Scaled Down Scales

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 part 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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    Back from Hiatus...
    ...as a 1st-level campaign

    We went into Hiatus for a while (due to the gamemaster’s job going crazy) and re-emerged as a 1st-level campaign.

    When we returned to the campaign, the new characters found themselves cleaning up some Kobold Problems near Fallcrest.

    The key they found around the neck of the dragon who was behind the kobold infestation turned out to have a match. The matching key was delivered by an emissary of The Order of the Black Feather who presented it to the Lord Warden of Fallcrest. When the adventuresome daughter made off with a key, a diplomatic/spy assignment ensued.

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    Orcs at the Gate
    The Horned Hold...

    …proved to be situated on both sides of a deep chasm.

    The adventurers took full advantage of this situation. They were surprised to discover that the portcullis to the installation was guarded by orcs, not duergar slavers. Paine once again demonstrated her considerable physical prowess by holding up the heavy iron gate one-handed while Ki’sho forced orcs off the edge of the cliff.

    In the end, only one orc got away. Seeing his friends take a long fall was enough to convince him to run for help.

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    A PR Campaign...
    ...for the Order of the Black Feather

    Meanwhile, Blackguard’s Bane has begun really improving the image of The Order of the Black Feather by speaking out on their behalf at big meeting in Overlook. He got them a good assignment in the effort to close the tunnels under the mountains, playing on his reputation and knowledge gleaned from the destruction of the New Red Hand. Some of the other adventuring guilds seem a little put out at this development.

    When they were assigned to evacuate the Monastery of the Sundered Chain, they found that most of the dwarves there had been killed (although one named Khalad survived long enough to collapse the tunnels and be rescued by Blackguard’s Bane. Khalad, a dwarven paladin told them they needed to rush to the Vents to make sure the guild assigned to close them were able to complete the job. It seems the Order of the Sundered Chain has long anticipated the possibility that the tunnels might have to be closed for defensive reasons and has made preparations.

    Khalad believes he is the only one left who knows how to close them and urges the Black Feathers to take him there immediately.

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    Grimmerzhul Trading Post
    Back at the 7-Pillared Hall...

    …the brave adventurers easily cleaned out the Dark Dwarves’ Trading Post.

    Turned out to be nothing more than a front for the slaving operation, but the a map was discovered pointing them toward The Horned Hold.

    Which appears to be the center of action in the Duergars’ slaving operation.

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    15 Yards
    Sure enough...

    …the main boss of the Chamber of Eyes was waiting for the party as they came through the door. He had organized the two main rooms. As soon as the party went through one door, the call to release the hounds was heard and a large Dire Warg was set loose through the other door.

    The party made quick work of the boss though (even though he had duergar help), so when reinforcements from the third room showed up, the first thing they heard was despairing shouts about the boss’s fall. Being mercenaries unlikely to see money from a dead paymaster, they made for the exits.

    They did not count on the persistence of Ki’sho‘s hatred for slavers, however: The Lost Zerth soloed the runners while the rest of the party cleaned up a hobgoblin/warg infestation. Augustus went down in the final seconds of battle, having tanked the party’s exposed flank for the entire fight.

    But Visage was able to heal the defender once the warg went down.

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    The Shouting
    Wherein Visage gets called...

    ...for excessive celebration.

    Yes, it’s true: Visage did celebrate the party’s victory very loudly, right in front of a door. No one knows who is on the other side of that door, but if they were close they surely heard his shouting.

    We’ll have to wait until next time to see what consequences his display will have.

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