Roving Around Athas

Prelude to the Storm
The Adventure Begins

Our story began in a caravan. Lorek the Stubborn hired our party to escort him and his House M’ke caravan of spices and other assorted trade goods from Balic to Tyr.

On the way, the party encountered a group of half-starved elf raiders led by a certain Mildred the Red. The party refused to give the elves any provisions, provoking the elves to attack. Naturally, the party was easily able to fend off a group of half-starved elves.

The party arrived at Altaruk, the halfway point of the caravan route, without further incident. Snapgnaw was asked by Birk Suntouched to retrieve a mysterious amber orb from Xalos the Stonecutter. Birk insisted, however, on having Snapgnaw delivery the orb to Altaruk instead of delivering it to the Dray High Elder, Davalcon Ebonsnarl in Balic. Groot thwarted an attack by hill giants by encouraging them to take up a sort of guardianship to the city in exchange for provisions. Payment for driving off the hill giants was given to the party by the city’s guard captain, Avery Hawknose, and the party also agreed to return within a month or so to check up on the town.

The rest of the journey to Tyr was remarkably without incident. The House M’ke caravan kept good time under the watchful (and only) eye of Lorek. On arriving in Tyr, the party conducted some initial business before being ambushed by thugs allegedly hired by Lorek to retake his payment. The party curious, decided to pay a visit to the House M’ke compound a visit.

Inside the compound was a scene of carnage and death. The PCs pieced together clues that indicated a powerful defiler that ransacked the place and murdered the people inside. The party also uncovered tubs of sarin analogue in one of the storage rooms fresh off the caravan they had recently escourted into Tyr. It was clear something was terribly amiss.

As the party was wrapping up their investigation, the building became surrounded by Tyrian Templars and city officials. Obviously set up, the party opted to escape through a hidden door in the compound that led to a portion of the undercity of Tyr. The party managed to navigate through the caves to the outskirts of the city without incident.

Time elapsed on Athas this session: Two weeks and a day
Total time elapsed on Athas: Two weeks and a day

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The Flight from Tyr

Prior the leaving for Altaruk, the PCs managed to clandestinely retrieve Shin from the city of Tyr, who had not been inside the House M’ke compound while Templars swarmed the place.

The party, at the urging of Snapgnaw, decided to journey to the city of Altaruk to see if the town and the nearby tribe of hill giants were actually able to cooperate or if instead Altaruk was lying in a pile of rubble and was destroyed by said hill giants. On the way, the PCs were attacked by an id fiend. Though the party was ill-prepared for a desert excursion, by sticking to the major caravan routes the party managed to not die of heat exhaustion or otherwise run out of provisions. I was more surprised than anyone.

Much to the party’s surprise, Altaruk remain standing when they returned. The hill giants were providing protection for the city and its trade routes from bandits for supplies and provisions. Seeking an audience with the local lord, Arisphistaneles, Melhavoc noticed that something was amiss since she had last visited him only a few weeks prior when the party was last in Altaruk.

Noticing a scene in the market square before reaching the local keep, the party stumbled across a djinn and a mob. Al’Akbar, a djinn who has taken residence in city, was being accosted by a drunk and mob for selling faulty goods. The PCs were able to convince the mob to leave, and Al’Akbar was impressed that the situation was handled with cunning and deceit.

Arriving at the local keep, it turns out most the court had been infiltrated by doppelgangers, including one posing as Arisphistaneles. The party did not hand over the mysterious amber orb to the doppelgangers, and instead carved a path of blood and vengeance through Arisphistaneles’s audience chamber. The real Arisphistaneles, being stored in his bed chambers, had been petrified some time ago. The party, seeking to reverse this very inconvenient state of affairs, sought out the blood of a stone giant to help reverse the petrification.

The PCs were able to get an audience with the stone giant Virning Sael, leader of the local tribe of hill giants that was protecting the village of Altaruk. He sized up the PCs, and tasked them with ridding his people of an unusual presence his hill giants uncovered while digging in the cavern complex they lived in. If a solution could be found, he agreed to give the PCs a portion of his blood to help restore Arisphistaneles.

The “unusual presence” was unusual indeed. A group of clockwork automatons, calling themselves “Designators” wanted to purge the hill giants from the local cavern complex. They proposed either extermination, “evolution,” or evacuation for the hill giants. “Evolution” consisted of applying a serum to the hill giants that would change their physiology in minor ways, but make them significantly more intelligent. The party, never give anyone a distinct advantage, decided it would just be best to convince the giants to relocate to another cave nearby and closer to Altaruk.

While beginning the mass evacuation of the hill giants to another cave closer to Altaruk, the party was stopped by a woman named Yerra the Tenacious. A member of the Cult of the Dragon, Yerra was ordered to kill the party for reasons she did not care to divulge. Faced with an army of 50 or so hill giants, Yerra’s mercenary’s immediately surrendered. Yerra, after being interrogated by the PCs, revealed that she was a member of a Cult of the Dragon, and that she was sent to take the orb from the PCs. Davolcon Ebonsnarl, Valthrun the Backword, and one other person who she never met personally hired her to slay the PCs and retrieve the orb. Snapgnaw, enraged that his former mentor would betray him so, killed Yerra in a fit of cold rage.

Once the giants were situated, Virning Sael lived up to his end of the bargain and provided the PCs with a large vial of stone giant blood. The party returned to Altaruk and restored Arispistaneles to health.

Time elapsed on Athas this sesson: Two weeks and two days
Overall time elapsed: Four weeks and three days

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The Top of the World -- The Ringing Mountains
Part One

The party’s next course of action after relocating the hill giants of Altaruk was to begin the journey to Thro-Guk-Luk, a halfling village deep in the heart of the Forest Ridge. The now unpetrified Arisphistaneles and his guard captain Avery Hawknose asked the party to find their trusted agent Birk Suntouched, who had apparently left on a made journey to scale the Ringing Mountains in an attempt to “not have the world end.” The journey for the PCs was long, and involved logistical nightmare of a caravan. The PCs did manage to prevail, and this is what happened along the way:

- The party, skirting the city of Tyr, reached the small village of Kled. The entire settlement had been hastily abandoned with minimal sign of struggle. The party did not fully investigate the reasons for the disappearance of the villagers; however, they surmised a natural disaster touched the town likely aided by defiling magic.

- The party arrived at the town of Freedom. Freedom, a bastion of civilization for escaped and freed slaves, freethinkers, brigands, smugglers, and other do-no-gooders, was an ideal stop for people looking to scale the Ringing Mountains. In addition to the party setting up a future circuit of events upon their return to Freedom, the local strongman Brander Faust was made aware of the party’s presence and had them appear before him. The audience occurred without incident, and Brander was able to size up the party relatively easily.

- The party began the ascent of the mountain. While scaling the mountain, during a snowstorm they took shelter in an ancient monastery and were attacked by gith. In addition, the PCs released an awful plague upon the world by the name of the demon Bane. Bane, a demon lord, is arguably under tight contractual constraints on the world of Athas. He spared the life of the party, but also hindered their ability to capture the defiler that was responsible for the party being on the run from the city of Tyr.

Time Elapsed this Session: Four weeks and five days.
Total Time on Athas: Nine weeks and a day.

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The Top of the World -- The Forest Ridge
Part Two

After the events in the abandoned monastery, the PCs took another week to finish scaling the Ringing Moutains and reach the Forest Ridge. This was relatively remarkable, and I was pretty impressed they all didn’t starve or freeze to death.

The party encountered Yuan-ti after wandering through the Forest Ridge aimlessly for a few days. This GM nearly had a TPK, however, the party managed to survive the said Yuan-ti assault and assist the Swiftfooted Tribe, a group of halflings, in removing the snakes from a nearby temple. Unfortunately, the party’s minotaur companion, Groot Half-kin, was petrified by a basilisk pet the Yuan-ti had acquired.

The party, along with a petrified Groot, were lead conveniently lead back to Thro-Guk-Luk. Chief Oto thanked the party. He granted any takers some tribal tattoos. Appealing to Shalhai, their god-plant, he asked the party to cleanse the Sanctum of the Firelord, a nearby volcanic vent that was occupied by some rather evil creature.

Traveling to the temple and figuring out the puzzle of the area, the party found a certain C’Thulhe’eme at the heart of the Sanctum. This illithid lich had a story about the Five Orbs of Amplification. Apparently crafted long ago, these orbs amplify the surrounding magical properties of the planes they are on. On Athas, they appear to amplify defiling magic. C’Thulhe’eme was made aware of a cult, the Children of the Dragon, who appear to be seeking these orbs and attempting to summon a being of immense evil back into the world. Wishing to stop this, C’Thulhe’eme devised a method to destroy the orbs using a source of elemental power (such as a volcanic vent).

The party convinced C’Thule to relocate from the Sanctum to a nearby cave nearby in the wilderness of the Forest Ridge. The party them managed to convince Oto and his tribe, after great relucatance, not to harass C’Thule.

At this juncture, the one of the reasons the party ascended the Ringing Mountains, to find Birk Suntouched, was also fulfilled. He had somehow managed to wander back to the halfling village, albeit with an extremely deteriorated mental condition. He was barely able to form coherent sentences, although he was able to communicate that he found a hideout of some Children of Dragon Cultists.

The party managed to purge a cult cell and confirm the existence of a larger cult complex in the Giant’s Ribs Mountains. A powerful defiler, same defiler they encountered in the monastery, escaped through a portal with one of the orbs in Hand, just eluding the party.

Time Elapsed this Session: Two weeks and five days.
Total Time on Athas: Eleven weeks and six days.

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Returning Home and Leaving Again

After the party purged the cult cell, they left the Forest Ridge, descended the Ringing Mountains, and went back through the village of Freedom. There they held a quick gladiatorial match against veteran gladiators and won.

The party continued on to Altaruk, and ran into Mildred the Red. She once again asked for aid, but was driven off by the party.

The journey to Altaruk, besides the encounter with Mildred the Red, was again uneventful. I am as shocked as anyone.

Upon returning to Altaruk:
Party members, after falling asleep, were lured into a dream-trap by the dead sorcerer king of Tyr, Kalak. Kalak offered the party power in exchange for not destroying all the orbs. If one of the orbs was used to revive Kalak, he would reward them greatly.

After the party woke from their dream-trap, Virning Sael summoned the party to his new home outside Altaruk. Ogres had been attacking his hill giants, and he was hoping the party could the place these brutes were coming from. Virning Sael has promised to have his hill giants build the PCs a keep at a well somewhere outside Altaruk.

The party entered the lair of the ogres. Inside they encountered ogres dedicated to a being, possibly a god, called Pelor. The apparent temple complex contained a portal to the world of Sathir that the ogres were guarding; as it turns out certain hill giants were simply just getting too close to the complex.

The party decided, after consulting a Hand of Fate, to enter the portal to Sathir to retrieve one of the remaining orbs of amplification. The PCs had the entrance to the Temple of Pelor collapsed behind them so as to prevent anyone from following the party.

Time passed this session to return to Altaruk and travel through to Sathir: Six weeks, two days.
Time on Athas: Eighteen weeks and one day.

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The World of Sathir

After collapsing the Temple of Pelor behind them, they party entered the portal to the world of Sathir. They fell into an unnamed lake and swam ashore, being roughly a days march from the Blackwood. Within walking distance was a quarry and outpost. The party thought it would be best to gather information at said outpost.

The quarry had a guard outpost with about half a dozen elves on duty during the day. The elves did not speak common, and insisted to Melhavoc and Shalhai that having slaves walk about was a generally bad idea. This essentially provoked the party into attacking and wiping out the guard contingent at the quarry outpost.

Entering the outpost proper, the party happened upon the administrative quarters of a Faenor Arfalas. Faenor was an absentminded overseer primarily concerned with the business and revenues of the quarry. Groot tortured Faenor to the point of death, but not before Faenor volunteered that the vase in his office was a Decanter of Endless Water.

The non-elven slaves noticed the skirmish and sudden lack of overseers. This resulted in a general slave revolt led by a man named Ronault Godsberry. He thanked the PCs, but at balked at Snapgnaw’s suggestion to “work under his authority," which sounded a lot like wage slavery to the newly freed slave. The rest of the party quickly hushed Snapgnaw and disregarded the suggestion, instead having the fifty-odd slaves head to the nearby foothills for shelter and security.

This session ended with the PCs entering the Blackwood. The first night of camp they learned of the invasion of the plane by packs of small demons running throughout the forest.

Time passed this session: One day.
Total Time Elapsed: Eighteen weeks and two days.

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Beaching Kelethin

Briefly:

After breaking camp, the remaining PCs discovered that Groot and Shalhai disappeared in the middle of the night while the party was sleeping (or, in the case of Shin, slightly spacing out). No trace of them, or their equipment, was found.

Trying to navigate through the Blackwood proved to be rather difficult. Cvrem and Snapgnaw determined there were certain patterns of powerful enchantment cast on the entire forest. They correctly deduced there would need to be some sort of waystone that they would need to find the city of Kelethin proper. This is when the party met Valthrun the Backward, shape-shifted into an elf.

The PCs saw through the ruse with Valthrun; however, they all agreed to truce: Valthrun had most of his cultists wiped out by the packs of manes and various demon hoards. He was pondering his next move at a nearby Runegate to Kelethin when the party stumbled upon him, and decided it would be best to enter the city of Kelethin together and seek a way to either return to Athas or grab the Orb of Amplification and then return to Athas if possible.

The party entered Kelethin under a ruse. Cvrem and Valthrun impersonated elves and turned the party over to the city militia, only to then later orchestrate a prison break. The party noticed how certain white-robed elves and how they can see past shape-shifting.

The party, without Valthrun, entered the Temple to Corellion. Inside was a portal to Phralos. Mildred was here meditating. She was killed by the party, as was the temple guardian. Snapgnaw revealed his ability to hover in order to vanquish the temple guardian.

The party ended the session waiting for Valthrun to arrive in the Temple of Corellion before departing to Pharlos.

Time Passed this Game Session: Four days.
Total time… in the campaign: Eighteen weeks and six days.

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Belegand’s Prophecy and The Third Orb

Belegand’s Prophecy
Who hath walked among the land of the dead,
In trails of trails of tears, blood, sweat, and glee.
Hearts won, minds lost, saviors, wicked, and mad,
Shall you really bring the tyrants to knee?

But first, the Deep One wakes,
Always to the beat of some maddened theme.
Sealed away by our long friend,
Yet ever-sleeping is a fleeting scene.

No matter, history remembers well,
Softening those sickly sweet dreams of yore.
Waiting ever waiting ever wanting,
A taste of your blood and soul, nothing more.

The PCs left Kelethin without Valthrun. For some reason, Valthrun insisted through mind blasting Cvrem that an emergency had come up, plans had changed, and he would meet the party in Pharlos as soon as he could.

The party used the portal in Kelethin’s Temple of Corellion to travel to Pharlos. The Temple-City was under heavy siege by demons at this point, and the party met the Belegand Ildir. As the majordomo of the temple, Belegand had a prophecy for the party, which I have included at the top of this entry. Belegand’s final act was to grant his loyal servant Sager freedom, on the condition that he help the PCs for a small while, at least.

The PCs entered the next room and defeated a group of demons on the cusp of taking the third Orb of Amplification. They were able to kill said demons and take the orb for themselves. At that moment, Dagon’s eye was able to manifest itself in the room. He asked Snapgnaw to give him the orb, as per their agreement. Snapgnaw refused, and had his ability to hover stripped from him. Dagon’s eye vanished, but not before threatening the party on no uncertain terms of their mistake.

Valthrun appeared shortly thereafter. He figured out way to return to Athas from a rift to the Abyss opened by the eye of Dagon. Using Belegand Ildir as a willful sacrafice, Valthrun created mass portal to Athas — Specifically, Tyr. Valthrun shapeshifted into a man known as Yoren Janusen, and handed the party over to the Tyrian authorities.

We ended the session with the party arrested and imprisoned in Tyr.

Time Passed this Session: Less than half a day.
Total Time Elapsed: Eighteen weeks and six days and less than half a day.

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The Trial of the Athasian Adventurers

This was a long and elaborate session. I will copy and lightly edit my campaign notes for the session just so I don’t have to repeat everything over again:

Most of the party was held in a dungeon called “The Pit.” Located near the edge of the Smith District and by the walls to the Templar District, the pit is a former quarry heavily guarded by both militia and templars. The quarry rests at a nadir of 200 feet below the Smith District proper. Cells are hollowed out areas in the quarry, with the only exits being heavily guarded ladders connected to scaffolds.

Siegfried and Pots seem to be well-connected in this prison complex. They asked for a bust of Tehosian before helping the party. The PCs agreed and managed to clandestinely get the bust for the duo. This may have enabled the party to essentially buy one of the jurors, Gavin Sul.

Melhavoc, on the other hand, was put in an extremely lavish manor under house arrest. She had much more access to the outside world than the rest of the party. Shortly after her arrest charges were dropped, and she was free to move about the city again.

The People of the Court
Ambrose Ivory — Prosecuting Magistrate
Judge Xalos the Stonecutter
Judge Gavan Sul
Judge Tyrell Shahram

Opening Arguments
Snapgnaw is a known mage and obviously a Balician Spy
Drax the Destroyer is a known Balician gladiator
Shin and his cohort Groot are known Zigguraut tresspassers.
Melhavoc the Shadowlady is a known whore
Sager is obviously an abomination and/or creation of Snapgnaw’s
Cvrem is a spy from Urik.

Snapgnaw
“This dray, he was duly elected in his to represent his district and enclave in Balic.”
Exhibit 1 — The Election — A Poster
“We have witnesses who can say he casts magic with reckless abandon
Guard from House M’ke Caravan — Raulf Neville
“We saw him decimate a group of elves with a giant orb of terror. He always wore a hood to conceal himself.”
Halfling traveler — Babwa Swiftfooted
“He dazzled us with magics and made us all afraid. He convinced us that the monster who ate our dead comrades heads was to be placated.
Altaruk citizen — Darrio the Drunk
“Him and the minotaur consorted with a djinn! I saw it with my own eyes!”

Drax
“We, too, have witnesses of this man’s past in Balic”
Mincewind the Scarred
“My fierce enemy in the pits. He killed his master in cold blood.”
“We also have a picture of Drax. This is a giant mural on the colosseum in Balic”
Exhibit 2 — Image of the Mural of Drax

Shin
Witness: Guard from Zigguraut — Serah Mildrow
“We saw him and the minotaur racing up the zigguraut. They scared me and my children."

Melhavoc
“This is the tub deposits of sarin grain in the ruins of the M’ke compound.”
Exhibit 3 — Tubs of sarin grain
“These poisons could only be obtained in Balic, and are extremely expensive. They were obviously going to be used to kill a large number of people.”

Sager
Just look at this creature. He’s obviously an abomination made by a defiler.

Cvrem
Exhibit 4 — The Family Tree of Cvrem

The Big Case
The party was to sneak into the city of Tyr via the M’ke Caravan.

Once inside the city, the party was going to begin a reign of terror by killing a large portion of the population.

Instead, the party had to first contend with Lorek the Stubborn, who must have uncovered their plans and notified Yorin Janusen. They went to slay Lorek. Unfortunately, Templars could not arrive in time to save Lorek. The party managed to escape the M’ke compound through tunnels that were connected to the sewers and Tyrian Undercity.

Meeting with Cvrem, a spy from Urik, the party scaled the Ringing Mountains and the Forest Ridge only to elude our corps of psions. They consorted with unspeakable horrors in the Forest Ridge and returned to the independent city of Freedom to plot the demise of Tyr.
Leaving Freedom, the party went back to Altaruk. They narrowly missed being intercepted by our psionic overminds in Altaruk when the suddenly left for the dessert to consort with savage hill giants.

Our friend Yorin Janusen, a former merchant and bounty hunter of repute, was able to help our apprehend the party by offering a “clandestine” way back into the city of Tyr. Yorin is now dead and cannot testify before us to verify all of this.

We hereby formally charge Snapgnaw, Cvrem, Drax, Sager, and Melhavoc, along with the minotaur Groot, and the abomination Shalhai in absentia with crimes against the city of Tyr. Attempting to assassinate King Tythian, the murder of Lorek the Stubborn and a dozen of his employees, and attempted sedition and rebellion in land under the protection of Tyr. We hereby present all this evidence for examination by our jurors for King Tythian the Liberator.

Verdict: Not Guilty -2 Guilty -1.

The party was acquitted of all charges.

Length of the Trial: Two weeks.
Total Time Elapsed: Twenty weeks and six days.

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Post Trial Tribulations

The party, acquitted of their crimes (actual and falsified, right?), left the courthouse to discover the grisly scene of Raulf Neville, his Templar escorts, and six templar witnesses with heads on pikes outside the Templar’s Courthouse. Their eyes were missing, and the heads were removed using teleportation magic.

Sager was given a letter from a Xalos the Stonecutter, asking for information on his people, Shardminds.

Snapgnaw, after witnessing the heads on pikes, sprinted to Xalos’s store front. There he met a Xalos, and proceeded to ask him for advice. “Xalos” answered the questions to the best of his abilities.

Melhavoc, meanwhile, was in the middle of throwing a party. A massive one that disrupted the normal flow of events in the Noble District.

Drax, Sager, Shin, Cvrem, and Sausage roamed the market. Drax got a letter from Avery detailing how they should stop fucking around with geopolitics. The letter also noted that their keep was well under construction, but that the well had run dry.

The party reconvened a day after the trial. Melhavoc and Sager exchanged information and noted the insanely contradictory pieces they knew about Xalos.

The party made way to interrogate Xalos, and they discovered “him” during a shift change. Two doppelganger underlings were trading shifts. Snapgnaw immediately killed one and forced the other to surrender. Said underling wasn’t able to tell them much, the boss was a man named “Gind.” But there was also the cat. The cat man they all feared.

The PCs informed the Psion Overmind/Magistrate Ambrose Ivory. He joined the PCs to investigate their claims. The doppelganger underling took them to a lab that the cat man used sometimes. He torturned people there, and our doppelganger friend wanted nothing to do with the lab.

The PCs encountered some cultists and a beholder. PCs defeated my poor beholder and purged the lab of cultists. Deciding to take a look their keep, the party left Tyr with Ambrose’s caravan.

Time Elapsed this Session: One Day in Tyr and A week and a day of travel.
Total Time Elapsed: Twenty-two weeks and a day.

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