The Howling Cliffs

Game 12: Fancy meeting you here.
Where are the freakin' dungeons?

Our heroes just happen to meet back up with the druid Anna who tried her hand at being a loner in the woods for a while. She clearly survived but apparently decided she’d be a little better off with some friends that might have her back. After witnessing the tail end of their surprise attack in the city of Chesswick, she approached and they got an Inn room.

The next morning they headed up the North road toward Winterhaven, an area they’d heard was plagued with underground-dwelling creatures, so possibly dungeons. Halfway there, they started to set up camp and got ambushed by more half-goblin, half-wolf thingies with some weird magical powers. When it appeared the party might have the upper hand, a well-bred large and familiar dog appeared out of thin air and assisted them until all the creatures had been dispatched and then immediately vanished. The goblin-thingies apparently like to eat people and they take really large bites because they found human parts with some clothing and possessions still intact inside their distended bellies. Realizing this meant treasure, they pushed the disgusting guts through a huge sieve until nothing but shiny things were left (slight exaggeration).

They were stopped briefly by four guards at the edge of the town who warned them of a curfew and told them about a traveler’s inn nearby, the Grumpy Goblin, where they’d stayed the night in a ghettoesque but well-secured room.

They saw Bink, or his identical twin, wearing chain mail and selling something to a merchant. He was not being his usually bubbly and sociable self and insisted he was in a hurry when they tried to talk to him.

The next morning, they awoke to a bitter cold torrential downpour that went on for six hours before lightening up. About then, a now heavily cloaked and still chain mail-clad Bink showed up again dragging a wheeled crate, leaving our heroes wondering—what the heck kind of business does an alleged Wizard(Diviner) have in Winterhaven… in chain mail and why is he suddenly such a sourpuss?

X.P. 1800 each, including Bey, who was engaged in some mysterious adventures of her own elsewhere that probably involved charming people with her wiles and getting them to buy her free drinks and dinners. Will she tell the tale?

Some items found
9. Ring
10. Amber gem
11. Oil (magical)
12. Earrings
13. A few Citrines
14. Oil (magical)
15. 3 bones taken from the creatures radiate faint magic
*Some coinage that Ben noted

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Game 11: My Precious
What has it gots in its filthy pocketsez?!

Our heroes emerge from the troll’s cave to find themselves surrounded by deformed, mangy wolves and a goblin. The goblin tells them they’re in his territory and demands they leave. He has taken Rhys hostage and promises to release him once the group has left their territory. The goblin has somehow taken control of the three skeletons that Rhys commanded earlier.

Once they’re back in town, they find out that Rhys was released as promised. Juvens searches for a cartographer and buys a map of the region. Bey, Cregga, and Sashal check the buzz in some local taverns to find out about possible dungeons in the area. They hear that underground-based humanoids are a little more common to the North in Winterhaven. They also meet a charming gnome bard/warlock who seems to fancy Bey.

As they’re preparing and gathering supplies for their trip to Winterhaven, they’re intercepted in town by a creature that seems to be made of darkness with glowing red lights for eyes. At the same time, Sashal is attacked by a homonculus. The dark, ghostly creature drains strength from it’s victims and then retreats into the ground. They managed to hurt these creatures enough to drive them away when Sashal is hit by a crossbow bolt from what seems like a deformed goblin-sized creatures emmersed in darkness. Sashal seems panicky and disappears in a flash of white light, leaving his clothes and possessions in a pile. The creature who shot him disappears (probably turning invisible) and they lose track of it. When they search Sashal’s possessions they find several of the minor magic items that were in William’s grandfather’s apartment back on the Isle of Manos as well as a crystal ball that seems to hold inside it the naked form of Sashal and glows faintly with a white light.

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Game 10: Me and my shadow
Trolled LOL

Sashal showed back up and discreetly contacted Bey to tell her he thinks he’s being followed. He described things like some kind of giant bat and glowing eyes in the dark shadows. He has been laying low. Our heroes convince him to come with them on a quest to find ogre or troll hands as there is a reward posted.

The group is followed out of town as they travel North to investigate possible giant humanoid sightings. They set up an ambush and kill all but one of their followers. The one woman who remains tells them they were hired by a creepy half-orc woman who wants something that Sashal has. They were to bring back all his items and meet her in a particular tavern in town.

Continuing on, our heroes asked around at various farms until they found one where the farmers claimed to have had their animals raided at night by something large and pointed them in the right direction. While looking for a cave, they saw a mangy wolf-like creature similar to those that ambushed them on their way back to Chesswick from Uverston. The thing just seemed to be watching them for now and did not attack.

They finally found a stinky cave with three skeletons in it. Rhys rebuked the skeletons and they fell under his control before a troll charged from the back of the cave. It dished out a lot of damage but they finally conquered it and removed it’s forearms to sell back to Tamya, a plump and jovial woman who works a magic shop in Chesswick. She offered them 300 g.p for a set of ogre or troll hands.

We end this adventure in the cave where our heroes have stomached the smell a little longer to search for treasure.

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Game 9: Darkness Rising
The inhumane centipede.

Our heroes coordinated with the Sheriff of Chesswick to stage a sting on the docks with the smugglers. One of the smugglers opened a box much to the dismay of his partners and brain-controlling centipedes spewed out and attacked. The bad guys seemed to get tipped off somehow and blocked off the backup from the sheriff and Bink but the two of them somehow managed to get out and assist. Reinforcements for the bad guys showed up. In the end, our heroes prevailed and got some phat lootz.

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Game 8: Some 'splaining to do
We bailed but we're back now

Cregga, Bey, Rhys, and Sashal intercepted three drow elves on their way to Chesswick and handily defeated them. They killed two males and managed to subdue the female and brought them back to Chesswick for interrogation. The sheriff has said he may contact them about further work that would involve impersonating the drow to find out more about whatever nefarious activities they were in town to engage in.

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Game 7: It's not really paranoia...
...if they're really out to get you.

Our heroes embark on their journey back to Chesswick to reconsider a job to intercept some dark elves from the North before they reach the city. They’re hoping they can patch up any bad feelings left behind from suddenly bailing on Bink and the sheriff.

They stop off in Uverston to rest and refresh their horses… and also to assassinate some witch hunters. Why not? They figure it’s deal with them now or later.

Rogue Sashal offers to draw them out with stories of witches engaged in some dark ritual outside but something goes wrong. Next thing we know, they’re chasing him out the window of the second floor of the tavern. Our heroes manage to dispatch the witch hunters and hide their bodies in the woods and then placate a drunken local with the help of a Charm Person.

Half way to Chesswick, a fallen tree blocks the path and our heroes are ambushed by large, mangy wolf-like creatures, but there’s something more to them. They attempt to fill Rhys and Juvens with dread before attacking. One is killed and it’s dead body turns into a goblin. The other disappears.

Are the sheriff and his assistant Bink luring our heroes into a trap? We shall see when the adventure continues!

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Game 6: Arrival in Chesswick

Our heroes arrive in the port city of Chesswick where Sheriff William and Bink greet them. They explore the city a bit with Bink as their friendly guide, liquidate some loot, and visit a temple of Fharlanghn where Rhys conveys the message of Paxar to the great relief of the clerics there. In gratitude, the high priest teleports them to the town of Uverston where they meet a cleric of Kord by the name of Borus. They narrowly avoid a clash with Pelorus witch-hunters whom the locals don’t seem to be very friendly with. Borus, feeling grateful for the help of the party to reconnect with his deity goes with them to Eaglemount and introduces them to the baroness who has a dangerous job for them back in the port city of Chesswick.

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Game 5: Escape through the dark
Screw discreet passageways. We're going straight through cop land!

Our heroes are desperate to get off the island where they are being hunted as witches. Fortunately for them, the witch-hunters from the mainland have had their numbers thinned somewhat by the incident at the prison camp and those that remain are scattered throughout the island. They decide to split up and enter Port Eary from different directions. Their plans to meet up at the docks are disrupted when they discover some of the guards there are familiar and will likely recognize several of them.

Bey discovers Mycahl in a local pub but he’s not his usual self. She senses something odd about him, a big part being that he suddenly seems overly friendly toward the creepy red-headed woman they saw at the prison camp. He names her as Azriel. Later, another escaped prisoner by the name of Sashal tells her that mycahl has “one of those things” attached to him. He refers to Mycahl as being the eye and hand of Azriel now and that means she knows where they are and will likely be sending reinforcements soon.

Sashal finally emerges from hiding to discreetly join up with our heroes. He informs them that he’s been hiding in the sewers and has manage to discourage guards from doing regular patrols down there by convincing them the sewers are massively infested with rats, rats which he has been summoning with his new warlock powers. He says he’s already made one attempt to book passage off the island only to be discovered by guards who are doing regular inspections of any ship before its allowed to leave port. Sashal has shown no signs of recovering from some ailment inflicted upon him by Inquisitor Harris.

After contemplating less violent alternatives that all seem to lead to potentially deadly complications, they draw the guards away from the docks toward a sewer opening up the beach and dispatch them before hiding the bodies in the sewer. They then clean themselves up and find the merchant they booked passage with hanging out in a nearby pub and depart. Though he has appeared to be basically cooperative with the pushy and imposing guards from the mainland, he shows no particular patience when it means waiting around for them. As far as he knows, the guards seem to have at least temporarily lost interest in the comings and goings at the docks.

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Game 4: The still, quiet voice within
Centipodlets: a real pain in the back

Our heroes manage to get rested up and meet back up with Cregga who has been hiding out in the woods and has managed to avoid detection by the roving bands of local witch-hunters. Upon hearing the sounds of dogs from the way they came in, they embark out the back way that hobgoblin Grue told them about.

Before long, they come across a band of zombies. Rhys manages to rebuke all seven of them. Unfortunately, this causes the one in the back to drop a sack he was holding and monstrous centipedes come swarming out of it. (They actually look more like giant millipedes.)

The centipodlets (Why not? They’re clearly not typical monstrous centipedes.) manage to attach themselves to the spines of Bey and Rhys. Their many legs have little squirming finger-like things on the tips of them that dig into the skin around the spine and connect to the nervous system. An intelligence which seems far beyond what you’d expect from vermin invades their minds and makes them attack their allies. Eventually, they are freed from them and all the centipedes are destroyed followed by the zombies. Based on their behavior, Rhys suspects these aren’t wandering zombies but that they’re actually under the command of some cleric.

They continue down the path which goes for a couple of miles before opening out further inland. With the sounds of the dogs behind them, they follow the hummingbird which has reappeared and seems to be trying to take them somewhere. The magical broken tile Rhys carries grows warmer the further they go.

As the dogs get closer, they find themselves in a clearing at the top of a hill with a very old and neglected small shrine in the middle. A peace envelops them and apparently affects the dogs as well which give up the chase and lie down calmly as soon as they enter the clearing. Rhys recognizes the statue to be the goddess Paxar Mensax, considered the Messenger of the gods by her followers, though her following is thin and she has grown increasingly obscure in recent times. The statue triggers the memory of a dream he had last night in which the goddess was attempting to speak to him desperately but he could only see her lips moving. The screaming voices drowned her out. He sees a gap in the tiles surrounding a fountain that matches the magical tile they found on a skeleton earlier and places it. The shrine seems to wake up, in a manner of speaking. Vines grow over the new tile and water begins to flow in the fountain. The peace of the place grows stronger.

Rhys’ discovers a greater silence here than he’s felt since the voices began screaming in his head and feels called to enter meditation. When he does so, he comes in contact with Paxar who has an urgent message for him.

“My followers have failed to answer my call. This island is in the eye of a growing storm. Something more ancient than the gods themselves is awakening. It screams with the voices of thousands of tormented souls, drowning out the voices of the gods. Now that you are here, I can put you back in contact with your god, but you must repay me by going to the mainland and carrying my message with you. This I do for you only with your promise that you will carry my message to all clerics you cross paths with no matter how strongly you feel about their faiths. Touch them and tell them they must go deeper into meditation. They must quiet themselves and clear their minds and listen to the still quiet voice within. Do this and I can reach them as I have reached you.

It has been sleeping since even before the oldest of gods came to be. Some speculate that it consumed the gods who came before us. They have begun to call it the god killer. The gods are aware that we must put aside our petty squabbling to deal with this dreaded beast. Now go. I will guide you as far as I can in hopes that you can escape those who hunt you and reach the mainland."

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Game 3: The Hunted
Running from the law

Our heroes wake in the home of William’s grandfather to the sounds of feet, horses, and carts going by. A peek out the window reveals the inquisitor, the red-headed lady, and many of the soldiers they’d just escaped from along with the two empty cage carts they were riding in just the night before. Mycahl overhears the lady and the inquisitor making plans for a massive search of the island for the missing prisoners and Mycahl decides to shadow them in hopes of learning more. He tells Bey of a meeting place outside of town if he isn’t back within an hour then casts a spell and takes on the appearance of a common villager woman. Creyga gets uncomfortable staying in town while so many are looking for them and decides to go early to the meeting place. An hour later, Mycahl hasn’t returned. The others wait just a bit longer and discreetly start working their way out of town.

On the way, Bey hears a voice in her ear from someone else experiencing the same voices and strange powers, also fearful of the massive witch hunt and seeking allies. As they follow the path to the meeting place, a group of townspeople recruited for the search confronts them and calls for help. Our heroes defeat them with the help of Juves who comes out of hiding after having shadowed them for a while. Juves was the voice Bey was hearing. They hide the bodies in the woods and continue their journey through the woods and off the path. No sign of Mycahl or Creyga at the designated meeting place.

A familiar hummingbird flutters around Rhys’ head for a moment and then flies off, pauses and hovers for a moment, and our heroes follow. It leads them to a webbed area of trees where they find the cocooned and dessicated body of a follower of Corellon Larethian with a broken stone tile that radiates magic bundled up in his pocket. Then they are attacked by deformed goblins with too many eyes who shoot strands of webbing out of their hands that burn like acid on contact. They manage to defeat them and Bey leads them to the cave.

They discover a creature that appears to be five goblins who have merged together, back-to-back, into a large ten-legged creature that uses multiple bite attacks and some more of the other strange spider-like goblins.

After looting a locked supply room, they hear a voice in their ears speaking common who says they seem to have a certain kinship, referring to their shared affliction that started with the madness. He offers them sanctuary if they will refrain from further violence against him and what remains of his clan. He allows them into his throne room where they see a tapestry with the symbol of Gruumsh. He introduces himself as Grue and explains that many of his clan were changed when they ate a deformed fish that he advised them to avoid. He tells the group of another way out of the caves through a long tunnel from the supply room.

This chapter of our story ends with the heroes blockaded inside the goblin supply room resting and trying to decide what should be next. Rhys contemplates the tile in his pocket that seems to have grown warmer since he first found it.

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