The Bloody Path to Apotheosis

Can you dig the duergar?

Duergar abduction by ben wootten Delving past the orcs and ogres, the next building found turned out to be for the processing of ore. Duergar had taken over this building and activated it once more. The intrepid explorers found a functioning mine, ore processing, and smithy.

The Duergar proved challenging foes, using their various machines to impede the adventurers and place them into harm’s way. After a series of bitter, bloody melees, the party managed to slay the last of the Duergar.

DM’s Notes: I shortened this level of the dungeon, having learned my lesson from the level of orcs. This one had fewer fights and more interesting combat environments. Most of which seemed to really make players gunshy about going near anything. Except the bullywug who seemed to thrive on interacting with unusual environments.

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AAACK! Zombies!

Zombies r From a journal in a jail cell, the party learned of a wizard’s stash that might still be out in the hill above the Ruins of Cormill. After a clever bit of tracking with a very old description of the path, the adventurers found an old stone structure with a central pedestal.

Upon approaching the centre, an orb in the centre of the pedestal began to glow, and all around the party, the living dead began to rise and attack. They soon learned that the orb could be used to rejuvenate them in battle, although it was necessary, as wave after wave of the undead clawed their way to the surface, before at last a large corpse, looking like many large creature sewn together, rose forth and attacked. It was a narrow win, but the party did manage to defeat the monster, and upon doing so, the orb disappeared, revealing the wizard’s trove.

DM’s Notes: In 4th edition, there’s a great little property of zombies where a critical hit automatically kills them. I thought this was great. Too bad I don’t recall the players rolling a single one.

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Heritage
The time had come for Tess to prove herself.

Irondragon After a day out adventuring with her friends, Tess returned home to find out that Loh has a guess. Heavy greaves sit by the door and a steel breastplate sit over a sturdy chair. From the next room, she could hear voices making their way over:

Loh: “You don’t know who or where then?”

Stranger: “This is just a stopover. I ride for Hlammach within the hour. If I can’t find the source or the target, I will try to protect as many people as I can.”

Loh: “Like old times.”

Stranger: “Like old times.”

Loh: “I will go with you.”

Stranger: “I was hoping you would say that, Loh. It’s been too long since I’ve fought by your side.”

Loh: “Tess will see to your squire when he arrives.” He voice raises, “You hear that, girl? When you are done easedropping you are to saddle my horse and prepare the guest room for Davrin Squire.”

So sure enough, after a hard night of riding, Davrin’s squire arrived, who turned out to be Cassie. She came seeking Davrin, with news that a sect of The Cult of the Dragon had plans to attack a church or temple in the area, and was close to Stonewynne.

Unfortunately, Davrin and Loh left many hours before, riding hard for Hlammach and it was unlikely the party could overtake them in time. But Cassie knew where the danger lay, and the party took it upon themselves to end the threat.

The Cult of the Dragon was held up in Yitsall, an abandoned iron mine. Entering, they found the cultists fought savagely, and alongside a iron wyrmling. They defeated it, however, along with the cultist leader. Deeper, however, they found the true threat: Thraesk. A young, but fat, iron dragon which fought the party viciously before at last a succession of blows brought him down.

After, it took a few days before Loh and Davrin returned from Hlammach. They arrived in the middle of the night, and Tess woke up to their arrival. Making her way to the den, she found the two adventurers looking worn down and weary from the ride.

“Well,” Loh starts as she saw Tess. “Word has is that you have been living up to your name while I wasn’t around.” Her look was a familiar one of disapproval, but there sems a glint of respect in her eyes. “It would seem I cannot seem to protect you from your foolhearty lust for danger. You leave me with me no choice then….” She takes a deep sigh. “Pack your things. You will leave with Davrin when he is ready to set out again. He is a paladin of Oghma and has survived decades of standing before the evils of the land. If you are to take up the sword, you may as well do so under the guidance of the very best.”

It is another day before Tess set out. Loh does her best to mask it, but it is clear she will miss her. When at last her packs are ready, Davrin is rested, and a horse is readied for her, Loh went to see Tess off. She gave her a last embrace and made her promise to visit when she can. “Take case of yourself, girl. Life on the road will change me, but as long as you stay strong and listen to the lessons it has to tell, you will be better for it.” She smiled weakly as Tess saddled up.

Soon Stonewynn disappears down the road behind her. Davrin began to tell Tess of how word reached Loh and him in Hlammach. “It was said that heroes slew a dragon in the hills north of Stonewynn. I knew at once it was you. Loh did as well, but part of her took some convincing to believe it.”

“This kind of life is a hard one, but it is in your blood and in your bones. It is you heritage, you one. Tess, slayer of Thraesk, champion against the darkness of the land. The people will always remember what you have done for them.”

DM’s Notes: This adventure put the party in conflict with the Cult of the Dragon much earlier than I’d intended, because one of the players was leaving. This was actually a good thing. Sometimes us DMs need a kick to drop one or two of the cards we’ve been holding to our chest. This allowed the party to dig into the main plot a bit. I tend to be reluctant about this because I know I don’t want them to take that path to the end already, but I don’t want to roadblock them too much either. It’s a delicate balance.

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Jailhouse Orcs

4e dn d orcs by ralph horsley Pushing past the goblins, our heroes found the remains of the Cormill Jail. It was now a home to orcs and ogres, as well as a few other dangerous dungeon dwellers, like a Gelatinous Cube and a Xorn.

Also found down in the depths was a old journal entry in a cell which hinted a mage’s stash which may have survived the landslide all those years ago.

A few battles gave the party a pause but they ended up successfully slaying the orcs chief in the end and moving deeper into the Ruins of Cormill.

DM’s Notes: By the end of this dungeon I realized I was making these buildings too big. The levels were dragging too much. It was turning into too much of a slog to get through it.

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The Unlucky Elf

Spear elf Back in Stonewynne, at the Blackened Keg Tavern was a solitary Wood Elf looking very upset. Upon inquiry, he told the adventurers that his name was Nalhean, and that, during his travels he had done some gambling with a local merchant named Garand, and lost his lifemate, Iledell.

The adventurers promised to look into this matter, and Nalhean joined them as they negotiated with the merchants where they were camped, just outside the town wall. As they did so, the party rogue, Tess, snuck through the wagons and smuggled out Iledell.

Iledell and Nalhean were reunited back at the Blackened Keg and, after Nalhean swore never to gamble again, they continued with their journey.

DM’s Notes: I like side adventures. Done well, they’re quick, offer only a few small challenges, and can involve some little challenge aside from regular dungeon hackery. Something you can hit them with once, and allow it to have its effect, then move on from it before it gets old.

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A Flophouse of Goblins

Goblins

The adventure began by delving into what was left of the Flophouse, now occupied by goblins. The creatures proved little challenge for the adventurers for the most part, although a few other creatures, including an Ankheg and a pair of ochre jellies. They also received some help in their travels from a human sorceress name Cassie. But our heroes did prevail and eventually slew the hobgoblin chieftain, and found the path deeper into the ruins.

DM’s Notes: The whole concept of the Ruins of Cormill was a dungeon where each area was the remains of a building in a city now long buried. I figured this would allow each to have its own feel and separation. Thus the party could tap this place as a source of their exploration and get a different experience with each level they delved into.

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From the Beginning

Our story begins in the small, quiet town of Stonewynne. Located in Impiltur on the trade way between Hlammach and Lyrabar, it is a small town that serves mostly as a stopover for merchants and travelers. For adventurers there is the attraction of The Ruins of Cormill, located about an hour’s walk from Stonewynne.

Cormill was a wealthy city long ago, home to mining, trade, and a seedy element attracted to the wealth of the city. An earthquake tore the city apart more than a hundred years ago, and a large portion of the foothill above the city was brought down, burying the citizens, and their accumulated wealth.

Since then, many expeditions have been sent into what is left of the ruins to dredge up the remains. Portions of the city have taken up new residents in the form of monsters or evil humanoids. They have been cleared out and resettled many times, but there is still said to be treasures worth the risk.

And so, that brings together our group of adventurers. With dreams of glory and wealth, the intrepid party begins their path to greatness.

DM Notes: This is the first full game I’ve run in 4th edition, and probably the last. I’m not attached to the system overall, for a variety of reasons. But for this game I attempted to embrace the forcus on adventurers and their usual deeds. The focus changed later on when time became an issue.

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