Ruins Beneath GCA1x, Part 2

The heroes found their way down the sinkhole to the floor of Arranoon, which dropped off into a swamp land filled with fungus and a tribe of Bullywugs. Eventually they found their way to the ruined pyramid, a massive complex, which they moved through and then emerged on the top of the pyramid to find a woman attended by three robed shapes and a shadow demon. She operated some kind of crystal and flesh device, turned and unleashed a blast of energy at the heroes….

and then the group fell apart as the GM learned he and his wife were expecting a child. Oh the heroes were frozen in time, for all time for the GM learned that there was no more time….

Ruins Beneath GCA1x , Part One
Attack of the Undead

The party, given Amulets of the Flame by the Sisters, prepare to defend the Seers’ Temple from an undead attack. They also tell the heroes that the undead are being controlled by necromancy from the floor of the sinkhole. They give Caen a device that will help the group locate the source of the energies. The heroes meet a halfling cleric, Peter the Little who decides to aid them in their quest.

Ghasts batter down the gates. A grease spell and alchemist fire cuts off their retreat, killing several of the undead. A fireball takes out the majority of the horde lurking beneath the walls. The Sisters “pulse” the Sacred Flame, causing a wave of holy energy to sweep the battlefield, killing several monsters.

Advancing towards the ramp and lift, the heroes are once again assailed by a group of zombies and ghouls. Worse still, five spectres attack. Peter turns them and they flee the area.

The party decides to drop over the edge and rappel down the side to the seventh level, bypassing a time-consuming trek around the sinkhole.

Unfortunately, they will land right outside of the cemetery….

Unrest in Arranoon, GCA 1
Problems, Problems, Problems, or The Plot Advances A Bunch

Several months have passed since The Winged Explorer’s return. The heroes have been awarded the Order of the Lion, a medal, by the Assembly for distinguished service to Arranoon. Since then, Arranoon has become a hot bed of problems.

The airships, five of them now, are regularly conducting trade with cities previously unreachable. Arranoon’s trade is booming. However, the Assembly is bogged down in arguments over trading rights and not dealing with other more pressing matters.

Immigration is high. The top two levels are more and more crowded. Many see the free city of Arranoon as an attractive place to reside. A colony of phanaton, (think part monkey, part racoon) have taken refuge here as their homes in the interior jungles to the west were destroyed. They have no sense of “out of bounds” and are becoming innocent pests to the population. More and more refugees arrive daily, fleeing catastrophe in their homelands.

More dwarves have streamed through Arranoon on their way to the subterranean keep. Thorgrim has been established and the chief of the keep, leader of the Deepthunder Clan. Several smaller clans are united, however uneasily, beneath him. The population is close to a hundred now and plans to expand the keep’s quarters and living areas are underway. They have cleared the rubble blocking the way to the surface and have discovered both a mine and living quarters for miners further in. Negotiations with Arranoon are underway. The three dwarven representatives of Arranoon speak for Clan Deepthunder in the Assembly.

A new cult is taking hold, the Followers and several high ranking society’s sons and daughters have joined, and because of this, Firree Carsh, a representative of House Ipshi asks the heroes to meet her to discuss the rise of the Followers and some of the Consuls’ relatives joining the cult. While discussing in a private glen of the Heart of the Gardens, a mob of different people storm in and begin smashing anything they can find, people, tables, artwork, anything.

The heroes, Caen, Thorgrim, Eldrathia, Eärendur, and the ever-drunken Draxis, endeavor to stop them. Three powerful members of the White Mages unleash terrible spells, cones of cold and fireballs. Military and guard members are also mixed in with peasants, as well as two shape-changing druids, who quickly shift into dire-bear form. The mob all share one quality: a terrible bruise color around their eyes that seems to spread through their bodies, spidery lines all over their flesh.

The heroes do not fare well. Eldrathia is knocked out, but Draxis manages to get her to safety and then attack his foes. Thorgrim is pinned down by the druids and almost goes to join his ancestors. Eärendur barely manages through the combat.

Eventually the mob begins to break up, literally. Some of the members convulse and then explode. The rest are dispatched. Something is terribly wrong in Arranoon.

Firee recovers consciousness and communicates with her aides. She tells the group that this is happening all over Arranoon, but that elves seem unaffected. The guards call the people the Frenetics; they cannot be put to sleep with magic, drug, or knocked into unconsciousness.

Eventually the heroes split into groups. The elves and Thorgrim go to the Tower of Magic, hoping to learn information. There they talk to an old friend, Ariathon Hanethorpton, the loquacious magus. Draxis spins a line to him, pouring drinks for him the entire time and manages to see that the first reports of this problem occurred on level three, the level containing the food stores. They also discover that what seems to be causing the Frenetics is most assuredly magical in nature.

Thorgrim leaves the group to go and check on his people in the deep. Along the way he passes the cemetery, a funeral is interrupted. Screams and people bolt from the grounds and guards try to bolt the gates. Thorgrim lends his strong arms and the gate is barred, but Thorgrim glimpses a horde of undead masses moving inside. He heads quickly to the dwarven keep. Along the way, a branching tunnel which had been caved in, but cleared, now is totally, utterly dark. When he arrives at the keep, he finds repairs have proceeded quickly and that his people have been productive.

Caen investigates the Seers of Tarana, fearing that they are the dark power behind the Frenetic problem. However, the Seers are sequestered. Caen begins to stir up the crowds gathered around the Seers’ compound.

The elves discover that the curse is ingested, and they track its source back to the food stores. They discover puck-shaped discs, carved with strange runes infected each silo of grain. The grain itself is transmitting the curse. They find out a woman, an elf, or posing as an elf is most likely behind the curse. Eärendur thinks the language is familiar, an odd cognate of one he knows. Sadly Draxis recognizes it: undercommon, the language of the Drow.

Caen is hailed by a halfling Sister of the Flame who takes him into the Temple of the Flame. He is granted an audience with the High Priestess of the Sisterhood who tells him of a returning evil to Arranoon, worse than the piddling drow curse that is affecting the city. She fears the return of the dragon highlords. She also senses the return of a necromancer in the lowest level, the remnants of the Arranoon that stood on this site before the gods made the sinkhole. She knows that the Sisterhood is a threat to the necromancer by telling Caen the location of his hideaway and that there may be a worse power behind his. He must go, rejoin his friends, and stand against this coming chaos.

The elves arrive at the Seers’ temple just as Caen steps out. They exchange information, discuss what to do as the Temple locks its outer gates. The heroes prepare themselves as the undead hordes begin their assault….

Launch the Airship! GCA 0x.2
First Flight! Fight! Sabotage!

Boarding The Winged Explorer, the party journeys out from Arranoon to the city of Ix in Osirion. On the way Eldrathia notices a fight off in the mountains: clans of Fire and Earth Elementals duking it out.

Further on, the heroes find a Golden Aiwah, the fabled Topica. Unfortunately, it is near the wall clouds of a massive storm. The ship turns into the storm. The annoying White Council mage, Ariathon Hanethorpton, eggs the captain on, desperate to fulfill his mission. The party conceives a daring plan: tie Wu to a rope, have him jump off and catch the bird in a net.

Wu jumps and amazingly catches the bird in mid flight. It struggles a bit in the net, and he quickly knocks it out.

The storm rips around the ship. Caen flies overboard but just manages to catch the rope. Eventually the storm passes, but the ship is far off course. Druing the storm, some of the heroes helped to stabilize the support rigging, which kept snapping in two. A few noticed that the rigging had been shorn halfway through. Could there be a saboteur on board?

Grug is determined to eat the Golden Topica. The White Council Mage, Ariathon Hanethorpton, is having none of it. Most of the party looks for ways to distract Grug, but to no avail. The Mage places wards, glyphs, and circles of protection around the bird as well as himself. Draxis, however, kept pouring the mage more and more to drink, hoping to relax him, or just make him stupid-drunk, no one knows for sure.

Discussing with Capt Gann in his quarters, the heroes decide to head in a northwesterly direction, hoping to find the coast. They do find land, but it is an island. Flying over the island: pteranodons! (or pterodactyls, you kind of don’t care about that when they are trying to eat you.) Two waves attacked the ship and crew. One composed of the larger males, then the swifter, more vicious females.

Eldrathia called lighting, dispatching of the first wave handly. The martial heroes swiped at the prehistoric monsters as they swooped in. Eärendur was grabbed by one, who then shot into the air, but was killed before he could take the helpless mage far.

During the battle Caen noticed that a crewmember was dropping something into the engines’ chimneys. He pretended not to notice, helping to load the catapults managed by Wu and Draxis. Grug cut a pterodactyl down, slicing off a flank of the beast. He later cooked and served it, mixed with his own blend of mushrooms… several of the party, well they weren’t just high because of the airship…

Wu and Caen staged a bit of theater to help smoke out the saboteur. Wu accused Caen of being the traitor and stabbed him, throwing him overboard. The knife, however, was one of the collapsible daggers from the theater in the dwarven halls, and Caen merely jumped over the side of the ship, landing on one of the wings. He was then able to follow the saboteur,Arrak, and “persuade” him to talk about who hired him, and what else he had done. “The engines,” he spluttered. “Bombs in the engines.”

Eärendur had noticed something odd and found Caen alive and “persuading” the crewman, and then he fetched the captain. Quickly they located the blast bombs, crystalline spheres containing a terrifyingly explosive spells. They were set to blow in just a few minutes; the heroes threw them overboard and deafening explosions rocked the ship, which was otherwise unharmed.

The Captain locked up Arrack the saboteur and had his feet cut off, a tradition in some naval circles for saboteurs. Caen asked him to keep the traitor alive so that they could learn more. All he found out was that some Arkanan noblewoman, a beautiful woman with raven hair and some kind of insect broach, had hired him to sabotage the ship. She promised him riches for his family and a full pardon for his wife who was serving time in prison unfairly.

The rest of the trip paled in excitement. They arrived at Ix, picked up the cargo, maps, and then sailed across the Inner Sea to Absalom, the city of wonders to pick up the dwarven settlers, a group of thirty dwarves. The Winged Explorer traded some more cargo, and set off towards home. They proved that an airship would provide a reliable trading vessel.

Upon returning to Arranoon, the heroes were treated well. The White Council was grateful for the return of a Topica. The dwarves were excited to have new settlers and news of the cleaning and repair of the halls was welcome by Thorgrim who was indeed given license by the dwarven Lord to form his own clan and given paperwork for his taking possession of the halls. He was also allowed to adopt the orphan dwarves whom he had rescued from the gnolls. The party was asked to report by the Assembly and the conclave of druids. Rewards were given out by a thankful community. Medals and titles were also awarded to each of the heroes.

The only thing that seemed to tarnish the joyous occasions were rumors of unrest in the working force of Arranoon….

Launch the Airship! GCA 0x.1
First Encounter, Tasks

A gnome inventor named Gnokam asks Wu to pick up a part for him from a shop in the Enthar Bazaar. While there, Wu is essentially mugged and the heroes follow the thief to a slum neighborhood nearby. They find the thief. Caen tortures and may have killed him. The thief did reveal that he was hired by one of The Ruling Houses, but he didn’t know which. Thorgrim and Eldrathia try to stop Caen, but to little avail. The thief’s guild shows up, armed, ready, and atop the buildings surrounding this area. A few blasts of a wand of fireballs causes problems for the heroes, who, having recovered the item, flee.

Gnokam greets the party, gleeful to have the last part, one similar to an astrolabe, and he shows the heroes his latest, and most top secret invention, an airship, the first of its kind in the known world. Called The Winged Explorer, the gnome eventually asks the party to help him by providing additional security on the ship’s maiden voyage. He fears some may be trying to sabotage the ship or, worse, steal his designs. He suspects one of the minor houses in Arranoon.

While awaiting the ship’s big reveal during the Festival of Shadow and Light, Thorgrim, Eldrathia, and the newly met wizard Eärendur Telrúnya, are each asked to complete an additional mission aside from the security on the voyage. Tornar, Thorgrim’s old friend, asks him to pick up a group of dwarves ready to begin settling the halls below Arranoon. A representative of the Assembly, Firree Carsh, unofficially asks Eldrathia to reopen trade routes or diplomatic relations with other cities. A disgruntled old mage, Ghallian Grainor, asks Eärendur to find a rare avian species, the The Golden Aiwah also called a Great Tipoca.

Gnokam’s launch achieved what he wanted, instant fame, glory, and awe. He arranges to have the government outfit the players and waits until the maiden voyage of The Winged Explorer occurs just a mere week later.

Reclamation of the Dwarven Halls, GCA 0, Part Three
Claimed! or Ooops!

Reuniting with Grug and Eldrathia on the lowest level of the holdfast, Thorgrim, Caen Rysmourne, and Wu, nursed back to health with the judicious application of healing berries, are joined in their quest to clean out the old dwarven halls by Draxis, an elven warrior who was taken prisoner by the gnoll clans. Though he refuses to say anything about his captivity, Draxis seems somewhat unharmed, though perhaps mentally scarred from his experiences.

The heroes set out, exploring the lowest level of the stronghold, looking thorugh crates, finding nicely aged dwarven wine, and also finding a few documents and plans as well. (Was that a mortgaged deed for Marvin Gardens in there?? Anyway—)

Exploring the upper levels of the keep, they found a massive theater/area, complete with stage and trap door. Underneath they found cages containing the remnants of fantastic creatures. They also noticed runes carved into the side of the stage, possibly a force shield to contain the stage. This level was lush, plush, and luxurious, gone were the main traces of gnolls, gone was the dust and cobwebs and mildew smell. Here was the level of lords, high clerics, and those in authority.

On the uppermost level of the keep, they discovered the religious temples. There were two halls of heroes, statues of military, magical, and divine warriors. Some displaying representations of weapons. Later they found the crypts of some heroes with words indicating that heroes could take the weapons to fight the oncoming storm, a time of returning evil.

Speaking of evil, the heroes blundered into the main temple and picked up two glowing blue gems, larger than dwarven skulls, set on anvils of the dwarven god before two statues depicting dwarves with swords (not axes or hammers), a traditional image of blood traitors. Suddenly they stopped glowing and the reflection pool in front of the watchful eye of the dwarven gods suddenly shot water up, showing a large reptilian eye popping open, it’s iris contracting and seeming to stare at the heroes who removed the gems. The image shifted to display a clutch of serpentine creatures with what appeared to be humans awakening next to them. The humans climbed on top of the creatures, and one man looked directly into the scrye pool’s image and seemed to project some kind of energy, which then disrupted the pool’s water, splashing all in the temple, and causing some kind of electrical damage. The two statues of the dwarven traitors also had disappeared. Um, oops.

Later, the heroes, exploring the last of the keep, found that a tunnel, apparently some entrance to the eastern side of the keep, had caved in. While examining the area, Eldrathia and Wu noticed some kind of movement, a piece of armored plating, moving apparently on the ground. Alerting their friends, the party turned to face a bulette, the legendary “land shark”—a fearsome predator who moves through the earth like a shark through water. The bulette burst into the chamber, knocking the party over, jumping in the air and wounding several of the heroes. However, through sound tactics, Caen’s efficient use of alchemical fire and some of the aged wine, Wu’s using several ki points, to damage the aberration, Grug’s barbarian fury and animal rage, and the others taking pop shots here and there, the beast was dispatched as it tried to burrow into the ground, retreating from a group of superior foes.

The party met up with Artan and the dwarven children and returned to Arranoon with little event, except noticing that where there was previously a rock slide, the way had been cleared.

Upon reaching Arranoon, the party met Thorgrim’s old commander, who informed him that the old clans had been called and soon there would be six hundred of their old clans coming to repopulate the dwarven keep.

Reclamation of the Dwarven Halls, GCA 0, Part 2
Exploration of the Holdfast

The heroes (suddenly without Grug or Eldrathia, but suddenly with Caen who was “magically transformed” from Kahtep-he was separately contracted to explore this fortress by the dwarf, yeah, that’s it-stinks when people can’t make it, ya know? but we all have lives…) find themselves breaking camp in the audience hall of the dwarven stronghold. Exploring further, they find a few rooms of statues and shrines desecrated by the gnolls. They also found a lush waiting room from which they could spy on the main audience hall as well as a few secret doors, one which led to the lowest level of the complex.

On this lowest level the heroes found the complex’s engineer’s main office and chambers. There Caen dodged a trapped cabinet in which he found a massive scroll case containing the engineer’s plans for the fortress as well as detailing the mechanism for raising and lowering the colossal bridge leading into the fortress across the lake. The group also found some well aged wine and beer, excellent dwarven stock.

Exploring further on the lowest level, the heroes found a bridge across the underground river. There a massive chuul, a horror mixing the worst of lobster, snake, and insect. Wu took a horrible hit, and the chuul curled him up into his tentacles, paralyzing and crushing him, nearly squeezing out his life. Caen used his vanisher cloak to gain an advantage on the monster (though some lousy attacks somewhat tempered this advantage). Thorgrim’s animal companion, Cat, sprang to the attack only to be almost killed by the aberration. Eventually through solid, diligent attacks, the heroes wore down and killed the chuul whose carcass fell into the river. They saved Wu, barely.

Thorgrim rushed to Cat’s aid, managing to stabilize the great feline. The party found a small nest of bones on a ledge near the bridge. In it they found some gold and trinkets and Thorgrim found a bag, which turned out to be a gray bag of tricks, a delight to the ranger.

The party decided to return to the engineer’s quarters and make camp. Caen improvised a kind of low tech early alarm—metal bands and debris from the storeroom in the hall and then tended to Wu as best he could. As they bunked down, and late into the night, Thorgrim studied the plans for the holdfast, dreaming of reclaiming this fortress and founding his own clan who would once again fill its halls.

Reclamation of the Dwarven Halls, GCA 0, Part 1
The story so far...

After wandering the world adventurings, the heroes receive word that Thorgrim’s old commander in the Overland Rangers of Arranoon has requested his help. The heroes book passage to Osirion and from there travel to the magnificent city of Arranoon.

Whilst traveling on the boat the heroes encounter Khatep, a strange cleric, who agrees to join their exploits, and they see a woman cloaked in white and her body guard.

Upon arrival at Arranoon, the heroes quickly descend into the city and find Thorgrim’s former ranger commander. After a brief update on the rebuilding of the clan, the old dwarf begins to give details on the discovery of what is apparently an old dwarven holdfast deep in the earth. A group of halfling adventurers, the Cave Divers, lead by a somewhat spastic explorer named Artan, journeyed deep into the caves that lie at the bottom of the Pit. There they found a lake with a submerged bridge leading to what appeared to be a holdfast—perhaps it is the lost home of Thorgrim’s clan.

While in Arranoon, the heroes again see a glimpse of the woman wrapped in white and her larger-than-average body guard.

And they’re off. The heroes descend to the lowest point of civilization in Arranoon and then venture into the caves, lead by Artan. Making camp the first night near a junction in the tunnels that was blocked off by a cave-in, the heroes on watch heard some kind of strange noise as darkness fell on the camp. All that could be determined was the presence of a cave cricket, but surely it didn’t make that scrpaing noise?

The next morning the heroes came upon the holdfast, most definitely dwarven in design. They found, however, that a band of gnolls had set up camp within. After defeating a guard encampment, the heroes encountered the tribe and its cheif. With a clever use of an entangle spell, Eldrathia managed to stick the scavengers to the spot as Grug climbed and cut through the support beams for their houses strung across the high dwarven halls. It collapsed and killed most of the tribe and a few of the slaves—Thorgrim had a problem with this…Grug not so much. Wu landed a few well-placed, awesome, monkish blows as well.

Thorgrim took down the adornments on the dwarven god Torag’s statue that corrupted it into a shrine for Lamashu, the goddess of monsters. Two large rubies were found the eye sockets of the mask. Grug took them.

They have yet to explore the rest of the holdfast.


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