Scaled Down Scales

Recruitment
Interlude...

…with dead party members.

Roland‘s friend told him where the Dragonborn were holding Belinda. The warden’s daughter had told the leader of the dragonborn she had already seen the oracle (hoping he would let her go). Instead, he held her as a semi-prisoner in hopes she could help him find a mate.

Once rescued, Belinda stole a “treasure” from the militaristic leader of the dragonborn. The treasure turned out to be an ordinary playing card, depicting a pair of broken swords.

Roland and Belinda returned the Monastery of the Precipice in hopes of recruiting a team of seekers (adventurers seeking the oracle) two rescue their two comrades (Rothe Draken and Elyas) still trapped on the other side of the ettercaps and gnomes.

They found:

  • Heian, a dual-wielding ranger seeking to up his swordsmanship game,
  • Jerath, a capering drow bard,
  • Lokki, an enigmatic githzerai,
  • Kane, a damage-dealing paladin,
  • Reona, fledgling sorceress, and
  • Storm Johnson, a goliath warden

Meanwhile, Sam Dardano had finally caught up with the survivors.

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TPK, almost
Emboldened by their success...

…the party rushed into the next room…

…and suffered their most severe losses of the campaign.

Roland came up with a pretty good plan: He would shove open the door and their ranged fighters would shoot whatever waited on the other side (since he could hear a ettercap which had escaped the previous fight whispering on the far side of the door, he was pretty sure they were enemies).

The party’s archer threw a monkey-wrench into that plan, however, when he followed up his volley of arrows by rushing into the middle of a room full of ettercaps. The archer died eventually and became ettercap-chow. Most of the rest of the party died trying to save him.

Roland was able to slip into the shadows and release a gnome wizard being held prisoner and then slip out the back door, once he realized the battle was lost.

There he met an old friend, who helped him dispatch a roomful of gnomes and escape through a secret tunnel to the outside.

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Sleep and spiders
Finally out of the catacombs...

…our heroes were able to rest at last.

After their rest, they made their way down a long corridor which grew ever-more-filled with thick spider webs. After Roland alerted the inhabitants at the end of the hall to their presence by firing an arrow to clang against the heavy metal door, the party turned aside to assault a room occupied by ettercaps.

Fortunately, Taurson (a minotaur cleric they had befriended) was alert enough to guard their rear. When spiders tried to surprise them, he was able to tank them well enough to prevent most of the party from being surrounded by ettercaps (a fate that only befell Rothe Draken).

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Boss fight in the catacombs
Finding a sanctuary blocking their way...

…filled with smoky braziers giving off poisonous fumes,…

…the party turned aside to find another way south toward the Sceptre Tower. And chanced upon the Lord of the Catacombs, a vampire who summoned his minions. While the party was able to vanquish the minions and do grievous hurt to the vampire.

The Lord of the Catacombs was able to escape, however, by turning into a vapor and returning to his buried casket. Fearful that the vampire would regenerate and attack them with undead they had not yet cleared to the north, the party pressed on, holding their breath through the room with the altars and the braziers.

Roland was able to get them through the final room of the catacombs by spotting the trapped pressure plates on the floor.

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Clan Foresworn
Meanwhile...

the halfling managed to steal a little food and equipment…

…and was following the party through the Catacombs.

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Traps and Rats
Making their way...

…through the catacombs…

…the party began to come upon lots of traps. Springing them sometimes brought out rats from the waterways below the catacombs.

Eventually they began to encounter undead as well, pleasing Elyas no end as he was particularly well-suited for such enemies. It was Roland, however, who made a long-term enemy in one of the crypts, leaping atop the mausoleum and harrying the wraith who had hoped to have the high ground to himself.

The wraith managed to escape when his minions were vanquished. He went ahead to the next room and summoned several wights (along with skeletons) to waylay the rogue who had harried him. Roland and the rest of the party managed to kill him before he got away this time.

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Fighting Turns into Diplomacy
As the Dragonborn Paladin...

…takes the fore.

Approaching the west tower of the Northern Ramparts first, the party was surprised to find the halfling guards quickly turning into Wererats. Even more surprising was the ambush of Fire Beetles their monk scout led them into.

Once they had cleared that tower, Medresh (their dragonborn paladin) decided he’d had enough of this scouting-things-out folly and clanked right on down the corridor. Bursting through the door at the other end, he found a bunch of halflings eager to deal with whoever had gotten past their door-guards so easily. Because the rest of the party was far behind, no one objected to this opening of diplomatic negotiations.

As the halflings led the party through the rest their warren, discussions continued, only breaking down just as the party reached the Catacombs. The wererat-halflings attacked and a short battle ensued.

One of the halflings, Sam Dardano, quite dismayed at the treacherous behavior of the rest of his clan, began a plan to leave his brethren. He suspected they were no longer all that interested in lifting the curse that made them all wererats.

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The Monastery of the Precipice
Setting up operations...

…from a monastery in the ruins of the ancient fortress of Saharelguard…

…the party began to explore. They found:

  • a camp of militaristic dragonborn
  • a broken tower, which they decided was insignificant
  • an unbroken tower, known as the Sceptre Tower, which had no doors or windows
  • a group of halflings working to rebuild the Northern Ramparts
  • numerous wererats and kobolds digging around the ruins

Deciding the halflings were the easiest target, the party approached the Northern Ramparts.

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The mission goes awry
In a variety of ways...

…the mission to Overlook produced unexpected results:

  1. The war was apparently over, somehow raising the stature of The Order of the Black Feather who are somehow credited with saving the day at Borodrin’s Watch.
  2. The covert nature of the mission suffered a setback when a librarian told Elyas that a young lady was look the same subject he was investigating. Elyas told the librarian that Belinda was who he was looking for. She declined to provide further information about the young lady.
  3. Part of the reason the librarian was so circumspect with Elyas was that, unbeknownst to Elyas, Roland had set him up by warning the librarian about Elyas and his unnatural interest in young ladies.
  4. Roland was then able to parlay the increased trust he had with the librarian into more information about what Belinda was up to.
  5. Eventually the party learned (with the help of The Order) that Belinda had joined forces with a noblewoman who was funding an expedition to Spellgard to consult with the Oracle there.
  6. This seemed logical, since Belinda was known to be investigating the mystery of the Keys which could certainly be question she intended to ask the Oracle-ghost of Spellgard.

Little was learned about the keys by the party, but that was just their cover story.

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Mission to Overlook
A spy mission...

…within a diplomacy mission…

…within an intelligence-gathering mission.

Or something like that.

Since an emergency mission to find Belinda was definitely in order, the party was recruited for the job, along with her mother. Belinda’s mother, the Lord Warden’s young wife, was quick to volunteer, since her husband suspected her as much as the party of being the source of Belinda’s adventuresome nature.

The mother had previously been to Overlook with her daughter. Now that it was known that her daughter left behind portals to return to places she had visited, everyone began to suspect she had done so in Overlook. That meant she had the jump on them unless her mother went along to perform the portal magic for the party.

Thus, the mission was organized on three levels:

  • Lady Alyssa would lead the overt diplomatic mission (to let the dwarven masters of Overlook know her daughter had run away to their city and ask their help in finding, without letting it become widely known that she was missing)…
  • …with the party members fanning out to seek the meaning of the Keys, which the Lord Warden believes is what his daughter has gone to Overlook to find, while…
  • …secretly searching for Belinda while they search for the place where the keys can be used.
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