On the Knives Edge
November 30, 2012

Jan 11, 994 at about 3:30 a.m. (party gold = 22,308)

In the last segment, the party just defeated Nosnra and the iron dragon Feramaug and hit a milestone.

After carefully considering plans, the group sent Ja’Elle up the stairs where he found a single room with a single unlocked chest. Inside were 21 bone scroll tubes. All but one of the tubes were empty, which contained note signed by Obmi referring to King Snurre, and urging Nosnra to increase the raids against humans after meeting at Howling Crag.

Next, the group sent Ja’Elle into what appears to be Nonra’s treasury. Ja’Elle sprung a trap but with some luck avoided falling into a pit. After leaping back and forth across the pit, Ja’Elle brought the contents of three treasure chests back. He kept LVL 17 +4 repulsion leather armor. Tyzzer kept the bejeweled gold scepter (7,500 gp) and gold-emroidered vest sewn with gems (2,500 gp). Tyzzer fastened the gem to his bastard sword, making it a LVL 15 +3 righteous weapon. Kissandi took the LVL 17 Cloak of Resistance +4. Tyzzer took the platinum brooch shaped like the holy symbol of Lolth (2,500 gp) and four gems worth 500 gp each. The group left a chest with lots of gold pieces (4,000 gp) in it and a cask of excellent wine (500 gp) here to pick up later, if possible.

Next the group sent Ja’Elle into the stream and had him swim a short distance toward the mines. Ja’Elle didn’t get far before calling the others into the cavern. As the party entered, four umber hulks burrowed up from underground and attacked. Bui recalled an ally. Tyzzer helped his allies shift back. Ja’Elle was slippery enough to escape and Rowena stayed back far enough that eventually the party was able to retreat far enough that the umber hulks stopped their pursuit. Only one umber hulk was damaged in the battle. This was a close call for the party, but a crafty escape.

Next, the party decided to go to the other part of the mines. Partway in, out of the dark, two tentacles grabbed Bui and Rowena. A cave roper started to real Bui in. Rowena was able to break free. Out of the shadows, Ja’Elle darted in and critically hit the beast. Tyzzer charged in to defend his allies. When the roper was bloodied, Bui planted the standard of the silver dragon and used his own glorious presence to quickly reduce the will of the enemy. Rowena eventually came up to attack from close quarters. The roper was never able to land a direct bite, but did further weaken the party. Ja’Elle dealt the killing blow to the roper.

After the roper was defeated, 10 dwarf slaves emerged from hiding saying the stone giants had left them here, the orc slaves were gone, and thanked the party for defeating the roper. The group found more treasure including a golden skull with gems for eyes (1,500 gp), a cured displacer beast fur (1500 gp), and 1200 gp loose in coins. The coins were added to the other chest with loose coins. Tyzzer took the skull and fur. The dwarves carried the treasure chest now with 5,200 gp and the cask of excellent wine (500 gp).

The party next went to the smithy and released the fire elemental that was imprisoned there after Rowena used her ritual to communicate with it, asking it to destroy the cultists on the main floor.

The party went up to the main floor and found a secret door in the single room Ja’Elle had been in with the unlocked chest. The door led to Nosnra’s den, which had chairs covered with stitched human skin, and a mounted head of a great white stag on the wall. Kissandi was found laying on a bearskin rug. After reviving Kissandi, the group decided to continue out of the Steading.

The dwarves hung back in the great hall as Ja’Elle scouted ahead. The cultists were in the entryway. A negotiation went wrong and it turned into a battle. After a fairly quick battle, Tyzzer was knocked unconscious. Bui and Kissandi dropped their weapons. Rowena ran from the Steading. The cultists yelled for Rowena to stop. She did not. Airnys, the Imix cultist leader sent rivulets of fire at both Kissandi and Bui, knocking both unconscious. Ja’Elle snuck away and escaped through a chimney. Before he escaped, Ja’Elle saw evidence that the fire elemental had done some harm to cultists. He also saw Laerthar the stone giant and his two stone giant allies dead amongst many dead cultists from a recent battle.

Tyzzer, Bui, and Kissandi were captured by the cultists.

Rowena and Ja’Elle both made it to the cave where they found each other and Javok. They requested Javok get help. He said it would take days to a week for him. Ja’Elle and Rowena planned to await help.

Until next time…

Nosnra and His Pet Dragon
November 10, 2012

Jan 11, 994 at 3:00 a.m. just after an extended rest… (total party gold = 22,308 gp)

After receiving instructions from the cultists, the group descended to the lower level, with the distinct possibility that they just saw their last extended rest. If they clear the lower level, the cultists may allow them to live.

From the bottom of the stairs, Tyzzer scanned the room. Ja’Elle scouted ahead and noticed some movement behind a nearby door. Soon later another battle with Nosnra began.

Two hill giant avalanchers met the party in the doorway. Two orc ruffians hit the gongs repeatedly during the battle. Nosnra and his wife, Morzul, used ranged attacks to start the battle. The stone giant, Laerthar, used his petrifying gaze throughout the encounter.

Bui kept Nosnra from attacking for several rounds of the fight, before Nosnra finally saved out. Ja’Elle made his way around the battlefield, felling enemies quickly. Tyzzer and Bui held the giants at bay, while Rowena stayed back in the stairwell and used ranged attacks to help weaknen the giants.

The group made quick work of one of the hill giant avalanchers, one of the orc ruffians, and Morzul.

Nosnra, the other hill giant avalancher, and Laerthar held their own. At one point, Ja’Elle and Bui were petried and Tyzzer was unconscious, with Rowena in the stairwell. Nosnra used this chance to escape. The second orc ruffian also ran away during the fight.

Two additional stone giants showed up with ten more orc ruffians.

Once the second hill giant avalancher died and a few of the orcs were destroyed by Rowena, the other orcs made a run for it.

Hope was fading for the group as the stone giants looked fresh and the party was out of healing powers. Laerthar offered an olive branch…allow he and the other two stone giants to leave and they would stop fighting. After a quick negotiation, the party told Laerthar that leaving via the stairs they descended would be sure death at the hands of the cultists above. Laerthar said another stairs could be found, but Nosnra and his dragon would be in the way.

The group decided to take a short rest and were urged by a small, old man in a red cloak to use a ritual to redistribute their healing surges. They spent 10 minutes and then tracked Nosnra to a room with walls bristling with spears.

Ja’Elle slipped in, found a dragon and got back out. Rowena never entered. Tyzzer and Bui entered. The portcullis descended with Ja’Elle and Rowena out and Tyzzer and Bui inside. The dragon and Nosnra quickly did over 90 damage to Bui and knocked him unconscious…

Tyzzer revived Bui quickly.

Bui and Rowena neutered the dragon. Bui reduced the dragon’s damage by 10 and Rowena used mass resist lightning to reduce the dragon’s damage further. Bui recalled an ally and brought Ja’Elle past the portcullis. Rowena got their on her own with her fey step lacings.

The group worked away. Tyzzer proved to be quite the fighter again in both battles, dealing damage as much or more than directing others to deal more damage. Ja’Elle delivered the killing blows to both Nosnra and Feramaug, his pet dragon.

Moments in both battles looked like sure defeat. With a strange turn of events with the Stone Giants and great battle tactics by the party in the battle against Nosnra and Feramaug, the group came out victorious so far.

What awaits next could bring great reward or could all crumble beneath the group.

Kissandi still needs to be found. There must be treasure here somewhere. There is surely more to kill in the mines – for sure that rock beast with a long reach that had been described earlier. Could there still be dwarf slaves there? The unnatural flame in the forge must be investigated. The tenuous alliance with the Stone Giants may prove helpful or costly. Another staircase is nearby. Can it be used to sneak past the cultists, or will the cultists be there, too?

Will the heroes escape the Steading? So many possibilities for next time.

Cut Scene - A Deal You Cannot Turn Down‏
November 7, 2012

You are weakened to the point where fighting the cultists is a certain and quick death. (Kissandi – unconscious and captured by the giants, Tyzzer 1 HP & 0 surges, others unknown but not as good without Tyzzer & Kissandi)

After a short discussion, the leaders of the two groups of cultists approach Rowena, Bui, Ja’Elle, and Tyzzer.

Clearly upset by the unexpected turn of events, Airnys (Imix cult leader – Red Robed Mage Type Leader) and Erogani (other cults leader, Drow Arcane Guard) address the four of you. They seem not fully convinced that you follow Imix. However, they make it clear they want to give you a chance to prove yourselves as true believers. To do this, they say all who dwell in the Steading must be destroyed, and you must destroy them.

The cultists say the only way you will prove that you are true believers is to enter the lower level and clear everything living. If you perish in this mission, you will be celebrated as martyrs for the cause. If you survive and clear the Steading, you may be spared your lives and recognized as true believers depending on how you accomplish this victory. If you do show faith and you honor Imix by destroying the hill giants, their allies, and any other living creatures in the lower level of the Steading, and then make a great sacrifice to Him, you will be bestowed with Imix’s grace.

On your honor and your word that you will do as they have ordered, the cultists post guards over you and over the stairwells, so giants do not emerge/escape while you take an extended rest and level up.

You are given your weapons back as you descend the stairway, knowing that you must clear the level, likely without the chance to take another extended rest and at least initially without Kissandi who was taken below by the giants. If you clear the lower level, you may still escape with your lives.

Rowena endures the high fever through the night and recovers her will. She has bested Greater Moon Fever and is back to being the “normal” Rowena again. The fever is gone and there is no longer a penalty to her Will.

One Side Retreats, the Other is Captured!
September 14, 2012
  • January 10, 994 around 5:30 p.m.
  • Major fight against the giants continues.
  • The new kitchen staff arrives to aid the giants.
  • The next round, Morzul (Nosnra’s wife), Laerthar (the stone giant), and 14 young hill giant arrive.
  • Rowena uses her fey step lacings to teleport away from the party and into the fray with the young hill giants. She destroys all but one of the young hill giants and an ogre with a single fire attack.
  • The party focusses fire on Vaarg and destroy him.
  • Ironjaws, Nosnra’s bear, is killed.
  • Several more giants are killed.
  • Kissandi is knocked unconscious and is dying.
  • She is stabalized with two strikes.
  • A hoard of Imix and some other type of cultists arrive.
  • It seems Nosnra thinks they have arrived to aid the party.
  • Nosnra orders the giants to grab the elf. They push forward, grab and drag Kissandi to and down the stairs.
  • The party allows the cultists to surround them, eventually surrendering weapons to them.
  • Meanwhile, the drow-led cultists (non-Imix worshippers) destroy a giant who is stopping them from pursuing Nosnra and the others. The Imix worshippers destroy the last ogre and a giant who were in the front line of the battle versus the party.
  • Attempts to bluff and negotiate with the cultists are neither a complete success or failure.
  • We end in quite a predicament. Kissandi is an unconscious prisoner of the giants who have descended to the lower level Tyzzer has 1 HP and 0 surges. Ja’Elle is surrounded by faceless cultists. The cultists have taken begun to take control of the situation, and it appears the party may be captives.
  • Next time, what tact will the party attempt to make the most of this turn of events?

Total party loot: 22,308 g.p.
Current conditions: Kissandi unconscious and captured by Giants, All others hurting and ‘captives’ of Imix Cultists. All have more than enough experience to level up after the next extended rest.
Date and time: January 10, 994 at 6:00 pm

A Little Ruse and a Series of Fortunate Events
August 31, 2012

Notes 8/31/12

Continue fight!
• Nosnra shoots a crossbow at Rowena, but I bravely intercede and take the brunt of the attack, convincing Nosnra that we are willing to negotiate
• The chief tries to take our weapons and we protest, but eventually give in. Nosnra’s hill giants take the weapons we dropped.
• Alex leaves Steven hanging with a double high-five, but eventually comes around with a burner!
• Vaarg needs to be forcibly removed from the hall. Rowena taunts him mercilessly about his dead wolves.
• Kissandi and Rowena continue to feel the effects of the werewolf’s attacks after the fight. We are worried that they might become infected with lycanthropy.
• Bui attempts to convince Nosnra to reveal his plans, but Nosnra insists that we should have brought information.
• Bui and I convince Nosnra to allow us to accompany a scouting party to Utini and Agion, but he will not give any information about his giant allies.
• We are escorted to the stone giants’ room to spend the night.
• Bui heals Kissandi of his affliction, but Rowena says she can shake it off. Woof.
• Tyzzer asks the hill giant guarding our room if we can worship at the temple.
o Bui convinces Nosnra to let us go with an escort. Nice job, Bui!
o Entering the temple, Bui recognizes that this is a temple dedicated to The Elder Elemental Eye.
o The reflective surface on the wall behind the alter shows monstrous reflections of us.
o We move up and Bui and Kissandi investigate the alter. Kissandi spills her blood on the alter.
o Bui steps around the alter and gazes at the mirror. A “Y” shape is burned into his forehead. He feels the urge to do something bad . . .
o Bui attacks Kissandi! Kissandi leaves the alter. She’s just not that into this.
o Bui is compelled to touch the alter, which causes a large purple gem with black veins to materialize.
• Bui takes the gem and is freed of his domination and scar.
o Rowena approaches the alter and discovers that the wall behind it is a link to the Far Realm. Can we destroy the link?
• No.
o We head back upstairs with our proof of the temple (gem).
• Ja’Elle does his sneaky thing even though there is a hill giant in the room guarding him.
o Tries to hide under the bed. The giant sees him all the way.
o Ja’Elle tries a different tack “I wanna show you a trick . . .” Ja’Elle hides from the giant.
o The crafty halfling then charges in and smacks the giant up.
• The giant doesn’t stand a chance.
o Ja’Elle walks around for a while, gets bored, then returns to the room.
• The gang returns the room to find it dark and suspicious. Ahh, Ja’Elle.
• As we sit around stratergizing, suspicious giants come in to attack us!
o Big fight
o The chiefy joins the fight!
o Vaarg and some more wolves join the fight!
o Rowena puts up a strategic Wall of Fire in the hallway
o We are holding our own, and in a good position, but how many waves of giants can we take on?
o To be continued . . .

The Demise of the Steading: Part 1 by Tyzzer Zaneen
August 17, 2012

January 10, 994 at 2 a.m. Tyzzer Zaneen writes:

After enacting Ja’Elle’s entertainer plan to rid the Steading of a few more giants, our company retreated to the safety of the cave from which we first set out, making sure to cover our tracks through the river in case we were being followed. As we approached our cave, which we assumed was well hidden, several of us noticed a small light as if from a hooded lantern, or a child’s nightlight in the back of the small cavern. Ja’Elle scouted ahead and felt confident enough to announce himself. The three figures turned around, and we recognized our fellow adventurers, Laeralin, Fumaro, and Tekal, who had come to offer help and information.

Laeralin gave us two notes left by Javok, the orc we freed. One was from Javok letting us know the context of the other note and telling us of an unnatural flame the dwarf slaves wanted us to check out in the smithy forge. This second note was from PR III to Nosnra, the hill giant chief, and made it clear that the mysterious PR III is behind the hill giants’ raids. It also suggested a religious aspect to the evil that has befallen our beloved country, which I believe makes it even more imperative for us to investigate the temple underneath the Steading in order to know exactly what the motivations of our enemies are, and potentially discover a weakness in their defenses. If nothing else, it will make sure that we are prepared for whatever we are to face in the weeks to come. The second note also gave us the information that reinforcements would be arriving at the Steading in the next day.

At this point, the three travelers asked to talk to us, dividing into two groups. Tyzzer, Ja’Elle, and Kissandi talked with Fumaro and Tekal, while Laeralin talked with Rowena and Bui, the two with elven blood. We did not share much information from these discussions, but it can be assumed that what we talked about helped form our strategy going forward.

I believed that with the giants at the Steading weekend, and reinforcements still at least a day away, our best strategy would be a straightforward assault on the giants. After discussion, however, it became clear that posing as the reinforcements might allow us to infiltrate farther into the heart of the Steading. This could allow us to obtain the information we seek, namely the map of the other giant fortresses, without having to fight. What swayed me to this tactic was the argument that even if this plan failed, we would still be able to enact my “kick the evil giants’ asses and take the map” plan. The note indicated that the reinforcements would prominently display red diamonds on their attire, so with the help of the druid Fumaro, we gathered berries and made a dye with which to paint our armor and robes. It was decided that there was no way to disguise Ja’Elle, so he would pose as a prisoner, giving further credence to our story that we (the imposter reinforcements), met with the heroic adventurers who had previously attacked the Steading (us), thus winnowing our numbers. With a plan in place, we slept as Laeralin, Fumaro, and Tekal kept watch.

The next morning, we set back out to the Steading with the intention of approaching from the road we assumed the reinforcements would come from. As we made our way to this road, we spotted a large group heading toward us. The party hid, while Ja’Elle scouted. Ja’Elle confirmed it was a giant raiding party including three hill giants and eight bugbears. Once the group got within range, we attacked! We were able to make quick work of them with Rowena showing her strength by dispatching the bugbears in two bursts of flame, and Kissandi flying across the battlefield slashing with her falchions that never seem to miss. These were not the reinforcements mentioned in the note, but they were undoubtedly heading to the Steading, so is was fortunate that we were able to fight them on the road before they joined with their evil kin.

We continued on our way and were eventually hailed at the front entrance of the Steading. When the gates opened, we were confronted by a grotesque giant named Vaarg and several large wolves. We introduced ourselves as the anticipated reinforcements and confidently demanded an audience with chief Nosnra. Cautious but convinced, Vaarg escorted us into the great hall, which was much how we left it. The chief, his pet bear, the stone giant named Laerthar, and several other hill giants occupied the chamber with Vaarg and the wolves. We had determined that Bui would pose as the leader of the group, so he began persuading Nosnra that we were indeed the reinforcements he was expecting, and trying to get him to reveal his plans. The chief was clearly more interested in making our “prisoner” Ja’Elle pay for what he had done the day before, but Bui was able to convince him that the halfling was a valuable source of information and that PR III would be angered if we killed him without first questioning him.

After several tense minutes of diplomatic negotiations, Nosnra finally seemed to believe our story, then asked us to prove our faith. At this point it seemed inevitable that our ruse would be discovered. I attempted to appease the chief by kneeling, but Bui did something I did not anticipate. He attempted to push Ja’Elle into the smoldering fire in the center of the room. Ja’Elle resisted, but I caught on to Bui’s intent and confidently walked through the fire, making a show of reveling in the flame. I emerged on the other side quite injured and still on fire. Bui followed suit and did not fair any better.

The chief was still not completely satisfied and commanded Vaarg to challenge us to combat. The hunched giant underwent a monstrous mutation and became a fearsome, slobbering werewolf. We moved into combat strategically, attempting to keep up the ruse that we worshipped the same god Nosnra worshipped. As usual, Kissandi flew into battle with glee, while Bui and I supported from a short distance. Rowena was again a powerful force in the fight, putting the giant werewolf and his pets to sleep for a while. This unfortunately did not last for long, and the battle continued. During this time, Ja’Elle could not keep his impatient hands and feet under control, and several times attempted to move away from his spot in front of the chief. These efforts were met with threats of swift retaliation from the surrounding giants. Soon, I saw an opportunity to place myself in a strategic melee position, but quickly became the favorite target of the werewolf giant. Were it not for Bui’s healing, I surely would not be alive to be writing this account. After killing both wolves, it was clear that we would soon destroy the giant abomination. Chief Nosnra called a halt to the fight, but Rowena’s emotions were too high, and she pressed on. Obviously not a man who is used to being defied, Nosnra did not ask twice, but rather launched himself into the fray.

Total party loot: 22,308 g.p.(added wealth gained from returning raiding party)
Current conditions: In the middle of the 2nd battle since an extended rest. All except Ja’Elle spent action point. All but Ja’Elle bit by Vaarg – must save at end of encounter.
Date and time: January 10, 994 at 2:30 pm
Separate quest cards being developed from Laeralin and from Fumaro and Tekal

Tidying up the Kitchen, Meeting the Boss, and Joining the Carnival: All in a Day's Work (Ja'Elle's Account)
July 27, 2012

After escorting the prisoners out of the steading, we turned our attention back to exploring the main level. We knew the west side presented us with two choices: 1) enter the great hall and face an enemy force likely too powerful for us to defeat; or 2) enter what we believed to be a kitchen to try to convince the few orcs in there to either assist us or NOT assist the giants. What we didn’t know was what was waiting for us on the east side of the steading, so we concluded it would be a good idea to find out before deciding what to do next.

After a brief discussion about how to proceed, we moved into position in the hallway leading away from the entry area. As we approached, Kissandi spotted a secret – not really secret, but certainly hidden – door leading directly into the great hall. We decided there was no reason to concern ourselves with this door, and instead gathered around the double doors leading east. We could hear many voices speaking in what was presumably the hill giants’ tongue, so we had a pretty good idea of what was on the other side of the doors. Everybody readied themselves in case we were spotted and needed to act fast. Once the group was ready, I opened one of the doors as slowly and as quietly as I could. I – with Kissandi peering inside as well – was able to see three young hill giants in what appeared to be sleeping quarters. Other voices were coming from farther into the room, so we knew there were more than just the three of them. With those inside being preoccupied with what they were doing, they did not notice us. Just as I had done opening the door, I slowly and quietly closed it again. Kissandi and I quickly whispered to the group what we had seen inside, and we all agreed there was no need to start a fight with the young hill giants at this time. We quietly made our way back down the hallway, with the kitchen as our next destination.

We arrived without incident in the hallway that leads from the great hall to the kitchen, then proceeded to take up our positions. I was to cover the door leading from the great hall just in case there were any stragglers, while the rest of the group would be barging into the kitchen in a show of force intended to intimidate the few orcs we expected to find in there. I moved to the door leading to the great hall while the others gathered outside the kitchen door and had a brief whispered discussion, presumably to decide who would be throwing open the door. Kissandi stepped forward, firmly grasped the scalp we removed from the fire giant, leaned heavily into the doors, and pushed them back with great force. I could see her pause ever so briefly, and the sounds of activity coming from inside made it clear she was looking at more than just a handful of orcs. No matter! Kissandi strode forward confidently as planned, and I could see her toss the scalp out in front of her as she walked into the room and out of sight. I heard her say in a loud voice, “THIS will be your fate as well unless you help us defeat the giants!” For several seconds, not a single noise could be heard coming from the kitchen. It was clear Kissandi had gotten the attention of everybody inside, but what would their reaction be? Bui stepped inside the room to join Kissandi, and I could hear him saying (to the orcs, I assume), “If you help us, we’ll let you live!” It was obvious at this point that we were going to have a very tough fight on our hands, so the rest of us rushed forward to join the fray. I saw Tyzzer and Rowena step into the room as I was making my way to the doorway. It was at this point that all hell broke loose!

I made it to the kitchen doorway, and peered around the corner. Instead of entering a small kitchen with a few orcs, we walked into a kitchen suitable for feeding an army! There were two large ovens on the west wall, two large work tables in the open areas, a couple counters in the southeast corner, and numerous barrels, containers, and kitchen utensils all over the place. The kitchen staff consisted of two female hill giant cooks (near the ovens), three ogres (evenly distributed around the kitchen), and 15 orcs (essentially all over the kitchen as well). The giants were not armed, the orcs all had stone knives suitable for carving meat, and the ogres had extremely long spiked chains. Tyzzer, Kissandi, and Bui had already entered 15-25 feet into the kitchen and were facing the bulk of the enemies, while Rowena had hung back closer to the doorway to provide ranged support from a safe distance. Kissandi and Bui were both shouting to the rest of us to NOT attack the orcs, and instead to concentrate on the ogres. It was clear the ogres were directing the orcs to fight, while it was equally clear the orcs were more afraid of the ogres than they were of us. The ogres used the orcs as a protective shield while staying close enough to attack with their long chains. Meanwhile, the hill giants saw no reason to get very close to the fighting, instead relying on hurling at us whatever was handy.

Trying to hide in these conditions was out of the question, so I knew I’d have to rely on my speed to be effective. With almost all of the enemies’ attention being drawn to the others, I was able to dart into and out of the fighting a couple times. I landed a few good hits, but there was no way this strategy was going to be effective if the enemy decided to roll up our left flank. Then…

Way to go, Rowena!

She nailed a handful of baddies with a spell that resulted in five of them (one ogre, one hill giant, and three orcs) falling to the floor, sound asleep! That’s just what the doctor ordered! Now I could finally dive into the action! As I was bolting forward, I could see that Tyzzer, Kissandi, and Bui appeared to be starting to gain the upper hand on the right flank. When I arrived at the downed ogre, I plunged my knife into him and made sure he didn’t get up again. When I looked up, I could see one of the orcs fleeing the battle and cowering behind the table at the north end of the room. It was at this moment that Kissandi broke from the horde on the right flank and ran to finish off the downed hill giant. She was going to need some help, with the other hill giant so close. I scrambled over the table and moved into position next to Kissandi, who had just started to work on the sleeping hill giant. We finished the job quickly, but at the cost of one boiling hot cauldron being thrown at us by the other hill giant. I was able to sidestep it, but Kissandi wasn’t so lucky. She was hurt, but still battled on!

A quick look around showed things were definitely looking up for us. The three previously-sleeping orcs had awoken and were trying to make their way for the south doors, obviously no longer interested in fighting. The hill giant stood alone in front of an oven, looking more desperate than intimidating as she reached for whatever she could find to throw. Toward the center of the kitchen were two ogres – one still untouched – and a handful of orcs. Since the ogres were our primary targets AND I knew Kissandi would have no trouble with a hill giant cook, I decided to head directly for the closer of the two ogres. That meant climbing over the table again, but this time I stayed on it to try to catch the ogre off guard. Unfortunately for me, he saw me coming and swung his chains at me when he thought I had lost my footing. Unfortunately for him, I was only pretending to lose my footing in the hope that he would take the bait and swing at me. The gamble almost proved costly, as the ends of his chains whistled past the tip of my nose. Avandra was looking out for me, and with her help I was able to close in on the ogre and land a devastating blow. Shortly thereafter, Bui’s glorious presence sapped what was left of his will to live. Two ogres down and one to go!

We were able to make quick work of the remaining ogre, so I hustled after the orc who had slipped out the north doors while the rest of the party went to help Kissandi finish the last hill giant. The terrified orc was cowering in the dining room just off the kitchen and he refused to return. I told him there was only one hill giant remaining, but he said he was not moving until she was dead too. Moments later, the party finished off the hill giant and I was able to convince the orc to return. The other three surviving orcs also returned, and we gathered as much information as we could from them. They told us of a powerful giant – more powerful than the chief – who used trained large wolves in battle. When we had finished interrogating them, they agreed to help us. However, they were not able to produce a volunteer to carry out the plan of spiking the giants’ drinks. So, Kissandi chose a volunteer and told the other three to go free. The “volunteer” orc summoned his courage and delivered as many drinks as possible to the giants in the great hall. Our goal was to make them as drunk as possible, in order to give us an advantage when fighting them. Once the orc was done, we sent him on his way as well. All the pieces were now in place for us to launch a most audacious plan, involving me standing face-to-face with the giants in the great hall. Gulp!

We had discussed the plan earlier, so everybody had a general idea of what to do. We returned to the entry room and reviewed the details one last time. We were fortunate to have gotten this far without any major problems, but I was wondering if our luck would run out while I was standing among the giants. I suppose there was only one way to find out. Bui, Rowena, and Tyzzer went outside to set up the location for the “performance,” while Kissandi and I approached the main doors to the great hall. I removed my bracers and gauntlets to appear as ordinary as possible. Kissandi paused for a while, and I am pretty sure she asked for guidance or protection from the Raven Queen, or both. I was glad she did, because I was beginning to think we would need all the help we could get. We waited a moment to listen – just to make sure the party was indeed still going, which it was. Kissandi and I pushed open one of the massive doors just wide enough for a human to fit, I took a deep breath, then casually strode into the great hall as if I was just a traveling performer who had lost his way.

I’m not sure whether I was surprised or not that I was able to walk nearly past the fire pit before any of them noticed me. I suppose they were busy having a good time, and there was no reason for them to be on their toes since they were in the great hall of their fortified steading. It’s not like somebody could just slip in and start killing everything in sight and hope to survive. But, I digress…
As I approached the fire pit, the hill giant there who appeared to be in charge of cooking the meat saw me. He didn’t seem as surprised that I appeared as much as he seemed surprised at seeing a halfling for the first time. He said something to get the attention of a huge – even by their standards – hill giant seated in the center chair along the north wall. I glanced around quickly to see the hill giant chief, five hill giant guards, one stone giant, and a massive bear. I can’t say that I’ve ever felt especially tall in my life, but at this moment I was feeling especially small. The chief was also clearly seeing a halfling for the first time if the look on his face was any indication. He asked me who I was, and I explained that I was part of a group of traveling performers who had gotten lost. We were hoping to find a safe place to stay for the night, and in exchange we would be willing to put on one of our shows. The chief was reluctant, demanding to know how I had gotten inside. I told him his guards stopped us at the front gate, as I had no doubt he had instructed them to do. I did assure him at this point that his guards were actually doing their jobs quite admirably, making sure some group of strangers didn’t just come waltzing in. I further explained to the chief that his guards demanded proof that we were indeed who we said we were, so my colleagues were outside performing for the guards. I was allowed to enter, since the guards had concluded that one little halfling couldn’t possible be a threat to a steading full of giants. This explanation still did not satisfy the chief, but it seemed the extra alcohol may have finally put him over the top. He appeared quite pleased at the idea of seeing a group of traveling halflings.

I thanked the chief and turned to leave. After taking one or two steps, I stopped and turned to face the chief again. I asked him if it would be possible for one or two of his guards to help us with our belongings and our animals. Our group was weary from far too much traveling, I said, and the extra help would allow us to get started sooner. Reluctantly, the chief agreed and ordered Lugnut to accompany me outside to help. I again thanked the chief, then turned to walk with Lugnut to rejoin my colleagues outside. Along the way, I was telling him what a wonderful show we have, and that all of them were in for a very special treat. As we approached the main doors to the great hall, I could see that Kissandi had left to alert the others that we were on the way. When we reached the entry room, I assured Lugnut that the lack of torches was because they were all outside being used for the performance and pointed to the light coming from outside the main gate. At this point, we could hear very clearly what sounded like a carnival going on outside. Rowena really outdid herself this time! It took a little convincing to get Lugnut completely outside, but his curiosity got the better of him and he rounded the corner of the doorway with a look of great anticipation on his face. I almost felt bad about the “surprise” he was about to receive. As planned, the party jumped out of the shadows and made such quick work of Lugnut that he was not able to yell for help and barely was able to put up a fight. Things were going pretty much according to plan, but we decided to change things a bit at this point.

Luck had been on our side while we were in the steading, but fatigue was beginning to take its toll. When we devised the plan to face the giants in the great hall, we had not counted on having such a grueling battle in the kitchen. We did win that battle, but the victory came at the cost of sapping more of the precious little energy we had remaining. So, instead of returning to face the giants inside, we decided to wait outside and hope they would come to investigate. After a few minutes, the chief was yelling for Lugnut. We could not make out what he was saying because he was speaking in the hill giant tongue, but it was clear his patience was wearing thin. We were hoping he would send out one or two of the guards to find out what was happening, but the chief decided he wanted to find out for himself. We could hear the sound of several giants approaching, so we remained hidden just outside the main gate in order to ambush them. Unfortunately, they stopped in the entry room and the chief began shouting again. We heard Lugnut’s name a few more times and what was undoubtedly a lot of cursing aimed at us, but none of them made a move out of the darkness. In an act of desperation, I stepped into the doorway to try to convince the chief that Lugnut and the other guards were still around the corner enjoying the show. I did not need to see or even hear the chief to realize he was no longer buying the traveling entertainers story and was just trying to figure out what was REALLY happening. The chief grunted something, then we could hear footsteps leading away from us and presumably toward the bodies we had hidden at the base of the stairs.

The giants now knew that something was terribly wrong – from their perspective – and we knew they would want to strike hard and fast to exact revenge on those who invaded their steading, killed many of their comrades, and freed prisoners. Knowing this and knowing they would likely muster all their available forces, standing toe-to-toe with them in the doorway was no longer a very attractive option. We quickly decided that we needed to put some distance between us and the steading so that we wouldn’t be overwhelmed. We stopped about 200 feet away in order to see if anybody was following us. After a while, a hill giant guard came out of the main gate and looked around. He found Lugnut’s lifeless body and went back inside. We decided to continue watching and listening. When we heard the howling (wolves perhaps?), we decided the time had come to fall back to a safer location.

Should we make our way to the cave and try to get an extended rest, or should we try to set up an ambush for those who are tracking us? A successful ambush would likely give us the time we need for an extended rest, but a tough fight may be more than we can handle without resting first. We stand, once again, at another crossroads…

Priorities (in no particular order):
Major quest: The stone giants, frost giants, and fire giants have hidden strongholds in the mountains. Look for a map or some other clue that reveals where these allied strongholds are located.

Special Quest: Free the Dwarf Slaves– The hill giants have captured several dwarves, and the dwarven clanholds (Bofgim, Thokak, Vonhak) have posted generous rewards for their safe return. PARTIALLY COMPLETEDFIVE SENT WITH JAVOK

Minor Quest: Rescue Zandor Caskerhill – The hill giants have captured Zandor Caskerhill, a human merchant who has ties to local nobility in Estias, the Finnara family. Locate and rescue him. COMPLETEDSENT WITH JAVOK, ALTHOUGH ZANDOR WAS KNOCKED OUT BY KISSANDI

Minor Quest: Find the Abandoned Temple – The hill giants have built their stronghold atop an old dungeon complex, within which is rumored to be an abandoned temple. Find this temple, explore it, and bring back proof of your discovery.

Total Party Loot = 20,308 g.p.
Engraved stone tablet from Belastraya to Laerthar (Rowena)
2 Milestones: 5+ encounter since last extended rest.
Time: Currently around 2 am on January 10, 994.

A Well Set Ambush and Setting Slaves Free
July 13, 2012

After some planning, Ja’Elle scouted out the area. He peeked in a door and saw two hill giant torturers torturing a half-orc and a dwarf. Then, he explored a passageway leading around to the other side of the torture chamber and also to the smithy.

The group planned to lure the hill giants out towards into an ambush in another room. Kissandi, using the hat of disguise, disguised herself as an escaped prisoner, got the hill giants attention and moved away. The closest hill giant torturer was able to catch up to her at the entryway to the ambush with a charge.

The first hill giant was quickly bloodied. The second yelled something towards the smithy and then joined the fight. Ja’Elle, Kissandi, and Tyzzer were able to keep the giants flanked and away from Rowena and Bui. Rowena and Bui used ranged attacks to weaken the giants. Bui planted the Standard of the Silver dragon and used his own glorious presence to quickly deplete the last remnants of will and energy of the giants. The group quickly dispatched both hill giants with focused fire.

During the melee, a couple of orcs peeked around the corner and then left to take word back to the smithy. Another orc sprinted off in the direction of the mines. With Javok’s help, we later guessed that he was alerting stone giants, more orcs, and dwarf slaves in the mines to our presence in the Steading.

Kissandi freed Javok, a half-orc, who had been strapped to a rack and tortured. Using her action point, Kissandi freed the dwarf from the spit above the hot coals, too. The dwarf cowered in a corner. Javok said he would do anything to help us out.

Javok, following Kissandi’s orders, charged into the smithy and attacked an orc. The orc hit him back. The fire giant forgepriest, Smolderheart, grabbed Javok with his fiery tongs and smashed him with his flaming warhammer, dealing over 60 damage. The group hustled in. Kissandi and Tyzzer worked on the minions. Bui protected the group by greatly reducing the damage of the fire giant and temporarily made it so Smolderheart could not attack. Rowena made the group fire resistant. Javok escaped the grasp of the tongs and ran, on fire, to safety.

Smolderheart quickly made his saving throw and regained the ability to attack. He grabbed Bui with his tongs. Rowena blasted Smolderheart back, releasing Bui from the tongs. The orc minions were dispatched quickly. Ja’Elle joined the fray, initially helping pick the lock on manacles that were slowing a dwarf slave. Ja’Elle and Tyzzer told the dwarves to help free each of from the manacles.

Smolderheart only got off a few hits before succumbing. Rowena scalped the fire giant, planning to use the scalp as a negotiation tool later.

The party searched all areas in the area (smithy, torture chamber, hill giant bedroom) and found 500 gp and a potion of vitality (Kissandi) in the hill giants’ bed chambers.

Javok spoke with the party, sharing a little more information about what is in the lower level and brainstorming what to do next. Javok says he was initially captured while trying to do reconnaissance here. Then, while leading an attempted orc revolt, he was quickly captured again and brought to the torture chamber where you found him. He learned about the stone giants commanding the orcs and watching the dwarves in the mines, about a rock beast with long arms guarding the entrance to the mines, and that part of the mines were off limits to the slaves.

After much discussion and planning, the group decided to use Javok to escort the slaves to freedom, asking him to return to the hidden cave near the Steading and wait for the party, once all are delivered to safety. He agreed. This will likely take him days to accomplish and return.

Ja’Elle scouted to make sure the residents on the upper level hadn’t discovered the breach yet. It appears they hadn’t. The party that we heard still rages on in the great hall. All is quiet on the western side of the Steading, in the wake of our group’s path.

The coast appears clear. All 17 former prisoners slowly and quietly followed the party to the upper level and to the entrance. Javok led the prisoners out.

Rowena used a ritual (cost 270) to see what is in the great hall while Ja’Elle and Kissandi investigate what appears to be guest chambers occupied by Stone Giants. After Kissandi successfully picks the lock, we found 10 500 gp gems (5000 gp), 700 gp, and a stone tablet engraved in dwarven to Laerthar from Belastraya.

Ja’Elle notices an orc slave going back and forth from what we guess is a kitchen to the great hall.

The group discussed the best strategy going forward. Should they try to find poison or a way to get the giants to fight each other? Should they attack the main hall? Should they enter the kitchen and try to get the orc slaves to help? Should they explore more?

Ja’Elle scouts out the passage leading to the eastern side of the Steading and hears many giantish voices there, too.

In the end the group decides that the great hall is likely too much to handle right now. The kitchen and the great hall seem connected by the food supply, so the group decides to hold off on the kitchen, too.

The next point to attack is the eastern side of the Steading, in hopes of depleting the giants forces, possibly gaining a prisoner for a negotiation, and hopefully not alerting the great hall to our presence and joining in a fight. Having a plan of escape may be necessary as many of the party have only a couple heal surges left.

Priorities (in no particular order):
Major quest: The stone giants, frost giants, and fire giants have hidden strongholds in the mountains. Look for a map or some other clue that reveals where these allied strongholds are located.

Special Quest: Free the Dwarf Slaves– The hill giants have captured several dwarves, and the dwarven clanholds (Bofgim, Thokak, Vonhak) have posted generous rewards for their safe return. PARTIALLY COMPLETEDFIVE SENT WITH JAVOK

Minor Quest: Rescue Zandor Caskerhill – The hill giants have captured Zandor Caskerhill, a human merchant who has ties to local nobility in Estias, the Finnara family. Locate and rescue him. COMPLETEDSENT WITH JAVOK, ALTHOUGH ZANDOR WAS KNOCKED OUT BY KISSANDI

Minor Quest: Find the Abandoned Temple – The hill giants have built their stronghold atop an old dungeon complex, within which is rumored to be an abandoned temple. Find this temple, explore it, and bring back proof of your discovery.

Total Party Loot = 20,308 g.p.
Magic Item Update = Potion of Vitality (Kissandi)
Additional Item Update = Engraved stone tablet from Belastraya to Laerthar
2 Milestones: 4 encounter since last extended rest.
Time: Currently around 11:30 pm – midnight on January 9, 994.

A Quick Path to the Lower Level
June 30, 2012

Ja’Elle coordinated a plan to help cover tracks or slow the sounding of an alarm. The group divided out. Tyzzer and Bui unhooked the gong. Kissandi, Ja’Elle, and Rowena listened at doors. Ja’Elle put some minor obstructions in the way of the main entry doors. The group piled the dead bodies of the ogres and hill giants on top of the gong in the center of the stairwell, out of sight of those initially walking into the room. The lights were extinguished. It seems pretty certain that there is a party behind the large double doors.

The group entered the small double doors near the stairs and found a hall where lights were extinguished. The group stealthily entered another hall and listened at another door. Snoring was audible.

The group quickly entered the room. Before any coup de graces, Rowena stumbled over some furs and awakened the 6 sleeping ogres. The group made quick work of the ogres, but not before the ogres yelled for help.

The group considered descending a staircase, but two stone giants entered the battle seconds later from the door the party had used to enter the room.

The battle with the stone giants took something out of the party, but the giants were defeated as Tyzzer momentarily supplanted Bui as healer.

The group searched the ogres room and then decided to descend to the basement/dungeon level of the Steading.

The large room housed two bugbear guards stationed by gongs. One of the bugbears yelled for help. The two bugbears were quickly killed.

Rowena was able to burn 8 bugbears to death with one spell. Kissandi battled the bugbear captain while the others worked on 2 carnivorous apes and a hill giant jailer. Many crits later, the group defeated the enemy, with Bui barely bringing down the bugbear captain before he could escape and alert others. During the fight, Ja’Elle was knocked unconscious twice, but healed by Tyzzer.

After the battle, the group gained Forgemaster’s Gloves (Kissandi) and a Thundering Battleaxe +3 (Tyzzer – may pay 7500 gp later to move the gem to another weapon). The group freed 11 human slaves including Zandor Caskerhill. Tyzzer was able to slightly calm Zandor, before Kissandi reduced Zandor to tears and shrieks of fear again. Kissandi knocked him out and dragged him back into the cell.

The other prisoners agreed to wait in the cells until the party can help them escape. They were glad to give the party information about the nearby smithy and torture chamber, about the mines, and about the temple. The prisoners refused to go to the temple, describing it as “an evil place.”

You’ve gone 3 encounters. You know how many daily powers and action points you have left.

What you (think you) know:
Prisoners shared info about what they knew about the basement/dungeon level: a Smithy & adjacent Torture Chamber (fire giant forgepriest, 2 hill giant torturers, possibly more), some mines (dwarf slaves, possibly more), and a temple that the prisoners call “an evil place.” There are some unknown areas in this level beyond those mentioned by the prisoners or explored by the party.
On the main floor, the party perceived a party happening in a great hall in the center of the building. There were several other parts of the main floor unexplored, too.

The plan for next time:
Start with the Smithy area (also adjacent to the Torture Chamber)
Then going back upstairs to clear things out room by room.
At some point, the group (especially Tyzzer) wants to save the dwarf slaves from the mines and the human slaves from the cells.
An extended rest may be needed in the near future.
The group wants to find a map or information about the location of the other strongholds of the Stone, Frost, and Fire Giants.

Have the giants on the main floor discovered the uninvited guests yet? How long does the party have before they switch from hunter to hunted? How long can the group hold out before needing to rest and recuperate before launching another attack on the Steading?

All this and more next time!

Against the Giants (A New Alliance)
June 9, 2012

December 21, 993-Dec 30, 993:
After meeting with Shem Wartburg, of Standhall, the group set out to sell items and upgrade.

Bui visited other priests, selling a Belt of Resilience and buying River of Life Gloves. Rowena helped Bui upgrade his Holy Symbol from +1 to +3. Bui also bought a Circlet of Continuity from a local merchant.

Ja’Elle sold several items to members of thieve’s guilds including a Deathstalker Dagger, an Abyssal Adornment, and Knifethrower’s Gloves. Tyzzer upgraded Ja’Elle’s armor from regular leather to Magic Leather +3. Ja’Elle bought a Hat of Water Breathing and Gauntlets of Ogre Power from local merchants. He bought an Eleven Cloak +3 from a member of the Woodland Justice Network (WJN).

Kissandi bought a Belt of Vim from a local merchant. Bui gave Kissandi a Hat of Disguise. Tyzzer gave Kissandi a Ring of Fireblazing and Bracers of Speed.

Rowena sold a Staff of Fiery Might and Bloodthread Armor to members of the WJN. She bought Feystep Lacings from another member of the WJN. Rowena was willing to buy without negotiating because she supported the WJN, she gained a good name and was gifted 3 items. These included a Circlet of Arcane Extension, an Elixir of Luck, and a Fey Step Potion. She also bought Bracers of Mental Might from a Corellon worshipper.

Tyzzer returned on Dec 28, 993 and met back up with the group.

Tyzzer sold a holy symbol of Ioun and books about Dagon and demons. He bought Bracers of Respite from a local merchant. He trained a friend of Nan on the martial practice of Temporary Fix along with some gold in exchange for gaining training in the martial practice of Uncanny Strength.

He met Sarax, a dragonborn hero/wanted man, and bought Dragonborn Greaves. Sarax asked for Tyzzer’s assurance that he would lead the group against the giants, and seemed satisfied with Tyzzer’s response. Tyzzer has heard of Sarax before. Sarax is know currently as one of the most most wanted on the crown’s list. He used to be one of the greatest known heroes of the realm, knighted as a Scarlet Guard by King Goodwell IIs father, King Goodwell. He was honored for having repelled the last know giant raid in eastern Terkent, decades ago. He did this with wit, weapon, and leadership. Compared to what has been rumored today, this was a very small giant raid. In the past year, Sarax was accused of abandoning his god, Bahamut, for coin and was said to leading a revolt against the kingdom and the crown, possibly allying with enemies of the land. He denied the charges, but was convicted in Lambasa and sentenced to 20 years in jail. When Adalaentar attacked Lambasa, he escaped jail (at the same time as Craynor and others escaped) and has been a wanted escaped criminal ever since.

Tyzzer has decided that someday, after dealing with the giants and Adalaentar, he plans to return to meet with Shacrois Nuadil, the gold dragon, to try to understand the dragon’s interest in the ancient city of Seegold.

Ja’Elle bought 10 Potions of Healing and 2 Potions of Cure Moderate Wounds to distribute to the party. Each PC took 2 Potions of Healing. Bui and Tyzzer each took 1 Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds.

After all the selling and buying, the group has 14,792 g.p. remaining.

On January 2, 994, the party went to Glim about mid-afternoon.

Ja’Elle and Kissandi took to the streets. Ja’Elle found a female halfling rogue who said her name was Rixi. She and Ja’Elle shared stories about the recent increase in business in Glim. She said she knew or knew of Knix, a more recent contact of Ja’Elle’s from Lambasa. Ja’Elle felt that he made a good connection with her. Kissandi watched to make sure nobody was watching Ja’Elle.

Bui, Rowena, and Tyzzer went to a local bar and spoke to 2 humans and a dwarf. 1 human and the dwarf seemed like local town guards, on their time off. The other was very interested when Tyzzer mentioned the meeting of heroes at the Vortex. The non-local human seemed to want to hitch a ride with the party to get into the meeting. He was denied.

The streets in Glim are very busy with locals, farmers, urban folk, and many adventuring types.

The group arrived at the Vortex tavern and inn a little early, around 7:30 to scout the place out. A somewhat disturbing flag flew over the establishment.

From across the street, the a man, looking at the group said, “Looks like FREAK NIGHT at The Vortex tonight! Ha, Ha, Ha!” Rowena used mage hand to give him a wedgie.

All but one of the entrances were closed. The open entrance to this riverfront business was guarded by two armed guards, a dragonborn and a goliath. In front of the at a makeshift table, sat a slight, frail older human named Carnavon.

One by one, Carnavon asked each character a series of questions. An old friend, Atli, helped Carnavon screen those coming through. Kissandi would not lie about being an elf and did not have an elf ID. After some convincing by Ja’Elle and Tyzzer, Kissandi returned and was allowed entrance into the tavern. Before entering Kissandi was asked why she protected Ja’Elle, was it for the dragon or against the dragon? Carnavon gave all of the characters a silver cufflink in the shape of a hand.

Rowena used a ritual to help protect the groups privacy in conversation as they entered The Vortex. A loud din of noise emanated from within as the group entered. A mixture of regular folks and those hardened by adventure were within. It was nearly body to body in areas near the bar and most every table was taken.

Above the noise, a female dwarf named Rokel and a young male halfling named Neff argued about the usefulness of adventurers in the world. Rokel seemed to think the world would be better without them. Neff was the #1 fan of all adventurers. Tyzzer tried to make good with Rokel, somewhat unsuccessfully. Neff, when introduced to Tyzzer and Ja’Elle knew about Tyzzer’s returns from the dead and Ja’Elle being a Chosen One. Neff was a little excited (understatement) to meet the heroes, running up and down the bar, telling everyone who he has just met.

The group sought out some others in the bar. Rowena spoke with Malifer, an older sage who said he mostly studied and did a little adventuring. Tyzzer and Ja’Elle spoke with a group of adventurers that Tyzzer knew (Alphariel, Vani, Xabier, Gaard, and Steel). Kissandi hung out in the corner. Bui spoke with Shivon, Thorn, Itzam-Ye, Ara, and Nashwa El-Nar briefly because Shivon was Shivon.

Several guards entered, clearing the bar of anyone who did not receive a silver cufflink in the shape of a hand. Neff and many other locals left. Still, many heroes remained in a very full tavern.

Carnavon introduced Sarax. Rowena remembered a very similar history about Sarax to what Tyzzer remembered above.

Sarax directs the action. He said, “I am pleased that you have all made it here and made it through our screening. My apologies for the necessity of the door check, but in troubled times, we can never be too sure that those who oppose what is right have not sent spies or infiltrators…now, on with our business. We have sent word to those we trust to ask your presence in coordinating our defenses, and more importantly our OFFENSE versus that powers that mean to destroy or subjugate us. For some of you, there will be a choice in how you can help. For others, the choice has already been made. It is up to you whether or not to accept it and join with us. Together we can accomplish anything. Apart, despite all of our best efforts, we may never see the ends we hope to see. h. Now it is time to lay out the dangers that we face and some of our strategies for each. We want you to be aware of all of our missions so we can coordinate with each other should something happen to any of the leadership of our newly formed network…"

The Mission(s):

Information Gatherers

  • Fire related incidents have spiked. Are these from Adalaentar, copycats, or what? It is unlike Adalaentar not to claim his exploits and try to put fear in the populace. We need investigations into these incidents happening in many areas of eastern Terkent in order for us to find their source and put a stop to it.
  • Rhendlichian Elves – We need to uncover whether the claims of the crown are true. Are Rhendlichian elves behind the problems we face in Terkent? Have these elves invaded? Do they have connections to the WJN? Or are these lies? Without answers to these questions, our search for the reasons behind our problems, we cannot get to the root of the problem. This will involve work on both continents.
  • The Scarlet Guard – Why have some of the Scarlet Guard gone astray of the law and used their titles to harm a populace and others looking to help, especially after they were honored for helping the same groups of people? An investigation that begins in the capitol is in order. This will need to be a quiet investigation.

Alphariel shouts out, “Down with the Red Piss Legion!”

Sarax continues:

  • The Woodland Justice Network, our allies in the past, seem to be splintering. We need more information about what is happening and if they are to be trusted or to be considered a threat to civilization. We need information seekers.

Agaro, a dwarf rogue-like character, slammed his fist on the table and said, “What does it matter? These are minor concerns. Unless the giants and Adalaentar can be dealt with, all the rest is meaningless!”

Sarax – “I like your vigor Agaro and I will get to that in due time. Send him some another ale, on me.” (Agaro stops, Sarax continues) “As you all are aware, our power is not yet strong enough to deal with Adalaentar head on. At some point we will. But, for now, we must learn new ways that will allow us to defeat him. We will need both wit and weapons to do this. With the showing before me, I know it can be done!”

Agaro – “Then what will we do about the dragon now?”

Carnavon – “The demands of the dragon continue. For now, the crown and our raised taxes have at least partially pacified Adalaentar. We do not have the power to defeat him…yet. Sarax believes that in time, we…you will.”

Sarax – “Enough, let’s go over our attack forces, those to protect eastern Terkent from immediate threats through direct action…"

  • Brigands & Bandits – seemingly small threats, they must be dealt with. Some of you are suited to help in this way, gain experience, and be able to help in greater ways in the future.
  • Aberrants from the Far Realm have entered our world in several locations. Some of these entries have been shut down. More is needed to be done. We have word from good sources that a town in Bala-dul, named Wellspring, has seen a very recent explosion of issues likely related to this Tear of Ioun. All signs point this way. (the sight near the Forlorn Tower) We need a group that will go here immediately.
  • Giants – this is our greatest and potentially worst threat aside from the dragon right now. Giants have been raiding civilized lands in large bands, visiting death and destruction upon villages, towns, and farmlands. Entire militias have been conquered, whole crops have been wiped out. Marauding bands consist of mixed groups of hill giants, stone giants, frost giants, and fire giants, as well as ogres and other monsters allied with giants. The closest giant stronghold – and the greatest immediate threat to the safety of nearby settlements – is a great timber fortress populated by hill giants, known simply as the hill giant steading. The hill giant chief routinely plunders farms and threatens trade roads. He has gathered other creatures to his banner and uses them in his brutal raids. The hill giant alliance with more powerful kinds of giants, such as frost and fire giants, is a matter of grave concern. We need to:

1. Protect eastern Terkent from an immediate threat through direct action

2. punish marauding giants, banish them from civilization

3. Deal with the Steading, located among secluded foothills of King’s Mountains. It is close enough to civilized lands, Estias and Erya, and the main mountain path and pass in that region, to be a source of great concern

4. Break the enemy alliance

5. Find the Hidden Strongholds – The stone giants, frost giants, and fire giants have hidden strongholds in the mountains. Look for a map or some other clue that reveals where these allied strongholds are located.

6. We need those of Terkent, bound to protect Terkent, and experienced enough to take this, the most difficult of our missions. I have spoken with my great scout, Nan Hornberg, and he had recommended someone I thought dead until very recently. Tyzzer Zaneen, I need you to lead your companions in this mission?

Tyzzer receives a bit of guff from his comrades, ignores them, and accepts the mission.

Sarax – “Volunteers can sign up with Carnavon. Others will be assigned to roles we best feel suits them.”

Agaro – volunteers to help versus the brigands & bandits or spy in any of the info seeker missions.

Atli – volunteers to help investigate Scarlet Guard

There is much movement and interest from the other adventures.

The group enters the back room with Sarax and he goes over the mission, Against the Giants. His advice:

  • Nan Hornberg and a small band have been sent as scouts. Look for them in nearby towns to get more specific advice.
  • Gather information you can in the region nearby to uncover whatever you can that will aid you in your attack on the giants fortifications.
  • You will be attacking the Steading, a fort. You would do best to not alert them as you approach & enter. We send you, a small band of experienced adventurers, because we believe a full out frontal assault is less likely to succeed than sending you.
  • Only by destroying the alliance can we put down the giant uprising for good.
  • Follow any clues that point toward the sinister hand suspected of uniting giants.
  • As payment for your help, you can have all mundane items you need and are entitled to keep whatever treasure you find.

The group receives a major quest: The stone giants, frost giants, and fire giants have hidden strongholds in the mountains. Look for a map or some other clue that reveals where these allied strongholds are located.

Information I have learned about giant races (you may want more):

  • Earth Giants (Hill) – territorial, enslave weaker creatures (chaotic evil), they are raiders
  • Stone Giants – distrust strangers, little concern for smaller creatures (unaligned), they have brute force
  • Frost Giants – might makes right (evil), tactical
  • Fire Giants – enjoy testing mettle vs. formidable adversaries (evil)

Location of the Steading of Hill Giant Chief – foothills of King’s Mountains, near Estias and Erya, and the path and pass into the King’s Mountains.

The group goes to find Nan Hornberg, scout for Sarax. Using another useful ritual from Rowena, the group finds him pretty quickly in Estias. The surrounding farmlands have been heavily damaged, as has the city. Some activity remains in the city.

The group talks to Nan. He reconnects with Tyzzer and then advises the group:

i. Set up a safe place outside to retreat to if needed. He identifies a cave for the group.

ii. However, once inside, do not leave and allow them to fortify their defenses. Do not yield ground.

iii. Long rests will allow them to fortify their defenses.

iv. Their raiding groups may return if you rest too long.

v. Don’t approach the Steading openly, guards in watchtower will spot you.

vi. Remember to follow any clues that point toward the sinister hand suspected of uniting giants.

vii. Only by shattering the alliance can we succeed.

viii. Give the group a map he and other scouts made of the exterior of the Steading.

Advised by Sarax and Nan, the group seeks out more information from locals. This party gains the following information:

  • Determined to repel the invaders, local lords have begun hiring brave adventuring parties. The first few groups didn’t fare well. Some crushed beneath the boulders and jackboots of rampaging giants, while others went into wilderness, never to return.
  • One questions whether Rhendlichian elves are behind the giant alliance.
  • One questions whether Scarlet Guard, and maybe even King could be corrupt and part of a bigger problem.
  • One asks, could the dragon be convinced to defeat the giants to gain all their wealth?
  • The closest giant stronghold – and the greatest immediate threat to the safety of nearby settlements – is a great timber fortress populated by hill giants, known simply as the hill giant steading. Nosnra (pronounced noz-en-rah), a grossly fat and thoroughly despicable hill giant chief, rules from this stronghold. Sly and vicious, the hill giant chief routinely plunders farms, ambushes merchant caravans, and threatens trade roads. He has gathered ogres and other vile creatures to his banner and uses them as fodder during his brutal raids.

The group adds three minor quests:
1. Special Quest: Free the Dwarf Slaves– The hill giants have captured several dwarves, and the dwarven clanholds (Bofgim, Thokak, Vonhak) have posted generous rewards for their safe return.

2. Minor Quest: Rescue Zandor Caskerhill – The hill giants have captured Zandor Caskerhill, a human merchant who has ties to local nobility in Estias, the Finnara family. Locate and rescue him.

3. Minor Quest: Find the Abandoned Temple – The hill giants have built their stronghold atop an old dungeon complex, within which is rumored to be an abandoned temple. Find this temple, explore it, and bring back proof of your discovery.

The group scouts out the safe cave and the Steading. They spend the first night and the entire next day watching to see if raiders leave or return. None are seen. There is movement in the watchtower.

The Steading: A massive timber stronghold hides among the hills. The well-worn trail that you’ve been following ends before a pair of 15-foot-high doors made of ironbound logs. Thicker logs comprise the walls of the stronghold. The wooden roof inclines toward the middle, reaching a height of 30 feet at its peak. The stronghold has no windows, but a squat watchtower overlooks the entrance. Smoke rises from numerous stone chimneys.

A log guardhouse stands apart from the main stronghold, but connected by a palisade wall of vertical logs 15 feet high. Heavy doors set into the palisade lead to a courtyard lodged between two buildings.

The group debates several approaches and choose to follow advice from Sarax and Nan and check the front gate. Ja’Elle and Kissandi stealthily approach, listen, and then crack open the front door. A well-lit entry room where guards are snoring loudly, but almost drown out by what sounds like a nearby party, coming from deeper areas of the Steading.

After the others in the party arrive at the entrance, Ja’Elle and Kissandi try to sneak in to try to kill the sleeping hill giant and 4 ogres. Kissandi stumbles over a large sack, rattling the metal within and awakening the giant.

The giant stands and throws a rock in the general direction of Kissandi. Kissandi kills one of the minion ogres in its sleep. Ja’Elle rushes over and knocks out the giant, but the giants yell awakens the ogres. The other three ogres are dispatched quickly, as is the giant.

Three more giants descend from the watchtower to do battle with the party. Tyzzer directs others to get in extra attacks. Kissandi and Ja’Elle get into hand to hand combat versus the giants. Rowena even gets in the mix, centering several blasts and bursts on many of the giants, setting a couple on fire. For quite some time, they cannot put it out. Bui deals some ranged attacks and helps with healing, too. The pack a pretty strong whack with their clubs, but the group makes quick work of them.

The group is in pretty good shape after the first encounter. Only 1 daily was used, no action points. The only real harm was in heal surges spent. No worthwhile treasure is found in this entry hall or in the tower.

Next time, will venturing further into the Steading prove more difficult than beating sleeping, drunken ogres and giants? Which of the double doors will the party open first?

The total party loot is now at: 14,387 g.p.; the party has had 1 encounter since an extended rest. It is around 8:00 p.m. on January 9, 994.


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