Nieda-Harsas Bureau of Tourism

Session 40 - Operation Research and Relaxation, Continued
The party gets a location, and Bartholomoo gets naked.

Party:

NPCs:

Farooq is unimpressed with the party’s lack of success in their research but cannot offer much assistance, himself. Despite Voor’s recent bout with mummy rot, the team resolves to consult him. In deference to his convalescence, the party collects a few gifts for the old scholar: some sort-of-fresh fruit, a bottle of elven wine, and a pitcher’s worth of dwarven stout.

Voor’s villa near the edge of the city still shows the signs of damage wrought by the raiding eladrin who captured him. One of the workmen rebuilding the place directs the party to Voor’s bedroom, which is still intact. Voor receives the team and accepts their gifts. He is rather pleased with the stout, as he states he only rarely indulges in it due to the difficulty of its importation. In a gracious gesture, he offers to share it with the party, an invitation that they (particularly Bartholomoo) accept.

The little band gather’s in Voor’s half-destroyed kitchen and discuss the fruits of their work. Voor crankily expresses his disappointment and exclaims that he is going to show them how it’s done. The scholar sends Zahar to dig through some of the rubble of the kitchen for a particular figurine, and Larkin is dispatched to gather some plants from Voor’s garden. Bartholomoo, the lightweight, is left to enjoy his rather swift intoxication and the belief that removing his armor might help him shake it off. Voor himself constructs a ritual circle to which he adds the items brought by Zahar and Larkin. The old scholastic has determined to consult external sources, using the Consult Mystic Sages ritual to determine the location of any city linked to the glyph found on the Ancient Dagger. The extraplanar sage he consults names the city of Afakhan and notes the it is located in the world, the feywild, and the shadowfell under Mount Timir, Tor Emer, and the Peaks of Mir, respectively.

As the name of the city’s location in the world is known to Voor, he sends the adventurers back to Farooq. Farooq is delighted that they can at least reach the location in the world, and they consider the possibility of uncovering portals to the parts of the city in the other planes. The undead below Zamali are an enduring worry, however, and the investigation of the fragment of Afakhan in the world takes precedence over scholarly spitballing. Farooq sends the party to find atlases and plot a route through the desert to Mount Timir quickly while he secures supplies for them to map the city with.

The party travels for part of a day before Bartholomoo remembers to use the Endure Elements ritual to protect them from the harsh conditions of the desert. Near the end of their journey, Larkin detects the smoke of a camp some distance from theirs. The party catches up with a group of Valenar Elves the next day and ask a number of questions regarding Afakhan and Mount Timir. The Valenar, after requesting that Bartholomoo put his clothes back on, claim that they know of the mountain, and say that their legends tell of a lost city found beneath it. They don’t get clost to the mountain, which is sacred to them, but elves have been close enough recently to smell the scent of death in the area, and once a powerfully sweet scent. One of the elves recounts to Larkin several conflicting tales concerning the origin of the Escul Desert, but doesn’t claim to believe any particular one.

The party prepares themselves for the last leg of the journey to Mount Timir.

Rewards:

  • none
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Session 39 - Operation Research and Relaxation
The party clears a crypt, finds a tantalizing clue, and gets lunch.

Party:

NPCs:

The adventurers advance on the mausoleum below Zamali, intent on clearing away the undead menace that lies within it. After steamrolling another miner wight, they follow the last flaming skull into the depths of the dungeon. Bartholomoo sets off a trap, hampering their movement. Larkin maneuvers for a better shot but is surprised as a fossil skeleton leaps at him from the stone wall to his back. The combatants whirl in a deadly dance, but ultimately the adventurers are victorious.

The undead seem to have ransacked this place, as well; it seems that everything worth taking has been taken. A cracked stone tablet, a memorial detailing the deeds of a king of an ancient kingdom, is their sole reward. They bring it, the ancient armor, and the ancient dagger to the surface.

Larkin notes that they have fought three distinct groups of undead and brings up the possibility that someone, somewhere was controlling them. The party admits the possibility. Bartholomoo, however, still wants to use the underground city as the party’s lair. Zahar mentions that Voor might be able to direct them to a more upscale lair.

Farooq is pleased to see the party. He feels that the artifacts will prove a welcome distraction to Voor, a belief swiftly borne out when Voor overhears Farooq’s conversation with the party and comes to Farooq’s office to see the artifacts. The two scholars argue over the provenance of the items before Voor identifies the armor and dagger as being of an eladrin make from before the wars which putatively split the unified eladrin race into the eladrin, the elves, and the drow. Zahar realized that the glyph is revered by the Valenar elves as part of their ancient history, as part of a myth about an ancient kingdom up north. Voor requests that the party assist him in researching this topic, but Larkin and Zahar note that they need rest. Larkin agrees to return the next day to write up notes on what they saw in the old city and continue their research. Farooq directs them to the accommodations that he has arranged, and the party sets out across Zamali.

The house Farooq sends them to is not luxurious, being as it is on the wrong side of the camel tracks. The area does have several taverns and a place to bathe, which comforts the party somewhat. Larkin finds an acceptable elven wine and is chased across Zamali’s rooftops by the city watch after acquiring a pair of burglar’s gloves. Zahar talks to the rats and pigeons to get the local news. Bartholomoo looks and looks but can’t find any minotaurs. After their business is concluded, they eat and go to sleep.

The following morning, the adventurers return to find that Voor has contracted mummy rot, and that Farooq is taking him to the doctor. The young scholar instructs the party to continue the research on their own, stating that they have access to an excellent library and a community of scholars. Unfortunately, none of that helps. All that they uncover is that there might once have been a city in a mountain up north that may have been by a lake. The only real lead they have is the connection between the glyph Farooq and Voor noted on the dagger and the Valenar Elves in the north and northeast of the desert.

Rewards:

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Session 38 - Operation Miner Details
The adventurers delve further into the ancient city.

Party:

After clearing the concourse, the adventurers stop to take in the sights of the underground civilization they’ve just uncovered. They have found themselves in part of a grand concourse lined with massive monuments. The size of the visible area and the ruined market surrounding it indicate that this was once a space where many people gathered. Rubble surrounds the open area, and a vast metal slab that was once a rooftop blocks off one end of the concourse.

The party hears the clink of a pickaxe through another wall, but cannot locate the source of the sound. Larkin locates what might be a tunnel leading to it, but loose debris blocks the way, as though someone had dug their way through beforehand.

Zahar inspects the metal roof and finds a chunk of it that appears to have come loose from the rest. Bartholomoo is able to open a way through the roof, revealing part of the facade of a ruined building. As the path opens, Bartholomoo and Zahar see light within the ruins.

Bartholomoo suggests selecting their direction through the use of an ancient minotaur ritual, paper-rock-scissors. Unfortunately, he does not know the rules. Zahar thinks flipping a coin would be best. Larkin suggests using the way that is already open, and the rest of the party concurs. While they argue, however, a floating skull sees them and shrieks a warning.

Larkin storms in first, followed by the rest of the party. They fight what seems to be another party of undead, intent on mining the place for valuables. Bartholomoo and Zahar take down a wight miner, and Larkin fires on the floating, flaming skull. A fossilized skeleton appears from the wall and gives the archer a hard time, but Larkin gives it a merry chase across the chamber. At last the foul things are defeated, and the adventurers acquire some valuables and some ancient armor.

Bartholomoo, weakened by the recent fights, suggests returning to the surface to rest. Larkin argues that they should press on and make the ruins as safe as possible for any scholars who might follow them later. Bartholomoo thinks the opening is a partially collapsed hallway or a hallway that had been filled by rubble. The heroes set to digging it out, eventually revealing a mostly smooth hall leading to a crypt.

The adventurers hear activity in the crypt; this is surely the miner they heard earlier. As they advance, they see another undead miner and another flaming skull. Larkin takes the first shot, using all his skill to pierce the miner hiding behind the sarchophagus with both an arrow and an insulting comment. The undead hide themselves out of view of the crypt’s doorway, and the party advances down the hallway to engage them. Bartholomoo rushes to the door of the crypt and warns him companions of the threats he sees as the curtain draws on another exciting cliffhanger!

Rewards:

  • 350 XP ea (15,049)
  • Branchrunners (Adam)
  • silver fire elemental statuette x1 (1500 gp)
  • 200 gp
  • Ancient Armor
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Session 37 - Operation Maser
Bartholomoo drags the party to some labyrinthine catacombs.

Party:

NPCs:

After returning to Zamali with Voor after the resolution of the affair at the Oasis of the Golden Peacock, the adventurers remained in the city.

Rewards:

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Session 32 - Operation Oppresso Liber
Our heroes mount a rescue.

Party:

NPCs:

The party jumps the guards at Voor’s prison

Rewards:

  • 313 XP each (11757)
  • healing potion x2
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Session 31 - Operation Exposition
The party reads and then plays music.

Party:

NPCs:

Torclaw brings Emrett Mazrid’s diary to Lindwell. Lindwell examines the book, but he does not notice the curse on it. After attempting to read the book and activating the curse, he is able to dispel it and read the contents.

The book is filled with intellectual self-aggrandizement, half-baked speculation, and details of Mazrid’s inspiration and current plans. Mazrid was a member of the Brotherhood of the Peacock, an association of scholars dedicated to preserving the knowledge of the Order of the Golden Peacock, and ancient circle of druids who once inhabited the Oasis of the Golden Peacock. Mazrid, thank to a possibly fraudulent geneaology, believes that she is a descendant of on of the members of the order, and that the power of the oasis is her birthright. She must bathe the obelisk at the center of the oasis in the blood of a sacrificial victim to achieve her ends. Mazrid has concluded a d├ętente with Hazar, the flawed, immortal guardian of the oasis. Since then, her raiders have been stealing books and people to further her ends. Voor, who sank Mazrid’s academic career, was seized as a sacrificial victim, and Mazrid is ready to conclude her plan. She indicates a correspondence with an individual known as T, whom Lindwell remembers as Amrit Perrigan.

After reading the book, Lindwell tries his best to get back into Mint’s good graces, promising her access to her taste buds and ice cream. Mint, mollified, answers many of Lindwell’s questions regarding the oasis and the Order of the Golden Peacock. She mentions a gateway to the feywild somewhere in the lake, though she doesn’t remember its exact location. She notes that the oasis attracts kinds of birds that shouldn’t be in a desert at all.

Lindwell and Krenal decide to scout the location of the last fight. As they survey the carnage, Krenal notices two points of egress from the camp. A well-traveled track with bootprints from numerous individuals leads one direction; the tracks of a running satyr lead another. Mint lets Lindwell know that she really likes satyrs, so he suggests they follow it. The Hoff handles the tracking, and soon enough they find the errant satyr.

The satyr seems relaxed when they find it playing a flute. The Hoff joins in with his tambourine, frightening the satyr. It demands to know who they are; Hoff tries to soothe it with his music. Lindwell watches the scene and considers the chain of events that dragged him here as Mint demands he get the satyr to play its flute. Lindwell plays his own flute badly, but manages to amuse the satyr and it acknowledges them as fellow musicians. It inquires as to why mortals have traveled so far into the desert. Lindwell name-drops his patron, the Lady of Spices, and requests a performance for her. The satyr complies, which satisfies Mint, who demands that Lindwell grant it a boon. Lindwell does so, granting the boon personally rather than as an agent of the Lady of Spices. The satyr accepts the boon and requests that the party inform Mazrid that its business with her is done. The party asks where she might be, and the satyr gives a list of possible locations; she might be on the island, she might be giving instructions to the eladrin raiders, or she might be persuading one of her warriors to leave his new paramour. (Said warrior was enjoying a company of a dryad that he thinks is an elf.) The satyr also stated that Mazrid was probably not to be found at Hazar’s lair. It also reveals the location of Mazrid’s boats. Now bored, the satyr says goodbye and swims away to a portal to the feywild at the bottom of the lake.

Lindwell notes the location of the portal for future use. The party decides to travel around the south of the lake, taking the path less travelled. Before reaching the boats, however, the adventurers stumble across the prison of the missing scholar, Voor.

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Session 30 - Operation Overdue Books
The adventurers kill some fairies and seize some books.

Party:

After the battle with the hawks, Krenal and Lucien go scout around the oasis. Torclaw, Rickshaw, and Bartholomoo consider their path into the Oasis of the Golden Peacock. Rickshaw scouts ahead and finds a dusty path with little cover.

The party gets their first good look at the oasis. A lake lies in the center of the oasis. In the center of the lake is a small island. Lush vegetation surrounds the lake. The oasis is dominated by a tall butte at its eastern edge. Birds can be seen everywhere, particularly overhead. A thin column of smoke rises from the edge of the vegetation.

The heroes decide to avoid the road and approach the oasis from directly north. Their stealthy approach lets them surprise a group of fey creatures around a large tent. The spriggan guards fight to the death, and the party slays a quickling that attacks them, but a satyr manages to escape. The party loots the campsite, recovering quite a bit of treasure. Torclaw finds Emrett Mazrid’s diary and accidentally activates a magical curse meant to protect it. He sets it aside for someone more magically inclined to take care of later.

Rewards:

  • 275 XP each (11444)
  • boots of grounding (Torclaw)
  • cold iron dagger
  • triptych painting depicting sinister looking nymphs and satyrs cavorting under a swollen full moon (250 gp)
  • silver chalice studded with moonstones (250 gp)
  • egg-shaped, multi-faceted black gem held up by a delicate silver frame (350 gp)
  • fashionable outfits x8 (75 gp ea)
  • pairs of stylish shoes x4 (50 gp ea)
  • expensive cosmetics and vials of perfume (200 gp)
  • 34 sp
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Session 29 - Operation Gumbo Hawk
Wherein our protagonists cross a desert and collect ingredients.

Party:

NPCs:

The caravan to which Bartholomoo and Krenal have pinned their fortunes sets our for the Twilight Pass, which leads them up through the Great Scarp to the desolate highlands of the Escul Desert. As the temperature increases, Bartholomoo suggests to Haram that he will need to perform a ritual on his party to protect them from the intense heat. Haram reproves him, noting that delay will be detrimental to the caravan, and Bartholomoo subsides. Bartholomoo, encased in heavy armor and covered in fur, can’t take the heat, although Krenal seems unaffected. The cleric does take the opportunity to cast Endure Elements after they make camp.

At last, the party arrives at the trading town of Zamali to find that it has been raided. Bartholomoo leaps into action and assists the townsfolk in putting out the fires. Krenal sticks close to the caravan, watchful for danger, until it reaches Haram’s compound in the city.

Once the fires are out, Haram brings a couple of scholars back to his compound, questioning them on recent events as they arrive. The scholars, Farooq and Akilah, tell him and the party that the raiders who attacked the city took their mentor, Voor. Akilah believes that the raiders are the same group which has been raiding other towns and stealing books. Bartholomoo volunteers to recover Voor and convinces the rest of the party to join him. Farooq and Akilah lead the party to the spot where the raiders were last seen. Bartholomoo secures camels and ensures the party is protected from the high heat, and then the party sets out.

The adventurers follow the path of the raiders, staying as close as possible while concealing their own presence. Bartholomoo’s magic keeps them healthy and fed along the way. Eventually, they arrive at the outskirts of the raiders’ destination, the Oasis of the Golden Peacock, without being detected.

Lucien attempts to scout around the oasis but is detected by hawks patrolling the area. The party fights fiercely, slaughtering the raptors. Krenal suggests using the downed birds as rations, perhaps in a gumbo. Bartholomoo loses control to his inner beast, ignoring his allies’ wounds until the last hawk is dead. As a sort of peace returns to the desert, the heroes take a breath and contemplate their destination.

Rewards:

  • 283 XP each (11169)
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Session 28 - Operation Bartholomoo and Karl's Escort Service
Totally Sean's idea to call it that. Not the DM's.

Party:

NPCs:

The adventurers leave Nissus Point with Bartholomoo’s new shield and return to New Port Chalmers. Blizzacane claims his spot on the town square immediately. Bartholomoo goes to the mayor’s office to inform Thor of their failure on Nissus Point. Thor is disappointed but unsurprised. While they chat, the mayor notices the device on Bartholomoo’s new shield. He identifies it as a shield produced in Hestavar, home of Pelor, and typically given to heroes marked by the sun god. Bartholomoo then tells him about the revelation that led to minotaur to the Underground Temple of Pelor, particularly the instructions to go to the Land of the Sun and fight evil forces there. Thor mentions that Haram, whom Bartholomoo has never met, is in town and might know more about the Land of the Sun.

Blizzacane and Bartholomoo go to the inn to find Haram. Bartholomoo is immediately distracted by the availability and variety of Karl’s unique local beverages, eventually ordering one of each. Blizzacane steals the Bacondunkel while Bartholomoo is distracted and tells Karl that the Apple Lager and the Golden Stout were emptied over the course of the journey, which pleases the innkeeper. Karl points out Haram, but Bartholomoo staggers out the door and collapses by the street. Blizzacane moves toward Haram, but his sister finds him and drags him off to see her new residence in the church and meet her new friends.

Bartholomoo’s repose is interrupted by Marshal Daguerre’s boot. Daguerre suggests that Bartholomoo find someplace to sleep other than the street and notes that the inn is quite close. Bartholomoo returns to the inn and suddenly remembers that he should ask the merchant about the Land of the Sun. Haram is pleased to find another potential guard for his caravan, and asks Bartholomoo to join him on his journey to the Escul Desert – known to its residents as the Land of the Sun. Bartholomoo agrees. A drow paladin, Krenal, also offers his services, and Haram allows him to come along after a brief, esoteric evaluation. The merchant warns them that the desert is a harsh place and that they should be well prepared. Forewarned, the two stock up on equipment, rituals, and components before joining the caravan. On the day of their departure, they are joined by Lucien, an elf Haram had recruited earlier.

The journey across the Azure Plains is uneventful on the first night. The second night, however, Krenal stands guard in trance as an arrow pierces the darkness near him! Lelz and two razorclaw shifters emerge from the darkness and assault the paladin. They fail to bring him down immediately, however, and Krenal raises the alarm. Lucien and Bartholomoo struggle toward wakefulness as Krenal stands alone against their foes. The drow casts a cloud of darkness around himself, blinding the shifters and Bartholomoo. The three stumble out of the darkness, and soon a whirling, bloody battle begins in earnest as each combatant maneuvers for maximum advantage. The shifters eventually drop, and Lelz takes that for a cue to leave combat. He flees into the darkness, but Krenal, who can see in total darkness, follows after and drops him. The bodies are dragged near the campfire, and the party returns to sleep and trance.

In the morning, everyone wakes refreshed, including Lelz. He rushes the staked horses, leaps atop one, digs his heels in, and escapes laughing. Haram is not pleased with the loss of a horse, but he is much happier not to have lost a wagon or a guard.

The caravan resumes its journey, arriving at the Twilight Pass in the Great Scarp four days later. There they camp, preparing to enter the desert the next day.

Rewards:

  • 283 XP each (11169)
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Session 27 - Operation Permutations and Combinations
The party faces math problems, recalcitrant plants, and spatial anomalies.

Party:

NPCs:

After the forced departure from the bandits’ camp, the party makes its way through the forests of Nissus Point. Along the way Bartholomoo receives a vision instructing him to test himself, that he might be worthy to travel to the Land of the Sun and oppose evil forces there. Bartholomoo follows the path revealed to him unhesitatingly, and the rest of the group follow.

Bartholomoo leads the party to an old campsite. Although the rubble strewn around the place has been weathered by the passage of a few months, this place is a part of Nissus Point that is familiar to Blizzacane and Lindwell; it is the campsite where the bandits were excavating in hope of finding the Evocation of the Lesser Sun. Bartholomoo and Blizzacane mistake the old tarp covering the ladder down for a giant piece of cheese, and Blizzacane runs off with it, hogging its cheesy goodness for himself. (Woe, then, that it was merely tarp-flavored.) The path down revealed, Bartholomoo is drawn under the earth.

The caverns that Blizzacane, Jorma, and Lindwell cleared of bandits are clean now. The old crates are stacked neatly near the ladder. Sunglobes dot the roof of the cavern, brightening what was once dark and dangerous. Akiva Stein, the sole resident of the caves, is found installing another sunglobe, and is pleased to have company. He offers to show the party the second floor, and they accept. However, when the party descends through the hatch, they find themselves on the staircase of the Underground Temple of Pelor again. A voice calls to them, urging them to complete the trials of Wisdom, Power, and Courage.

The first test is the test of Wisdom. The voice requires them to solve a mathematical conundrum before proceeding. Lindwell calculates the correct number of sets in the solution, and the party moves on.

The second test is the test of Power. Three plant creatures assault the team. A Vine Horror immobilizes them all immediately while its allies move in for the kill. A Shambling Mound seizes the middle of the room and flails about with its massive tendrils. A Dryad slips around the room, appearing and disappearing around the Shambling Mound for maximum advantage. Lindwell blinds the Shambling Mound to him and his allies for a while, allowing them to avoid its wrath for a while. Blizzacane slips through the enemy formation and draws a few of their attacks towards himself. Torclaw slips and slides and throws and stabs, spreading massive damage around. Bartholomoo does all he can to sustain his allies. After the Vine Horror is dispatched by the adventurers, Lindwell manages to force the Shambling Mound to attack the Dryad several times. The Shambling Mound drags Torclaw into its mass as the Dryad puts its bulk between her and her enemies. Bartholomoo charges and knocks her to the ground, whereupon Blizzacane rushes in to assist. Torclaw escapes the plant’s grasp and pays in kind, punishing it for its failure to move. Soon, both remaining plants are laid waste, and the test of Power is complete.

The third test is the test of Courage. Once again, the third room is divided by a vast chasm down its middle. One of the lion statues from its previous incarnation stands on one side; another lion statue roars silently across the chasm. The party tests for secret bridges and finds none. Torclaw lassos the far statue with a rope, then secures the other end to the near statue and crosses over that way. Bartholomoo rashly leaps into the chasm, but plunges into the darkness. Realizing his folly too late, he grabs at the rope and misses. Shocked, the party has no time to process the event when Bartholomoo falls from the gap in the ceiling and grabs the rope! He then passes over the chasm normally. Lindwell asks Torclaw to ready himself to grab the warlock, then teleports over. Blizzacane takes to the rope with his usual athleticism.

The trials complete, the party enters the final room and obtains a reward! A throwing shield, which Bartholomoo claims, is the gift of the powers of this place. The adventurers are exhorted to seek the Land of the Sun once again and are transported outside the caves.

Rewards:

  • 250 XP each (10,886 total)
  • Throwing Shield (Bartholomoo)
  • 1600 gp (Bartholomoo)
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