
Ishimune asks them to describe, in depth, everything useful they know about the wizard’s tower, including its occupants, contents, and any possible reason for the large plume of smoke.
Flinne discretely searches the dead orcs for anything of value while the others are questioning the charmed orcs.
The orcs, when questioned, are able to tell you variations of the following:
We have not been up the mountain
We have seen no birds in the sky
Chief and Gurtlok went to tower to look for elf books
We told to guard this pass, other orc groups coming soon to get books for themselves, we ready to fight them
Gurtlok makes smoke from fire from his stick
Many of the other guild leaders are out on a mission themselves, so it is Askir that meets with you in the guildhall to hand you your new mission. He is picking his teeth with a dagger as you arrive, and he pushes his finished plate of bones away as you sit down.
“Greetings everyone, we have a real quick forage for you all tomorrow. He pulls out his map and lays it on the table in front of you. We need you to go to the Mandogar forest. He points to a spot on the map. We can drop you in here.”
He takes a quick drink of his mead.
“To the northwest, there was a forge-works there that we think may have been overlooked by the vile-folk. They have always been spooked by the nasty denizens of the forest. Great spiders and such. We believe there may still be ingots of fine metals or masterwork implements that our forges could use, still there for the taking. All of you fine, strong gentlemen should be able to bring back a heavy load. Any questions?”
Askir helps you bring the massive chest inside the guild hall. Dreggar and Zharg push their plates aside and clear a place at the table.
“There’s more outside, men. Help them with the ore.” Askir says as he eyes the outside of the gilded wooden box. Dreggar and Zharg nod, finishing the last bites of their meal as they walk to the door.
“We’ve had some injuries, you better get Aeonge.” Kal adds as Askir looks at Willy’s ravaged leather armor.
“I see.” Askir notes. “Do you want me to open this then, or do you need practice on magical locks.”
“Given the situation, my hands are a bit shaky, I think I’d like to just watch your skill at it. Perhaps I can learn something new.” Willy smiles.
“Fair enough.” Askir pulls some tools from his belt pouch and begins to carefully examine the mechanics of the lock and the rune inscribed upon it that reveals itself with a careful dusting of a deep grey powder from one of Askir’s pouches.
Aeonge arrives quickly and begins to tend the wounds of those injured. A pile of empty healing vials begins to stack upon the table as each of you discard your empties. “My gods, what did you face out there, a dragon?” She laughs as she stitches up Willy’s grievous wound.
Within 10 minutes, Askir breathes a sigh of relief. “There. It’s all yours. You are lucky you didn’t attempt this in the field. The results could have been very heated.”
Rahl brings a wooden bowl from the kitchen and sits in the back, soothing his fists in cold water as the rest of you gather around the chest.
Rulstin and Kal open the massive lid. The smell of fresh wood permeates the room. Inside, layered in several wraps of black cloth, lie masterwork forge implements, two rings, a set of iron bracers, a steel helm with an eagle emblem across the eyeguard, a shield with the same eagle crest, a broadsword, and two daggers. Written in common on the underside of the lid is the following:
“Here lies the accumulated wealth of the Mastersmith Karag. Let it be known for eternity that he would have fought valiantly against the vile creatures amassing in the woods around this great forge. But being a man of great intelligence as well as brawn, he also knew there was no hope for him or his. So he wishes to the almighty gods, wherever they are hiding, that these weapons and tools be used to protect the good that resides in the world. And to the vile creatures who may find this chest first, he hopes you enjoy the fires of justice.”
(There is always the possibility of trading items to other members of the guild (or anyone in the fortress, really) for something more beneficial. Just let me know of your intentions, secret or not.
One note, however, on magic from the point of view of the fortress. Remember most of its occupants (Fraus not withstanding) came to the fortress hundreds of years ago with whatever they could carry. Consumable magic (potions, wands, scrolls) were quickly used up in defense of the stronghold. It was very difficult to procure more material components to create new items, save what could be garnered by the adventuring guilds from their missions, and that is one of the main types of missions.
As for permanent magical items like rings and weapons, individuals who hold those would keep them close at hand, either out of a sense of history and family honor, or because they want to have them if and when the creatures start coming over the walls.
So there are very few magic items just floating around in the fortress, and it would very difficult (though not impossible) to ask a local mage to build an expensive item from scratch, as they are very busy with their day to day activities of manning the battlements and crafting scrolls for that use. Although they haven’t been mentioned much in game, there are frequent “firefights” from the fortress walls on almost a daily basis.
So, the easiest way to get a magic item in this campaign is to stumble across it in the field, but even that is “low” magic generally as the foul races have sacked most areas already. Somewhere in the main orc and goblin towns, there are probably huge stashes, I’m sure. Hopefully it won’t be used against you.
Not by coincidence, the two big hauls, so far, have been “hidden” chests that the vile races have overlooked in their stupidity: the Barbarian tomb and the Forgemaster’s stash.
Also, not that anyone has asked, but I won’t step in as DM to rule on who gets what, you can all arm-wrestle that one out.)
Week 14 -
Dyson greets you when you return to the guild. He is obviously pleased by the sheer number of tomes and pieces of magical equipment you have brought back, and especially curious about the large spyglass that Gamble and Ish carry between them.
“Very nice, so you were the first to the tower?” He asks, then notices Huldur and Fallion straining to get to their feet. “I guess not.”
Keriassa is quickly summoned, and she investigates the haul. “I suggest we take the spyglass to the Wizard’s Tower. I have no idea what it really is but it seems quite powerful indeed. Did anyone peer through it, yet?”
After sometime, you realize you have the following to split up, in additional to all the research tomes and magical equipment (which Keriassa would like to examine further).
Dyson infroms you today’s mission will be to investigate the abode of a dwarven forge-master who was mentioned in some of the writings from the forge-master Karag, whose forge you explored last week. Apparently, this dwarf was the original builder of that forge, and his residence may hold more clues that would be beneficial for the fortress and guild.
The sudden rush of the teleportation spell fades and you are left standing in front of the guild once again. In a flash, you realize the transport stone hangs in mid-air, and only the combined relexes of the five of you prevent it from crashing to the ground. In turn, you each express you own profound disappointment at this turn of events.
A few members of the other guilds in the courtyard stare in disbelief at your unusual arrival. Naerena stands guard at the front door. She laughs at your awkward fumbling. “Is everyone alright?”
“Nary a scratch…” Kal says, staring at the void separating you. “Dammit.” He mutters under his breath. He places his arm of the transport stone to the ground and moves to the door. He yells into the guild hall. “I need another stone! Adamantium is at stake!”
“What?” Naerena says increduously to the rest of you as he rushes past her.
(Harag pauses to contemplate what a narryah scratch is and wonders if he has been poisoned by the rakes on his back. He will ask Aeonge.)
The rest of the group drags their heavy sacks and backpacks into the guildhall. Within minutes, many of the guild leaders and a few curious others have filled the dining hall.
After explaining the mission and the curious find, Kal pleads with them to send them back with a way to transport the cylinder here.
Keriassa shakes her head. “If this thing is as large as you have described, I’m afraid even the mighty Telesar wouldn’t be able to teleport it back here.” Her voice trails off “Not now.”
Dreggar’s dwarvish eyes flash with excitement. “We can’t just leave it out there. Can you imagine what we could make with all that?”
“Agreed.” Siradze stands up. “I will let the town council know about this. If we can’t teleport it home, we can surely carry it. We will do what is best for the fortress.”
As the group begins to disperse with quick whispers, Siradze approaches Kal and the group. “And don’t worry, no need to charm me, you will all be rewarded for this valor. I will see to that.”
Week 15 –
After hearing of your exploits, and the strange, new creatures found harboring in the wilderness, Dyson draws a deep breath.
“Hmmm, I wonder if this is all connected. I just finished speaking with Siradze before you left. He said we had better be ready to move on an overland journey next week. He said it should be a two week trip to where we are going. Pack anything we might need, he said. It will be a while before we make it back here.”
“Who is going?” you ask.
“I think we all are.” Dyson says with a shrug. “There is an all-guild meeting this Saturday. Some big announcement.”