What a Tangled Web...

Session 3: A Ranger's View

It’s been 8 days since we set out from Neverwinter. For me, our contract with Gundren was yet another contract for me to fulfill. In retrospect, this contract may be the shortest yet; the longest being my two-year stint deep in the Neverwinter Wood hunting goblin-kind. I almost would prefer that job to this, because the machinations of my foes were easier to predict. Gundren’s job has been different, and if I’m not careful, it may be my last.

The last 24 hours have been a grave challenge. Funny I should consider it such, being that the stench of death and decay surround me as I stand on a pile of bones, with my companions by me.  How could Carrick, Sir Edward and Balth the Bear be battling this pile of animated bones and not succumb to the miasma of death around us? It is almost too much for me, and I feel my life leaving me every second that I stand on these bones. A glance behind me, and I see undead have risen and are attacking Zoronium and Synn. I fear the end is near. My potion of healing in my belt pocket might be enough to sustain me; I must use it and battle one. My friends need me.

To my left is Carrack, the Paladin of Kelemvor, who may be saying a prayer for me before too long. I’m not big on offering praise to others, but yesterday he was leading us through the halls of these mines. He was up front and personal with an ooze, and he stayed his course as we defeated thing. For our trouble the ooze was nice enough to leave us a gift – a magic ring that is resistant to acid. It was also engraved with a symbol of the Earth Cult. These symbols have been popping up, and I don’t think it’s a good sign.

After the ooze, we explored more of the mine, at one point we were using my fishing gear to test the water current. I was not sure of the purpose, but those smarter than I thought it was the right course. I kept thinking, we weren’t going to find Gundren underwater, and it turned out we didn’t.

In our next stroke of luck, if you want to call it that, we circled back around to the Forge of Spells. Synn and Voronium wanted to find out more, but the forge had other ideas. We entered the room and were greeted by a magic skull engulfed in flame that demanded that we “Speak the Phrase.” Spooked by this demand, Edward and Carrack did not want to stick around to find out what happened to anyone who didn’t know the phrase. Balth decided to answer by toughening his skin using his druidic magic and then transforming into a bear. What transpired next helped us come together as a group.

The flaming skull hurled a ball of fire that burst around us, then it darted through the air and into the large statue in the middle of the room, what I found out later to be of the dwarf god Dutheon. The statue came to life, with stone grinding on stone and debris and dust falling to the ground. This thing was immense and stood nearly three times the size of an average man. Bear Balth roared and charged the statue, looking like he was trying to push it into the river. The statue didn’t move. At one point, Synn figured out that we needed to attack the furnace within the statue, through the openings where we could see the flame. I told him it was a brilliant idea and encouraged him to blast the fucking thing. The cold spells from Synn and Voronium proved effective, causing cracks and small fissures that the rest of us exploited. Synn’s wild magic continued to produce strange effects, with Balth and I caught in the weavings. I laughed with I saw Balth start to levitate off the ground, but it wasn’t too funny when I found myself several feet off the ground. I quickly found my balance, marked the statue, then I fired on it with no effect.  We simply were not equipped for all of us to be effective against the construct. However, the tide of battle turned when Synn’s magic created a magic portal that summoned a unicorn. Our luck was with us, and we were able to fell the statue.

I could use some of that luck now.

My life wouldn’t be waning away if it wasn’t for what happened after the Spell Forge. We encountered a curious battle where Fire Cultists battled a crazed cultist dressed in yellow. The last standing person dressed in yellow threw a potion on the ground that exploded and caused the ground below us to collapse.  We all fell about 50 feet, landing in the middle of a large cavern, that even more strangely, was recently traversed by humans. The tracks disappeared into a stone wall, by some trick of magic that allowed them to pass through stone. We found a pile of bones that we avoided, because something about that sight told us something was not truly dead. Shortly after that we had some luck, as we found a tunnel that led outside of the mines. We were on the other side of the mountain range. We camped and discussed our next course – a return to the mine. I thought of Bandit, hoping that my steed and gear were both intact. The night air during this autumnal season was refreshing, one of the last good thoughts that I’ll likely have.

With resolve we made it back into the mine, with stupidity we made our way back to the pile of bones. I suppose it had to be done. We were right about the bones, because they gathered together into a vaguely humanoid shape and began to lash out at us. I ran up to attack the thing, but I was met with an aura of death and decay that began to drain my life force.

There I was, wilting away like a dying flower.

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Session 3 - Deeper and Deeper
As told by Sir Edward Stormbreak

When we last left our heroes…The adventures had made their way into the mine outside of Phandalin, and during their exploration had rescued a group of Kobolds, a silver Dragonborn, Sidlar, the business partner of Gundren Rockseeker, and found a new traveling companion and party member, Voronium Uemerim or simply “V”.  During their exploration of the mine they dispatched some Bugbears, troubled themselves with a few ill-shaped acid vials, discovered the fabled Forge of Spells and finally took a rest to gather themselves before setting off to find Gundren and rescue the slaves in the mine…

      When the party awoke the party decided to make their way to a strange wet spot that Sir Edward’s familiar Bubo found during an exploration the night prior.  Upon returning the way the came into the mine, the party found themselves face to face with the wet spot and observed a strong acidic odor coming from it.  Initially prodding the spot with a heavy ball, or at least after a few attempts, the spot began to move towards them, encroaching dangerously into Carrack’s space.  Through a few well-placed magical attacks and a final firery blast from Synn, the party was able to dispatch the ooze and upon inspection found a small ring with the following sigil engraved on the band.

(Evil Earth Cult)

      Venturing further into the mine, the party realized that this portion of the mine was set up as a maze, possibly to keep out looters, but the final purpose still unknown.  Shortly thereafter, the party found themselves coming out of a tunnel and into a room with a large pool of water that ran off through a underground passage and a stairwell off to one side of the room.  After examining the room, the party decided to investigate the end point of the water by means of attaching V’s ferret to Thadeus’ fishing line, but found no real answers.

      Moving up the stairs the party found themselves in another living area with 3 human corpses and after exploring the room, made their way through the other door and into the Forge of Spells.  Entering the forge, they were confronted by a flying flaming skull that demanded they ‘Speak the Phrase’.  Not knowing the phrase, Sir Edward and Carrack were suddenly struck with unimaginable fear, leaving Balth by himself in the room.  Being asked for the phrase again, Balth responded by casting barkskin and turning into a huge bear.  In response, the flaming skull cast a huge fireball towards the entrance where the party was, then took possession of the large forge case in the form of the Dwarven God Dutheon.  As the fight continued, Synn found himself feeling the pull of his wild magic increasing and causing both Balth and Thadeus to gain the power of flight.  Things began to look bleak for the party when suddenly a strange reaction to Synn’s casting caused a Unicorn to appear and join the party in their fight and helping the party destroy the forge and flaming skull.

      Following the flow of water from the Forge of Spells, the party heard the sounds of battle ahead, and discovered a group of Fire Cultists and another group of cultists dressed in yellow.  After seeing how the battle would fair, the party decided to help the group in yellow as they had not encountered them before, but much to their dismay, the cultist in yellow had gone completely insane and threw down a potion that caused the floor to explode causing the party to drop 50 feet to a chamber below.  Upon investigating the bodies, a leather scroll case was discovered and much to the dismay of the party, Synn opened the cause, blowing himself up just a little more.

      Moving through one of the tunnels connected to the room with Thadeus following tracks on the floor which inexplicably disappeared into the wall.  While listening through the hidden doorway, the party heard a number of cultists chanting together, then suddenly dropping as if dead.  Creeping through the doorway the party saw an island of corpses that suddenly seemed to coalesce into one huge humanoid form.  Moving back through the hidden doorway the party found a small offshoot that miraculously led out of the mines and back into the forest but to their surprise found themselves on the opposite of the mountain from where they entered the mine.

      After a nights rest the party re-entered the mine and using the now identified Evil Earth Elemental ring to open the other hidden doorway and found a dead human wearing cultists robes who had been stabbed in the back and was carrying a signet ring of the Harpers in a pouch.  Continuing on, the party discovered the remnants of a mining operation with dozens of footprints of multiple sizes showing where most had quickly fled the area, but one group of footprints went back the way they came, leading them back to the island of bones.

      As the party reentered the room with the island of bones, they were able to get the drop on the giant mass of undead bodies and so the battle began……

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Session 2 - Into the Mines
As told by Sir Edward Stormbreak

When we last left our heroes…The party had made their way to Phandalin and after speaking to members of the community found themselves at the Red Brand’s secret hideout.  After discovering the hideout vacant, the party ventured south toward the mine and encountered a group of Dragon Cultists in the ruins which they made short work of.  While searching the initial area, the party was confronted by Venomfang, the green dragon, who was impressed with the aid the party had shown the Kobolds in rescuing the chiefs whelp.  After finding a place to rest, Pip their merry minstrel, informed them of urgent business he had to take care of, but assured the party he would return soon.  Thadeus set out back to town to retrieve his mount, and the rest of the party made camp for the night.  During the night watch a raven appeared and spoke with Pip’s voice, confirming for the party that the mine was being used in a slaving operation, and told them that Dragon Cultists were in the area attempting to bring a black dragon to their aid.

      On another search of the ruins the party encountered a strange symbol which they were not able to identify writing on the wall of one of the ruins in charcoal.

      Having searched the rest of the ruins, Thadeus discovered human, Warg and Dire Wolf tracks in the area around the camp.  Using his ranger abilities, he was able to track the movement of the Red Brands as well as the Dragon Cultists, all of which were headed to the mine.  In tracking the humanoids, in the area, Thadeus discovered a large mass of creatures underground around the mine, and so the party set out.

      Approaching the mine, the party set a defensive perimeter to see if there were any nearby patrols.  Seeing no activity, Thadeus snuck forward and discovered a collection of a dozen corpses by the entrance of the mine.  Orc, Goblin, Humans (Red Brands and one robed human with the symbol from the ruins on his robes) were all dead, appearing to have fought each other, though strangely the robed individual appeared to have been killed by a rapier, not by an Orc or Goblin weapon, leading the party to believe they were not working with the Red Brands.

      Making their way through the mine, the party encountered a minor water trap.  Moving ahead stealthily, Synn and Thadeus found the two goblins who had triggered the trap, and quickly dispatched them with a combination of an arrow from Thadeus and Synn causing the Goblin to vomit itself to death before their eyes.  Continuing, the party came across a large room, to vast to see across from the entrance.  This room was made of mostly water, with a small path along the right wall, and a single trail crossing it roughly 30 feet from the entrance.  Making their way across the rocks to the path, the party was suddenly attacked by a large frog, 15 feet across.  Taking stock of the situation, Balth quickly befriended the frog, ending the fight without bloodshed.

      Crossing the water, the party encountered a makeshift cell of stalactites and stalagmites with slaves inside.  Most of the slaves were Kobolds, but there was a silver Dragonborn named Kaidrycrass, or “Cliff” to his friends, and a Moon elf named Voronium Uemerim or simply “V”.  After speaking with V, “Cliff”, and the Kobolds, none of them had any pertinent information about the mines other than seeing large groups of Dragon Cultists, Orcs, Goblins, Humans, and “Smelly Humans”, as they have all be held captive for an unknow length of time.  The Kobolds did say that it seemed that the different groups were fighting amongst themselves for ownership of the Kobolds.  During the talks, “Cliff” appeared to be hiding his background from the party, but they were unable to discover his secret.  The party then released the Kobolds back towards the entrance and had them return to their clan in the nearby area.  V made a discovery in the form of a gem imbedded in the back of the large frogs’ head with a different symbol that was associated with a cult that worshiped an Evil Water Force:

And in looking at the previous symbol was able to identify it as a symbol for another cult that worships an Evil Fire Force.  The more disturbing conclusion was that these two groups should not exist, and especially not working together.

      From there the party took a passageway near the “cell” and followed it until they heard Goblin voices coming from the darkness.  Thadeus attempted to distract them with a glowing pebble then rushed in, but much to the party’s surprise, the Goblins all ran from the room and around a corner.  The group was able to parlay with the Goblins, who in true Goblin nature were lying through their broken teeth, but were able to find out that the Dwarves found the Goblin area by mistake while mining and that many more Goblins were living at the Castle.

      Returning to the bridge where the party encountered the first two goblins, they climbed up and crossed one side where they found the bodies of many Goblins and Orcs, and a single Bugbear.  Moving forward they found a well-constructed cell, and inside was Sildar, the friend and business partner of Gundren Rockseeker.  Sildar informed the party that he was in Waterdeep with Gundren when Gundren received a letter of some concern, the contents Sildar did not know, and the two set out for the mines, but during the trip they were set upon and captured.  The party moved back to the main entrance to the mine and had Sildar and “Cliff” return to Phandalin for their safety.

      Making their way across the other side of the bridge, the party came to a point where one path had been barricaded ahead of them.  While inspecting the mess of furniture, suddenly a door to the side opened and a mace came swinging towards Sir Edward nearby!  After many attempts using acid and sheer brute force, the party was able to deal with the half dozen Bugbear that came from the room and found the barracks area they were using.  Realizing they were going to need more time in the mines, the party took a rest in the barracks to prepare for the rest of their search.

      The next morning, after preparing for the day, V was able to use his weasel familiar to squeeze underneath the barricade and found himself large room with no apparent exits.  In the center of the room was an enormous forge crafted in the shape of Dutheon, a Dwarven God.  By the forge lay 5 Human bodies, and nothing else seemed to live in the room, except for a small dash of fire that the weasel caught from the corner of its eye.  The party had found something amazing in that room, The Forge of Spells had been rediscovered.  As to the location of Gundren Rockseeker or the reason for the barricade, the party is uncertain and set off to find the answers to these and many more questions ahead…

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The Ballad of Session One?
Composed by Pip

From the walls of Neverwinter
Six stalwart adventurers did ride.
Upon a great big wagon,
Loaded with supplies to guide.

Headed to Phandelver:
A mining town of old!
Gundren was their employer,
He promised bags of gold!

Through the fog and mist they stumbled,
Two kobolds they did find,
Who begged for aid and assistance,
The adventurers were not so kind.

Off to Phandalin they went,
Slaying goblins and ogres in the night!
Pip the minstrel weaved enchantments,
And the warriors did fight!

Through a goblin captive
The six did come to know,
Of a great goblin castle
To the south far below!

Arriving at their destination,
The good band did cheer!
They delivered the goods as promised,
But found things very queer.

Missing folk and madmen!
Brands of red as well!
The strangeness of this village,
Surely there was more to tell?

A young halfling lad,
Approached the group and said:
Free us from the Redbrands!
And gave us buttons of red.

So the party set off on foot
to seek the vagabonds' flat.
The place, it t'was empty,
Save for a giant rat.

So the search did continue,
Through the forest – no result,
But stumbling through a ruin,
They came across a cult!

Cult of the dragon, they were
With a tiny captive lad,
A kobold prince, all bound up,
Everyone grew quite mad!

Slashing of swords! Slinging of spells!
The cult had been defeated!
The prince was saved! The six, heroes!
Only one foe, he retreated.

A great dragon did appear,
His scales all glowing emerald
Quite fearsome, he was indeed
And many heroes trembled

A service you have done me!
His booming voice did rant.
A treasure from his hoard,
Was the reward he did grant.

That evening, they sat at peace:
our heroes did not speak,
For they knew, come the morn'
The redbrands they must seek.

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Session 1 - The Road Ahead
As told by Sir Edward Stormbreak

After finding their ways to Neverwinter, our intrepid band of adventures found themselves befriending a Dwarven merchant, Gundren Rockseeker, who was able to provide them all with work, and coin, for a time.  One day Gundren called the adventures into his office as he was packing stating that he had to head South that very night, but wanted the adventures to load up a wagon and bring it down to Phandalin in the morning for a sum of 10gp each.

Meeting up the next morning they adventures were given a sealed scroll from Gundren stating that there was trouble in his mine in Phandalin and he needed help getting to the bottom of it, offering the following payment for help: 100 gold to find his workers, 300 gold to re-take his mines, 100 gold to find who is at the bottom of it, and return their head

Setting south, the party found a small encamplment of farmers whom they shared a meal with before resting and setting off again in the morning and found out about a group called the Red Brands who were ex-enforcers who had partially taken over the town after declaring martial law.  During travel the next day, the party was slowed as they encountered heavy fog, reducing their visibility greatly. 

As Thadeus scouted ahead he found on the path two dead draft horses with longbow arrows in them which were being carved up by two Kobolds.  Upon making their approach, Pip spoke to the Kobolds in draconic while performing a rousing Kobold folk tune and provided druid craft performance enhancement from Balth.  During the conversation with the Kobolds, it was revealed they live nearby and are being harassed by an unknown beast in the woods, and that they also know the location of the Green Dragon that lives in the woods.  Upon seeing Balth, the Kobolds thinking him sent from the Gods, began to get more excited, and implored the party to come with them and face the trials to defeat the beast in the woods.  The party declined for the time being, wanting to drop off the wagon before doing anything else.  During a search of the horses, a ring bearing the Rockseeker family crest was found, and the party believed it belonged to Gundren.

Traveling on, the party set up camp for the night, but were roused by the sounds of a large creature moving near camp.  Upon following the creature, it seemed to disappear into thin air with no trace.  Making their way back to camp, the party found Ogre and a group of Goblins in their campsite, but dispatched them with ruthless efficiency.  Questioning one of the surviving Goblins revealed the location of a castle nearby where the Goblins operate from.  Following the encounter, the party decided to continue on through the night to Phandalin, and upon arriving made their way to the Rockseeker Company office.  They woke Elmar Barthan and completed their delivery and informed him of the ring they had found.  Elmar stated he hadn’t seen Gundrin in over a month but there were troubles in the mines, and there was a survivior named Karl from the most recent incident at the temple in town.

The next morning the party split to investigate the town.  Pip spoke to Karl who was in shock, but spoke of a creature with one giant eye in the mines.  Balth spoke to the woodcutters around town, one of whom got into an argument with the Red Brands and now was afraid they were coming for him.  He also informed Balth that his wife had gone missing in town since the argument.  Sir Edward spoke to Town Master Harbin Wester who told him about the strange goings on at the mine and not to trust the Rockseeker Company.  While this was going on, Synn, with the help of Carrick went to investigate the Rockseeker Company and after posing as inspectors, gained entrance to Elmar’s office where they discovered a secret panel which uncovered a signet ring with a spider and a letter from the Goblins wanting to know where they last shipment of slaves was.

After reconvening at the tavern, the party was approached by a young Halfling who wanted them to get rid of the Red Brands and could show them where they stayed.  The party followed the Halfling but found the hideout deserted, though it looked as though the Red Brand wizard was crafting potions of invisibility.  Leaving the hideout, the party followed footprints that led to the ruins North of Phandalin where they found a group of Dragon Cultists who had captured a Kobold child and were going to use him as a bargaining chip during their meeting with Venom Fang, the Green Dragon that lives in the woods.  A battle ensued and the Dragon Cultists were defeated with one being spared, Morvar, who informed the party where they were planning on meeting Venom Fang.  Before the party could formulate the next step of their plan, Venom Fang arrived and requested their presence in the clearing South of the ruins.

Upon meeting with Venom Fang, he thanked the party for their assistance in rescuing the Kobold child who was the son of the chief of the tribe that served the Dragon.  Once he heard of the treachery of the Cultists, Venom Fang killed Morvar and then offered the party a reward for their trouble.

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And here... we... go...
Meeting at Gundren's Warehouse

Meeting back at the warehouse once supplied and ready for your journey, you're greeted by an exceptionally dour-faced worker, who sighs heavily, and then addresses you.

Boys, we- you- gots a problem I'm afraid to say. Word came that goblins has been a nightmare round the parts yer headin'. To make matters worse, the bandits ain't let up neither. In the wee hours o' the night a rider came and it seems somethin got to his family's mine as well. I'm fer thinkin' connected. Gundren and Sildar left out in a hurry and are hoping to see what's what before nothings left, I spose. Which brings me to some business…Gundren's left this ledger for you with information. Anyways, keep yours eyes open on the road and have a safe journey! 

Breaking the wax seal, you indeed find an offer for additional work. It states that his family mines have been invaded and he's told has many missing workers. He doesn't know if that means dead, eaten, blown up, run away, or what…but he wants you to see his mine right again. 

100 gold to find his workers
300 gold to re-take his mines
100 gold to find who is at the bottom of it, and return their head

 

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Just a routine job to guard a caravan...

Sometimes, you’re not sure how you end up in a place. Sometimes, it just happens that life carries you to a destination. Or perhaps that’s just life’s way of leading you to the beginning of a new adventure.

However you view it, life has brought you to Neverwinter, the Jewel of the North, a grand city on the Sword Coast of Faerûn.  It was there you came to know the dwarven merchant, Gundren Rockseeker. He was a fine fellow and through his connections managed to provide you work (and coin) from time to time. Perhaps not enough to live the lavish life, tis true, but enough to live comfortably. It was no big surprise when he contacted you again.

Meeting in his office, Gundren speaks to you as he stuffs his pack, preparing to travel:

I’m in a we bit ‘o hurry, an’ I’ll be headed south with me pal Sildar this evenin’. Come the morrow, load up the wagon with all the supplies in me warehouse and head south. Deliver everything to Barthen’s Provisions in Phandalin and ye’ll receive 10 gold apiece for yer troubles. I’ve already made arrangements with Elmar – he runs the shop and is expectin’ ye.

Do this fer me, and I’ll have more work afterward. Tis an easy enough job, jus’ mind the bandits on the road and ye’ll be fine. What do ye say?

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