Strange Alliance

Recon
RP before the Keep
  • Codrus told Peanut the mission details: We need you to explore as much of the Keep as you possibly can. We are not sure how much of it will still be accessible. Gather any information you can as to the fate of Kalarel and the status of the portal to the Shadowfell. There is no need for a map of the Keep, but I’d appreciate a full status report. For example, take note of things like the number of rooms accessible, the number of blocked hallways, condition of the outer fortifications, etc.
  • Codrus also warned Peanut that humans, goblins, and even orcs in Kalarel’s service have been discovered with the Shadow Curse Mark. Valthrun gave Peanut a journal containing his research on the curse, and asked that the team try to ascertain how Kalarel is employing it. Record any information you come across, including how affected individuals are changed.
  • Peanut asked about Valthrun’s rather ominous statement that “most” people were saved from the mines. The sage replied: “The paladin Bazdal used his body and warhammer to brace a clutch of rocks that threatened to crush Cagan and Brandis. While this did allow them the time to scramble to a safer place in the mine, Bazdal suffered tremendous internal damage. We were able to free him from the mines with the others, but he died a few hours later despite the best efforts of Falsun and Juvaliah.
  • Valthrun, Junaliah, and Sister Lenora will try to find additional supplies for the team before they depart.
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An Explosion Rocks the Mountains
What has become of the Strange Alliance?

“Shut the door, NOW!”

Mataron was caught between his desire to smash the oncoming enemies and the bard’s insistent plea. However, as soon as Peanut rushed to his side and began to push the heavy stone door, the dragonborn put aside his thirst for battle and aided his teammate. As the ancient dwarven door slammed in the face of the oncoming spined devils and Duergar, the group was plunged into darkness.

“Well, what now?” Brund murmured.


“Guide my hammer Moradin!”

Bazdal appealed to the God of the Forge as he swung his hammer in a vicious arc, slamming into seemingly countless myconids. Although his faith was well rewarded with a massive surge of energy, his companions Cagan and Brandis were bloodied and surrounded. However, before he could heft his hammer to come to their aid, a deafening rumble and a violent tremor tore through the North Mine.

The myconids skittered away into the recesses of the cave as large chunks of rock fell from the ceiling and deep cracks began to appear in the floor. Without hesitation the paladin followed the ranger and rogue in a frantic flight towards the entrance. As the first light began to filter into the mine from the entrance, their hopes were dashed by a second explosion. Rocks, dust and debris completely blocked the passage ahead of them and started to rain down from above. One last thought flashed through each of their minds as they slipped into unconsciousness.

Bazdal: What happened to my brother?

Brandis: What happened to the others in the mine?

Cagan: How the fuck will we get the copper out now?


“They’re awake!”

Falsun and Juvaliah breathe a sigh of relief and step back to allow Valthrun to enter the room. Before any of the injured adventurers can say anything, Winterhaven’s sage holds up his hand and silences them.

“Don’t speak, and please don’t try to get up. It has been three days since you departed on your respective missions, and you all spent nearly another full day buried under the rubble of the mountain. Thanks to the dedication and skill of the miners here in Delvers we managed to successfully rescue… most of you. Falsun’s prayers and Juvaliah’s remedies have brought you back to us, but it will be a few days before you’ll be up and about.”

“Here is what we know so far; Kalarel completed the ritual to open the portal to the Shadowfell, and then two massive explosion tore through the Keep and the mountains it is built into. The subsequent concussion waves caused tremors and rockslides throughout much of the mountain range, burying many of you in the mines. As soon as you are able, Team 1 will take the portal back to Winterhaven, and then proceed to Shadowfell Keep by again travelling up the Shadow Trail. Our scouts have already dispatched several of Kalarel’s minions scattered along the Trail and confirmed that the Keep should be accessible with the help of a rock climber’s kit.”

“There is a bit more bad news I am afraid. While we were able to rescue you all from the mines, the same cannot be said for your gear. When you are ready to leave Delvers, head through the portal and go see Codrus, he will re-equip you. We both wish that we could offer you more assistance, but as you may imagine these are lean times for all of us. Your team may have team the superior crossbow and the 40 bolts that Quarion had stored with me.”

“Rest now, and please listen to Falsun and Juvaliah so you may recover as quickly as possible. I will be in Winterhaven if you have further need of me.”


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North Mine, part 1

In the North Mine, the copper coins & bars were missing. Cagan, Bazdal, and Brandis went deeper into the mine and found a trail of copper coins, a dead dragonborn, and a nasty-looking carrion crawler. Soon, a 2nd carrion crawler appeared, but there were two surviving dragonborn brigands to help in the fight.

After they were defeated, the brigands promised to show the group where the bulk of the copper was stashed if they could keep the little bit that was spilled on the ground. The group said yes, the dragonborn were good on their word, and then the heroes turned on them and attacked – they outnumbered the bloodied dragonborn 3 to 2.

There turned out to be a dragonborn soldier and sniper in an adjacent room, and the fight was a bit more fair. However, Cagan and company handled them fairly easily, locked the copper in the small room, and pushed deeper into the mine.

Upon emerging in the next area, they were attacked by Myconids.

  • Rotpriest: fought before, the “mage.”
  • Warden: new enemy, minion, explodes into dark spores when killed (total concealment), aura effect does damage and weakens.
  • Swarm: proving to be very nasty – spawns minions when hit! It also has a damaging aura effect and a rechargable ability that grants multiple attacks.

We ended mid-battle, but not before Bazdal did a sick close burst attack, racking up 12 damage to each swarm and killing 5 myconid spawns. Since its a single source of temp HP, Bazdal added 35 temp HP!

to be continued…

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West Mine
They're just lizards, right?

Quick summary of the journey through the West Mine to the Passage.

  • Bloodied Duergar Scout (crossbow) and Theurge (powerful area effect spells) were hiding behind the partial cave in near the entrance.
  • A group of Zairtails were encountered in the first of 2 pools of standing water.
    • Swarm – moved through enemies to attack, aura 1: free melee attack
    • Gazer – blast power that dazes
    • Acidtongue – spit acid at range
    • Cutter – capable of rolling through the party and attacking everyone, if not for Mataron.
    • Bonebreaker – Bites and grabs enemies

After defeating the zairtails, the team went north and heard coughing and sputtering. They also identified some slick and treacherous cave slime between them and the noise. Mataron, honor-bound and unafraid (possibly to the point of being foolhardy) walked onto the slick surface, fell on his back, and slid down the small incline. Then, suddenly, he stopped, seemingly stuck.

As it turns out, the dragonborn was engulfed by a gelatinous cube, which only became visible once it had trapped its prey. Peanut had no choice but to follow to help his comrade, while Brund sputtered curses and fired the occasional crossbow bolt. Luckily, both Peanut and Mataron were able to repeatedly escape the Cube after being engulfed, minimizing the 10 ongoing acid damage if they remained trapped.

After the Cube was defeated, some stellar nature checks revealed the remaining contents of the cavern.
  • The coughing & choking came from an unconscious (and eventually dead) Duergar miner, who died with an empty glass vial in his hands 10 feet from a medium-sized mushroom.
  • The mushroom was a yellow morel that Salvanna had requested, infested with phycomids. These parasitic fungi were the ones responsible for the large cloud of spored, and the death of the miner.
  • The south and west parts of this cavern were covered with cloudspore mushrooms. They released a harmless cloud of spores that obscured vision for around 5 minutes. Mixed into the patch of annoying fungi was a 2nd yellow morel.

Finally, the team made it to the door, and was confronted with a challenge: open the door before the DM makes a decent d100 roll and you have another fight on your hands. Thanks to Brund’s ability to read Dwarvish, Peanut’s extensive information gathering, and a bit of successful group-think, the passage door was opened and subsequently slammed shut in the face of 2 oncoming spined devils and their Duergar masters.

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Hell has a name...
and its the Shadowfell.

Peanut, amidst almost getting killed in the black market, cultivated some new relationships and learned 6 pieces of info, some adventuring tips, and a new sidequest.

From Valthrun we learned the following:

1) The Keep was built during the time of the Nerath Empire, a widespread human empire that covered the Nentir Vale and beyond. They constructed the Keep specifically to protect the sealed portal to the Shadowfell

2) After the fall of the empire, Sir Keegan, a paladin from Winterhaven, took up residence in the keep with a regiment of soldiers. The short version of the story is that Keegan was eventually driven mad and he began to slaughter the people in the keep…. starting with his wife and children. Nobody is sure what happened next, but it is believed that eventually some of his own soldiers were able to drive him into the depths of the keep and kill him. Now, Sir Keegan’s ghost is rumored to still reside in the Keep. If his ghost can truly be found there, something must be tying him to that place. (hint hint… skill challenge)

3) The Raven Queen: She is an unaligned god that left the Astral Sea and set up a fortress in the Shadowfell. Many people revere her for her role as the caretaker of the souls that have left this world. Some say that she can call a soul back to this plane, or even keep souls for her own use.

4) Orcus, the Demon Lord of the Dead, wants to overthrow the the raven Queen and control her access to the departed souls. This is why the portal under Shadowfell Keep is so dangerous. It is near one of Orcus’ many strongholds in the Shadowfell, where he is amassing an army of the undead to stage a coup. One can only imagine the deal Kalarel has struck with the demon lord

Then, from McDonald and Wendy (the Black Market guys) we learned about Zehir:

5) Zehir: god of darkness, poison, and lies. Zehir doesnt have a presence in the Shadowfell yet, but many of his followers reside there. Zehir is not as overt as Orcus, but he has his eye on the Shadowfell as well. He is still in the astral sea, with most of the other gods. Zehir works through misinformation

Finally, Falsun briefly discussed Vecna:

6) Vecna, God of Secrets, has some holdings in the Shadowfell as well. Vecna is biding his time, waiting for the moment the Raven Queen shows weakness. Maybe he waits until Orcs and the Raven Queen fight, and then undermines the winner?

MORE IMPORTANTLY

Thoel gave us some nice tips on what to take in our adventures and a sweet side quest for some gold and XP.

T: anyways, I’d take food and clean water, several sources of light possibly of different strengths. Those sunrods brighten up the whole damn room right? But what if you dont want the whole room bright. Plus, their fire is magical, I’d bring some real flame, maybe there are some braziers to light or something. Last thing I’d bring is charcoal or chalk. Thats how we mapped the mines in the first place

P: Would a map of the passage be worth something to you, Thoel?

T: Absolutely! I’d also make it worth your while if you could tell me the state that my mine is in. If you go and pick through the old quarry, you can find a lot of the discarded red sandstones that will mark up a wall fairly well, and I can get you a sheaf of paper and some charcoal to map with.

We each need to go to the quarry to collect some sandstone for our mapping job. Peanut not being the most adept manages to kick one red stone out of a larger pile Showing it to Thoel, he confirms the find and says that you can make 10 marks on the wall.

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Down here at the pawnshop . . .
Just remember that it's flesh and bone

M: Why didn’t you guys tell me from the start that there were 10 armed guards in the back??? I’ll admit, I should have looked on my own to know that the black market was set in an abandoned warehouse; but I didn’t know about the guards until the DM’s reminder.

Well, I started out friendly; however, to my chagrin, Wendy was quite the opposite. Perhaps he was offended because I thought he was a she. Anyways, after paying what sounded like a good price for the whetstones, I asked what he thought of the amethyst we got from the dragon’s hoard in the mine. Wendy and McDonald (imagine that – co-conspirators) took the gem to a table in the back and began to examine it. Cagan noticed them switch it out for a different stone. I demanded the stone; they demanded submission. (And he called me, a dragonborn, “boy,” – that’s so racist!!) It was all that I could do, as both a proud dragonborn and a martial fighter, to swallow my pride just enough to refrain from getting physical (which would have surely been the end of us). So, I put down my weapons as a sign of peace. Peanut did a great job diffusing the situation; and eventually discovered the gambling dwarf was willing to play cards for the real stone. After three rounds of “mounds of loot” (unless it has a name already), Peanut trumped the dwarf; and got a fair price for the real amethyst. I left. If I ever see that bitch-dwarf out without his guards, his ass is mine!

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Assignments
Shuffle up and Deal Damage

All assignments are completed. Teammates in italics are linked by the Status ritual for 24 hours.

Shadowfell Keep Team

  • Eldon Jr – “Your legs are pieces of shit”
  • Mataron – still sad he had to kill so many dragons… eh, not so much.
  • Peanut – still Peanut
  • Brund – dwarf ranger

West Mine Team

  • Drew – human fighter
  • Benn – human paladin
  • Lucan – elf druid

North Mine Team – after extended rest

  • Cagan – massive damage, glass jaw
  • Brandis – human archer
  • Bazdal – dwarf paladin

Guard Duty

  • Mine Entrance
    • Biri – dragonborn fighter
    • Mikal – human cleric
  • Portal

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Codrus' Orders

Team 2 arrives through the portal in Delvers and all of the Guard members gather in the Manor House. Codrus has ordered that the three teams, along with Brund and Bazdal, be deployed as follows:

  • 4 Guard Members are to be posted immediately at the West Mine and at the Stone Arch (open portal).
  • Within the hour a team of 3 is to head into the mine, clearing the first level as much as possible. The team headed to the Keep will follow shortly after, using Thoel’s information to find the passage through the mountain.
  • The lowest priority is the further exploration of the North Mine. The final 3 people can take an extended rest and then finish the job.

Valthrun has also sent along 3 ritual scrolls. The team headed to the Keep can take Detect Secret Doors and Seal Portal. There is also a Status scroll, which allows up to 8 participants to form a close bond for 24 hours. During the duration of the ritual, you know the current hp, healing surges, and the nature of any persistent conditions affecting every other person. A minimum of 1 member from each of the different assignments (guard, West Mine, Keep, North Mine) should participate in the ritual.

As an aside, if anyone wants to play with the character builder, I will let you pimp out any of the other Guard Members, but you may not change their race, class, or build (so their basic identity/role stays intact). You may give each of them level appropriate gear, and spend their gold on additional items. Please update this page if you decide to build a character. All Guard members in Delvers are lvl 4.

  • Team 2
    • Benn, Human Avenging Paladin
    • Biri, Dragonborn Guardian Fighter
    • Brandis, Human Archer Ranger – Barhight is building to take to Keep
    • Lucan, Elf Predator Druid
  • Team 5
    • Drew, Human Great Weapon Fighter
    • Mikal, Human Battle Cleric
    • Peren, Half-Elf Archer Ranger
    • Riardon, Eladrin Control Wizard
  • Dwarves
    • Bazdal, Protecting Paladin of Moradin
    • Brund, Cutthroat Rogue (required weapon: crossbow, required feat: speed loader)
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Dr. Peanut
How I Learned to Kidnap People and Love Kobold Rat Handlers

(For the entirety of this post imagine Peanut is dressed in all black, wearing black sunglasses, and seated in a wheelchair. Mataron looks like a f>ckin dragon)

Scene: Team 4 had just slain the black-azz dragon, Mataron’s cousins, and the rest of the North Mine denizens. They scored some gold, whiffed on a treasure table and EJ went gold-diving a la Scrooge McDuck in his moneybin and fell asleep with a smile on his face. Peanut and Mataron stole off to Delver’s with Cagan following, deliberately in the shadows.

The Plan: went off without a hitch! It will unfold in its entirety below.

1) Clear the warehouse or: “Bookcase Brilliance.”

Peanut: “Mat-R-awn, I heard rats in building. We kill?” Mataron: Nods, breathes fire for fun.

Peanut and Mataron kick open the warehouse to find 2 Kobold Vermin Handlers brandishing handaxes and slings.

(The guy in middle wielding basket) There’s an enemy sheet for them here on page 4. There were also some sick swarms of rats. No, no, no – not just one rat… a swarm of rats that acts in concert. There is little in the room except some bookcases on the walls.

Kobolds attack first, doing ranged poison damage plus 5 continual damage until a save throw. Mataron attacks one of the swarms of rats with a ranged attack. Peanut yawns: anyone can use conventional weapons.

Peanut unleashes a primal roar, bursts into the dank warehouse undeterred by the home advantage of the rats. Whether by intense meta-game analysis or sheer Peanut clumsiness… Peanut heaves a bookcase, as a minor action, directly on top of one of the swarms of rats. The rats rolled dexterity to escape and failed, thus leaving them “trapped” (like rats.. “Haha, Peanut love coincidentally appropriate cliches”). But, Peanut craves rat-blood, so as his standard action, Peanut does a devastating strike that smashes through the bookcase, severely bludgeoning the rats to inches of their lives (around 32 damage so far).

The Kobolds were solid foes as were the swarms of rats, as they could daze and do continual damage. However, Mataron and Peanut made short work of this “hard” encounter, setting the scene for the ruse on Thoel by keeping the dead bodies.

2) Taunt Brainstorm session – Peanut and Mataron, disappointed with the preponderance of EJ’s -1’s, sat down to help their “intellectual superior” by writing some material. Within seconds, they created at least 12,000 better things to say than “you’re legs are like pieces of sh+t.” a) Thorax? More like Bore-ax! (A little Billy Madison love) b) I ain’t seen a spider that I’ve wanted more to slap silly since Tobey Maguire c) Yo momma’s got so many legs, I can’t decide which to dismember/hump first.

3) Taking Thoel Mataron and Peanut enter the Rusty Kettle bar where Thoel is drunk as balls. Mataron distracts the barmaid and the bar matron quite handily. Peanut, luckily, barely distracted Thoel long enough to allow Cagan to do his dirty work. Cagan slipped into the bar wearing a black robe and an Orcus Pendant and slipped the Goodnight tincture into his beer. Thoel passed out, Cagan threw Thoel over his shoulder, and rushed out of the bar directly to the warehouse with the dead bodies.

Thoel was tied up successfully without waking him up, but we needed Thoel to see first hand that he was kidnapped and in danger. So, Cagan punches Thoel directly in the face, waking him. To make it believable, Peanut grabs Cagan, Mataron punches him in the face (doing 7 damage?), and Peanut throws him into out of the warehouse.

They untie Thoel and the ruse works. Thoel gives us a map to Shadowfell Keep, so we’re read to go! [DM edit: Thoel agrees to help you find the passage to the Keep]

The only snag, was that Thoel saw Cagan’s face, so we will need to make sure that Cagan does not interact with Thoel in the future (or at least not associated with us). Maybe we can use Cagan as a scare tactic in the future? Who knows…

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Pea-nut's Big Adventure (or Big Top Pea-nut)

Mine managers brother is missing (open mission) – Thoel doesn’t want to talk about it, Belgrim likely is working with the Duergar for reasons unknown. Need to get on Thoel’s good side so he can show us to the passageway to the Shadowkeep. We’re not going to get on his good side by talking to him (potential solution below).

Black Market – Cagan used some first-rate negotiating skills to give his painting, the orb of shadowy liquid we got from the slain kobolds, the dagger, and 450 gp for Boots of the Flying Monkey, or something like that. Barhight can tell us what those do, as he was as giddy about those boots as a girl on her first trip to DSW. Cagan offered to give Peanut the 250 gp he had left as he was the only person to benefit from the painting. Peanut let Cagan keep 100 of the gp, took 50gp for himself, and gave 50 gp to Mataron and EJ.

After Cagan spent 20 minutes negotiating with the human at the black market for his boots while ignoring the dwarf next to him, Peanut decided to talk to the dwarf. The dwarf knows Thoel and Belgrim and is certain Belgrim is working with the Duergar, but is not sure where he is. Peanut was hoping the dwarf named “Wendy” would be able to get us on Thoel’s good side, but he could not. He does have “Goodnight Tincture” which will knock Thoel out – the dwarf thought we could pretend that Thoel drank too much and we nursed him back to health. Peanut thought of another scenario that the DM figured would give us better bonuses for our skills checks. Peanut suggests having someone slip Thoel the potion, and having Cagan wear one of the black robes and kidnap Thoel from the bar (so people see him being kidnapped but no one knows who did it). Tie him up in the abandoned warehouse that is infested with rats – and then have the team save him. Maybe we can bring him into the warehouse with us while we kill shit – then he will see carnage as if we really saved him!

Because the dwarf was a betting man, Peanut offered him a game of chance for the potion (base gp = 150). We played Pig, a dice game, first to score 100. If Peanut lost, he would buy the potion for 125, if he won he got the potion for free. Peanut won! DM has assured that if we play the skill-challenge correctly, Thoel will become our friend. I think if we get him on our side, he can lead us to the shadowkeep passage without clearing out the entire mine. That way we can get to Kalarel in the shortest amount of time.

After the game, the dwarf mentions that there is a 50gp poker game in the bottom of the Rusty Kettle but to go to the dwarf if we want to get into some higher stakes games. (DM craftily working in the poker meta-game).

Outside of the black market, 2 of the other warehouses are completely abandoned, but one had sounds emanating. Peanut rolled a nature check, and with an 18 total learned there were some rats. It seems like DM has made it a bit of a treasure/XP room…

Sister Lenora gave Peanut two ritual scrolls: purify water and cure disease to give to Eldon Jr. If we are getting purify water, we will likely be wading through some skanky cave water sometime soon.

Cemetery appears to be a dead-end for now.

People with better diplomacy should talk to the dwarves that live in the hovels on the East side of town.

Watch Tower is currently not in use (maybe later?)

Juvaliah’s potion shop carries potions, ritual components, and rituals levels 1-5

Sidequest: Young dragon that took up residence in the North mine (but the only confirmed evidence is strange noises) – haven’t yet explored.

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