Hand of Light, Episode 22 – My Dear Missing Mother, Part 2

Session Date: October 14, 2017

20 Flamerule, 1367 DR

As the heroes continue their discussion of where to go — wander the swamp or go to the ruins of Iniarv’s Tower — glowing balls of light appear in the distance, rapidly approaching them. Karn identifies them as will-o’-wisps just as the undead creatures attack.

Mostly stuck on a small island, the heroes are quickly surrounded by the monsters. The will-o’-wisps attack by slamming into them, sending jolts of electricity coursing through their bodies. Luna lays into the undead lightning bugs with abandon, her Maul of Disruption obliterating the creatures with every swing. After several moments of being zapped by the creatures and smashing them in return, all but one of the will-o-wisps are defeated.

As the remaining monster streaks off to the southwest, the heroes and Gabriel (their beloved NPC worshipper of Oghma) pile into their boat to give chase. The will-o’-wisp quickly zips out of sight, but the heroes continue in that direction thinking maybe it will lead them to the necromancer they seek.

In the distance they see a hunched figure in a boat, pushing itself along in the water with a crude pole fashioned from a branch. Dexter sends Vesper ahead to check it out and reports that it appears to be an old lady.

Immediately conversation begins regarding hags in the swamp.

I don’t get it. Can’t a DM simply place an NPC in a swamp without speculation and suspicion taking over?

As the heroes row closer, the old lady turns and greets them, introducing herself as Mildred. She says she lives in a cottage near the swamp and is looking for her granddaughter. According to Mildred — she tells the heroes they can call her “Milly” — undead broke into her cottage a few days back and kidnapped her granddaughter. She asks the heroes to help her find her.

Suspicions high, Karn, the noble paladin, agrees to aid her, but also casts divine sense. Milly is neither undead, celestial, nor fiend. However, Karn does sense undead creatures not far from the boat, some thirty feet down into the water.

The heroes begin dumping flasks of holy water into the swamp above the undead. The holy water purifies and cleanses the water, allowing them to see into its depths. Finally, one the divine water has penetrated to thirty feet, skeletal corpses of gnolls are revealed. The undead creatures’ eyes glow red when the holy water touches them, and they surge upward toward the heroes.

A brief battle breaks out — the gnoll skeletons are no match for the group — and Dunkle appears just as the last skeletons dies, the rogue exiting the water and pulling himself onto a log. (He had fallen into the water some ways back and the group had only searched half-heartedly for their lost pirate rogue.)

Translation: Dunkle’s player was late to the session.

“What’d I miss?” calls Dunkle.

“Undead. Old lady,” replies Lyr as Luna smashes the last skeleton.

The heroes then have another brief conversation with Milly, finally deciding that she is at least half crazy. However, they do set off with her to the southeast, deciding she’s the best lead they have for finding the necromancer. It’s worth noting that Gabriel and Lyr both insist they should go to Iniarv’s Tower, but they are mostly ignored.

After some time traveling, they come upon the ruins of some ancient civilization. Crumbling buildings rise from the swamp, their lower stories having sunken into the mire, and they spot a ziggurat in the distance whence from tortured screams float to them.

Hounds on the trail, the Hand of Light makes haste to the ziggurat and finds a moss-covered entrance — a narrow chimney really — leading down into the structure. The screams emanate from the chimney. They quickly tie off a rope, drop it down the chimney, and head down.

Karn is the first to drop into a fairly large room. The paladin sees several humans manacled to walls and tied to tables. Snake-like humanoids wielding implements of torture — hooked knives and heated pincers — stare at the paladin, having paused at their work when they heard a clamor and commotion from the chimney as the heroes were descending.

“Torm aid me!” Karn screams as he readies his halberd and charges the monstrous men.

As the rest of the Hand of Light slides down in the room, Dexter identifies the monsters as yuan-ti. Several of the creatures simply look like men with snakes for heads. However, two of them have arms that end in dozens of snakes instead of hands.

As the ass-kicking unfolds, one of the yuan-ti loudly calls down a hallway, presumable alerting others nearby to the intruder’s presence. Sure enough, more yuan-ti — these ones with lower torsos of snakes — and large, undead, skeletal snakes arrive soon after.

Many of the yuan-ti and the skeletal snakes have nasty and potent spells that they bring to bear against the heroes. Seeing they are at risk of being overwhelmed, Dexter drops a wall of force to split the yuan-ti forces. It buys them some time, but those that were cut off find an alternative way at them.

Karn, Luna, and Dunkle spend the battle taking names and kicking ass. Dexter casts spells like his life depends on it — it does — and counterspells most of the enemies’ nastiest spells. Lyr, however, spends most of the fight invisible and doing…well, things.

Lyr had cast invisibility on himself and didn’t want to have wasted a 2nd level slot. So, he spend the fight distracting and annoying the monsters. You know, typical Lyr stuff.

Finally, the Hand of Light does prevail agains their foes, though they are rather beat up, and Dexter is mostly out of spell slots. They believe, however, that they must have found the source of the undead that attacked Leilon and carried half the village away.

As they contemplate taking a short rest, they wonder how much more of the compound was alerted and en route.

The Hand of Light

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

Hand of Light, Episode 21 – My Dear Missing Mother, Part 1

Session Date: September 30, 2017

16 Flamerule, 1367 DR

After their tenday of downtime, the first order of business of the Hand of Light is to grill Luna over her motivations for joining the group and her general intentions, all while in a zone of truth. Specifically, they want to make sure she has no intentions of harming their adventuring company.

I missed this in the last entry, but Luna ate portion of a page from a book that contained information about wrongdoing of certain groups and individuals in Waterdeep. The presumption was that Luna was hiding something, and the group members are suspicious of her. But the DM would never create secret agendas for a character, would he???

Then the heroes head to New Olamn bard college to speak with Cora Sorel about the letter they received. They find Cora in Modesty Hall, the recreational hall. There they find her rather dejected as she and an instructor listen to three new students doing a horrible job playing their instruments.

Lyr casts enhance ability on the students, improving their musical talent signifantly, and their instructor begins praising them as musical prodigies.

As much of the rec hall breaks out into excitement over the students and heads over to listen better, Cora leads the Hand of Light out of the building and to her offices in the main compound of New Olamn. Cora berates Lyr quite sternly over delaying in arriving, mentions that he’s behind on his dues, and directs them to speak directly with Evard if they want to know more about Lyr’s mother, Nicolette.

Speaking with Evard, a bard who traveled in Nicolette’s band, they learn that she has been captured by undead near the town Leilon to the north. Evard tells them undead attacked the town, carrying off women and children into the Mere of Dead Men. Then, when Lyr and his friends did not respond to Nicolette’s first call for assistance, their band of bards took matters into their own hands, trying to find the captured townsfolk. This is when Nicolette was captured, along with the rest of the band, except Evard who escaped.

This is what happens when players are presented with adventure A and adventure B, and chose A. The story line of adventure B still advances...

The heroes begin to prepare for their journey to Leilon. Dunkle heads to the docks and finds a ship that can give them passage, though it doesn’t depart for five days. Dexter and Luna visit Essimuth, put up with long winded stories about undead, and manage to buy healing potions for the group. Lyr spends a couple hours researching undead types and the area around Leilon and the Mere of Dead Men. Karn procures flasks of holy water from the church of Tom.

The heroes then meet up and buy horses, since Dunkle’s connections at the dock didn’t yield a ship worth taking – they’d be in Leilon via horse before the ship even sails from Waterdeep. Then they set out along the High Road, heading north to Leilon.

19 Flamerule, 1367 DR

The road skirts the Sword Coast as it heads north, with jagged cliffs to the west and the imposing Sword Mountains to the east. The journey is uneventful until day three when they spot something flying toward them from the east.

The shape resolves into a large, winged devil bearing a trident. Dexter identifies it as a horned devil, and quickly relays some basic information to the others.

The devil tells that Hand of Light that its master, Jathar, wished to thank them for the excellent lead they gave him regarding the Moonstars. It looks like the elves will indeed be able to help with finding a map of Evermeet. That is, given enough “persuasion.”

The horned devil them holds out two large gems saying Jathar wishes to present them with a gift. It throws the gems to the ground below, and two inter-dimensional portals open. Through the portals, the heroes can see an ice-covered landscape where the wind howls. Fiendish, ice-covered creatures resembling orcs exit the portals and attack.

The ice orcs turn out to be minor challenge – though Luna takes a terrible beating. It’s the horned devil hurling balls of fire from 150 feet above that really gives the heroes pause. First Karn and then Dexter feel the bite of that devilish fire, before Lyr drops an insect cloud around the heroes, hiding them from the devil’s sight.

Just as Dexter polymorphism into a giant eagle so he can carry Karn up to fight the horned devil, Lyr casts hypnotic pattern on the monster, causing it to plummet to the ground. From there it’s your basic surround and pound; the horned devil doesn’t stand a chance.

After resting, the heroes continue their journey to Leilon. However, they take note that their troubles with this Jathar and Mephistopheles, the archduke of Cania, the eighth layer of the Nine Hells, might not be over.

20 Flamerule, 1367 DR

Upon arriving to Leilon, the heroes note that fully half the town is in ruins. Patrols of mounted soldiers in blue surcoats, soldiers of Leilon, patrol the streets as do spear men and archers bearing the eye and tears sigil of Neverwinter.

They speak with Lance Captain Hermon Shagavon, the leader of the Lances of Leilon, and are told that a necromancer named Gabriel Erskine is responsible for the undead invasion. Captain Shagavon tells them Gabriel claimed to be a priest of Oghma, the god of knowledge, but was known for experimenting on cadavers. So, naturally, when undead attacked, Gabriel must have been responsible. Captain Shagavon tells them that they tried to apprehend Gabriel, but her escaped in the Mere of Dead Men.

The heroes also speak with Captain Ivon Paxton, the leader of the Neverwinter soldiers, but learn nothing else of value.

So, they head to Gabriel’s house to investigate further. There they find a workroom with a cadaver, several books with detailed scientific notes about the anatomy of several creatures, including humans, and a large sig of Oghma – a blank scroll – painted on the wall. The evidence they find doesn’t seem to implicate Gabriel at all. The heroes discuss and believe that the citizens of Leilon were not correct in their belief that it was Gabriel.

The Hand of Light purchases a boat and heads into the Mere of Dead Men to either find Gabriel or the source of the undead problem. They travel for some time with little results. So, Lyr uses speak with animals to get assistance from a crow who leads them through the swamp toward another human it’s recently seen.

The heroes come upon a man up a tree fending off a handful of undead creatures with long tongues lolling from their mouths: ghasts. The Hand of Lights pilots their boat to the small island of dry land at the base of the tree and quickly defeat the undead creatures.

They convince the man to come down the tree, and it turns out to be Gabriel Erskine. He explains to them that he’s been traveling the Mere of Dead Men for some time trying to find the source of the undead in order to clear his name. Under another zone of truth it’s revealed that Gabriel is an inept fighter and has mostly been fleeing undead for the last few weeks.

Gabriel tells them he believes the source of the undead to be located in the Ruins of Iniarv’s Tower. However, he doesn’t know how to get to the tower. The heroes, though, do know where it’s located – in fact they passed it on their way to Leilon.

After discussing, the heroes decide that the source of trouble couldn’t possibly be in the tower. So, they decide to wander the swamp, hoping they get lucky. Gabriel volunteers to help them, though he strongly doubts they’ll find anything in the swamp.

The Hand of Light

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

Hand of Light, Episode 20 – Finding Katso: Part 3

Session Date: September 2, 2017

5 Flamerule, 1367 DR

Dunkle makes his way through the compound, intent on finding his comrades. The sounds of battle echo down the hallway, and the trail of corpses lead him in what he presumes is the correct direction. Finally, the rogue enters a large chamber and finds the other members of the Hand of Light locked in a pitched battle with several winged tieflings – and his friends aren’t doing so well.

Quietly, Dunkle sneaks up behind one tiefling and stabs Bleeder, his enchanted rapier, through its back. Yanking the blade out, he kicks the dying foe over a ledge into sewer water far below. Then he moves to the next tiefling. Bleeder lashes out ruthlessly, spilling the tiefling’s life blood and toppling it over the ledge as well.

And thus, with Dunkle’s arrival, the tide of battle shifts.

At this Karn dispatches a third tiefling, and the forth wisely flees down a tunnel. Katso, from behind his wall of force prison, pounds futilely against the magical wall, his mouth forming silent screams of rage.

After thanking Dunkle for finally showing up – and saving their butts – the heroes turn their attention to the gnomes. First, they convince them to stand down and stop throwing concussion grenades at them. Then they begin to persuade them that Katso is the villain here and would enslave the gnomes all over again if they continue to follow him.

At first the gnomes are hesitant and proclaim loyalty to “the Great One.” However, they eventually come around and admit they’ve erred – again.

Dexter’s wall of force then dissipates – it only lasts ten minutes – and a torrent of backed up water rushes forth from the tunnel above, wishing Katso with it. The Great One crashes into the water in the basin below and disappears under the swirling liquid.

Several moments go by, with the water level rising by ten feet in the basin, but Katso does not resurface. He was either killed by the force of the water or escaped.

If you had just watched your elite soldiers defeated and then faced the choice of fighting all five adventurers by yourself, what would you do?

The heroes then investigate the rest of the compound. In Shindia’s room they disarm a trapped chest and find gold and and two jars of flesh to stone ointment. In the general barracks, they find Katso’s bed – a bunk bed piled with blocks of wierdust – but little else of interest.

The heroes then approach both New Olamn and Eltorchul Academy to see if they can find a home for the gnomes. In the end, they land the gnomes a gig at New Olamn, documenting their alchemical knowledge and researching formulas.

6 Flamerule – 15 Flamerule

Then the Hand of Light spends a tenday of downtime:

  • Dexter – Researches the magical darkness covering Faerun and finds a formula for a solution that counteracts the particulates in the sky. He also surmises that the solution must be applied to the source in the meteorite near Amn for the particulates filling the air to be permanently neutralized.
  • Karn – Meets with the Scribe, requesting that he track down Jathar, an agent of Mephistopheles who recently attacked them in an attempt to get a map of Evermeet. He then spends time in religious service, encouraging the populace to take heart despite the darkness covering the land.
  • Lyr – Spends his time carousing with the merchant class in an attempt to find a manager for the tavern the heroes purchased. He hires a man named Barrick who agrees to do it for 10% of the inn’s revenue. He also recruits a redhead, Cynthia Silvertooth, whom Barrick required be part of the deal.
  • Luna – Writes letters to various people. She also carousels a bit, gaining three allied contacts in the middle class.
  • Dunkle – Recruits “the Flower” to work at their inn when it opens up. He also begins training her in the roguish arts so she may serve as a mole, gleaning information from patrons.

16 Flamerule

A courier delivers a letter from Cora Sorrel to Lyr, requesting – demanding – that the heroes come to her forthwith.

The Hand of Light

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

Hand of Light, Episode 19 – Finding Katso: Part 2

Session Date:August 4, 2017

5 Flamerule, 1367 DR

After the Hand of Light takes a short rest, Dunkle arrives with a new companion: Luna Hammerforge, a dwarven paladin that he met at a tavern who would like to join their group. After a quick introduction, Dunkle leaves the compound, explaining that he has other matters to attend to.

The heroes go around, introducing themselves to Luna, and then continue their quest to find Katso. While the heroes are traveling through the large chamber of wooden platforms and bridges, a massive tentacle explodes from the water, grabs Dona, and pulls her in the murky water far below.

The heroes briefly discuss looking for her but decide against it. Dona survived a kraken before, they conclude; she’ll survive one again.

The come to a corridor with double wooden doors at the end of it. Lyr does his best to search for traps in the absence of their trapper, Dunkle, but finds nothing.

When Karn pulls the doors open, spinning blade traps spring from the walls, slicing into the heroes. Furthermore, iron door slide into place, blocking the way forward and back, and the door to a secret chamber opens. Several aggressive chicken-like creatures stream forth from the hidden room, heading angrily at the heroes.

As they duck the spinning blades that fill the corridor, they must contend with the creatures that Dexter correctly identifies as cockatrices. Both Luna and Dexter are nearly turned to stone by the monsters, but manage to fit through their petrifying magic.

Karn, meanwhile, jams his halberd into the trap mechanism, disabling some of the blades. Once the cockatrices are dealt with, the heroes smash the trap’s gear boxes, disabling it.

The heroes come upon an octagonal chamber, and, upon thoroughly searching it, find a secret door. However, they are unable to discern how it opens. So, Karn rams his shoulder against the door repeatedly until it begins to crumble inward. Believing the door now inoperable, the heroes continue onward.

They come upon a set of heavy, iron-bound wooden doors. When they can find no way to open them, Karn and Luna begin to hack at them with their halberd and maul. Once they’ve done enough damage – and alerted everyone for miles around to their presence – they can see a heavy beam barring the door on the other side. They reach through, remove the beam, and the nearly ruined doors swing open.

Beyond is another octagonal chamber, this one with a high ceiling and a ledge some twenty feet from the floor. Lyr creates a giant scorpion with his staff, and sends it in with Karn and Luna to investigate.

Inside they find the walls below the ledge covered with a thick grease, preventing easy climbing. As they begin to search around for secret doors, three secret doors open, two at ground level and one on the ledge. The doors below review more swashbucklers and spies, and from the door on the ledge enters a half-elf drow they’ve dealt with before.

Shindia Darkeyes congratulates them on making it this far, and claims she has unfinished business with Lyr – who turned her into a rabbit in the heroes’ last encounter with her. After some dry banter and Karn calling Shindia to justice, a battle ensues.

Dexter immediately cuts off several of the enemies from the battlefield with a wall of force. Karn, Luna, and the giant scorpion engage the foes on the ground. Up above, Shindia begins shooting crossbow quarrels – heavily poisoned quarrels! – at the heroes.

The giant scorpion goes down quickly, and both Lyr and Dexter take cover behind the doors and farther down the corridor. Fortunately for them, the enemies are unable to flank them since they ruined the secret door back that way.

Luna begins dropping enemies at ground level, while Karn levitates up into the air – thanks to a spell from the bard – and uses his halberd to push off the wall and towards Shindia. The half-elf drow assassin had been decimating the heroes with her poisoned bolts, but once the paladin of Torm closes with her, she is quickly ended.

Dexter drops his wall of force, and the heroes make short work of the remaining enemies. One spy does surrender and rattles off lots of information about the compound and where to find Katso. Because he was so helpful, the heroes decide to spare his life and leave him tied to a door that Karn ripped from the hinges.

The Hand of Light enters Shindia’s private quarters next. Searching her desk, they find a “book of dirty secrets” that lists embarrassing and incriminating evidence for noble families and guilds of Waterdeep. Lyr immediately consults the book and finds an incriminating entry for Physic Verdon Hulda of the Guild of Apothecaries and Physicians.

In another part of her room, they find a chest with several glowing runes on it. However, they decide to come back for it later, after they’ve dealt with Katso. They also bypass the general quarters.

The come to the workshop, where the interrogated spy told them they’d find Katso. It is a massive chamber, split by two ledges, one on either side. They are on one of the ledges, and can see rancid sewer water far below. Two rickety wooden bridges stretch across to the far ledge. That ledge has alchemy equipment peaking above a low stone wall that runs its length. On one side of the chamber, two water outlets exit the wall, dumping murky liquid into the water below.

A familiar voice, echoes through the room, “Hello, friends. I’m glad you made it this far.” The heroes recognize the voice as Katso’s. “I just want you to know that the gnomes are mine. I would let you leave for old time’s sake, but you’ve seen the Great One’s wings and must now die. Any final words before I reveal my grand surprise?”

There is a brief exchange of words, but both parties know there can only be conclusion: battle. The heroes try to determine where Katso is but are unable.

Suddenly a gigantic tapestry unfurls from the ceiling along the eastern wall. The tapestry spans the entire wall. It depicts Katso sitting on a throne of wierdust blocks while Dona, Dexter, Lyr, Karn, Adrie, Balasar, and Rainn bow down before him in worship. Katso’s hair blows in an invisible breeze, and gnomish servants attend to his every whim.

“Do you like it?” the Great One’s voice calls. “This represents my grand vision of the future. Now, let’s make it a reality, shall we?”

Four winged tiefling thieves – Katso’s special hit squad – rise from behind the stone wall and fire bolts at the heroes. The heroes’ missing gnomes also reveal themselves from behind the wall, hurling concussion grenades at the Hand of Light. Katso emerges from on of the water outlets, fires an arrow at them, and retreats back within.

At this, Dexter casts another wall of force, sealing Katso inside the water outlet. Lyr then casts fly on Karn who then moves across the gulf to engage the thieves. Luna refuses to go across the bridges, believing they are trapped or will otherwise drop her into the water below, and fires an arrow at the thieves.

The battle that unfolds is nasty. Karn drops the thieves several times into the water with his advanced sentinel training, but they unleash loads of punishment regardless. Lyr casts blindness on two of the thieves, but they remain somewhat effective regardless. The gnomes continue to lob concussion grenades at the heroes, who do nothing to them as they want to rescue the gnomes from Katso’s lies, not kill them.

Luna moves over a bridge to engage a thief but is stabbed by two of them and goes down. One of the thieves casually pushes her unconscious form into the water far below where she will surely drown.

The battle going against the heroes, Lyr desperately casts polymorph on himself and turns into a T-Rex. However, before he can do much, two thieves stab him up with their swords, causing him to lose concentration.

Dexter drinks an invisibility potion and flees from one thief that had moved to engage him. The wizard then dives into the water after Luna. Finding her, he unstoppers a healing potion and forces the liquid down the dwarf’s throat before she drowns.

And, during all of this, Katso waits patiently, still trapped by the wall of force. He knows his former companions will have to release him eventually, and when they do…

Katso has more than enough surprises for them.

We had to stop the session mid-battle. It was 12:40 am, and the game shop was closing.

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 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

Hand of Light, Episode 16 – Into the City of Spiders

Session Date: June 24, 2017

In-Game Dates: 23 Kythorn, 1367 DR

Having rescued a few dozen captives from their insidious drow captors, the Hand of Light fortifies themselves in a stalactite in the compound to take a long rest. After resting, Dextor casts teleportation circle to send the captives, including two of Dona’s sisters and Grull back to Waterdeep. The heroes give Grull and Dona’s sisters instructions to head to New Olamn for protection and housing until the heroes can return from wherever the drow teleportation circle leads. Lyr provides them with a note for his mentor Cora and the High Harper that should get them lodging and protection.

Dexter spends a few hours studying the teleportation circle enshrined on the floor of the drow prison. He determines that in order to operate it, he’ll likely need something similar to a sigil sequence that is used for other teleportation magic. However, for all of his learning, the wizard is unable to ascertain what that sigil sequence is.

In a moment of inspiration, Lyr proclaims that they can use a scroll of speak with dead to talk with the slain drow mage to find out how to use the teleportation circle. [I think the group generally fears his moments of inspiration…]

The bard proceeds to disguise himself as a drow [he’s proficient in disguise kit] and practices his best drow accent. [Lyr speaks Elvish, but I rule that drow speak the language with a particular accent that he’d need to imitate.]

[The players spend some time deciding on exactly which questions to ask. And Lyr was carefully writing them down. It’s almost like they expected me to be cagey with the drow’s answers… The great thing about them players taking 20 minutes to determine the questions, is I also had 20 minutes to determine the answers. J When they were ready, I told the players that once the scene began, no one would be able to help Lyr since he was alone with the drow.]

Once Lyr is ready, he casts speak with dead on the drow mage, with all of the other characters out of the room. He’s hoping that the mage will believe him to be an ally and thus respond truthfully. Once the drow mage’s soul is brought briefly back into its corpse, Lyr asks his questions:

Who attacked this compound and slew all the drow? Our enemies. [The players were hoping this question and Lyr’s disguise would help reinforce that Lyr is an ally. The heroes, obviously, were the ones that killed all the drow.]

Where does the teleportation circle in this room lead? My home. [The players really wanted to know if they would end up in the middle of a drow city square, or in a room somewhere. Cagey response number one…]

Is your home in Menzoberranzan? Yes. [Not a planned question, and the players still don’t know exactly where the teleportation circle leads.]

How is the teleportation circle activated? By speaking the proper pass phrase. [Good thing they have one question left… See, that’s only two cagey responses so far.]

What is the pass phrase to activate the teleportation circle? The Night Below envelops the Light Above. [Lyr was furiously writing this down. He has experience with my unwillingness to repeat things out-of-character that were said once in-character by an NPC.]

With no further ado, the heroes gather up in the teleportation circle and speak the pass phrase. Instantly they are teleported into a large room. Large statues shaped like driders stand in the four corners of the room, and a door leads out.

They inspect the statues briefly to confirm they are carved statues and not petrified driders. Then Lyr checks the door for traps. When he discovers none, he tries to open the door.

Upon touching the doorknob, one of the drider statues to the side of the door unleashes a wave of magic that slows one of the heroes [I think it was Dexter?] and then begins to attack Lyr.

As a battle with the drider statue breaks out, the door opens to reveal a chamber full of torture implements and several drow. The drow immediately begin firing poison-tipped bolts from hand crossbows at the heroes.

Lyr, still appearing to be a drow, talks the drow down with a story about bringing prisoners to sell, and the battle stops for the moment. A drow captain blows on a whistle and commands the drider statue to stop attacking. Lyr tries to convince the drow to let them in, and the drow demand that everyone put their weapons down and go with them to see the Matron Mother who will sort everything out. [This was an absolute long shot for this deception to work considering the circumstances, but it was a good idea to try.]

Not about to surrender their arms, the heroes renew the fight. The battle slowly transitions into the torture chamber as the heroes try to get out of the room with the drider statue – a gust of wind spell from Dexter helps with this. The drow captain calls to more drow in a joining room.

The Hand of Light gets jumped by an animated drider statue and several drow.

Once the heroes bring down the captain, Lyr grabs the whistle and orders the drider statue to stop attacking. Then the bard casts insect plague on the drow in the other room, absolutely destroying them.

Then Karn and Dona begin to rescue the prisoners chained up in the torture chamber. A few were already dead, but they heal up two that were still living.

The heroes find a bank of jail cells connected to the adjoining room. In it they find one insane human who bangs his head repeatedly against the cell bars and tries to bite Dona’s fingers off. There is a dwarven female who rocks slowly back and forth, her mind completely destroyed. These both appear to be the results of several years of non-stop torture by the drow. Karn tries to heal both of them, but it does no good.

They also find one cell with four drow in it, and another with one drow in it. This drow, Ladinor, says he is from House Oussiryn and was locked up for attempting a coupe. He claims he’ll help the heroes if they free him. The heroes agree, but Dona spends some time intimidating and threatening his life if he betrays them or “moves farther than five feet from her.”

Ladinor tells them that Dona’s brothers were taken to the chapel not long ago where they will be sacrificed to Lolth as part of a ceremony. Dona’s sister was taken by Orono Oussiryn, the First Wizard of the house, as a plaything.

With their new guide leading them, the heroes move out of the compound’s dungeons. They lure some drow in a courtyard into a room where the heroes slaughter them. Then they move through the courtyard, disguised in drow cloaks, to an art gallery. Ladinor tells them that in the next room is the chapel.

The heroes can hear chanting and singing from the next room, and then they hear a terrified scream as someone is sacrificed. Immediately, they jump into action and break through the doors.

The chapel is a long room full of pews with an altar at the far end. About two dozen drow occupy the pews, and at the altar three drow priestesses have just slain a human captive. Dona sees her three brothers standing alive, but obviously drugged, nearby.

The heroes enter House Oussiryn's chapel and interrupt a sacrificial ceremony to Lolth.

[This battle ended up lasting a full two hours at the table. Kind of to be expected as it was somewhat climatic and they were fighting the Matron Mother and tons of drow. When I reveal the scene, it was already 10 pm, and we usually stop around 9 pm. I asked the players if this was a good place to stop for the session, and two of them were immediately like “No! Please, let’s do this battle.” So we did. I’ll give a quick summary, but it can’t possibly include all of the cool stuff that happened. And it will be only roughly chronological.]

Karn and Dona begin to hack away at the drow in the back of the chapel. Lyr casts insect plague from his staff, and over half the drow in the chapel are promptly eaten alive by a swarm of millipedes that crawl out of the walls. Dexter casts wall of fire on the altar, cutting off the three drow priestesses from the rest of the chapel. Drow take two of Dona’s brothers through a door out of the chapel.

Dona's brothers are next in line for sacrifice to the evil drow goddess Lolth.

Karn and Dona charge through the insect plague -- which Lyr leaves up [for some reason] – to engage the drow at the front of the chapel. Karn attacks a drow leader, while Dona heads through the door after the drow that took her brothers.

Meanwhile, Dexter and Lyr are cleaning up some drow still in the rear of the chapel. Around this time, Ladinor, their drow guide, casts darkness on Dexter and makes good his escape. [Dona’s threats apparently weren’t as convincing as she thought they were.] Lyr moves through his own insect plague spell to the front of the chapel, and Dexter goes out into a courtyard that he believes will lead him to where the two drow took Dona’s brothers.

Dona enters an antechamber where she finds the priestesses and the two drow. One of the priestesses grabs a brother and puts a knife to his throat, telling Dona to lay down her weapon or she’ll kill him. Dona makes a lunge for the knife, but the priestess slits her brother’s throat first. As Dona watches her brother’s lifeblood flow out of him, the Matron Mother casts banishment on her, and Dona finds herself floating in a gray void.

Dona confronts the drow priestesses who were sacrificing her brothers to Lolth.

A priestess then casts hold person on Lyr who she can see through the open door to the chapel. Several drow begin to attack Lyr. [Amazingly, the drow, despite having advantage, roll really horribly for several rounds. Lyr had a heck of a time with his saves…] Just as Lyr shakes off the paralysis, the Matron Mother moves back into the chapel and begins to flay him with her snake-headed scourge. [It was 6d6 damage a pop. If Lyr had still been paralyzed and that had been a 12d6 critical hit… wow…]

With Dona banished and in trouble, things are looking very bleak for the heroes. However, Dexter finally makes his way through the courtyard and begins to lay into the priestesses with his spells. He also sends his bat familiar to feed a healing potion to Dona’s dying brother.

Then Karn moves to the Matron Mother and smites her three times, calling out to Torm with righteous fury. The drow high priestess proves to be no match for Torm’s might channeled through his faithful paladin, and she falls before Karn’s onslaught. [He hit her three times and used smites on each one. A couple were level three smites, I believe. The total damage came out to around 70 hit points…]

As Dona pops back into the antechamber from her banishment, the heroes are just mopping up the remaining drow in the chapel. Then the heroes gather to collect their breath, having successfully rescued Dona’s three brothers.

However, they have a nagging feeling that the clamor from that battle must surely have alerted drow nearby. And then they hear a horn blow twice, followed by a commotion outside.

No, it didn’t alert drow nearby. It alerted the entire drow compound.

The Hand of Light

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

Dona Falone - Barbarian

Dunkle Fledermaus - Rogue

Dexter Ambrose - Wizard

Aelyrendar "Lyr" Fairsong

Karn Mondel - Paladin of Torm

Hand of Light, Episode 15 – Prisoners of the Drow

Session Date: June 10, 2017

In-Game Dates: 22 Kythorn, 1367 DR

After taking a short rest, the heroes move across the bridge to the smaller stalactite here they believe Dona’s siblings are being held. In the first room, they find six cabinets and a hole in the ceiling leading upward.

After a short discussion, they decide not to mess with the cabinets, though Lyr is sorely tempted. There is a teleportation glyph on the floor that levitates people up and down with the command words levantame and bajame. [There officially written down. Many of heroes/players were constantly forgetting how to saw the command words, and I was holding them to the proper pronunciation. The shenanigans here were great, even after the players wrote down the phonetical spelling of the words…]

The heroes levitate up through the hole and find a small chamber with four doors. They discover that behind each locked door is a brick wall. Unsure how to proceed and believing the cabinets below hold some clues, Dunkle and Dexter head back down to the cabinet area.

Just as the others think to follow, Dunkle begins inspecting one cabinet, running his hands along it. As soon as the rogue touches the cabinet, however, his hands become stuck solid to it, and the cabinet doors open to reveal a toothy maw and pink gooey tongue.

And thus the encounter begins with four cabinets-that-are-definitely-not-mimics. The terrain and difficult battlefield is slightly challenging and some of the heroes take a bit of a beating, but ultimately they defeat the cabinets-that-are-definitely-not-mimics. [And now, in addition to mind flayers, Dunkle may quiver in terror at the sight of cabinets in the future…]

Once everyone is back in the room with four doors and brick walls, Lyr lobs a concussive grenade at a brick wall in a doorway. The grenade damages several bricks, and the wall implodes toward the heroes. Hot air, followed by flames, expand into the small chamber. Some Dona and Dunkle flatten themselves against a wall, while Lyr and Dexter dive down the hole to the cabinet room below. The flames fill the room, burning several of the heroes, and Lyr falls thirty feet to face plan in the cabinet room below. Dexter’s bat is immolated by the flames.

They next wall they try doesn’t explode on them as Dona runs at it and smashes through it. However, it does reveal a large construct standing in a long hallway that stretches beyond the sight of the heroes’ darkvision. The construct immediately casts a spell, causing black tentacles to sprout from the ground all around Dona. Chanting can be heard down the hallway, from the darkness, and a cloud of noxious green gas fills the area around Dona and the other heroes.

And so begins the battle with a construct that the heroes never quite identify and a drow mage. The construct has regenerative abilities and can take a pounding, but can’t really dish it out. The drow wizard, on the other hand, flings a fireball and other spells to good effect. Caught by surprise and with nasty spells complicating issues, the heroes have a tough initial go at it, but slowly fight their way down the hallway. They take out the construct, and the drow wizard follows soon after. [This was a sweet battle. When the podcast comes out, it should do it justice.]

The battle ends in the wizard’s bedchamber. There the heroes find gems, coins, and a bag of holding – full of hundreds of slippers! So, they dump the slippers out and put more interesting items in it. They also find lots of spell scrolls that Lyr and Dexter divide up.

There are two doors in the hallway yet, and their drow captive tells them that one holds the prison and the other is the wizard’s workshop. The heroes move into the prison, and discover a large chamber that stretches upward out of the range of their darkvision. [Anyone see a theme here? Drow have 120’ darkvision; other races only have 60’. Good stuff.] Starting ten feet above the floor, glistening spider webs stretch upward as far as they can see, and iron cages, most holding humanoid captives, are scattered about in the webs.

They move into the room, pushing the drow captive before them. Dona then stabs him in the kidney and shoves him to the ground so he’ll bleed out. The drow screams in Elvish, “These are intruders. Kill them!” Then a voice from above calls out, “Why are you here?” Then Lyr tells a grand story about the group being there to sell magic items to the drow. The voices above seem to believe him at first, and then remember what the now dead drow told them. [So, the DM forgot about Dona killing the drow and the drow saying that. And then Lyr’s player distracted us all with a desire to tell his story to the voices above, and began to roll very well on his deception checks. When I remember the dead drow and what he said, the voices snapped out of it.]

The heroes hear both the voices above tell something else, “Kill them!” and the drawing back of bowstrings. Thus begins the encounter with two driders and three giant spiders.

The webs make it difficult for the heroes to get at the driders, and it’s slow moving through the webs. Dunkle goes down from volleys of poisonous arrows, though Lyr brings him up with healing word. One of the giant spiders spends several rounds going back and forth with Lyr. Dona gets in close with a drider after a couple rounds of climbing through the webs and unleashes fury on the monster. The battle begins to go against the heroes at one point, but Dexter swings it back in their favor by casting banishment on one of the driders. Once the heroes kill the other drider and remaining spider, the surround the area where the second drider was banished from. When Dexter stops concentrating on his spell, the drider returns and the heroes unload on it until it goes down. [This was a cool battle. I always feel like I’ve done my job in a “boss” encounter when at least one character drops to zero hit points.]

The heroes rescue from the cages Selise, Quara, Grull, thirteen humans, four elves, eight dwarves, and nine goblins. Dona’s sisters tell her that but a day ago the drow took Umbero, Marta, Salazar, and Pieron through a portal that opens up in the middle of the floor of the prison. Grull expresses disappointment that his liege lord, Karn, was not there to rescue him from the cage.

Investigating that area, Dexter and Lyr discover arcane runes that appear to be part of a two-way teleportation circle. They learned that it leads to a place called the City of Spiders, and they believe that is in reference to Menzoberranzan. [I forget who they learned this information from. It was either a drow that squealed or one of the captives they freed.] Dexter believes that with enough time, he’ll be able to discover the passcode that activates the portal.

And with that, the heroes settle down for a long rest. They’ll need to do something with the captives (there is talk of using teleportation circle to send them back to Waterdeep), and then head through the portal to rescue the rest of Dona’s siblings.

 

The Hand of Light

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

Dona Falone - Barbarian

Dunkle Fledermaus - Rogue

Dexter Ambrose - Wizard

Aelyrendar "Lyr" Fairsong

Karn Mondel - Paladin of Torm

Hand of Light, Episode 14 – Assaulting House Oussiryn

Session Date: May 26, 2017

In-Game Dates: 22 Kythorn, 1367 DR

After a night’s rest at the Crock and Helm inn, the heroes pass by the Black Tankard tavern to see if Ahmaergo is there. At 8 in the morning, he is not.

The heroes do run into the Scribe, who has tracked them to Skullport. He tells them that he believes drow bought Dona’s siblings from the Slavers Market. He is aware their compound was attacked by Katso and others and is in the process of tracking them down.

The group believes that the drow of House Oussiryn, which has a small compound near Skullport, bought Dona’s siblings and will soon be transporting them to Menzoberranzan. With no time to waste, they leave Skullport to track them down.

House Oussiryn’s outpost turns out to be in a vast cavern. As the heroes charge across the cavern into the blackness, the ground they stand on lights up brightly, making them perfect targets. Arrows begin to scream out of the darkness, peppering them, and a wizard flings spells – namely ice storm and fireball – at them. The heroes continue to charge blindly forward, and soon find themselves wading through a field of magical traps that when sprung unleash waves of paralyzing magic.

Finally, they find themselves before a fifty-feet tower manned by hobgoblin warriors and a hobgoblin wizard. The assault on the tower ends quickly, with Karn and Dona breaking down the front door and Dexter and Dunkle scaling the side of the tower.

At the top of the tower they find a magical levitation circle. Despite the heroes being rather beat up and in need of a short rest, Lyr jumps into the circle and begins to float upward into the darkness above. The rest of the group reluctantly follows (though there may have been discussion of just letting him go it alone).

As the heroes float slowly upward into the darkness, a hail of poisoned bolts begins to fall on them from above. Several agonizing moments pass with the heroes unable to respond, and a couple of them even falling asleep as the poison from the bolts courses through their bodies.

One by one the heroes arrive on a platform attached to the side of a stalactite that is being defended by a dozen or so drow. Lyr arrives first, is promptly surrounded, and goes down under a flurry of attacks. The other heroes begin to arrive and the tide turns against the drow – but not before Lyr dies.

Once the drow are defeated, the group discusses the fate of Lyr. Reluctantly, they decide they should raise him from the dead, despite his compulsive behavior that has gotten them into trouble before.

The heroes explore the stalactite and rescue some goblin slaves who were the drow’s cooks. The goblins tell them there is a bridge that leads to another stalactite and that they shouldn’t touch the cabinets there. With that warning, the goblins leave and the heroes take a short rest.

The Hand of Light

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

Dona Falone - Barbarian

Dunkle Fledermaus - Rogue

Dexter Ambrose - Wizard

Aelyrendar "Lyr" Fairsong

Karn Mondel - Paladin of Torm

Hand of Light, Episode 13 – Uncovering Skullport

My thanks to my player, Lyr, for writing up this campaign log! (I was busy preping D&D.)

Session Date: May 13, 2017

In-Game Dates: 12 Kythorn to 22 Kythorn

The party finished interrogations and released Etis Bright, confident that he was on their side. It was only moments later that Karn Mondel returned to the base to report that he had informed the Red Sashes of the capture of Etis. After exchanging anxious looks, the group informed Karn they had acquired valuable information from their interrogation. Unfortunately, when Karn inquired about the prisoner, the group had to come clean. It became apparent that Karn may not leave prisoners out of his sight in the future.

Knowing that Shandia Darkeyes would be at the Thirsty Throat Tavern for a meeting a ten day from now, the group decided to wait. The Scribe provided some valuable information about reaching Skullport. The remainder of the week was spent in preparation.

On the morning of the meet-up, Lyr and Dunkle disguised themselves and scouted the tavern. Since it was morning, the tavern was closed so they spent the day busking outside. Lyr intentionally allowed Dunkle to outperform him to keep their cover intact. As the evening grew closer the tavern grew busy and the two heroes headed inside with Dona and Karn keeping watch out back.

The tavern attracted a rough looking crowd. Lyr and Dunkle found an empty, and scanned the crowd. In one corner a cloaked figure revealed a swath of dark blue skin. Shandia? Before they could act further though, an obese man stopped by their table to say hello. His face shifted slightly and he admonished them for showing up. Etis?

After ordering drinks (and flirting), Dunkle pretended to drunkenly stumble to Shandia's table, angering some patrons but avoiding a fight. This resulted in a good many patrons watching Dunkle and Lyr with suspicion or interest.

Lyr decided to ruffle some feathers and made “winky kissy faces” at one patron. That unexpected resulted in the patron walking over and inviting Lyr upstairs. Lyr followed, still unsure what was happening. At the top of the stairs he cast Friends and told the man, “Go wait in the room and I will be there soon.” After the man disappeared into a room, Lyr sauntered back downstairs.

Dunkle sat down and questioned the figure he thought was Shandia. The mysterious cloaked figure was unreceptive and was rebuffed him. Lyr, seeing Dunkle leave Shandia's table decided to sit down. He pointed out her name, did some name dropping, and indicated he wanted to make some illicit trades. Shandia asked him to follower her upstairs and Lyr followed, confident that he had fooled her.

While Dunkle went outside, climbed up the wall, listened at the window, Lyr entered the upstairs room and sat carefully across the table from Shandia. Some rubbish was spewed, but eventually the pretense fell and Lyr realized that Shandia everything. Perhaps Etis sold them out. Moreover, she mentioned she had goons ready to fight downstairs. Surprise! In that moment, Shandia reached for her weapon, Lyr uttered an arcane phrase, and when the dust settled, Shandia was a little white rabbit. He reached down, grabbed the rabbit by the neck and stuffed it in his pack.

Dunkle dropped to the ground, shouted a warning to Karn and Dona, and entered the tavern. He grabbed a mug of ale and smashed it over a patron's head, precipitating a massive bar fight. Patrons fled the tavern amass, but some stayed and drew swords, circling around Dunkle. Dona dashed into the tavern, attempting to grapple Dunkle, claiming him as her drunken beau, but he resisted. And eventually Dona pulled out her sword as the thugs seemed intent on killing the heroes.

Meanwhile, a very quiet bard was trying to make a sneaky exit down the hallway of the tavern. At the same time, Karn had climbed an adjoined building, forced open the second story window, and spied a naked man in a room (Lyr's “friend” from earlier). The lovelorn man, obviously distressed, was confused to see Karn enter the window and move toward the door.

Downstairs, Dona and Dunkle had mopped up the thugs and rushed upstairs. Karn opened the door, with Lyr standing in front of it. Lyr looked at the naked man and all of his party members and said “Shandia is a rabbit, she's in my backpack”, and ran through the bedroom and jumped through the second story window onto the roof and dropped down to a nearby alley.

What happened next can only be described as next order comical. “Rabbit Shandia” managed to chew her way through Lyr's backpack and leap out. The rabbit then bolted down the alley and disappeared from view. Everyone inside the second story room jumped out the window, including Lyr's naked admirer who appeared to be going through magical withdraw.

Everyone chased after a rabbit fleeing through Waterdeep's alleys. Lyr managed to cut off the rabbit with a lucky Dimension Door, but fearing the bugger would get away again, stabbed it, breaking the polymorph. Unfortunately, Shandia sliced him up and instead of facing off, proceeded to flee, even faster. Dona and Lyr tried to give chase, Dona clearly the fastest, but Shandia still got away.

Meanwhile, Karn had a serious talk with Lyr's naked admirer and helped the man pull himself together (because Karn is such a good guy). Dunkle on the other hand hung around the Thirsty Throat Tavern, almost got caught by the City Watch, and ended up standing innocently next to the flirtatious waitress who covered for him.

After reconvening, the group chalked that up to a loss. However, Shandia had said something threatening regarding their gnomes. Realizing the residents staying at their base may be in peril, the group quickly returned home. Upon their return, they discovered their base ransacked, everyone missing, and the message “Katso was here”. Evidence of a bloody struggle and drag marks were found that led to the underground sewer entrance. Without hesitation, the group grit their teeth and immediately followed the tracks into the sewer, hoping they weren't too far behind.

After some extensive tracking and a couple secret doors, the group emerged into a sea cave with a skiff. There were some guesses that they were heading in the general direction of the southern sea caves that connect to Skullport. With that in mind, the group boarded the vessel and sailed to the hidden location they had gathered from The Scribe's intel. Indeed, they found a hidden sea cave, and inside was a dock with various humanoids (monstrous and not) attending to business. The group docked the boat, and were easily given directions to Skullport.

At the elevator down to Skullport, a group of hobgoblin guards re-iterated the importance of non-hostile action within Skullport. Dunkle spoke with one of the guards about the groups missing friends, and although the guard stated he had seen nothing, it was apparent he was lying. Confidence they were on the right trail, the heroes paid the elevator fee and boarded for the ride down.

On the ride down, Lyr brought up the importance of disguising themselves. Karn, ever the honest chap was against such deception. An argument about remaining inconspicuous took up most of the ride. Lyr, sidestepped the argument and cast Seeming on the group, making them look like a band of hobgoblins (albeit wearing their normal gear). Karn attempted the Charisma saving throw and failed, much to his chagrin. He did however maintain his Torm emblazoned breastplate and halberd. A very odd hobgoblin. It would have to do. As the elevator touched down, the group saw Skullport for the first time. A sprawling city with all manner of humanoids and creatures passing by. There were beholders, drow, mind flayers casually walking the street. More intimidating where the massive skull behemoths that patrolled and were rumored to enforce the “no fighting” rule. There were bizarre kiosks selling severed hands for who knows what, and massive slave blocks crowded with people. Dunkle bought a severed hand.

The group, disguised as hobgoblins, investigated the slave blocks and pens but did not spot any of their friends. They asked around and learned some various info. Some slaves, particularly gnomes, are very valuable, and sometimes go to private buyers. Minotaurs are generally considered poor slaves, but make for good pit fighters. Someone inquired after Shandia Darkeyes to a stranger, and the stranger went quiet and quickly retreated. A dwarf named Omergo (sp?) deals with specialty slave sales. He indicated he could provide us some more information to fit our needs if we wanted to meet him (I forgot the name of the tavern). Karn also talked with someone about the Xanathar. He learned where prospective recruits could apply to join. We ended up visiting the building to “audition”, thinking that if we joined we could gather more intelligence.

We were confronted by a leader named Slan. The names we provided him were Scarn (Karn), Jelsa (Dona), Grog (Dunkle), Rock (Lyr). He asked us why we didn't just join up with some hobgoblin outfit, and we told him we wanted to be part of an elite group. He decided to take us outside the city limits to “test” us.

Outside the city, we followed Slan and a few of his men to a recessed fight ring. Slan dueled each party member. Karn, unsurprisingly destroyed Slan in a single round of combat. Dunkle grudgingly surrendered, ego bruised after a difficult fight without the ability to hide, gain sneak attack, get range, or initiate surprise. Lyr took awhile but was luckily able to use magic to stay hidden to avoid most of the deadly attacks, slowly working his opponent down. Dona, much like Karn simply beat her opponent into submission in a couple rounds without noticing the attacks. In the end, the heroes were hired on as an elite squad of (what we think is) the Xanathar.

The heroes investigated a bit further, determining their next course of action. They learned that House Ouseran (sp?) led by the nearby Drow were notable slavers. There was also a group of mind flayers that made their home nearby (outside the city) and people generally tended to avoid them. The dwarf Omergo did not show up for the scheduled meeting, so the group figured they would meet up with him the next day. If information of gnomes being sold somewhere could be discovered, the group figured that might be worth pursuing further.

The group got a room in a nearby inn, letting Slan know their location. As Seeming was running short and it was late, they held up in the room for a long rest.

The Hand of Light

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

Dona Falone - Barbarian

Dunkle Fledermaus - Rogue

Dexter Ambrose - Wizard

Aelyrendar "Lyr" Fairsong

Karn Mondel - Paladin of Torm