New Frontiers

Raiding the Raiders
The PCs press upwards into the castle tower

The adventurers hear the sound of frantic activity coming from the courtyard and from above them. They charge upstairs to find eight hobgoblin bandits preparing to charge down. Iskawan casts enlarge person on Jubei, who charges in and kills one, intimidating the rest, who drop their swords and try to shoot him. Jubei and Radishe charge in, with the others proving ranged support. The hobgoblins are soon dispatched, with no PC casualties. The hobgoblins in the next room provide similarly little resistance.

The party raid the hobgoblin’s barracks, finding gold and hobgoblin porno. In the lull after the combat they became aware of commotion outside. They’re shocked to find the courtyard in chaos: the stable is aflame, the skeletal steeds running amok in the harsh sunlight, while the hobgoblins in the courtyard scramble to bring them under control.

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A Ranger Rescued

The adventurers hear the sound of quiet moaning coming from somewhere nearby. They manage to pinpoint to coming from other side of stone door. Jubei and Radishe attempt to break it down, only get part way. Radishe finds a key in the bottom of Sparky’s water bowl, which opens the door to the cell adjacent. He breaks through the weakened stone wall joining the two cells, which crushes the imprisoned Umberto and forces Radishe to heal him.

Umberto tells them about his imprisonment and the rough layout of the castle and its inhabitants: the central tower and stables in courtyard, King Urrevor and his lieutenant the cleric Morgang and the wizard Vistola.

They go back downstairs and raid Morgang’s quarters, discovering his enchanted skulls.

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A Light in the Dark
An unexpected ally is found, and a coffin is put to unlikely use.

Iskawan uses Detect Magic and guesswork to determine Vostark’s helm has a Daylight spell on it but doesn’t know how to activate it.

Jubei jumps the pit trap and ties a rope to the statue to allow the others to climb across. The party attempts to get past the greater guardian door with no success, so instead head southeast to the imprisoned lantern archon. They approach the cage of blood with caution, especially when the archon starts communicating telepathically (its communication is limited due to the cage’s interference):
Lantern Archon: Who?
Iskawan: Iskawan of the (whatevers)
LA: Intent?
Isk: Honourable.
LA: Release.
Isk: How?
LA: Magic imprisons, magic will destroy.

After some debate, Isaac experiments with his charnel touch on the cage, observing that the magic seems bolstered by his touch. Jubei touches his wakisashi to the cage bonds, noticing that they snap. He then draws his katana and slices the bonds, severing enough to break the cage and release the archon. The archon, Tabrec, profusely thanks the PCs and offers what information he can on himself, the castle and its inhabitants – namely that he knows little of the castle and its layout, but that there is an evil hobgolbin cleric who routinely tries to interrogate him, a female wizard and another that they both answer to. He assures that the party will “have an ally amongst the archons” before teleporting away.

Iskawan detects a secret door in Tabrec’s prison room, which Radishe finds. They follow the tunnel to the tomb of the defender, where they attempt to dispatch the pair of zombies, but accidentally awaken the Tomb Defender and more zombies. The adventurers are initially beaten back, but Isaac makes the entire lot cower in awe with a powerful rebuke. Iskawan casts enlarge person on Jubei, who crushes the defender with the lid of a sarcophagus and dispatches the zombies with his (now huge) katana. They find Morgang’s stash and then sneak up into Sparky’s den. Iskawan casts sleep on the hell hound, allowing Jubei a coup de gras.

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The Restless Dead
Wherein Baron Vostark is released from the material plane

The party break through the roadblock and are quickly ambushed by a wolf, zombies and skeletons in the crypt intersection. Jubei dispatches the wolf, Radishe and Isaac destroy / command the undead.

They try to convince lesser guardian door to let them pass. Both Radishe and Isaac are unsuccessful. Iskawan more luck, though it isn’t totally convinced about the others. The party descends to the castle sub-basement and crosses the hallway to the hatchery. The black sand and eggshells puts them off attempting to traverse the room.

The adventurers head south to the central burial chamber. Inspecting the wall tapestries, they are able to determine basic history of Harfel Vostok: famed knight, rewarded for service, brought low in conflict with powerful religion, on losing side of major battle. Iskawan opens Vostark’s tomb, releasing the deranged alip inside. It badly damages Jubei’s wisdom (7 points) before being driven away to the north by turn undead. Party takes the opportunity to try to escape, but accidentally trigger the pit trap. Radish and Jubei fall inside it, leaving Iskawan and Isaac to rescue them. The alip returns just as Jubei is rescued, who fends off the alip as the others pull Radishe to safety. Alip is destroyed by the combined efforts of Jubei and Radishe, leaving the party free to plunder Vostark’s tomb.

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Goldilocks: A Reprise
A family killed, a back door created

The party rests in the badger tunnel, Radishe setting up caltrops in the cave opening. The second dire badger returns during his watch and, after sniffing around in the entrance, charges through the caltrops down the left hand corridor. It finds the remains of its partner and comes after the party. It reaches Isaac first, goring him unconscious before coming across Jubei and Iskawan. It resists Iskawan’s sleep spell but is cut down by Jubei.

Radishe uses Inflict Wounds to revive Isaac. The party pushes the two badger corpses to the front of the cave and dispatches the dire badger pups in the back of the cave.

After wandering the cave network they come across the way through the crumbling castle wall to the remains of the griffin stables, not noticing the giant hunting spider. They investigate the griffin bones in the sally port, hammering a piton into the ground to tie a rope to, allowing Isaac to safely traverse the slippery path. The noise attracts the attention of Vistola’s air elemental, which alerts Vistola and allows her to set up an ambush in the next corridor.

The party spend the next 30min pulling down the stone sarcophagi blocking the corridor.

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First Impressions
Eyes on the prize, adventurers

The adventurers leave the summit tower heading north. By the early afternoon they come across an imposing statue of Baron Harfell Vostok; their first indication that the castle Gryphon Rock is close. They inspect the statue and are able to recall basic info about the (very) late King Valdan and Baron Vostok: The Valdan Wilds are named for the former king, and Baron Vostok was a knight who was granted Gryphon Rock as a reward for his service protecting the kingdom from the barbarian hordes of the Valdan Wilds.

The party reaches Gryphon Rock in the mid afternoon, approaching along the southern road. Iskawan spots movement at the top of the castle which looks like fighting. As he watches, a die falls from atop the tower, hitting him square between the eyes; the party quickly assume that whoever is atop the tower is gambling and fighting.

The party circle around the castle, following the path to the pear orchard. They are attacked by a pair of hook ravens, which scare Jubei Miramoto off with their baleful glare before Iskawan casts sleep on them and they’re both killed.

The party follows the game trail to the base of the castle, where they discover the dire badger den.

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Into the Snowreach Mountains
Prisoners interrogated, tracks uncovered

Party inspects damage, Fionn introduces himself, says he doesn’t know much about the nature of the attackers; this is the first time they’ve attacked Tir Feldar itself.

Fionn introduces Brennaine the town constable.

They attempt to interrogate their hobgoblin prisoner: Radishe casts comprehend languages, but as he can’t speak it and the prisoner isn’t forthcoming, all they get is a name: King Urrevor.

Fionn advises the only people in town who might speak goblin are the scout Gerhard and the cleric of Ehlonna Grainne, but they are both out of town.

Party bunkers town in Kaui’s home for the night – Jubei recognises the shine in his home to the seven fortunes.

Prepare to set out the next morning, request Roderick and his men accompany the settlers as they head north with the party.

They soon reach the Red Gorge Bridge, where they find Gerhard the dwarven scout, who tells them about the ghostly riders he saw pass over the damaged bridge. He violently interrogates the hobgoblin prisoner, determining that they hold the castle to the north, that their leader is King Urrevor, who has made dark alliances to ensure his power. Gerhard then ties the hobgoblin to the top of a tree, breaking his jaw so he can’t call for help, and leaves him to die from exposure.

Isaac summons a skeleton to walk across the bridge to see if the damage is illusory – it isn’t. He theorises that undead mounts could conceivably levitate across the bridge, depending on how they were resurrected.

The settlers spend the day making repairs to the bridge while the party scouts ahead. Gerhard gives them advice on surviving the elements, and returns to the village.

The party find the kobold Miki hiding in the tree, and interrogate/befriend him. He tells Iskawan about the tower and the gryffon. They tie the kobold up and rest under the tree for the night. Radishe spots someone approaching in the night – it’s Grainne. Explains she has been tending to the spiritual needs of the peasants still eking out a living on their farms, and knows of the gryffon – Brightfeather – but hasn’t yet met it. Recommends caution and deference when interacting with him. Says she can’t accompany them, but will visit when the threat of the raiders is removed.

Party free Miki the next morning, making him promise to tell his people not to attack the settlers.

They press on, reaching the summit tower by nightfall. Brightfeather calls a warning from the tower top, Iskawan successfully convinces him they mean him no harm. Offers a gold coin as a token of good faith, which Brightfeather returns by warning them (by digging in the snow) about the caltrops, which the party misunderstand and step on the caltrops anyway. They use Radishe’s shield to sled across the snow to the tower, where they rest for the night.

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Introductions
Wherein we meet our heroes

Isaac, Iskawan and Radishe arrive by boat from Greenseas to the city of Gondrake, the seat of power (such as it is) of the fledgling country of Meriador. They meet with the chancellor of King Bronmark, who advises them that, despite the terribly depleted manpower (lost at sea from inclement weather and piracy), their original mission stands: escort a company of settlers north to Gryphon Rock, a castle now fallen into disrepair and darkness, to reclaim the area and drive back the wild creatures that inhabit the area. The King also advises the party that Jubei Miramoto, a member of his personal guard, will also be accompanying them.

The party meet Lieutenant Roderick the Green, commander of the six men-at-arms ordered by the king to escort the settlers, who is able to provide some limited information regarding the trip. The cleric finds a modest temple to St Cuthburt in the city and seeks out his own information about their destination.

They set out the next day, escorting the seventy-odd peasants and the men-at-arms on the journey northwards. The trip is largely uneventful, and the party are able to find out that the men-at-arms accompanying them are, for one reason or another, effectively in exile for various indiscretions. They also find out that their destination, Gryphon Rock and the wider Valdan Wilds region, are part of what was one a huge empire, brought to ruin by years of both external and internal strife. The former empire of King Rodan fell into darkness hundreds of years ago, but there remain many remnants of his rule – Gryphon Rock being among them. Also left behind are the ruins of the empire’s theocratic power – temples and gods long forgotten but not entirely gone.

After six days of travel the party comes to the outskirts of the town of Tir Feldar just on twilight. There they find the town under attack from ghostly riders. The party advances, Iskawan using an illusion of Jubei to keep the majority of the raiders occupied while Jubei himself flanked from inside the cottages. The other party members advanced, attacking the riders and eventually succeeding in driving them into retreat when their leader was gravely wounded. One raider was killed, another captured.

The raider – a hobgoblin – had his armour stripped, Iskawan determining that the armour was what gave the attackers their ghostly visage. Isaac discovered the hobgoblin’s mounts were undead, but was unable to effectively interrogate their prisoner due to communication barriers.

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