Dragons of Blackminster

CoS 02 - Death House
Terror, Death, Possession, Madness

We re-join our heroes on the second storey of the house. They heard a thump from the next floor and three of them crept up to investigate. La Ruina had decided to stay in the library reading the books while the others went upstairs. On the next landing they saw a few doors leading off and an ornate suit of armour resting its hands on a sword.
As Maclum led the way onto the landing, he spotted silver smoke flowing into the armour. He paused to watch and the figure sprang to life, swinging the sword.

[DM: In case anyone later reads the adventure and wonders why this is a slightly non-standard encounter, I decided that a better explanation for animated armour and then an animated broom in the next room, would be if there was some sort of poltergeist bound to a body in the bathtub. I made it visible DC15 which two of the PCs have, and had it waste a round animating to give the players chance to either pre-emptively hit it or move away – I gave it only a 15 foot radius from the bathtub so it would be easy to get away from. I decided that it would animate the armour first, if that was destroyed it would animate a flying sword and if that was destroyed it would animate whatever else it could reach. If they did any magical damage to it, such as sacred flame, the damage would carry over to whatever the next form was and, if they destroyed the body in the tub, the poltergeist would dissipate. As the armour had a sword, I had a single longsword attack instead of the usual two slams]

The armour struck at Maclum wounding him, but not quite taking him down. For some reason, he did not have any cure spells prepared!
Revan and Mandingo (the half-orc barbarian brothers) leapt to the attack – raging. Manding hit it pretty hard but found it was resistant to weapons. He hacked off its head, revealing the horror of the suit being empty. This caused a Fear check and Revan and Maclum became frightened. The armour cut down Maclum before the barbarians chopped it up. I told them that soapy water poured out of the armour’s boots and wet footprints began to appear in the dust – the silvery mist flowed into the sword it had dropped.
They managed to stabilise Maclum just before he bled out, but he was unconscious. They watched while the sword floated into the air and then the fighting started again. Revan was badly injured before he and his brother managed to grapple the blade and La Ruina scrambled up to smash it to pieces. Revan picked up Maclum and put him over his shoulder while Mandingo pushed open a door to discover the bathroom, with a stained shower curtain around the tub. He pushed aside the curtain to reveal the bloated corpse of a man. It was so shocking that it provoked another Fear check and he was soon screaming again and getting disadvantage.

The unconscious Maclum was the next thing to be animated by the poltergeist and he struck Revan, knocking him out but then Maclum was dropped and began bleeding again. It was a close thing but Mandingo managed to smash the bloated corpse, banishing the angry spirit while La Ruina just managed to stabilize both his fallen companions.
They moved into the bedroom and put the sleepers onto the bed. They decided to try and rest – Revan and Maclum woke after about 2 hours. The ordeal of being knocked out triggered another Fear check but they all went up a level (to second level) at that point so they all got one Fear score reduction.

They decided to start looking for secret doors as there was no sign of how to get into a basement or into the attic. They found a secret stairwell, but smashing through a wall to get to it released a swarm of rats. At the same time, Maclum (only on 1 hit point) wandered into another room to find a woman in a nurse’s uniform standing in the middle of the room.
She was semi-transparent and as she moved towards him he could see through her flesh to the worms inside – Fear check! Then he tried to sacred flame her and she struck him, easily knocking him out again and this time draining some of his life-force [DM:Reducing his maximum hit points until he gets 8 hours rest]. The elf and the two half-orcs managed to destroy her and the rat swarm but Revan (also only on 1 hit point got hit for a lot of life-draining damage – despite being a 2nd-level barbarian his new maximum hiptoints was about 3!).

They decided to leave Maclum sleeping on the bed while they went to investigate the sound of a child crying in the attic – up the secret stairs. They found a room with a padlock on the door, smashed it open and found the two children from the street – Rose and Thorn – standing crying in the middle of the floor. In their torch light they could tell the children were ghosts and that they were standing next to two pathetic skeletons curled up on the floor.
There was a large dolls house in the room, an exact replica of the building they were in – including showing the remaining secret doors – a trapdoor to the basement on the ground floor and a secret stair leading down to the basement from the attic.
When Mandingo started rummaging through their toybox, the ghostly little boy swatted him with his teddy bear (for no damage). Mandingo decided to snatch it from his hand and the ghosts went berserk. La Ruina fled in terror while the ghosts both vanished (unknown to him they had both possessed the two half orcs).

[DM: To move the game forward I had the two barbarians carry the remains of the children down to the family crypt and lay them to rest]
As they were un-possessed they heard the departing children say – “because you helped us, ven everything goes crazy, ve vill open ze front door for you”.
La Ruina had followed the half-orcs down to the cellar, Maclum woke and found himself alone but tracked them to the attic and then followed them down into cellar too.
All together again they continued to explore the basement, finding sleeping pallets for minor members of some cult of ritual murderers and then slightly posher bedrooms with odd bits of treasure.
La Ruina spotted a horrifying snake with four tentacles for a head, lurking in the shadows.
They managed to kill it but not before it KILLED Revan and he bled out before anyone could stabilise him. [DM:very unlucky timing in the initiative order and very mean of the Grick to keep attacking him after he went down!]
Mandingo was distraught at his brother’s death and laid him to rest in one of the coffins in the crypt. They took a short rest (1 hour) and La Ruina sneaked away to harvest the dead half-orc’s scalp [DM: God knows why!]. He was part way through hacking it off when Revan’s eyes opened, revealing empty black pools of despair and the half-orc tried to throttle him. Revan had really died but the House would not let him escape so easily!

Despite the continuing animosity between the adventurers, they pressed on and ran into a bunch of ghouls who scrabbled up from the muddy floor and pulled themselves out of the walls.
They defeated the ghouls (or might have done if we hadn’t run out of time) but one of them took down Mandingo and dragged him away. The others could not get to him and the ghoul killed him and ate his face before they could get to it and kill it. Revan is now praying his brother will come back to life like he did.
[DM:This was a pretty gruelling session but it could have gone much, much easier if La Ruina had stayed with the others, if Maclum had prepared a cure spell, if Mandingo had not chosen to grab the teddy bear, if badly injured people didn’t wander off alone, if they had focused on helping each other and if they had backed away when things were going badly.
There is only one more session of the Death House left and it should be pretty spectacular
I actually enjoyed the session, despite some of the in-fighting, I hope the terrified, maimed players did!]

CoS 01 Into the Mists
Intro to Ravenloft

In the world of Urth, in the 6th-century, just off the North-west coast of Albion, the Storm Priest – Maclum was on a longship, bound for his first raid and undergoing a Vision Quest. A mysterious Raven (possibly one of Odin’s harbingers) had landed on his family heirloom (an ornately carved scabbard for a shortsword) and the high priest interpreted it as an omen that Maclum should accompany the warriors.
Less than a mile from the coast a dense fog fell and the ship had struck a hidden reef and split apart. Most of the warriors were unable to swim (having just donned their armour ready for the raid). Others were lost in the fog, not knowing which way to swim.
Somehow Maclum dragged himself up onto the stoney shore and the faint cries of his kinsmen grew fainter and he may have drifted into unconsciousness. When he awoke, the wet stones beneath him had turned to pine needles and mud. He was still drenched from the sea but the sound of waves and smell of the ocean had gone. He could hear angry voices so began to creep nearer. The mists swirled around him and in the distance he heard the tolling of a bell, ten times.

  • * * * * *
    In The Misty Forest, in the Forgotten Realms, La Ruina (pronounced Le-RUNE-er), a wood elf ranger was in pursuit of a white stag. His arrow had hit it but failed to kill it and the poor creature fled into the depths of the forest. The ranger followed it for hours, even when a thick mist descended. Somehow he got lost (a thing that had never happened before) and he found himself pushing through pine forests. The blood trail of the stag was gone and ahead he heard the guttural voices of orcs and in the distance he heard the tolling of a bell, ten times.
  • * * * * *
    Revan and Mandingo, half-orc brothers in an Uthgart barbarian clan in the north of the Forgotten Realms, were being pursued by their own clansmen. As half-orcs, they had never been fully accepted, despite both being strong warriors. Their own anger and resentment had flared up after a night of drinking and they set fire to the Great Hall and locked the doors. Many of the tribe had perished and the survivors were hunting the brothers through the snowy mountains that surrounded their home. The tribesmen were baying for blood and the brothers cowered in a wooded valley, thanking the gods when a heavy fog descended. Using the mists for cover, they managed to get away from their enemies but somehow got lost in dense pine forests (even though they knew the lands around their homeland very well). They were still arguing about where they were when, in the distance they heard the tolling of a bell, ten times.
  • * * * * *
    La Ruina climbed a tree to wait for the orcs. They spotted him and approached. They might have attacked each other but at that moment a scrawny arm burst out of the mud and pine needles to grab Mandingo’s leg. The half-orc shrieked and was freaked out by it. [DM’s notes: This introduced the FEAR SCORE as the sudden grappling from below was sufficiently startling]. His brother hacked at the arm. A zombie emerged from the ground and a second one wriggled out from nearby. La Ruina tried to lasso the grappled half-orc and pull him up the tree, a tactic misinterpreted by the brothers as an attempt to lynch Mandingo!
    Nearby Maclum heard the fight break out and the cry of “Undead”, lit a torch and came to help.
    There was a brief fight against the Zombies. Mandingo finally shrugged off his fear and hacked off the head of the zombie that held him – despite the beheading, it continued to attack him and sent him into another screaming fit [DM’s Note: FEAR SCORE the first time a character “kills” a zombie and it uses its ability to refuse to die when it clearly should, this is shocking enough to require a Wisdom (Fear) Save]
    They killed the first couple of zombies, stood around arguing a bit and then more zombies lurched out of the mists. There was another brief combat and then they decided on a truce while the made a run for it towards where the bell had sounded.
    They reached an ancient muddy, rutted road and a road sign “Welcome to BAROVIA” and emerged from the forest into the strangely-quiet town as the mists rolled down from the hills behind them following them into the grey streets.
    The houses had their windows shuttered and boarded up but there was candle light within and frightened eyes staring out at them. Muffled terrified voices with strange accents “Go Avay, Ve cannot help you. You will bring the curse of ze mists upon us”
    As they pressed on they saw a pair of young children standing in the street outside a tall forbidding house. As the travellers approached the oldest, a girl of about 9 said “There is a monster in our house”. The younger, a boy of 5, clutching a foul and filthy teddy bear, said “Our mother and father are in there. We’ve heard screams in the basement”. There was something odd about these children, something very odd but at least the house offered some sort of shelter from the mists!
    La Ruina climbed to the roof of the porch and peered in through a stained and grubby window into a room of fine furnishings and a harpsicord and a harp. He gestured to the others “You guys go in, I’ll stay out here and watch the children”.
    Maclum and the brothers entered the porch, pushed through the open door into the hall and began moving through the house, looking for stairs to a cellar. The house was “modern” nothing like the rough huts and castles known to the Viking and to the half-orc barbarians it looked like the sort of house only found in the finest cities of the Realms. Yet it was clearly an ancient construction and now full of dust and cobwebs as if it had not been occupied for a hundred years.
    On the porch roof, La Ruina heard the sound of the harpsicord playing “chopsticks”. He turned to look and when he turned back the children were gone and there weren’t even footprints in the mud where they had stood.
    Revan made his way up to the music room and let the wood elf into the building and they searched the first couple of floors. There was no way down, only a wide circling staircase going further up.
    In one room – more books on shelves than any of them had seen before – they found a secret door and books about Summoning Rituals and a writing desk with a strange letter in it.

David had promised the Cloud Giant that they would get the magical sword from the lair of Ebon Death and use its power to resurrect the giant’s wife – Esclarotta. They had learned Ebon Deaths great secret – that there were twin black dragons.

Blagothokus was so pleased with their help that he told them the destination of the trasure – the place where the Ritual of Tiamat was to be performed. David used Sending to communicate this news (and Ebon Death’s secret, and everything else they had learned, summed up in a couple of 25-word communications to the Monk who set them on this mission all those months ago.


All they had to do now was risk everything in a desperate battle against one (or two) black dragons to gain a Luckblade with two wishes in it.

David had seen the layout of the dragon’s lair a couple of weeks ago, when one of the Ebon Deaths had kidnapped him (while he was disguised as a dragon cultist) to help decipher some books and scrolls. The terrified urchin had seen the layout and seen where the Luckblade was positioned (high on the wall above a mound of treasure).

They waited until one of the dragons was out (lured to attack the Sky Castle)

They sneaked to the edge of the lair using Cole’s Shadow Monk ability to pass without trace. Their plan was pretty direct. Cole would dash in, grab the sword and run for it with the others covering his retreat. David cast Spider Climb on Cole and in he went.

Unfortunately, nobody had filled in the dragon on his part in the plan and nobody had suspected a magical trap on the treasure.

Cole got close to the treasure before the dragon could react, but then a Thunderwave exploded from a Glyph of Warding, sending the monk sprawling at the dragon’s feet. With one massive bite, Cole was bleeding to death on the floor.

Bravely each of the heroes leapt across the acid-filled pit into the lair. Sir Vassily fell in but dragged himself out on the other side. Ragnar and David rode across on vassily’s magical steed.

David dove into the pile of treasure and found a potion of greater healing.
Ragnar began trying to pull the Luckblade from its scabbard, mounted to the wall with heavy bolts. [GM: it was only a STR DC of 12 to pull the blade out but he just kept failing to do it].

The dragon breathed acid onto Ragnar to protect the Blade, but the dwarf dodged and uncanny-dodged and kept tugging.

Vassily tried to compel the dragon to duel him but it managed to resist the effect.

David poured a potion into Cole and then continued to look for more goodies in the pile.

Cole attacked the dragon, then teleported to the Luckblade, still spiderclimbing so he just appeared on the wall above Ragnar ,and snatched the blade in one clean jerk. The gleaming golden blade sliced off Ragnar’s beard as it came free.

David found a scroll of Protection from Energy and used it to protect Vassily from Acid. They continued to fight the dragon until they could see it was just too powerful. Each round it shook its wings and hurled them away. The Lair itself attacked them with sudden waves of acid from the pools trying to pull them in.

Cole Shadow Stepped out of there, carrying the Luckblade. Vassily and Ragnar tried to prevent the dragon pursuing but were knocked aside. and the fight moved to the outer chamber.

David hexed it – reducing its wisdom save, Ragnar shot it, Cole pummelled it and then ran off into the marsh.
Sir Vassily bravely cast Compel Duel and the dragon’s reduced wisdom made it fail its save. It tried to pursue Cole but was drawn back to fight Vassily as the others fled. Vassily had a magic ring that could instantly summon a magical dome of force (Leomunds Tiny Hut). He cast that so the dragon could not get to him but the Compel Duel forced it to stay nearby. Unfortunately the dragon shrugged off the spell after a couple of rounds and pursued the others into the marsh.

Cole’s very last Ki points were spent on Pass Without Trace and they escaped and got back to the Sky Castle. While they had been away, Blagothokus had had his own encounter with the second Ebon Death and managed to kill it with Lighting Bolts.

David used the Luckblade to wish Esclarotta back to life, fulfilling his deal with the Giant.

Back in the lair, Sir Vassily ran off int othe marsh too, while Ebon Death was searching for the others. He was “captured” by a tribe of lizardmen – fortunately they were allies of Snapjaw and declared they were of the Tribe “Bullywugs will Die” so he was welcomed.

Eventually the Sky Castle passed over the marsh (looking for Vassily) and they were reunited.

David is now attuned to the Luckblade and knows there is a second Wish in there.
Blagothokus is grateful and offers to drop them off in Waterdeep to continue the fight against the Dragon Cult.

We agreed to leave this campaign “on hold” for a while and start next time with new first level characters in the “Curse of Strahd” storyline. As some of the players are fairly new to D&D, it’s better to get a grounding in various classes and skills before tackling the higher level games. Rise of Tiamat is for 8th to 15th level players.

We hope to get the “Stores Only” adventure called Deaths Door in time for the next session, but if we don’t I’ll run an introductory adventure set at a Carnival.

For information about the Curse of Strahd Storyline, take a look at http://dndadventurersleague.org/curse-of-strahd-adventures/

HotDQ22 - Kings of the Castle

After a desperate fight with the Vampires in the Control Tower, our heroes were forced to flee back to the Barracks and lock themselves in for the rest of the night. They had accidentally killed too many people and there weren’t enough living sentient creatures to block the Portal squares. Eventually the vampires got into the tower and they had to abandon it.

At daybreak, they headed back to the Tower, along with Blogothokus the Cloud Giant.

David and Ragnar teleported up into the tower but some of the teleport squares were occupied by a charmed Ogre so Sir Vassily and Cole and the Giant, stayed down below. The Vampires and the Ogre attacked, but our plucky heroes managed to trigger the teleport again to get the Cloud Giant into the fight. His lightning bolts and Morningstar mace were more then a match for the Vampires by day.

The Lesser Vampires died and the master vampire fled, leaving the Sky Castle altogether and soon falling away as it accelerated off among the clouds.

[Apologies if this is too short or too inaccurate but I didn’t get time to write it up immediately and I’ve played or ran 13 games of D&D since then]

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.
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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.


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.


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…

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…


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!]


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.


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.”


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.




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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