DnD 3.5 - Northern Reaches sandbox game

S1 -
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40 - The Lonely Tower, The Great Forest, Sodderheim, The Tomb
Owlbears, Elves, Rangers, & an Undead Spirit, Oh My!

The party decided to spend some (i.e. almost all) of their wealth on magic items and upgrading weapons in New Dwarf City (see episode 39 b for individual items and upgrades). While Dez’s and Ryder’s weapons were being upgraded, the party made a quick trip to Maethylburg to drop off the books with Devlin’s Grandfather. They returned to New Dwarf City to resupply and pick up the, now magic, weapons and departed for the Lonely Tower.

The Lonely Tower

The party cautiously used the road to approach the Lonely Tower from the east. Before they got to the tower, Amazones heard something(s) approaching, so the party prepared to fight. Two Owlbears appeared. Belramos was able to use a scroll to cast a spell to Speak With Animals before a fight broke out. The party was able to ask about the Owlbear whom the party had previously freed from the Caves of Chaos. Brell remembered that his fur was the color of darker brown toast. The Owlbears were apparently surprised and indicated that the Archdruid in the Great Forest instructed the Owlbears to let no one pass without her permission.

The Great Forest

The party decided to leave the way they had approached and then head north to the Great Forest to ask permission from the Arch Druid to enter the Lonely Tower. They were met at the edge of the forest by Celebor and Santeline, two Eleven archers, and a number of other elves that were probably present, but not seen. Brell requested an audience with the Archdruid. The elves were uneasy about letting armed foreigners into their lands, especially a dwarf and half-orc, so Dez, Ka, and Ryder waited at the edge of the forest with all of the party’s weapons, while Amazones, Belramos, Brell, and Threll were escorted toward the center of the Great Forest and met with the Arch Druid.

The Archdruid asked the party to deliver a message to the Rangers to the west before giving permission to enter the tower. The Archdruid wants to establish trade with the Rangers in Sodderheim. The four accepted the scroll and two weeks worth of Elvish food before regrouping with Dez, Ka, and Ryder. The party headed west for two weeks across the great expanse before arriving to Sodderheim.

Sodderheim

The Rangers in Sodderheim seemed hesitant to accept the trade agreement. The party accepted a dangerous quest to retrieve a sword from Mellain’s Tomb. There was a life-draining presence around the tomb that killed everything in the area, including vegetation in a 250-foot radius. The Rangers provided an escort to the area.

The Tomb

As the party approached the tomb, Belramos used a divine prayer to create a Magic Circle of Protection Against Evil. Despite this protection both Ryder and Threll were unnerved by the area. Belramos murmured another prayer that helped Ryder overcome her fear, but Threll was not able to proceed. The party told him to wait, and proceeded without him.

The party approached the tomb. A spectral presence was just inside the entrance. When Amazones tried to get by it, she was overcome. She lost strength and collapsed. As Belramos and Ka went forward to assist Amazones, they felt the severity of what had overcome Amazones, but they were able to endure it. Amazones, though weakened was able to get to her feet.

Belramos invoked the power of Pelor and drove the being back, deeper into the tomb. The party proceeded into the crypt and found a coffin in the center of a large (roughly 60-foot radius) room. Belramos kept the undead at bay while Brell attacked it with fire spells. Ka’s bolts did not even hit the spirit. Dez discovered that her ranged attacks did no damage. Ryder and Amazones waited, ready to engage in melee with the spirit. As Brell engaged the spirit with more Scorching Rays and Fireballs, it kept striking against Belramos’s magical barrier weakening it. Belramos kept the spirit at bay for some time, while Dez discovered a trap with the coffin.. Amazones was able to detect poison in the coffin and cast a protective spell on Dez. It turns out that Dez defused the trap by causing the poison dart trap to trigger and shoot into the lid of the coffin.

Belramos could tell that his turning magic was waning even before the spirit came forward and struck Ryder. The undead’s touch caused Ryder to lose about a third of her life energy (2 levels of experience). Ka made a mighty Leap Attack with his Greataxe of Sharpness and missed. Brell finished off the Spirit with a Magic Missile spell.

Belramos restored Ryder’s life energy and Amazones’s lost strength. Amazones used her magic to levitate the rusty sword out the coffin without touching it. Ka wrapped the sword in small sacks, also without touching it. Dez then discovered that there was a false bottom in the sarcophagus. She found another corpse with an obviously magic sword and other items. Amazones used her levitation magic again on this sword. Dez looted four goblets, some crystal ware, and two gems … We just said we would get the sword. We didn’t say anything about shiny objects we may find … Belramos cast a spell to Speak With Dead and the party learned that Mellain desires that his sword be passed to his son, Mellon, that the town of Sodderheim has been in danger from pirates, and that the Lonely Tower used to be a developed area in the past as opposed to what it is now.

Dez put the false bottom back in place as best she could, and Belramos Consecrated the sarcophagus, before the party left the tomb.

[Stay tuned for the next exciting adventure….]

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39 b - The Party So Far (Part II)

The Party So Far (Part II)

-Amazones has started to learn Sorceress magic and can spontaneously cast several arcane spells in the same manner that Brell does. Her spells are mostly defensive oriented like Detect Poison, Shield, and Mage Armor. She acquired an Asian Wire-Tailed Swallow as her familiar that she calls JB (could also be written as “Jaybee” or “Chae-bee”, but “JB” is simpler). The presence of the Asian Wire-Tailed Swallow is a good omen in Korean culture. Many stories portray the swallows as friendly birds that often warn people about certain dangers. Amazones’s forte lies in fighting defensively. When she casts her defensive spells and fights defensively using her Longstaff, her armor class is 33.

Amazones has an Adamantine Longstaff, silver chopsticks with Continual Flame cast on one of them that she keeps in her hair when needed, a +1 Ring of Protection, and two scrolls of Identify. She feels that she is not yet ready to go back to her homeland. She wants to further develop her skills before she returns.

-Belramos has continued to develop his healing craft and spell casting ability. He has cast many healing spells on everyone in the party, especially Ka, Ryder, Amazones. His Protection from Evil spells made a tremendous difference in the confrontation with Laxtana. Having Threll under her control was pretty bad, but if both Ka and Threll had been under her control, there would likely have been more casualties than just Laxtana. Belramos’s ability to turn undead was most valuable in the encounters leading up to the confrontation with Laxtana.

Being a Cleric, Belramos has the ability to Turn undead. He can attempt to cause undead creatures within range (60’) to flee from Pelor’s energy for brief periods of time (10 rounds). Belramos receives a +2 bonus to this check because of his knowledge of religion. Belramos has the Extra Turning feat which allows him to attempt to Turn undead a total of seven times per day.

Belramos occasionally fires his crossbow as a ranged attack and wields an Adamantine Mace in melee combat. He recently upgraded his armor to Banded (+6 AC) and has an armor class of 18, because he also uses a heavy wooden shield. He has Winter Boots that Resist Cold and allow him to walk unhindered on ice, but neither ability has been tested. He also has a lantern of Continual Flame, several spell scrolls (Invisibility to Undead, Eagle’s Splendor x2, and Bless x2), and a Broach of Magic Missile Shielding. Belramos focuses on finding ways to improve his healing and Turning undead abilities.

-Brell is becoming a powerful Warmage. He can cast almost two dozen spells per day that are routinely enhanced by his Wand of Empowerment. He seems to frequently cast Ray spells, in particular Scorching Ray, but has cast a variety of other useful spells like Magic Missile, Fist of Iron and Shatter to topple the obelisk, Ice Dagger to kill Wombats and bats, Hail of Stone, Fireball, Flame Arrows on ammunition for himself, Amazones, Dez, and Threll, and True Strike just before the first round of combat to have a very good chance of hitting with his Adamantine Heavy Crossbow on his first round of combat.

Brell has a Cloak of Fire Resistance made of Hellhound fur, a Ring of Magic Absorption set to protect him from Magic Missiles which it did very well against Laxtana, an Ioun Stone that improves his intelligence, and several scrolls, including two of Fox’s Cunning. He was the first to comprehend the Neanderthal language. Brell always seeks to improve his spell casting power.

-Dez (Dezerray) is the party’s rogue. She is very skilled in sneaking, searching, opening locks, removing traps, and other rogue things. Her Sneak Attack is quite powerful but has gone unused for quite some time as undead are immune. Dez is good at avoiding being attacked and attacks quite well, especially while wielding Longtooth. She frequently fights on the front line beside Ryder and Ka.

Dez recently learned Two-Weapon fighting and attacks twice per melee round. Her real-life avatar chose the name “Thunderstrike” for Dez’s main weapon, which is a Keen, Thundering, Adamantine Rapier. Dez’s offhand wields Longtooth, a Keen, Halfling-sized, +2 Rapier. We are excited to see how the most recent weapon enhancements will affect combat.

Dez has Thunderstrike, Longtooth, a Bag of Holding, a +1 Ring of Protection, a Continual Light lantern, and a Masterwork set of Thieves’ Picks and Tools. She learned to speak with and liaisoned with the Neanderthals and the Dwarves to construct the Portcullises for the Neanderthals. Dez is the party’s most avid treasure seeker.

-Ka Rages really well. Since heavy armor impedes Ka’s movement, he wears only a Breastplate. Additionally, while Raging, he incurs -2 penalty to his armor class. So, Ka focuses on doing more damage quickly. He can enter a fighting frenzy that increases his strength and toughness for short periods of time (8 rounds) twice a day. In combination with his Power Attack and Leap Attack feats, Ka can deal a lot of damage, especially with his magic Greataxe that he picked up from the hands of a Giant Skeleton. Ka successfully used Power Attack against Laxtana and struck her for 60 points of damage when she subsequently turned to vapor (assumed Gaseous Form?).

Ka has his +1 Keen Greataxe and Gem of Health that improves his constitution by 2. Ka needs all of the hit points he can get because his armor class is so low. He enjoys fighting enemies, Raging in battle, and cute aprons.

-Ryder is the best tank of party. She also holds the record for the most melee damage done in a single round with a massive 69 points of damage while using Power Attack and scoring a critical hit against an enemy in the Lost Dwarf Tunnels. Until Amazones has time to cast her defensive spells and start fighting defensively, Ryder’s armor class is the best in the party.

Ryder wears Magic Black Half-Plate armor that provides a larger bonus to her armor class as she increases in experience. She recently acquired a Magic Heavy Steal Shield that gives her a total of +3 shield bonus to her armor class. Ryder also wears a +2 Ring of Protection that gives her a deflection bonus to her armor class. She gets a +1 dodge bonus from the Dodge feat.

Ryder is almost always at the front of the party fighting enemies with her Spearaxe. The only time Ryder was not directly involved in melee was during the fight against Laxtana. Ryder may become a Dwarven Defender.

-Threll shoots arrows really well. He has remained busy with his Bowyer/Fletcher skills by crafting a +2 Composite Longbow which he now uses and some Masterwork arrows. Presently, he is working on an Elvencraft, Masterwork, Composite Greatbow (parts alone cost 667 gold pieces) that he plans to eventually use as his familiar when he starts learning Wizarding ways.

Threll shoots three arrows in the time it takes many fighters to swing their swords just once. While under Laxtana’s spell, he scored his first critical hit with his bow while shooting Ka in the back. Threll has Lesser Bracers of Archery, a +2 Strength Composite Longbow, an Adamantine Broadblade Shortsword, four +1 arrows, 20 Masterwork arrows, and Masterwork Bowyer/Fletcher Artisan’s tool set. Threll is always looking to improve the elven cause and actively works to increase his archery skills.

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39 - The Fall of Laxtana
(We think ... she turned to vapor and floated to the top of the room)

Using the purple keys found in previous episodes, the party opened the six doors (Purple stone doors, each nine feet wide and 21 feet tall. Each door is at least a foot thick, with leering demon visages in bronze around the border of each great portal.) around Laxtana’s chamber.

Beyond each door was a corridor (Walls of white marble, polished and dust-free. A thick black carpet runs 40 feet from the entry to an ebony door gleaming with silver hinges, studs and door-knocker. The arches ceiling is black marble with bands of scarlet and a dim purple glow gives the entire passageway a eerie light). Each corridor had a different trap that the party was able to avoid or safely set off. Close inspection of the inner door revealed that it was sealed, and as the outer doors were opened, the seal receded. When all six outer doors were opened, the seal on the inner door was broken.

The party chose to open the sixth inner door. As the party readied to open the inner door, Belramos cast a Magical Circle of Protection Against Evil, Brell cast Flame Arrow on some arrows for Threll, some bolts for himself and Ka, and some sling stones for Dez and Amazones, and Amazones cast her Mage Armor and Shield Spells.

The sixth door was opened and the party found themselves on one of six balconies, in a 40-foot spherical room. The room was a variety of colors & had sketches carved into the round walls. The party immediately noticed a girl lying on a stone slap at the bottom of the sphere.

She sat up and they spoke with the occupant/prisoner who claimed to be “Natalia.” She thanked her rescuers and said she had been trapped hear so long ago she doesn’t know how long it had been. She had been trapped by priests of Ythog Nthlei as a sacrifice and just wanted to get out.

When the party lowered a rope for Natalia to climb out, she was unable to proceed due to Belramos’s Circle of Protection. Brell and Threll decided to go around to another balcony to be in a better position. However, Threll had gone outside Belramos’s Circle of Protection, and Threll began to do Laxtana’s will. He started to lower a rope for her to climb out, and Brell attempted to prevent it.

Ryder sensed trouble and decided to start to run back through the hallways to help Brell. Amazones jumped down using her Safe Fall ability and engaged Laxtana in melee, but missed. Laxtana quickly stepped away from Amazones and cast a Magic Missile at Brell. The Magic Missile spell was absorbed by Brell’s Ring of Absorption, much to Laxtana’s dismay. Dez tumbled down to engage Laxtana with her rapier and Long Tooth scoring 4 points of damage. Belramos had the presence of mind to cast an individual Protection from Evil on Ka.

At this point Threll pushed Brell over the edge of the balcony and he fell/slid down the wall (for 3 points of damage). Ka jumped down from the original balcony doing a Leap Attack to strike Laxtana for 21 points of damage. Brell got to his feet and readied a Magic Missile to attempt to interrupt Laxtana’s next spell.

Ryder realized that it would take too long to get around to the other balcony, and came running back to Belramos. Amazones used her action to perform a distracting maneuver to assist Ka in landing his melee attacks. Laxtana drew and released a Sword of Dancing which attacked Amazones. Amazones was able to move quicker than the sword and was not hit by it. Also, since Laxtana was desperate, she tried to cast a Fireball. Brell’s Magic Missile raced toward Laxtana but she had protection and the spell was absorbed or dissipated. However, both Dez and Ka got an opportunity strike doing enough damage to cause Laxtana’s Fireball spell to fizzle too. Dez then swung at Laxtana but did not score any damage. Belramos descended the rope to Laxtana’s chamber. Threll, still under Laxtana’s influence, shot three arrows into Ka’s back, one of them scoring a critical hit (by the way, this was Threll’s first critical hit ever with an arrow) doing a total of 54 points of damage. Ka realized that Laxtana had to be defeated quickly and used his Power Attack ability. He scored two hits with his magical Greataxe of Sharpness doing a total of 60 points of damage, which was enough to bring her down.

Laxtana and her Dancing Sword turned to gaseous vapor and started floating toward the balcony in order to escape. Threll was disoriented from having just been released from Laxtana’s spell, so Brell cast a Gust of Wind spell to prevent Laxtana from escaping, which gave Threll enough time to recover and close the door. Ryderm arriving back at the sixth door, heard the party members inside shouting to “Close the door!”, which he did, trapping Laxtana inside the chamber, along with most of the party. Brell used a Fireball spell to try to destroy Laxtana in her gaseous form, but the spell did not have any apparent effect.

The party searched chamber while Belramos refreshed his Magic Circle against Evil. Prying back the stone slab, the party found a small chamber with jewelry in it. Dez searched more intently and found another secret compartment underneath where Laxtana had been sleeping. Belramos Consecrated Laxtana’s sleeping area with the hope of preventing her from later regaining her potency. Using Belramos’s Magic Circle against Evil to keep Laxtana’s gaseous form at bay, the party took the loot and left the chamber and started to reseal the six doors. The traps had reset and Dez and Amazones were both surprised and hit by the gas trap. Fortunately, both of them made their saving throws, and the party proceeded more cautiously, and resealed all of the doors and removed all of the keys.

Belramos healed Ka and Brell before the party ascended the 900 stairs. The party checked on the spawning pools and discovered two humanoids, probably Neanderthals, in the spawning pools that looked like they were being changed into Formorian Giants. Belramos Consecrated this site as well. As the party met with Throd they noted that the Neanderthals’ number had indeed been reduced by two more. Hopefully, they will not lose any more of their brethren to the spawning pools.

The party returned to the dwarven town, sold a bunch of loot, and identified a few of their newly found magic items. Ryder took the +1 Heavy Steel Shield (net +3 AC) and Belramos took the Staff of Healing. Everyone decided it was best to hang onto six iron-bound tomes they found (One of which is magical and is used to summon demons). The party has more than over 1500 gold in hand, plus 21,000 gold in coins, as well as some gems and magic items stored in the bank in New Dwarf City. The party is considering buying a few magic items, a few scrolls, and rings of protection. And finally the party needs to decide where to go next (maybe the books will give some clues).

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38 - Hack and Slash

Belramos kept the Bless running for each fight, but ended up not having to turn either of the monsters because the party was able to take the creatures down so quickly. Amazones tried out her new Sorceress spells (Mage Armor and Shield) as well as her 0-level Detect Poison spell. She identified the stinking organic smelling moss as poisonous.

Dez has not been able to use her Sneak Attack ability against the undead, so she has been stabbing with Long Tooth and slinging. Dez did fumble and hit Ryder in the back of the head with a sling bullet doing 2 points of damage during the first fight. Both Ka and Ryder nearly fumbled as well during this excursion.

Ryder earned the right to be called HACK! for this adventure because she scored a critical hit that allowed her to do 69 points of damage (the most damage from a full melee attack so far). She did take damage from a rock that the zombie threw. She did not get a chance to avenge the attack.

Brell enchanted ammunition for two separate battles that helped Threll, and later Dez, do more damage. Threll hit with three arrows in one round to do 26 points of damage against a Giant Skeleton due Brell’s Spells.

The party received a warnings from four spirits that Brell freed by casting Shatter on four stone pillars that the spirits had been trapped in. Pillar 1 a female voice said, “You set us free, watch out for her.” Pillar 2 a male voice, “Listen to the demon to the north.” Pillar 3 a female voice said, “Thank you for setting us free.” Pillar 4 a female voice said, “Be cautious of the demon to the north.”

The party found a small statue of a demon to the north and its incorporeal form gave a long-winded warning, "Ythog Nthlie will destroy all undead … trapped a queen down here. Do not release her before it is time or (Ythog Nthlie) will get revenge.
Brell and Threll were debating about whether or not the party should try to free Laxtana. She apparently (based on the note) summoned bats and undead to her service, which is a strong indicator the she is evil. On the other hand, anything that Ythog Nthlie does not approve of is likely not to be all bad.

Brell was particularly deadly during the last fight against the Zombie Minotaur the party faced, because the monster failed its reflex save twice. Ka warranted being called SLASH! for this adventure because he scored a non-critical hit (but he did use power attack) of 30 points of damage, which defeated the Zombie Minotaur. The party decided to rest because the casters were getting low on spells.

The party has explored much of the area beyond the main door. The goal has been to clear out all of the minions that may assist Laxtana, should the party decide to try to open her prison.

[Stay tuned for the next exciting adventure….]

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37 - Bat Wing Crunchies

Brell torched a whole bunch of bats!

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35 - Message in a Scroll

The party was working its way back to the 900-step stair and in feeling their way along the ‘bat tunnel’, they discovered a loooong dead corpse with a scroll & tube. Inside was a message in an old language.

Brell successfully deciphered the text as follows:
I barely got away. Everyone else
died or was overcome and I fled. I
thought I could be back to the
surface to warn others … I won’t
make it, so I am writing what little
I know before I go.

Natalia is the name she uses with her
minions. Even as the priests of
Ythog Nthlei were trapping her in her
chamber, we could all feel her
calling gently to us in the recesses
of our minds. Laxtana called out to
her bats and the servants that the
priests had sacrificed creating her
chamber.

We ‘good’ people wound up being part
of the sacrifice too. Even as we
discovered that we were to be part
of the offering to Ythog Nthlei,
Carrolyn, my friend, was overcome
by Laxtana and attacked us as we
were about to seal the chamber. In
the tumult, the chamber did get
sealed. Thank Goodness. And the
priests were finished off by Laxtana’s
minions, though they virtually
stopped once the seal was set by the
last priest

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