Recap: Over two individual sessions, we generated characters, and then played them to arrive at our present point. Adam created a half-elven paladin of Rahne named Travis Durasoth, Theresa created an elven druidess of Elinthar by the name of Phoenix Rising, and Ed made up a gnomish illusionist of Agincoth named Faeradd Bunuckle. Diego was in New York at the time, on leave, but we vowed to include him as soon as he returned.
Defender of Rahne Travis Durasoth was tapped by the churches in Rakore for an important mission to distant Vridara. Two of the most powerful mages in Rakore were from Vridara -- Mistress Brin, and Master Jandor. The Empire of Vridara was rumored to be engaged in an underhanded extermination of the remaining elves in the Vridaran Forests, and Mistress Brin was herself half-elven. In order to save what elves they could, as well as search of new mages to bring to Rakore, the churches, and the Rakoran government, decided to send in paladins loyal to Rakoran ideals. Paladins would be untouchable by the Inquisition because of their holy status. Even better, Defender Travis was half-elven, and would be a nice slap in the face to the Vridaran government.
Politically promoted to the rank of Prelate, Travis was sent to Rakore aboard several different non-Rakoran vessels, to hide is arrival from the Vridarans, and keep them from preparing a religious or political rebuttal to his presence. Armed only with his faithful steed, his battle-axe, and a list of potential contacts in Vridara, the new Prelate hoped to find mages or elves. His first stop in Vridara would be Lamental, at the mouth of the mighty Tim River.
Tired of an almost futile quest to rebalance nature in the aftermath of the Storm Wars, Phoenix Rising had to leave her ancestral homeland in the Banoc Forests. The forests were only just beginning to recover from a lack of druid stewardship, nearly five centuries after the Storm Wars, and the collapse of the global druidic hierarchy. Phoenix sought to find potential druids, and draw them onto the path of Elinthar, or even Barith, to help jump-start the healing of all the world's lands. Unfortunately, she had barely left her lands, when she was sapped and kidnapped by Alekdan traders. The traders thought to make a slave-gift of her to one of the Vridaran dukes, whom they knew was rather crooked in his bid for the throne of the empire. Along with the fair elven maiden, they brought a large, black panther that had been following her. If all else failed, the Alekdan merchants could have some fun with the panther and the maiden, perhaps watching them hunt one another. All of that would have to wait until their valuable cargo was unloaded in Lamental, Vridara.
Faeradd Bunuckle and his people were barely eaking out an existance in the stone and ice of Kara, the fourth of the three Sister Worlds. Hoping to find a way back to the ancestral homeland of Gaeleth, Faeradd volunteered to explore an ancient Gate that, perhaps, could be reactivated long enough for him to visit the ancient homeland of the gnomes. A violent faction of his people actually hoped to teleport him to his death, using an inactive Gate with an illusion over it as a trap for the young and politically powerful gnome. Their magical energies, however, inadvertantly powered the Gate for a one-way trip to Gaeleth. The unanchored, opposite end of the Gate, deposited Faeradd in the middle of Lamental.
Prelate Travis suddenly found more than he bargained for, helping a captured elf to free herself from slavers, and a gnome landing almost on top of him. The paladin had a potential contact only a day's ride south of Lamental, in a tiny village somewhat off the beaten path. Moving out under cover of the forests and the coming winter storms, Travis managed to get his motley crue to Brother Irwin of Lul, in the unnamed village. Trailed by an Imperial Guardsman named Toth, and his retinue of armed knights and perhaps even Seekers, the Prelate left his charges under Brother Irwin's care, while attempting to lead the Imperial Guardsman off on a wild goose chase away from the two.
At this point, Adam was leaving for Kuwait, and Diego had come back off of vacation. Diego decided to take up the mission where Adam had left off, creating a full-elven paladin of Arpelos named Cali-bras.
In Travis' hard ride back to Lamental, he encountered another paladin with a similar goal: Banner Cali-bras. With barely enough time to talk to the banner, the prelate told him of the two that needed him at Brother Irwin's small church, and galloped off. Cali-bras took up the mission, and walked on through the night until he reached the small church.
After some cautious talks, they eventually decided that none of them were spies or Seekers. Brother Irwin seemed relieved that someone would be able to protect the gnome, and the elven maiden. Phoenix, still week from four months at sea and being bound as a slave, thirsted for revenge -- but she knew she was not at her full strength, and nor was her fearsome panther, Cala. Brother Irwin agreed to contact the local elves, who could perhaps ferret all of them safely away from the Inquisition, and the Imperial Guard.
Brother Irwin led them out before dawn's light to the old, collapsed mausoleum of Duke Keltank. While waiting in the underground portion of the mausoleum for the elves or Brother Irwin, they explored the crypt. Old Duke Keltank's family had made a reasonable amount of money in Vridara nearly two centuries before, and had created the mausoleum in expectation of the duke's death. While digging out the structure, they accidently stumped upon some underground elven ruins. Rather than report the elven ruins, the duke tried to explore them, but was met with an enormous stumbling block -- only elven blood can open the doors of the old structures. Able only to loot the treasury, Duke Keltank made a bid to be king of the empire with the gold and baubles he discovered. He failed, miserably, and the Keltank dynasty ended rather abrubtly. His most loyal retainers sealed themselves inside his tomb, locking it from the inside to prevent tomb-robbers from getting at the duke, or his diary, or the elven ruins.
Cali-bras, Phoenix, and Faeradd managed to find the elven armory, but it held at its heart a modified Rikel mine rigged with a touch-detonator. Phoenix unwittingly activated the mine by pressing its switch, and the mine destroyed the suit of elven chain mail that had been stored in the armory. In addition, a druidic scimitar known as Beastmaster was destroyed.
When the elves arrived, the party agreed to turn over the remaining items from the armory, and all knowledge of the ruins -- in the hopes of receiving a guide out of Vridara, and back to Rakore. The Moon Clan, headed by Lord Moon Shaft -- Mistress Brin's grandfather -- agreed to supply the group with one of his best rangers, if they would but bring a message to his granddaughter: "Tell her we miss her, but are very proud of her."
Leaving with Moon Breaker, or 'Break' for short, the party crossed the Tim River under cover of darkness, and then headed southwest for nearly a week. Break proved himself a strong and witty elf, with almost a human mentality and wit. Inspired by stories of his distant cousin, Brin, Breaker had tried to awaken his own powers of magic and sorcery -- but failed miserably. Consigned to walk the earth without any magic what-so-ever, Break spent the snowy week of travel hiding the motley crue from the Seekers that hounded them, feeding them, protecting them, and sheltering them from the worst of the storms.
Moon Breaker, aka "Break", male sylvan elf Rgr2: CR 2; Size M (5 ft., 2 in. tall); HD 2d10; hp 14; Init +4 (+4 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 16 (+4 Dex, +2 hide armor); Attack +5 melee (hand-to-hand, 1d4+3 f/fists and feet, crit 20 x2), or +6 ranged (longbow, 1d8+3 f/arrows, range inc 100ft, crit 20 x3); SV Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +1; AL NG; Str 16, Dex 18, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 13, Cha 13. Languages Spoken: Common, Elven, Vridaran. Skills and feats: Animal empathy +6, Concentration +4, Craft (leather) +3, Hide +4, Jump +8, Listen +3, Move silently +4, Search +3, Spot +8, Swim +7; [Track], Weapon finesse (strike, unarmed). Possessions: winter equipment, large lean-to.
The final date for this mission was Sad the 24th, 1327 Avard.
DM Notes: The party is being trailed by a 5th-level rogue / 4th-level Seeker named Devray. Devray knows he is tracking a gnome, and is leaving a good trail for the three other Seekers he is working with to ferret out the magical creature. Devray is honestly curious as to where the gnome came from, and does not seek to kill him. On the other hand, he helped the other three Seekers capture Lord Moon and his clan, and turn Brother Irwin over to Imperial Guardsman Toth for transport to Brevit. The Moon Clan has been placed in chains, and will likely serve out the rest of their days on Koobrik Island as slaves, once their 'trial' in Brevit is complete.
The greatest danger the party currently faces, however, is getting caught up in a skirmish between the Amarans and Vridarans. The Amarans could, perhaps, help ferret the party out of Vridara, for they are druidic and elven sympathizers. The problem, however, is their intense hatred of the Inquisition -- and paladins. This will present great problems for Cali-bras.
The forests of Vridara are wild, and untamed, and so a number of creature encounters are possible:
Bear, Brown, Large Animal: CR 4; Size L (12' tall, and 1,800 pounds); HD 6d8+24 (51hp); Init +1 (Dex); Spd 40ft; AC 15 (-1 size, +1 Dex, +5 natural); Attack 2 claws +11 melee (claw, 1d8+8, crit 20 x2) and bite +6 melee (bite, 2d8+4, crit 20 x2); F/R 5x10/5; SA Improved Grab; SQ Scent; AL N; SV Fort +9, Ref +6, Will +3; Str 27, Dex 13, Con 19, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6. Skills: Listen +4, Spot +7, Swim +14. Improved Grab (Ex): If a brown bear strikes with both claw attacks, it automatically bites its target for maximum damage. Scent (Ex): Detection w/in 30ft (+/- 15ft for wind), can track with Wis vs DC 10 by scent.
Wolf, Medium-Size Animal: CR 1; Size M (120 lbs); HD 2d8+4 (13hp); Init +2; Spd 50ft; Ac 14 (+2 Dex, +2 natural); Attack +3 melee (bite, 1d6+1, crit 20 x2); F/R 5x5/5; SA Trip; SQ Scent; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +1; Str 13, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6. Skills and feats: Hide +3, Listen +6, Move Silently +4, Spot +4, Wilderness Lore +1*, Weapon Finesse (bite). Trip (Ex): A wolf that hits with a bite attack can attempt to trip the opponent as a free action (see page 139 in the Player's Handbook) without making a touch attack or provoking an attack of opportunity. If the attempt fails, the opponent cannot react to trip the wolf. Skills: *Wolves receive a +4 racial bonus to Wilderness Lore checks when tracking by scent. Scent (Ex): Detection w/in 30ft (+/- 15ft for wind), can track with Wis vs DC 10 by scent.
Vridaran Footman: male human Ftr1: CR 1; Size M (5 ft., 10 in. tall); HD 1d10; hp 13; Init +4 (+4 Improved initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 17 (+1 steel shield, +5 chain mail, +1 greaves); Attack +1 melee (heavy mace, 1d6+1, crit 20 x2), or +1 ranged; SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +0; AL NG; Str 11, Dex 10, Con 11, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10. Languages Spoken: Common, Vridaran. Skills and feats: Handle animal +2, Hide +0, Jump +2, Listen +0, Move silently +0, Profession +2, Ride +4, Spot +0; Improved initiative, Toughness, Weapon focus (heavy mace). Possessions: travel rations, water, 4 gold chits and 15 silver chits each.
Horse, Light, Large Animal: CR 1; Size L (15 hands); HD 3d8+6 (19hp); Init +1 (Dex); Spd 60ft; AC 13 (-1 size, +1 Dex, +3 natural); Attack 2 hooves +2 melee (hoof, 1d4+1, crit 20 x2); F/R 5x10/5; SQ Scent; SV Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +2; Str 13, Dex 13, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6. Skills: Listen +6, +6. Scent (Ex): Detection w/in 30ft (+/- 15ft for wind), can track with Wis vs DC 10 by scent.
Amaran Tribesmen: male human Rgr1: CR 1; Size M (6 ft., 0 in. tall); HD 1d10; hp 10; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 10; Attack +1 melee (shortspear 1d8, crit 20 x2), , or +1 ranged (shortspear/atl-atl 1d8, crit 20 x2, range incr 30ft); SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +1; AL NG; Str 11, Dex 11, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 11. Languages Spoken: Common, Amaran. Skills and feats: Animal empathy +4, Craft +2, Hide +4, Knowledge (nature) +4, Listen +1, Move silently +0, Spot +1, Use rope +4, Wilderness lore +5; Quick draw, Skill focus (animal empathy), [Track]. Possessions: