Recap: The party tried to reach For'Dulhae to get grain for their massive Toomaran warhorses, with the aid of Tatyana's knowledge of the land, and Phoenix's abilities to discern true north. They encountered two mercenaries -- Sevious and Durcol -- who were sent to slow the party down. Soundly defeating the two mercenaries, they exploited the Vridaran mercenary-contract system to use the two against the Vridarans hunting them. Faeradd entered For'Dulhae under cover of night and a light snow storm, and managed to sell the horses, lose the mercenaries, and sell the horses for a hefty sum. In addition, Faeradd collected on some of the bounty on his own head, as well as giving misinformation about the direction of the party.
On his way out of For'Dulhae, the party encountered Zan, and under Sam's guidance, added his unique skills to the party's repertoire. Travelling south and slightly west for the next several days, they managed to avoid patrols and guards, but finally were spotted by about ten Imperial Footmen who were watching the border against the Amarans. The party sent them packing, but realized that travelling the border of Vridara was not worth the trouble. On the advice of the defeated Imperial officer, they headed further west into the savanna, and away from the Vridaran forests.
They travelled more southerly, and at a quicker pace, out in the Amaran savannas. There, they met Poy and Seboran Rosaski -- members of the Order of Devon. Accepting Seboran's offer of welcome respite at the headquarters of the Order of Devon, the party moved out again. A midnight encounter with a hobgoblin and his tunneling goblins ensured that the party was safe, travelling through the goblin-held lands -- though they still rested uneasily. Over the course of the next six weeks, they encountered the worst of winter, from storms to biting cold, to fierce winds that nearly toppled them over.
In the midst of that, a juvenile tyrannosaur attacked. Phoenix, Sam, and Faeradd together were able to ensnare the beast with their combined abilities; after that, it was merely a matter of slowly wearing the creature out, before dispatching it. More wary of their environment, they continued south towards the Mule Mountains. They then ran into a group of merchants that travelled the lands between the Mule Mountains, the Amaran Tribes, the Toomaran Peoples, and the Vridaran Empire. The party purchased several odds and ends before continuing on in their journey.
The current date is Gril the 6th.
Oorhl, male goblin Rog1: CR 1; Size S (3 ft., 2 in. tall); HD 1d6; hp 6; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+1 Dex, +1 Size, +1 leather armor, +1 buckler, +1 ring of protection); Attack +0 melee (morningstar, 1d8-1, crit 20 x2), or +4 ranged (hornet dagger, 1d4+2, rang inc 20, crit 20 x2); SV Fort +0, Ref +3, Will +0; AL N; Str 8, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 10, Cha 8. Languages Spoken: Goblin. Skills and feats: Bluff +3, Craft (woodworking) +2, Diplomacy +3, Hide +5, Intimidate +3, Intuit direction +4, Listen +6, Move silently +5, Pick pocket +3, Read lips +4, Spot +2, Swim +3; Alertness. Possessions: [ring of protection +1 (2,000 gp)]*, Amaran hornet dagger (32,000gp). *Confiscated.
Oorhl is motivated by self protection, and a growing sense of loyalty towards the party. Outcast from the goblin clan he called home, and further afraid of the Amarans, he feels somewhat comfortable with the outcast gnome, and the goblin-speaking human known as 'Sam'.
DM Notes: Seboran Rosaski is a member of the Order of Devon -- a small group of devotees to Brigain, and the legend of the Princess Sword. Seboran was sent by the head of the order to investigate the gnome and the Black Rock Merc; there is a possibility that events taking place in Vridara are precursors to the return of the Princess Sword, and its legendary wielder, William Devon.
Seeker Devray continues to hunt the party, but he lost nearly a month in hunting them because of Faeradd's misdirection. Only the encounter with the Imperial Footmen along the western border let him know to rework his way towards the Mule Mountains. He has only a dim knowledge of the Order of Devon, but as a Seeker, he expects to draft the order to help him hunt the gnome and his accomplices. Imperial Mandate has given Devray free reign to seek the gnome to the ends of the earth, and the King has sent Toth and several retainers to help him.
Just behind Devray are some of Duke Zavastar's hunters. Toth's aide-de-campe has been bought out by Duke Zavastar, unknown to the Imperial Guardsman. Devray is aware of the betrayal, but cares little for it, thinking that the additional, hidden reserve might come in handy.
Cali-bras has rescued Moon Break, and the two have set about to find Travis Duraset and enlist his aid. Travis has moved through the capital of Brevit and left a swath of chaos and church rivalries in his wake. He has freed the Moon clan from the Imperial courts as only a paladin of Rahne can, and forced the Ten Churches of Rahne in Brevit to bow before his logic. Brevit now seethes, and the king can barely control the populace. This chaos is unintentionally aiding the party's escape, as the western border is looking within, rather than without.
The Order of Devon consists of nearly two-hundred monks living in seclusion from the outside world. Their monastery lies near the summits of the Mule Mountains, and guards the entrance to the valley of the Ruins of Hidanakor. The monastery itself is a compound of four buildings lying around a large pool of glacial meltwater, with each building representing one of the four cardinal directions, and linked by a high wall arranged in a perfect circle.
The monks of the Order of Devon concern themselves with searching for the Princess Sword, an artifact lost nearly three centuries before. The return of the Princess Sword would herald the uniting of the Empire of Vridaran and the Toomaran Peoples against a powerful evil. The monks are also responsible for keeping the curious and the foolish out of the nearby ruins of the ancient city of Hidanakor.
The order is led by Tavir'stas Winter (Mnk11), a Toomaran man of some sixty years with a fearsome gaze and a hawk-like contenance. Tavir'stas guides the monks and other followers of the Order of Devon in their quest to discover the Princess Sword. It is the sincere hope of the order to find the sword, and maintain it against the day when it is needed.
Tavir'stas is aided by Father Sikorski (Clr8), a priest and abbot of Brigain -- Brigain being the patron deity of the valley of the Order of Devon, and the Ruins of Hidanakor. Father Sikorski is an elderly man of nearly seventy years, but with surprising vigor beneath his large girth and massive beard. The head priest of the Order of Devon is a quiet man who prefers to listen, to talking.
The northern building of the monastery is a library, devoted to handling the thousands of scrolls and books and maps invested in the search for the Princess Sword. The southern building is devoted to the worship of Brigain, and is where the monks practice their devotions. The eastern building is a combination eating hall, storage facility, and inn that houses the occasional caravans or visitors. The western building is the sleeping and meditating quarters for the members of the order.
Each building is made of irregularly cut stone and blocks of granite, taken sides of the mountains themselves. The only smooth granite is on the floors of each building, with the temple on the southern point being the largest of the four buildings. The roofs are made of a heavy, dark wood that the monks have to reseal and restain each spring. The furniture and internal decorations are also of the same heavy, dark wood -- grown on the lower slopes of the Mule Mountains.
The lands outside the compound are tended to by Eldam Navakovitch (Rng4), who also patrols the lands around the monastery and the Ruins of Hidanakor. Eldam is a bit eccentric, dressing in native clothes and furs that hide him and break up his outline. He sometimes tails visitors to the region for days before revealing himself.
Tugren Halbot's tower is well known to Eldam, if the PC's can get past the eccentric ranger's savage tongue and biting remarks. The mage's book also details the location of his tower, and his ranges in the Mule Mountains. Both Eldam and Tavir'stas know that something unnatural has occupied the tower since its ransacking, centuries ago. Because the tower is secluded, well off the beaten path, and in lands virtually hidden from casual visitors, the Order of Devon has decided to leave the tower be -- crumbling as it is, it will probably fall into a heap of rubble before another century passes.
Tugren's journal only hints that there are magical items hidden in his tower, but he does not specify where or how. The tower itself is overgrown with vines, plants, and even a thick pine tree growing out of the old stables. The magic of the tower has corrupted some of the plants -- or perhaps something of Tugren's escaped from his hidden workshop. Throughout the tower, debris, dirt, old furniture, plants, and various other sundries clutter things up. Although most of the foilage is dead and dry for the winter, some of it is a vibrant ever-green color. There are approximately three assassin vines scattered throughout the tower.
Assassin Vine: Large Plant; CR 3; HD 4d8+12 (30hp); Init +0; Spd 0ft; AC 15 (-1 size, +6 natural); Attacks Slam +7 melee (1d6+7); F/R 5x5/10ft (20ft w/ vine); SA Entangle, Improved Grab, Constrict 1d6+7; SQ Camouflage, Electricity immunity, cold and fire resistance 20, blindsight; SV Fort +7, Ref +1, Will +2; Str 20, Dex 10, Con 16, In -, Wis 13, Cha 9. Entangle (Su): An assassin vine can animate plants within 30 feet of itself as a free action. The effect lasts until the vine dies or decides to end it (also a free action). The ability is otherwise similar to entangle as cast by a 4th-level druid (save DC 13). Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, the assassin vine must hit with its slam attack. Constrict (Ex): An assassin vine deals 1d6_7 points of damage with a successful grapple check against Medium-size or smaller creatures. Blindsight (Ex): Assassin vines have no visual organs but can ascertain all foes within 30 feet using sound, scent, and vibration. Camouflage (Ex): Since an assassin vine looks like a normal plant when at rest, it takes a successful Spot check (DC 20) to notice it before it attacks. Anyone with Wilderness Lore or Knowledge (plants or herbs) can use those skills instead of Spot to notice the plant.
Located in the top room of the tower is a huge heap of plant matter, old bird bones, and the like. The furniture has been trashed, perhaps by the bandits, and lies scattered about the large room. The shutters are broken off, letting in the chill air of outside.
Shambling Mound: Large Plant; CR 6; HD 8d8+24 (60hp); Init +0; Spd 20ft; AC 20 (-1 size, +11 natural); Attacks 2 slams +10 melee (2d6+5); F/R 5x5/10ft; SA Improved Grab, Constrict 2d6+7; SQ Plant, electricity Immunity, Fire Resistance 30; SV Fort +9, Ref +2, Will +2; Str 21, Dex 10, Con 17, Int 7, Wis 10, Cha 9. Skills: Hide +0*, Listen +4, Move Silently +4. Improved Grab (ex): To use this ability, the shambler must hit an opponent of up to Large size with both arm attacks. If it gets a hold, it can constrict. Constrict (Ex): A shambler deals 2d6+7 points of damage with a successful grapple check against Large or smaller creatures. The shambler can still move but cannot take any attack actions when constricting. Plant: Immune to mind-influencing efffects, poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, and polymorphing. Not subject to critical hits. Electricity Immunity (Ex): Shamblers take no damage from electricity. Instead, any electrical attack (such as shocking grasp or lightning bolt) used against a shambler grants it 1d4 points of temporary Constitution. The shambler loses these points at the rate of 1 per hour. Skills: Shamblers receive a +4 racial bonus to Hide, Listen, and Move Silently Checks. *They receive a +12 bonus to Hide checks when in a swampy or forested area.
In the basement is a littering of debris, from a foot of dirt and dust, to shattered barrels, to small rat skulls everywhere. Viney tendrils and roots hang from the ceiling, and a human skull lies atop a pile of rough wood and rotting vegetation.
Tendriculos: Huge Plant; CR 6; HD 9d8+54 (94hp); Init -1 (Dex); Spd 20ft; AC 16 (-2 size, -1 Dex, +9 natural); Attacks bite +13 melee (2d8+9), 2 tendrils +8 melee (1d6+4); F/R 10x40/15; SA Improved Grab, Swallow Whole, Paralysis; SQ Plant, Regeneration 10; SV Fort +12, Ref +2, Will +2; Str 28, Dex 9, Con 22, Int 3, Wis 8, Cha 3. Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, the tendriculos must hit with its bite attack. if it gets a hold, it automatically deals bite damage and can try to swallow the oponent. A tendriculos that hits with a tendril attack grabs as above. If it gets a hold, it picks up the opponent and transfers it to the mouth as a partial action, automatically dealing bite damage as above. Swallow Whole/Paralysis (Ex): A tendriculos can try to swallow a grabbed opponent of Large or smaller size by making a successful grapple check. Once inside the plant's mass, the opponent must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 19) or be paralyzed for 3d6 rounds by the tendriculos's digestive juices, taking 2d6 points of acid damage per round. A new save is required each round inside the plant. A swallowed creature that avoids paralysis can climb out of the mass with a successful grapple check. This returns it to the plant's maw, where another successful grapple check is needed to get free. A swallowed creature can also cut its way out by using claws or a Small or Tiny slashing weapon to deal 25 points of damage to the tendriculos's interior (AC 15). Once the creature exits, the plant's amazing regenerative capacity closes the hole; another swallowed opponent must again cut its own way out. The tendriculos's interior can hold two Large, four Small, eight Tiny, sixteen Diminutive, or thirty-two Fine or smaller opponents. Plant: Immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, and polymorphing. Not subject to critical hits. Regeneration (Ex): Bludgeoning weapons and acid deal normal damage to a tendriculos. A tendriculos that loses part of its body mass can regrow it in 1d6 minutes. Holding the severed portion against the mass enables it to reattach instantly.
Underneath all the debris in the basement is a flagstone that is unmortared. The movements of the tendriculos forced the flagstone partially open, but only darkness lies below. Tugren enchanted several dozen steel pitons with darkness, and buried them in the tunnel that leads to his lab. Added to these enchantments were Nystul's undetectable auras, so everything magical comes up as nonmagical, further confusing efforts to pry through the darkness. A large zone of nondetection exists beneath the flagstone, opening up an arena of confusing magics and hidden spells.
The tunnel leading to Tugren's workshop is at the end of an eighty-foot tunnel. A hidden, obscured, undetectable rune lies in the middle of the tunnel inscribed on one of the flagstones. First, it casts a slow spell (DC 15), and then it follows it up with a stinking cloud spell (DC 15). All of this takes place in magical darkness. Twenty foot from the final door to the worshops, and twenty feet past the slow and stinking cloud runes is another rune, of web (DC 14). One round after the web spell ensnares anyone, a gust of wind clears out the stinking cloud, only to replace it with a monster summoning II set to call large, monstrous spiders.
Monsterous Spider, Large: CR 2; Large Vermin (10' wide, body the size of a large ale keg); HD 4d8+4; hp 22; Init +3 (Dex); Spd 30 ft, climb 20ft (40 ft, climb 20ft); AC 14 (+1 size, +3 Dex, +2 natural); Atk Bite +4 melee (1d8+3 and poison); SA poison, web; SQ vermin; SV Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +1; Str 15, Dex 17, Con 12, Int --, Wis 10, Cha 2. Skills and Feats: Climb +14, Hide +14, Jump +2*, Spot +7*. Poison (Ex): DC 11, Initial and Secondary Damage 1d3 Str. Web (Ex): Escape DC 18, Break DC 24, hp 4. DC 20 to notice the web; attempts to break free gain a +5 bonus if there is purchase. Vermin (Ex): Immune to mind-influencing effects.
Past that lies the door (still in darkness) to Tugren's workshop. The door itself has a simple arcane lock upon it. Inside is a cold, musty smell in the natural darkness. The workshop is nearly forty feet on a side, with a vaulted ceiling, shelves everywhere, and a layer of dust and cobwebs on everything. Tugren Halbot himself lies slumped across his desk, his skeleton precariously held together with old, decomposed skin and muscle. The slightest touch will collapse the body. The books have all been eaten through with age, and likely are little more than dust.
The workshop has hundreds of book covers on high shelves, as well as several work tables, benches, a furnace, and other, fragile and antiquated things. Detect magic will work effectively in that room, and will reveal the following: bracers of armor (+2) (4,000 gp), potion of blur (300 gp) [sooty-colored, greasy odor/taste, viscous, cloudy appearance], buckler +1 (1,165 gp), buckler +1 (blinding) (4,165 gp) [something provides a clue to this item's function], spectacles of daylight (8,000gp) [allow the wearer to see in magical darkness], a chest full of small gems of various colors, all uncut (valued at a total of 4,000gp; value of 21,000gp if cut), ring of protection +1 (2,000 gp), Heward's handy haversack (2,000 gp), and quarterstaff +2 (8,600 gp) [curse: possessor must have at least 6 ranks of profession (scribe)].
As well, there are four each of the follownig scrolls: nondetection, protection from elements, true strike, darkness, and tongues.
Awaiting the party as they emerge from Tugren's tower will be Shir Nakath -- the local bandit king. Shir will be more than happy to defrock the party of all the loot taken from the tower, especially the skull that gives them a pass through the goblin territories. Shir commands a host of goblins nearly one-hundred strong, as well as twenty or so bandits. They're not stupid, and they're well armed and well prepared; Shir's personal mount is a minotaur lizard with a ballista mounted on its back, manned by several goblins.
Shir Nakath: male human Ftr9: CR 9; Size M (5 ft., 11 in. tall); HD 9d10+18; hp 54; Init +6 (+2 Dex, +4 Improved initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 20 (+2 Dex, +6 banded mail, +2 large shield); Attack +12/+7 melee (bastard sword, 1d10+3, crit 19-20 x2), or +9/+9/+4 ranged (dagger, 1d4+3, range incr 10ft, crit 20 x2); SV Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +3; AL LE; Str 16, Dex 14, Con 15, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 8. Languages Spoken: Common, Goblin, Vridaran. Skills and feats: Alchemy +3, Appraise +3, Climb +15, Heal +0.5, Hide +2, Jump +13, Knowledge +2.5, Listen +0, Move silently +2, Open lock +3, Ride +13, Search +5, Sense motive +1, Spellcraft +2.5, Spot +0, Swim +14; Combat reflexes, Dodge, Endurance, Expertise, Improved initiative, Point blank shot, Precise shot, Rapid shot, Weapon focus (dagger), Weapon focus (bastard sword). Possessions: potion of healing, potion of stone skin, emerald ring (2,500gp), ring of keys.
Minotaur Lizard: Huge Animal: CR 8; HD 9d8+20 (79hp); Init +0 (Dex); Spd 40ft; AC 15 (-2 size, +7 natural); Attacks Bite +16 melee (2d6+10), gore +11 melee (2d8+15); F/R 10x20/10ft; SA Swallow Whole; SQ Scent; SV Fort +12, Ref +7, Will +4; Str 30, Dex 10, Con 21, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 7. Skills: Climb +9, Hide +7*, Listen +4, Move Silently +6, Spot +4. *In mountainous areas, the Hide bonus improves to +8. In saddlebags: locked chest with 200gp, locked chest with local map to include hideout, travel rations.
Ballista: Attack +8 ranged (six-foot bolt, 2d6+2, range incr 200ft, crit 19-20 x3)
Thorkell Amazeo: male human Clr6: CR 6; Size M (5 ft., 6 in. tall); HD 6d8+6; hp 34; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 19 (+1 Dex, +7 half plate, +1 buckler); Attack +5 melee (morning star, 1d6+1, crit 20 x2), or +5 ranged (crossbow, 1d8+1, range inc 80ft, crit 20 x3); SV Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +8; AL LE; Str 13, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 13. Languages Spoken: Common, Elven. Skills and feats: Concentration +7, Hide +1, Intimidate +4, Knowledge (nature) +3, Listen +3, Move silently +1, Profession +11, Ride +3, Scry +10, Spot +3; Brew potion, Craft wand, Empower spell, Extra turning. Cleric Domains: Trickery, Evil. Cleric Spells Per Day: 5/4+1/4+1/3+1. Possessions: eight potions of healing, one wand of lightning, holy symbol of Samis.
Bandits: male humans Ftr2/Rog1: CR 3; Size M (6 ft., 0 in. tall); HD 2d10-4 + 1d6-2; hp 14; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 16 (+2 Dex, +3 studded leather armor, +1 buckler); Attack +2 melee (longsword, 1d8+1, crit 19-20 x2), or +4 ranged (shortbow, 1d6+1, crit 20 x3); SV Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +5; AL LE; Str 11, Dex 15, Con 6, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 12. Languages Spoken: Common, Vridaran. Skills and feats: Climb +5, Craft +5, Decipher script +3, Diplomacy +2, Handle animal +3, Hide +4, Listen +5, Move silently +4, Profession +4, Ride +7, Sense motive +4, Spot +5, Swim +5; Alertness, Iron will, Point blank shot, Precise shot, Weapon focus (longsword). Possessions: fifty gold pieces each.
Goblin: male goblin Rog1: CR 1/4; Size S (3 ft., 2 in. tall); HD 1d6; hp 6; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+1 Dex, +1 Size, +1 leather armor, +1 buckler); Attack +0 melee (morningstar, 1d8-1, crit 20 x2), or +2 ranged (javelin, 1d6-1, rang inc 20ft, crit 20 x2); SV Fort +0, Ref +3, Will +0; AL NE; Str 9, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 11, Cha 8. Languages Spoken: Goblin. Skills and feats: Gather information +1, Handle animal +1, Hide +5, Intuit direction +4, Knowledge (nature) +1, Listen +2, Move silently +5, Profession +4, Read lips +2, Sense motive +4, Spot +0, Swim +3, Use rope +5; Alertness.
Hideout: 15 male goblins Rog1: CR 1/4; Size S (3 ft., 2 in. tall); HD 1d6; hp 6; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+1 Dex, +1 Size, +1 leather armor, +1 buckler); Attack +0 melee (morningstar, 1d8-1, crit 20 x2), or +2 ranged (javelin, 1d6-1, rang inc 20ft, crit 20 x2); SV Fort +0, Ref +3, Will +0; AL NE; Str 9, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 11, Cha 8. Languages Spoken: Goblin. Skills and feats: Gather information +1, Handle animal +1, Hide +5, Intuit direction +4, Knowledge (nature) +1, Listen +2, Move silently +5, Profession +4, Read lips +2, Sense motive +4, Spot +0, Swim +3, Use rope +5; Alertness. Possessions: 2 locked chests with 300gp each, locked chest with 2,500gp in gems, locked chest with raw mithrel ore (25,000gp), sleeping mats, foots, travel rations, mules, sundry goods.