Dragonlance 5e

Run to the Hills!

South. There was really no other option. The sounds of the horns of the dragonman army to the North were growing closer, as if they had wheeled around and were returning to Pax Tharkos. The group had to try to build a consensus and convince the factions of escaped prisoners to follow them – no simple task, but one they finally succeeded on.

Before the slow moving wagon train could depart, however, a final platoon of dragonmen ambushed the party during their final preparations and nearly ended the whole expedition then and there. Two of the bad guys escaped and are likely reporting back to the main army. The party needed to move, and quick. Sin and Fass (now cured of his blindness thanks to Kyriel transferring this disability to Telia, and Dunk Removing the curse from her the following day), scouted the road ahead and found a trail cut through the mountain to the East, and another slightly further along cutting to the West. Dunk and Kyriel were able to decipher the runes on the Western trail as those of hill dwarves, kin to Dunk, so the party headed that direction. It wasn’t easy to convince the leaders of the Council of Refugees (the leaders of the factions that had formed amoungst the former slaves), but with Zuul using some sly magic, and the rest of the party using all the charms at their disposal, they were able to keep things moving fairly smoothly.

A bit further south, the scouts spotted a large warband of goblins, which the party wisely decided to avoid in order to preserve as many of their refugees’ lives as possible. Dunk used his divine magic to find the best course to take and the party headed further West. With food running extremely low, and morale of the large group of followers sagging, they were successful in finding the clan of Hill Dwarves near the shores of a large lake. The Hill Dwarf leader gifted Dunk with some beautiful armor of his clan and generously provided information on a possible source of food to feed the refugees located a day to the West. Beyond that, the small clan could only provide their well wishes and good luck in locating the Mountain Clans to the south. The party is now set to head West to raid the large hive of honeybees in hopes of replenishing their supplies.

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The Angry Dragon
Who's your mommy?

Having found the prisoners they sought, the party now needed a plan to help them escape. During the extended deliberations, the choice was somewhat taken from them as guards entered the room full of women and began filing them out. No other information was provided, and apparently the makeshift disguises were good enough to allow the party members to pass as females. Telia hid under the cloak of invisibility. Fass, being the typical mischievous kender, couldn’t help but knockout the one guard in the room as he passed by with a flurry of blows. Luckily, due to the rest of the ongoings, the other guards failed to notice.

After being led out to the main courtyard north of the keep and surrounded by a large platoon of hobgoblins and dragonmen, the women saw the men across the way, and eventually the children emerged along with their ancient dragon-keeper, Flamestrike. The Highlord was also there supervising the activity, along with the menacing younger red dragon, Pyre to enforce any unruliness. Each of the adult groups was divided, the weak and infirm in one group and the able-bodied in another. Thirty or so hobgoblins and Flamestrike led the able-bodied and the children to a path through the woods, not mentioning where they were headed. After a short distance, a plume of smoke followed by a foul stench wafted up the path from the courtyard. The party knew they had left the rest of the slaves to a terrible death, but could now only focus on those nearby. Telia and Sin were able to pick off a couple of the guards unnoticed, but soon, they all found themselves in a clearing. Fass, dressed as a small child, approached Flamestrike to see if he could get some answers. One of the hobgoblins began to man-handle little Fass, and Kyriel took the opportunity to provoke Flamestrike’s maternal instincts by demanding that the guards “DON’T HURT THE CHILDREN!”

Flamestrike took the bait and bite the hobgoblin in two. The party took this as their signal and struck down the captors while the now-former slaves escaped into the woods. The heroes wanted to return and see if there were more survivors, and convinced Flamestrike to accompany them by hiding three of the kids under the cloak of invisibility and telling her they should go look for the three back at the fort. When the seniel motherdragon saw the charred bodies, she became enraged, charged through the fortress devouring scores of dragonmen along the way. The adventurers followed in her wake until finally catching up to her… but still too late. She had come upon the Highlord and Pyre in the throne room, and while she had apparently injured both. But between the two of them, they overpowered, with Pyre snapping her neck with his own vicious bite.

The party jumped right in anyway, and the short but heated battle ended with the Highlord’s soul pulled from his body and Sin slicing the head off of the mighty red dragon. Telia claimed the Highlord’s armor, finding it to be enchanted with some sort of enhancing magic. Fass, unfortunately, found the Highlord’s mace to be cursed and was struck blind upon grasping it. The party seems to have won a great victory, setting free the slaves they were tracking, and delivering a blow to the evil armies that are amassing. Now they must cure Fass and figure out where to go next. The war plans found among the Highlord’s things showed the army encircling the Elven forest… do they head north to assist? Or another direction to lay low? And what to do with the former slaves, if anything? Could Elistan be of any assistance, assuming they are able to find him?

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Prisoners Dilemna

- The party explored the cellars of the eastern tower of Pax Tharkas, freeing two adventurers held prisoner, found a dozen gully dwarf servants, over 100 women captured from the villages and Plains to the north, and Elistan – the former leader of the Seekers in the region.

- They learned that the women’s children are being guarded by an ancient dragon called Flamestrike who thinks they’re hers, and that the menfolk are enslaved in the mines to the south of the fortress

- In addition, they learned that dragonbreath snapped the massive chain that supported thousands of tons of rocks above the gatehouse, they fell, and sealed the gates closed, trapping the Dragonarmy north of the fortress but unsure if this is a good thing or a bad thing…

- The adventurers eliminated a number of guards on the ground floor, came face to face with Pyros – the Highlord’s personal dragon, and resurrected a burnt Sin with the Blue Crystal Staff, which disappeared into thin air after doing so

- Fass was found, alive and well, in a prison cell adjoined to the Highlord’s own chamgers – the kender claims he was knocked unconscious by dragonbreath, then magically healed and interrogated by the Highlord (“Kender tales!” someone says)

- Within the Highlord’s office and military maps showing Dragonarmy forces surrounding the elven kingdom of Qualinesti to the north

The group must now figure out how to regroup and regain their strength before carrying out their further plans (whatever those may be) to free the 100+ prisoners.

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"I FLIED! I FLIED!" said the Kobold. "No - You falled," said the dungeon floor.

The party moved deeper into the halls of Sla-mori. Discovering what appeared to be some demon-like beasts expertly carved into some sort of hinged door, they wracked their collective brains to figure out what the creatures could be. It finally struck Quetzal – Gargoyles! Before these figures could materialize into their living forms, the party struck and made quick work of them. Exploring further along, they heard a grinding stone-on-stone noise.. and as they completed what turned out to be a large looping cavern, they realized they had been trapped behind the previously-gargoyled door. Fortunately, they were able to discover the secret door out, which led them to a long hand-carved hallway (a noted departure from the natural caves they left) with doorways up and down its length for as far as their darkvision would allow them to see in either direction.

As they began to poke around, they quickly realized they were in a crypt filled with the bodies of the dead of all three major races of Krynn – humans, elves, and dwarves. In most places, this would be unheard of, but in this case, given the history of Pax Tharkas as a monument to peace between these three races, it made sense. However, either by design or due to some dark forces, a number of these dead turned to undead as the explorers did their exploring. The party was set upon by elven archers, human commanders, and dwarven fighters – in zombie form! The elves were still expert shots, knocking more than a few of the companions to the ground with their arrows. The dwarves charged and swung their hammers, and the humans attempted to direct the battle. Fortunately, Dunc was able to turn multiple undead to dust, and the rest of the zombies fell not long after.

They moved on – more tunnels, a dead end with a pit trap, and another with one more secret door. Through the secret door were more tunnels that led to a giant column anchoring what turned out to be an enormous chain that disappeared into the ceiling. As the strongest, Telia climbed up, but about 100 ft up, she came to where the chain disappeared into the ceiling and the hole was too small for her to fit. She climbed down, and it was suggested that one of the two smaller folk give it a go. Quetzal won (or lost?) the roshambo that followed and began his assent… he made it through the small gap and then some distance farther up. As he reached for the ledge to pull himself up off the chain, however, his hand strength finally gave out and he experienced what all kobolds yearn to feel – the experience of flying! Only he had no wings to assist him – he grasped at the chain as he fell, yelps and screams escaping his throat along the way. He nearly had a hold as he passed through the hole in the ceiling but his arm twisted oddly, and he couldn’t keep his grip… his body accelerated as he fell the last 100 feet. And before the rest of his companions realized what was happening, he was a pile of broken bones and flesh on the floor surrounded in a light green mist of blood.

Utterly undeterred by this tragedy, Fas volunteered the climb and seemed to meet with greater success, until shortly after, Dunc’s dwarven hearing picked up a quiet rumble followed by what sounded like an avalanche that everyone could hear far off in the distance. Then 300 feet of chain collapsed from the ceiling and coiled into the chamber; the opposite end twisted and melted much like the iron that the party found in the Plains. No sign of the kender.

After waiting some time, the remaining members of the party pressed on, discovering a secret door into the cellar of Pax Tarkas and a guardroom beyond. From the other side of the door, they overheard dragonmen berating someone for refusing “the Highlord’s calling”, and then some movement, as if figures were leaving the chamber. Bursting into the guardroom, Kyriel was able to put the two remaining dragonmen guards to sleep and the heroes dispatched them with ease and liberated an apparent prisoner … a strange humanoid with orange-tinted skin and wild hair. And according to the calculations of Telia and Dunc, they were now within the walls of Pax Tharkas itself.

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This place is dead anyway

With Sizath no longer a threat and the (possible?) source of the brain-pod things destroyed, the party returned to town hoping to pass along the good news to their Gith friends.

Everyone in the town was zombified and death dogs roamed the streets… the party cleaned up the living dead and moved on. They followed the trail of the platoon of dragonmen and death dogs south.

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The tunnel, the temple, and the subterranean lieutenant

Acting on a hunch, Telia touched the blue crystal Staff of Mishkal to Dunk. The staff flashed and Dunk’s mind was restored, but noticeably at the cost of some amount of the innate power within the staff. As for the rest of the town, the party decided to begin searching the tunnels beneath the Golden Grain Inn. They quickly encountered and dispatched three quogoths by having Quetzal cleverly disguise their own (or their master’s) pit trap, luring them in, and Zayander lighting them on fire. Searching the basement rooms more thoroughly turned up a small pile of steel pieces, an enchanted bandolin that Fas was curious about, and a longsword a little too eager for a fight now wielded by Telia.

Following the tunnels deeper, the party observed the telltale signs of your typical evil operation – torture room, coffin making workshop, and a group of thug dragonmnn patrols. They quickly killed all but one patrolling coppery skinned guards (who melted into pools of acid upon death). The survivor, Mizot, was charmed and informed them that Misha (the temple priestess) was the head of the unit, that two families had been made into pod people, along with the two town guards and the constable. Mizot also described two of Misha’s superiors – Sizath, who worked on his own agenda in his underground lair just outside of town, and Lord Verminaard who oversaw the entire dragonman army. Mizot then proceeded to escort the party into the temple via the secret passage and introduce them as allies to Misha. With some not-so-quick thinking (and maybe a little luck), the party was able to convince Misha that they had been sent by Lord Verminaard himself and that she was to take her platoon out of the town immediately.

Mizot was still acting friendly, so the troupe asked him to lead them to Sizath’s lab, which he kindly did, only to be repaid with a dagger (or two) in the back.

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The Men With the Golden Skin
Outta This World

After freeing the captives, the party was informed by the elves among them that there were strange happenings in a small village to the east. With a group of helpless humans in tow, the party set off to check it out, hoping to find a safe place to stash the refugees once they arrived.

Approaching with caution, and gathering some questionable info from a farmer on the outskirts, the adventurers made their way to one of the two inns in town – the Golden Grain inn and were treated warmly… well, everyone except the dwarven cleric they had rescued along with the humans who wandered into the Slumbering Serpant Inn and promptly passed out from one strong drink. They picked up some more clues, leading them to suspect the Mayor’s recent visitors were involved with the sudden changes around town – including the disappearance of some townsfolk. They collected the cleric and headed to the Mayor’s mansion. The Mayor was easily distracted which allowed the party easy access to his residence where the stealthy ones found a notebook referencing two old friends of the Mayor.

The brash cleric then busted through the front door only to trigger a powerful mindtrap that left him huddled in a quivering heap in the corner. The rest of the party chased two figures out the back of the house, still unsure who or what they were up against.

During the battle, the party was able to get a good look at their adversaries and they were unlike anyone or anything any of them had seen before. Tall, lanky, with long golden beards and unnatural golden skin. Mid-fight, these obviously powerful beings made a surprising proclamation- they were the old friends with the mayor, and they were here to help. Brief explanations followed and the new friends then went back to stake out the Golden Grain Inn.

The Inn emptied out without any obvious abnormalities. The bartender was a bit anxious to close up, but due to the parties earlier generosity, he allowed them to stay while her retired to his quarters. Throwing on his clock of invisibility, the kobold was able to easily follow the innkeeper to the secret passages under the bar where he discovered some giant beast known to be a tool of slavers. Quickly returning to inform the rest of the party, they all ambushed the formally friendly bartender. Once again, the party was shocked mid-fight as the innkeepers face split open and a sentient brain-like creature emerged, controlling the shell of the innkeepers body like a puppet. Seemingly searching for a new host, the brain-thing attacked the cleric who was having a bad day. The dwarf struggled against the creature’s mind-control, but ultimately lost, leaving him a drooling idiot (again), even after the rest of the party smashed the parasitic-brain into oblivion.

The golden-skinned gith had their suspicions confirmed by this turn of events. The party must now decide what to do next- both with their dumb-founded cleric and with the town as a whole.

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It's true. All of it - the dragons, the gods. All of it.
The day I ALMOST rode a dragon.

Emerging from the swamp, the motley band of adventurers appear to find the place they have been searching for – the Ruins of Xak Tsaroth. A cursory review of the layout told them all they need to know – the way forward was through the immense golden doors on the ancient temple, the only building still standing. Upon entering, they were greeted by a beautiful statue of a peaceful woman. An urge led Telia to place the blue crystal staff she had been carring in the woman’s arms. Upon doing so, the party was shocked when the statue came alive and spoke them, revealing herself as the long-forgotten goddess of healing, Mishkal! She tasked them with “returning the truth and power of the gods” to the people and “finding the Disks of Mishkal” which could were deep within this very temple.

With their divine quest now clear, the party delved deeper into the temple, led by the ever-curious kender. Fass darted from room to room, while the rest of the group did their best to keep pace. The highlights of the ground level were a crypt (which the party wisely left alone) and a round room with an huge pillar that appeared to have a space for a book of some kind carved into the top. With nothing more to see, the party headed down a twisting flight of stairs. Below, they found the temple to be in much worse shape, with huge sections of the floor caved in and pits of unknowable depths. Zayander and Fass had the chance to test how far one of these pits descended, but were (fortunately) stopped by a huge web of some sort. Zayander shifted to giant spider form and carried them back up.

The corridor split off a few different times, but Fass kept the party on its toes by continuing to race ahead, forcing them all to follow. He spotted an apparent inhabitant of the temple and began chasing her. The little person led them into a hole in the corner of a room, and down a tunnel/slide. Half of the party were able to break off and follow the new person, while Zayander and Varick missed the “turn” and ended up having to fight off another giant spider in the garbage dump.

The other three were able to befriend the little gully dwarf they had been following, who introduced herself as Two-toes (and her pet dead-lizard as Abuku). She, in turn, took them to meet the High Blup, the king of the Xak Tsoroth gully dwarfs. He was eager to impress his visitors and told them of the ‘big bosses’ they served and the huge lizard that resided in the bottom of the temple. Two-toes helped reunite the dispersed members of the party, and then led them to the “big Up-Down,” a mechanical bucket lift guarded by three bronze lizardmen. Having the element of surprise, the party was able to dispatch these bullies without much trouble. They all then descended to the bottom of the “Up-Down” and proceeded through the remnants of an old city. Zayander had the idea to disguise himself as one of the lizardmen and led the party as if they were his prisoners. This turned out to be effective when they came across a patrol of 5 lizardmen guards. The guards were impressed with their “colleagues” capture of the group and assured him that Kisinth would give a suitable honor and reward.

Eager to meet this “Kisinth” the party moved on… and quickly found what they were looking for: a chamber split by a small stream that ended in a waterfall that plunged into unknown depths. On the other side, was an unbelievable sight – a huge black dragon (if such things existed!!)!!! Kisinth greeted the still disguised Zayander and inquired about the group. The party members did their best to ‘honor’ the dragon in various ways, with Quetzal and Fass being somewhat distracted by the glint of gems and steel coming from the treasure room behind where the dragon stood. When Kisinth learned that the party had the Black Crystal Staff, she offered to take the bearer up to the tapastry of Mishkal to place it in her out-stretched hands and destroy her – an action Takhisis, the evil-dragon goddess of lore, would most certainly be pleased with. Zayander reluctantly climbed up the dragon’s tail, signaled to the other group members, and chucked the staff over the edge of the waterfall into the depths below.

The fight was on! The dragon’s acid breath nearly killed Telia outright, but Varick was able to bring her back from the brink of death. Zayander shifted into dire wolf form and wrestled with Kisinth from atop her back. Fass and Quetzal darted in and out, punching and kicking; stabbing and retreating. Finally, the great lizard was brought down with a thunderous thud! The party was not disappointed with what they discovered in the mounds of treasure – beyond more gems and platinum, they found a Cloak of Invisibility, a Ring of Darkness, the golden book of wizard spells they had originally sought, and the Platinum Disks of Mishkal! Ecstatic beyond belief, the group returned to the surface, stopping only once to let the gully dwarves know that the big bosses and lizard were all dead. Fass took the opportunity to proclaim himself their new king, donning the unique “crown.” The party was now ready to return home!

Emerging from the ruins of Xak Tsoroth, the party exited the swamp, passed over the mountains that had inhibited them before, and entered the vast grasslands. It was clear the armies had been on the march. Large swaths of trampled earth and plumes of smoke on the horizon were visible day and night. When the party reached Solace, it was a nearly unrecognizable mess. Thanks to their unique appearances, they were able to blend into the remaining occupied town without much trouble. They made their way to the Inn of the Last Hearth, which was now situated on the ground instead of in the treetops. The city was under full occupation, with few civilians remaining and patrols of hobgoblins and lizardmen walking freely down the streets.

The barkeep was able to provide a little information, telling the group that he was one of the last remaining inhabitants. The rest had been systematically taken away in chains, with caravans of people heading south towards the elven forests. Those not fit for whatever purposes the army had in mind were simply slaughtered.

Armed with their quest to spread the word of Mishkal, the party decided to pursue the caravans to the south. It took only a couple of days before they found what they were looking for – three cages full of humans and elves being escorted by lizardsmen, hobgoblins and a single gully dwarf. Bursting forth from the trees, the party ambushed the squad of slavers. Hopefully the newly rescued prisoners will be able to provide some insight into what has happened in the party’s absence. Or perhaps there will be some among the group willing to join the cause. Regardless, the party has taken their first steps in “returning the truth and power of the old gods”… actions unlikely to go unnoticed for long.

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Mountains, plains, forest, swamp

After the heroes dispatched the hobgoblin garrison at the foot of the Eastwall Mountains, they woke the next day to find the half-elf ranger missing. They began a trek over the rugged range, but the mountains proved too challenging for the party, and they were forced to turn back. They spent several days trekking south and around the Eastwall Mountains, then heading north on the other side of the range, through Dire Wood. There, they avoided a nest of giant spiders thanks to Zayander’s magic, and made their way through the forest, crossing into the swamp of Xak Tsaroth.

There, they discovered that the swamp was a network of earthen islands in the mire connected by tangled vines, fallen trees and obelisks, and rusted iron bridges. Crossing a fallen ironclaw tree, they were ambushed by three lizard-like humanoids with dull brown (bronze?) scales and a uniform, similar to the hobgoblins they fought in the foothills. The heroes were surprised that the creatures cast arcane spells, and exploded when they died! After dispatching these, the heroes attempted to cross an ancient rusted bridge. Embarrassingly, the most agile of the heroes got stuck putting their feet through the rusted latticework, while the Telia gracefully danced across. The heroes were met by five more lizard-men, these with gold-brown (brass?) scales, who used their wings to stay light-footed on the bridge. These ones turned to stone when they died, and as they were slain, the statues burst through the fragile lattice work, like slingstones through paper, dropping into the disease-ridden water below. There was a tense moment as Zayander, in giant spider form, sank his fangs into one, which became stuck in the statue as it fell through the bridge. Fortunately, the spider was strong enough to grip onto the bridge until the statue crumbled to dust.

Again, with the help of druidic magic, the heroes avoided an encampment of dozens of the lizard-soldiers, some of whom seemed to be worshipping(?) an enormous wicker effigy of what looked like a dragon, if such things existed. The party was alarmed to learn that Quetzal could naturally speak their language.

Crossing a fallen obelisk bridge, the heroes find themselves in the remnants of a ruined city; a large plaza surrounded by crumbling buildings, including a larger edifice that seems more intact than the others. In the center of the plaza is a large well, with vapor rising ominously from it. The plaza is absent the buzzing and croaking of the swamp, and is quiet … too quiet …

Each character gained 450 XP to put us on a total of 1,460 XP (I think).

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Journey from Solace

The unusual band meet up in the treetop town of Solace. After a brief questioning by some overweight hobgoblin and his goons, they shared a drink or two in the tavern. A few of the group began listening to the tales of a wizened old man near the hearth. Upon completion of his tale of Huma the Knight, the man made a request – journey to the east and find an ancient book made of gold and deliver a blue crystal staff to a statue in some ruins in the swamp.

It sounded like a grand adventure and the group heartily agreed. After a quick stop at the local merchant, they were off. A few days journey out of the city, they came across a distraught farmlady. Her son had gone missing in the nearby wood. Being expert trackers, the troop took to the woods, tracked down the hag and her toadish friend/fiend, ate her soup, was given a black crystal staff to take to the same statue, and then ended the hags miserable life. They also received a cryptic warning from the hag’s severed head about her master returning and putting an end to Mishakal, but the head was smashed before it could say more. They returned the kidnapped boy to his mother unharmed and continued on their way.

A few days into the plains, after being escorted through the lands of the Que-kiri, and while settling down for the night, the group was startled by a man running across the fields chased by three figures in dark robes and ghostly ceramic masks. Strangely, the figures turned to dust upon being killed, so little information was gleaned from them. The human told of his people being captured and enslaved by an army of sinister men and hobgoblins. They dragged his people off in chains to the south. The following morning, the group saw a large fire burning on the horizon. As they approached the once thriving trading post of Que-shue, they discovered the stomach-turning devastation – mass graves and burned, chained bodies in the town center.

The group had a decision to make – turn south and follow the army or continue on their quest to the east. Believing their small group could do little against an obviously powerful army, they decided to find the swamp and the ruins within. The plainsman needed to try to save his people, so they wished him the best as he headed south towards where his people were being led and the lands of the elves. The group traveled east towards the mountains. As they approached the pass, they noticed a make-shift barricade staffed by more reddish-brown hobgoblins. A hasty plan involving a fake prisoner was discussed which quickly fell apart, as plans are wont to do whenever a kender and/or kobold are involved, and the group quickly sacked the small garrison.

The way through the mountains is now ahead of them. They’d better keep moving – that army may come back to find their dead comrades and probably wouldn’t be pleased.

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