The past can come back to haunt you.

Events in and around the town of Daggerford cause our heroes to clash with a grave threat to the Sword Coast. Backed by Sir Isteval, a hero of yesteryear, our party descends into forgotten dungeons to keep the secrets of an ancient elemental cult from falling into the clutches of the Red Wizards of Thay. Along the way, they face an immortal foe from Sir Isteval's past, leading to an epic confrontation in the ruins of Dragonspear Castle.

Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle is a Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition adventure set in the fabled Forgotten Realms. It follows our heroes to the town of Daggerford, where they meet danger and intrigue. Can they survive confrontations with myriad creatures from dragons to demons?

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Dragonspear Castle
An Ominous Return

Sir Isteval spends his time in and near Daggerford enjoying his retirement during the fall and winter of 1484. The party neither sees nor hear from him directly while they are away from Daggerford. But during their time away from the town they are surprised to learn how far-reaching his network of friends is. Wherever they had gone they would see strangers watching you from a respectable distance—a guard, a scruffy-looking Northman wearing a furred cloak, a trio of dour looking dwarves smoking pipes, and so on. They would watch and follow the party, and whenever it seemed the least bit uncomfortable, the strangers would smile and wave, or they would walk over, shake your hand, and say, “A friend in Daggerford sends you his regards.” It seems that no matter where the part members had gone, Isteval’s friends are watching your back.

But in the few weeks before returning to Daggerford you’ve seen no familiar faces. No friendly waves from strangers. No nods or winks from across the street. No free rounds of drinks. You can’t help but think that something’s up, and the wind is about to change. By no coincidence, the moment you arrive in Daggerford you are approached by one of Isteval’s squires.

A young man with a bright smile finds you. He’s bundled in a gray fur cloak and doesn’t seem put down by winter’s cold bluster.

“Greetings from a friend in Daggerford! I am Eldrin Haunn, Sir Isteval’s squire. My lord asked me to fetch you. Although he didn’t phrase it quite so rudely. He says it’s a matter of great urgency concerning Dragonspear Castle. Sir Isteval wouldn’t tell me much, but I got the impression he’s coming out of retirement for this one.”

“Dragonspear Castle,” Brand echoes. “It’s one of the most feared ruins along the Sword Coast.” “A human adventurer of dwarven stature named Daeros Dragonspear built the castle over three hundred years ago. The forces of good and evil fought many battles there. Today, it’s a haunted ruin. Legend has it that Daeros was tricked into opening a portal to the Nine Hells under the castle. The portal is still there, sealed by ritual magic. The ritual magic used to seal the portal weakens over time. For years, priests of Tempus would recast the rituals to make sure the portal remained closed. That practice stopped a little more than a century ago when the Spellplague hit and a horde of undead overwhelmed the Warbringer’s warrior-priests and a deadly mist settled over the ruin. That mist is now gone. But the castle’s ominous ruins remain.”

The next morning brings a snow to Daggerford, and it clings to the rooftops of the town as you make your way to Isteval’s residence, a drafty third-floor attic with a large fireplace at one end. Through frosty windows, you can see the town in all directions, as well as beyond the walls. Even in retirement, Isteval has a head for tactics. The paladin wears heavy furs and leans heavily on his cane.

Sir Isteval, Purple Dragon Knight, leader of the Company of the Sunlit Sea and mentor to many along the Sword Coast, enjoys retirement in Daggerford.

“Well met, friends. I’m afraid that I have no information to share about the Red Wizards of Thay. Whatever they’re up to, they’re being quiet about it. What brings you to me on such a cold day?”

Confused, the party looks closely at Sir Isteval. Has he lost his wits?

“My lord,” Sir Dravik says, “your squire met with us last night, indicating you urgently needed to see us.”

Isteval tilts his head in confusion. “My squire?” he asks. “I have not retained a squire in twenty years. For very good reason. What was his name?”

“His name is Eldrin Haunn, my Lord,” says Dravik.

Isteval turns pale, his wounded leg wobbles, and it takes every ounce of his strength and fortitude to keep from falling down.

“Eldrin Haunn?” In an instant, you see Isteval’s expression turn from surprise to horror to anger. He strides across the attic, pulls a key from around his neck, and unlocks a large wooden trunk situated under a tapestry of the sun. He pulls out a device—a holy symbol of Amaunator—and shows it to you. The holy symbol is spattered with old, dried blood. “This is all that’s left of Eldrin Haunn, my last squire. He died twenty years ago in Cormyr.

“The royal court had been infiltrated by a rakshasa, a creature of the most evil disposition named Nadir. By the time we knew what it was, the fiend had already murdered several Cormyrean nobles. My companions and I tracked the creature to its subterranean lair, where we fought and killed its minions, but the rakshasa escaped. By the time we reached the surface, the fiend had slaughtered my horse and . . . Eldrin was gone. Days later, a courier delivered Eldrin’s holy symbol to the Temple of Amaunator in Suzail. It was covered in blood.

“I could not rest until Eldrin’s slayer was destroyed. With the aid of divination magic, my friends and I cornered the rakshasa in the royal palace, killing it before it could do untold damage in the guise of a War Wizard named Norvin Tarrlock. Tarrlock’s body turned up a week later in the sunken hold of a wrecked Sembian caravel at the bottom of Suzail’s harbor.

“With the villain slain at last, I prayed to Amaunator. I begged him to guide and protect Eldrin’s spirit. His death grieves me more than any other wound. Our souls were as one. Now, I fear, the rakshasa has somehow returned not only to haunt me but also to threaten everything I hold dear.”

“This is the foul creature that has been dogging our heels,” Brand declaims.

“And now it’s luring us to Dragonspear Castle,” Dravik said.

“Dragonspear Castle has many ghosts and does not abide ordinary men,” Isteval says.

“Perhaps it is time to face Nadir, this rakshasa,” Draviks says. “And finally put him down.”

“We’re with you, Sir Isteval,” Brand says.”

“Thanks to the gods,” Isteval says. “I feel we have no choice but to stop the creature posing as Eldrin Haunn, and no doubt others. There’s a portal to the Nine Hells under the castle. Were that portal to open, the whole Sword Coast—including Daggerford—could be overrun by fiends. I was going to discuss this matter of the portal with Darrondar Gweth, Daggerford’s priest of Tempus. However, I learned that he left town a week ago. Now I do not think that is a coincidence. Darrondar has been lured to Dragonspear Castle for reasons that have yet to come to light.”

Dragonspear Castle

The cold winter air claws at your flesh as you ride southeast to Dragonspear Castle. The cold intensifies at night and you get little sleep on the roadside campgrounds and small inns along the Trade Way. Isteval’s old wound gives him grief, but he dulls the pain with a keg of brandy plucked from the duke’s reserves. Every morning Isteval prays to the rising sun with Eldrin Haunn’s holy symbol clasped in his cold hands.

“I swear on my eternal soul, we will see this through. Amaunator, light our path.”

A biting wind from the north turns out to be a blessing in disguise, blowing at your backs and driving your horses onward, past friendly waypoints like Bowshot and the Way Inn. Ten days later the ruins of Dragonspear Castle appear in the distance as a crown on a lonely hill at the end of a winding stretch of neglected road branching east of the Trade Way. The miles of untamed fields that surround the castle are dotted with the remains of burnt wagons, gutted cottages, broken fences, and the wooden bones of war machines abandoned long ago.

Battles, neglect, and the elements have worn the once mighty castle down to its present wretched state. Two walls with turrets once encircled the keep, but the outermost wall and its towers have been reduced to rubble, forming a necklace of broken gray stone around the hillside. The inner wall and towers are built on higher ground and are mostly intact, although you see numerous holes punched through the walls and rooftops. Half-hidden behind these crumbling fixtures is the main keep, the entire south side of which has collapsed. Draped over the central keep is the crumbling skeleton of a colossal red dragon. The broken timbers and sagging roof suggest that the dragon crashed into the keep long ago.

The closer you get, the less serene and more unnerving the ruins become. The hill and everything on it has a deathly stillness, and amid the weeds and rocks you see old bones and broken weapons—more remnants of ancient battles won and lost.

The party begins by exploring the castle’s perimeter. They disturb, fight and slay a behir, the ghost of a long-dead castle guard and a nasty den of harpies. They also find people held in cages. As they are freed, they indicate that a coven of wicked vampires had abducted them and were using them as a larder. Most of the abductees flee. But one, a wood elf named Allaina, joins the party as they explore the castle.

Other points of interest in the ruins are an old altar to Tempus on a broken building in the courtyard. Oddly, tThe half-shattered shrine’s altar is warm to the touch when Brand and Isteval touch it, but not to anyone else. The altar has been defaced and vandalized, but Brand and Isteval still feel faint auras of Tempus’ power. The party decides that this altar must be the focus of the power that seals the portal to the Nine Hells. As of now, it appears to be intact.

Behind the castle the ground has collapsed, forming a jagged, 20-foot-wide pit. The gaping maw reeks of brimstone. It appears to be fifty feet deep. There is no movement in the depths of the pit.

The castle’s interior hides the vampire coven. It is a furious fight against them, but the party prevails. They are exhausted and in need of rest. After a day at the castle they have no answers to their questions and the castle is devoid of any significant clues. They depart the castle for the evening, to return and search anew on the morrow.
Session: Game Session 14 - Saturday, May 30 2015 from 10:30 PM to 3:00 AM
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The Autumn of 1484 D.R.
Flamerule (July), 1484 Dale Reckoning

The heroes arrive in Waterdeep where they enjoy the pleasures and marvels of the City of Splendors. Sir Isteval introduces the party to the Ladies of the Divine. The priestesses of this holy order suggest taking the elemental fire key far to the north, to the dwarven city of Mirabar. There, the key can be buried deeply under the cold earth under the protection of the Axes of Mirabar. The party, however, rebuffs this idea and decides to retain the key.

The party is introduced to Waterdhavian merchants and nobility. They learn that the Masked Lords and Open Lord of Waterdeep seek to tame the Mere of Dead Men. The party takes a commission under Duke Melenikus and travels north to see the Mere of Dead Men and the surrounding area.

On their reconnoiter of the area the party discovers a small army gathered to the east of Krpytgarden Forest under the leadership of Waterdhavian nobles Valero Brokengulf and Lady Dala Silmerhelve. The army is composed of many disparate factions from across Faerun from the Harpers to the Zhentarim. The party decides to join the fight in Kryptgarden Forest against a dragon named Claugiyliamatar who is corrupting the forest, Cult of the Dragon zealots and a mysterious Red Wizard faction. The campaign in Kryptgarden Forest is successful. Claugiyliamatar is destroyed, but her lair is not discovered. The fate of the great green's dragonmask the Cult of the Dragon sought is unknown. Despite being defeated by the party, the reason for the presence and cooperation with the Cult of the Dragon by the Red Wizards is unknown.

By the time the party returns to the Mere of Dead Men in Elesias (September), an unusually early, powerful winter storm has arrived along the northern Sword Coast. The early onset of winter limits what Duke Melenikus’ company can do in penetrating and clearing the vast swamp. Whatever mysterious force engendered the strangely early and severe winter (rumors of Auril’s return abound), the duke refuses to abandon the effort completely. He establishes a permanent camp at the ruins of Iniarv’s Tower to wait until spring. The party agrees to go their separate ways for a few months and regroup in Daggerford for the Midwinter fest.

Bersk decides to spend the autumn in Goldenfields with the priesthood and druids of Chauntea. There he learns of the recent arrival of the Emerald Enclave and the establishment of one of their lodges in Goldenfields. The Enclave members indicate that they have come west from the Vilhon Reach at the behest of Cindermoon of the Elder Circle. They were sent with several goals. Investigate the movement of the Cult of the Dragon and to try to unveil their recent plots; find the old Enclave portals of the Kryptgarden Forest and the High Forest and determine their condition and functionality; determine if the Great Rains of the Inner Sea are an isolated event or if unusual weather phenomena are occurring elsewhere and report back to Ilghon. For his efforts in working with the Greenfields Enclave, Bersk is elevated to the Circle of Enclave Caretaker and the rank of Summerstrider. He returns to Daggerford as a druid of great power.

Brand Fireminder travels east to Elturgard. The church of Helm, or what remains of it, is holding its annual Council of Helms in the capital city of Elturel. The Council of Helms of 1484 discusses many things. They discuss the alleged death of Helm at the hands of Tyr. The Council affirms that despite Helm being silent for over a hundred years, that Archancels and Chancels (high ranking priests of the church) have felt the stirrings of the god and suspect his return is imminent during this sundering of Abier-Toril. His power still resonates in the world and gives rise to many magics, holy observations and other miracles. Many clerics and paladins of Torm are joining the ranks of Helmites, as they feel it, too. Eternal hostility is declared against Cyric and his foul worshipers, whose hand is suspected in the murder of Helm. The Council asks its members to remember the heady and regrettable days of Maztica and to never repeat them. The virtues of Helm are extolled: You are a guardian and protector. Be vigilant. Never betray your trust. Stand, wait, and watch carefully. Always protect the weak, injured, poor and young, and do not sacrifice them for others or yourself. After some forays into the Reaching Woods, Sunset Mountains and Storm Horns against Shadovar and Cyricists, Brand is elevated in the faith to the rank of Lector for the Duchy of Daggerford and its environs. He has gained much wisdom.

Dravik spent his autumn with Lord Valeros and Lady Dala and their retinues as they patrolled the High Road and Long Road. He travels from Waterdeep to Neverwinter and explores all spots in between. He makes contacts and acquaintances in places like Port Llast, Lielon, Red Larch and Westbridge. So prodigious is he at battling roving bands of orcs, Uthgardt barbarians and other threats in the North, that Open Lord Dagult Neverember and Duke Melenikus make him a baron. While the promise of land near Waterdeep would have to wait, he is afforded a deed in Daggerford for the time being. He also spends time in Waterdeep with the city’s wealthy merchants and nobles. His family’s establishment, the Three Pearls Nightclub, is a welcome reprieve after many ten days on the High Road and Long Road.

Reed spent his autumn almost exclusively in Waterdeep. He visits every city ward, becomes familiar with every city street, and becomes well acquainted with the city’s criminal elements. Occasionally Reed sees Dravik at the Three Pearls Nightclub. But most of Reed’s time is spent in the city’s dark alleys, secluded parlors, and other seedy places of ill repute. While Reed indulges in a few burglaries and crime sprees, he spends much of his time doing good. He makes many forays in the darkened tunnels of Downshadow working with and for the Ladies of the Divine to rescue abducted citizens, reacquire stolen property, and unmask violent criminals for Waterdhavian authorities. Reed is also instrumental in uncovering a cult of Ashmedai and foils their plot to reveal and murder a Masked Lord. He returns to Daggerford before the others as a master thief.

During all of this, despite being hundreds of miles apart, the party members endure frightening dreams. They envision demons leaping from a smoking pit and running rampant across a burning countryside. They see loved ones tortured by tattooed wizards in red robes. Their dreams cast them into fiery, torturous prisons in the Hells while devils leer and taunt. And all the while they hear the voices of Arvik Zaltos and Meachen beckoning them to sacrifice themselves on an altar to some profane god.

Finally, on a cold, foggy twentieth day of Nightal (December), the party meets at the Lady Luck Tavern in Daggerford. They recount their various tales of the last few months. The food is plentiful and the ale is ever flowing. But nobody mentions the terrible nightmares.
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The Lizard Marsh
The Lizard Marsh
Game Session 2 Summary continued
Saturday, 20 September 2014

Kythorn (June), 1484 Dale Reckoning

Instead of flowing freely into the Sea of Swords, the Delimbiyr River dissolves into a morass of waterways threading around and beneath trees festooned with moss, forming a vast swamp. The Lizard Marsh is known for two things: bloodthirsty insects and dangerous monsters. Movement is slow in the bogs of the marsh. Even with Maechen's expert help, it seems to take about an hour to slog through a half mile. Visibility is about a hundred feet, as a perpetual mist hangs over the swamp like a cloying blanket. Then, it starts to rain, which at least keeps the insects at bay.

Maechen makes her way to what she suspects may be the first bog-surrounded hillock where a dragon could lair. After four hours of slogging through the muck, the party encounters benign lizardfolk. They know that an evil lizardfolk named Vethka declared herself queen many months ago and turned many of their kin to the worship of Talona, goddess of disease and plague. Vethka and her supplicants left the larger lizarfolk community. They point the party in the direction of the black dragon’s lair, where Vethka now dwells. They refuse to go near such a dangerous place, for fear they will be corrupted and transformed by the “curse of Talona.” They also report that they have seen strange mud-covered men lurking near an old ruin, and they point the party in that direction as well.

The party decides to follw-up on the "mud-men" clue and slog for two hours in the direction of the ruins where they are said to abide. Through the fog, they eventually see a crumbled ruin rising from the mire. Through gaps in the moss-covered walls they see the flicker of small campfires. The roof of the building has caved in. However, an enormous net has been draped over the ruin. Made of vines, leaves, and reeds, the net forms a protective canopy to hide the site from being seen from above. Surrounding the ruin are several trees with ropey vines and small ponds covered in bright green algae. Behind the ruin, a sluggish stream erodes the foundation and gathers in a pool. A strange, bearded orc stands guard outside of the ruins, and beckons the party forward when it sees the party from afar.

The creatures in the ruin identify themselves as the Clotskulls, a crossbreed of dwarves and orcs from far-off Illefarn. Lead by a female called Mama Booga, the Clotskulls are here at the ruins of Krandon Manor waiting for Arvik Zaltos. Mama Booga explains that Arvik hired them to steal one of Cheleen's eggs. Cheleen is the mate of Thoss Fyurnen, but she is away, leaving Thoss Fyurnen alone with the forthcoming brood. With the egg in their possession, these Clotskulls were instructed to wait for Arvik for payment and delivery of the egg to him. When the party explains that the red wizard was hanged in Daggerford yesterday, Mama Booga sees no need to stick around. She offers the egg to the party, as they dare not traverse the swamp with it. Mama Booga also confirms the location of Thoss Fyurnen's lair north of these Krandon Manor ruins.

The black dragon hatches as the party inspects it. It forms an immediate bond with Reed, the party's halfling rogue. They feed it crocodile meat and make camp for the night in the ruins of Krandon Manor.

The next morning brings more rain and more mists to the Lizard Marsh. The party rises and slogs north toward the ruined temple wherein Thoss Fyurnen is said to lair. Eight hours later of trudging through the torrential downpour, the twisted trees of the swamp finally give way to a dark lake with bright yellow flowers growing along its shore. The swamp's mists hangs like a gossamer shroud above the lake’s surface. Through rain and gloom, the party spots an island rising from the lake’s center. Reeds and cattails sprout from the water in patches around the island. A rectangular building capped with a shattered dome stands atop the island. A wide opening on the building’s northern face leads into a shadowy interior. Faint orange light shines from within.

The party builds makeshift rafts and cross the one hundred feet of open water and approach the ruined temple. Reed makes a reconnoiter of the perimeter and determines the only ways in are through the open front entryway or climbing to the shattered dome atop the ruined temple. The party decides to enter the front entryway and encounter several lizardfolk, which they quickly destroy. The lizardfolk are diseased, with the same pustules, open sores and pale coloring of the dead ones at Cromm's Hold. After a thorough search of the ground floor of the ruins the party determines that it is a temple to Amaunator. It was probably built shortly after the Spellplague.

In one of the temple's side rooms the party also discovers a curious thing. The dank, mold-encrusted room is illuminated by fire beetle glands stuffed in small niches along the walls. Situated in the middle of the room is a throne made of lizard skin stretched over wood and bone, all lashed together with vines. Bird and fish carcasses festoon the throne, creating something hideously morbid. A heap of treasure is piled around the throne’s base. From the shadows behind the unusual throne the party sees a lizardfolk hiding. They call to him and an old, half-blind lizardfolk stands and indicates in fluent Common that he means no harm.

His name is Wrecan and he was pressed into service on pain of death by the lizard queen, Vethka. She has him negotiate for her, as he has done on behalf of his people in the past. He is terrified of her, believing she has demonic blood in her veins. The rotting disease ravaging Vethka’s tribe has not afflicted Wrecan. He believes that the temple curses those who defile it, and he has wisely avoided doing so. He admits to secretly hoping that the disease will claim Vethka’s life and put an end to her vile schemes.

Wrecan further admits that he knows the layout and configuration of the temple and the crypts below, and happily shares the fact that Vethka is below the temple's crypts with Thoss Fyurnen. Vethka spends most of her time in the underground temple dedicated to the black dragon, he says. He also confirms that Thoss Fyurnen has a black dragon mate named Cheleen and that she left a while ago but is expected to return. After one of its eggs was stolen, Thoss Fyurnen devoured several lizardfolk, believing they were responsible for its theft. Vethka eventually managed to convince the dragon that neither she nor her subjects were behind the theft. Thoss Fyurnen is determined to get the egg back before his mate returns. Vethka believes that Thoss Fyurnen is the Chosen of Talona, and that he and his brood will lead the lizardfolk in a war against the humans and their allies. However, the dragon seems to know nothing about Talona, nor has he expressed any desire to wage war.

The dragon’s cave is connected to a long, underwater tunnel that breaks the surface somewhere to the west, closer to the seashore. The dragon uses this tunnel to come and go. The lizardfolk capture fire beetles and use their glands as light sources because torches and lanterns tend to ignite the swamp gas prevalent in the temple's rooms and corridors.

Too old to venture into the open swamp alone, Wrecan stays here. He wishes the party luck, and slinks behind the throne to hide lie low. The party gathers some treasure, including a magical shield with an apple tree emblazoned upon it.

The party descends to the crypts of the old temple. The lizardfolk have made no use of the crypts, and evidence suggests that they avoid them, bypassing them to go further below the surface to Thoss Fyurnen's temple and lair. The party does encounter an ooze-like creature. They also recover a magical mace from the skeleton of a long-dead human priest of Amaunator that died having locked himself in a crypt room decades ago.

They come to a 10-foot-wide tunnel with clay brick walls and a moldy stone-tiled floor that descends toward a faint light to the south. From that direction, they hear the sound of rushing water and distant echoes of a beating drum. The party is closer to Vethka, and the black dragon that stole the Cromm's Hold altar.
Session: Game Session 2 - Saturday, Sep 20 2014 from 10:30 PM to 3:00 AM
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Attack on Cromm's Hold
Attack on Cromm's Hold
Game Session 2 Summary
Saturday, 20 September 2014

Kythorn (June) 1484 Dale Reckoning

Every year around midsummer, the population of Daggerford swells as people come from up and down the Sword Coast to partake in the town’s annual festival of games. While merchants hawk their wares along crowded boulevards, crowds gather to witness all manner of contests, from archery and tug-o’-wars to wrestling and pie eating.

But alas, ill weather has dampened this year’s festivities. Torrential rain falls from thick black clouds as wild coastal winds howl through the darkened streets. Guests pack the local inns and taverns, hoping for some reprieve while keeping their spirits high with drinking games and music, but the storm has been relentless, and there’s no end in sight.

Not surprisingly, the storm has given rise to lots of gossip about recent events in town, namely the capture of a tattooed man believed to be a red wizard of Thay. What would a red wizard be doing so far from home? According to the local gossip, he was magically disguised and working for lord Floshin as a gardener for the same lord Floshin whose estate was attacked and looted by orcs and half-orcs a fortnight ago. They say the red wizard was behind it, and that’s why he’s doomed to hang after the festival.

It’s a good thing lord Floshin wasn’t home during the attack. He could’ve been captured and taken away by the orcs. That’s what happened to his servants, gods protect them! One can only imagine their horrible fate. But today, the Red wizard shall pay for his crimes.

The foul weather does not let up. Wet banners lap in the cool morning wind as a grim, raindrenched crowd gathers around the wooden gallows in the town square. Town guards in dark cloaks scan the periphery. A masked hangman ascends the scaffold and waits. He nods to a slender, rain-soaked knight in bright armor, who limps into the heart of the crowd, a greatsword slung over his back. He is Sir Iteval, and he stands like a beacon of light in the gloom and keeps a watchful eye on the proceedings. A few paces behind him stands a dour elf of noble bearing clad in a handsome gray cloak, Lord Floshin.

The malaise of the crowd turns to anger as the prisoner is hauled toward the gallows by a pair of cloaked guards. The bald wizard wears nothing but a loincloth, and most of his thin frame is covered with serpentine tattoos. His wrists and ankles are bound with rope, and his eyes and mouth have been sewn shut—a sight that doesn’t sit well with the Sir Isteval.

The rolling thunder of the storm cannot drown the roar of the crowd. Shouts of “Kill the wizard!” abound. One old woman cries out, “Filth for the maggots!” A heavily guarded horse-drawn carriage comes to a stop at the edge of the crowd. Through the carriage’s rain-streaked window, you see the pale visage of Duke Maldwyn Daggerford, who watches the proceedings closely.

As the noose tightens around the wizard’s neck, the tattoos covering his body begin to writhe. The crowd gasps in horror at the sight, and Sir Isteval draws his greatsword. Moments later, the captain of the guard signals the hangman to pull the trapdoor lever. Ashort drop and sudden stop spells the wizard’s demise. Lightning flashes, and it's half expected that the wizard would be gone, but there his body hangs, the serpentine tattoos no longer writhing.

“To the hells with him!” a peasant shouts. Sir Isteval relaxes as the crowd begins to disperse. Suddenly, a rider on a black horse gallops into the square, surprising everyone. He rides directly to Sir Isteval. “My lord! my lord! Terrible news! Cromm’s hold has been attacked by a black dragon!"

And so your adventure began. Sir Isteval gathered a force of 30 fighters, wizards and clerics and headed to Cromm's Hold to reinforce Baronness Wynne. It took an hour to ride south past farmhouses and cottages. Under stormy skies, Cromm’s Hold is a stark castle, little more than a squat keep surrounded by an outer wall. It looks like it has seen many repairs over the years. Galloping across an open field leading to the hold, you do not see or hear signs of battle. Thunder rolls across the sky as you approach, the rain turns to mist, and a cool coastal wind washes over you.

The gates of Cromm’s Hold open as you approach. Behind the outer wall is a bailey with a well, a stable, a small pasture, and a training yard. The keep itself is a simple manor house that looks relatively new. You see a row of six human corpses in the yard. You also see six guards standing watch along the west wall, looking out across Lizard Marsh.

An armored woman in her mid-thirties emerges from the keep, accompanied by an armored man with a bandaged shoulder wound. As they approach, the woman removes one gauntlet and extends a hand to Sir Isteval. “Welcome to Cromm’s Hold.”

“Baroness Wynne,” the knight replies. “Don’t tell me you’ve slain and buried the dragon already.” “I’m afraid not,” she says dryly. “I’m not as young as I used to be. But enough of that. I am not sure what to make of this morning's events. Let me tell you of the black dragon that swooped in after dawn."

She explains that a huge black dragon flew in from the Lizard Marsh and landed in the bailey. It called itself Thoss Fyurnen, the Sun Swallower, Chosen of Talona. While she knows the Lizard Marsh is a favorite haunt for black dragons, Wynne has never heard of a black dragon so bold or with such an aggrandizing title.

After dispatching a servant to Daggerford, Wynne parleyed with the “overgrown reptile.” It demanded tribute, which Wynne provided on the condition that the dragon leave in peace. The dragon agreed. But, it misled Wynne, for shortly after it departed with its tribute, a large force of diseased lizardfolk attacked the keep from the west. The lizardfolk tried to scale the outer wall, but Wynne’s soldiers prevented the creatures from getting inside.

The "tribute," Wynne explains, was an altar. A half-forgotten relic left behind by her ancestors. It was made of blue coral, with sides that looked like crashing waves. It was locked away in the dungeons of Cromm's Hold for decades. Wynne is not sure how the dragon knew of it. It seemed a fair price to pay for her soldiers’ lives.

“While a black dragon is no small threat," Sir Isteval said, "I think the danger to Cromm’s Hold is minimal. We’ll bolster its defenses and remain a few days longer. In the meantime, we need to offer Baroness Wynne other help. So hear me out.

"As you know, from the trial and hanging of Arvik Zaltos, orcs and half-orcs pillaged the Floshin estate north of Daggerford. One of the items they sought out and destroyed was a stained-glass altar hidden in a family crypt. It was adorned with cloud-like patterns and lightning bolts. I can’t help but think that this dragon attack and the attack on Floshin estate are connected.

“I’d like you to venture into the Lizard Marsh and find this dragon’s lair. You shall certainly encounter hostile lizardfolk in your travels, but you should avoid a confrontation with the dragon at all costs. Black dragons are vicious, cruel, and notoriously difficult to reason with, and this specimen is big enough to lay waste to an entire village. Determine, if you can, why this dragon would seek the altar from Cromm's Hold. Does the dragon work alone or in concert with some other faction? Does it know of the attack on Floshin estate and of the altar there? My friends, try to find answers to these questions.”

One of Daggerford's militia members, Meachen, a female human warrior, volunteers to guide the party through the Lizard March. She is known as a local guide of the area, having become familiar with the region on many forays with Master of the Hunt Kelson Darktreader. Without further delay, the party prepared their equipment and entered the Lizard Marsh.
Session: Game Session 2 - Saturday, Sep 20 2014 from 10:30 PM to 3:00 AM
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Game Master:
Forgotten Realms (4E)
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