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I should have learned more about buildings...
I have no idea what is going on. We broke in to save Van, it was dark everywhere, Van has no tongue, there were legions of cultists, and now they are closing in on us. I have no idea where Alax, Parceleia, or Gritz are, and I can only hope that the mute Van is leading us to safety behind this doorway. If only I had spent more time indoors! When glancing around this room, I thought a staircase led to another floor and a way out when Van mounted it. Alas, it was simply a mezzanine with no exit, and now I am a few feet from the only exit with cultists breathing down my neck and without the ability to call upon my mystical plant and animal brethren. I am wounded, potionless, and spent myself with great exertion to dispatch what I thought a key foe, only to wind up here. I need Alax's wits (or his brawn) or Gritz' silkiness to get out of this one, but I have neither. I am an herbalist, and the chosen of Tsuga, but not even the Hauberk of the First Druid I bear may see me alive yet. What keeps me going is the kindess Van has shown to me in times past and my faith in his good judgement, and a burning, consuming desire not the perish deep in this dank hole of stone, but rather among the trees where I belong.
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Deadly Quests
2nd Session - Summary
1) We started with a brief discussion on character sheets. Players may choose to use the provided character sheet or one of their own design. Then I presented a more detailed introduction to alignment in D&D

2) Alignment is categorized along two axes that can be imagined similar to the x and y axis of the Cartesian coordinate system. The positive y axis can be labeled as good and the negative y axis can be labeled as evil. The positive x axis can be labeled as chaotic and the negative x axis can be labeled as lawful. The zeros can be labeled as neutral. Thus alignment would be depicted as in the following graph:

Alignment has been in D&D from the beginning. The alignment system was inspired from novels such as Michael Moorcock's Elric saga where the forces of Law and Chaos drive the narrative. For this campaign we are going to use my interpretation of alignment as follows:

Alignment does not define a character's actions but rather, a character's alignment defines that character's outlook upon the nature of life. The good and evil aspects of alignment speak to individuals while the lawful and good aspects of alignment speak to society.

Characters with a good alignment view individuals as generally good in nature. They accept that there may be some "bad apples" but that those evil tendencies were learned and not intrinsic to the nature of life itself. They believe that it is in people's nature to care for each other.

Characters with an evil alignment view individuals as generally selfish and self-centered. These characters believe that people will choose to serve themselves. They believe that characters who sacrifice for others only do so because on some level they are receiving a benefit from their actions. They believe that it is in people's nature to act in a way that is most beneficial to themselves.

Characters with a lawful alignment view society as empowering. They believe that societal agreements (laws) are necessary for successful functioning of civilization and without such structure civilization would devolve in to barbarism.

Characters with a chaotic alignment view society as infringing. They believe that freedom is paramount and government is best when it is limited in scope and power. They believe that they should be allowed to choose their own destiny and that nothing should be allowed to stand in their way.

Characters of good alignment can have friends of evil alignment and visa versa. Consider how this would work:

A good aligned character view his good aligned friends as paragons of virtue. An evil aligned character views his good aligned friends as exceptional. A good aligned character views his evil aligned friends as misguided or unenlightened. An evil aligned character views his evil aligned friends as people that he can relate to.

3) Players commenced rolling up character statics using the 4d6 method. I will be providing specific character background mechanics tailored to each character. Players may choose to accept the custom-generated background mechanic or use one from the Player's Handbook or the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide.

4) It was pointed out that Initiative is missing from the provided character sheets and we replaced inspiration with initiative.

5) Introductory Session Part 2

Murder on the Princess Ark.

A week has passed since part 1 of the adventure and interrogations of the magister have revealed little information. He claims to have forgotten the entire episode. Rivven Cripplegate received a promotion on board for his part in solving the murder and Bael was also given a promotion of sorts as he has been appointed as the understudy for Rivven. Further questioning of the magister uncovered more details about the dagger that was used in the murder but when the group went back to the magister's quarters the dagger was nowhere to be seen. Several theories were posited but as the night grew on the group had no choice but to rest in preparation for their daily duties on-board the vessel. During the night, the rouge slipped out of their quarters through the now locked doors of the ship and in to the quarters of the cleric where he attempted an assassination! Combat ensued and amidst the confusion it was revealed that the rouge had secretly obtained the magister's dagger which was dropped in the cleric's quarters during the scuffle. Both people now realizing what had been transpiring, they left the room and immediately went to inform the others, leaving the dagger behind. When the full group returned the dagger was now in the hands of the gnomish alchemist, now bent on destruction. With the combined effort of the group they managed to free the gnome of the dagger's curse and secure the dagger in the room successfully completing the exhibition session.
Session: Campaign Session 0 - Sunday, Apr 23 2017 from 12:30 PM to 6:00 PM
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Crackin' Skulls
“Blessed is the hand that strikes the blow that sets them free,” Tor whispered. He turned the mace in his hands staring at it, feeling its heft. A Holy relic, in this place of despair? Maces were employed by the clergy in warfare to avoid shedding blood. Whoever carried this one must have been a hero indeed. Not many people would have the strength and courage to delve this deep into the barrow maze. This imbued divine power. Jealous of the horrendous damage Mirilda could cause with her axe, a slight grin crept upon Tor’s face as he imagined crushing skulls with this beauty.

“Hammer of Potentous,” was inscribed on the handle below the flanged head. “Ominous name, but you are exceptional. Well my friend, we shall put many souls to rest together. We shall give them the true death once and for all.”

Draugr, was what grandmother called them in her heavy accent. Animated corpses, alive in their graves, guarding treasure buried with them, as if somehow there was use for it in the afterlife. Not ghosts, but something worse, ravenous, they would tear the flesh from your bones. Old wives tales, stories to keep the children in at night Tor had thought so long ago.

Although iron could injure a draugr, as is the case with many supernatural creatures, it was often not sufficient enough to stop it. Unconventional, to say the least, destroying the undead could also be formidable. Their decaying bodies could be burned, dismembered or divinely turned.

The search for immortality, a result of monstrous wickedness in life, the unholy worship of demons, or the helpless victim that has fallen prey to the evils of the world, it matters not. Though the dead might live again, they could die again. A “second death” was required.

Tor laid his shield down, unconsciously abandoning it. He’d need two hands, one for each mace he now carried. “Well, let’s get cracking.”
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Descent into Darkness
Rather than going down the secret stairs the DM led them to, the stubborn party wandered off, into the nearly empty level once occupied by orc slavers.

They meandered from empty cavern to empty cavern until finding a secret door in one, which led them into a small office where a dark dwarf was busy packing up pagers. The fell on him like a pack of homeless junkies on a clean needle.

They trussed him up and found that the ledgers he had were records of slaves being moved from the orcs down into the Underdark. Ariella found that her missing father had been captured and shipped off to something called the Bleak Theater, which was a large gladiatorial and meeting center (like Epcott Center) where slaves were sold, traded, and forced to battle for the amusement of their derro and drow masters (again, like Epcott Center).

The party discarded the derro accountant (yeah, they murdered him), and explored the secret door they found in this room. It led to a chamber with a large shaft in the center and a complicated mechanism of ropes and gears that raised and lowered a pair of gigantic mushroom cap baskets from this level to level 7, currently broken.

Wren cast light on a stone which she popped into her mouth, as well as a fly spell and glided down the shaft. She made her way down 60' before seeing the floor another 40' below her. At this point she saw small, dark creatures scurrying to attack. Acting quickly, Wren spit out the light stone and began flying back towards the surface, but not quickly enough. The creatures fired their crossbow bolts at the witch, and managed to hit her several times. The damage was not the problem, it was the poison on their bolts. Wren was rendered unconscious and began floating gently down towards her attackers.

Banthum saw what happened and acted quickly. He leaped into the pit (wearing a ring of feather falling) and when he got close to the fallen witch, pushed her into one of the mushroom baskets. She was safe, but Banthum was only just able to grasp the side of the basket, and was a tempting target for the creatures and their poisoned bolts.

Marvin took advantage of the situation and peppered the creatures with multiple fireballs, from which they had no protection. And while he was unable to kill any of them, he did succeed at driving them off and buying time for Elriond and Ariella to repair the elevator mechanism and pull the basket with their companions to the surface.

After securing the elevator once again, the party searched the rest of the level and found it empty. They had no choice but to go to the stairs I had put them at several hours earlier.

On the third level the group found and disabled several traps (as well as triggering one, which shattered many of Elriond's ribs).

Heading into the hall, looking for signs of troglodytes (which their noses told them were near), the party heard the sounds of a great number of creatures running down the hall in their direction. The group quickly set up to receive them and waited.

Suddenly a somewhat plain, though nearly nude human woman ran into view, followed by a beautiful elven woman, also nude save for a loin cloth. Hot on their heels were several armored troglodytes, out for blood.

A short battle ensued, and this is where we start next week.
Session: Castle Whiterock - Saturday, Apr 22 2017 from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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Darkest Before the Dawn
They teach you much at the Academy, but one thing conspicuously absent from the scholars’ scrolls is what to do when the best-laid plans of rats and men go completely pear-shaped. The plan seemed simple enough—sneak in, find Van, lay waste to a few unfortunate footgrunts, and return to the grand business of communing with the gods. But it seems those selfsame gods had a different plan, and contrived to beset us with not less than an entire contingent of well-trained men-at-arms.

Should we see daylight again, I will have to remind myself to brush up on my illusionary artifices…the simple disguise I concocted to free Van from his shackles was easily unraveled. Sneaking was never my strong suit—I judge myself a man of action, like the great warrior Jenkins of old. Now, with the party split, my mana spent and spirit drained, I can do little but dart in desperation ‘twixt chamber and hall, searching for a path of egress. Moments ago I caught a glimpse of Gritz across the fray, saluting solemnly before making his escape. He’d best not think my journey is done. After all, methinks he still owes me 5 coppers!
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