Hand of Light, Episode 27 – My Dear Missing Mother, Part 7

Session Date: December 23, 2017

In the previous episode, the Hand of Light continued delving deeper into the catacombs beneath Iniarv’s Tower north of Waterdeep. They destroyed mummies and ghasts, were ambushed by undead beholders, and fought a glabrezu – a demonic creature from the Abyss.

23 Flamerule, 1367 DR

At the end of their resources, the heroes leave the catacombs and head to Iniarv’s tower to rest. On the way, both Karn and Dexter are pulled into a copse of trees by thick vines. Since this is the result of powers beyond their control, the rest of the adventurers continue onward.

Dexter’s player was not at this session, and Karn’s said he would be a little late.

During their rest, Lyr reads portions of a journal they recovered from the catacombs. It’s owner, Miriam Hargreeve, turns out to be a powerful necromancer who is responsible for the undead attacks on the town of Leilon to the north. As a follower of the dead god Myrkul, she is attempting to gather the god’s scattered essences from across the realms and bring him back to life.

This necromancer has also found the personal memoirs of the lich Iniarv himself wherein he details a dark ritual by which a caster can make himself impervious to physical and magical harm. Any damage or harmful effect is instead transferred to innocents linked to him. Miriam Hargreeve apparently has completed this ritual.

24 Flamerule, 1367 DR

After their long rest, the heroes head back to the catacombs. Karn joins them along the way, having fought free of the vines, but he doesn’t know what happened to Dexter.

As the Hand of Light retraces their path through the catacombs, they begin to hear eerie, haunting music about them. Drums make up the main thread of music, and scores of bells, completely out of tune to the drumming, chime cacophonously.

Dunkle decides to send N1-24 (whom the rogue successfully established a familiar bond with while resting) ahead to scout. The homunculus travels but a few corridors away before two creatures step into the corridor ahead of him.

The creatures’ bodies are transparent, resembling ghosts of some sort, and they wear lengths of chains with bells attached to them. Their eyes glow red with undead hatred, and they surge forward.

Fortunately, N1-24 makes it back to Dunkle safely, though quite terrified. Then the Hand of Light springs into motion.

Torug, the half-orc barbarian whom they rescued previously from these same catacombs, runs around the corner, throwing caution to the wind, to engage the ghosts.

Then, two more ghosts float around the corner, and the four apparitions approach Torag and begin flailing at him with their chains. Each hit the barbarian takes pulls him closer and closer to the ghosts until he is surrounded.

Then two halflings playing drums enter the corridor, too, and begin flinging spells at poor Torag.

Luna and Karn dash around the corner, to aid the half-orc, and attack the ghosts with abandon. Meanwhile Dunkle begins shooting away with his bow.

Lyr, seeing the desperate straits Torag is in, rounds the corner and casts insect cloud with his staff, blinding everyone in the area except for himself. The bard then moves up to Torag, touches him on the shoulder, and casts dimension door, teleporting both of them behind Karn and Luna.

With the barbarian out of their reach, the ghosts team up on Luna and pull her into their midst.

Karn has had enough at this point and, gripping his hold symbol, invokes the holy power of Torm, turning three of the ghosts. With three ghosts fleeing, the fourth that stays falls quickly to the heroes.

Lyr then casts suggestion on one halfling drummer, bidding him to flee to another room and practice his drumming more because it is quite clearly horrible. With the ghosts fled and the other halfling running away as well, the remaining halfling drummer also decides that flight would be best.

With their enemies fled, the heroes patch themselves up a bit with healing spells and potions before pressing onward.

They do notice, however, that the drumming and chiming continues to follow them.

After sprinting through the chamber that conceals undead beholders behind waterfalls, the music goes nearly silent. Lyr presses his ear to the door behind them and hears the music get louder, coming from that chamber. With all haste, the heroes move onward before the music catches up with them.

 I made it abundantly clear at least three times that the music is following them as they continue deeper into the catacombs.

Then, the adventurers enter the large chamber where they fought the glabrezu but the day before. Just as they enter it, a large form materializes in the air before them. Its face is concealed under the cowl of a black hooded robe it wears, and large feathered wings spread out behind it.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” it snarls as a black greatsword materializes into its skeleton-like hands. Black motes swirl around the greatsword, and the weapon seems to leech some of the light from the room.

The heroes converse briefly with the figure who identifies itself as Arakiba Venkalth, a fallen angel of the dead god Myrkul. He claims to serve Miriam Hargreeves who sent him there to kill the heroes.

“You however,” Arakiba says, pointing a boney finger at Karn, “I shall take as my own. I will take great pleasure in corrupting you, paladin of Torm!”

Just as the fallen angel moves to attack and the heroes brace themselves for battle, the three ghosts and halfling drummers appear behind them.



I mean, I made it clear that they were following them. I don’t know what else a DM could have done…

With the chain-whipping ghosts and little drummer boys behind them, and the powerful Arakiba before them, the fight goes south fast.

Lyr confronts the ghosts and drummers, but quickly gets pulled into their midst and takes a horrible beating. The bard is forced to cast invisibility and flee back into the chamber.

Meanwhile Luna, Karn, and Torug go toe-to-toe with Arakiba, dishing out damage but taking a lot in return. A lot. Dunkle, meanwhile move behind the columns in the room and begins firing at Arakiba with his bow.

With Lyr hidden and fled, the ghosts chain-whip Luna and pull her into their midst.

Torug is the first to fall to Arakiba’s blade, and then Luna goes down under a barrage from the ghosts and drummer boys. Then Arakiba unleashes a blast of radiant energy from himself, taking out both Lyr and Karn.

Karn manages to claw his way to consciousness for a moment, however.

Arakiba then stands over him, sword poised, and says, “Death would be too easy, paladin. I shall make you Myrkul’s!” And then the fallen angel slams Karn aside the head with the flat of his blade, knocking him unconscious.

An oath-breaker paladin would be fun, right?

With everyone else fallen, Dunkle dashes into the fifty-foot-high stacks of funerary recesses, scales one of them, and hides inside a recess. The rogue uses all his pirate energy to say quiet, praying that the enemies don’t find him.

As the ghosts and halfling drummers take up a search for the rogue, Arakiba begins decapitating the fallen heroes. First Torag’s head goes onto Karn’s halberd. Then he jams Luna’s head onto the half of her own upright maul. Finally, Lyr’s head goes onto his rapier.

Finally, a drummer boy locates Dunkle. What follows is a prolonged game of cat and mouse with Dunkle popping out of a recess, climbing around the stack, and hiding in another while the ghosts and halflings look for him.

Eventually however, the rogue is caught. A ghost wraps him with its chain, pulls him from a recess, and drops him to the floor. Dunkle takes a horrible beating, and barely clinging to life, looks up to see Arakiba towering over him.

“Parley?” the rogue asks weakly.

Arakiba nods and lifts Dunkle up into the air by his hair. “Granted!”

As the rogue breathes a sigh of relief, Arakiba roars, “I shall parley with your spirit!” And then its black sword comes across and parts Dunkle’s head from his body.

As darkness consumes Dunkle, the last thing he hears is the fallen angel’s evil laughter.

And thus the stories of Dunkle Fledermaus, Luna Hammerforge, and Aelyrendar Fairsong presumably come to an end. But what of Karn Mondel? Will he turn to evil under Arakiba’s influence? And what of Dexter? Can the wizard somehow rescue his companions from Death’s cold grip?


The Hand of Light

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

Hand of Light, Episode 26 – My Dear Missing Mother, Part 6

Session Date: December 9, 2017

In this episode, the Hand of Light finds an unexpected ally, slaughters mommies and their ghastly children, wrecks undead beholders, and nearly perishes at the hands of an angel.

23 Flamerule, 1367 DR

Before the Hand of Light proceeds any further into the compound, the doors to the beholder chamber they just fled swing open. Two rotting undead beholders grab Karn and Dunkle with their telekinetic eye rays and drag them away.

Then, before the doors close, Luna comes dashing through to join the remaining heroes. The dwarven paladin as been with the group long enough to know that members being dragged off — whether by tentacles or beholders —  is usually something that no one can do anything about. So, she doesn’t even bother asking.

Yep, Karn and Dunkle’s players were unable to attend the session…

The heroes investigate two doors nearby and find captives within. Some are from Leilon and others were simply traveling the road when they were taken by undead. One of the captives tells them that Lyr’s mother, Nicolette Fairson, was taken recently, and that no one who’s taken has ever returned.

One of the captives is a half-orc named Torug FaceSplitter, and he initially believes the heroes to be those responsible for shackling him. However, the Hand of Light convinces him otherwise, and Torug, a powerful warrior in his own right, agrees to help them out as he’s looking to get revenge on his captors.

The heroes explain to Torug they believe it’s a lich, but the half-orc seems undaunted.

The Hand of Light then users the captives out of the catacombs, using Lyr’s insect swarm staff to get by the undead beholders.

Further in the catacombs, they come upon a hallway lined with funerary recesses and two long hallways with sarcophagi in them. As they advance, ghasts leap out of the funerary recesses and drag Lyr into the middle of the pack and begin eating him alive.

In panic the bard unleashes one of his most powerful spells, destructive wave, and obliterates all of them.

Then the lids of the sarcophagi slide aside and two mummies shamble toward the heroes. However, Luna and Torug make short work of them.

Exploring further into the catacombs, the heroes find a couple rooms of interest. One is but a disused altar room dedicated to a fallen deity, and the other appears to the bedroom and study of the lich herself.

The heroes suspect a trap on that door, owing to the arcane runes written on it in blood, but sadly their trapper is absent. So, Luna and Torug just smash the door down.

Predictably, waves of necrotic energy roll over the party.

After recovering from such a cleverly disguised trap, they enter the room. They find some treasure and the journal of Miriam Hargreaves. They learn that this woman, a necromancer — and hopefully not an actual lich — has discovered a way to magically link herself to people so that any damage directed at her is instead transfer to them.

And, fortunately for the heroes, Karn is not present this day. For if he had been — and Dexter is damn sure to point this out to everyone — they would have never learned this information because the paladin is heaven-bent on destroying any knowledge related to the dark arts of necromancy and lichdom.

After taking a short rest in the altar room, Torug opens the door to see two undead beholders staring at him. “Close the door!” everyone else shouts at him.

What better way to make them fight more beholders than a random encounter when short resting? [insert evil laugh here]

The heroes don’t hide or run this time, though. They come out of the room, weapons and spells flashing. Lyr blinds one of them with blindness, making it a mostly helpless target, and Dexter begins blasting and blinding the other with sunbeam. One beholder does get off a couple eyes rays before they are both destroyed; so the heroes are not totally unscathed in the battle.

After licking their wounds, the group moves into a hallway that looks quite suspicious to them. Upon investigating, they find slits all along the walls from which they suspect something quite nasty will exit should they do the wrong thing.

They investigate a pair of double doors at the end of the hallway, and find a metal plate next to them that can be depressed. They finally determine that the trap is most likely triggered by opening the doors and that the plate probably disarms the trap.

So, what does Lyr do?


Seriously, Lyr is the type of player that all DMs love. I mean the players had figured out my trap and were just about to completely bypass it. And then Lyr totally redeems my time spend designing the trap. 🙂

Fortunately, only Lyr was in the danger zone, and only Lyr is hit by a multitude of sharp blades that spring from the walls and begin slicing him to pieces. In panic, the bard slams his palm into the metal plate, depressing it and causing the blades to grind to a halt.

There is a bit of name-calling at this point, but Lyr just smiles, undaunted, and moves on.

The Hand of Light then enters a large chamber with columns running down the center, and a fallen, broken bronze statue lying in the center of the room. To the north are crypts with funerary recesses. To the south the ceiling has collapsed and stone rubble is strewn about.

As the heroes investigate the statue — that of an angelic being known as a solar — a deep noble voice begins to speak to them telepathically. It identifies itself as a powerful servant of a fallen god, Tabris, and warns them agains the evil necromancer that lies further on in the catacombs.

Luna uses her divine sense, determining that the area has been desecrated, but senses no fiendish, celestial, or undead creatures nearby.

After some discussion, the heroes ask the being if it can aid them. The voice tells them it will bestow a blessing on their weapons and armor if they lie them near the broken statue. Lyr immediately removes his armor and does so. Luna is about to do the same, but Dexter speaks up, questioning whether that is wise or not.

When Luna changes her mind, the rubble to the south explodes out ward, and a large demonic creature with four arms, two of which end in massive pincers, emerges. A glabrezu.

The voice in their head, now guttural and demonic, mocks them for their foolishness, and the demon drops a globe of darkness over itself.

The battle that follows is epic.

The glabrezu strides forward, snatches both Luna and Torug up in its pincers, and then casts power word stun on Dexter. As the wizard is left reeling for nearly half a minute and the demon begins rending the dwarf and half-orc to pieces, Lyr does the only thing he can think of.

He casts insect cloud from his staff, obscuring the demon’s vision, too.

Enraged, the demon goes into a frenzy, taking out its hatred on poor Luna. Lyr casts Bigby’s Fist, but the demon contemptuously dispels it. And then, the glabrezu tears Luna in half, throwing the two halves of her body to either side of the room.

Having no answer to the creature’s raw power and magical abilities, Lyr and Dexter both discuss fleeing, leaving Torug to his fate and losing the option of revivifying Luna.

However, the half-orc barbarian is not having it. With one final burst of courage and rage, Torug lays into the demon with his borrowed greatsword. The blind barbarian feels his weapon sink satisfyingly into the monster’s flesh several times.

And the darkness winks out.

The heroes then witness the might creature issue one last curse at them before its body dissipates into nothingness.

Immediately Lyr and Dexter pull the two halves of Luna back together, and the bard casts revivify. Luna’s eyes flutter open as life is restored to her corpse.

Then, wrecked, badly injured, and out of spells, the Hand of Light limps off to a dark corner of the catacombs to take a much needed rest.

That was an AWESOME battle! I had a blast running that glabrezu and was totally prepared to TPK the heroes. Fortunately, their bacon was saved.

This time.

The Hand of Light

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

Sword Coast Guard, Episode 17 – The Siege of Gauntlet Hall, Part 1

Session Date: December 3, 2017

28 Eleasias, 1367 DR

When we last left our heroes, they had just rescued the true Lady Nellabee Tharmar from the clutches of a succubus and her demonic offspring. Shortly thereafter, they learned that Gauntlet Hall – the castle they annexed from the White Knights – is under siege.

Following the instructions of the courier, the Sword Coast Guard heads to Castle Waterdeep to meet with Tzarrakyn the Younger about a supposed siege on Gauntlet Hall. It being late at night, the heroes wake him from his slumber in his quarters.

Tzarrakyn tells them that news came in that morning that orcs and giants had laid siege to Gauntlet Hall two days ago. He doesn’t have any more details and asks them if he can count on them to break the siege.

Iantornin loudly proclaims that they will indeed do that and Elodin mumbles, “Yeah, I mean it is our castle after all.” Tzarrakyn tells them to meet him on the morrow and one of the War Wizards will teleport them to Gauntlet Hall.

29 Eleasias, 1367 DR

After taking their rest in the Safehaven Inn, the heroes meet Tzarrakyn and Linar of the War Wizards in the morning. Linare explains that because she is only familiar with Gauntlet Hall, there are risks involved with teleporting there. Namely, they might not end up at their actual destination. He heroes accept the risks, and Linare casts her spell.

The Sword Coast Guard then finds themselves at Gauntlet Hall — but outside its west wall. Worse, to the west, they can see a whole mess of orcs swarming behind a fortified ditch and embankment.

The heroes head to the wall where they are challenged by the Waterdhavian soldier in charge. Despite explaining who they are, the soldier doesn’t seem to believe them.

Nigel attempts to persuade the soldier with music — it fails — and Elodin complains under his breath about the indignity of being refused entrance to their own castle.

Ultimately, the soldier tells them to go around to the gate and he’ll get Civiliar Casey who’s in charge. Casey meets them at the gate and the heroes are immediately allowed entrance through the sally port.

Xavier loudly begins to file a complain against the soldier who challenged them, but Iantorin silences him. “Later! There are more important matters to attend to at this time.”

The heroes and Casey go to the war room where other Waterdhavian officers are gathered and receive a summary of the situation.

Orcs and giants have set up fortified lines — ditches and spiked embankments — to the west and east of the castle along the ridge that the castle is built upon. A couple hundred orcs are behind each line. Then, to the south lies the main encampment of orcs, some five hundred of the foul beasts.

That morning catapults manned by teams of giants were set up behind the west line, and to the south they’ve spotted a massive battering ram covered by an iron roof. Currently the orcs are preparing to assault the castle, likely waiting until the catapults and battering ram have opened breaches in the castle walls.

Bjoern, an experience officer who’s much more competent than Casey, tells them that the orcs are operating with precision and coordination completely alien to their race. The heroes immediately suspect someone (or something) must be leading them, and Bjoern tells them that specks of fire have been spotted in the night sky above the castle the last two nights.

After a period of speculation, the heroes determine it’s possible that the leaders of the besieging army have access to nightmares, fiendish horses from the Abyss, and ride them over the castle at night for reconnaissance.

One of the men in the room, Mizela Faust, is no solider but a War Wizard. The obese man explains to them that he can cast a spell on them that will make them appear as orcs — or anything for that matter — for the next eight hours.

The Sword Coast Guard spends some time strategizing with Bjoern and Casey, trying to determine how to defeat the siege without fighting the entire army gathered outside. They believe that striking at the leader is definitely needed, but they also need to sow enough discord or defeat in the army to cause them to abandon the cause.

Then a soldier enters the room, out of breath. “It’s begun,” he says. “The battering ram has begun its approach.” And at the moment the entire castle shakes and there is a thunderous sound from the west.

“And those must be the catapults,” Bjoern says.

Frantic, Casey turns to the heroes. “Can you stop the battering ram?” she pleads.

“Of course we can!” proclaims Iantorin. “We’re the Sword Coast Guard.”

“Sword Coast Guard!” the other heroes shout, fists held high in the air.

After the wizard Mizela casts his spell, making them all appear as orcs, the heroes leave through the sally port to find the battering ram — a massive iron contraption covered by an iron canopy — slowly plodding along toward the castle gates, pushed by three giants easily twice as tall as a man. Behind the giants are half a dozen orcs bearing tower shields.

Elodin immediately casts a spell, turning the ground in front of the battering ram into a pit of mud. The front third of the siege weapon dips into the mud, and the two lead giants fall in and begin floundering about.

As the orc guard begins streaming forward, Nigel casts entangle with his fancy new magical bandalore — courtesy of the “real” Lady Tharmar — and stops five of them cold as roots wrap around them.

Belwar (supposedly a necromancer) polymorphs into a brontosaurus and charges into the fray, stomping and tail swiping the foes before him. Xavier follows and brings his enchantyed blizzard sword to bear against the entangled orcs. Iantorin, meanwhile, sticks close to Nigel and Elodin to protect the more vulnerable members.

One of the giants hits Elodin with a hurled rock, dealing severe damage to the frail human. However, things mostly go in favor of the heroes, and in short order they dispatch their foes.

With the battering ram crew dead — only giants would be able to move machinery that massive — and orc worg riders streaming at them, the heroes retreat back through the sally port into the castle. But not before Belwar creates four orc zombies from the corpses.

Finally the necromancer has arrived!

The orc army seems to take a collective breath at the loss, but soon the catapult crews resume their assault on the walls.

The Sword Coast Guard briefly discusses their next move and finally determines that they must take out the catapult crews, otherwise the western wall will come down within a few hours. So, they travel through Gauntlet Hall’s crypts and exit from a secret entrance half a mile to the north. There they begin to move around to the rear of the orc lines where the catapults are.

However, they run into an orc dire wolf patrol on the way. The heroes, still appearing to be orcs, try to bluff their way past the patrol as they are inquiring as to their injuries. They are doing quite well until Xavier opens his mouth and ruins it all. The orcs become increasingly suspicious until finally Iantorin, having tired of the charade, attacks them.

The battle is short; the orcs stand no chance against the powerful Sword Coast Guard. Xavier attempts to claim one of the dire wolves as his own, but Belwar’s zombies, unable to understand the eldritch knight’s intensions, rip it to pieces.

The heroes then arrive to the rear of the orc lines and begin discussing their plan for getting past the orcs and disabling the catapults. The conversation drags on for about ten minutes before a group of orcs approach them.

“What’s this?” one of them growls. “The Boss said everyone was to be at the front for the assault.”

“We just came from the north,” Iantorin says in orc. “We were ambushed by the enemy. We defeated them, but there could be more.”

The orcs’ eyes go wide. “Damned weakling humans! Come on. We got to tell the Boss about this.”

The orcs insist the heroes go with them, but Nigel feigns having been poisoned during the ambush and begins vomiting all over the ground. The orcs, disgusted and thinking it might be contagious, allow the bard and Elodin to remain behind.

Interesting how the two characters who CAN’T speak orc remain behind… Also the two squishiest characters… All alone… Hey, I’m the DM. I don’t question such fortuitous turns of events…

The Xavier, Iantorin, Belwar, and the latter’s four orc zombies, are then escorted to the Boss who turns out to be a towering frost giant, easily twenty feet tall. Two massive winter wolves, beasts purposed to breathe cones of cold and be raised by frost giants as pets, lounge nearby. But a few yards away are four gigantic catapults manned by ogres.

The orcs push the heroes forward. “These ones say the humans ambushed them to the north.”

The frost giant glares at the Sword Coast Guard for several moments, looming over them as he sizes them up. “Well, give your report then!”

The Sword Coast Guard

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

Not photoed: Iantorin Mournsoul - Half-Elven Paladin of Helm