Hand of Light, Episode 18 – Finding Katso: Part 1

Session Date: July 21, 2017

23 Kythorn, 1367 DR

The Hand of Light arrives in Eltorchul Academy, where Dexter learned his craft as a wizard, and they are greeted by Fea Eltorchul. Dexter’s former instructor tells the group that darkness that covers the sky – it began when the meteorites crossed over from the astral plane and crashed in their world – has not abated.

Scholars and wizards all across Waterdeep have been studying it, though. So far they’ve learned that the source of the darkness are particulates that saturate the sky, blocking most sunlight. They used weather effects to clear the particulates, but they quickly returned. This shows that there is an ongoing effect that produces them. Upon studying the particulates themselves, they could not determine their nature except that they are made of a substance not native to the material plane.

Fea also tells them that the darkness has encouraged denizens of the Underdark, such as drow and mind flayer, to surface. She fears that if the darkness is not removed soon, a full scale invasion may result.

After leaving the academy, the heroes take a tenday of needed downtime:

  • Dona sends a message to her two brothers via a sending spell that they should come to Waterdeep. She tells them she’s located her other siblings and that they should all return to their homeland together. She also hires a woman to serve as a therapist for her siblings and a healer for the group.
  • Lyr buys an inn in Sea Ward to serve as the Hand of Light’s new base of operations.
  • Dexter scribes spells into his spell book, creates a handful of scrolls, and spends time researching the darkness.
  • Karn performs religious service to Torm, making rounds in the city and encouraging the populace to keep their spirits up despite the darkness covering the sky. He gains two favors from people he meets.

The heroes receive a message from the Scribe, asking them to meet him at the Safehaven Inn. They go to the inn, and as they are waiting, a half-elf named Jathar approaches their table. Jathar tells them he works for a connoisseur of exotic maps and is seeking a map of Evermeet. He’s heard the group was in possession of one recently.

The heroes tell him they gave the map to the Moonstar family who likely destroyed it. Jathar seems excited at this information. The topic of Katso and that he might have a map of Evermeet comes up, too. Jathar offers to find the rogue for them if they will bring Katso to him alive. In the end, however, the heroes are suspicious and come to no agreement with Jathar.

Moments after Jathar leaves, bone devils break through the inn’s walls, one proclaiming, “Mephistopheles sends his greetings, mortals! You will produce the map, in this life or the next! Prepare your souls for harvesting!” Several imps – invisible up to this point – fly down from above as the bone devils move in with their polearms.

Bone devils and imps attack the heroes when they refuse to help Jathar obtain a map of Evermeet.

A nasty battle follows. The heroes note Jathar cast darkness from outside the inn at the beginning of the battle, but they do not see him after that. Shortly after the Hand of Light dispatches the devils, an elite force of the Waterdeep Watch arrives. Too little; too late.

The Scribe also shows up, beckoning them to follow him so they can speak. The heroes are initially suspicious of the Scribe, thinking they might have betrayed them. In the end, though the Scribe tells the group Katso and Shindia Darkeyes have a hidden compound in the sewers. He gives them instructions for finding it.

Down in the sewers, the Hand of Light finds the secret door hiding the entrance to the compound and enters. In the first intersection, they find another secret door and open it, causing a puddle of sludge – a black pudding – within the hidden room to surge forward and attack.

A secret door reveals a black pudding intent on eating the heroes' weapons and armor.

Karn is the first to discover the creature dissolves the metal of his halberd – his magical halberd! He also discovers that slashing weapons seem to split the monster int two.The heroes quickly fall to defensive positions, Dona and Karn in front dodging, and Dunkle and Lyr blasting the monsters. It’s slow going, but the pace picks up when the group starts dousing the puddings with flasks of oil and setting them on fire.

With the puddings defeated, the group turns east. They find a room lined by petrified humans, elves, and dwarves. On the far wall is written in Elvish, “Speak the passphrase, friend, and enter.” The heroes trip over themselves to say “Friend” in Elvish, but nothing happens.

Back the way they came and to the north, they find that two rooms and the corridor that connects them has grating for a floor. Looking through the grating they discover a dark liquid a couple feet down. Suspecting a trap, they toss a flaming flask of oil onto the grating, and sure enough, the liquid ignites and fills the rooms and hallways ahead.

They can see more liquid begin to fill the area below the grating, so Dexter sends his bat ahead to scout. Vesper flies past the grated hallways, and finds a hallway with water covering the floor. Likely another trap. Flying further, the bat comes into a large room with a lever set on the far wall. Above the lever is written in Draconic, “Enemies to all; friends to none.”

The heros then go back to the room with petrified people and speak that phrase. There is a rumbling as a secret door slides aside, revealing stairs leading down into the darkness.

Through a door at the bottom of the stairs, they enter a massive chamber. Wood platforms connected by rope and plank bridges span half the chamber. To the right is a stone platform. Far across the way is another stone platform, an elevated platform (later referred to as the archer’s nest), stairs, and a door that leads farther into the compound.

As the heroes move into the room, Dexter sends his bat ahead to scout. Several arrows fly at it, killing it. A voice – Katso’s voice – calls out from behind a low wall on the stone platform, “Ah you’ve finally arrived. Ready to join the Great One?”

Lyr and Dona teleport up to the low wall where they find a swashbuckler, a spy, and Katso hiding. Dexter casts fly on Karn and begins walking along the wall with his slippers of spider climbing. As the battle breaks out, more swashbucklers and spies swing up onto the wooden platforms from hiding places below. Also, arrows begin to stream at the heroes from the archer’s nest across the way.

The Hand of Light is ambushed by Katso and a band of rogues.

Despite the advantages the ambushes had, the Hand of Light brings the swashbucklers and spies, low. However, when they kill Katso, his form shifts to the milky white body of a doppleganger. That wasn’t Katso.

The archers continue to rain arrows on them from the archer’s nest, though. As the other heroes move across the platforms and bridges to engage them, Dexter walks along the wall and climbs under the archer’s nest.

From there, Dexter notices two more figures appear, both appearing to be Katso. “Ah ha, you’ll never defeat the Great One!” calls one of the thieves. “But I’m the Great One,” responds the other.

Two more "Katsos" and several rogues engage the heroes as they make their way deeper into Shindia Darkeye's compound.

Lyr and Dexter begin taking out the archers. Meanwhile, Karn and Dona move onto a stone platform at the base of the stairs leading up to where the two new Katsos are. As they do so, more swashbucklers appear out of hiding to engage them. The two Katsos begin rain down cross bolts on Karn and Dona.

Lyr puts a Bigby’s Hand spell to good use in the fight, and Dexter employs telekinesis to throw enemies off the platforms. Karn and Dona do what they do best, shredding their enemies with their weapons.

The two Katsos were very close to killing Lyr at one point. Unfortunately, Karn ran to his rescue. Paladins are not cool.

Not surprisingly, when the heroes finally finish off the two Katsos, they are nothing but two more dopplegangers.

Will they ever find the true Katso?

Low on health and resources deprecated, the Hand of Light retreats to a previous chamber where they can take a short rest and lick their wounds. After the beating they took, they’ll likely have some strong words for Dunkle whom they couldn’t find before beginning the assault on the compound.

The Hand of Light

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

Dona Falone - Barbarian

Dexter Ambrose - Wizard

Aelyrendar "Lyr" Fairsong - Bard

Dunkle Fledermaus - Rogue

Karn Mondel - Paladin of Torm

Hand of Light, Episode 17 – Out of the City of Spiders

Session Date: July 8, 2017

23 Kythorn, 1367 DR

Karn’s player was not present for this session.

As the last of the drow chapel’s defenders falls, the chapel rumbles, and an otherworldly, feminine voice booms, “You have desecrated my unholy place. Take this as a toke of my dissatisfaction.” Then vertical slashes of darkness split the air, and two monstrosities resembling melted candles with tentacles exit the extra dimensional portals.

Dexter and Lyr identify the demons as yochlols, Handmaidens of Lolth, and the Hand of Light moves to attack. The yochlols fill the chapel with webbing, and as they attack the heroes, it’s revealed that their tentacles excrete an extremely dangerous poison. (Though Dona, of course, cares little about that.)

One yochlol chases Dunkle and Dexter about the room, and the other engages Lyr and Dona. After a pitched combat, where Lyr goes down at least once, the Hand of Light triumphs.

The Spider Queen sends two yochlols, Handmaidens of Lolth, against the Hand of Light after they slaughter her clergy.

The alarm horns that sounded earlier continue to blare form outside. The heroes gather the rescued captives – three of them are Dona’s brothers – and head into the courtyard.

However, they spend a little too much time discussing plans there, in the open, and a drow sentry spots them. He calls out that the intruders are in the inner courtyard, and a quick shuffle begins, with the sentry going down quickly. But the damage was done.

Thinking quickly, Lyr uses minor illusion to imitate the drow’s voice, calling out that the intruders are now in the outer courtyard. Then the heroes hurry through a door into a lounge, and then head up some stairs. They were told that the First Wizard Orond’s quarters were on the second floor and that he has Dona’s sister Marta.

As they are moving the rescued captives into a room upstairs, Lyr looks out the window and confirms that the drow bought his deception.

Then a door in the hallway opens, revealing three drow. Simultaneously, more drow arrive from the opposite side of the hallway, boxing the heroes in.

This battle involves a drow wizard, however, and turns out to be rather nasty. Various spells are flung about by both sides, including walls of force and walls of fire. Lyr, once again, comes very close to going down.

One would almost think the DM had it in for Lyr… However, when the bard climbs over a wall of force that is obstructing the hallway and takes on several drow, including the wizard, all by himself, stuff like that tends to happen. It’s actually surprising he hasn’t died at all yet.

Yet.

Drow warriors and a drow mage ambush the heroes as the try to find Dona's sister, Marta.

When the battle has finished, the Hand of Light has a brief discussion and concludes that must have been Orono, the First Wizard. Now they just need to find Dona’s sister.

Searching the rooms upstairs, Dona and Lyr open a cabinet, triggering a trap. Webbing expands to cover the entire room and much of the hallway, and poisonous gas begins to billow out of the cabinet. In the cabinet, the bard and barbarian see an extra-dimensional portal.

As Lyr dispels the webbing, Dona goes back to Dunkle and Dexter to tell them she and the bard are going to check out the portal. The wizard and rogue then round up the rescued captives and head down to the prison level while Dona and Lyr get Dona’s sister, who they presume must be through the portal.

Splitting up the party. DMs work so hard to split the party, and players generally resist it. However, from time to time, a DM receives a gleeful gift when the party splits up when the DM wasn’t even trying.

As Dona is gabbing with the wizard and rogue, Lyr jumps through the portal by himself.

See what I mean?

The bard explores a short corridor, the walls of which are covered with tapestries depicting four-armed demons conquering the enemy of the drow – elves, dwarves, and humans. As Lyr approaches the double doors at the end of the corridor, large four-armed demons walk through the illusionary tapestries and attack. Lyr identifies the creatures as draegloths and knows he is outmatched.

Just as Lyr is beginning to get his face smashed in, Dona comes through the portal. After a few sentences berating the bard for his foolhardiness, she pulls here silver great sword and begins to lay into the demons. Lyr, meanwhile, polymorphs into a tyrannosaurus rex.

Lyr and Dona, though their injuries are mounting up, aren’t doing half bad, all things considered. However, then the double doors at the end of the hallway open, revealing a drow wizard – the First Wizard Orono himself.

Orono first banishes Lyr and then sends in a shadow demon to help finish Dona off. After the barbarian goes down, the wizard allows Lyr to return from his banishment. The bard lasts only moments before going down as well.

Down in the prison area, Dunkle and Dexter wait for fifteen minutes for Lyr and Dona to catch up. As the time drags on, they conclude that their companions must be dead. Dexter, out of spells, suggests they leave the drow compound, take the captives to safety, and then return later to revenge their friends.

Dunkle, however, will hear none of that. He gathers several magical potions and prepares to head back, by himself, to find out what happened to his friends.

Then, pirate energy coursing through his veins, it occurs to Dunkle that the goblin and bugbear slaves in the nearby chamber might be willing to help. After some tense negotiations – assurances that most of the drow are already dead and that there is an armory upstairs where the slaves can be armed with drow weapons – the rogue convinces several dozen goblins and a handful of bugbears to help him and Dexter assault the remaining drow.

Dunkle and Dexter then lead their goblinoid battalion upstairs, outfit them in the armor, and then head through the portal in the cabinet.

They immediately find themselves assailed by the draegloths and Orono. As one draegloth falls, the heroes press their foes back and into the wizard’s personal chambers. There they can see several captive females lying on cushions. They also spot Lyr and Dona unconscious, manacled, and hog-tied on the cushions.

Dunkle and Dexter lead a battalion of goblinoids to rescue Dona and Lyr from the First Wizard of House Oussiryn.

When the remaining draegloth goes down, Dunkle and the goblinoid move in on the wizard. Meanwhile, Dexter is kept busy feeding healing potions to Lyr and Dona, trying to keep them alive while the battle rages in the room. The drow wizard is flinging around several nasty area of effect spells while he himself is chugging potions.

The wizard then turns invisible and attempts to flee. The heroes, however, quickly find him and break his concentration on the invisibility spell.

Orono, the First Wizard, pops back into view, his robes tattered and many nasty wounds bleeding profusely. The mage curses the heroes, and then drops a fireball at his feet, killing himself but catching everyone else in the blast, too.

Drow wizards that suicide by fireball is becoming a thing, I think.

The heroes are wounded by the fire, but it’s nothing too serious. The female captives, however, are caught in the flames, and to a one they are killed, including Dona’s sister Marta.

Quickly, before Dona can fly off too far into a rage…

And before Dona’s player jumps across the table to strangle the DM…

Lyr moves to Marta and casts revivify, bringing her back from the dead.

Then the party retreats to the dungeons where the destroy the drow teleportation portal to ensure the drow can’t easily find their way back to Skullport. Dexter casts teleportation circle, and the heroes and rescued captives walk through into Eltorchul Academy, back in Waterdeep.

The Hand of Light

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

Dona Falone - Barbarian

Dexter Ambrose - Wizard

Aelyrendar "Lyr" Fairsong - Bard

Dunkle Fledermaus - Rogue

Karn Mondel - Paladin of Torm

The Sword Coast Guard, Episode 8 – I’ll Keep Them Safe for You, My Dear

Session Date: July 16, 2017

21 Flamerule, 1367 DR

As combat with Agnes Gristlegrums begins, Elodin casts shatter on her. The spell has no effect other than to reveal Agnes as illusion.

The heroes hear cackling laughter from all around the room, and three old ladies appear: one rides a flying carpet, another rides an animated table, and the third, Agnes, rids a sow. The heroes later identify the old ladies as a coven of green hags, evil fey known to deceive and corrupt.

The heroes begin their battle against the green hags, two prisoners in the cages – Malark and his ape companion, Mugzy – break out of their cages. The hags fling spells at the heroes – eyebite, hold person, polymorph – and small toads in the undergrowth are constantly transforming into giant toads.

The hags’ magical defenses are great, and the giant toads are wreaking havoc, especially on Malark and Mugzy. Finally Elodin lands banishment on one of the hags, breaking their coven. With the coven broken, the hags cannot cast spells, and the tide of battle turns. The heroes quickly overwhelm one hag, and just as the banished hag returns – Elodin was put to sleep by eyebite that one hag was maintaining concentration on – the other hag goes down.

The remaining hag, Agnes Gristlegums herself, tries to flee the chamber on her sow. However, the heroes are having none of it; they quickly swarm her and take her down. Belgarath chops off the heads of all three and stashes them into a sack for later.

The Sword Coast Guard takes on a coven of green hags and their giant toad minions.

The heroes recover treasure from the chamber, including a Flying Carpet and an Animated Table. They make bacon out of the sow. They also find a letter that implicates Granny Mathilda Tichwillow as part of the hags’ operation.

The heroes return to the chamber with a portal to the Feywild, and Nigel and Belgarath go through. Nigel speaks with his long-lost love, Guinevere, and other elves in the Feywild. The elves tell them that the Unseelee fey are using several portals in the area to pass into the material plane where they are spreading evil and corruption. In order to stop the evil fey and close the portals, they must kill all the hags.

They leave the Feywild and move to the final chamber in the Candy Witches’ den. There they find three toad abominations that turn out to be farmers that the three hags turned into their current state. The heroes take the toadies with them, promising to find a way to restore them to normal.

Exhausted from their endeavors, the heroes travel to Waterdeep where they can take some needed downtime. On the way, during a night’s rest, Malark, Belgarath, and Nigel all break out their musical instruments and being playing, each trying to outperform the other. Malark plays quite poorly, and Belgarath and Nigel find themselves tied.

22 Flamerule, 1367 DR

Upon arriving in Waterdeep, a courier approaches Nigel and gives him a letter from Lady Nellabe Tharmar where she requests a meeting with the bard. Elodin recognizes the man as Asmoran, a member of his former thieves group. Elodin and Asmoran talk briefly, and plan a meeting for later.

Belgarath takes the toad abominations to the temple of Torm. He is there to collect the bounty for dispatching Lady Ushien Stormbanner, the leader of the White Nights. He also pays to have the clerics cast greater restoration on the toads and have them transformed back into humans. (The heroes later deside that the farmers might make a good addition to their keep, Gauntlet Hall.)

Nigel meets with Lady Tharmar at an inn in Sea Ward, where they go to a private room. Nellabee tells Nigel she knows about the remnants due to having spoken with Linare or the War Wizards, and tries to convince him to give them to her for safe keeping. When Nigel declines, Nellabee uses some sort of charm magic on the bard who then obediently hands the remnants over.

As Nellabee is leaving, she introduces Nigel to one of their children, practically a grown man. She tells Nigel that they have many more children, too. Nigel is shocked and wonders what he’s gotten himself into.

Elodin meets with Asmodan at the Safehaven Inn. Asmodan tells him that the Velvet Fists – the thieves guild that absorbed Elodin’s group and ran him out of Amn – is now operating out of Waterdeep. They have formed a guild, the Loyal Order of Couriers and Servants, as a front to hide their criminal activities. Most of Elodin’s old group, including his Shara Dhestin, still work for the Velvet Fists, though they had believed Elodin locked up. The wizard and Asmodan arrange for a way to contact each other, and then depart. Elodin had resolved years ago to rescue Shara from the Velvet Fists, but failed. This appears to be his second chance.

The heroes spend a ten day of downtime pursuing individual activities as follows:

  • Malark takes on small bounties in Waterdeep, mostly that of debtors, and earns a little bit of fun money.
  • Belgarath spends his time in New Olamn bard college, researching the location of a sentient morningstar. He finds an obscure text indicating one may be found in the tomb of a demilich. The tomb is located in the Fields of the Dead, far to the southeast of Waterdeep.
  • Nigel researches the Feywild and its inhabitants, trying to determine how his long-lost love from Silverymoon ended up there. Ultimately, he’s not quite certain.
  • Elodin spends his time buying, selling, and scribing scrolls. He manages to sell one scroll for 5000 gp, and earns a wizard contact who is desperate for any scrolls that move or transmute stone.

Shieldmeet (Midsummer), 1367 DR

With their ten day of downtime finished, the heroes head to Castle Waterdeep to meet with Linare of the War Wizards. They had given her one of the remnants to study.

Linare tells them that the remnants are shards of power that slivered off an ancient, evil being named Drazovin, an Elder Power. The Elder Powers were either destroyed or banished from the known plans by the gods eons ago. Linare believes that if enough of the remnants are gathered together, they could be used to release Drazovin from his banishment and allow him to enter the known planes once again.

Linare also tells them that the remnant the heroes gave him was stolen from his magically warded chambers a few days ago. However, there the sea elves that live in Waterdeep Harbor came into possession of a remnant recently, taking it from a captured malenti (a sauhagin spy). Linare suggests they speak with Parlanacel of the sea elves to learn more as this malenti might have information about the group seeking the remnants.

After the other heroes leave, Nigel asks Linare if she had ever heard of someone named Lady Nellabee Tharmar. Linare says that she has not. Nigel thanks her and leaves.

To this point, the bard as decided not to tell his companions about having lost all the remnants. In fact several times he’s claimed to have them safe and sound at his side.

Oh, sweet webs of lies...

The Sword Coast Guard

the adventurers formerly known as the Heroes of Gold, Glory, and Girls

Rusty - Human Fighter

Nigel Dyreus - Half-elven Bard

Elodin - Human Wizard

Belgarath - Half-elven Rogue Warlock

Malark - Human Ranger

The Sword Coast Guard, Episode 7 – A Witch Moot

Session Date: July 2, 2017

19 Flamerule, 1367 DR

This session’s cast: Elodin, Rusty, and Nigel. Belgarath’s player couldn’t make it.

As the howling in the distance gets louder and closer, the heroes ready themselves. They take up defensive positions in the network of small islands connected by fallen logs that surrounds them in Burp Swamp.

The heroes take defensive positions in the swamp as the howling approaches.

A loud, keening howl sounds from a nearby island, causing terror to shake Nigel and Rusty to their core. The heroes can hear movement and see floating logs depress in the water and creatures jump onto them, quickly approaching, but they can see nothing.

A large mastiff wreathed in shadows appears next to Nigel, clamps its teeth into the bard, yanks him from his feet, and then dissipates away into shadows. A similar beast appears next to Rusty, attacks, and disappears. Elodin, from his position up a tree, hears a mastiff climbing the tree, and he, too, is subjected to an attack from a shadowy hound.

Nigel turns invisible and moves about stealthily, but the mastiff has no trouble locating him. Rusty finds himself surrounded by two biting mastiffs, and the one in the tree with Elodin continues to harass him.

These creatures are pretty sweet. They can turn invisible as a bonus action. So, I was having them move, attack, and then turn invisible. So, the shadow mastiffs had advantage on their attack rolls, and the heroes had disadvantage on theirs. Cool stuff… From the DM’s point of view at least… I was intentionally not having them change positions while invisible. That way the players wouldn’t have to play the “guess which square they’re in” game. The mastiffs are very stealthy, so I think they could have easily beat the heroes passive perception checks. The battle would have been doubly nasty if I had done this. I was going for challenge, not TPK.

Frustration setting in, Elodin drops a hypnotic pattern on the area where he believes three of the hounds are located, though Rusty unfortunately gets hit by it, too. Rusty and two of the mastiffs are affected, but the third bites Rusty, shaking him out of the hypnotism.

As Rusty and Elodin begin to clean up the mastiffs on them, Nigel engages in hit-and-run tactics, slamming the hound harrying him a couple times with dissonant whispers until it drops.

With the mastiffs dispatched, the heroes travel a couple hours to the northwest where the ground rises slightly and is less swampy. Small toads begin to exit the swamp, trailing after them and even nipping at their boots and ankles. After the Nigel and Elodin spend some time eldritch blasting and fire bolting the toads, the creatures give them a respectful berth. Hundreds of toads do continue to follow them, though.

They come up on a vine-covered entrance to a cave complex. They’re not sure this is their destination – they figured the witches would be in a cottage – but they decide to check it out. First, however, a long rest is in order.

20 Flamerule, 1367 DR

After resting, they make their way into the cave. They find that the corridor is covered, floor, walls, and ceiling by thick roots that makes progress slow. Furthermore, long vines hang from the ceiling. The vines seem to move slightly on their own, gently caressing them as they pass.

At this the heroes spend some time hacking the roots and vines and inspecting them. The vegetation oozes a black, diseased liquid. Rusty and Elodin determine that the roots and vines are decidedly not natural, much like the rest of the swamp. Some supernatural force is corrupting the area.

In the first chamber of the cave complex, they find dozens of clay pots hanging from the ceiling. Nigel climbs onto Rusty’s shoulders to pull one down, and upon opening it, they find hundreds of dead centipedes. They appear to have either suffocated or starved to death.

As the heroes move to one of the two tunnels leading out of the chamber, small sylvan creatures reveal themselves in the vines hanging from the ceiling. They squeal something in Elvish, and cause four of the pots to fall to the ground and shatter. As the sylvan creatures flee down a tunnel, swinging by the vines, hundreds of small centipedes swarm over Nigel and Rusty – Elodin is luckily farther away.

The clay pots shatter on the floor, releasing swarms of centipedes on the heroes.

The centipedes crawl under the fighter and bard’s armor and clothing, biting at their skin. Rusty takes hundreds of poisonous bites, and Nigel likewise begins to have a very bad day.

I rolled a critical hit on Rusty. It turned out to be 8d4 damage, and many of the dice came up as 3s and 4s.

Rusty and Nigel begin to kill the insects swarming over them, but Elodin has seen enough. He drops a fireball on his friends and the swarms of centipedes. The wizard uses his penchant for luck to help Nigel avoid the brunt of the blast, and Rusty’s ring of fire resistance protects him.

Most of the centipedes are blackened husks and piles of ash after the flames of the fireball clear away. Those few that remain are quickly destroyed by the heroes.

The heroes move off down the tunnel the small sylvan creatures fled down, and come upon a large chamber filled with bed rolls, a cabinet, a chest, and a table. Elodin holds back as Rusty and Nigel enter the room to investigate.

Immediately globes of darkness fall over the three heroes. Rusty and Nigel both suffer stabbing attacks by creatures they cannot see, though they suspect it to be the small sylvan creatures. Elodin is not spared, either, as a small blade stabs him in the side.

Nigel rushes out of the darkness to the center of the chamber. There he sees several of the small creatures on the floor – the heroes later identify them as darklings – and two larger ones – darkling elders – hanging from the vines with hand crossbows at the ready. Surrounding and having an “oh shit” moment, Nigel casts greater invisibility.

Nigel finds himself surrounded by darklings.

Rusty swings away in the darkness, killing one of the darklings on him. Elodin backs out of the darkness, firing fire bolt at the darkling attacking him.

Several darklings surround Nigel, stabbing at him, and the two elders on the ceiling begin shooting bolts at the bard. The creatures appear to have no problem seeing Nigel despite his being invisible. In response, the bard skitters out of the fray and casts hypnotic pattern – his greater invisibility is lost, but it wasn’t doing him much good anyway.

Most of the darklings are caught in the effect and freeze, swaying gently back and forth as the spell takes effect. The globes of darkness also wink out as the darkling elders are no longer able to concentrate on them while incapacitated.

Hypnotic pattern to the rescue again. Definitely a great spell. I thought Nigel was in trouble for a moment. Hypno saved his butt. Well done, Nigel. On another note, blindsight is awesome, too.

Once Rusty and Elodin take out the darklings harassing them, the fighter moves up to the hypnotized creatures and has a go at them. Rusty moves from one to the next, hacking them apart before they can respond. Occasionally when one isn’t killed by the fighter, Elodin and Nigel finish them off with fire bolt and eldritch blast.

The heroes investigate the room and find a good amount of loot – copper, silver, and gold coins – in the chest, along with a statue of an elven female. A tapestry on the wall depicts a dark-skinned female queen before nobles and supplicants.

Elodin and Nigel examine all this evidence and what they know about the darklings – their exploded into brilliant light when they were killed, leaving behind only piles of ash – and determine the tapestry depicts the Summer Queen, the ruler of the Seelie fey in the Feywild.

In response to two good arcana rolls by Nigel and Elodin, I pulled out the DMG and Volo’s Guide to Monsters and read a lot of the lore about the Feywild and Darklings to the players. It’s all really interesting stuff. I was concerned it might be boring to just read blocks of text from the books, but right afterwards I asked the players about it, and they all said they liked it. Cool.

In another chamber, the heroes come upon leather hides – mostly from humans and a few orcs – covering the floor. On top of the hides are bones, some with scraps of flesh still clinging to them. They examine the bones and determine them to be from humans and a few orcs.

One wall of the chamber glows softly with light, and Nigel approaches to investigate. Through the hazy light, he sees a perfect reflection of the chamber he’s now standing in. Soft music from a flute floats from the hazy portal.

The heroes determine that this is a place where the prime material plane has come into contact with the Feywild, causing a gateway between the two planes to form. They are torn about going in or not. Just as Nigel is about to walk away, a beautiful elven female appears in the Feywild chamber and beckons Nigel to enter.

The heroes discover a gateway to the Feywild, and Nigel is sorely tempted to enter.

Nigel enters the Feywild for a few moments, and then walks back into the material plane. Elodin and Rusty tell him that Nigel stood in the Feywild chamber for fifteen minutes doing nothing before returning.

As the heroes debate what to do, the elven female returns on the fey side, and beckons again to Nigel. Suddenly Nigel remembers her as a summertime love he had back when he was studying at bard college in Silverymoon. The easily tempted bard has to summon all of his willpower not to dive back through the portal.

This scene played out for a while and was super fun. The player plays Nigel as this “ladies man” who is can never turn down an attractive female. So, I was intentionally tempting him to enter. I think the players had mostly determined that their true mission didn’t lie through the portal, but there was some lingering doubt. That is, why would the DM put the portal there if the heroes weren’t supposed to go through it? So, I kept temping Nigel. Finally, though, the heroes leave the room, though. I still hold out “hope” that they’ll go back later…

The heroes come upon another chamber, this one very large with half of it on a ledge fifteen feet high. Iron cages dangle from the vines hanging from the ceiling, and odds and ends are scattered about the floor. Hundreds of small toads hop all about.

Up on the ledge is a large black cauldron. Next to the cauldron is a wrinkled, wart-covered, old lady sitting on the back of a large sow. Something seems familiar about the woman, and the heroes believe she is the Granny Tichwillow’s sister that they retrieved from the White Knights – only that woman, Agnes, was dead when they retrieved her from Gauntlet Hall.

Agnes greets the heroes, and invites them to join her on the ledge for a witch moot. Reluctantly, the heroes move up on to the ledge and begin to converse with her.

Rusty, Elodin, and Nigel speak with Dread Agnes Gristlegums at the witch moot.

Agnes tells them that the giant toads and mastiffs in the swamp were a test of their abilities, as were the darklings. She then invites them to join her and her sisters in their efforts. Those efforts turn out to be a scheme to bring darkness and chaos upon the entire area.

She proudly confessing to being the one to distribute the candy to the children in Rassalantar – the candy that Nigel has been popping constantly – and even shows them the cauldron, full of liquid candy brewing, and a counter with candy wrappers and candy molds on it. She warns them if they don’t join her, she’ll subject them to cruel experiments instead. Agnes even transforms into a beautiful half-elven female in a revealing blue dress to temp Nigel.

I think it was close to working, too… Poor Nigel. His DM knows exactly what his true motivations are...

The heroes are not inclined to join Agnes and her witch sisters, however. Nigel moves off the ledge, and Rusty rushes forward to attack.

And that is where we ended the session. Probably not a bad cliffhanger, as it turns out. It will also allow Belgarath to participate in this “witch confrontation.”

 

The Sword Coast Guard

the adventurers formerly known as the Heroes of Gold, Glory, and Girls

Rusty - Human Fighter

Nigel Dyreus - Half-elven Bard

Elodin - Human Wizard

[sorry, still need a picture]

Belgarath - Half-elven Rogue Warlock