The Long Roaders for this session
In initiative order
Phoenix, level 8 barbarian, still in pact with his totem;
Seck, level 8 rogue;
Cat, level 8 warlock and his familiar Dis
The Long Roaders begin 40xp below level 9, take 1xp for meeting the Giant and gaining some help from him, and end on 25
The Thing in the Temple
The rain, clear of the cloud palace, is heavy and getting heavier. By the time the three Long Roaders along with Jahia and her two loyal followers arrive within a short distance of the old and new temples, visibility is about 40′ and heavily obscured beyond half that. The town square, though notionally paved, has an overlay of clogging mud.
Inits: Phoenix, Satyrs/Cat, Shoggoth, Seck/Tastra/Gwen, Jahia
Uneasy to have an unexplored temple on her right flank Jahia waves Gwen over that way. Her squire squelches over the muddy town square to the New Temple’s portico, and begins working at the simple lock. “Need some help with that?” Phoenix asks in a boastful tone, launching into a stamp kick! The sturdy door is no match for him – then he has to throw himself back to avoid being spilled down a slipway into what looks like a fathomless pit! The entire New Temple is a trap!
Meanwhile Tastra and Cat – having checked that there aren’t any undead rising from the cemetery – discover that the creeper-tree swathing the Old Temple’s front right is some distorted overgrown relative of the lethal bramble of the Gold Hill region. It sends a pair of darts at them, forcing them away: they pull back to Jahia.
“Is there a way through the roof?” Cat wonders; “yes, the roof is in disrepair,” Seck replies – he’s already clambered up for a check. But events conspire to make this data obsolete. While Seck re-adjusts his position for the third time – he’s patiently been using high ground but is now well back – Phoenix takes things into his own hands.
Rounds 3-4: Disgruntled, Phoenix strides across the mud to the one visible door on the Old Temple. Kicks at the door. The Archer Tree beside him sends a spiteful thorn into him. Really angry now Phoenix draws back, and smashes the door with Mocair! It falls away into the nave beyond.
An air of overwhelming foulness and hostility hangs in the very air. A broad altar confronts Phoenix some 20′ or less away. On it sits the severed blackened head of Bramble Jeem flanked by two ancient yellowed skulls. Phoenix’s keen eye does not miss the decanter of black liquid also placed there, nor the smear of demented writing on a wall nearby amidst polyp-like growths.
All about the interior pus-green lichen vies with purplish roots, and among it all lie bones of sacrificial victims. Here and there, treasure glints.
Rounds 5-6: Phoenix calls all this out, and Cat walks up behind him. “Let’s have the bottle out, for a start,” he says. He Mage Hands the decanter away from the altar without difficulty, but then loses his mystical grip as the Archer Tree stabs him! The decanter shatters and black ichor oozes across the roots…
A weird piping noise begins…
DC15 WIS SV all round, Jahia has her counter Ready: Gwen is caught too far away from Jahia and flees. Everyone else remains remarkably calm! (Seck uses his Inspiration.)
Inside the temple the entire THING unroots itself. The upper levels begin caving in and a huge fissure opens in the floor. Bones, altar and treasure plummet down with splashing noises and a monstrous being, waving tentacles the width of tree-trunks, begins pulling itself up…
Phoenix makes a DC15 DEX SV to leap away from the fissure.
Cat briefly regrets not running away but optimistically casts Banishment at the THING – pulls back by Jahia – Tastra moves along a line that gives her a shot. The arrow slams into the thing. “If it bleeds, we can kill it!” Tastra yells, unconsciously echoing the words of Luskar of the Flaming Fist. Her bow is waterlogged but can manage short ranges. Ending her run by the temple wall, she suddenly finds herself sinking into weirdly doughy ground. Phoenix uses Reaction to Shield from a huge tentacle-spike. Cold sweat breaks out on his brow as vast roots tear themselves loose and the THING rolls forward. Seck runs to Tastra and using the wall as leverage, heaves at her: then finds himself stuck and sinking as well. He uses a charge from his Skirmisher boots and ports 10′. He reports and Jahia calls: “Phoenix! Pull Tastra loose!” and draws her huge sword.
Round 7: Phoenix heads to Tastra then sees the ranger is already pulling herself free. As the THING towers over him he rages and chops at it with Mocair, slicing deep. It utters a human-like bleat. Acid sprays out, stinging Phoenix. Cat hurls two Eldritch Blasts, one of which sinks home: and makes sure he is the right range from Jahia. “Don’t get close – acid!” Phoenix yells. “Noted!” Cat yells back, and “Oh good,” Jahia mutters. Then the THING surges out of the temple and engulfs Phoenix and with a massive Athletics check he wrenches free. At the same time Jahia parries off two tentacle slams and a foul Black Breath washes over Cat and Tastra; the latter fails her CON SV and gains a level of Exhaustion! She replies with a poorly-aimed arrow but Seck, now with a clear view, hurls Maelsauga. (He manages a DC18 DEX SV on realizing he should immediately have recalled his pet!) Seck pulls back beside the New Temple, closer to Jahia. The paladin assays the THING with a pair of slices and her first Smite sears! Acid splashes back on her as she pulls back, but the THING’s piping changes to a tortured-sounding squeal.
The gang has dished out 145 dmg so far…
Round 8: Phoenix decides to try Reckless Attack and crits! But his second stroke is poor. He wrenches free of the strange soggy ground effect and pulls back. Cat can see how far the tentacles can reach, pulls back behind Jahia after hurling Shadow Blade. The blade goes deep! Jahia’s armor again just shrugs off the massive tentacle attacks that slam down at her! Phoenix experiences a blinding flash of light as a glob of spittle hits him, but avoids the Engulf as it surges at Jahia – she fends it off with a sword-bash and, hooking Cat up by the waist, avoids it. Horrendous foul breath washes over Seck – who doesn’t save – and Tastra who does. Seck can feel the New Temple creaking and swaying, and spots that Tastra has not realized – he calls that, and shifts towards Jahia. Maelsauga spikes at the THING but is just deflected by the slime. Tastra waves and puts her best effort into getting across the mud by Jahia. Who advances and slices with a lower-level Smite. The THING subsides back into its town-swallowing crevasse but, out of the pit where the New Temple was, MORE tentacles emerge!
XP: lvl 9-35
Loot: enough to top Seck back up to six dice wealth pool
The Thing is Beaten
Round 9: Phoenix uses his superior movement to race around the crevasse, over to the new crevasse, and slices the new THING. acid splashes out of this one, too. Cat hurls Shadow Blade, striking. A spit of Blinding Flash strikes Cat, he avoids blinding. The THING surges towards Phoenix but this time he is ready for it: he wrenches free of the squishy ground and gets clear. Tentacles slam at Tastra, who dodges, and Seck, who uses Uncanny Dodge to get clear. Seck, Cat and Jahia are washed with the foul Black Breath; Seck is OK, Cat and Jahia take a level of exhaustion. Seck races clear, yelling for the team to fan out, and hurls Maelsauga. “If I fan out I’ll be in the next county” Phoenix grumbles. Tastra runs using the Disengage action! “This is how you get to third level!” Cat calls and she has time to laugh. Jahia advances using her best Smite: a bright light spears from her sword, and she slices deep, the radiant damage searing off a couple of tentacles! The THING seems dramatically weaker.
Round 10: “I’m with you Jahia! Phoenix yells, using Reckless Attack and once again scoring a crit! And a second crit! The piping and squealing is horrid and the THING writhes in agony. Cat’s Shadow Blade strikes deep and both he and Phoenix wihdraw. Suddenly, the THING heaves itself out of the ground entirely. A forty to fifty foot column of tentacles, part floating, powers west across the village, smashing through a couple of luckless cottar’s homes. Seck advances and gets a good shot home with Maelsauga. Tastra advances to take a shot: her string breaks. Jahia uses a 5-point to cure her poisoned condition, and calls in a commanding voice: “who needs relief from the breath? Get some before we give chase!”
Rounds 11-12: There’s some discussion, necessarily brief, and Jahia’s decision to stay together weighs the decision in favor of healing and a measured chase. “I think Tastra should stay behind,” Cat points out. She looks very reluctant but as Jahia asks her to stay back, Seck doing the scouting, she agrees to act as rearguard.
Rounds 13-20: Gwen arrives back and catches up with the play. She signals with her eyes to Cat that she’d like to speak away from the others. “These are fey woods, I’ve seen strange things already. You have a familiar, I think?” They discuss range, and how Gwen can sometimes hear the fey, then Gwen adds, “Bayle can hear them too. Speaking of Bayle, Jahia is still inclined to help Brecbry if it will help Bayle.” “Cat grunts, feeling a bit fed up with Brecbry.
Meanwhile the team is ready to pursue, and Seck takes point.
“We’re going to have to come back, descend down those crevasses, and retrieve the skulls, then burn them in a forge,” Cat reminds the others.
CON SV for Dis over the course of the initial trek through the wood – it’s a poor result and she takes no part, simply hiding from the smell of Shadowfell.
Flashback – looting in the lumber-mill
Back before they headed to the Cloud Palace, Cat and Seck have some quick looting. It lools as though Barnabas kicked over a bottle of dark liquid in his death throes. He wore a sash of black, probably human hair. And his ranger wore a silver ring of intertwined thorn design.
During the rest up in the clouds, Dis identifies the Sash as Protection+1. The ring is a Bonus Action Hail of Thorns, 1/day, for rangers. Both require attunement. Tastra gets the ring, Gwen the sash.
The Thing in the Stone Circle
Through the rain – though the surrounding trees provide some cover – the party follows a trail smashed by the THING. They find it, at length, seated atop a stone at the center of the remains of a Stone Circle. Above it, a purplish black cloud hovers! Lightning flashes around the upper canopy of the circling trees.
Round 1: Phoenix rages, races clumsily across the broken ground and hacks again, Mocair squelching off the THING harmlessly. Lightning discharges and Phoenix avoids deadly damage, but is still hurt. Luckily he’s consumed seven healing potions in between village and clearing! Cat get close enough to see the THING, which seems somewhat more protected by a shimmer but his Blasts fall home. “I’ve really got nothing left,” Jahia mutters to Seck. “Over to us then,” he replies, and Gwen assures her paladin, “I’m not afraid!”
A crackle of purplish energy, and a HUGE voice, though strangely feminine, resounds in everyone’s head:
WHERE IS SHE? WHERE IS THE BEARER? LET THE RITUAL BECOME ONE! WHERE IS SHE?
An image forms in their minds of a pale-skinned, sharp-chinned halfling.
A slightly less assertive huge voice resumes:
SHE IS NOT HERE FOR HER APPOINTMENT. THIS IS MOST PERTURBING.
The tentacled horror wavers uncertainly, but it turns to the attack! Tentacles slam at Phoenix, his rage fends off some of the shock but the acid sizzles on his flesh. Jahia fails to get out of the way of a Blinding Flash. Unearthly music fills the air…. Phoenix stalls… Gwen freezes… “Don’t be afraid to be afraid! Fear shows you’re not a fool!” Seck calls and Gwen shakes off the unnerving warbling in the air.
Seck and Tastra advance, both take a shot as Gwen charges and slices both blades home! Seck misses but does spot a pair of fauns or satyrs rapidly dragging a victim toward the circle from the left flank. He calls their position: “cut them off!” Tastra’s Hail of Thorns hammer around the THING. It collapses!
XP: lvl 9-30
The Shuggoth, or Shaggoth, is the “dark child” of Shub-Niggurath. One for each skull, each stronger than the last. The ceremony intends to call Shub-Niggurath into this present plane. But all three hag skulls are needed, and the Long Roaders already spoiled enough, so even if Shaz had turned up it still wouldn’t have fully worked.DM
The Satyrs Resist
Round 2: Phoenix… does nothing! Cat works his way over the broken ground to intercept the satyrs. He gets to Seck’s side and spots where the rogue is pointing, and draws the Rod of Osuz out ready.
Off towards the right flank, a third satyr catches a crevice in Jahia’s armor with a well-aimed arrow. “Another, right,” Jahia cognizes. Seck goes for that one, looking to get a target but stay in cover among the broken standing stones. Maelsauga strikes home! Tastra closes up, takes a shot, and her arrow strikes one of the pair out the other way: “I have marked him.” With a scream of hate Gwen charges the same. Her blade cuts deep, the satyr is weakened. Jahia is still dazzled.
Round 3: Phoenix is still confused and stumbles toward the right-flank satyr. Eerie piping fills the air and Seck stalls. Tastra stalls. Cat holds Osuz and tries Banishment on the wounded satyr. It saves. Disappointing! Cat withdraws as much as he can. Over at the other flanks Phoenix uses a Luck point for a re-roll and the satyr clumsily bounces his sword-cut off the Coaster’s half-plate. As Tastra and Seck move vaguely towards the satyrs, Gwen cuts again. The satyr weakens again. Jahia finally has her vision clear and with an Intimidating roar charges towards the satyr cutting at Phoenix. The satyr flees!
Round 4: Phoenix’ head clears. “Up and at ’em my brave friend! Over there!” Jahia encourages. He Totem moves across the battlefield, finding the difficult terrain still slowing. He is within visible range of the final satyr.
Cat slams the wounded satyr with Repelling Blast and it tumbles back, looking uninterested in further proceedings; Cat’s second Blast knocks the second one aside as he advances. Gwen quickly takes advantage and runs at the downed satyr, nicking him.
Round 5: Phoenix uses his final Luck point, and finishes the satyr!
The captive is a familiar dwarf: Haro, last seen handing over the sketch map to them, in Ravenreach.
XP: lvl 9-29
Three there are, a fourth cannot be
Vir appears at the north edge of the glade, leading Beatrix.
At the south-east, a shining form slips gently down to the ground. A huge raven flaps overhead, taking up a perch on a tree.
At the south-west, a sweet stream-like sound plays, and Cat sees that streaming down from a tree that has just burst to green bud, a very young girl-child sits wrapped all in green.
“Three are gathered, four there cannot be, now is the time for purging. I’m afraid, little Cat, I cannot offer your paladin any different fate. But at least we can change the Shadowfell if that’s wat you want me to do.”
There’s a hiss from the south-east. The Lady steps forward, watching Jahia with cat-like eyes.
“Hello, moon-daughter,” Beatrix muses. “You are… a strange one.”
“Sickle-mother: you are most welcome,” Titania – now carried in the crook of Cat’s arm – says sweetly. “Help us free this one. She is broken.”
Titania slips down, now able to move freely, and the three women begin pacing about the circle. A sweet piping plays somewhere. Dis sings along to the weird tune. The pacing becomes a dance: The Lady’s form blurs a little, as though two images are there.
Faster and faster the dance goes: somehow Beatrix hops along nimbly, supporting her dance with her staff. The Lady’s form splits completely: a ripe dark-haired beauty looks at Cat, and Jahia, and back to Cat: “I really do see what she sees in you,” she purrs, then disappears. At the same time a dazzling form of light in the shape of a queenly elf rises. No mortal can look directly at it. It points at Jahia, then arcs above up into the heaven: the shape of a heron can be seen, blue-clad. Then it is gone.
As they blink and look about, only Beatrix remains in the circle. All conditions are healed!
Haro’s Secret: the Third Skull
Beatrix explains that she has helped Vir retrieve his weapons, and now owes her a favor. She expects they will chip in? “Sure,” Cat assures her, adding it to the pile of favors owed.
The group walks toward Hagsjaw, receiving Haro’s explanation, which comes with some clumsy lies to conceal his prospecting secrets. He was captured out by Three Hags lakes, and brought here. Given their need he’s grateful enough to reveal that he knows where there is a gully, and in that gully he spotted a yellowed skull, revealed by some movement of earth from where it must have been buried in former times. He’s not about to touch it, but supplies landmarks.
The grateful denizens of Hagsjaw grudgingly loan buckets and ladders and the Long Roaders descend into the slimy black waters below. The stream is beginning to back-fill the area and some very cold diving is involved.
They retrieve two hag skulls – and Jeem’s for good measure – and enough loot to top Seck back up to six dice wealth pool – and begin thinking of a good way to destroy them as the session ends!
Next session we will play a one-off game, as they say a change is as good as a rest! But season eight will resume after that, as the Long Roaders arrive, at last, at Wolf Hamlet!
For the record: The Cloud Giant and The Lady
I put some real minutes into getting the Cloud Giant’s protocol together. It follows, admittedly in a simple manner, the protocol of a marae visit and pepeha from the host.
This is a Cloud Giant sorcerer, allied with the Seldarine. The Raven is the symbol of the Morrigan and the Heron the symbol of Hanali Celanil.
Hanali Celanil, in the period we deal with in Dimgaard, is a negligible saint named Selanil, who, hiding from some dark deity – very possibly Shar – takes up residence with the Morrigan. This mirrors the Shar/Selune dichotomy. When Jahia calls on Hanali Celanil with enough knowledge of who she really is, The Lady manifests back onto the mortal plane. But since this is still the intensely feywild-affected region, the Morrigan comes with her.
As mentioned I have mashed up Of Beasts and Men by Jon Bertaini, and Horror out of Hagsjaw by Levi Combs. I used some extra/bigger monsters given the Long Roaders’ level, and adjusted for what the party achieved as they progressed. The two modules have different approaches but with the same general intent so were easy to merge. Both available through DriveThruRPG.com.