The Silent City

The Story of the Once and Reborn King

Book One: From Ashes of Empire

Part III: The Phoenix Rising

Adventure Three: Finding Hope Anew

Act III: The Silent City

GM Notes
D&D4e had been out only a few months and I decided I wanted to run a campaign from lvl 1. Viggo's player refused to play until he could run a level 10 character, being tired of never getting into the higher levels. I ignored him and started The Standard Campaign, with the intention of getting them to lvl 10 than having Viggo join us. Ironically, Viggo's D&D3e experience total makes him lvl 10 in D&D4e, so after I figured that out I volunteered to run a side game with him and Ruin. Somehow it turned into the main game and the Standard Campaign was left to rot.

Session Zero 08/01/08

EXP Awards Ruin Simeon Viggo
Session Total 0 0 0
Starting 180925 140208 222139

GM Note
This was a test session for Viggo and Ruin to get their characters together and for Viggo to test the game. I don't have good records from sessions 1-8, nor a record of this session at all, as session 1 in my notes picks up in Porta, but I know it occured. It seems I lumped them all into one reward, so until after session 8, the session awards may seem a bit random.

August 3, 638 FA
The adventure picks up during the early, predawn, morning of the final part of the day long wedding of Simeon to Viggo sister Kristanna in the city of Zara in Zarun. It is close to dawn and the characters are involved in a pagan wedding ceremony held by the local druids for Kristanna and Viggo, the more formal ceremony of the Light having been held in the city's church earlier in the day.

Before the first rays of the sun can breach the horizon, a stillness overcomes the wild partying, as if the world were holding its breath in anticipation of something to come. The druidesses, Kristanna, and even Lady Zora, the priestess of Light, go quiet, looking to the north. Than a ringing note, felt more than heard, heralds the dawn.

Lady Zora speaks, "Horn of Valor," with all the other females responding to her, "thrice Blown."

Lady Zora intones, "Age of Strife is heralded," and the chorus again responds, "a blood age, a sword age, a final age."

Chilled, but fascinated, Viggo calls to the women if they are ok, and as one they turn to face him, but he notices their eyes have rolled back into their heads. The leader of the local druidesses responds to him, "King." It is more a statement than question or response to his queries.

The other women present respond, intoning, "By his own hand, but not in his lifetime."

Still facing him without seeing him, the leader says, "Not while heart beats in mortal breast."

"Home of countrymen far from home.", she says in a trance-like voice.

In a droning, yet harmonious, voice the other women respond, "‘ware the sword that bites, the empty crystal: the key."

They fall silent, seemingly emptied of volition and life. Simeon approaches Kristanna and reaches out cautiously to touch her, asking her if she is ok. With sudden speed she turns her whole body to face him and intones, "King of Kings."

The chorus of females responds, "Reborn thrice at once and once again."

Kristanna intones, "Yet, before the throne come not empty handed."

The chorus asks, "Shield of the phoenix?"

Kristanna answers, "It seeks him, yet cannot be found."

"Sword of the Phoenix?", asks the chorus of female voices, as one.

Kristanna responds, "Lost from the light, seeks redemption."

The chorus asks, "Herald of the Phoenix?"

"Seek it in City silenced, amongst the coils within coils.", Kristanna replies before falling senseless into Simeon's arms.

Ruin, incensed that he hasn't had a prophesy calls out, "WTF? King and King of Kings? What about me, dammit? I better be Emperor!"

Again, as one, the females pesent face him, but this time it is J'na that speaks, "Servant of the Silver Princess," and the chorus responds, "She, overthrown by Chaos."

J'na intones, "Spider’s Ire seeks target still," and the chorus responds, "'lest Namesake be brought upon childhood home."

Again J'na speaks, "Seek the hidden family of ancient lineage."

The chorus asks, "Power’s Price?", and J'na replies, "Everything once held dear."

Simeon, holding Kristanna, notices that she seems to be struggling against something, like she is having a bad dream. All the other women fall to the ground and also began to struggle. "Darkness! Darkness seeks you!", they scream out in unision, "Darkness comes!"

With this last outburst they all go limp and an oily blackness begans to pour out of their eyes and mouths, coalescing into a large shadowy form which attacks! It is a tough battle, but in the end the characters prevail.

Chapter One: What Happens in Porta, Stays in Porta

Session 1 08/12/08

EXP Awards Ruin Simeon Viggo
Session Total 3072 3500 1757
Total 183997 143708 223,896

GM Notes
Again, the party decides to pass on going after the Great Lich. Jireal and Ruenon (with Light Sword) have spent their time battling the forces of chaos in Zarun and bow out of accompanying the party. Ruenon has become a paladin due in part to the influence of his sword, a powerful artifact dedicated to the destruction of Nilgeranthrib. Perhaps someday their story will be a campaign and we shall see if they can overcome the Tower of the Dead.

September 1, 638 FA
Viggo decides that a "vacation" in Porta, buying slaves and touring the paga taverns, is in order. They decide to drag Lord Toren Aerakin, their patron, along. It is decided to leave the women-folk in Zara. Travel arrangements are made and they are off!

September 4
They arrive in Porta and party a some. Viggo sees how unpleasant a paga tavern is when one is sober. Ruin and Viggo enter a local Fight Night. Viggo is triumphant, though Ruin makes a good showing, losing to Viggo in one of the final rounds.

September 5
Haiyana ben Shair, leader of the Market St. gang, sends word that he would like to entertain the party this evening, and invites them to stay at The Coppy Penny Inn in the meantime. Lord Aerakin decides to stay on the boat, but the rest of the party moves into the inn. Before the evening's festivities they head to their favorite merchant, The Azure House, a slave trading house. Viggo is on the lookout for something new and has a plan to corrupt Lord Aerakin (since slavery is illegal in Zarun), who has been invited along. Many exotic females are appraised, with the best of the best simply out of financial reach of the party.

Ruin makes arrangements for the purchase of a pseudodragon when, and if, a shipment becomes available. Viggo spots two unusual finds in the general slave pens: the red-haired girl they saw here months before and an exotic oriental woman. Deflecting masterfully he manages to get a two for one deal and even gets a translator thrown in for a pittance more. The man in the cage with the oriental beauty seems to be her protector and there is a struggle when they try to remove her, but he is overwhelmed and she, and the red-haired beauty, are sent to be cleaned and delivered to The Copper Penny.

Simeon purchases a matched pair of eunuch Zakharan mamaluks, supposedly as guards for Kristanna, but Viggo and Ruin ride him hard. Lord Aerakin manages to stay out of the slave trade and opts to head back to the ship soon after.

Not to be outdone by Viggo, Ruin decides to press his luck and bargains for one of the out of reach beauties. Suprisingly he is successful, in fact too successful, as the girl is foisted off on him for a pittance on the condition that she be taken far, far away. Like Underdark far away, which is what the Azure House is hoping for, selling her to Ruin. Everyone but Ruin is suspicious about this.

That evening, Haiyana ben Shair sends an escort to bring the party to The Elite Swordsman, the Market St. Gang's private club. Haiyana greets them and leads them upstairs to the private dining room. Haiyana has another dinner guest, Captain Ali Mala of Dechat. Introductions are made and a sumptuous feast is had. Haiyana, ever the polite host, as his Khinasai heritage demands, asks many oblique questions of the group, feeling them out about their reasons for coming to Porta and their plans now that they are here. Ali Mala, a disenfranchised pirate captain of his home, asks after the party's plans and talks a bit about Dechat. Haiyana mentions that Carmen the Red has broken off from the Market St. Gang in the power vacuum left after the party killed Baris the Black and formed his own: The Back St. Boyz. He feels them out about taking on Carmen as a "favor" and intimates that Carmen is dealing with Baris's old backers, the Black Ring.

After dinner the group moves into the auditorium to take in a show. During the show, Carmen and his Back St. Boyz assault The Elite Swordsman. Fighting breaks out throughout the building and the nearby streets. Viggo defeats Carmen the Red almost single-handedly. During the fighting The Elite Swordsman begins to burn, somewhat due to Ruin. The only witness, a Market St. Gang street boss, attacks Ruin but a compromise is reached with both agreeing to look the other way and blame a dead wizard that Carmen brought along. A wizard bearing the sign of the Black Ring, Nilgeranthrib's secret society that seeks to bring instability to the region. This disturbs the party. Guards escort the group back to The Copper Penny and they pass out from the day's exertions.

Session 2 08/19/08

EXP Awards Ruin Simeon Viggo
Session Total 2172 2072 540
Total 186,172 145,780 224,436

September 5
The groups new slaves were in their rooms when they arrived last night, but they were just too tired. This morning Viggo examines his new purchases in detail. The oriental beauty he names Kochiko while the red-haired half-elf is still Alexis. The oriental serving girl Viggo acquired for translation and language lessons, though plain, is more then happy to increase her standing through whatever means are necessary. Alexis has been hideously treated by the Therens and Pan Tangians who captured her, and her back is a mass of scars. She shys from his touch, and Viggo is moved to seek help for her, if just to increase the value of his property. He orders the servant to teach Kochiko to speak Eastronese and other servile duties, than he heads out to seek magical healing.

Ruin's purchase also arrived last night, but she was so quiet he overlooked her. She is a beautiful and perfectly trained pleasure slave, absolute obedience incarnate. Ruin has fun with his plaything, but rapidly tires of her subservience. He heads out and runs into the street boss he had made his bargain with the night before. They nod at each other surreptitiously and go about studiously ignoring each other.

Viggo is accousted in the streets by a fellow Ivanian, Grimthark of Haakenvark. Where Viggo is lithe and strong, Grimthark is just strong. There are insults about country of origin, sisters, and fathers thrown back and forth, as well as fists, all to cement their new friendship. Grimthark asks Viggo if he too is headed south to Vahear to take up arms with the rebels in the recent civil war. He tells of a call to arms that has gone out from one Gunner Heartseeker, a viking lord of renown in Ivania, to join his growing army and win positions of power in the new regime. Viggo says that no, he is not, but that he may. Grimthark is on his way.

Viggo hears tell of an old woman that lives out in the tidal flats southwest of the city, the Sea Hag, and that she is magical. Thinking she might be of help he heads out to speak to her.

Meanwhile Simeon has been checking the word on the streets and investigating the happenings of the night before, trying to find out where to find the agents of the Black Ring so they can be rooted out and destroyed. Oddly, he can find no evidence that the Black Ring has been operating in town, and he finds evidence that the Back Street Boyz attacked last night in an attempt to preemptively kill the party before they allied with the Market Street Gang and came after them. Simeon suspects Haiyana ben Shiar's manipulative hand in all this. He returns to the inn.

At The Copper Penny, Ruin notices a dwarven warrior and approaches him. It is Thumbar, who, while present, is not ready to actually play. Introductions are made and it is found that Thumbar is on a grand quest to recover the Standard of Light to save his kingdom from the machinations of the Gorgon. Since Simeon is also looking for the Standard, and suspects it is in the lost city of Ista, Thumbar is welcomed to join the party.

Viggo treks out into the marshy tidal flats to a strange raised hut, having to wade the last bit as the tide is coming in. An ugly wrinkled crone greets him. He asks if she can help heal his slave and she agrees to check her out but a price must be paid. Viggo offers a night of passion and the crone accepts, telling him to return with the girl.

Ruin's co-conspirator enters the inn and approaches the group, telling them that Haiyana ben Shiar desires to meet with them again this evening on a matter of mutual importance. Ruin begins trying to flip the man's loyalties and hire him as his right-hand man. Viggo arrives, but tells the party they will have to go to the meeting without him. He carries Alexis back to the crone and steels himself to pay her price.

That evening, Ruin and Simeon meet with Haiyana ben Shiar and his master of assassins, Sansa Kelbin, which makes them very nervous. Haiyana thanks them for opening the way to de-escalating tensions in the city with the removal of the Back Street Boyz. Now he says, all that is needed is a meeting between his power-bloc and that of the Firehall Gang. Such a meeting would only be agreed to if Farad Choman, the Duke, leader of the Sword Gang, gave his blessing and offered a neutral spot to meet. Knowing that the party is in with the Duke, he is asking them to broker such a meeting. Ruin and Simeon agree to speak to Farad and see what they can do.

The crone tells Viggo that she recognizes in him a destiny, but that Alexis too has a destiny, and that hers is stronger and will ultimately destroy him and overwhelm his fate if he keeps her, as it has with all those that have captured and enslaved her. She cannot say what that destiny is, other than it involves the city of Ista. In the meantime, she can heal the girl's physical scars and even some of her emotional ones by placing her in a trance. With the girl slumbering, the hag smiles a toothless grin and beckons to Viggo that it is time to pay up.

As Ruin and Simeon head to their inn from the meeting, a sudden storm breaks over the city. Wind and rain batter the city for the whole night, a strange moaning almost audiable above the howling. Viggo, in paying his debt, has brought the storm.

September 6
Porta is almost a new city in the morning, her streets washed clean by the rain and surge. Viggo agrees that they should talk to the Duke, and Simeon is sent to arrange the meeting. Viggo discovers that his translator has been very hard on Kochiko, relishing her power over the once higher station girl. He punishes her in much the same way he paid his debt. She is chastized but doesn't feel particularly punished afterwards. She complains to Viggo that Kochiko is just too stupid to learn Eastronese or simple housekeeping tasks, but he instructs her on instructional methods, with an implied threat that it better get done.

Ruin detects that his new slave, who he has named Khisanth, is magically ensorcelled and it drives him insane that he cannot figure out how or why. He asks Viggo to take him to the crone, hoping to get some answers. At the crone's hut, Ruin asks if Khisanth can be healed of whatever curse has been laid on her. The hag, after examining her, says that she can give Ruin an object to lift the curse but that he should be careful what he wishes for and perhaps not look this gift-horse in the mouth. Ruin insists he wants to know who she is and have the power to lift her curse. He offers himself as payment, but the hag is satiated from the night before and refuses that payment option. Haggling back and forth, Ruin ends up paying with what little wisdom he has (losing a point of WIS in game-terms). In return he gains an amulet that, when worn, will lift the curse of forgetfulness placed on Khisanth. He also learns that she was a powerful sorcerer of the Lapinth royal family and this curse was placed on her by her sisters when she attempted a coup. She was then sold into the most degrading slavery possible to complete their vengeance. Should her curse be lifted there is no telling what she will do, even to her "savior".

That evening, at the meeting with the Duke they plead Haiyana ben Shair's case, but the Duke is suspicious of his motives and refuses to arrange such a meeting unless the party is present and vouches for his motives. They agree to referee the meeting and arrangements are put in motion to get the meet setup in the neutral tavern district ASAP.

More drinking and partying is done.

Chapter Two: Slaves of Fate

Session 3 08/26/08

EXP Awards Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 6250 0 1215 970
Total 192,422 145,780 166,215 225,406

GM Notes
Thumbar is finely ready to play! Welcome and good luck!

September 7
Viggo has another run-in with the boastful and belligerent Grimthark, whose ship leaves today. Viggo wishes him good fortune and says that perhaps they will see each other in Vahear sometime soon. Viggo meets Thumbar and the party has a sit down to decide their next course of action. All signs seem to point to Ista, so the party has Ruin do a Sending to the girls back in Zarun telling them to head to Porta and bring their stuff, thus saving them a trip home.

Decisions have to be made on how to approach Ista, by boat or by land, supplies laid in and other matters taken care of. Simeon and Thumber begin looking into shipping, with the plan to sail as close as they can to Ista then walk in, since they are sure that no one will actually sail them directly to Ista. Thumbar sees an unusual ship in port crewed by hobgoblins and finds out that they are seeking a ship called the Red Reaver, a pirate ship built for, and crewed by, goblins. This seems to fire his imagination and he insists on discovering everything he can about the Red Reaver and its current whereabouts.

Alexis's recovery is going to be at least a week, so the party decides to wait here until the girls arrive from Zarun. In the meantime they decide to do some research to find out what they can of Ista.

September 10
The party has learned what they can of Ista. Rumors tell that all contact was lost with the city fifty years ago during some kind of celebration, perhaps a wedding or festival. Since that time, no ship or caravan that has gone within sight of the city has returned to tell of it. Sometimes, ships that sail her waters tell of a glow on the horizon as if the city still burned after all these years.

Lord Aerakin calls the party to the ship where he tells them that he is going to be heading home tomorrow with the tide. He invites the group to return to Zarun with him but they refuse, especially since they have new slaves that are illegal there. Expecting that, he tells them that he would like to take them out on the town one last time tonight and arrangements are made for a night on the town.

Lord Aerakin calls it a night early on in the evening, thanking the party for a good time, but he says he must return home to his family and position. Before he leaves he tosses a hefty bag of gold to Viggo, telling him to enjoy the rest of the night on him. As the party heads from tavern to tavern, they finally arrive back at the paga tavern of their first night in Porta. The drinking is heavy and partying out of hand. Too late the party realizes that the proprietor has been replaced and all the patrons are wearing scarves over their faces to protect them from the noxious fumes released from drugged incense. They struggle to escape, but they are weakened from the fumes. At the last, the leader of the slavers tells them that the Black Ring sends its regards and hopes they will enjoy the rest of their lives as Pan Tangian slaves.

Session 4 09/03/08

EXP Awards Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 750 375 1275 7000
Total 193,172 146,155 167,490 232,406

I wanted to introduce a couple new key elements into the campaign, primarily the Pan Tangians and their twisted version of Theren life and the existence of Theren battle barges, without taking too much away from the current campaign focus, so I decided to drop this adventure into the game. It is the adventure Slaves of Fate, made by Chaosium Inc., for their Dragonlords of Melnibone d20 game.

September 13
Kept unconscious by the fumes of the drug, the party finally awakens almost three days later aboard the Virago, a vessel out of Porta, only recently dabbling in slavery and piracy. In the hold with them are additional prisoners: Whyss, Linault Brin, Osa Dileel, Dierre, Korune, and Geirmund. Soon they hear activity on deck and the sounds of another ship. The hatch opens and they are pulled on deck where they see an approaching Pan Tangian ship, the bireme, Chardros's Lament. The Pan tangian vessel heaves-to and a boarding plank is lowered. The captain, Gariv Klos, a contingient of marines, and the ship's magician, Hasper Dal, come aboard. Hasper Dal holds the leash of a strange, blue, monkey-like creature.

Whyss points out the unusual nature of this exchange as normally the Pan Tangians would just take the captives aboard without such formality. The reason for this exhange becomes clear when Hasper Dal encourages the strange creature with him to examine the slaves for some kind of special "blood". Of course, the creature points out Viggo and Simeon which excites Hasper Dal immensely. The Pan Tangians bring a chest aboard to pay for the slaves and in the distraction no one notices the suddenly change in wind as it dies down.

A sudden cry from the Chardros's Lament brings to everyone's attention the massive Theren battle barge bearing down on them. Ghariv Klos calls for a retreat back to his ship in the hopes that the Virago can be used as a distraction to allow him to escape, but the crew of the Virago are not going to allow the chest of treasure to so easily escape them when payment is so close. A general melee breaks out across the deck. The strange blue creature speaks to Viggo and tells him that he can help them escape, but for a small bite and taste of blood; Viggo acquiesces. One of the Virago crew offers to free the party in exchange for their help. He is killed, but drops the keys, causing a mad scramble to recover them.

During the fracas, Omerginroul, the strange blue creature, has opened a huge portal that begins to suck the Virago through. The ship passes through it with a lurch and everyone blacksout.

Session 5 09/20/08

EXP Awards Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 720 2120 6970 1000 700
Total 165,720 195,292 153,125 168,490 233,106

GM Notes
Lucas, slave of the Pan Tangians aboard the Chardros Lament joins the party today! Good luck!

Upon awakening the party finds itself scattered along the beaches and in the water along the southern side of a strange island. The Virago is foundering, her crew scattered or drowned. The sky is strange here, with no sun, just a strange luminescence. The party attend to various things, some gathering gear from the Virago, some killing crew, some rescueing others, and finally began to gather on the beach.

A confrontation occurs between Varten Vensk, the captain of the Virago, and some of his crew vs. Thumbar, Ruin, and Simeon over rations. Viggo is busy trying to track down Dierre who has fled into the hills. During the fight, strange moth-like creatures attack and carry-off several crew. Viggo catches Dierre near their lair and manages to extricate himself and her without too much trouble. Back on the beach, the crew has been killed or driven off.

Seeing a strange light on the far side of the island, the party decides to head that way to investigate. They are attacked by more of the strange aerial monsters, but are able to drive them off with no losses. Omerginroul approaches the party to try to enlist them in rescueing his mate, a captive of the priestesses of this cursed island. He tells them that if they help he can send them back to thier own world. They agree to help.

They come across a chasm where a man is running towards them across the bridge for his life from Pan Tangians from the Chardros's Lament, which also passed through the portal to escape the wrath of the Therens. It is Lucas. Viggo charges across the bridge and suffers a not inconsiderable amount of damage from their arrows. On reaching them however, he kills two in short order, with the party driving the other two off.

From the bridge the party can see the Chardros's Lament in a cove along the west side of the island. Lucas tells them that he has been a galley slave aboard the ship and escaped the vessel. Others have escaped as well and there are marines scouring the island looking for Ghariv Klos, Hasper Dal, the blue monkey, and other survivors. Lucas is invited to join the party.

Session 6 09/27/08

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 700 0 8200 0 1220 10250
Total 165,700 165,720 203,492 153,125 169,710 243,356

Players absent: Lucas
GM Notes
Bhaum, mercenary warrior-priest of Father Set, abandons the Chardros Lament then joins the party when they help him against the Pan Tangians….or does he?

Continuing their way north, the party encounters a strange maze of twisted and petrified wood, much like coral. After many bad rolls they find themselves lost and end up coming out at the edge of the chasm, further east of the bridge. Running along the bottom of the chasm is Bhaum being chased by several marines. He had been a hired mercenary aboard the ship working for Ghariv Klos, but with his disappearance the first mate of the ship has staged a mutiny and wants Bhaum dead. The party drives off the marines and cheer Bhaum on as he easily climbs the steep side of the chasm to reach them.

Bhaum makes up some story which the party accepts and he too joins them on their quest to aid the blue monkey in freeing its mate.

Entering the coral-like maze once again the party finds itself at a dead end. Just then, they hear Whyss attacking Hasper Dal. Whyss is no match for the strange magics he controls and is rendered helpless. Just then, Ghariv Klos arrives with the remnants of his loyal crew. Battle is joined!

Ghariv Klos's men are destroyed and Hasper Dal escapes during the fight. Facing the entire party alone, Ghariv Klos laughs that it will take so many to kill him. Thumbar accepts this challenge and a duel is had. It is a close thing, but Thumbar is victorious. Whyss is allowed to join the party, though Ruin still holds a grudge for the earlier fight on the beach.

Session 7 10/07/08

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 6000 8450 3200 8700 6450 3500
Total 171,700 174170 206,692 161,825 176,160 246,856

GM Notes
Gratz on 10 Ruin!

After the fight, the party realizes they are being watched and manage to capture two women, priestesses from the Temple. They convince the women to lead them to the temple where they will free Omerginroul's mate from the high priestess who plans on making her a sacrifice to Eequor to return them and the island back to Arcallis, whence she had torn it many years ago at the high priestess's request to save them from a Pan Tangian invasion. The captured priestesses tell them that the ritual has already begun, the high priestess knowing of the arrival of the party and the Pan Tangians.

The party makes it through the maze and arrives on the north side of the island. They see the ruins of a city and overgrown fields. In the center of the city is a temple and some kind of fountain that is the source of the blue glow they have been following. Off the shore the party makes out the arrival of the Theren battle barge, which has used its own magics to follow them here. Hurriedly, they make their way to the temple to stop the ritual.

The fountain turns out to be a hole that overlooks a mystical blue flame that burns in a cavern below the plaza. Bones and skulls, burned a strange blue by the flame lie scattered near the flame, testiment to the fanaticism of the priestesses, being those of their children, mates, and all the townspeople who were trapped here those many years ago. Dima'dra'esh, the high priestess, is in the midst of a ritual, helped by her second in command, Vikeni. Nearby is Liramayn, Omerginroul's mate. Viggo calls down to them, offering to get everyone home if only they will stop. The high priestess refuses and threatens to execute Liramayn. Everyone but Ruin and Viggo rush to the temple doors to get inside to stop her. Viggo and Ruin jump down.

An intense and bitter combat ensues, but in the end the party is able to defeat the aged priestess and her second-in-command. The other priestesses agree to be taken back via the silume's ability to travel the planes. Before they can leave however, Theren marines appear above them and demand their surrender. The party complies, as they are severely weakened from thier recent combat.

A Theren woman approaches the party, her armor and helm like that of a shark. She tells them that she is Captain Aniona Laros of the Theren battle barge, Tempest. She is here for Korune, the imbecile slave that Thumbar rescued off the foundering Virago earlier. Not wanting to send the man to a fate worse than death, the party demands to know why. Aniona admits that her sister is aboard the ship and has prevailed on her to search for her slave, whom she loves, that her now dead husband had ensorcelled with forgetfulness and sold off. Since Korune is with the party, she offers them transport back to Arcallis and their freedom once there. They accept happily.

Session 8 10/20/08

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 1375 1525 325 325 11475 325
Total 173,075 175695 207,017 162,150 187,635 247,181

Players absent: Simeon, Viggo, and Bhaum
GM Note
With so many players absent I had to change the ending of the Therens bringing them home to something more dramatic where I could feel justified in scattering the party in such a way that the missing players could just show up at a later time. Thus:

As they head towards the shore, they are attacked by the pirates still on the isle who do not wish to be left behind and are trying to take one of the silume. Once again asking for a bite, Omerginroul whisks the party across the planes to safety. Those players present are deposited somewhat randomly over the extent of Porta and its environs.

September 27-29
To the party almost no time passed while they were in the strange dimension of the lost island, but almost two weeks have passed back in the real world.

Thumbar, Ruin, and Lucas arrive in the city, and manage to reunite on the docks when Ruin spots the girls from Zarun.

Thumbar decides to visit the sea hag for information on his mission to free his people from the Gorgon. She says that she might be able to aid him, and he agrees to pay her price, again a night of passion. It is during their tryst that she begins to blurt out visions of how they can survive Ista and recover the Standard of Light. As with Viggo, the sky over Porta darkens and a tempest blows in out of nowhere. Thumber has brought the mountain to the sea.

Bhaum has a side adventure wherein he kills the leader of the fisherman's guild to make way for the temple of Zehir to expand its operations in the city. His mission made easier by the storm blowing over the city which keeps most people indoors.

Lucas revels in freedom, having been a galley slave for too long.

Session 9 10/28/08

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 1725 150 1825 2425 2175 1825
Total 174,800 175,845 208,842 164,575 189,810 249,006

GM Notes
My records are better from here on, with the exp rewards being more in-line.

September 27-29
Viggo, Bhaum and Simeon all have little adventures catching them up. Simeon wants to search out those responsible for their kidnapping. It turns out that Slit-nose Hali, leader of the Gutter Golem Gang, was approached to remove the party from the city. She hired the job out to some slavers.

It is a happy reunion for all when it is discovered that the girls are aboard a ship in the harbor. The party finds that their slaves have been looked after during their absence, but Viggo is unable to reach Sansa Kelbin, the assassin, who he is told has Kochiko.

Alexis is done and Viggo takes her back. He offers to return her to power in Ista which she agrees to. Before she can go, however, she mentions that there are several heirlooms she needs back. The same ones she had asked Viggo to recover when he bought her; the same ones he had refused to go after at the time. He sighs.

The party makes plans to hit Hali and her gang in vengenace. Their allies in the city suggest that there was nothing personal in the attack and that taking the chance of angering Hali with a botched raid could be fatal, as she has connections with assassins as far south as Dechat. They decide to let it go. The opportunity for the meeting they had brokered has now passed. The Market Street Gang had led reprisals against the pirates and the Firehall Gang, thinking them behind the party's dissapearence, so tensions are high in the city.

The party is concerned to learn that Osa, Dierre, and the priestesses from the isle were all captured by one of the gangs outside the city proper, led by one Gharesh Vren. They journey out to his stronghold to bargain for their release. Gharesh is unimpressed with the party and tells them they can purchase the girls off the slave blocks when he is done with them and sics his mad wizard on them.

Session 10 11/04/08

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 400 150 600 800 700 800
Total 175,200 175,995 209,442 165,375 190,510 249,806

GM Notes
Gratz on 9 Simeon!

The party pushes into the ruined keep of the warlord Gharesh Vren, over the dead body of his wizard. They learn to respect the crossbowmen and pikemen, but slice their way through his minions. Vren and Thumbar battle it out mano-e-mano, Thumbar comes out on top. The women are safe (from the NPCs at least)!

Osa and Dierre are interested in staying on, but the priestesses not so much. The party gives them enough for passage and sends them on their way.

Chapter Three: A City Silenced

Session 11 11/13/08

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 1020 920 600 400 1570 2520
Total 176,220 176,915 210,042 165,775 192,080 252,326

Players absent: Simeon
GM Notes
The Therens really took shape for me with the Genasi race. This was an introduction into Therens as bad guys with faces and it went really well.

September 30-October 2
The party learns that Alexis's heirlooms are in the city, in the possession of a group of Therens who are searching for her. They concoct a convoluted plan to lure the Therens into an ambush while Simeon is sent to steal the items which they are sure the Therens will leave behind. The Therens actually bring the items to the meet, for a winner-take-all, battle-royale; which ends up embarrassing Viggo since they didn't hold up their end of the deal and instead dressed Lucas up as Alexis. They are victorious. They leave one Theren alive to tell the tale.

Viggo still can't get ahold of Sansa for the return of his slave. Haiyana seems very embarrassed by the whole thing and makes Viggo an offer, which is refused.

Session 12 11/20/08

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 1450 2700 3367 2674 2250 2450
Total 177,670 179,615 213,409 168,449 194,330 254,776

October 2
Simeon plays out the attempt at robbing the Theren's compound, but is almost killed by their guardian hyenas. In the end he fails, since the Therens had brought the items anyways, but he does find a few treasures.

Ruin, who was left with J'na to guard Alexis during the fight faces teleporting assassins of the Midnight Sun, a mercenary group of assassins from Tor. They stop them from making off with the girl, but it is a bloody and ugly battle.

October 3-5
The party starts serious efforts to find passage on, charter, or buy a ship to take them to Ista or as close as they can get. Simeon locates Captain Brolly of the Sea Harrier, who, for a share of the treasure and glory, is willing to sail the party into Ista itself!

Viggo finally confronts Sansa who is in love with Kochiko and unwilling to part with her. Haiyanna orders him to surrender the girl, his honor already stained. Viggo offers to duel Sansa for the girl, and loses.

Shopping is done and gear is bought. No one can match Thumbar though; his wagonload of rations, adventuring gear, and, did we mention, foodstuffs, take up a good portion of the ship's hold.

Session 13 11/24/08

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 1355 2725 1955 1875 3605 1355
Total 179,025 182,320 215,364 170,324 197,935 256,131

October 6-15
The party sails from Porta. The trip to Ista, through the deep waters of the Sea of Tears, not hugging the coast, is expected to take around a ten-day. About halfway through the trip the ship stops to reprovision at a small island. The party has a run-in with a group of basilisks living on the top of a waterfall.

As they sail on, they notice black sails on the horizon. Soon three ships from Porta begin to converge on the party, trying to disable them and board. The chase continues through most of the day with several close calls, but finally, after dark, the Sea Harrier slips away.

That evening, more assassins of the Midnight Sun assault the ship in an attempt to cripple her. Ruin saves bosun Illustre, earning Lucas's respect. The assassins are driven off, but the party is sure they are hidden away somewhere on the ship. They interview the crew and search the ship, stem-to-stern, but find nothing.

During the evening of the 14th, the party is called on deck by the captain who points out a bright glow on the horizon, towards Ista. At first it is white-blue and sparkles, but as the night progresses it takes on a ruddy, flame-like color, which lasts until dawn.

Session 14 12/01/08

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 1811 2011 2111 2411 4311 2011
Total 180,836 184,351 217,475 172,735 202,246 258,142

GM Notes
I had planned for the actual arrival in Ista, but once the party got there I totally blew it and they got into the Black Pyramid, which, while required, stole much of the actual story of Ista I wanted to tell. Session 17 was when I asked to freeze what they had already done in the pyramid and give me a do-over to start the Ista adventure over from the day of their arrival. Once they got back into the pyramid, they picked up where they had left off and all was well. This page will tell the tale as it was meant to be told, not as the session notes tell it.

October 15 (Session 14 & Session 17)
Land and Ista are in sight. As the ship approaches the coast, many sunken ships can be seen, all of varying ages and build, spanning the last fifty or more years. As the Sea Harrier rounds a promontory on which sits a ruined lighthouse, the city and harbor hove into view. Even more ships are scattered throughout the harbor and at the docks, most burned to the waterline, though some are smashed. The city itself is a vast ruin in which nothing living larger then a few birds can be seen.

Captain Brolly attempts to sail his ship to the clearest looking dock, but ends up fouling his ship with a sunken wreck. While his crew attempt to free it, the party disembarks and heads into Ista to explore. Thumbar tells the party of the clues he has gotten from the sea hag, which point to a pyramid, a cave, and some lost shrines which will portect them from the Curse of Ista.

The party finds nothing and no one alive, though they do find bones everywhere, as if masses of people had attempted to flee something. Here and there they find signs of other adventuring groups, all seemingly destroyed as well as disturbing signs that the city is haunted. Deep in the city, Viggo notes the tracks of the first large animal they have seen yet, a cave bear.

It is now late in the afternoon and the sun has begun to set. They track the bear near its lair where it sees them on the far side of a plaza but ignores them and heads for the safety of its home. Wanting to find out why the bear has been able to survive they investigate. Inside the ruins of a tavern or inn, they find the bear holed up in the cellar, accessed through a massive hole in the floor. Protective of its lair the beast fights from with in it, but is finally defeated. Searching the area, the party finds a hidden shrine to the Light as well as some treasures from times before (The Standard Campaign was supposed to connect to this shrine).

Quickly, the party returns to the ship, but evening has fallen. Suddenly the city, no longer a ruin, but the reflection of what it must have looked like 50 years ago, is alive with a festival or celebration of some sort. Fireworks, magical lights in the harbor and on the roofs, and paper lanterns strung between the buildings light the city such that it can be seen for miles. The party is mostly ignored by the inhabitants who seem singularly focused on their last hours.

On the way back, Viggo notices that certain of the revelers take note of their passage, some following them. These revelers are all dressed differently from the celebrants, mostly as sailors or adventurers; the restless undead attack!

Driving them off, the party continues to the ship where they find that the crew has unloaded the ship but is now immeshed in the celebration. Quickly, they gather the crew that can be found, rescuing those they can from a nearby inn that is strangly out of bounds for the undead, and try to reach the shrine that was the bear's lair.

It is a harrowing journey as the undead make constant attacks on the stragglers and encumbered group. Short cuts end up costing dearly and in the end a dozen crew are lost in the night. While the party attempts to find its way to the shrine, the activities of the city continue as if on a set path. They learn that the celebration is the wedding of the queen to her vizier.

During the wedding ceremony, an immense dragon attacks the vizier who drives it off by immolating it in green fire. As it attempts to escape the fire kills it, causing it to crash into the palace, crushing it. The populace is in a panic at this point and the vizier laughs at them all, threatening their very souls when he is their king. At that moment, more dragons, smaller this time, assault him. A running battle begins as the vizier flees them towards his sanctum, a black pyramid near the palace. Blasts of fire, lighning, necromantic energies, and frost fill the night as the battle rages. Reaching his sanctum, Karavakos is magically trapped inside by the dragons, but the last laugh is his as he brings forth the dead collosal dragon's skeleton to level the town and all those in it.

It is dawn before the dracolich is finished, and though most of its attacks seemed scripted, and all the responses of the city were, the first thing it did was destroy the Sea Harrier and Thumbar's wagon.

Session 15 12/08/08

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 11544 7544 2944 8144 2954 10694
Total 192,380 191,895 220,419 180,879 205,200 268,836

GM Notes
Gratz on 11 Viggo and 10 Thumbar!

October 16 to November 5 (Session 18)
The next 20 days are spent exploring the city and plumbing her secrets by day, while attempting to find the other shrines to the light, the banner of light, the palace treasury, and investigate several people and places in the city during the evening hours before midnight, when the dracolich rises.

They are succesful in finding the shrines, one near the palace, still intact and another, ruined already, in another quarter of the city. In addition, below the inn near the docks, they find a hidden shrine to Hecate.

Session 16 12/15/08

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 1732 1982 2082 2082 1982 2082
Total 194,112 193,877 222,501 182,961 207,182 270,918

November 6-14 (Session 19)
The party discovers the Cave of Souls a half day's travel outside the city. There they conjure the ghost of Samos d'Armas and learn that it will take three different quests to break the curse of Ista. To free the souls of those doomed to repeat their last night for eternity, the Hound's Tooth Crown from the shrine of Hecate under the Reaver's Inn must be placed on the altar in the temple of Enki and struck with the Sceptre of the White God from his nearby villa. To end the threat of the dracolich, they must enter the Black Pyramid and defeat Karavakos. To recover and empower the Banner of Light they must find it and the skull of its last bearer, which must be buried in hallowed ground, as well as destroying the Royal Sword of the Masetians, burying the blade on the palace grounds while taking the hilt to the Cave of Souls.

They manage to find the sword, which Thumbar is able to heat then smash. Taking the sceptre from Villa d'Armas is as simple as digging it out, but while on their way to the temple of Enki after taking the Crown from the shrine of Hecate they are attacked by the high priestess of Hecate's spectre and friends. This battle proves too much for the party and they are overwhelmed. Bhaum is killed, and his ka is freed as a wight. Recovering they find that both the Crown and Sceptre have been taken.

Session 17 01/02/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 350 2025 400 2350 2250 2150
Total 194,462 195,902 222,901 185,311 209,432 273,068

GM Notes
Absent players: Bhaum and Ruin. The party had already explored the majority of the first level of the pyramid when I asked for the do-over, so we picked up where they left off (in Session 20 in actuality).

November 15-23 (Session 20)
Thumbar is distraught at defeat and spends a week in solitude working the forges in meditation. After some investigation, the rest of the party pinpoints the location of the Banner and the skull of the last bearer, which they bury in the shrine. The recovery of the Banner of Light helps Thumbar feel a little better, but his life path has been changed.

On the 23rd the party decides they will attempt the Black Pyramid before confronting the spectre of the High Priestess of Hecate again, so in they go.

Session 18 01/08/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 1550 1550 2100 2200 1900 2000
Total 196,012 197,452 225,001 187,511 211,332 275,068

GM Notes
This is the session where the info in Session 15 was actually played out, Session 15 being one where they were in the pyramid.

Session 19 01/25/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 1475 350 1750 500 1750 1950
Total 197,487 197,802 226,751 188,011 213,082 277,018

Absent Players: Simeon
GM Notes
This is the session where the info in Session 16 was actually played out, Session 16 being one where they were in the pyramid.

Chapter Four: The Black Pyramid

Session 20 02/03/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 1675 1775 2200 2000 2100 2100
Total 199,162 199,577 228,951 190011 215,182 279,118

GM Notes
This is the session where the info in Session 17 was actually played out, Session 17 being one where they were in the pyramid.

Day 3
Time in the pyramid flows differently and is measured only in extended rests. It has been three such rests and the party has cleared most of the first level of the pyramid, though they have not yet found the stairs to the next level. They have acquired a minor artifact, The Head of Vyrallis, that has helped them somewhat, giving them clues on defeating Karavakos and information on the current inhabitants of the pyramid.

Session 21 02/09/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 4400 5817 5867 5950 5867 6067
Total 203,562 205,394 234,818 195,961 221,049 285,185

Absent Players: Bhaum
GM Notes
Gratz on 10 Lucas! This session is back in correct order.

Day 5
Tired of the constant fighting, the party parleys with the arboreals, strange plant-men, and thier allies rather than fight. The arboreals are willing to give the party sanctuary but they must defeat the Charnel Lord as proof of their worthiness.

It proves a hellacious fight with charnel rats and a strange spinning corridor.

Afterwards the party pushes on, only to be led astray by Vyrallis who seeks revenge on a demon that failed her in killing Karavakos in times past.

Session 22 02/17/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 1438 1100 1200 1400 1200 1400
Total 205,000 206,494 236,018 197,361 222,249 286,585

Absent players: GM, GAME OFF!
GM Notes
Gratz on 10 Bhaum!

Session 23 02/24/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 1450 1450 1550 1750 1950 1450
Total 206,450 207,944 237,568 199,111 224,199 288,035

Absent players: Viggo

Day 6
The demon defeated, the party stumbles on Vyrallis's body, held in stasis by Karavakos's magic. It turns out to be a trap for Vyrallis as her orb is sucked into the body and it begins to rampage! Trying not to damage the orb, the party finally defeats her.

Moving a bit backwards the party clears an area of strange mirrors, giving themselves an excellent spot to rest in. They fail to kill all the creatures of this area however, allowing a single Flaming Skull to escape. Throughout the rest of this, and part of the next, level it continues to harrass the party, especially when they are involved in combat.

Session 24 03/11/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 4944 5182 5582 5889 5282 5282
Total 211,394 213,126 243,150 205,000 229,481 293,317

GM Notes
Gratz on 10 Simeon!

Day 7
The party finds the stairs to the next level, which they climb after a bit of trouble with the guardians.

On the second level they find an area of the pyramid corrupted by the influence of the Far Realm. They fight many strange corrupted guardians of a temple to the Far Realms.

Session 25 03/15/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 2035 1835 5582 500 2635 2235
Total 213,429 214,961 244,985 205,500 232,116 295,552

Players absent: Simeon

Day 8
They find the first of the Gates of Agony, guarded by a medusa and her ogre bodyguards. After killing them, they pass the first of the gates, but decide to bypass the Far Realms corrupted area and see what else they can find.

The party finds the guardians of the white dragon, a group of winter fey, led by a winter witch. Viggo offers to warm her. She accepts, saying if he can warm her once he may live, twice and the others may live.

Always up to the task, Viggo, on the verge of hypothermia, melts her heart and coverts her to a spring fey. Some her servants and guards convert as well, but several guards do not. These withdraw to join the dragon.

Session 26 03/23/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 7317 5400 7317 7117 7117 7217
Total 220,746 220,361 252,302 212,617 239,233 302,869

Players absent: Lucas

Day 9
Blossom, the new spring fey, tells Viggo a little of the dragon and the rest of the second level of the pyramid. The party decides they want to see a dragon, so they take a gander. They are very polite and offer gifts, making the dragon happy. They try to recruit it to attack Karavakos with them, but it enjoys the pyramid. Dealing with the dragon, they manage to acquire the last of the splinters of Vyrallis's soul, pleasing her greatly.

The party discovers that to get to the next shard of Karavakos, beyond the temple, they have to pass the Gates of Agony. It is a harrowing trial for everyone but Viggo, who everyone sees shredded to pieces. Once through all the gates, the party assaults the temple of the Far Realm and finally manages to kill that damn Flaming Skull.

Session 27 03/30/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 2838 3238 2838 3838 3038 3638
Total 223,584 223,599 255,140 216,455 242,271 306,507

Day 10
The party kills the second shard of Karavakos, learning that often it is the room that makes a combat hard, not necessarily the creature.

Session 28 04/06/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 2994 2294 2694 2794 2794 2994
Total 226,578 225,893 257,834 219,249 245,065 309,501

Confident, the party pushes on without a rest. They decide to clear this area in the hopes of some treasure, which they find. Then they head to the third level.

Ruin uses magic to find the fastest route to the final shard of Karavakos, but first they have to fight through a room full of wights and more of their favorites, charnel rats.

Session 29 04/16/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 1125 2463 2863 2863 3263 3263
Total 227,703 228,356 260,697 222,112 248,328 312,764

Players absent: Bhaum
GM Notes
Gratz on 11 Ruin!

Day 11
The party assaults the final shard of Karavakos. Again, the room proves to be more difficult then the creature, but they prevail. As the shard of Karavakos passes on to the real Karavakos, he begins the ritual that will allow him to escape. While this ritual is 8 hours long, the party has just taken an extended rest and cannot do so again for better then twelve hours. They must fight the now whole Karavakos without many of their powers.

Session 30 04/23/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 10,534 9100 10,734 9734 10,334 10,534
Total 238,237 237,890 271,431 231,846 258,431 323,298

GM Notes
Gratz on 12 Viggo!

Hoping to get some allies they approach the arboreals, who agree to come help. Viggo cannot help but see that their leader plans on ambushing them when the time comes though. Hurrying back to Blossom, she gives them some aid in the form of recuperation, allowing them to recover some of their powers.

They head to the apex of the pyramid where a final challange awaits: the keys they have found on each of the shards. Following the clues they manage to open the doors before the arboreals can arrive and enter the sanctum of Karavakos.

He proves to be a wily opponent, using his knowledge of the powers of the pyramid against the party. The first wave of arboreals show up, but end up helping the party against the overwhelming Karavakos. Weakened, Karavakos draws power from the machinery of the pyramid and begins blasting with impunity. Alexis steals the energy and connection from him, becoming super-charged herself. Both Thumbar and Viggo strike killing blows against him but he seems unable to die. Alexis is beginning to lose control of the wild energies and is almost vaporized. Finally, Viggo discovers a hidden duplicate of Karavakos that has been allowing him to survive their attacks, and he is destroyed. With his destruction, the energies coursing through Alexis subside, and the pyramid walls around them vanish.

Novemeber 24
It is almost dawn of the day after they left, and they see the dracolich descending on them. Vyrallis's orb flys into its heart, her energies reconstituting its flesh. She destroys or drives off the rest of the arboreals, and with a nod of thanks ascends to the sky, fading like a ghost as the rays of the sun illuminate the city.

Session 31 04/30/09

EXP Awards Bhaum Lucas Ruin Simeon Thumbar Viggo
Session Total 11900 10500 11700 12300 11500 12000
Total 250,137 248,390 283,131 244,146 270,162 335,298

Players absent: Lucas
GM Notes
Gratz on 11 Thumbar! Just in time for the break!

Nov 25
The party rests up then goes after the Sceptre and Crown. It is a harrowing fight, even with the extra levels. But even as things look their worst, the party engineers a turn-around, emerging victorious. They head to the temple of Enki and allow Alexis the honor of smashing the Crown with the Sceptre on the altar.

Thus, the Doom of Ista was lifted!

Plans are made and treasure split. Lucas and Bhaum decide to remain with Alexis to help her rebuild her kingdom, as do the remaining crew of the Sea Harrier. Simeon and Thumbar, with the Herald of Light, must head to Anuire and find their destinies in The Phoenix Throne, while Viggo and Ruin head south into Ruins of Empire.

Update (September of 2010): The story of the re-building of Ista picks up just after the curse is lifted in From the Shadow of Karavakos

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