City of Berem

A Waking Nightmare

The group heads back to Berem, greeted again with hesitant voices and worried glances. Many whispered behind their hands and many times it was questioned whether there would be more trouble.

Once the group gets to the docks, though, it becomes painfully obvious that they are not underappreciated everywhere. A boatman happily agrees to allow the team to ride across Lake Katmara for a fair price, complimenting them on freeing the town from ignorance of leadership. His human drawl is thick from a lack of education but his smile is genuine in his offer of a ride on his small fishing boat.

Masts up and the hull filled, they proceed across the Lake. The boatman, refusing to be called anything but “Ike”, told delightful and wholesome stories during the short voyage. He explains Lake Katmara was named after the heroine that conquered the wilderness which is now the Town of Berem. It was once a land filled with giants who proclaimed refuge in the shallow mountains and copses of trees, but that was easily a millenia ago.

He docks in a small fishing village on the direct opposite side of where Berem lay, his well wishes full of confidence as he leaves you on an empty dockside that is perched next to a small grouping of rocks. The land has trees dotted about the canyon side and the village seems small, but healthy.

Once he is well out of view, a whisper (DC Passive Perc 12) catches the hero’s ear just in time to catch “NOW”. A group of bandits, hiding beneath the dock’s pier, leap onto the wooden planks and brandish rusted scimitars and a rotting smile.

With the day nearly gone, and a hostile welcome, the team easily purges the town of those holding it hostage. Grateful townspeople ambush the team once the Bandit Captain is slain and they throw the corpses into the Lake, spitting where the splash ended.

The Village is called Eldath where their primarily income relies on good fishing and blessings from their namesake deity. Flags bearing a short waterfall dot every home, hut, and storefront throughout the village, perpetuating the insinuation that it is a humble missionary built village.

They are offered room and board for free because of the threat being taken care of.

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The End of the Spider Quest

The team feels defeated after wandering away from the small village, constantly questioning what they could have done different to avoid being seen as murders and monsters. As they rest for the night in a small alcove, a vision besets them.

Soveliss, Salymar, and Trindal find themselves traveling as disembodied souls with the unvoiced intent to reach the planes of the divine and demonic. There is a great, silvery sea, the same above and below, with swirling wisps of white and gray streaking among motes of light resembling distant stars set before them. Erratic whirlpools of color flicker in midair like spinning coins. Occasional bits of solid matter are be found here, but most of the adventurers perceive is an endless, open domain.

As they realize that the group stands together, a floating rock forms under their feet and the swirling wisps solidify to form a vision of an army. Spears, swords, and arrows are raised over the army’s heads, seemingly in a silent roar of battle. Three hundred of the soldiers march together and follow a single humanoid, the faces all blurred from an unknowing destiny.

Out of the entire vision, one thing stays etched on your memories: The Githyanki are coming.

The group awakens from the troubling vision, their heads spinning with a touch of fear but mostly confusion.

As the confusion dissipates, a young elven girl comes into focus. Her eyes are blank and her skin ashen. She breathes warily as though her lungs are failing. Once she is acknowledged her voice echoes from her without passion or inflection, so though an answering machine responds to the heroes rather than a child.
“Are you the Heroes of Berem? I have been asked to find you, to confirm if the Princess Soveliss stands. She is needed by her community immediately, for there seems to be a problem. I have not been permitted to learn the details, because I am a peasant and have no need to concern myself with the likes of my better. Please return home as soon as possible.”

Once she has a confirmation of their intentions to return to the elven lands, the girl freezes and succumbs to a seizure, dying instantly.

Hermy plunges his magic into the dead girl’s mind, recognizing a trap set for her. She was not a girl at all by the time she reached the group, she was merely an undead communication tool that was used by an unfathomable evil. As though her mind translated like a phone, once the “call ended” her life went along with it.

The group has a long walk to travel, knowing they must cross great mountains, small deserts, and massive rivers. Soveliss has no doubts on how to reach her home, for an elf never loses the natural compass that is imbued during childhood.

Agonizing over the decision of having the return through Berem to cross Lake Katmara, Hermy is delighted. He can be returned to the Monastery and be entrusted to the Realm walkers.

He reveals that he knows Soveliss’s grandfather. He met him during a voyage to the only known portal to the Earth Realm, a neighboring community of stoneworking elves. Soveliss’s Grandfather, Zulae, was a diplomat for their kingdom after he passed his reign onto his son, Soveliss’s father and was in Dirt Wright to smooth over trading disputes with their own kingdom of nature walkers.

Zulae was also an outsider when Hermy (then a healthy dwarf) visited, both feeling companionship in a tightly knit community that did not include them. Zulae was kind and extremely wise, doting on his grandchildren and bragging of the unity of the elven race. Hermy was drawn to the man, becoming friends with him during their extended stay and travels. This was the companionship that provided Hermy with Soveliss’s name. He knew she was an ethical person, trained by the only person Hermy never found fault with.

He also knew Soveliss would not understand what the Spawning Stone really was, which is why he could never have sent it to Zulae to be protected. He wanted it back and was slowly coming to regret his decision to have ever sent it away in the first place.

The group heads back to Berem, having first to investigation a large plume of smoke that rises from the village they had tried to save. Blunderbuss is sent ahead to assess the danger and informs Salymar that there is absolutely no signs of life. Interestingly, after the team investigates themselves, they find not a single piece of evidence showing that someone was killed in a village that has been burnt to the ground.

Once they realize that the spider webs from the Kind Spiders, too, have been burned they immediately return to the nest. The spider webs have been cleared and there are torches that have been hastily placed throughout the caverns.

Before they’ve had a chance to sneak too far into the cavern they happen upon a pair of insect cultists that have a woman, hands bound and mouth gagged, they are fighting through the tunnel.

Upon her release they learn that the cultists have taken the entire village and have them somewhere in the caverns.

The group explores the area, only two days after having left, and are horrified to happen upon a small room that is filled to the brim with brittle corpses of the kind spiders. Large, small, and dozens of the corpses fill the hollow spot to the ceiling.

In another area there is a wealth of knowledge that seems to have been transferred in there by the cultists, even guarded by a few who attempt to cast spells to defeat the adventurers.

In another large cavern opening they find the ritual room, lined with the pedestals that have men, women, and children tied to their tops. On either side of each sacrificial human stands two cultists, their arms spread, chanting an unknown language in synchronization that fills the cavern.

At the back wall, furthest from the entrance that the heroes stand in, is a massive grub whose maw is filled with viscious teeth. A terrible smell permeates from the giant insect maggot and its mouth drips with foul saliva tinged with the blood of innocents.

They slaughter those who were more than anxious to sacrifice the villagers and then faced the insect god who has slowly been devouring the poor souls offered on the slabs, regenerating its health and persevering through the fight.

If they do not defeat it in time (after eating 5 civilians), it transforms into a dreadful beast and holds up to the title of Insect God, happy to eat its own followers and priests.

Once they purify the cavern and allow the Kind Spiders remaining to reclaim their nest, the group heads back to Berem.

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Spider Side Quest

The heroes embark on a quest with a new member involved. The necromantic bard, Trindal, joins the hero’s quest because Terry was left in charge of the Town of Berem.

Trindal studied his music and powers at the College of Sorrow, learning how to make the dead dance and the living weep in a frosted fear.

The group leaves Berem because of the nagging feeling of being unwanted. True, they saved the city, but they also were fearsome in the eyes of those who didn’t understand what they faced. The dragonbourne, Salymar, was particularly terrifying once he returned from the wilderness with a jungle panther tamed at his side.

Soveliss learned that she was being inducted into her kingdom’s registry of royalty, officially announcing their intent to let her someday rule the elven kingdom. She now bears proudly the title of Warrior Princess but must continue her expedition to gain knowledge of the world and the expectations of a guardian.

True, the group had no idea where they were supposed to go, but being nearly kicked out of town was enough of a reason to leave the comfort of Berem.

Shortly after leaving they ran across a small village that seem to be plopped into the middle of a forest. A man, Vallant, stopped the adventurers on their way out of town and requested their help in defeating a force of spiders that has been growing at the forest’s edge.

Soveliss immediately took suspicion at the man’s request, not understanding why a villager wouldn’t be able to take care of the infestation by himself. Rather than instantly going into the forest and rampaging the spider’s nest, the group rented rooms from the small village and waited until evening.

During the day the adventurers investigated Vallant’s claims diligently. They learned that the only ones who seemed truly bothered by the spiders were men and women who had small tattoos of insects on their inner wrists. Children, however, seemed to think fondly of the spiders and claimed to play with the spiders in the evenings, even being brought gifts by the eight-legged beasts.

Trindal played music distractedly in order to gain a more comprehensive picture of the small village, trying to discern if there was malcontent from those requesting aid. He discovered that, yes, there were those watching the three adventurers fiercely.

Salymar approached such a man and intimidated the man into revealing why they were sent on a mission to murder innocent creatures. Rather than being allowed to respond to the dragonbourne’s demands, a fellow cult member cast an Insect Swarm spell that immediately forced the cultist’s disappearance from the questioning.

Once nighttime approached, the group noticed immediately that there indeed was a swarm of spiders that lingered at the village’s edge. Rather than attack, Salymar induced a spell in order to speak with the simple-minded arachnids and learned that they were Kind Spiders. Knowing that the spiders would never harm a good person unwillingly, they requested aid in purging the evil from the village that had taken root.

Unfortunately, the quest to dig out the evil in the village was met with agony. Upon finding out that there was a cult hiding in one of the homes, the team immediately murdered the entire cult of 6 and burned down a summoning shrine, consuming the entire house.

The heroes were confronted by a grieving widow of a man slaughtered and the entire village reacted the same. They had no idea a cult had taken root in their village and the heroes were at a loss on how to prove it to the mob that had formed in front of the burning home.

Relying upon their charisma to talk them out of an unprecedented pickle, they instead went to the spider’s nest in hopes of retrieving proof

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Making Progress in the Neighborhood!

Jimbo permits the adventurers to talk to the elders, learning as much about the spawning stone as they can from the Guardians. They learn that it controls the Slaad, that there is a Chaos gate opened and that Limbo is breaking the bands of the material plane to allow the undead to roam its lands.

The team is promised aid in the worthy cause of saving the Material plane and is lead to the cellar that the old elf woman lies curled up dead in. In the old elf’s hands (she had been dead for a number of years) is a note that was hastily scribed “Lord Kisarkel is missing, send aid.”

The team retrieves modernized mithril armor, appropriate for each hero except Salymar was not able to retrieve armored leggings.

Going upstairs revealed nothing new, but upon entering the second floor the group encountered corpses of different animals, including humans that revealed disgusting slaad tadpoles. After defeating the horrors, Terry was ambushed by two shadows taking refuge in an armoir.

The second floor seemed to be once an opulent thing, now deserted except for the remains of bedrooms and bathrooms that have been caved in because of a continuously running bath. The first bedroom was looted and revealed a few treasures for each adventurer.

The second room held a fairly untouched scene, even a treasure chest. Salymar, quickly seizing an opportunity for wealth, attempted to loot the chest only to be immediately bitten by a mimick!

The group banded together, quickly defeating the mimick and then lounged (short rested) in a small servant’s quarters.

The last bathroom had a bunch of ugly fish looking things that instantly tried (and failed) to assassinate Terry. The rest of the group uneventfully looted the last room and then headed upstairs.

At the top of the stairs is what appears to be a study (before it was completely trashed). Many of the books are about the history of Berem and guides pertaining to the Outer and Inner realms. A torn page containing a picture and notation about the Chaos Realm and how to track the Chaos creatures with the Spawning Stone.

When the team opens the door to the Lord’s Quarters, a fierce wind whips their clothes and hair about them, threatening to tear the weapons from their hands anad knock them over. Books, statues and broken furniture whip about the room in a contrained tornado of chaos. The smell of severe metallics assaults their noses and the sounds of crashing waves and rock avalanches threatens to deafen them, dotted with crashing sounds and the bright flashes of lightening and thunder.

In the center of the insanity is an oval, revealing the source of the chaos in what seems like a door to another realm.

Everyone knows enough, now, to recognize the world seem through the gate as Limbo, where Terry became trapped and it seems to be spilling into the Material Plane at their feet.

On the ground laid a scruffy dwarf who matches all that they’ve learned about the Healer. His life seems to be barely clinging to a body that’s been torn.

Standing at the portal’s entrance stands a Githyanki Warrior, gazing calmly into the gate that combines all the elements as though he longs to be inside.

“I sense Soveliss has arrived, he says.”

The team riles him into a fight.

The battle was quick, despite the disparagingly tough foe. The Githyanki was only about to slice Terry a few times before Soveliss, enraged by her group, her family, being threatened… completely decimated the foe in a slash of her shortsword and the brunt of her shield.
The Gate immediately closed once it’s creator was killed.

Once they were able to awaken the Healer, they learned all SORTS of things.

The Spawning Stone is unique to controlling a single Slaad, who just so happens to BE Hermy the Healer. He was transformed into a Slaad because of the carelessness of Kisarkel who is the son of the founder of Berem.
The Githyanki left two swords with his corpse, all claimed by Salymar who was able to discover that their psionic capabilities called to another army of Githyanki and could possibly harm the wielder.
The town has had no active Lord for at least 20 years, but somehow the townsfolk have not noticed.

Now the team understands they have been directed to close the portals, but FIRST THEY MUST CONQUER THE MATERIAL PLANE….

Duh dun DUNNNNNNN

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Let the Obsession Commence!
Day two of playing with newbs

Terry, Soveliss, and Salymar begin the day in the monastery’s sleeping quarters, having rested for nearly an entire day with the exhaustion of discovering new realms and fighting through constant uncertainty.

Deciding on eating, the group heads for the cafeteria and begin a conversation with the gardener, not realizing that this is the leader in the monastery, Abredenyll (Brady). They discuss how the monastery has been a bit broken since the healer vanished a couple weeks ago. Tensions grow higher and then the group pulls the Spawning Stone from their pockets, requesting more information.

Recognizing it as a Spawning Stone and knowing the evils that it means, Brady immediately requests the group to leave. The doorkeeper and a small group of monks physically escort the adventurers outside, knowing that anyone who carries a Spawning Stone carries the will control of a Slaad nearby.

The group, kicking mud and wondering what to do next, has the doors slammed in their faces and move separately. Salymar grew tired of Soveliss and Terry arguing and left to find out more about the desperate state of the town. He walked into a tavern that was bustling with patrons, packed to the brim with drunkenness and all tended to by a small gnome on stilts.

Salymar found out that many have been dying today and it seems as though the undead walks again. People are drinking to their max because of claims of seeing those who should be long gone or who were buried in the fields weeks, months, even years ago.

Soveliss and Terry, upon deciding that the rock does, indeed, belong to Soveliss, finally leave the muddy courtyard in search of answers.

It seems as though the presence of the rock is far more important than the document (despite it literally having location coordinates on it).

Soveliss and Terry witness a funeral procession with what clearly looks like a child’s casket combined with a few larger ones. There were hundreds of onlookers walking in the procession all mourning in a tangible silence.

Salymar, unable to ethically pay for a drink, is asked to leave until he is ready to buy something and very shortly catches up to Soveliss and Terry. They decide that going to the Lord’s manor is the best decision but are instantly stopped by guardsmen. Declining any appointments, they arguing and speak with the adventurers until they find out that one has been attacked by a zombie. They instantly allow the adventurers inside.

Once inside, and after navigating heavy traps set both manually and by archers on the roof, the team is met by an old woman holding a single candle.

The woman is so old that her spine looks like it has completely twisted into a question mark, her accent indistinguishable but her ears pointed in proof of a life once outside the Lord’s manor.

She leads the group to a sitting room without lighting any candles and offers them tea and dainty sandwiches before meandering out the other side of the room. The small library is conducive to a lord but quaint enough for guests not to be overwhelmed. Between the globe and a heavy book of maps, Soveliss realizes that the coordinates that came with her rock point to a place nearby.

Deciding to explore the manor after a couple hours left in the sitting room, Soveliss and Salymar wander onto the stairwell with Soveliss falling through a rotting step into a dark cavern.

Terry walks room to room until he comes to a locked room, bursting through into a kitchen that is so thickly covered with dust that it is apparent to have not been used for many years. There is a barely hidden cellar door that reveals a small woman’s body curled on the floor. Terry quickly closes the cellar door and leaves as fast as he can.

Once out in the main hall, a giant chandelier snaps and begins to fall, nearly crushing Terry to death. The sound is loud and shocking in the near silent manor.

With panic in their hearts, Terry reuinites with Salymar and both jump in to be with Soveliss.

Soon, they begin walking and only Terry’s persistant vigilance allows him to see a trap in waiting. Instead of stepping onto what would have been like molten quicksand, they stop and stare at the place in the narrow cavern until movement begins.

The walls and floors begin to twist and turn, marbling and creaking until the narrow cavern transforms into a wide open cavern. Dozens of eyes bare down on the group with a single earthen being looming before them.

The earth elemental stands forty feel tall, ten feet wide and demands the adventurers to return from whence they came. Unaffected, the group demands to be let through.

Back and forth the less-than-intelligent giant argues that he cannot let them pass (as commanded by the delving gnomes) until the adventurers show them the Spawning Stone. A small creature squeaks “enough” at the back of the screeching cavern and a thousands avalanches fall and cave in on themselves to form the now-sturdy passageway the adventurers were familiar with.

A family of delving gnomes step forward, the paternal figure demanding to see the rock. Once he realizes it has no material use and is not worthy of financial gain, he feels obliged to take them to their home. The children, begging to speak with the strangers and drawn in by the odd appearance the the dragonborn, heckle their father until the group moves forward through the caverns.

After carving her initials into a Spectre and slicing off the transparent ear, the groups defends the gnomes from another undead and move forward into a small enclave of what looks like home to dozens of little humans.

They are brought to the treasury where an overly engorged gnome woman sits on a throne (and perhaps a little bit become part of it). Behind her lays thousnads of pounds of raw golds, silvers, and copper metals as well as ungroomed gems of varying sizes and colors.

The woman proves herself to be vain and drastically out of touch with her worth. Unbeknownst to her, she is not the queen but in fact is an exceptional alarm system that the gnomes have used for decades to find out if someone is stealing from them. Her shrieks of anger and frustration immediately alarm the entire enclave that there is a thief in their midst.

Salymar requests to speak with the Terran again after finding out that the gnomes and Terran have a pact of friendship. Instantly the obese queen calls for a Jimbo.

“Jimbo” (Jymbackney) is an earth elemental that keeps an eye on the gnomes, reporting back to their elemental gate and the holders frequently. He is incapable of answering many of the questions and instead decides to take the adventurers back to the elemental gate so that the Elders may answer their questions.

However, the adventurers chose to rest in the cavern where the elementals disappeared.

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Good Old Fashioned Beginnings

Soveliss – Nicole’s High Elf fighter – Lived with her grandparents throughout her life and was taught the art of violence from her grandfather. He carried on the tradition of fighting by teaching her carefully and imbuing in her a dream of becoming a loyal royal guard for the elven community she thrived in. Her grandfather was exceptionally respected for his fighting style. She later in life fell in love with a lonesome dragon-borne where they chose a life of adventuring together rather than suffer alone.
Salymar Ridjbacht – Oliver’s Dragon-borne Ranger – Borne in a tribe of dragon-borne and he is the only remaining one left of his tribe. He was an infant when his tribe was killed off. He lived his early childhood in an orphanage where he then chose to runaway and live in caves. Later in life a woman wandered into his cave and coaxed him into a social life, and eventually one of romance.
Terry – Kyle’s half-orc rogue – Raised in a kingdom foreign to this campaign, he was only 9 years old when the Lord of (unrelated kingdom) assigned his father to what would become a fatal quest. Having no use for an assassin’s family (two brothers and his mother) were sold off to pay the lord’s gambling debt. Having never seen his family since the fateful date of being sold into slavery, he’s spent his life in servitude until he murdered the entire family that brutally raised him in captivity. Catching a boat to our kingdom, he lives a life quietly in the hopes of never being noticed and attunes his skills accordingly. He was picked up as a guide and friend by Soveliss and Salymar only recently, considering himself a third wheel in a party of three.

Awakened in the night by the sound of loud fighting between a man and a woman, the three adventurers quickly gather their gear. Terry rushes out of his small barracks room and immediately was greeted with silence and the sight of a small brown package in front of Soveliss’s door. Salymar and Terry bring the package to Soveliss and sliced it open (aggressively) with a shortsword, severing a paper image inside with coordinates and revealing a fist-sized green stone. It was polished and intentionally crafted to look generic.

The party leaves into the depths of the barracks to find where the screaming came from only to find that no one in the barracks are awake. They leave to go to the monastery to find out more information about the rock and it’s nondescript piece of torn paper.

After a tussel with the undead on one corner and threatening to fight four armed guards who seemed to be picking on a child, Terry took a shot to the side and left him unconscience. Salymar became convinced he could gather more information from the child and tried to calm him down. A dragon-bourne by birth, but a performer at heart, Sal began a sock puppet theater in an attempt to calm the youth. To no avail, the youth ran and Salymar’s arrow trailed after him, narrowly missing the child’s leg as he retreated around a corner.

Salymar carried Terry to the monastery’s gates and they waited for the monks to wake up and open the gates.

After waiting for the sun to rise, the couple and the unconscious half-orc walk into a courtyard filled with dishevelled mud. Hidden at the edges of the courtyard’s stone walls are men buried in the mud, hidden completely except for their faces, giving off the impression of a deep slumber.

Terry was placed in the mud to be kept safe until Salymar and Soveliss could figure out if the safety of the monastery was true.

Soveliss talked with a groundskeeper (Abredenyll aka Brady) and found the purpose of the monastery was to introduce men to the many realms and planes of the gods, traversed by the meditating monks spread in a circle in the courtyard.

Salymar found the library and discovered that the monks are terrified and searching desperately for an answer as to where their healer is. A dim-witted monk, Kisarkel, solemnly declares through the yes-no “blinking system” that the town/monastery’s healer is, in fact, NOT where he is supposed to be and it is because of another monk’s doing that he is missing. He asks Kisarkel to join him in their search for the healer to get to the bottom of what is happening in the monastery, and Kisarkel agrees to join the party and leaves the library without Jeff.

Terry came out of a deep coma, close to death, only to be dragged into the monk’s trance and fixated on Limbo, a realm of chaos and uncertainty. He spent what felt like a millenia trapped in the ever changing and never ending chaos of waves crashing, lightening striking, volcanoes errupting, earths being created and heavens being torn apart. The smell of metallics and ocean spray came in waves over his body, first burning hot with pain, cooled by ice, and having both searing moments of agony and blissful moments of wonder. Nothing in his vision was stationary, nothing stayed the same. There was no rhyme or reason to the timing of the days and nights, no seconds that could be relied on to continue one after another. The one certainty he noticed through eons of suffering through insantiy was a sphere that remained stationary in the sky. Many times it was obscured by the chaotic crashing of glass or explosions of melted lands but the place of the giant, planetary-like orb never changed. It’s colors were endlessly changing and it was never within reach, but it at least granted a peaceful moment of reliability in the realm of Limbo.

Terry gathered his will through a the centuries and finally pressed it upon the orb, commanding it to help him through the screams of an unknown mouth.

At the same moment, mere hours after laying Terry down in a thick layer of mud, Salymar collapses in the stairwell as a blood-curdling, ear splitting scream reverberates through his ears. Kisarkel stops in front of the open doorway to the monastery and stares out into the muddy courtyard, gaping at a behemouth of a half-orc that wreaks of maggoty death (from being tackled by a bloated zombie) and looks as though a mud monster had taken him over. Terry grabs the plain green stone from Salymar and shoves it in Kisarkel’s face, demanding to know from whence the stone came.

“I think I have made a terrible mistake” Kisarkel whispers in a horrified language that only the stone-bearer understands. He drops to the ground, his body dying instantly from what seems like shock.

The group reunites, sharing stories of only a half day of being apart, when an orc dressed in humble monk’s clothing leads the team up to a bath room where the natural formation of the mountain churns fresh water through a spout. Terry is forced to bathe in mountain water while everyone equally berates Jeff for not answering questions sufficiently enough.

Jeff throws his hands up in desperation and leaves, leaving the group to find whoever this “Brady” monk is. Meantime, they finally take the time to examine the sliced paper that was delivered with the stone. There are distinct coordinates written with very poor handwriting in the top right corner and the image has been scratched into the paper. The image faintly resembles a star chart that has been laid over a topographical map. There are several words written through the map but only two are of the same language (dwarven). All of the words mean the same thing although children have given him different titles through the eons.

The map labels the indistinct stars as a boogeyman.

And now, our ‘heroes’ rest.

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