Ark of Fools MUX: Gronwin's mega-plot

The Red Hand of Doom

This was run over about a year, with Gronwin adapting the "Red Hand of Doom" module for our setting. Props to Gronwin for running a session almost every week for so long! The characters started at about level 5-6 and ended at level 9-10. One character was killed by OOC arrangement, one in a side plot not part of the actual RHoD module, and one was slaughtered fair and square outside Tiamat's Fane by a dragon. Plus one clear fudge by the DM at the very end, when our favored soul would have gone to exactly -10 hp.

Excellent adventure, very tense, with the difficult encounters and sense of urgency with limited time, and a vast horde approaching. Many varied locales, monsters, and a nice mix of roleplay and hard combat. As the player of the wizard, I felt the lack of leisure to pursue my own individual projects, but that's war!

Player Characters



Timeline and logs

The PCs find a map on the wrappings of a mummy in the service of Chresh the lich necromancer. The map shows someplace called "Elsir Vale".
26-June-2006 (5 IC days)
The PCs embark on a trip to Elsir Vale, aided by amulets provided by the grateful mages of Hawthorn Abbey. The amulets enable those Cursed by the Ark to prolong their time away from the Ark. A few hours before they reach Drellin's Ferry, they come across a group of hostile hobgoblins. The hobgoblins appear to be cultists of the evil dragon deity Tiamat, calling themselves members of the "Red Hand". And indeed, they wear the Red Hand insignia. A search of the abandoned farmhouse nearby reveals 2 dead farmers, 2 dead caravan guards, and one dead merchant.
10-July-2006 (continuation of the last IC day from the previous session)
The PCs reach Drellin's Ferry. They arrange for a wagon to bring back the loot and care for the bodies of the dead. The Town Speaker (Norro Wiston) and the Captain of the Guard (Soranna) ask the PCs to help out: Hobgoblin raiders have been harassing their lands for several days now --- the townies need the main road kept open. There seem to be 50-60 fighters, of three tribes. The PCs agree, then go trading for new supplies. The next day, the Captain shows them a map of the attacks. We note that:
17-July-2006 (1.5 IC days)
The PCs cross the river, cautiously, sending Hayli, Lana, and Sviar's rat familiar ahead as scouts, checking out the sites where the attacks occured, seeing if the group can flush out a small group of the hobgoblins. All they find are old tracks. The group spends the afternoon hiking towards the keep. They camp out in a traveller's cabin, without incident. The next day (c. 11 am, 4-5 miles from the Keep), the party comes across an area of flooded woodland, the road crossing it on a rickety wooden causeway. There they are attacked by a six-headed hydra. The hydra defeated, the party finds remains of a sunken wagon and hobgoblin corpses (at least a month dead). No hydra lair is found, but Tylan gets a +1 mithral breastplate off one of the hobgoblins.
2-Aug-2006 through ? (1 IC afternoon)
The PCs reach the ruins of Vraath Keep and find it occupied by a force of half a dozen goblins and hobgoblins, led by a spellcaster hobgoblin, supplemented by a manticore, a couple of worgs, and a minotaur. The PCs eventually defeat them in battle (the manticore flees and one hobgoblin warrior is taken prisoner). A map is found on the spellcaster/leader. The map has notations indicating what seems to be an imminent invasion of Elsir Vale. The first attack is noted on "day 5" at Drellin's Ferry. The map has the "tribes" mustering under Kharn to the north of Vraath Keep.
23-Aug-2006 (rest of the IC evening, into the next IC morning.)
The PCs interrogate the prisoner, finding that the Horde is on the way. It is led not by a dragon, but by someone strong enough to command at least one true dragon (green wyrm Ozyrrandion (sp)). They kill the prisoner. They find a hidden vault underneath the keep, apparently untouched since the place fell to the giants. Mucho loot. The group camps there overnight. Hayli sends an animal messenger warning Drellin's Ferry of the horde.
30-Aug-2006 (the rest of the IC day, into the next IC morning. Day 4-5)
The PCs go to the bridge at Skull Gorge, hoping to cut off or at least delay the horde. They find it defended by a young green dragon, a couple of hellhounds, and a bunch of hobgoblins. The PCs win the ensuing battle, taking a prisoner and preparing to break the bridge. Highlight of the battle: Tylan (under the influence of a fly spell) wrestles the dragon mid-air! He wins! He attacks the shocked hobgoblin in the bridge tower with the corpse! He also sees (from high up in the air) smoke and dust, as of a large group, perhaps 2-3 days away. After the battle, the PCs camp there. The next morning, they interrogate the prisoner: Hayli sends another animal messenger to Drellin's Ferry.
6-Sep-2006, 13-Sep-2006 (day 5-6)
Tylan (with architectural advice from Sviar) destroys the Skull Gorge bridge. On the way back to Drellin's Ferry (bringing the hobgoblin prisoner along), the PCs investigate the old path with the giant tribal marker, and find a solitary, aged (Kyliea diagnoses the "red ache" in addition to age) hill giant named Warklegnaw. Hayli plays diplomat, using the giant-sized magical spiked gauntlet from the trophy chest in the hidden vault at Vraath Keep as a peace offering. The giant identifies it as belonging to "old Crashbag" (presumably their former chief?). He says the other giants (including his daughter) went away (a day and a half on giant legs) to the west, because they think this land is cursed/bad luck for giants. Hayli tells him of the Horde, and Warklegnaw agrees to try to recruit the other giants against the Horde. The PCs spend the night at Vraath Keep. The next day, they run into a strange zombie-like creature on the road, but manage to defeat it. They arrive at Drellin's Ferry towards evening.
13-Sep-2006, 20-Sep-2006 (day 7-9)
The PCs re-iterate their warnings about a Horde. This time, they have enough evidence (enemy map, notes, prisoner, dragon head) to convince Drellin's Ferry that they are in serious trouble. The PCs help the locals evacuate, suggesting that they gather all the local militia to Brindol (apparently the closest fortified town). Sviar and Lana assist in setting up a few feeble traps to try to delay the Horde. Hayli sends animal messengers to the Ark (and receives a reply from Hyan Luize, Skrags, Slash, and Inconna) and to Brindol. The PCs have Koth's notes decoded.

Based on those notes, the PCs decide to go after Wyrmlord Saarvith's "special mission" at Rhest (ruined human city by the swamps near Lake Rhest - destroyed several hundred years ago by water). They spend some time buying supplies (Sviar makes a few scrolls). They trade a +1 breastplate for horses and gear and set off again on day 9. They plan to warn all the towns along their way (aided by a letter from the authorities at Drellin's Ferry). The first day, they overtake some refugees from DF, and encounter some giant wasps, then reach a town to spend the night.

27-Sep-2006 through 25-Oct-2006 (days 10-13)
The PCs continue on their way towards Rhest, warning all the towns that they ride through of the imminent invasion. Along the road, they fight a tendriculos. On day 11, Inconna rides in from the Ark. She brings a message that sends Lana and Kyliea back home, while she stays to make up their numbers. On day 13, the group is past the last town and turning north towards Rhest. Around noon, they come across a crude palisade and watchtower built across the road. Sviar's divination (arcane eyes) scout out the force of hobgoblins and ogres inside, and discovers a captive priest (?) of Bahamut. The PCs rescue the prisoner (who turns out to be a scaly lightning-breathing humanoid - a dragonborn elf, named Thurirl Litrix) and kill everyone else.
November (days 13-14)
Continuing on towards Rhest, the group heads into the swamp. They come across a dead giant owl, apparently killed by the green acid-cloud spewing dragon creature (later identified as a Greenspawn Razorfiend, called a "harrowblade" by the local elves) which attacks the PCs. After the group kills the creature (and finds some treasure), they are accosted by wild elves mounted on giant owls. After some diplomatic efforts, we find that the dead owl was one of theirs, and its rider was killed and eaten. The PCs go to the elven tree village, talk some more, participate in the funeral, and arrange to borrow a big rowboat for the trip to the drowned ruins of Rhest. The group spends one full day resting at the village (and identifying the magical loot.)

Elves: Killar Arrowswift; Sellyria Starsinger, Speaker for the Tiri Kitor; High Singer Trellara Nightshadow (whose brother was killed). They call this place the "Blackfens." Hayli asks about "Soaringhome Garth". They say it is a mountaintop home to the winged elves, far to the east.

29-Nov-2006 through Jan-2007 (day 15)
It takes almost all day to reach drowned Rhest. It is in the middle of an oval lake. Lizardfolk huts around the shore. 7 hobgoblins (including the leader?) in a watchtower to the east. 6 ogres, an ettin, a goblin, a hobgoblin in the big building in the middle of the lake. They also hear the sound of another razorfiend not so far away (but it doesn't seem to find them.) The group decides to attack the tower by surprise: Tylan and Inconna approaching under invisibility and flight spells, while Sviar teleports himself, Hayli, and Thurirl in.

They kill all the hobgoblins inside fairly quickly, without raising the alarm, taking one prisoner. About 40 minutes later, they notice some kind of ruckus over at the big building, and someone taking off on dragonback. Sviar shifts into pegasus shape, Hayli leaping aboard as they give chase...

They manage to lure the dragon and rider back to the tower, where they wound it badly and kill the rider (Thurirl's summoned hippogriff does a snatch and drop.) The dragon flees, but two very lucky shots by Hayli brings it down. Meanwhile, they've attracted notice from the big building. They go over in a boat, and after some more fighting (involving ogres, an ettin, and a hobgoblin spellcaster). There is a difficult moment as the spellcaster dominates Inconna to attack Sviar, and suggests to Tylan that he take the elf away to safety on the shore, but Hayli and Thu manage to save the situation.

They find another greenspawn razorfiend in a flooded shed. Although it escapes, Sviar (in altered form) swims around for the tedious process of searching out all the eggs in this nest. Searching the building, the group finds much treasure. Also a letter. The adamantine chain that detects as magic and evil is inferred to be a lich's phylactery ("the Ghostlord").

24-Jan-2007 (Days 15-18)
The group makes its way back to the elven village near the swamp. Inconna has planned a surprise: a wedding for Hayli and Tylan! After the celebration, the group persuades the wild elves to assist in the defense of Elsir Vale (they will send a small force to Brindol in a week.) The adventurers rest for a couple of days, then head to Brindol themselves.
31-Jan-2007 (Days 19-20)
Hayli presents the elven chainmail to the local elves as a gift, after which the group sets off for Brindol. They spend the night at Witchcross, and arrive at Brindol on day 20. After making some inquiries (Hayli and Thu at the local temples - a temple to Pelor, and a school for the well-to-do, Sviar at the mage guild - there isn't one, just a shop ("Red Magic and Sundries") run by a wizard, and Inc and Tylan at the taverns), we find out that 1) Drellin's Ferry has been burned to the ground and the horde is on the march and 2) a legend about the Ghostlord and 3) the city captain wishes to meet with the adventurers.

The captain thanks them for getting the elves to sign up, etc. Asks if they are willing to assist with a concern of his. A local lord (Denovar) sent to the neighboring city for assistance and gold to the south for a mercenary troop. He was forced to send the gold with only a handful. The captain wants the PCs to head south with the captain's signed missive and become backup guards to make sure the gold gets through and the mercs on their way. The guards left two days ago by wagon. Their route takes them to Prosser and Dauth on the way to the Hammerfist Holds. As this happens to be where the PCs wanted to go anyway, everyone agrees.

7-Feb-2007 (Days 21-26)
Leave Brindol on day 22. Catch with the wagon on day 24. It's been attacked by goblins and ettins. Guards are all dead. The adventurers kill the attackers in turn and recover the money (meant for the mercs) and continue to the Hammerfist Holds. Arrive on day 26/27. Spend day 27 there, delivering money and contract to the dwarven mercenaries, who set off shortly for Denovar.
Feb-Mar 2007 (Days 27-30)
Day 28: Travel through the dwarven holds to the edge of the Ghost Lord's wasteland. Inconna flies up for a look: spots a huge animal about 10 miles away. This is the giant lion statue of the legend. Day 29: Leaving the horses behind, the adventurers hike out to the lion. It is indeed a statue, 80' high, 240' long. They scout out the place, finding Red Hand hobgoblins and a half-fiend behir. They fight and kill the behir, then find a secret door into the statue. Going inside...they face ghostly lions. Then, many more hobgoblins. They have spellcasters! Hayli is magically immobilized, then killed!

The adventurers prevail, however, capturing one of the spellcasters, a bard named Ulwai Stormcaller (she is the Wyrmlord who sent the phylactery and letter to Saarvith at Rhest.) She is at first resistant to interrogation, but when she realizes that the adventurers really do have the phylactery, she is terrified and agrees to talk, as long as they will take her away from there. She says that the Ghost Lord is making undead for the Horde (using "volunteers" as the raw material). She says more.

Tylan and Thu ride away with Ulwai and Hayli's body, while Inconna and Sviar go to deliver a message to the Ghost Lord. He is at first unwilling to show himself or respond in any way, but after Inconna finds another secret door and opens it, he appears on the other side, casting a ray of enfeeblement of devastating force onto Inconna. The Ghost Lord takes Inconna as a hostage, demanding the return of his phylactery, but promising that if this is done, he will not attack the adventurers now or in the future, and will cease his assistance to the Red Hand. Sviar rejoins Tylan and Thurirl Litrix...after some discussion, Sviar rests for a day, then hands over the phylactery. Inconna is released.

Day 30-31: The group returns to the Hammerfist Holds. They spend day 31 talking to the local authorities, identifying their loot, shopping, etc. Ulwai handed over to the dwarves.

Day 32: Thurirl receives a magical sending from Sellyria, of the Tiri Kitor elves. The horde is near Brindol and they need reinforcements."

April 2007 (days 32-39)
Day 32: Sviar teleports the group back to Brindol, where they meet with Lord Jarmaath of Brindol, Sellyria of Tiri Kitor, Soranna Anitah and Speaker Wiston of Drellin's Ferry, Tredora (head priestess of Pelor), Lady Kaal, and Captain Ulverth (head of Brindol's defenses) for a war council. The Horde is about a week away at Talar. The civilians of the Vale have all evacuated to the next city beyond Brindol. The dwarven mercenaries are at Brindol now, along with the elves. The war council decides not to try to harry the Horde as it approaches (too dangerous with the dragon and assorted other fliers.) When the Horde hits, the priests should be based at the (relatively) defensible temple, rather than spread out around the city to be picked off. Tylan emphasizes the fire danger, and has the town make preparations. Sviar seeks a druid to help with that (and possibly make use of the stormclouds staff taken from Ulwai), but none can be found. The PCs agree to be used as a trouble shooting patrol, linked to Brindol's mage via a telepathic bond.

Day 38: The Horde arrives outside the walls of Brindol. They wait until nightfall to strike. Thu acts as the group's liaison with the telepathy spell. Two hours after sunset, the group is sent to sally out the south gate to take down four hill giants who are bombarding the wall with rocks. The group kills three, while Sviar takes over the body of the fourth.

About 5-10 minutes after that, the group is sent to take down a red dragon attacking at the north gate. With Tylan enlarged and flying, the group barely manages the task, with Inconna nearly killed in the process, and Sviar's giant badly injured.

Fighting continues as the walls are breached. The PCs battle hobgoblins, manticores, bugbear barbarians, etc. They fall back to the Temple, beating back an attack by the hobgoblin warlord (Kharn) and some giants and ogres. This ends the battle of Brindol, the Horde beaten back...

May-June 2007
The adventurers take a quick trip (via teleport) back to the Ark. There, the half-dragon sister of the red dragon killed at Brindol comes hunting for vengeance. She manages to kill Inconna before she herself is slain. Inconna is raised from the dead (using the staff of life), and the adventurers head out to cleanse Tiamat's Fane...
13-June-2007 (c. day 50)
The PCs reach the outside of Tiamat's Fane. It is defended by traps and a large blue dragon! A lapse of judgement proves fatal to Sviar. The PCs manage to kill the dragon, then retreat with the wizard's corpse to a druid circle about 6 days away (near Terrelton). Sviar is reincarnated... as a dwarf. Of course.
20-June through 9-August 2007
The PCs return to Tiamat's Fane. They find the cave above the fane where the dragons were lairing (and considerable treasure!). Later, they decide to hack their way into the fane, bypassing the trap on the main gate, and using Thurirl's silence spell to give them the element of surprise. They fight through successive layers of guardians: abishai, zombie wyverns, hordes of blackscaled guards, one of them a ninja, wyverns...

They finally break into the inner sanctum. Finding it located atop a 100' smooth vertical shaft, they use a "fly" spell and a "dimension door" for a sudden arrival. Managing to kill the High Wyrmlord Azarr Kul (a half-dragon hobgoblin) quickly only calls down more trouble for the PCs, in the form of an aspect of Tiamat! The adventurers hang in, barely managing to defeat this last dragon. Thurirl Litrix barely survives, by the favor of his patron, Bahamut... but victory is theirs. At last!

August 2007
The PCs return to Brindol to report to the authorities there. An award ceremony for our heros! Someday they may go after the Ghostlord...but not today.

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