A Trap, A Deal, and a Cloakmaster – Hand of Light, Episode 11

This session wraps up the Cloakmaster Jarvis adventure. I actually created this adventure back in September 2016. Due to it being a rather long adventure to begin with, holidays thrown in, and weekends off for convention play-testing, we’re just now finishing it up – half a year later!

Previously on the Hand of Light:

  • The heroes enter the astral plane and encounter a githyanki astral ship. They fight minotaurs, a mind flayer, and several githyanki. The githyanki are using magical silver collars to control the minotaurs and mind flayer.
  • The heroes enter the githyanki compound – a large rock floating in the astral plane – and begin clearing it out. They battle and defeat githyanki, mind flayers, bugbears, and gith hounds in the process. They also rescue humans and elves (who were slated for butchering and consumption by the githyanki) and a clan of enslaved minotaurs.
  • Beaten up and in need of rest, the heroes hunker down inside a Leomund’s Tiny Hut

Despite the githyanki spotting their tiny hut and leaving, the heroes continue through with a long rest while they have the chance. [They had gone through more than an adventuring day’s worth of encounters with no long rest at all. And the DM may or may not have hinted that he would allow a long rest even though doing so in the middle of storming an enemy base is usually a bad idea. He may also have mentioned that they’d need it…]

Rested and in full fighting condition, the heroes exit the servants barracks to find a tall, lean person in full plate armor and bearing a massive silver sword waiting patiently in the corridor. The figure introduces himself as Cloakmaster Jarvis and says that he has a proposition for them.

As the heroes file out into the corridor, Jarvis tells them that they have done admirably in defeating his warriors and slaves. In fact, they have proven themselves competent enough that he is willing to let them leave the compound unhindered. In exchange for his magnanimity in letting them go, he asks that they do small favors for him from time to time. He says that the githyanki often find it useful to have non-githyanki proxies on other planes. Furthermore, if they do so, he will raid their world no longer.

Naturally, this deal is a non-starter for many of the heroes, especially Karn and Dona. As the negotiations begin to turn sour, Jarvis threatens the heroes, saying he will track down all their family and those dearest to them, butcher them, and eat them.

When he delivers this threat to Dona, threatening her siblings, Dona quite characteristically charges Jarvis and slashes at him with her halberd. However, the halberd goes through Jarvis’s body, revealing him to be merely an illusionary projection. As Jarvis fades away, he delivers his offer and threat again, saying he’ll be waiting for them in his “embroidery” if they decide to reject his offer.

Jabba, the minotaur leader, says that he must leave the group now and lead his minotaur clan away from the compound and to safety. He thanks the heroes for rescuing them from their enslavement and gifts Karn with a magical Halberd of Life Stealing. Grull, the other minotaur that had been aiding the heroes, kneels before Karn and swears fealty to the paladin, saying he will continue on and aid them in defeating the githyanki.

The Hand of Light presses on, going up to a shaft and deeper into the compound. They find themselves in a maze of narrow hallways.

Dunkle drinks an invisibility potion and scouts ahead. The rogue passes through several rooms with fountains full of inky black water and leering gargoyles perched on ledges above. Finally, the rogue finds himself in a larger room with a long basin of dark water and dozens of gargoyles above. He doesn’t consider the danger of moving so far from his companions. So far from help.

With nearly a half hour having passed without hearing back from the rogue, the rest of the group enters the maze. Dexter and Lyr view the gargoyle statues with much more suspicion than the rogue, inspecting them and blasting them with rays of frost to ensure that they are just statues. [And why wouldn’t they be?]

As the other heroes pass into the second such room, Dunkle decides to head back. He invisibly approaches Karn and whispers into the paladin’s ear, “Karn, vengeance has come. Your doom is near!” Karn spins around and slams a gauntleted fist into Dunkle’s mouth. Dunkle screams in pain, announcing that it’s just him. Karn slaps him for good measure and sternly reprimands the rogue. [This was hilarious. Karn’s first blow did 5 damage to Dunkle. The second slap was just for effect. I suspect Dunkle will goose different party members in the future…]

A Small Surprise

The Hand of Light enters the larger room with a long basin of dark water. As they are passing through it, Lyr notices slight ripples in the basin and a thin reed sticking out of the water. Before the bard can warn his companions, bugbears leap from the water, surrounding the heroes, and several gargoyles animate on the ledge above.

[The monsters got a surprise round. Lyr and Grull (their minotaur buddy) were the only ones whose passive perception beat the bugbears’ stealth roll, and it turns out that Dona and Dunkle have features that prevent them from being surprised. Good for them...)

Bugbears spring from the basin of water, and gargoyles animate on the ledges above.

Dona slams a gargoyle with her halberd as Dunkle stabs a bugbear emerging from the water. Grull swings at a bugbear but misses.

Lyr, seeing his companions surrounded by a large group of foes, casts compulsion and points to the east. All of the gargoyles and two of the bugbears are affected by the mind-affecting magic and begin to flee the room. The two bugbears that don’t flee flail at the heroes with their wicked morning stars, one doing severe damage to Dunkle.

Dona slashes at a bugbear with her halberd, critically wounding it, and hacks at another as it flees the room. Stabbing with his rapier, Dunkle sinks his rapier deep into a bugbear’s flesh. Lyr begins throwing viscous mockery at bugbears.

As Karn hacks at one bugbear with his new magical halberd, Grull lowers his head and charges another bugbear. The minotaur slams the monster hard, and its shattered, lifeless body crumples against a wall. Finally, Dexter blasts a bugbear with a ray of frost.

Enraged, Dona decapitates a bugbear, dropping it and spraying herself with satisfactory amounts of blood. Dona is happy. Very happy.

A bugbear's critical hit against Dunkle.

The bugbear on Dunkle blasts the rogue in the face with its morning star, nearly ripping the rogue’s jaw from his face and splattering the ground with teeth. Dunkle collapses into a heap on the floor, dying. [I believe this was a critical hit that the bugbear rolled super high damage dice for.]

Lyr blasts a bugbear with viscous mockery again, and saves Karn from a nasty hit with a well-placed cutting words. While Karn and Grull continue to hack at bugbears, Dexter sends his familiar, Vesper, to deliver a healing potion to Dunkle and blasts a bugbear with ray of frost.

After Vesper feeds Dunkle a healing potion, the rogue comes to and stares at this teeth on the floor and floating in the basin’s water. Groaning in pain, but alive, he snaps his dislocated jaw back into place and ties a rag around his face to hold it in place.

Enemies continue to flee the room under the effect of Lyr’s compulsion. While they do so, Dona, Karn, and Grull work furiously to drop their enemies.

With all the enemies that are not fleeing dead, the heroes take up positions in the hallway, creating a choke point. Then Lyr shifts the direction of his compulsion to make the gargoyles come back toward them. As the gargoyles are compelled to return, they walk directly into the kill zone the heroes have set up, and are decimated in short order. [The gargoyles failed their wisdom saves to escape the spell every single time. Only one bugbear ever broke out of it.]

The heroes follow a trail of blood the one remaining bugbear left, entering a small room with a basin of water. The blood trail leads straight to the water. Dexter surmises that the basins of water must have tunnels connecting them to each other and the bugbears were using them to move from room to room. After a short discussion, the heroes leave the room and continue on in the maze.

[It was entertaining for me to see the players talk themselves out of checking the fountain. The bugbear was hiding in the fountain. There were no tunnels. If the heroes would have searched the basin, they would have easily found the bugbear. And likely killed it, if I know my players. But they didn’t. They talked themselves out of it. Priceless.]

Let’s Make a Deal

They heroes take some time to patch up their wounds and chug healing potions – Dunkle and Lyr both got their clocks cleaned. [At one point Lyr’s player asked me, “Is there any limit to how many potions we can drink in a day.” I responded, “As far as I’m concerned, you can double chug them, one in each hand.” Yeah, they were that messed up. LOL ]

After healing up, the Hand of Light presses forward in the maze. Karn, in the lead, turns a corner and comes upon a fiendish creature bearing a trident in one of its four hands. “Ah, the heroes. You have come,” the creature communicates telepathically with Karn. “Our employer said you would be coming. Now I suppose we must kill you.”

“Who is your employer?” Karn asks loudly so his companions know he’s found something. His halberd is at the ready. (It’s always at the ready…)

Dexter, seeing through Vesper’s eyes as the bat familiar is perched on Karn’s shoulder, searches his knowledge of the arcane and identifies the creature as a type of yugoloth – fiendish creatures from Gehenna and renowned for being mercenaries. The wizard passes the word that these are fiends and mercenaries.

The conversation between the yugoloth and Karn carries on, and it becomes apparent that the creature would be willing accept payment from the heroes to let them pass. However, the righteous paladin quickly sours to this idea once he learns they are fiendish creatures. Karn doesn’t make deals with fiends. Ever.

Ever.

The tunnels are cramped, allowing only Karn and Grull to see the creature, and the yugoloth is only communicating with Karn. Seeing their chance for peaceful negotiations wane, Dexter, Dona, and Dunkle take another route through the maze, hoping to come to a spot where they can see the creature. And maybe get in a better spot should battle break out. They run into another yugoloth instead.

The three of them open up negotiations with the second yugoloth, and it seems to be going well. The creature would definitely accept payment to let them pass. The heroes ask how much, and the creature laughs, telling them to make an offer.

“Twenty thousand gold!” says Dunkle.

“We accept,” the yugoloth replies immediately. He pauses in concentration, apparently passing the word telepathically to the others that an agreement has been reached.

As Dona and Dunkle dig gold out of their packs, Dexter shouts out to Karn that the yugoloths will let them pass. [Let’s not linger on how they can carry so much wealth around with them… Suffice it to say that we all find logistics to be boring. It’s a game. I’m willing to sacrifice realism for fun.]

The Hand of Light negotiates with yugoloths, attempting to pass them without a fight.

However, Karn is having none of it. “I DO NOT DEAL WITH FIENDS!” the paladin of Torm roars as he rushes forward to attack the yugoloth in front of him. Karn’s halberd tears into the fiend’s flesh and, powered by divine smite fury, deals the creature a nasty wound.

As battle kicks off, Dexter, Dona, and Dunkle are all screaming to stop fighting because they’ve bought their way through. The yugoloth in front of them is unconcerned that Karn is attacking his companion – he’s likely thinking it would just be more money for him should the other yugoloth perish. Dona finishes paying the yugoloth, and he calmly teleports away.

Meanwhile the other yugoloth casts cloudkill on Karn, Grull, and Lyr who take moderate damage and are blinded in the noxious yellowish-green mist. However, Lyr casts dispel magic, causing the cloud to dissipate. Karn continues to attack the creature. However, the yugoloth casts darkness and flees, likely teleporting away, too.

After a minute or so, the darkness disappears. The yugoloths have made good their exit.

What follows next is a general intraparty argument and discussion. Many topics are discussed, but chief among them are “Karn, why did you do that?!? We had paid them to pass!” and “Twenty thousand gold!?! Damn it, Dunkle, you are banned from further financial negotiations.” It’s worth noting that Lyr passes out cold when he learns how much money Dunkle and Dona gave the yugoloths.

[That “discussion” was awesome. I’m so glad I gave the players a chance to talk and negotiate with the yugoloths instead of just turning this into a hit points and damage contest.]

Welcome to the Embroidery

The heroes finally find a shaft in the maze that leads upward. They ascend the shaft and move through a set of double doors. Beyond is a hallway with more double doors at the end. They file into the hallway, and move to the doors at the end. However, when Karns hand moves to open them, it passes straight through them. Damned illusions…

The illusionary walls and doors drop away and a portcullis of sorts slams down to block the doors leading out of the chamber. They find themselves in a throne room with rows of fluted columns running along either side. Stone gargoyles perch atop the columns, leering down at them. A plate armored githyanki – Cloakmaster Javis – lounges on a throne atop a dais, and three githyanki warriors stand near him.

“So, you’ve decided not to accept my offer,” Jarvis says. “And you’ve passed through my death maze, defeating my minions there. Very well.” He stands and readies his sword. “Try me on for size, heroes!”

Before anyone can react, the heroes hear spell casting from the corner of the chamber, and Dexter fights off the effects of a blindness spell. A sorcerer.

The Hand of Light confronts Cloakmaster Jarvis and battle begins.

An invisible sorcerer.

The githyanki move to engage the heroes, two teleporting past their front lines. One engages Dunkle, another Dona, and the last Lyr. Dona wounds her githyanki with her halberd, and it responds with two mighty strokes of its greatsword, opening minor cuts on the barbarian. Dunkle and Lyr take moderate wounds from their attackers.

Cloakmaster Jarvis sneers at the female barbarian, moves up to her, and unleashes hell with his silver greatsword. After a barrage of blows, Dona is left reeling, her lifeblood leaking from several vicious wounds. “Don’t worry, my dear.” Jarvis’s hushed voice is the sweat embrace of promised pain.

“Remember, you won’t die today. First I’ll butcher and eat your sisters before your very eyes, and then – only then – will you taste death. You will yearn for it long before I am finished with you!”

Karn casts shield of faith and sacred weapon, while Grull charges ahead recklessly to attack a githyanki. Dunkle’s rapier finds a chink in a githyanki’s suit of armor and sinks into the monster’s flesh halfway to the blade.

Holding forth his magical staff, Lyr casts insect plague in the corner of the throne room, enveloping Cloakmaster Jarvis and one of the githyanki. Both immediately move out of the insect swarm but not before having taken nasty bites from the critters. The githyanki warrior stumbles too close to Karn, though, and the paladin pounds him into the ground with his magical halberd. One enemy down.

Dexter, meanwhile, casts telekinesis – the invisible githyanki sorcerer tries to counterspell it and fails – and uses it to yank away the greatsword the githyanki next to Lyr is holding. The wizard calmly floats the sword back into his grasp and smiles at the creature. The githyanki snarls, takes a step, and rips his sword away from Dexter.

The invisible githyanki sorcerer casts hold person on Dexter, but the wizard again fights off the spell’s effects.

Dona’s halberd goes to work on Jarvis, dealing some nasty wounds, but she doesn’t manage to slay him. Again, Cloakmaster Jarvis lays into her with his greatsword. This time Dona is left on the precipice of death.

Seeing Dona in trouble, Dexter misty steps up nearer Jarvis, uses telekiness to rip the Cloakmaster’s sword out of his hands, and tosses it into the far corner that is still covered by the insect plague. “Want your sword? Go get it!”

Karn, noble Karn, rushes forward to Dona’s aid, too. The holy paladin of Torm lifts his halberd high, calls to his god for righteous strength, and brings the weapon down on Cloakmaster Jarvis in a vicious combination of attacks. Holy radiance flows from the weapon into Jarvis’s body as blow after blow finds its mark. And, when Karn finishes his barrage, Jarvis’s ruined body is left in a heap on the floor, practically cleaved in two. [This was a critical hit that Karn used a level three smite on. A total of 67 damage in one blow. Incredible. LOL.]

Cloakmaster Jarvis and his githyanki minions lie in growing pools of blood at the heroes' feet.

Dona, now bathed in the blood of her hated foe, thanks to Karn, is quite happy.

Dunkle stabs his rapier into the back of a githyanki, dropping the creature, and then the rogue hides behind a pillar. A bolt of lightning from the invisible sorcerer rocks through Grull, Lyr, and Dexter. Lyr casts faerie fire where he believes the hidden caster is, but the spell fails.

The battle now turns into a hide and seek contest with the invisible sorcerer. Dexter uses Vesper’s blindsight to help pinpoint the sorcerer’s location, but the heroes find it very difficult to hit their foe. [Disadvantage due to invisibility and the shield spell make for a very cagey opponent.]

In the end, though, it’s only a matter of time. They finally manage to break the sorcerer’s concentration on greater invisibility, surround him, and beat him down into death.

Boss Battle Means Boss Loot!

Their enemies defeated, the Hand of Light pilfers their corpses. [Hey, don’t judge. It’s what all good heroes do.]

The group discovers that the sword Jarvis was using is a +3 greatsword. This goes to Dona who feels giving up the reach of her halberd is probably worth it for such a powerful weapon. Dexter mentions that githyanki are known to hunt down non-githyanki who dare to wield their silver greatswords – they consider them sacred in a way – but Dona doesn’t care.

“You mean more of my hated enemies will seek me out for me to kill them? Sounds good!”

In Cloakmaster Jarvis’s rooms they find a chest full of silver and gold. Under the bed, Dunkles finds a small coffer containing 400 platinum pieces and promptly proclaims, “This is mine!” He soon realizes that was a mistake.

The group surrounds him and the berating about spending 20,000 gold pieces on the yugoloths is struck up once again. Needless to say, they don’t let Dunkle keep the platinum pieces.

In Jarvis’s study they find several maps marking the locations of hundreds of “meat farms” scattered across many different worlds. It appears that the githyanki raid these locations, capturing cattle – humanoids and elves – for butchering and consumption. Dexter and Lyr also find a motherload of magical spell scrolls stashed in Jarvis’s desk.

The heroes also discover dozens of small silver figurines in the shape of humans, elves, and minotaurs on shelves in Jarvis’s study. After some investigation and detect magic spells, they discover that each figurine is linked to the silver collars that slaves wear. The githyanki use these figurines to control their slaves.

Dexter investigates further and finds that some of the figurines are still active, indicating slaves are still collared. Lyr channels psychic magic through the figures and commands the remaining slaves to remove their collars. They do so, and are freed. The heroes don’t know where those slaves are in order to find them and lead them out of the astral plane, but at least they know they are free now.

The Meteor

The heroes leave the githyanki compound and head back to the astral ship they had commandeered. There they find all of the human and elves slaves hunkered down and awaiting their return.

They note that the massive meteor they saw in the sky when the first entered the astral plane is still there, only closer. And it appears to be racing toward a large area of silvery streaks which Dexter identifies as a portal to a different plane.

There is little to be done about it though, so they smash the gem of returning that Fea Eltorchul had given them. After several minutes a portal opens before them, and they rush through. The portal leads them to a chamber where they find Dain Flintlock, Fea Eltorchul, and several members of the Red Sashes waiting.

As all of the rescued slaves surge through the portal to freedom, the heroes present Jarvis’s head as proof of their success. Dain congratulates them on a job well done, and says he is convinced that they don’t work for the Xanathar.

Dain tells them that from time to time the real Red Sashes might call on them for assistance, if the heroes are so inclined. The heroes agree that it would be a good arrangement.

Their work done, the Hand of the Light leaves the compound below the warehouse in Dock Ward. It is the early hours of the morning, and the city is asleep and dark about them.

Suddenly a flash of light above them and loud roar draws their attention upwards. There they see a brilliant portal open in the sky miles above them, and a meteor – the same meteor from the astral plane – enters the sky through the portal. The roar of the meteor hurtling through the atmosphere is almost deafening.

The meteor charges across the sky, directly at Waterdeep, and then breaks into two large chunks. One piece strays to the west, off the coast of Waterdeep, and the other travels southeast. They hear the meteor that headed off the coast crash into the ocean. The city shakes, building sway, and the heroes are knocked from their feet.

Lights begin to turn on in buildings near them as people awaken, and the Hand of Light begins to hear a low roar from the east. The sound steadily increases in intensity.

“This is not good,” Dexter says. “I do believe a tsunami is headed our way.”

“At least we’ll be able to run faster without 20,000 extra gold pieces on us,” Lyr says, glaring at Dunkle and Dona. “I hope the Sloshing Boot isn’t damaged.”

Dona glares at the bard. “SHUT UP!”

The Hand of Light

Below are the famed members of the Hand of Light adventuring party.

Aelyrendar "Lyr" Fairsong - Bard

Dexter Ambrose - Wizard

Dona Falone - Barbarian

Dunkle Fledermaus - Rogue

Karn Mondel - Paladin of Torm

Posted in the Hand of Light and tagged , .

3 Comments

  1. This session was fantastic. The pending tsunami has me filled with dread but the ending quip made me laugh. Did I actually say that or did you write that?

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