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courts

Here's what happened in Monday night's game in which we finished Courts of the Shadow Fey. Each PC gets 2,866 xp and 5,000 gp in treasure.

27th December (contd.)

The PCs arrive at the Tower of the Moon. The bright light at the top comes from Revich, angel of the Lords of Light. The party call out to him but he doesn't respond. Mal'uk starts casting a ritual under his breath but the others don't realise what he's doing and Ella pushes open the blue glass door.

Inside, the PCs can make out the ghostly form of the Moonlit King behind a glowing wall of lunar force. Brave Ella offers the king some jewellery but he isn't impressed. Then, she hands over the magical shield she was given by Lord Chelessfield, a gift that the King accepts. The ranger continues to talk to the insane monarch who asks the party to spill his blood before he will free Parsantium from scathsidhe rule. Unsure how to reach him to do this, Khuma summons his spirit companion behind the wall of force but dismisses it when the King's giant derro bodyguard approaches menacingly. Ella figures out how to move the moonbeams around with her radiant sword but soon realises this doesn't help the PCs get to the King.

Khuma and Ella use their weapons to smash down the wall of force and attack the Moonlit King. As he fights the party, the shadow fey asks them questions, such as how long has the Queen ruled and where his daughter is. Fortunately, Mal'uk has done a lot of research into the Shadow Courts and is able to answer these correctly as he fights. The PCs work out that the King's madness stops them attacking while he is standing in a moonbeam.

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The swordmage protects Ellla, using dimensional vortex to divert the King's attack on to his derro servant, and then teleports the monarch out of his moonbeam so he can be attacked. Khuma seizes the opportunity and unleashes a storm of blades, inflicting two criticals on the King.  Ella keep the moonbeams moving around using her sword while the other two PCs and Khuma's bear battle the derro ravager and the moonbeam devil. The King continues to question the party - a wrong answer brings another moonbeam devil into the fray as the first one falls.

The PCs continue to talk to the King. Eventually Khuma goes to mop the scathsidhe's fevered brow - this act of kindness brings the Moonlit King to his senses. He drops his orb of power and slumps to the floor. He offers the party a bargain - he will return the City at the Crossroads to its people; in exchange the PCs must pursue and slay the Demon Lord of Roaches in the Abyss. The PCs agree and Mal'uk is marked with a crescent moon tattoo to seal the bargain.

The PCs are returned to Parsantium instantly. When they arrive, it is a year and a day after they left, the Festival of Lights is in full swing, and no one seems to remember the time when the shadow fey ruled the city. No one, that is, apart from Hidden Ambassador Thelamandrine who thanks the PCs for what they have done. Returning to their apartments, the party are glad to see Krivinn preaching the nobility and majesty of Bahamut outside his shrine to passers-by.

The Moonlit King

courts
Here's what happened in last night's game, probably (but you never know!) the penultimate session of Courts of the Shadow Fey. Each PC gets 2,100 xp.

27th December (contd.)

Leaving the Hedge Maze of the duskthorn dryad, the PCs head in the direction of the Tower of the Moon after Mal'uk has teleported to the top of the maze walls to check they are going the right way. Ahead, the party hear sobbing and soon afterwards a blind half-elf woman appears. She is improbably named Ardevallissen Thiomoire and is searching for her lost daughter Helliboshe. To find her, she needs to perform the Ritual of Reunion, which requires the largest eye of the dangerous eye golem. The PCs agree to help and continue onward.

The party enter the clearing where the eye golem stands guard, surrounded by pathetic, fearful eyeless beggars, some elves, some shadow fey and some goblins. As soon as it sees the PCs, the golem closes to attack Mal'uk and Reckless Ella in melee. Ella backs away but Khuma and his bear step forward into the breach. Mal'uk proves very hard to hit but when he teleports further into the clearing in an effort to lure the construct after him, his plan fails. Instead the golem destroys the spirit bear and pounds Khuma unconscious. Saethus, meanwhile, is firing magic missiles at the monster repeatedly, and Ella is also launching arrow after arrow. Mal'uk returns to melee and is blinded, but Ella finally brings down the eye golem with her bow.



When the creature dies, there is a blinding flash and dozens of eyeballs scatter everywhere. The PCs pick these up carefully and return as many as they can to the blind beggars, before scooping the rest (including Lord Suvid's) into their bag of holding. Saethus is very excited to get hold of the golem's largest eye (which once belonged to a primordial) thinking this will be something to impress the Esoteric Order of the Blue Lotus back in Parsantium.

The PCs return to find Ardevallissen. Saethus doesn't want to give up his prize so the PCs agree to shed some of their own blood for the Ritual of Finding. Helliboshe and her mother  are reunited, and Ardevallissen's sight is restored.

Returning to the clearing, the party decide to investigate the dark cave they saw at the top of the ramp. Inside a pit, held their by magical wards, are a number of angels, demons and devils. They beg to be released but the PCs refuse to let them out. Many are wingless – their wings are in a small building on top of the hill above the cave. Mal'uk takes all these wings, putting them into the bag of holding. He talks to the angels and demons for a while but only manages to confuse them.

To reach the Tower of the Moon, the PCs need to pass through the glass wall which blocks their path. Mal'uk and Saethus both teleport to the other side, losing a healing surge each in the process. Meanwhile, a shadow demon has appeared and attacked the other party members. To take down the wall, Saethus is forced to destroy his newly-found primordial eye. Reunited, the two halves of the party attack the demon but it is insubstantial and hard to damage. Passing Ella's radiant longsword back and forth between herself and Mal'uk doesn't help much as neither can hit the demon hard enough to get it to solidify. Eventually, the PCs just grind it down and slay it.

The way ahead to the Tower of the Moon is now open....
courts

Here’s what happened in last night’s game. I think we have two more sessions left of Courts of the Shadow Fey. Better get writing the next adventure! Each PC gets 2,200 xp.


27th December

The PCs go to see if Maggo the goblin “king” knows anything about the maze or the Moonlit King. He warns the party not to let the King see their true forms. Perhaps they can disguise themselves magically, or else, with large hats. Sceptical, Saethus goes to see Revich again and is told the goblin is talking nonsense.

There’s nothing for it but to head into the Spiral Maze, using the ceremonial daggers they were given by the Queen to get past the monolith footmen and open the door. The PCs enter the labyrinth, using the tried and tested tactic of always turning left until they end up back where they started. As they wander through the dark avenues between the thorny hedges and black stone walls, the party glimpse a floating eyeball watching them. As soon as they notice it, it disappears into the foliage.

Mal’uk uses his teleport power to get on top of the maze walls and works out where the Tower of the Moon is located. The PCs set off again, trying to aim for the light coming from the tower. In a clearing, lantern dragonettes gather around a brazier for warmth. Ella approaches recklessly, and the dragonettes flee to their roosts as the brazier’s magic roots her to the spot and shadow demons rise out of the ground to attack the party. Both demons surround themselves and the party with magical darkness, although Saethus is able to dispel one of the zones quite quickly. Mal’uk tries to get close enough to the brazier to destroy it but keeps getting immobilised by its magic and attacked by a shadow demon. Eventually he is able to banish the annoying magical trap to another plane, and Khuma slays the first shadow demon after Ella has weakened it with her radiant longsword. The second demon flees into the walls of the maze and the lantern dragonettes reappear. Mal’uk creates a magical campsite for them with a campfire to keep them warm after getting rid of their brazier. The little dragons talk to the PCs for the first time, telling them where to search beneath the maze walls for treasure. The genasi conjures an unseen servant to dig it up – it finds a chest containing a +4 duelist’s bow and two potions of vitality.


The party continue to wander the labyrinth, entering a dense, confusing hedge maze after leaving the dragonettes behind. Their route leads them into a large area with a vine-covered tree in the centre. Four gaunt troll skeletons and an evil-looking dryad stand underneath the dead branches. The duskthorn dryad traps Mal’uk in her briar cage as the troll skeletons go to attack the other PCs. Saethus conjures his flaming sphere to stop the trolls regenerating and after knocking nearly all of them down, Ella uses her new bow to shoot at their hearts hidden in the branches of the tree, killing them for good. With the trolls destroyed, the dryad fades into the ground along with the vines.
courts
Here's what happened in Monday night's game, in which something terrible happens to Krivinn and an agreement is reached with the Queen. Each PC gets 1,267 xp.


25th December

The PCs wake up following a well-earned extended rest after their trip into the Black Well. Now that Ella is of high status, she has two lantern dragonettes following her; Mal'uk, meanwhile, seems to be cloaked in perpetual shadows.

Krivinn receives a challenge to a duel at midnight on the Bridge of Night with Lightning Lord Suvid, Quickling Lord of Blades, to settle a matter of honour on behalf of the Black Prince. The dragonborn, of course, accepts.

That night, the PCs and the Black Prince witness the duel. Lord Suvid is very fast and scores four hits on Krivinn very quickly, winning the contest.  The bridge fades into nothing beneath the paladin's feet and he falls into the darkness below. Ella and the others go down to have a look but there is no sign of the body.



Ella tries to get an insight into what happened from the obsequious Eracen, and Saethus visits the Tower of the Lords of Light – neither learn anything useful. Meanwhile, Mal'uk visits the Librarium in search of the ritual he came to the Courts looking for, but the books all seem torn or moth-eaten, and he's put off staying too long by the sleeping shadow mastiffs who wake up and start growling at him.

Later that night, the Raven Demons, firbolgs in the service of the Black Prince, break into the party's living quarters and attack the PCs while they sleep. Mal'uk saves Ella by drawing the firbolg bloodbear away from the ranger and forcing him to attack one of his companions. Ella keeps firing arrows from the door of her room, and Saethus' flaming sphere proves effective as he uses it to finish off the last two opponents.


26th December

A herald arrives from the Queen of Night and Magic, inviting Ella and the other PCs to an audience.

The party ascend the thousand steps to the Queen's audience chamber in the clouds, and ask her to intercede on behalf of Parsantium. Her Majesty is swayed by Ella, Saethus and Mal'uk's carefully-chosen words and extravagant gift, and agrees to hold off sending her viceroy to the city if the PCs will go into the Spiral Maze, enter the Tower of the Moon, and return with the Moonlit King's agreement and his orb. The Queen gives the PCs ceremonial daggers with her owl symbol – these will allow them access to the labyrinth.   

Returning to the palace below, Saethus visits Revich again and asks for advice on dealing with the Maze and the King. Ella goes to the Librarium where she is able to see through the illusions hiding the books, but cannot figure out what they are telling her. The pair meet up to compare notes, and spend some time talking to various courtiers in an attempt to find out more information.
courts

Here’s what happened in last night’s game in which we welcomed back Georg and probably said goodye to Rob for a bit. Each PC gets a massive 2,600 xp.


17th December (contd.)

As the PCs head back through the forest to find the Black Prince, they run into a familiar face - the wizard-hating genasi swordmage Mal’uk, last seen chasing after a thieving kobold in the tunnels beneath Zobeck. Their former adventuring companion has come to the forest in search of the Shadow Courts, having heard that a copy of a rare ritual he is after can be found in the library. The PCs shrug their shoulders and allow Mal’uk to tag along as they join the Prince and his entourage at their camp in a forest glade.

Here, Lord Chelessfield, Master of the Alpine Marches, finally deigns to duel with Brave Ella and is quickly taught an archery lesson, losing the duel before he can land a single blow. After listening to the Prince’s hunting stories and enjoying some roast boar, the party set off after the White Hart (a hart is a mature stag). As they wander the forest, they spot a smouldering nest up a tree. Krivinn climbs up for a closer look and catches a glimpse of the legendary golden Firebird in the distance. The PCs, having decide earlier not to hunt the bird, change their minds and go after the creature. When Ella drives the Firebird towards the other PCs, Krivinn teleports next to it and grabs hold of it. With help from Saethus, the paladin bundles it into his bag of holding.

Returning through the woods to the Prince’s lodge, the party are attacked by a group of centaurs and firbolgs led by a satyr. The centaurs fire volleys of arrows into the PCs as the satyr gives three of the party living nightmares. The centaurs don’t survive very long though, as Saethus takes them down with a storm cage, followed by a fireball, after Khuma’s opening attack. Krivinn, Mal’uk and Khuma attack the three firbolgs as Ella fires arrows into the fey giants. Khuma charges and falls over, but despite this, the PCs are victorious. Only the spellcasting satyr survives, slipping away to fight another day.

Back at the lodge, Krivinn opens the bag of holding to let the Firebird have some air; its screeches are masked by Khuma’s awful fiddle playing and Ella’s even worse “Nee Ha” song.



18th December

The hunting trip is over and the Prince’s party returns to the palace. The PCs go back to their living quarters to make themselves presentable where they are met by the antenna’ed servant of the Demon Lord of Roaches, Akyishigal. They are invited to meet the demon “at the bottom of the Black Well tonight at moonrise.” The party have more pressing business, though, and head for the Great Hall to present the Firebird to the Queen.

The Queen of Night and Shadow is delighted with the party’s gift but is not impressed when Krivinn turns down her invitation to become the royal consort and her lover. The ungrateful paladin is sent packing and the Queen is then not mindful to listen to Ella’s entreaties. The PCs have no alternative but to leave the hall.

Meeting Krivinn at the top of the Black Well, the party descends into the darkness. At the bottom, Akyishigal awaits and asks the party if they are servants or food. The paladin replies with “no, we are your killers” and battle is joined. The demon lord is defended by seven roachlings who are either hard to slay or explode when the PCs deliver one a fatal blow. Akyishigal is even more fearsome, grabbing the PCs and engulfing them in hundreds of biting cockroaches. When bloodied, he splits into nine separate swarms which the party have to destroy one at a time. Saethus flees in terror but the other PCs stand firm and Mal’uk finally brings down the Demon Lord.

   
courts
Here's what happened in Monday night's game. Each PC gets 1,700 xp.


8th December (contd.)

The PCs return to their living quarters to fetch Saethus, only to find their rooms are filled with growing flowers that give off a soporific perfume. Krivinn and Ella fall asleep but Saethus is able to drag them outside and wake them up. They also find an invitation to the Swan Festival pinned to the doors.

The party return to the Tower of the Lords of Light where Saethus impresses Revich enough to be invited to join the faction. He gains a glowing halo and a lantern dragonette called Fenegle, and promises to help drive the Demon Lord of Roaches from the Courts.

When the PCs return to their rooms for a second time, they interrupt some kind of council meeting being held by dozens of mice. Khuma bends down to listen more closely to what they are squeaking about and they scatter in all directions.


9th - 13th December

Ella fights a duel with the roachling Yikrugrak – the ranger wins, but only just as the roachling's four blades reduce her to 2hp.

Saethus learns the True Sight ritual at the Tower of Light.

Smooth-talking* Krivinn successfully woos the Silver-Chained Courtesan, Lishekki. Ella does less well with Hargos, the Flame-Cloaked Consort who says he will listen to her entreaties if she can impress him by defeating Lord Chelessfield in a duel. Unfortunately the eladrin noble declines Ella's challenge on account of her low status.

Khuma whiles away the time drinking with the goblins.



14th December

The duelling season over, the PCs attend the Swan Festival with Krivinn escorting Lishekki. The paladin and Ella are ushered into the Great Hall; Saethus ends up in a side room and Khuma has to stand at the back with the other servants (despite dressing up in his white suit and gold turban!)

The feast begins with the first of many bizarre and disgusting courses served. Krivinn drinks the Prince's Ale; Ella and Saethus drink the Queen's Wine. After the dances by Hargos and Mora, the Rain-Cloaked Courtesan, the Black Prince orders Krivinn to fetch Ulara of Seven Veils, the courtesan who was meant to be performing the third dance. The paladin goes to her apartments and persuades her to perform.

As the feast goes on Ella impresses the court by shooting down several birds from the Raven's Pie With Archery and sending one to the Queen. She also manages to eat Jellied Badger and drink Skull Wine without being sick. Saethus and Krivinn don't do so well with the maggot-ridden Memorial Beef and throw up, losing status. Meanwhile, Khuma is enjoying the simpler food at the back and manages to swipe a swan's carcass as the plates are cleared away.

After dessert, which includes Smoke Pastry With Gold Centre which burns Ella's tongue, cockroaches sent by Akyishigal swarm all over the food and tables, bringing the feast to an abrupt end as the diners run for it.

That night, Krivinn is seduced by Ulara's kiss of fiery lust. He returns to his room in the early hours, exhausted and with only dim memories of what happened.


15th December

The PC receive an invite to go hunting with the Black Prince. Saethus pays a visit to Revich in the Tower of Light.


16th December

The hunting expedition sets off for the forest. As well as the Black Prince and the Pale Witch, Lord Chelessfield, Kolya the Kennelmaster and Lord Suvid are also on the trip.


17th December

The hunting begins with both Ella and Khuma impressing with their skills. As the PCs walk back through the forest to the Prince's lodge they are attacked by swarms of death butterflies and moths which deal a lot of damage with their deadly attacks. After a few rounds, though, the PCs get the upper hand and destroy the insects.

* in his own way, obviously - "I am a paladin of Bahamut and will rescue you from your enslavement"

Playing the Game: Courts of the Shadow Fey

courts
Very chuffed to see my write up for our first session of Courts of the Shadow Fey has made it into this week's DriveThruRPG.com newsletter. Now everyone on their mailing list can read about Krivinn's unswerving loyalty to Bahamut and the evil plotting of Heinsoo. There's one unfortunate editing gaff - Sebastian the minotaur, played by waynefurmidge , has been confused with Arcadius, Archbishop of Parsantium - but I don't think anyone except our group will notice or care.

I don't seem to be able to link to it, so here's a screen grab:

courts
Here's what happened in last night's game. Each PC gets 1,737 xp.

1st December, contd.

As the crowds disperse, Laurian the pixie introduces herself to Krivinn and offering her services. Back at the party's living quarters, Laurian organises food for the PCs from the kitchens, served by a hedgehog in a pinny and a pair of brownies.

The PCs go to bed. Krivinn is on watch when banderhobbs appear from under Khuma's bed and out of Ella's wardrobe, attacking the two adventurers while they sleep. Khuma is bloodied but manages to drive his attacker off. Meanwhile  Krivinn tries to help Ella but keeps missing but eventually the banderhobb retreats into the wardrobe. The party search round after the battle but can't find anything although it seems likely the monsters appeared through some kind of portal.



One week later, 8th December

After an extended rest, the PCs have a hearty breakfast. Ella calls on Lady Sorreminx, apologising for giving up her badge in favour of the Birch Queen's. Chastised, the ranger puts the Lady's grasshopper badge back on. Lady Sorreminx explains she is here to marry off Shimmer, the River King's daughter, to the Black Prince. The PCs learn about the forthcoming Swan Festival.



Laurian tells Khuma that Jurok the Spear Goblin is keen to duel against him in the Lower Halls duelling grounds. Khuma is up for the challenge but the goblin impales him with his first thrust. The shifter switches to his longspear and uses storm of blades to strike four times, winning the duel. Jurok is fawning in his praise of the shaman. He takes the PCs to the Goblin Court.

Here, Moggo the goblin "king" asks the PCs to go after the strange monster that is preying on his people in the tunnels beneath the palace. Jurok acts as guide as the party head into the tunnels. After a short while they run into three goblins with bloodshot eyes under the influence of the sinister cambium imbalancer lurking behind them in the room beyond. Khuma is dominated after being hit by poison goo, then Krivinn charges in. The goblin minions are struck first but they stab Krivinn and Khuma with their syringes to save themselves. The dragonborn is struck by the cambium's needle fingers and contracts the disease dyscrasia. Ella is also attacked and catches the disease but is able to finish off the cambium with her bow.

Moggo is very grateful for what the PCs have done – he advises them to try and impress the Flame-Cloaked Consort, the Silver-Chained Courtesan or another potential partner to gain enough status to get into the Queen's presence.

Later that day, Krivinn gets an invite to the Tower of the Lords of Light inside the Royal Halls. Inside the Tower, the PCs are questioned by Revich, the Blind Seer, who asks them to drive Akyishigal the Cockroach Demon from the Courts. When Krivinn agrees, the angel cures the paladin's and Brave Ella's disease before sending them on their way.

courts
Here’s what happened in last night’s game, Wayne’s last session, in which it transpires that Sebastian was a spy for the Moonlit King! Each PC gets 800 xp.

23rd November (contd.)

Eracen offers to teach Ella the violin. The elf has a go on the instrument but only seems capable of producing a screechy "nee-how" sound. Giving up, the PCs retire for the night in the guest quarters but decide to set watches. While Ella and Sebastian are supposed to be standing guard, both drop off to sleep. When they wake up, the party's boots and armour have been polished; a note under the door reads "leave us milk and cookies tomorrow night."


24th November

The PCs duel with the Ravens in the duelling grounds. Sebastian goes first, losing to Josha Migallisti. Next, Saethus and Khuma both draw with the scathsidhe. Krivinn goes next, taking on and defeating one of the other Ravens. Finally, Khuma duels again but this time he loses. Refusing to join the Ravens, the PCs follow Eracen to the stables where Krivinn, Ella and Saethus (the high status PCs) can now see the Black Prince's blue horse, Lazulin, and the shadow hounds of the Margreve. They talk to Kolya the Kennelmaster who asks Ella to deliver the love poem he's written to Maurelle, one of the queen's ladies-in-waiting. In the smithy, they meet Tenpound Hammer (aka "Nails"); the goblin is mending the monolith footmen trashed by the party earlier.

Back in the duelling grounds, a monolith footman and empty cloak move to throw Sebastian and Khuma out of the Courts, but Ella takes them both out with a twin shot. In the kitchens, the PCs meet Blazing Barda the cook and ask her for milk and cookies to leave out for the brownies. Barda asks them to pay off his debt to the donkey-headed Fordin of the East and suggests the PCs should bray like a donkey when they do so. Ella isn't fooled but gives Fordin 5 silver pieces to get the milk and cookies from the chef.

Back out in the duelling grounds, Ella defeats Sir Yngress the Red of the River Court in an archery contest. The eladrin presents her with his +3 radiant longsword, “Heartsilver”, and tells Ella that Lady Sorreminx is also here.

Khuma has some violin lessons with Eracen but isn't any better at playing than Ella. The PCs rest for the night but actually a whole week passes. They don't recover any healing surges either.

1st December

Krivinn has received an invitation to come and see the Grey Ladies. Eracen offers to take the paladin and the other PCs there. The musician repeats the rumour he's heard that the Grey Ladies secretly worship Mammon – this sets the paranoid Krivinn off, prompting Saethus to tell him to "stop mentioning Mammon, you knucklehead!"

The Grey Ladies welcome the PCs and ask that one of them donates 13 hairs from his or her head to be woven into the loom. Sebastian agrees, pledges allegiance to the Ladies and is given a magical cloak in return. Krivinn trades his memory of defeating the Dockside Crew in the Old Fishery for a future critical success. Both he and Khuma can see through the illusions hiding the Ladies' true nature as spidery fey with six arms. The Grey Ladies ask the PCs to fetch them 20 strands of horsehair from Lazulin. The PCs make their excuses and leave.



Ella asks Eracen to take her to see Lady Sorreminx. The eladrin isn't in, but her door is answered by the flirtatious Sir Yngress who chats to the ranger, telling her that other guests in the palace include an ambassador from the Nine Hells and the Cockroach Demon Akyishigal.

In the Hall of Changelings, the PCs meet the dwarf scholar Narin Poolcryer who tells them about the Firebird that the Black Prince is obsessed with hunting. Krivinn challenges a tiefling, Caleb Quick to a bridge duel. Using the future moment of success he traded with the Grey Ladies, he defeats the tiefling with his first blow, catching him before he tumbles off the bridge.

The PCs' celebration is short-lived though, as Sebastian casts off his disguise, revealing himself to be a shadowy spy of the Moonlit King. He taunts the PCs before teleporting away.
courts

Here’s what happened in Monday night’s game as the PCs travelled the Shadow Road and arrived in the Courts of the Shadow Fey. Each PC gets 1,680 xp.


23rd November (contd.)

The Shadow Road heads into the side of a mountain – after going inside and travelling through the tunnel for a while, the road seems to twist underfoot. Ahead are two shadar-kai, mounted on fiery-hooved nightmares. The shadar-kai charge the party, attacking Brave Ella and Sebastian who are at the front. Krivinn is pulled through the floor of the shadowstone tunnel by a darkstone sculptor and is then held immobile for much of the combat, causing no little frustration to the dragonborn paladin who is forced to rely on his crossbow. The other PCs battle the shadar-kai and the nightmares without their stalwart defender, and annoyingly the sculptor seems to be able to immobilise members of the group from a distance. “There is something funny going on”, says Khuma, “things are twisted.” It’s Sebastian who realises the tunnel has morphed into a Moebius strip. Fortunately, Brave Ella’s archery is top notch and the elf ranger is able to take down both of the shadow humanoids and both fiendish horses too with her deadly arrows. Khuma is the next to be pulled through the floor by the sculptor but the shifter gets his revenge by killing his ebony-skinned opponent.

Searching the bodies, the PCs find a valuable mithril and onyx cameo depicting the Queen of Night and Magic, and also a twisted piece of stone which Saethus advises the others to smash to get them out of the loop they are trapped in. They do what the eladrin advises and are able to travel the rest of the Road, arriving at the palace.

A headless suit of armour greets the PCs at the Winter Gate leading to the Lower Courts, and allows them to enter. Once inside, the PCs explore their surroundings, entering the stables, the library, New Moon Hall and the other chambers but there doesn’t seem to be anyone around. After battling a couple of the monolith footmen (who have taken exception to the party’s presence), however, the PCs start to spot animals in some of the rooms and the previously empty New Moon Hall is now filled with forest owls!



When the PCs return to the courtyard, they are attacked again, this time by a monolith footman and an empty cloak. During this fight, Sebastian disappears momentarily, but is soon back again. After the fight, an invisible assailant tries to steal Saethus’ wand, and someone tries to trip Krivinn. There is a fair bit of giggling but the PCs still can’t see any of the palace’s inhabitants. A second battle occurs soon afterwards near the eastern gate with another cloak and footman.

Heading up the slippery, icy ramp to the Executioner’s Gate leading into the Winter Palace, Krivinn is told by the footman on the doors that he is of high enough status to be admitted, but the rest of the party are too lowly to be allowed in. The group goes back to the courtyard where they are attacked yet again, this time by two baying dog-demons and two crow-headed malphas.

After the battle, they can now see their first living humanoid inhabitant – the very pale elf musician Eracen. Over by the silver tree, several shadow fey rakes are idling. Eracen explains to the party that duelling is a good way for the PCs to gain status – it is currently the Poet’s Season so duelling is permitted….

courts
Here’s what happened in last night’s game. Each PC gets 1,480 xp.

22nd November (contd.)

The PCs meet up with Brave Ella and head back to the Old Quarter. Saethus goes inside the Marjani Minar, the tower of the Esoteric Order of the Blue Lotus, to research the Shadow Road ritual in the library. Unable to go in with him, the others adjourn to the Kirin’s Rest, a nearby pub inhabited by off-duty wizards and students of the arcane arts. There, they get into conversation with Kordillian, the tavern’s resident alehouse drake, bribing him with beer and pork scratchings. The little creature seems to know a fair bit about the Shadow Road and tells the PCs of a fey called the Sluagh. Meanwhile, Saethus has been chatting to the attractive Sahasran mantrika Jivanta who tells him about the Lych Gate and offers to get him an audience with Tapasranjan, the Master of Southern Magic and current Grand Master of the Order. Back in the pub, Krivinn upsets Kordillian – the drake responds with his discombobulating touch, causing the paladin to forget why he was in the pub in the first place and wander outside. When he comes back in, clearly confused, he mistakes Kordillian for a fearsome dragon and draws his axe. This uncouth behaviour gets him barred.

The PCs return home and get a good night’s sleep, although they share a dream of a shadow fey tailor measuring up Saethus for a new outfit.


23rd November

Saethus finds a suit of +3 bloodthread cloth armour waiting for him in the apartment’s living area, presumably left by the mysterious tailor. The PCs travel to the Poor Ward, asking Captain Saurish where they can find the Lych Gate. The gate is now part of the wall between the Poor Ward and the Dock Ward, but is marked with fey symbols and clearly dates back to the days when Parsantium was Dhak Janjua. The PCs are able to activate the gate and get it to reveal the secrets of the Shadow Road ritual and to give a glimpse of the sluagh. The party buy some pig’s knuckles from a half-orc butcher to bribe the fey.

In the Dock Ward, the PCs track down the sluagh in his burned out home after visiting Brother Jerome at St Caspieran’s Salvation for directions. Krivinn stomps into the building and puts his feet through the crumbling floorboards. He manages to extricate himself and the PCs talk to Knuckletooth the sluagh, a wretched-looking fey creature. Khuma trades his memory of his death in the Hippodrome at the hands of the Grizzly in exchange for missing details on the ritual and where it must be performed – the Old Docks pier where the thuggee assassin Jagadish killed Ashna.



Saethus returns to the Marjani Minar to see Tapasranjan. The Grand Master turns out to be a vanara – a monkey-like humanoid. He gives Saethus the last detail of the ritual – a spinning lantern is a key component – and also lends the wizard a ring of shadow travel to aid them on their quest.

At sunset, the PCs head down to the Old Docks to perform the ritual. They spot Hidden Ambassador Thelamandrine and his goblin servant out for a stroll along the quayside, presumably not a coincidence. Getting into a rowing boat, Sebastian rows the PCs out into the Dolphin Strait as Khuma spins the lantern, pulling it in and out of a velvet bag, and Saethus performs the necessary elven chanting. The gate to the Shadowfell opens and the party pass through, finding themselves on the misty Shadow Road.

A short while later, the road takes the PCs into a dark forest where they are attacked by forest marauders and shadow haunts. The shadow creatures slide and push the PCs into 40 foot deep spiked pits – at one point, Ella, Khuma and Sebastian are all at the bottom of one of these pits. Eventually, the monsters are defeated but the gloomy surroundings start to prey on the PCs’ minds…..

courts

Here’s what happened in last night’s game. Big huzzah and welcome back for Brave Ella and lucybrant! Each PC gets 800 xp.


20th November (contd.)

The sinister shadowy creatures move to surround Khuma, Krivinn and Saethus – the PCs work out they are fey creatures from the Shadowfell, vulnerable to radiant damage. The shadowy beings take the place of the PCs’ own shadows and teleport annoyingly out of the way of attacks. One of their number is a more powerful creature known as a passing darkness which uses its power over the sun and the moon to conjure two replacements when a PC manages to kill his cloying assailant. At the end of the first round of combat, an old friend, the elf ranger Ella, appears and rushes to her companions’ aid, firing unerringly accurate arrows from her bow. After a few rounds, the PCs are able to destroy their foes and daylight returns. The passing darkness leaves ashes behind when it's slain - if eaten, says Saethus, these will work like a potion of vitality.

Asking around town about Winter’s Kiss is getting the party nowhere so Saethus purchases the Consult Mystic Sages ritual from the Esoteric Order of the Blue Lotus and casts it. The spirits reveal Winter’s Kiss to be located in the counting house of the spice merchant Enneas Thel in the Emerald Ward. Surprised by this information, they visit the prefect and ask for a warrant to enter and search the counting house which Bardas is happy to give them.That night, Saethus’ meditation and Khuma’s sleep are troubled by strange visions and dreams. Neither gains the benefit of an extended rest.


21st November

Krivinn goes to check on his shrine to Bahamut to find it’s been closed “by order of the Queen” and his two acolytes are nowhere to be seen. The PCs head over the bridges to the Imperial Quarter and knock on the door of the address they’ve been given for Winter’s Kiss. When a shadow fey footman answers the door, the PCs say they will return tomorrow, happy they’ve got the right location. They hire a messenger snake to send word to Bardas that Enneas Thel doesn’t seem to be living there anymore. Expecting trouble, they then visit the Mercantile Quarter to buy more potions of vitality.


22nd November

Krivinn goes to visit the Celestial Bastion in the Grand Ward to find it locked shut, also “by order of the Queen”. There is no sign of the Platinum Knights of Bahamut and local residents can’t provide any information as to their whereabouts. Rumours are also rife that scathsidhe have replaced the City Watch on the Victory Gate. Meanwhile, Khuma goes shopping and purchases some very showy white and gold clothes and an ostentatious jewelled gold turban for the party’s meeting with the Hidden Ambassador.

The PCs return to Winter’s Kiss and are admitted by the footman, Canderminne Tallowglass, announced, and shown in to see the Hidden Ambassador who is sitting talking in elven to a white owl. Krivinn, Saethus and an unusually eloquent Khuma manage to impress His Excellency enough for him to reveal a few key pieces of information, although the paladin comes very close to upsetting the shadow fey:

– The Queen’s claim to the city dates back to the time before its conquest by Corandias the Magnificent, when the shadow fey ruled the lands from the Ironcrags and Margreve Forest to the Griffin Water. As far as the scathsidhe are concerned, the city’s title reverted to them when Corandias’ dynasty fell and Parsantium was conquered by the hobgoblin king Kalgroth Ironheart.
– The Queen is sometimes amused to meet foreigners
– The Moonlit King is the one who declared the claim to Parsantium is both valid and of interest to the Court
– The Queen and the King are not always of one mind where affairs of state are concerned.

Ambassador Thelamandrine then goes on to subtly hint that if the PCs might want to travel the Shadow Road and meet with the Queen. If they were to do this, they would need a ritual to open the Shadow Road and that experts on arcane magic in the city might be able to shed some light on how to perform such a ritual. The conversation is then over – parting gifts are brought by the footman and the white owl polymorphs into a female shadow fey, the sorcerer Freja Owlsdaughter. Freja promises “a visit from her tailor” to Saethus.

Somewhat confused, the PCs are shown out into the street.

Sebastian's Story

basileus
Here's the backstory of waynefurmidge's new character in the Black Horse campaign.

Sebastian Todorakis (“son of Todor” or “Little Todor”) is a minotaur runepriest in the service of Terak, God of War. He was born 25 years ago on the large island of Phokris in the Corsair’s Sea to the southwest of Parsantium. Sebastian is 7 feet 3 inches tall, with light brown fur, brown eyes and a stocky, muscular build. His horns are white with black tips and are inscribed with many runes.


 
Sebastian grew up in the Grand Labyrinth, a vast underground complex beneath a dormant volcano in the middle of the island. The Labyrinth has long served as a temple of the god Terak, a library, and as a home to many minotaurs. Sebastian trained as a librarian in his youth, growing up reading stories of past battles and ancient glories. This suited him well as his aptitude for the written word was unusually good, and later, the minotaur stories he read inspired him to seek out adventure and glory for himself.
 
Sebastian’s duties included looking after the valuable books in the great library of the Labyrinth. He had plenty of time to read on the job, and his study of various religious tomes led to him becoming a runepriest.
 
In his early days as a librarian, the young Sebastian faced a great challenge. His well-respected uncle Aetos turned his back on the teachings of Terak and fell under the sway of the demon lord Baphomet. Aetos attempted to perform a dark, forbidden ritual but was thwarted by his own nephew and brought to justice. By putting the Labyrinth before his own flesh and blood, Sebastian greatly impressed the minotaur elders and rose rapidly to become a trusted member of the Guardians of the Central Library. Despite this advancement, Sebastian was hurt by his uncle’s betrayal and it will be a long time before he trusts anyone again. The incident had a permanent influence over Sebastian’s temperament, making him prone to aggression and moodiness.



The incident with Aetos was not the only tragedy to strike Sebastian while in the library.  In his new position, he was given responsibility for guarding the clan’s most trusted scrolls and books. One night something happened which brought his whole world crashing down around him.
 
Sebastian had been asked to guard some particularly rare and powerful manuscripts. As time passed, Sebastian became a little thirsty, and, reaching for a skin conveniently placed on the table, he drank deeply. He suddenly felt overwhelming tiredness, then his head hit the table and he was unconscious. The next memory he had was been woken by a number of panicking guards – the valuable scrolls he had been guarding were missing.
 
Sebastian’s deep sense of honour told him to take responsibility for what happened, despite the clear evidence that someone was behind the incident. He was ejected from the clan with immediate effect and stripped of his status as a librarian. Until such time as he is able to return the stolen manuscript, he cannot return to the Grand Labyrinth.
 
As a trained and capable runepriest, Sebastian had little difficultly finding his way out of the Labyrinth. Sailing from Phokris across the Corsair’s Sea to the north, Sebastian used knowledge learned in the library from old maps and tales to make his way across mountains and great rivers in search of the culprit behind the theft of the manuscript. As he travelled further from his home, he was able to piece together information about the theft at Central Labyrinth and the stolen scrolls. These clues seem to point towards the city of Parsantium and a man named Heinsoo.
courts

Here’s what happened in last night’s game in which a new hero joins the party – Sebastian Todorakis, a minotaur runepriest from the island of Phokris. Each PC gets 1,225 xp.

Since winning the grand prize in the gladiatorial bouts at the Hippodrome and saving the Old Quarter tribune during the chariot race, the PCs have been taking care of personal business. Khuma has been trying to track down the whereabouts of surviving members of the Pei’pa tribe, Saethus has been trying (without much success) to impress the Esoteric Order of the Blue Lotus, and Krivinn has been reestablishing his shrine to Bahamut. The dragonborn paladin has recruited two eager young acolytes – Epheres and Kaphti are both newly ordained priests of Bahamut and will take care of the day-to-day running of the chapel. Bolval, meanwhile, has returned to the Ironcrags bearing a message from Matron Gloril Wiseheart – dwarves don’t trust messenger snakes or magic to deliver their important missives. The three PCs remaining in the city also pay a visit to the Curio Cabinet in the Mercantile Quarter but only Khuma makes a purchase.


18th November

Khuma, Krivinn and Saethus are relaxing in a tavern in the Civic Ward near the Holy Basilica of Pelor when Meletius, a novice of the Sun God comes rushing in, asking for help. The archbishop is under attack in the basilica! The PCs rush after the young man to the temple. Pinned to the doors is a notice in Elven from the Hidden Ambassador Extraordinary of the Winter Court to the Fey City of Parsantium, His Excellency Glaninin Thelamandrine, revoking the charter of the temple. The party charge inside, followed by Sebastian who has heard the cries for help.

Inside His Radiance Arcadius, Archbishop of Parsantium, is being threatened by five shadow fey in black cloaks and armed with rapiers. Krivinn calls for them to stop but the scathsidhe take no notice, moving in to attack the elderly priest. The paladin rushes to his aid but is attacked from the shadows by two assassins wielding poisoned knives and is soon bloodied. Saethus and Khuma join in the fray – the wizard casts lightning bolt and the shifter attacks one of the shadow fey with his primal powers. Then, Sebastian moves forward to heal the archbishop.

Saethus casts a fireball on the shadow fey surrounding Arcadius, using careful aim to avoid setting the archbishop on fire. Khuma charges forward, drawing three opportunity attacks, and is forced to deny death to stay on his feet. His reckless charge does at least bloody the shadow fey assassin he attacks and he is luckily healed by a comrade before he keels over. Krivinn kills the first shadow fey, Sebastian kills a second and Khuma, polar bear-headed after unleashing his frost wolf rage, impales a third on his longspear. Three more scathsidhe are slain; the last one runs but is brought down by Khuma as he runs past.


The battle over, Sebastian introduces himself as Arcadius thanks the party for saving his life. The minotaur reveals he has come to the city in search of a man named Heinsoo who stole sacred texts from the Central Labyrinth under the island of Phokris. Krivinn explains that the PCs know this name and they have a list of books the elusive Heinsoo is trying to find. After searching the bodies and finding white feathers on the two assassins, the PCs decide to investigate.

Sebastian heads for the Great Library where he tries to find out if there is any connection between the various books on Heinsoo’s list – there doesn’t seem to be. Krivinn goes to see Orthas at the Celestial Bastion, keen to tell him that he, a paladin of Bahamut, has just saved the Archibishop of Parsantium from assailant inside his own temple. As he walks through the leafy Grand Ward, a deer runs across the street, followed by shadow fey hunters and their phantom hounds. Very strange. Saethus researches the shadow fey in the library inside the Marjani Minar. Meanwhile, Khuma can’t get a beer as all the barrels inside the Desert Sands Brewery have been soured by the fey “as a fine”. The shifter also learns that the Street of Tailors in the Maker’s Ward has vanished!

The party meet up and compare notes – shadow fey heralds have been appearing around the city, issuing proclamations and edicts on behalf of the Queen of Night and Magic. The PCs break into a building from behind where the Street of Tailors was – inside the internal door leads to a brick wall. A visit to the Desert Sands brewery doesn’t shed any more light on what’s going on. Then, a messenger snake appears – Bardas has invited the PCs to meet him at the city council chambers first thing in the morning.


19th November

The PCs meet Bardas and agree to stand guard over the council meeting – at yesterday’s meeting, several shadow fey appeared in the chambers and started discussing city business. When the guards tried to eject them, they found themselves locked out of the room with the councillors!

Despite their vigilance, the party are unable to stop the appearance of the Hidden Ambassador who announces that the King and Queen of the Shadowfell are taking control of the city again, and have appointed a viceroy to govern the city. After making this announcement, Thelamandrine vanishes. The PCs ask Bardas about the pact the city made with the shadow fey over 100 years ago but the Prefect claims to know nothing about it. He says he will search the city records and let them know what he discovers.

More strange events occur that day – goblin and fey heralds announce more edicts against the gods of the city, against cursing and drinking without toasting the fey. That night, all the PCs have the same dream in which they are invited to visit Winter’s Kiss, the ambassador’s home in Parsantium.


20th November

The PCs have never heard of Winter’s Kiss but try to find out where it is by asking around. Krivinn argues with a goblin herald who tries to advise him not to openly proclaim his worship for Bahamut. Of course, this is like a red rag to a bull and the paladin takes no notice. As he waves his holy symbol under the goblin’s nose and then kisses it, it starts getting dark and sinister shadows move to surround the party….
Elias Wang

Here’s what happened in last night’s game which marked the end of the Luminous Heroes of the Ironcrags’ adventures inside the Hippodrome, and featured a special guest appearance by Hakka-Cho, the not-at-all-complicated thri-kreen monk-rogue hybrid. Each PC gets 2,000 xp.

Next up: Courts of the Shadow Fey. There will be plenty of time before this adventure starts for downtime, magic item/equipment shopping and taking care of personal business. Let me know via email if there is stuff your character wants to do.

24th October (contd).

They’re under starter’s orders…… And they’re off!

Corandias XVIII the Lion-Blooded, Basileus of Parsantium signals the start of the race, and the PCs (racing for the Greens), the Blues, the Whites and the Reds come hurtling out of the carceres (starting boxes). Khuma, despite inspecting both his horses and his chariot before the race, manages to get himself tangled up in the reins and doesn’t get off to a good start. He does better than Umit of the Reds, Regino of the Blues and Castinus of the Whites though - the trio end up colliding as they head round the first blind and crash out of the race! Surprisingly, the equinophobic Bolval takes an early lead, as he seizes an opening between two rival chariots and drives straight through the middle.


As the chariots race around the Hippodrome, several more crash into each other, the central spina or the sides of the stadium. Mercurius, the Blues’ star charioteer, smashes into Krivinn, causing the paladin to lose valuable time, and then does the same to Bolval, who has to fight hard to get his chariot back under control. Saethus is the first PC to crash, losing control of his chariot as he hurtles towards the noble boxes. Mercurius is in the lead, with Khuma and Bolval not far behind when the hieroglyphics on the obelisk on the spina start to glow red. Krivinn, sensing trouble, stops his chariot in front of the kathisma (royal box).

The obelisk explodes, and a giant jackal-headed figure steps from the wreckage and starts moving towards the box holding the Old Quarter tribune Murad al-Rumi and Captain Saurish of the City Watch. As the other PCs stop their chariots and move to defend the tribune, they are attacked by the four members of Tiger Claw who have been sitting among the panicking crowds. Khuma summons his spirit companion to attack the archer Chen Tung while Krivinn climbs into the stands to put himself between al-Rumi and the Anubis giant. Lee Jian the sorcerer blasts Bolval with visions of things that should not be - the dwarf sees Vrishabha, rakshasa rajah of Dhak Janjua breaking out of his icy prison and destroying all in his path. Hakka-Cho, a thri-kreen monk watching the chariot race, moves to help out Bolval but is sent into a parallel dimension by Lee Jian along with some of the crowd.



Saethus stays in cover behind his crashed wagon and attacks the Anubis giant and Tiger Claw with lightning bolt, using his controller’s wand to weaken his targets. Krivinn is under attack from the Anubis giant and also the khopesh-wielding Navrang Swiftstrike. The dazed Bolval, still standing in his stationary chariot, fights Lokesh Flashfoot, another Tiger Claw swordsman, and is still being sent terrible visions by Lee Jian up above. Khuma and his bear gang up on Chen Tung and inflict a lot of damage on the archer. Suddenly, Chen seems to have something of a funny turn and stops fighting back. Khuma shrugs his shoulders and finishes the Tiger Claw off.


Meanwhile, Krivinn is in some trouble against the Anubis giant and Navrang who headbutts the paladin, dazing him. Saethus casts fireball and then storm cage on the giant. Bolval is struck for a critical by Lokesh but Krivinn uses knightly intercession to take the damage himself by calling the enemy next to him. This allows the dwarf to send a spiritual weapon flying at their huge opponent. Hakka-Cho strikes Lee Jian who responds by marking the thri-kreen with the black geas. The monk ignores the tattoo and moves to attack the sorcerer again, triggering the wrack curse which sends him tumbling on to the sands.At last, the tide of the battle seems to be turning – Navrang has been gravely wounded and, then, he too stops fighting, instead standing there looking a bit confused. Saethus casts a spell at the two enemies fighting Krivinn - this breaks the illusion hiding the fact that Lokesh is no longer really there. Hakka-Cho triggers wrack again by going after Lee Jian for a second time. Then, Krivinn kills the Anubis giant and Lee Jian just stands there looking confused and not attacking.

The PCs interrogate Navrang and Lee Jian - both claim to have no memory of the last few days. In fact, the last thing they can remember was being knocked out while on their way to the Hippodrome, and then watching and listening to a “shaggy minotaur” chanting over them. Krivinn, recalling carvings seen in the Temple of the Black Leopard in the forest ruins of Gopura thinks these creatures could be yakfolk.

The party are summoned to see Bardas the prefect in Jacobus’s office beneath the sands; Rogad and Captain Saurish are also in attendance. Bardas thanks the PCs for carrying out their mission successfully and presents them with their reward: 12,000 gold bezants. As the PCs go to leave, Thea Achillia asks if they have been able to find out what’s killing the gladiators. The party are forced to reply in the negative before heading off in search of a roast horse to satisfy Khuma’s unique cravings.
parsantium crest

Here’s what happened in Monday night’s game. Each PC gets 700 xp. All being well, we should finish the adventure next session.


23rd October (contd.)

Krivinn, Bolval, Khuma and Saethus go to the temple of Terak just before midnight, after finding a mysterious note pinned to their door. The door to the temple is ajar so the paladin strides boldly in. A hooded figure is standing at the altar. As the party approach, he turns; his cloak is swept away with a single motion, revealing tiny figures beneath with interlocked bones. Thirty skulls turn to look and chitter and leap from their zombie mount with one high-pierced shriek!

The bone collective moves forwards and attacks Krivinn, knocking the dragonborn prone. The adventurers fight back -– Bolval’s divine spells are particularly effective but Saethus’ attacks also do a fair bit of damage to the swarm of tiny skeletons as it continues to bite and claw Krivinn. The dwarf cleric’s turn undead prayer pushes the undead hive mind away and immobilises it, but the bone collective disperses into its separate parts and disappears. Saethus goes to investigate the trapdoor next to the altar but then the swarm reappears, attacking Krivinn again and disarming the paladin when he strikes at the little skeletons. Fortunately Khuma’s spirit bear is on hand to grab the execution axe back off the bone collective.

The dragonborn and the dwarf both keep getting bloodied and eventually Krivinn is forced to flee while prone using winter’s arrival. The bone collective is bloodied by a second turn undead from Bolval, but this causes the swarm to summon half a dozen skeletons which rise up and attack the party. Saethus casts a wall of fire in the centre of the room which gets rid of a few skeletons but the battle is not going that well. Krivinn is down to 6 hp and has had two weapons taken off him by the collective. Bolval heals the paladin yet again as the last skeleton drops. The PCs surround the bone collective which disperses again. This time, it doesn’t return.

The PCs search the temple and then the crypt where there are signs that a pair of bare-footed men performed a ritual of some sort. Realising that bone collectives originate in the Ghoul Imperium, there is some speculation by the PCs about the Empire’s involvement in the attack.

Returning to their quarters, the PCs run into the excitable young gladiator-in-training Rufilius Syreme who says he followed two members of Tiger Claw into the Hippodrome earlier that night. The two men apparently did some chanting around the Khemeti obelisk on the spina that caused its hieroglyphics to glow. The party then wake up a sleepy and grumpy Paramezzus and tell him about the incident at the temple of Terak.


24th October

The PCs are woken early by Jacobus banging on the door, asking them to drive the Greens’ chariots in the big race after the Old Quarter team went down with food poisoning. The party agree but decide to check out the obelisk before going to their crash course in charioteering. Saethus can detect some kind of ritual has been cast on the column.

Bolval sends a messenger snake to warn Bardas while Rogad rushes off to report to his master in person. Krivinn heads to the Celestial Bastion to report to Orthas, the soylana. The senior paladin tells the dragonborn he is more than capable of dealing with whatever situation is going to occur himself and sends him away. Meanwhile. Saethus has no luck getting help from the Esoteric Order of the Blue Lotus, and Khuma sends Rufilius to the temple of Niu Dahan. The PCs meet back at the Greens’ faction headquarters where they have a few minutes for Maruthus, manager of the team, to give them some quick top tips on driving chariots.
parsantium crest
Here's what happened in last night's game. First PC death for some time! Each PC gets 1,275 xp; Khuma gets an additional 375 xp for facing the Grizzly.

23rd October (contd.)
As the PCs leave the arena, Krivinn grabs the poultice from Farria's costume and sniffs it - it smells of mint and appears to contain faraja leaves. Bolval brings the gladiatrix round with a healing prayer but Farria refuses to say who gave her the poultice. There is no time for the party to investigate further as Khuma is about to face the Grizzly in single combat. The PCs take their seats in the front row.

Khuma and the Grizzly face each other in the Hippodrome – Khuma's entrance is more impressive but it's the Grizzly who is the more effective fighter, landing blow after blow as his opponent's spear thrusts and attacks from his spirit companion miss time and time again. The shaman is forced to heal himself several times, drinking potions and even calling down a golden owl, as the Mammonite traitor continues to press the attack. Khuma defies death once but falls unconscious when the Grizzly lands a terrible blow – a critical hit doing over 60 points of damage. The evil barbarian follows this up with a death blow, cutting off Khuma's head and holding it up to the appalled crowd!



Krivinn leaps over the barrier and on to the sands, shouting "Put it down, in the name of Bahamut!" The Grizzly invokes Mammon and says he "spits on Bahamut" which sends the paladin into a state of righteous anger. Bolval and Rogad also jump into the arena to attack the bloodthirsty barbarian. The dwarf charges in but it's Krivinn who delivers the killing blow to take down the gladiator. Rogad turns into mist, unsure of how the crowd will react. Krivinn takes the Great Bear Totem from the Grizzly's corpse and the PCs carry Khuma's body out of the arena.

Jacobus rushes up to confront the PCs in a colossal fluster. He's angry at them for jumping into the arena and attacking the Grizzly, but more furious with the Grizzly for killing Khuma. The PCs are given a bye to the final to give them enough time to get Khuma raised from the dead.

Bolval performs the raise dead ritual, using the gold found in the Ironcrags to meet the component cost, and helped by Krivinn and Rogad. They learn from Dharina, Blues cheerleader, that Tarkhan Kadir and the rest of the Greens chariot team have gone down with food poisoning ahead of tomorrow's big race. Getting Khuma's head back on and the shaman back on his feet is the PCs' priority so they pay little attention to her vapid gossiping.

At dusk, the PCs take to the arena against the Sand Net Slayers, led by current champion Volponus Venazzi. The entrance of the Luminous Heroes of the Ironcrags impresses the crowd, winning them over. Amazingly, Krivinn is quickest off the mark, charging in to attack Volponus and Skullcrusher the ogre. Nganga the witch doctor curses Rogad so that every time she hits someone with a spell the warlock takes the same amount of damage. Krivinn takes down Skullcrusher and uses knightly intercession to save Khuma from Viperstrike's arrows. Nganga is attacked by a fan – she strikes back, bloodying Rogad in the process. Bolval casts mass cure light wounds to keep everyone on their feet but then goes down to a poisoned arrow from the yuan-ti. Khuma heals the dwarf but he's unconscious again almost straightaway. Krivinn brings the cleric round and the PCs work together to defeat the last two opponents standing – Volponus and Aegis Sparkhooves the centaur. Krivinn knocks out the champion and Aegis surrenders.



The PCs have won the final and the grand prize – 7,500 gold bezants and a pennant helm – and Krivinn is presented with the Platinum Helm by the hawk-faced and frightfully well-spoken tribune of the Imperial Quarter, Aurius Kalothese. The dragonborn will hold this trophy until the next Games.

When the PCs arrive back at their quarters, exhausted and ready for their beds, they find a note on the door which reads:

"I have some information for you about what's going to go down tomorrow. Meet me in the temple of Terak tonight at midnight. Be discreet and come alone."
parsantium crest
Here's what happened in Monday night's game. Each PC gets 1,540 xp; Khuma gets 840 xp for his part in the battle with the beasts.

22nd October (contd.)
The battle continues, with Saethus joining the fray in place of Khuma. Rogad is knocked unconscious again but is healed by Bolval and changes into a shadowy form to escape the beasts. Krivinn attacks the owlbear but is slid into another fighter-flinger trap and goes flying through the air. When he gets to his feet and charges the monster he is grabbed and stunned. The manticore takes Bolval down with his tail spikes Saethus is guilty of a few shocking misses before killing the owlbear with storm cage, allowing Krivinn to get to the dwarf and lay hands on him. Rogad teleports the trihorn behemoth into the eladrin's storm cage, before killing the dinosaur with eyebite. Then, the PCs finish off the manticore and the fight is all over.

After their victory, the PCs talk to Marcellus, "tattooist-at-large", to see if he recognises the tattoo on the severed arm the party rescued from the girallon. The huge tattoo-covered man identifies it as Tiangaon but can't be more specific. The PCs remember that half of the Tiger Claw team are Tiangaon; Rogad tries to find them but they are nowhere to be seen.



The party spend a bit more time that afternoon gathering information around the Hippodrome:

Tiger Claw followed up their victory over the Fiery Hornets with a much less likely victory over the Black Executioners in the afternoon fighting.

Vimak Bonesplitter, the leader of Mountain Avalanche, tells the PCs his team did better in the afternoon against the Roaring Dragonnes; their gladiators smelled strongly of mint. Lorenzo the herbalist says that faraja leaf tea has a minty smell.

Salma Greeneyes, costume seamstress, warns Krivinn about the Mutya Monsoon and Farria Tsunami, members of Lightning Strike - the PCs' opponents tomorrow morning.

Saethus runs into arrogant arena champion Volponus Venazzi who says the PCs are unlikely to do so well against his team, the Sand Net Slayers.

Rogad talks to Thea Achillia who asks how the party are getting on with their investigation into the gladiator deaths. She tries to ask Paramezzus for help but the physician isn't speaking to her "after what happened at the Thunder Throwndown in Maius."

Khuma finally tracks down The Grizzly and recognises him as Vinekh Khatun, betrayer of the Pei'pa tribe! The Great Bear Totem is hanging round the shifter's neck. A fight nearly breaks out there and then but the pair agree to settle their differences in the arena in the morning.

In the evening, the PCs are visited by their patron, the stunningly attractive Lady Viviana Megaris who presents Saethus with a crest of vigilance eternal for killing the owlbear in the hippodrome.

23rd October
The PCs are briefed by Jacobus on the rules of Capture the Flag and then head into the arena where they are to face Lightning Strike. The party start the contest in their "base" where they place their flag. Saethus and Rogad head off into the maze, scouting as far ahead as they dare. This is quite far – Rogad gets caught by a leg breaker trap, then is attacked by a pair of hooded elves and ends up in the enemy jail. The two elves then cross into the PCs' territory and attack Bolval – the dwarf takes quite a bit of damage but sends them both to the party's jail. Meanwhile, Krivinn takes on the whip-wielding Mutya and Farria and jails them too. Rogad escapes, then teams up with Saethus and the two arcanists sneak up on Caius Gutripper and the enemy flag. Krivinn and Bolval take out Thariel Stormweaver (the elf wizard) and Farria. Meanwhile, Caius spots Rogad and Saethus and his attack sends the eladrin to jail. It's too late though - time has run out and Jacobus declares the Luminous Heroes of the Ironcrags as winners on points.

As the PCs leave the arena, they notice what seems to be a poultice sticking out of the unconscious Farria's leather gladiatrix outfit...
parsantium crest
Here’s what happened in Monday night’s game - no Jonas but a big welcome to Marco! Each PC gets 875 xp and 2 Fame (Rogad gains 3 Fame).

21st October
Just before turning in for the night, the PCs are approached as they sit quietly in the courtyard of their quarters. The stranger is at first unwilling to say who he is which makes Krivinn very suspicious, but after some initial confusion, the party realise this is Rogad, the Prefect’s “inside man.” The others tell the warlock about some of their exploits and of their intense dislike of the Ghoul Imperium – this almost certainly confuses Rogad even more, but they agree to fight together in the arena in the morning.

22nd October
The first day of the Victory Games arrives and the PCs are scheduled to fight Mountain Avalanche, a brutal all-goliath team led by Vimak Bonesplitter. Taking advantage of 6-1 odds they place a 500 gold bezant wager on themselves to win with an unsuspecting bookie. As the Luminous Heroes of the Ironcrags enter the hippodrome, Bolval shouts out their names: Killer Bear, Bahamut’s Jaw, Twilight Mist and the Beer Monster. The crowd applaud politely but the dwarf hasn’t really won them over. Fortunately Khuma’s innate showmanship is pretty impressive – he summons his spirit companion into the front row – and the spectators seem more interested in the new gladiators.

The battle against Mountain Avalanche is swift, with the Luminous Heroes convincing victors, despite an initial set back when Krivinn steps on a “fighter-flinger” and flies through the air to land far from his companions. The goliaths attempt to divide and conquer the PCs with Vimak going for Khuma, Gauthak Mountain-Hammer and Lo-Kag the Colossus bashing Bolval and Rogad, and Thotham Ironbones and Eglath Stonefoot charging the prone paladin. Back on his feet, Krivinn uses knightly intercession to pull Gauthak away from Rogad and takes him down. The contest soon turns in the PCs’ favour and the crowd roar in approval as Vimak goes down and the last two goliaths yield.


After collecting their winnings, the PCs spend some time talking to gladiators and arena staff to try and find out what’s going on in and around the Hippodrome:

Hrolf says Tiger Claw did better than expected in their first bout of the day, beating the Fiery Hornets in record time.

Rufillius Syreme, a young aspiring gladiator, tells them that his mentor, The Wolverine, keeled over and died a couple of weeks ago while getting ready for a fight, despite being very fit.

Paramezzus, the gnarled-looking hippodrome physician, says the water in the baths could be to blame for the mysterious deaths, but backtracks when challenged, admitting he is at a loss to explain what is behind them. Krivinn catches the old man when Rogad attempts to knock him into the bathwater!

Tamman, a half-orc masseur, shows the PCs a leaf he found among the Wolverine’s clothes. The PCs take the leaf to Lorenzo, a herbalist who has a stall in the bazaar just outside the Hippodrome. Lorenzo identifies it as a faraja leaf – a stimulant which can be made into a tea “to pep you up.” Rogad buys some apple tobacco to put in his sheesha.

The afternoon sees the Luminous Heroes of the Ironcrags back on the sands battling four of Borysko’s beasts - a wind-claw owlbear, a trihorn behemoth, a mesmeric-eye basilisk and a manticore. The owlbear is a terrible opponent, taking down Khuma first and then Rogad, although Khuma is brought round by Bolval’s healing prayers. The shifter kills the basilisk as the others battle the owlbear and the behemoth, and the manticore, hanging back, fires volleys of spikes into the fray.

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Green Man
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Richard Green

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