Visions of Darkness - Campaign Report

We got to about 8 sessions on this one campaign, which I’m sad to say has ended because of various life-things getting in the way. I’ve been harboring these notes from the first several sessions for some time, but thought I’d go ahead and share for those of you who like to read these things. It went a bit further than this, but I have to find my notes.

Disclaimer: It’s a hodge-podge of adapted adventures and adventure settings, hence all the proper nouns you’re likely to recognize. Some, I’ve mangled.


Melinir - Bustling metropolis on Lake Ganif

Redhall - Dwarf home in the northwest

Klein - Busy crossroads and port town on Lake Ostrel

Wygraf’s Tower - Wizard’s tower to the northeast at the border of the Burning Hills

Fort Foralas - Religious bastion to the west in the Foralas Hills

Grosset - Remote village in the northern grasslands

Silverwood - Elven lands hidden within the Gauntlin Forest

Campaign Notes:

Vorken the Wanderer
Grim the Ranger
Gildarts the Thief
Sheen the Warrior

We picked up where we left off from the first couple sessions, where four unwitting adventurers (french for murder hobos) delved into the dread crypt near the little woodsy village of Skogenby.

As Gildarts and his team were plunged into darkness at the throne of Haathor Vash, Vorken and Sheen arrived bearing light. Strangely, Gildarts’ former companions had vanished.

Jora, the missing girl from the village, brandished a leaf-bladed sword, eyes aglow, the voice of Haathor Vash booming from her throat. Vash’s demand was very simple: return the stolen treasure. The three companions blew past an awakened, skeletal honor guard which was under Vash’s command and wrestled Jora to the ground, where they tied her up. They would drag her out into the sun to vanquish the spirit. However, Vash still spoke through the girl, and threatened to bring the whole crypt down if the adventurers did not cooperate with her.

Vorken laid his hand on sheen’s shoulder for a moment, and found himself in a demanding mood. Vorken then offered a game of riddles to settle matters, and won handily. After the final volley, he rested on his cudgel, and gave the answer to the last riddle he offered: “women.” Sheen, obsessed with learning more about the place, decided to have a look at runes on the saddle of a taxidermied horse behind Vash’s throne. Gildarts begged Sheen to move on, but Sheen couldn’t help himself.

Quite clumsily, Sheen brought the whole horse down with the saddle, and a creeping, cold slime crept out, seeking refuge in his mouth. Vorken and Gildarts jumped to action, and peeling the ooze off they trapped it with a backpack. As the ooze died and turned to ash, it let out puffs of spores. Sheen couldn’t hold his breath as long as the others, and became angry that he was bested.

In the aftermath, the adventurers snagged a winged helmet off of Vash’s decayed head and picked a bit of gold and silver out of her throne. They untied Jora and led her out of the crypt, snagging a rather large tapestry depicting Vash and her army on their way.

Back in the village, Jora’s father Odin greeted her with open arms. He offered sanctuary to the adventurers, and the elder of the village offered a special ring of vigor as a reward. Of note, Gildarts challenged Odin to a wrestling match and won.

The adventurers then spent some time studying their finds, and learned that the leaf-bladed sword could never be lost by its wielder as long as they desired it. They also learned, from the tapestry, that Haathor Vash spent most of her life looking all over the lands for her disappeared lover’s hideout, but never found it. When she became old and grey, she finally gave up the search and interred herself to become an immortal lord. If she couldn’t find him in life, surely as a god in death she could find him. The master thief, Wylie, probably imprisoned himself behind his own traps some 500 years ago, and was never recovered. Perhaps his body was lost the black swamp to the south, where he was last seen wandering. Either way, it is well known that he stole more than Vash’s heart, and those treasures were never recovered.

They set out on the road from Skogenby. Unable to hire a cart or draft animals they went on foot. As night fell, they found a cave to sleep in, and with Gildarts on watch narrowly avoided a team of bandits stalking the night.

The next day they made the remaining leg to town. Vorken collected some blackberries from the plentiful bushes on the side of the road and a blank stone for etching from the river they’d been following. At the town of Melinir, Vorken got very attached to his cloak (level 2 benefit: Cloaked), and the adventurers had a successful town phase which included, of note, a Destiny of Heroes scroll, a new crossbow, a sling, and plenty of light and food for the coming journey.

Vorken’s mentor wrote him a letter, explaining that in order to find the abandoned hideout of Wylie (some 500 years old), he would need to plumb the depths of the moathouse ruins in the black swamp south of Lake Ganif. He also taught Vorken a new spell: Soothing Lyric. Vorken made immediate use of it, healing his companion Gildarts who’d taken a nick on the ankle in Melinir’s arena.

With their heads held high, they bought deck passes on a ship bound south, dropping them off on a beach on the southern shore of Lake Ganif. Ruddy woods let them out on a high hill overlooking the swamp, in which they clearly saw it. The moathouse. A heap of ruin and wreckage, surrounded by a reeking mire. They entered over a collapse in the western wall of the place, narrowly avoiding ox-sized giant frogs nearby. Night fell, and they lit torches to see by. Within the keep, to the south, they spied the ruined tower, which was also the lair of a giant, apparently nameless spider. Realizing they couldn’t speak with it, Grim nobly cast Destiny of Heroes. The spider fell from the top of the tower and landed on her back. Mightier than ever, the adventurers slew her without compromise.

Inside the keep, among bones and ruined webs, they found a small ivory box and some copper, and in the box they found some rune casting materials and a spell for Grim: Wizard’s Aegis.

They entered the feast hall to the northeast. Sacked and despoiled, the banners in tatters, their light did not fill the expanse of the room. They crossed the room directly from the way they entered and found the black chamber. The double doors shut tightly. Gildarts wisely listened at the door… and heard heavy breathing on the other side. The team bashed the door in before the bandit could get the lock turned and the latch in place. He shortly found his leg broken under the heavy door. Vorken quickly seized the injured man as a hostage, as the leader of the bandits, an unknown woman, lunged toward him with her sword, happy to run them both through. In a moment, a deal was struck. 1D in copper for the Bandits’ cooperation. The Bandit in the corner of the room, Brin, lowered his crossbow.

As a sign of good faith, Vorken offered to heal the injured bandit, but as he spoke his phrase something of great gravity occurred. A black dragon, Raith, destroyed the eastern wall, moving it away as if it were butter, and nicked the head off the bandit leader’s shoulders. Disappointed to find only copper, Raith dug at the rubble, sniffing for some other treasure. Shortly, the adventurers negotiated with the ancient thing, fed him a snack (the injured bandit), and found themselves Raith’s servants in short order, with only a tithe on any gold found to be surrendered to the dragon as long as they wished to remain in the area. They learned from Raith of a pool below with lore of runes somewhere to be found in that chamber, and they were also pleased to find themselves a new companion, Brin. Funnily enough, they gave him fair terms: “You can go with us, or you can go with Raith. You choose.” By the time they turned around, the dragon that had appeared with the lightning was gone. Only the sound of rain and the wind blowing in the exposed wall remained.

The whole encounter instilled them with fear. They now decide if they should plumb the depths of the moathouse, and with word of bugbear, troll, and ogre below, they have much to look forward to. In the wake of their confrontation with Raith, the adventurers made a friend of Brin. They discovered an ivory box in the rubble, stocked with a rune pouch, a dwarven crossbow with incendiary bolts, two spools of fine yarn. They secured the room and made camp. The chill from the wind blowing in through the exposed wall made it difficult to recover from their conditions.

In the end, they decided to take their haul back to town, hopefully to produce some gold to bring back as an offering to Raith. Before leaving, they made a map of all locations they’d visited thus far. This map is now their pride and joy.

On the way into Melinir, Boggle the Constable, Vorken’s rival, rode in. He taunted Vorken a bit, and dear old Vorken almost tricked him into heading into the moathouse. In the end Boggle mentioned that he was looking for a spyglass. Grim must have checked his back pockets for lint or something, and found a copy of The Five Stages of Illumination, which he’d acquired in the dread crypt some nights before. It sold in town to an infamous “crab” merchant for a pretty penny and then some. They spent their hard earned gold on a few basics. Vorken took some time with a mysterious dwarf who told him more about the moathouse and its surrounds, explaining that a rune caster from Redhall made his way there in ancient times. Vorken inquired about boots, but as far as boots went the old dwarf had no idea.

While Vorken and Grim took a break for some good quality pipe weed, Gildarts had a… secret adventure of his own. He’s been sworn to secrecy, but all we can here and forever say of that night is “Fidelio”.

Now on their way out of town 47 bodies hung from the gallows just outside the walls, guarded by King’s troops. Boggle noticed the nice white boots on one of the hangers and took them before Vorken had the chance to. Boggle, being a constable, wasn’t stopped by the guards. However Vorken, low of stature, was shooed away by a trooper. They returned to the black chamber within the keep and found the secret panel in the fireplace. One they had to move to the left to open. They made their way down the bare spiral staircase and found the next iron panel, door-sized, shut tight. This one they had to move to the right to open.

They found the bezel for the elevator there. To the east was a chamber with a beastial stink. South was an unfinished hall. They chose south. They went down the winding tunnel checking ahead with the help of a mirror. All was dead silent. Vorken whistled. The laugh of Hyenas returned. They continued into the chamber with open southern and western exits, and a closed iron door to the southwest. They placed a spike in the ground 6 inches from the door and opened it, peeking in. Inside was what appeared to be more unfinished tunnel. They removed the spike and opened the door fully, finding that the tunnel was no more than a dead end.

And the door. In the dead quiet, the creaking of that door was a note heard throughout the entire place I’m sure. The laughing of Hyenas spilled out of the western passage as seven gnolls made their appearance, yellow eyes glaring.

In the ensuing Trick Conflict, the adventurers managed to lure the Gnolls upstairs without compromise. Handy work for two actions… Gildarts was the one that made the big push for the staircase. Bravo Gildarts. Once again in the black chamber, the adventurers befriended the Gnoll leader. They all agreed the bugbears below—sworn enemies of the gnoll leader “Big Toe”—would make a good meal for Raith.

Sheen arrived hung over from some crazy church event. Don’t ask. He described it and took a pass for Theologian, opening the skill.

So Vorken took one good look at the fireplace and shortly thereafter began his toil all night to remove it and the wall there, opening up the threshold to a much larger size. The intent to lure the enemies of Big Toe up above for Raith to handle. In short order they were downstairs examining the elevator, which they repaired. Vorken searched for food but found only beetles, which crawled into his breeches and gave him a good few bites.

They flipped the elevator switch. As the platform descended they heard the big man up above grunt and grab the chain, stopping the elevator dead where it was, just leaving about a two foot gap between the floor of the elevator and the ceiling. Grim wrote the big man a note and placed it on the elevator. “Do you want to kill us? Yes or No?” They sent the elevator up. It took the big man the better part of an hour to get to the word “want,” upon which he fell asleep. Some time later he awoke and puzzled out the rest of the message. He sent the letter back down, covered in drool, a large finger hole poked through the word “Yes.”

Big Toe expressed his fear of the man up there, and suggested they clear out the bugbears to the east first and foremost. And they did just that. One Destiny of Heroes spell, two dead gnolls, and a no-compromise Kill conflict later the bugbears lay about their own lair in bloody, crippled heaps. Big Toe and his team made this chamber their new home, showing no compassion whatsoever for their fallen packmates, likely well accustomed to such savagery. Their stomachs started grumbling in short order.

Where will our adventurers go next?

Ah yes, here are some other notes. There was one more session after this, which ended with them siding with the great usurper, The Black Knight. But without those notes, the end here is more than likely, The End.

We picked up with our adventurers in the bugbear chamber, which was now the home of the gnolls. The gnolls fell fast asleep, dreaming their gnoll dreams.

In short order Vorken lead the walk back up and out, but was surprised to find a giant snake blocking their way. The snake seemed rather threatening, but placid for all intents and purposes, probably seeking a place to shed.

Gildarts threw a rock at it, and it reared up and lunged at him. They opted to flee (back to the gnolls!), and Gildarts suffered a bite to the ankle. The poison proved ineffective, but the gnolls sniffed his fear. It took some convincing that the snake was their new meal, not Gildarts, and they had snake steaks in the end.

Back in town, they restocked on a few things. Vorken leveled up and took the Beastmaster benefit, while Gildarts leveled and opted for the thief’s Concealed Pocket. Sheen fought off a troll in the arena. Grim stayed awake for several nights studying spells and learned Eldritch Darts and Wizard’s Aegis, leaving him exhausted. As they left town, Sheen discovered that no one recognized him, even though he’d slain that big troll! It made him angry (failed lifestyle test leaving town).

They got back to the moathouse and called Raith, but it was midday. Raith only lurks at night. They waited until evening. Raith appeared, terrifying. Grim stepped up to cast Wisdom of the Sages and failed. His spell worked, but he got too close to the dragon and was injured by the acidic liquid dripping from Raith’s mouth.

Vorken gave Raith an offering of gold, which Raith gladly took. In return, he asked if he could lay his hands on the dragon to feel his true power. Raith warned him to cover his hands, and he did so with his trusty cloak, and set to conducting the rite of empathy as smoke billowed from his mouth and his eyes rolled back into his head. He came away from the ritual with the taste of gold on his tongue, having gained the Hoarding nature descriptor from Raith. Yes, here’s something dwarves and dragons have in common. Vorken understood well.

They learned the truth about Raith, that his winged brother was hunting him. Raith’s activity in the black swamp and its former mines had earned him a sizable hoard of his own. One that his brother now covets. Raith knew he would either have to go into hiding or die in the coming days. He shed a tear and a tooth. The tooth Vorken picked up and strung around his neck, emanating with power.

Sheen lept up with a battle cry, honoring the dragon. Raith responded with a cry of his own, shaking the foundations of the moathouse, and slinked back into the night.

They made camp for a moment, and Vorken attempted to use his rune magic, Soothing Lyric, to heal the elf. The fates did not align for him. Grim wrapped his burns in Gildart’s cloak, soaked with water, as he fanned himself with some cooling dinsweed they’d picked. Some hours later the pain of the burns subsided.

Back in town of Melinir, Grim studied up on the metropolis and learned that the very peace of the city held a great demon at bay. Catapults and soldiers lining the battlements led them to believe that a red dragon had finally taken flight in the rift, and they would be ready to bring it down.

Not trusting the might of the city, Vorken offered that he could call up the Black Knight’s army of the living dead to aid the city of Melinir. A local guard told him it would be a bad idea, armies need provisions, and they’re undead for crying out loud! “If they are undead, they do not need to eat,” replied Vorken.

Besides, Vorken has other business with the Black Knight. His rival Boggle holds a certain pair of white boots, and was said to have headed that way.

“Hey, you goin my way?” They caught passage on a rickety old boat with six elven mages, one of whom, Elendil, seemed to be the leader. They sought “The Monolith” in the south, which was rumored to be near the Black Knight’s keep. As if the boat’s state of disrepair wasn’t bad enough, the crew was totally incompetent. They got lost in a sorcerous fog on their way. It took all of Gildart’s skill with sailing to save them from the fog, only to find themselves among rapids and rocks on the great river to the east. Sheen took up a paddle while Grim shouted the cadence, Gildarts gave orders from the helm, and Vorken directed the crew to move from one side of the boat to the other to shift the weight.

They came up on a sandy shore and abandoned the boat. Elendil seemed to be on a reckless mission, with no other care in the world. He pointed out over the grasslands before them, a great red dragon seen flying in the skies far, far to the south west, and their journey to the monolith before them.

What level did you get to?

Vorken hit level 4 at the end of the last session, just after they solved the mystery at the keep of the Black Knight, turning it into a town location. Gildarts and Grim were level 3, and Sheen level 2, all told.