Dragons of Blackminster

HotDQ 21 - Vampires!

By the time the others returned to the Sky Castle, the great battle was almost over.
Blagothokus had only two of his Ogres left alive – Laurel and Hardy. The White Dragon had fled, almost killed by Blagothokus’ Lightning Bolts. The giant could cast a lot of those and was immune to Cold Damage.
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On the Cult’s side, the only survivors were the Vampire “Wearer of Purple” – Sandevaal Morghul, his two beautiful concubines (Elven Vampire Spawn) and the Red Wizard.
At some point in the battle, Blagothokus had been forced to leave one of his Ogres in charge in the Control Tower while he came out to try and save his people. The Red Wizard and the Vampire had snuck in and taken over, and were using the Ogre (presumably charmed) to block the teleport.

Blagothokus had underestimated the Vampires – they weren’t entirely helpless in daylight – it only prevented them from regenerating. They had now fled back to the control tower to wait for night fall (only 5 minutes away). Blagothokus had used all his healing spells and was dreadfully injured.

Fortunately Ragnar had been trussed up and hidden somewhere. He was still badly wounded but Sir Vassily used the last of his healing to get him on his feet.
The options were to press on into the Control Tower now, or to try to hold up somewhere and wait for morning. They chose to barricade themselves into the barracks room with the Giant and his two Ogres.

They blocked the little gaps around the two doors and barred them. The blocked up the keyholes too, knowing that the vampires could stream in through gaps in mist form. Then they tried to get some sleep.

An hour passed, so they had all had a Short Rest (except for David who had remained on guard). They spent a few Hit Dice to recover.

Then one of the Vampire Concubines tried to break in through the main door. She rattled on it, tired to seduce them to come out and then started poking at the gum blocking the keyhole. They were so distracted by this that they didn’t notice the other concubine seeping through the other door – guarded only by the sleeping Cole.

Cole was nearly killed by the savage attacks of the vamp – during the hours of night her bite was draining his maximum hitpoints and almost turned him into another vampire in their service. The other charged over and nearly killed her, but she was regenerating 10hp a round and she fled back through the door as mist when she was close to death.

Cole was enraged and opened the door to follow her out despite everyone else saying it was a trap. They were right, the Master Vampire was out there, much more powerful and with the ability to enslave by his terrible gaze. Fortunately Sir Vassily had an aura of protection that prevented the charm.

They managed to “kill” the concubine but found she just kept getting up again. Blagothokus was shouting at them to get out of the way so he could shoot lightning at them. The fight in the stairwell of the Gate Tower was frantic as the Vampire drained much of the life from Ragnar and from Vassily. Eventually they retreated, just as Laurel the Ogre managed to circle around to join the fight. Blagothokus reluctantly slammed the door when they all got back inside and wept as they heard the ogre succumbing to the Vampires. Vassily was down to only 2 hit points (his new maximum!).

David, at the urging of Blagothokus ran off with the other ogre – Hardy to try and break into the control tower now the Vampires were away.
There is a teleport 3×3 squares in the ground floor of the tower. It is connected to another in the room 100feet above.
From the “Lobby” you say “Esclarotta” (the giant’s dead wife’s name) and, everyone on a square that isn’t occupied in the control room, teleports up.
From the Control room, you say “Lobby” and everyone teleports down, with everyone on the downstairs teleport being transferred up out of the way.
As Blagothokus is a 3×3 monster, a 2×2 ogre in the tower room, blocked his attempts, but human-sized creatures should be able to find somewhere to stand.

Fortunately for David, he teleported up first time, arriving next to the Ogre as expected. The red wizard appeared to be sitting in the throne concentrating. David turned into Gaseous Form to move away from the Ogre and get behind the throne.
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As soon as the boy materialised the wizard magic missiled him and the Ogre shuffled off the portal to defend him. The wizard ordered it back but by then Hardy had teleported up and the fight was on.

Outside the others (except for the injured Vassily who decided to cower in the barracks with Blagothokus) raced up to the Lobby and prepared to teleport up. The Vampires (including the new Ogre Vampire) will be hot on their trail.

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HotDQ 20 - Taking out Lady Talis
(not on a date)

Due to unexpected player absences…

The cloud giant “Blagothokus” believed David’s telepathic message about the cult being about to betray him and accepted David’s offer to fetch him the luckblade so he could resurrect his wife.

Blagothokus asked the adventurers to go and kill Lady Talis (the ice witch who was guarding the Portal) but he kept Ragnar with him as a hostage. [GM:I didn’t have a copy of his character sheet so needed to get him out of the story for a session].

Sir Vassily and Cole the Red Monk sneaked back across the valley of twin peaks to surprise the sleeping witch. David [played to brilliant effect by the GM] hung back and used spells from a distance.

Cole used his Pass Without Trace power to get them close to the sleeping woman and then he snatched-up her icicle wand (she would still be able to cast spells without it but they wouldn’t be so powerful). David hit her from a distance with a hex spell, reducing one of her saves and Vassily began hacking at her.

After the surprise round, she was slow to react and Cole pummelled her, David Eldritch Blasted her and Vassily hacked off her head. She never even got to stand up!
Then the three-armed troll charged over to avenge his mistress and he was followed by the Ghaleb Dhur (“Rocky”) and his two animated boulders.

David used the Staff of Fire to hit all the enemies with a Fireball. Because of the fire damage, the Troll couldn’t regenerate. Vassily hit him with a Searing Brand, hoping to set him on fire for multiple rounds, but the troll managed to save against the on-going effect. Cole punched and kicked him several times but took a few massive hits and was soon reduced to 3 hp and was surrounded by Rocky and his animated boulders (Rocky Two and Jim). Cole had to use a monkish Ki power to disengage and slip out of range.

With the help of a couple more fireballs from David, Vassily and Cole managed to finish off the Troll and then dropped Rocky, which de-animated his boulder chums.
Vassily tried to calm down Talis’ Wyvern and eventually managed it. David risked mounting it and taking a test flight – which seemed to go pretty well.

For a change, the attack went to plan and was tactically flawless.

They looted Talis…

Wand of Winter (the icicle)

Magical White Scale Mail +1 (resistance to cold)

Ring of 3 times per day Leomunds Tiny Hut

A Scroll tube containing a magical parchment and pen. Whatever is written on the parchment appears on another Parchment (they don’t know who has the other parchment – but the current message from Talis is a long moan about the Cult Leader Severin, about Rezmir and about Talis being passed over for promotion and the White Dragon Mask having been given to a dwarf called Varram. The recipient appears to be her lover and appears to be another woman).

The adult paladin immediately wanted to draw a cock on it but the twelve-year-old warlock suggested they might be able to use it for dis-information!

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HotDQ 19 - Sky Castle

After a Long Rest, the castle is empty.
Our heroes explored the Chapel of Tiamat, managing to get attacked by a couple of Flameskulls but Cole soon punched their lights out, but not before they had both managed to fireball – so everyone was feeling pretty fragile.
They were looking for the Portal in the Cellar, so naturally they went for a wander upstairs. Through the arrowslits overlooking the moat, they saw the approach of a huge black dragon, swooping towards the castle. It was Ebon Death – or at least one of the Ebon Death Twins.

They scampered down stairs (after flipping him the bird – again!) and found a magical portal in the cellar. This was soon opened to the “Sky Castle” and they took a couple of boxes of dragon coins and stepped through.

They emerged on a mountain top – above the snowline, in a bit of a snow flurry and high wind. Three large boulders stood before them and then steps cut in the rock led down into a valley with more steps on the other side leading up to where a vast castle hung in the sky, obscured by clouds and snow.

Ragnar closes the Portal behind them, knowing the dragon does not have small enough hands to activate it himself.

A gruff, booming voice called out “The Portal is open Lady Talis. From the castle in the marsh.”
From the valley below a shrill elven voice replied. “Is it Rezmir ?”
The gruff voice called back “No it’s a halfling Wearer of Purple”

The shrill woman almost squawked “A HALFLING! Rezmir goes too far. She has no respect for the traditions of the Cult. She is crazy – why else would she leave me Talis the White as a mere gate guard instead of giving me the White Dragon Mask. I am the obvious candidate t become a Mask Wearer. Not the poxy dwarf Varram.” She told her servant (an animated boulder) to “… Keep them there, I’m coming up.”

She was an Elf in white scale mail with a purple tunic. She held a longspear in one hand and had a long icicle wand tucked through her belt.

In answer to her questioning David told her that Rezmir was probably dead and the Castle in the Marsh had been attacked.
Talis revealed a lot of info about the cult. The Masked Lords are the top brass – higher than the Wearers of Purple. Rezmir has the Black Dragon Mask, Severin the Master of the Cult has the Red. Dragon Mask and a dwarf wizard called Varram was recently given the White Dragon Mask although Lady Talis believes it should have been given to her.

They were ordered to take their treasure to the Sky Castle, tell the Giant that Rezmir would arrive tomorrow but tell Lord Sandesyl Morghul – the Vampire, another Wearer of Purple, that Rezmir wasn’t coming and to “take out the Giant and his cronies before dawn”. She let slip that the Sky Castle also contained a couple of Sandesyl’s concubines and a white dragon and a dozen cultist troops and a few Wyverns.

Then Ragnar got carried away and tried to joyride Talis’ Wyvern. She saw what was going on and reacted strongly – blasting them with cone of cold, nearly killing David, Vassily and Cole. She ordered Ragnar to return her Wyvern and then allowed him to frantically stabilize his friends. When they woke, she sent her three-armed Troll to help them carry the treasure to the castle. She hasn’t worked out they are imposters (David managed a bluff that they had been confused by some spell attack) and so she still wants them to deliver the message to Sandesyl and help him slaughter the Giant(s).

When they reach the Castle with 3 hours to go before night fall, David risks everything by using telepathy to tell the Giant that the Cult are betraying him and Rezmir isn’’t coming. The risk pays off as Blagothokus agrees to accept David’s offer to get him the Luckblade from the lair of Ebon Death. Blagothokus tells them to bring the gold in, take it to the White Dragon inside the Iceberg so they don’t alert the Cult and then they will launch their attack on the cult an hour before dark, so that the Vampires are not active.

David is given the chance to …
assist with fighting the cult and red wizards
B) go kill Lady Talis
C) go back through the Portal to the Castle in the Marsh and steal the Luckblade from Ebon Death’s Lair. If they can do it while there is only one dragon present that would be a lot easier.

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The STRANGE Dreams of Spiders

Until a few moments ago, you thought you were normal people. People with some kind of sleep disorder and nightmares about spiders… but people. Normal human beings.

An FBI Agent – expert marksman, physically fit and with superb coordination
A Private Investigator – fast-talking, charming, under-cover specialist with an eye for finding the weakspot
A paramedic, with a hobby of Weird Science – particularly Chemistry and a strange knack for getting premonitions.

18 months ago they had been involved in taking down some terrorist cult fanatics known as “The Spiders from Mars”. They had used a lot of drugs and strange sonic devices to induce hallucinations and brainwashing. The ranch house they used as a base had burned down in the raid and our heroes suffered some trauma and mild short-term amnesia.

Recently the small group of survivors had been having weekly treatments on Thursday nights at the Sleep Studies Institute – part of a big hospital complex in Seattle.

After a horrific encounter with small spider robots and a head-sized spider in a cybernetic exo-skeleton their worlds have been turned upside-down.

At the moment of victory over the spiders, the world had shimmered, grown faint and then our heroes had found themselves in a ruined structure – rusty metal tower overgrown by a surrounding jungle with more colours than they had ever seen…. more colours than there were! Then memories flooded back, memories of their true identities and their true forms – they were actually spiders as big as beachballs and 8 legs about two feet long!!!

The world of Arachnea (where they are now) is planet in a galaxy of high-technology and dark sorcery. Something similar to the Warhammer 40K setting of vast military empires with different factions constantly at war. Arachnea is the centre of the Imperial Web and the Arachneans rule an empire of several star systems and subjugated worlds.

A few years ago, the Arachnean Empress learned of OTHER WORLDS that could be reached by certain individuals who were QUICKENED (a very rare gift). Usually such individuals could move to other worlds (known as RECURSIONS, adopting forms native to that recursion – merging with inhabitants of that other world – adopting their physical forms but merging memories and personalities until they translate to another recursion or back to their own.

The Empress was seeking a way to make a physical translation into the Recursion called Earth, She wanted to allow her high-tech armies to translate (remaining in the Pure Form of Spiders) to conquer the Earth and turn its inhabitants into cattle.

The few Arachneans with the Gift were rounded up to spearhead this glorious invasion but a small group of Rebels infiltrated and blocked the way. The ensuing battle happened in both worlds and the destruction of the Empress’ machinery closed the portal but also trapped the spirits of the Arachneans (invaders and Rebels) in the bodies of their Earthly Recursions with no memory of their true selves – just nightmares.

The Sleep Therapy finally triggered the events at the Hospital in Seattle. The leader of the Invasion Force – one of the very few known as “Openers of the Way” burst out of the form of “Newt” Newton – daughter of a US Senator George Newton. Through her dreams, smaller robot spidrons had managed to come across to cut communications and recording devices. She had managed to burst through into Earth wearing a cybernetic spider exo-sekeleton.

Once dead, creatures from other recursions fade away to nothing.
Back on Earth – who will believe the ravings of Bob the Plumber, who says he say spider robots ?
Will anyone believe Dr Carter – she may choose to keep quiet about what she saw – she seems to have been told to expect something unusual,

Meanwhile, here on Arachnea, our heroes have been gone for 18 earth months – 2 Arachnean Years.

When you translate to another recursion, you always translate into the same Forms, so if you manage to return to Earth, you will re-appear as the characters you played before.

In Arachnea you get to change one significant aspect of your Character.

On Earth Hank was “Licensed to Carry” on Arachnea he might “Integrate Weaponry”
On Earth Saul had “Conducts Weird Science” on Arachnea he might “Practice Soul Sorcery”
On Earth Cinamon “Works the System” but on Arachnea she might “Infiltrate”

You will be able to choose this new aspect from a list when we play again.

You will be able to by your find Rebel Contact on Arachnea who is coordinating with an organisation on Earth called “The Estate”. Although they had lost track of you (and the Invaders), the Estate had been funding the research into your sleep disorders in the hopes you would prove to have the Gift. Hopefully if/when you return to Earth, the Estate will have managed a coverup that will keep you from official inquiry into your disappearance from a crime scene.

While on Arachnea you will have access to high-tech – a Space Ship, Computers and Spider Robot drones.
The Empress has a second “Opener of the Way” who must be stopped, either here or there.

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HotDQ 18 - Kings of the Castle

Rezmir (Black half-dragoness – priestess/sorcerer, in charge of this chapter of the Cult of the Dragon?) & BornGray (racist Elf warrior and a wearer of purple) arrive to take charge of the scene. They have a dozen cultist guards but dismiss them back to their packing duties when it becomes apparent there is no fighting to do.

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In the narrow spiral stair, Sir Vassily, Ragnar and Cole finally kill the Golem.

David maintains his bluff that the Red Wizard betrayed the cult. He claims the proof is in the scrolls. and offers to translate them.

The wizard’s apprentice has been in hiding in the antechamber (invisible) and has overheard enough to be suspicious of this motley crew and the boy warlock. He becomes visible and throws himself on Rezmir’s mercy. He promises her the Red Wizard has not betrayed them and offers to submit to a Zone of Truth. The terrified young apprentice offers to re-animate the Golem – his master granted him secondary control and he says if he is given the Amulet, the golem will regenerate and be under his control – assuming no pieces of the body have been taken.

Rezmir orders Sir Vassily to submit to the Zone of Truth too – she says it is as a “control subject” but really she has the beginnings of suspicion about the newcomers.

After a few control questions and Vassily having to answer a few questions sideways to avoid lying, she is convinced that the apprentice is still willing to serve the Cult of the Dragon and has no proof that the others are enemies.

Up in the Observatory, David deciphers one of the scrolls – It seems that Ebon Death has a secret the Red Wizard had learned by scrying him through the telescope (an artefact called the Farseer of Illusk). Ebon Death is one of twins and they have kept it secret from the world for hundreds of years.

Rezmir brings the apprentice up to the Observatory and orders them to give him the Wizard’s amulet. They seem reluctant and spout some nonsense about it falling out of the window during the fight! She casts another Zone of Truth and starts to ask them individually. Cole tosses it into the corner so he can say “I haven’t got it” and not be lying.

Hoping to make her believe the Red Wizards are the enemy, David reveals Ebon Death’s Secret (out loud in Draconic). Rezmir is absolutely furious and shocked. She immediately asks which of his servants speak draconic and orders David help her kill Ragnar as he now knows Ebon Death’s secret and is not a Wearer of Purple!

She is very tough and has a magical black sword that drains the life out of those it hits.
When David tries to affect her with a spell, the Mask of the Black Dragon (one of five major artefacts of Tiamat to be used in the Ritual for summoning her) materializes on her head and helps her resist the spells.

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She breathes a line of acid spit and then nearly kills Vassily with the black sword.

Borngray arrives with a couple of guards and joins fight but Ragnar finishes off Rezmir – her Sword and Mask instantly teleport away. BornGray dashes out leaving his guards to be cut down, but not before trying to finish off the unconscious Vassily. Thorin is only just in time to heal Vassily and they all pursue BornGray down the stairs. He turns out to be a very proficient and deadly fighter with a cruel streak.

Cole teleports through shadows to get past him and block his retreat but BornGrasy cuts him down. Then he turns on Ragnar who has to flee back out of the way “Filthy Dwarf Scum”. BornGray begins to stamp on Cole’s unconscious head muttering “Filthy Human Scum!” but David arrives in time to stop him delivering the death blow.
Vassily compels him to a duel using his Compel Duel spell. Despite the disadvantage (and being forced to reroll due to David’s Luck, the grizzled Elf warrior KOs David too.
Vssily and Ragnar fight BornGray and Cole recovers and joins the fight too, they overwhelm the elf with numbers and Thorin manages to heal everyone.

Eventually they are all partly recovered and have time to decipher the rest of the scrolls [GM:They piece together the puzzle that David started working on while in the dragon’s lair]. See the WIKI Entry for the RED_WIZARD_SCROLLS

There is a lot of information in the Scrolls and Books so it takes the rest of the day to decipher them. During this time the rest of the castle’s inhabitants flee out into the marsh – approximately 20 cultists and half a dozen Bullywugs and their Giant Frogs. During the fight the Apprentice also escaped from the tower.

Although the two main magical artefacts teleported away when Rezmir was killed, there is still plenty of treasure to be found in the tower.
Rezmir had a brooch called the “Insignia of Claws”
Borngray had 50gp
The Red Wizard had a “”/wikis/Staff%20of%20Fire/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Staff of Fire" and a Spellbook containing Wizard spells.
The Apprentice regained his own smaller spellbook.
They also have the Amulet of the Shield Guardian Golem (but don’t know how to use it) plus Ragnar has some cogs from inside the golem.
Ragnar has also charged-up the Dagger of the Portal as he used it to deliver the death blow to BornGray and a couple of guards. He finally realizes that the 5 charges are actually five uses of the magical portal in the cellar of the castle.

NEXT SESSION THEBOY WARLOCKWILL BE MISSING SO WE WILL PROBABLY DO SOMETHING ELSE – A ONE-OFF ADVENTURE USING THESTRANGERPG RULES. SET IN MODERN-DAY USA. An FBI Agent, a small-town Sheriff, a Paramedic (and possibly other characters) survived an incident a year ago taking down a drug-crazed Spider Cult. what they experienced there left psychological scars and they are all receiving regular Sleep Therapy sessions for their nightmares. Dreams can’t hurt you, but what if these aren’t just dreams…

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HotDQ 17 Tower of the Farseer

Relieved that Snapjaw was leading the lizardfolk army away, they camped, wondering what to do next.

Meanwhile, in a nearby dragon’s lair…

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David the Urchin had been brought to the lair by “Ebon Death” the black dragon.
“A servant from the castle has brought these scrolls and ledgers. We have a Red Wizard of Thay – Krancid Stenk, working for us on the Farseer of Illusk, he writes notes in code and we want to know what he is writing without him finding out. While he sleeps, the servant brings the scrolls here and returns them before the wizard awakes.”

The writings cover subjects such as…

  • The Farseer of Illusk (4 items)
  • The Ritual of Summoning Tiamat (5 items)
  • The Wizard’s recent work for the Cult (1 item)
  • Ebon Death (1 item)
  • The Sky Castle (1 item)

The contents are written in code and are very tricky to decipher. Ebon Death seems to read quicker and understand more than David [GM:there is a puzzle for the players to solve and each solution can unlock one piece of information].

When the servant (A human cultist in black and purple cloak, wearing a five-pointed mask) takes the huge bag of scrolls back to the Castle, he rides on a Wyvern.

The dragon has quite a hoard of treasure including a Longsword, mounted on the wall that has a four-leafed clover engraved on the blade. If this is really a Luckblade, it contains one or more WISH spells.

The dragon is pleased with David’s help and carries him back to his companions.
“My displeasure has caused your minions to wander lost in the marsh for some time. I will lift my curse but cannot guarantee that all your companions will find their way out. I have no wish to see them again, lest my anger at their impertinence flares up. I will leave you here. You can see their camp fire glimmering over there”.

The dragon also gives David a small crystal containing a miniature figure of a dwarf, trapped in stasis within. The boy has to stifle a cry of surprise as he recognises Thorin Lodder, a dwarf priest who helped them in the battle at Greenest a few months earlier. The dwarf mysteriously vanished.
The dragon says, “Take this captive to Rezmir at the castle, she can crush the crystal to release him. We believe he has information about a small group of meddling heroes that are becoming troublesome”.

[GM: A player has returned after several months absence!]

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With that the dragon vanishes into the night sky.

David rejoins the others and they swap stories. Thorin is restored and brought up-to-speed on current events.

Shortly before dawn they put on their purple robes, pick up a couple of boxes of treasure and stride into the mist barrier surrounding the castle. David knows the barrier is probably a Mordenkainen’s Private Sanctum spell – preventing scrying and teleporting.

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The vast castle is revealed, topped by an ornate dome of bronze – an Observatory.
There are few guards remaining now the 50 Lizardfolk have deserted.
A dwarf and a couple of human cultists meet them at the gatehouse.
They use the secret sign and sing the secret song and are welcomed in.

“I suppose your Lizardfolk deserted you like ours did? You did well to make it through with some treasure – come on in.”

Rezmir, the black-half-dragon priestess calls across the moat to them.
“Send them across the causeway, we will take the treasure from them. Hurry now, we are packing up. Without the Lizardfolk, we are too exposed here.”

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They go across and meet Rezmir and a stern-looking veteran elf Warrior – Borngray.
When Rezmir sees the scruffy young boy in the ornate purple robes (Ming the Merciless crossed with one of the aliens from Mars Attacks), she laughs and says to Borngray “Lady Talis will wet herself when she sees this – she’ll insist it shows a lack of respect for the Cult’s traditions”. The elf curtly agrees.

“I suppose it’s some sort of disguise spell? Yes of course it is, very clever”. He answers himself before David can think of a response.

Rezmir asks them to give the treasure boxes to some bullywugs who carry them into the Chapel of Tiamat – singing the secret song as they open the door and torchlight streams out.

The half-dragon wants them to go help the Red Wizard pack up the Telescope. The desertion of the Lizardfolk has left them under-defended.

They ask how many troops remain and are told

4 giant frogs, 20 bullywugs (although their shaman – Spattergoo is currently absent), 20 cultists (2 dwarf, 2 half-orcs and the rest human), Rezmir, Borngray, the Red Wiz (Krancid Stenk and his apprentice) and two Wyverns

They are shown to the tower and sent up to assist Stenk dismantling the Farseer.

In the ground floor there are a couple of rooms – sounds of snoring from one (cultist barracks?) and candle light and the sound of somebody turning pages of a book from the other. They head up the spiral stairs. Past a door into the middle floor. Up to the Upper floor, with the huge dome.

Inside a Red Wizard is making notes detailing where all the pieces fit together and carefully dismantling a steampunk telescope. He is being assisted by some sort of huge Golem – possibly a Shield Guardian – who is holding the telescope in one hand. David thinks it is controlled by an Amulet the wizard must be wearing under his robes. This is magic beyond the boy’s own abilities – Stenk must be pretty powerful.

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There is a desk covered in boxes of scrolls and books (many of which look familiar to David).

The wizard is taken in by the bluff and the robes and allows Ragnar and David to assist while telling the others to wait patiently.

They attempt to distract him while Ragnar tries to pinch the amulet and it is there that things start to unravel.

Stenk notices the dwarf’s hand inside his robes and fireballs the group by tapping his magic staff on the ground. The fireball carefully shapes itself to avoid the desk, the wizard and the telescope.

In the melee that follows, Cole darts in to grab the Amulet, Thorin and Vassily hack down the wizard – some of their damage is absorbed by the Shield Guardian but they almost kill Stenk in the first round. He screams a command to the golem “Kill them” and it drops the telescope – important looking cogs and jewels spill from it.

Thorin fires a guiding bolt at the wizard but misses and blasts a hole in the dome, sending a bright beam of light into the night sky.

It is very strong and they are forced to flee into the stairwell pursued by the golem. With its master dead, they hoped it might stop but it keeps attacking.
[GM: it will continue to follow its masters last order – I removed its regenerate 10 hp/rd ability now its master is dead. As Cole has the Amulet and tried to command it to stop, it seems they might need to attune the amulet which would take an hour or there is some other reason why it doesn’t work]

As they flee, David has the sense to grab some of the scrolls and books. He chooses the pile about the Ritual and the ones about what the wizard has been doing for the cult.

There is a fight in the stairwell and the golem casts a fireball in there too, knocking out Thorin but Vassily carries him to safety and uses lay on hands to revive him. They retreat slowly down with the creature squeezing down the narrow stair and Vassily guarding their retreat.

By the time the others reach the bottom two cultists from the barracks are there and the young apprentice wizard. David bluffs that the Red Wizard has betrayed them and the cultists believe it and attack the apprentice who bolts through the door and spikes it shut behind him (in an antechamber full of hanging robes and wellington boots).

David, with his armful of scrolls explores the wizard’s bedroom. There is the apprentice’s spellbook on the be and a locked bedside cupboard. The boy poke a screwdriver into the lock and it explodes in a fireball, almost killing him and leaving him charred and unconscious on the floor.

The precious scrolls are also badly charred. Ragnar tries to stabilize him and fails but Cole manages and then Thorin gets to the room and wakes the lad with a Cure spell. Ragnar examines the cupboard – the magical trap has triggered but there is a gas canister full of poison gass in there too. He fiddles with the mechanism rendering it safe then opens the door to find a bigger spellbook, locked with a clasp and a scroll tube “Presented to Krancid Stenk for services to Tiamat” – it is another Scroll of Revivify, like the one they found on Pharblex Spattergoo.

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HotDQ 16 - The Depravity of Bullywugs
The Spawning Pool

It soon became obvious that their captive – Snapjaw the Lizardfolk – Champion of the Scaly Death Tribe, was not leading them to the place the treasure had been heading.
He was not very good at deception and, when Ragnar started to notice the increasing number of frog and bullywug tracks, they got Snapjaw to admit what he was doing.

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“Snapjaw has made solemn vow to Rezmir, Dragon Lady of the Castle.”
“Snapjaw may not reveal location of Castle”
“Scaly Death Tribe may not attack the inhabitants of the Castle”
“Scaly Death Tribe must obey Rezmir”
“Snapjaw rather die than break oath or will not sit with ancestors in the next life”

The lizard man’s face eyes narrowed and he bared his teeth in a cunning smile.

“Snapjaw lead you to bullywug village.(spits) Filthy frog-men also sworn to service of Rezmir but they have no honour. Their leader Pharblex Spattergoo is powerful shaman but all rest are weak and all are cowards. Snapjaw knows Pharblex has been killing warriors of Scaly Death Tribe by treachery but cannot prove it and Rezmir will not listen. Pharblex say warriors have run away, but Scaly Death warriors have great honour, frog-shaman lies and Rezmir pretend to believe him”
“Snapjaw lead you to bullywugs, you kill many easy but capture one and he lead you to Castle, not Snapjaw.”

It was agreed – they were impressed by his honesty and it seemed like a good plan. They even decided to call themselves a new tribe “BullywugsShallDie” Tribe and cut Snapjaw’s bonds to let him help them.

They snuck towards the village but found a bullywug spawning pool a few hundred yards from the village. Half a dozen of the creatures were ****ing in the slimy frog-spawn pool and including three enormous frogs in their debauchery.

bullywugs.png

Our heroes sneaked closer under the shadows of Cole’s pass without trace spell. One of the frogs was alerted and wandered into the swamp to investigate. Ragnar jumped a solitary bullywug at the edge of the pool, getting advantage – but missed as it bent over to remove its loincloth and then missed again as it leapt into the writhing mass of blubbery bodies.

Although the creatures in the pool were too distracted to notice them, the curious giant frog spotted them and soon they were deep in combat. The frogs had 20 foot tongues and tried to grapple them and pull them into the pool. Fortunately none of them got hit. The bullywugs grabbed their spears and attacked but they were pretty feeble and soon fell to Sir Vassily’s sword, Cole’s flying fists and the deadly sniper bolts from Ragnar.

pharblex.png

From the pool of slime, the Shaman rose. He had apparently been at the bottom of the pile, the focus of their frantic mating. He cast spike growth so that they were surrounded by razor-sharp vegetation. Snapjaw spotted that he was wearing a necklace of lizardfolk teeth and went berserk, charging at him. The warrior was slashed and torn at every step and collapsed from wounds before he managed to reach his enemy. He lay there and slowly bled to death.

Vassily also ran across the razor grass but his armour protected him from most of the damage. He started hacking at Spattergoo.

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Cole leapt out of the razor grass – using his ki powers to cross the huge distance. Soon he was smashing down bullywugs and attacking Spattergoo too.

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Ragnar stayed hunkered down in the foliage and shot bolt after deadly bolt (after dropping a couple on the ground in his usual style).

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They took one bullywug prisoner – it grovelled, begging for its life and offering to server them in any way – it clung to their legs until cuffed away. Spattergoo was knocked out and tied and gagged. On his body they found an ornate scroll tube, the necklace of teeth (some still bloody where they had been ripped out, each from a different lizardfolk) and a silvery dagger with willow leaf pattern on it.

The scroll tube had Draconic runes on it saying “Presented to Pharblex Spattergoo for services rendered to the Cult of Tiamat” it turned out to contain a scroll of Revivify (can bring a dead creature back to life if cast within a minute). After a brief debate, Sir Vassily cast it on Snapjaw.

They gave Snapjaw the necklace of teeth and he used it to strangle the grovelling bullywug. He wanted to use it on Pharblex too but they persuaded him to wait while they tried to arrange a plan to get them into the Castle.

Spattergoo was willing to do anything to save his own skin. The plan emerged that they could wear purple robes and carry treasure and then they would be welcomed and shown down to the cellars where a portal was hidden. When there was sufficient treasure, the Cultists took it through – usually led by Rezmir, then returned a few hours later.

They had managed to get some rest before Spattergoo regained consciousness and Ragnar attuned himself to the dagger. It was a magical dagger linked to a magic portal. Killing somebody with the dagger provided a charge for the Portal. He had been killing lizardfolk to charge it up for Rezmir to use. Snapjaw had to be held back from gutting him there and then.

Spattergoo offered to go into the Castle to get them some purple robes (but clearly was just trying to get away and his promise to return couldn’t be trusted). Snapjaw offered to go and fetch robes for them – he wanted to go to the Castle and show his people the necklace and then lead them all out to the bullywug village to slaughter their enemies. This would avoid them having to obey Rezmir’s orders, wouldn’t involve him revealing the location of the castle and would not involve attacking inhabitants of the castle.

They agreed to the plan and, despite his grovelling, they let Snapjaw finish off the bullywug shaman – he was strangled to death by the necklace of teeth. Everyone cheered until they realised they had killed Spattergoo too soon and Snapjaw’s oath still prevented him revealing the location of the castle!

DOH!

They cleverly asked him to go and fetch the purple robes before they kidnapped another bullywug. Then Cole and Ragnar followed him (using the pass without trace spell again) and weren’t spotted until they could already see where he was going. It was a huge dense hemisphere of mist. No sight or sound escaped it.

Snapjaw just shrugged and said “I didn’t know you were following so it’s not my fault – honour is satisfied and I will still sit with the ancestors. I will bring the robes out as soon as I can”. They retreated back to where Sir Vassily was waiting.

An hour or two later, shortly before nightfall, Snapjaw returned, dressed in bronze armour and an impressive helmet. He threw a bunch of purple robes at their feet, then raised his spear. From the shadows under the trees 50 lizardfolk warriors emerged!

lizardfolk_army.png

Snapjaw bared his teeth and his eyes flashed. Their hands went to their weapons.
“Today we are not Scaly Death Tribe – we are BullywugsShallDie Tribe” – big shout and waving of spears from the lizard folk and then they trudged off towards the bullywug village.
“We will be gone 3 days” called Snapjaw “Don’t be there when we get back, I don’t want to have to kill my new tribesmen.”.

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HotDQ 15 - Into the Marsh

[GM:Lots of characters missing for this session – two new players turned up so we split into two groups again. Coleman the monk, Ragnar the dwarven rogue, Sir Vassily and David the urchin warlock will be staying, but David’s player is missing. In his absence, I reminded everyone that the mission was to “follow the money and find out where the ritual of summoning Tiamat was going to be performed”]

They entered the marsh, following the druidess – Aurelia trying to find the ruined hut where the Lizardfolk and their giant lizard pack animals were resting.

David was proudly wearing the gnome’s ornate purple robes.

Without warning a huge black dragon flapped down and landed nearby. It wriggled between the trees towards them and spoke directly to David. “Wearer of Purple, I want your fingers!”. The terrified boy held up his shaking hands.

The dragon extended a front leg and indicated for the boy to mount. Nobody knew what to do and the dragon leapt into the air. As it began to flap away, Coleman made an insulting gesture at its receding back as it was about 45 feet away. MISTAKE – the dragon has blindsight 60 feet! It turned and swooped back angrily. They all scattered as it breathed a cloud of poisonous fumes, nearly killing Coleman. Some strange magic affected the marsh and the druidess and dwarf paladin became lost in the marsh.

[GM: on the dragon’s back, David heard it say – “What’s this? One of your minions is disrespecting one of us – surely not me – Ebon Death, but still the scum should not disrespect the Purple.”. The boy pleaded with the dragon to ignore it, saying it was just friendly banter and so it only breathed once then flew off carrying the boy to who knows where!]

The others stumbled on and eventually fond the camp of the lizardfolk. The treasure was still piled-up in plain sight but with the enormous lizards sleeping all around it. It seemed the lizardfolk were still sleeping inside, waiting for nightfall before setting off again.

Forgetting the “follow the money”, they decided to try and steal some of the treasure – just a bit.

Coleman cast pass without trace and he and Ragnar sneaked right through the ring of snoring lizards. Ragnar spotted some tripwire trap near the hut and also that there was some kind of tripwire alarm on the pile of treasure, Ragnar attempted to cut the alarm cord without waking the lizards but realised it would be tricky. Coleman decided to drop his pass without trace and cast silence instead. Unfortunately this meant that their +10 on stealth dropped and the Lizardfolk sentry could now see them!

A tough fight followed. These giant lizards were the size of shire horses and were very aggressive – they took a lot of blows to kill.

Ragnar used his hand crossbow [and crossbow expert feat] and then closed to use his rapier.
Sir Vassily charged in and began hacking at lizards, using various Smite spells.
Coleman dropped the silence and began stabbing, kicking and punching.

The lizardfolk woke up and charged across to join the fight.

Coleman was knocked-out just as the last of the lizards went down and then they had a “down-to-the-wire” fight killing all the lizardfolk but Vassily was on his last legs, even after using his Lay on Hands. Somehow they remembered to try and take the last one alive but this one – “Snapjaw” was a decent warrior. He managed to push Vassily into one of the deep pools and dashed away. In order to take him alive, Ragnar had to catch him and use a melee attack. Snapjaw managed to repeat the shove into water and Ragnar went for a little swim too.

Vassily clambered out of the pool on the wrong side but Ragnar chased Snapjaw into the trees. The lizardfolk warrior hid behind a tree and ambushed Ragnar, but the plucky dwarf managed to drop him without killing him and then dragged him back for interrogation.

“Snapjaw will lead you to the castle – we will need to fetch more lizards to carry all the treasure.”
They are sure he is lying, but he is leading them somewhere – possibly to the dragon’s lair.

He tells them that if they were really members of the cult they would have purple robes and would know to sing the “rain song”.

He also tells them that the lizard folk serve the dragon and serve Rezimir, a black half-dragoness warrior who is in charge of gathering the treasure at the Castle in the Marsh.

Where is David ? Why did the dragon want his fingers? Where is Snapjaw leading them to?
These questions, and many more, may be answered at the next session.

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HotDQ 14 - Culling Cultists

TW_Culling_the_Cultists
[GM: Aurelia the druidess and Carro the elven monk were absent for this session so I decided that Aurelia hadn’t returned yet and Carro had gone partway into the Marsh to meet up with her.]

Agetul the shield dwarf found it hard to believe David the Urchin when he revealed that her convoy of wagons contained ten “dangerous dragon cultists”. She had to check with the grown-ups that this wasn’t some child’s fantasy. Ragnar (her boy-friend) and the new dwarven paladin (she and Ragnar aren’t exclusive, by-the-way), supported the kid’s story and finally Sir Vassily persuaded her it was true.

The cultists were… the mercenary wagon with Captain Boris, Restogar the elf archer, Redburn the barbarian dwarf and Grey Sally the half-orc/half-drow assassin… and the Calimshite wagon with Wazim, Captain Omar, Ivani and the priestess Sherazad (although Sherazad seemed to not be a member of the cult, she was clearly infatuated with Wazim and would probably trust him and fight on his side)… the two other cultists were Ignator the red-dragonborn and the gnome called Sprocket who was the cultists’ leader.

Agetul was mostly interested in protecting the civilians on the wagon-train she offered to guard the convoy while our heroes lured the cultists away and murdered them.

David’s plan went without a hitch as far as luring the mercenaries away from the wagon train on the pretext that he wanted help killing the two Paladins “Their usefulness is over and they are beginning to get suspicious”. Cole the red ninja, hid up a tree overlooking a small pool. The two paladins pretended to wash in the pool. Ragnar hid in the bushes nearby. David led the four mercenaries along with his new bodyguard – Hareng the half-orc shaman down to meet them.

Boris hated Vassilliy as the paladin had called him a coward.
Grey Sally hated him for having survived her poisoning attempt.
Restogar hated him for stabbing his horse.
Redburn the savage dwarf just hated everybody!

The rest of the plan swiftly fell apart as they had not discussed the signal to start the attack, nor exactly what they would all do when the fighting started.

Hareng triggered the action by casting mirror image, soon there were 4 angry half-orcs standing behind the mercenaries. Seeing this, Cole cast darkness over the whole group and chaos ensued.

The darkness hindered his own people and actually helped the assassin and the elven archer/rogue. Hareng stumbled into the pool but dragged himself out and entered rage and attacked. Grey Sally began to step out of darkness, shoot and step back into cover. Restogar did the same. Ragnar could only shoot at people he could see. Boris and Redburn charged out to fight the paladins the dwarf berserker fell into the pool and dragged himself out..

David (with his phobia about the dark) panicked and fled round the edge of the pool and into the light but was struck as he ran past Redburn, badly wounded.

The noise of the fight drew the attention of the other cultists and soon they were fighting on two fronts. Wazim and Sprocket blasted them with magic missiles. The dragonborn ran in and breathed fire on Hareng, taking down all his mirror images. [GM: not sure you should be able to concentrate on a spell while you are raging, anyway].

Then Sherazad (who David thought was probably charmed) was ordered into the fight. She ran in and cast Spirit Guardians, so a sphere of angry djinni/whirlwinds swarmed around her attacking our heroes.

The spell nearly killed Cole but he broke the priestess’ concentration in an unorthodox manner – rather than hitting her, he kissed her. It worked and her spell faltered. When she cast it a second time Hareng killed her in his unreasoning rage.

As the tide turned and the cultists began to fall, the two paladins rushed about healing their companions (particularly David – who took a bit of a pounding as the “filthy little traitor”) and even Hareng came out of his rage to cast healing word to get Cole back on his feet.

When desperation set in and his allies no longer blocking the way, Wazim unleashed a devastating fireball and Sprocket the gnome (after pretending to surrender) let fly with a black cloud of madness, cold and acid. But it was too little too late and they were all hacked down. None were taken alive – sadly not even Sherazad. Still, it was a great victory and they are all still standing.

There is a total of about 1200 gp in coins and jewellery.
A wand of Magic Missiles (from Sprocket) – 7 charges, resets 1d6+1 charges at dawn, casts Magic Missile as an action – 1 charge = 1st level (3 missiles), each additional charge is 1 more missile,
A Spider Amulet – allows the casting of “Freedom of Movement” as an action or a bonus action, by tapping it – once per day, resets at dawn, duration 1 hour (taken from Wazim – he got it from the Drider in the spider forest encounter).
There are two sets of Plate Mail
They could sell all the other equipment to the wagon merchants for another 400gp.
Hidden in the two cultist wagons (now only filled with sand and stones) there are three sets of Purple-striped robes and a “Ming the Magnificent” purple robe with high collar from Sprocket – this will only fit David!

Next Time – following the druidess into the Marsh in pursuit of the dragon-gold.

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HotDQ 13 Stockade in the Marsh
Ragnar gets lucky

[GM: Due to the return to University of one of the DMs, part way through tonight’s session we saw the return of some of the earlier players, boosting the number back to 8 – this is a bit high, but is only for the term time so should be manageable – Hareng the Half-orc Barbarian & Carro the Elf Monk are back, along with new characters Marduk Battle-beard the Dwarf Paladin and Aurelia the Gold Dragonborn Druidess (sorry if I misremembered the name Pippa – I DO NOT HAVE YOUR CHARACTER SHEET

A few days passed uneventfully as the Wagons moved ever northward. Eventually they began following the Marsh Road. It skirts a great, stinking salt marsh that stretches about 100 miles to the sea.

marsh.png

David re-summoned his Familiar, this time appearing in the form of a Pseudodragon – still called Shoggy, with a dim memory of its former assassination by Coleman, but this time modelled on a fae dragon, and not a hell-spawned demon.

pseudodragon.png

The young lad also spent some time investigating. He used beast speech to talk to the Parrots on Wagon 11. They lived in a great contraption built by Sprocket the surly gnome. It could gradually rotate the cages, giving each of the 100 birds some time in the open. When David touched the mechanism, one of the birds hissed “Praise the Dragon Queen” revealing that Sprocket was actually the senior Dragon Cultist who knew where they were taking the treasure.

tok_sprocket.png

Later Sir Vassily spotted Sprocket talking to the cultists on Wagon 2 and the arab cultists on wagon 8. It turned out they had been told the next bit of the journey. They were to stop at a stockade, allow their wagons to be unloaded and spend the night there before loading back up and continuing the journey to Waterdeep.

David continued to use beastspeech to get information about the marsh, a bunch of rooks told him not to go far in the marsh because of a great black dragon!

The wagon train reached the Stockade where a squad of men-at-arms and road builders were based. Their leader a huge half-orc called Bog Face informed them that the bridge ahead was damaged. They could wait at the stockade until it was fixed. If he could borrow a couple of the sturdiest wagons, he could get it re-opened the next day. Not surprisingly, he identified the cultist wagons (2 and 8) and got no argument from the cultists.

BogFace.png

Some of our heroes helped unload the two wagons and move the treasure boxes – very heavy boxes – into the thick stone Strongroom. Bog Face locked the two doors with heavy clasps and padlocks, three per door. They all joined the stockade’s occupants for a night of drinking and the wagoneers eventually drifted off to sleep (or paired up and went to bed). Ragnar finally succumbed to the charms of Agetul the shield dwarf.

Colman and Vassily decided to keep watch on the two doors, resting with their heads on the doors. Colman thought he heard some scuffling from inside and raised a hue and cry about it. Bog Face was pretty calm and dismissed their concerns. There was some unpleasantness with Bog Face – a headbutt or two and some intimidation from both sides. Finally David had to calm his companions down and keep reminding them that they weren’t there to prevent the Cultists moving the gold, their mission was to follow the gold and find out where the Ritual of Summoning Tiamat was going to take place.

In the morning, they discovered the boxes were all still there and still just as heavy (well almost as heavy, and there was some loose sand just perceptible on the floor). The gold had been switched for sand but nobody raised the alarm about it. When they had loaded the “cargo” back on the two wagons, David telepathically asked Ragnar to investigate the strongroom, as he saw that the sand was heaviest around a big locked crate propped against the wall. Ragnar slipped in unnoticed to look around.

char_ragnar.jpg

He hid when Bog Face came back in for a final look around and then found himself locked inside. He jimmied open the crate, finding it was bolted to the floor and the lid was bolted from the inside. Once in he found a deep well with a ladder leading down in to dark water.

Replacing the lid behind him, he sank into the dark water. Down and down and then along a horizontal tunnel to an iron grate – padlocked. He managed to hold his breath and undo the grate, continued along the submerged tunnel, reaching the point of no return. He chose to press on and found another grate! He was starting to panic and take damage but managed to get it open and drag himself the rest of the way, sloping back up to emerge at the lake side in a copse of trees.

There were lots of tracks here. Lizard men dragging heavy sacks in and out of the water, lots of wet sand and the tracks for several big lizards (probably used as pack animals). The tracks led off into the marsh.

lizardfolk_in_marsh.png
giant_liz.png

Back in the Stockade, around lunch time, another wagon arrived from the south, old friends of David and Ragnar’s – Carro the Elf Monk and Hareng the half-orc barbarian and a couple of new friends of theirs.

Marduk Battle-beard a dwarven Paladin of Devotion who definitely caught Agetul’s attention with his muscles and his charming good-looks.

marduk.png

Aurelia a gold Dragonborn Druidess of the Moon.

aurelia.png

With the help of David’s telepathy and the information from the bedraggled Ragnar, they were all brought up to speed. Marduk Battle-beard also scanned the compound and detected the presence of Undead (but could not pinpoint its source).

The wagons left after lunch and out on the road they formulated a plan to get the cultist wagons away from the civilians and murder them all. A plan that went down very well with Colman and Vassily.

Meanwhile Aurelia was asked to try to follow the tracks and see if she could catch up with the lizardfolk and the treasure and report back on where they were going. Despite the danger and the warnings about “big black dragon”, Aurelia slipped away from the wagons and transformed into a crocodile to swim and scurry along the trail.

It took a few hours out to find they had gone quite slowly and were now resting in a shack with the lizards unharnessed but draped asleep on the pile of chests. Aurelia was not strong enough or stealthy enough to steal a chest from under the sleeping lizards but she hurried back to the road, leaving a clear trail and re-joined the convoy.

shack_in_marsh.png

The Plan For Next Time – David lures the cultists into the woods on the pretext of “It’s time to get rid of the Paladin(s)” and then ambush the hell out of them!

The cultists known are…
Boris – leader of the Wagon 2 – veteran warrior – plate mail
Redburn – Dwarf Barbarian – looks like he is a bit of a savage, frenzied attacker rather than a single big hit
Restogar – half-elf archer
Grey Sally – half-drow, half-orc – assassin – sharp-shooter, can deliver a massive amount of damage from a single crossbow bolt
Wazim – leader of the Arabian cultists – a Sorceror with Firebolt and magic missile (probably a few other spells you haven’t seen yet)
Sherazad the Arabian priestess – not strictly-speaking a cultist but infatuated with her boss – Wazim so might end up siding with them.
Omar – veteran Arabian Bodyguard type – looks like an excellent wrestler and very strong
Ivani – average-looking Arabian guardsman
Sprocket the Gnome – a senior member – great at deception – seen using magic missile wand – probably a multi-classed wizard / rogue
Ignator – red-dragon-born fighter

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