Age of Darkness

Session 15 Recap
What you missed on "Dungeons and Dragons Z"...

Our intrepid adventurers learned what it’s like to fight in the cold. Previously, we had freed dozens of human captives from an orc camp and began escorting them to their home in the mountains of The Southern Scar; at the start of this session, we reached our destination and were promptly showered with both gifts and knowledge. Most of the gifts went to Usmok Ochretangle, who, among other things, had his long-lost giant eagle companion returned to him. As for knowledge, the party was guided to a narrow trail to continue their search for the legendary ogre-magi, powerful beings perhaps capable of dealing with the two artifacts the group had in its possession.

Naturally, such a journey wasn’t easy; if it were, then the ogre-magi would be in the damn travel brochure instead of mere myth. The party faced an ettin – a menacing, two-headed giant – an avalanche, a dark cavern, a five-headed cryohydra, fragile ice, winter wolves, and a fucking white-out. The obstacles were understandably cold-themed given our current location, and the party ended up brute-forcing their way past them… with unfortunate consequences. Durdle Hulinforge failed a jump across a hole in the ice, Usmok made his own hole in the ice, and Stupid Goblin was turned into a delicious popsicle. The three of them were still more useful than Alfred, who had to be NPC’ed due to iPope’s absence.

Somehow, through the blinding snow and ice, the party made it to an enchanted place with a forlorn mansion straight out of a horror movie. There, an ogre-mage greeted the party, having already divined its arrival. Vognar Grimbeard fulfilled the task he put upon himself by handing over Content Not Found: soulhaven – the ancient two-handed necromantic axe that Dullboard once used – hoping that these beings from legend would be able to contain or destroy the artifact. Furthermore, the group managed to part ways with an insidious entity which takes the form of a hand puppet (Puppet); this was a much harder task, for the evil being had already rooted itself within their minds, but mortal willpower prevailed – for now. The characters would be fools to assume that they will never, ever see or hear of Soulhaven or The Puppet again… but, for the moment, there is peace and tranquility, as the party rests within the abode of the powerful ogre-magi.

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Session 16 Recap
What you missed on "Dungeons and Dragons Z"...

The party did it! They finally did it! They found the mythical ogre-magi and gave them the two evil artifacts they had their possession! Thank Moradin! Now they’ll never ha—

What was that?

The ogre-magi want them to destroy Soulhaven by taking it to a dilapidated dwarven ruin built around an anvil of ancient, arcane power?

Oh.

So the merry band of men, woman, and birds left the ogre-magi monastery and made their way to the final, future resting place of Dullboard’s old weapon, the bloodthirsty axe named Soulhaven. Alfred, iPope’s character, stayed behind to irritate the powerful diviners with numerous questions. As for the rest of the group, they found themselves trekking through volcanic territory devoid of life yet full of weathered bones. In the middle of this territory was a hill, and built into this hill was an entrance into the long-abandoned dwarf fortress, an entrance which they, being the brave people they are, ventured through without a second thought.

What greeted them was death. Lots and lots of death. Death on the floor, death on the walls, death in the rooms, death in the corridors. Ashy death, preserved death, jaws unhinged in silent horror, and half-ruined journal entries lamenting their final fate. There was also magma, but, strangely enough, the party was more interested in finding the arcane anvil than playing with lava.

Sure enough, the ogre-magi weren’t yanking their chains, and they finally found the aforementioned anvil… which, sure enough, sucked up Soulhaven’s protections and made it vulnerable to one simple strike from Vognar Grimbeard’s morningstar. Naturally, artifacts never die peacefully; there was an explosion of negative energy, lots of angry roaring, and a giant incorporeal entity named Thar the Grim who swore venegance upon the party before vanishing. Leave it to villains to run like little bit—

Wait, what’s that?

Is that… AN UNDEAD BLACK DRAGON!?

The party saw the return of an old friend of theirs, a dragon who wanted to snack upon their faces. Of course, the dragon had no hope of winning, being dead and all. Undead creatures versus two clerics = lolno. I mean, sure, it nearly eviscerated the entire party while lying prone upon the floor… but, come on. No chance. Durdle Hulinforge didn’t even need his sneak attack damage; he just rapier’ed the thing to death.

Afterwards, they escaped through a hole conveniently located in the ceiling of a cavern rather than deal with an epic chase sequence during which they tried to outrun magma. They also got to carry out a fuckton of loot, which they took with them to a nearby destination, the port city Cais. There, the party met up again with Caeven Stonewave and his ship and took to resting for two days, laughing heartily and reflecting upon their near-death experiences. That’s when Session 17 began, on the 4th of Hematite, 682…

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Session 17 Recap
What you missed on "Dungeons and Dragons Z"...

Durdle Hulinforge, Tenroujima, Usmok Ochretangle, and Vognar Grimbeard reached the port city of Cais in the southernmost Scar, where they found Caeven Stonewave and his ship. The Sea Lord of Cais had instituted a naval quarantine some time ago due to the nearby orc threat, so the party could not leave, but that did not stop them from celebration and merriment along with lots of shopping. Their purchasing decisions would serve them well, for, two days after their arrival, on the 4th of Hematite, the orc host began to make its move towards the city with the intention of sacking it and nomming on its citizens. This resulted in the entire city being placed on lockdown and everyone – namely the party – being rounded up in a desperate attempt to defend the city.

Naturally, the party was about to school this mother fucking militia on how you kill orcs. They had been preparing for the possibility of having to break the threat to the city, and they put their thoughts into action. Usmok prepared his firebombs, Vognar summoned undead from the abandoned dwarf fortress, Durdle tried to show people how to fight, and Tenroujima sought to organize whatever meager magic-casters there were in the city. Obstacles were littered all over the future battlefield to thwart invaders. The time for planning did soon draw to an end, however, as the orc host arrived and began its siege.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the orc threat consisted of thousands of orcs, with half-orc leadership, and they – unlike most orcs – actually knew what the fuck tactics were. The invaders had a plethora of tools at their disposal: Giant spiders, demons from the Abyss, flying magical beasts that lay their eggs inside paralyzed foes, more giant spiders, a colossal centipede, a battering ram… and, of course, orcs. Though the enemy wrought destruction and havoc, the party and militia fought valiantly, and they kept the orc host from breaching the city walls.

And so that’s when the night ended, with the party, tired and sore, wounded but alive, on the 5th of Hematite, 682. Daylight and smashing success has caused the remaining orcs – of which there are MANY – to hide within the forest while the city reorganizes itself…

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Session 18 Recap
What you missed on "Dungeons and Dragons Z"...

Drama. Suspsense. More plot twists than you can shake a stick at. Session 18 brought loads of non-combat to the table after the party’s stellar defense of Cais. First up, an event in the city square which rounded up deserters and thieves in preparation for the Sea Lord’s punishment. While Usmok Ochretangle remained aboard the ship to revive his fallen giant eagle, Twizzix; Durdle Hulinforge, Tenroujima, and Vognar Grimbeard made their way to the square to witness the occasion.

Among those sentenced to be punished was a young, dwarven noble named Rogval Strongore. Strongore had been in Cais for quite some time, attempting to recruit mercenaries to join the Purple Legion, a group of nobles who fought against the revolutionaries in the Dwarven Kingdoms. Both Durdle and Vognar had taken time to talk to the man throughout their brief stay in the city – each with his own agenda – so it was with some surprise that Vognar recognized Strongore on the dais. Filled with confusion and curious for answers, Vognar brought up his concern to the Sea Lord… and then, before the gathered audience, cast some cleric hocus pocus before interrogating Strongore personally.

Strongore, as it turns out, had been framed for his crimes.

The man responsible? Durdle Hulinforge.

Strongore was exonerated, placed under the protection of Vognar. Shortly thereafter, Vognar offered to join The Purple Legion, and the two highborn dwarves made plans to depart from Cais.

Some time in the night, an alarm bell rung throughout the city, and the party was brought to the Sea Lord’s keep. Initial alarm had spread courtesy of a small ship that had been spotted approaching the port city; this had been feared to be the vanguard of a surprise naval assault by the orcs. However, the ship turned out to be a band of small goblins sent by Tyrant Caroshack the Neverdying. The tyrant sought to employ the city’s forces to trick the orc host and destroy it in a pincer assault, and he even sent along a token of his esteem – an uninjured Alfred Deyzac. After much deliberation, the Sea Lord agreed to the tyrant’s request and employed a plan to lure the orcs towards the city.

The orcs were foolish enough to take the bait of two open gates and charge the port city. They didn’t spot the skeletons awaiting them in the city or the archers hiding on the walls. Their unorganized assault was rebuffed, then crushed when the tyrant’s forces came up behind the orc host. The city of Cais was saved! …only to find itself being threatened by ogres and trolls instead of orcs.

Shortly thereafter, Caroshack the Neverdying came to the gate personally and offered an alliance to the Sea Lord; his forces would not harm Cais so long as they banished a creature named Ogrebane by dawn of the next day. The tyrant apparently believed that this Ogrebane was what saved the city from the orc siege, and he wanted the Sea Lord to exile it. Unfortunately for the party, none of them had ever heard of this creature, so they sought to follow various leads in the hope of learning more. It was at this point that Vognar parted ways with the group in a non-hostile manner, though he assumedly would never forget what Durdle had done…

Through inquiries, Durdle and Tenroujima learned that their best chance of fulfilling the tyrant’s task was to search the forest outside of Cais. While Alfred stayed behind to do his own research, the rogue and cleric parted the city and into the dangerous land beyond. They fought victoriously against scattered orc forces and soon after located their target: Thorak the Ineffable, Giantbane, Son of Isilid Caine; the Hunter of Orcs, the Slayer of Ogres, and the Terror of Trolls. After some diplomacy, he agreed to the party’s request, and he ended up joining them.

And that’s where the story continues: 7 Hematite 682, with Cais at their backs and rest of the world before them. What new mysteries and challenges await the group as they depart The Scar and head towards Chkathamore? Find out in the Session 19 Recap!

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Session 19 Recap
What you missed on "Dungeons and Dragons Z"...

We’re on a boat! We’re on a boat! Everybody look at us ‘cuz we’re sailing on a boat!

Well, we were.

It was jolly good fun, leaving the city of Cais and the southernmost Scar far, far behind. No more orcs, no more ogres, no more Boatmurdered, no more Soulhaven! Praise Moradin! But, of course, the life of an adventurer can never be that simple, now, can it? True to form, the first mate aboard the vessel became possessed by some spectral entity and he crashed the ship into some ninja glacier. Of course, our intrepid explorers disapproved of these proceedings, and, after knocking the first mate unconscious, they endeavored to learn more about why they were there and fix the damn problem so they could keep sailing.

A twinkling light in a narrow cavern revealed many half-starved sailors who had been kept alive by their vengeful, undying Captain, who had claimed main ships over the years. The party – not wanting to become the Captain’s next victims – traveled deep into the heart of ice, searching for him…

What they found was a unique bleakborn, an undead creature that feeds upon heat… and, as it turns out, a group of living humanoids do in fact exude heat. Courtesy of Tenroujima’s hocus pocus (Resist Energy, Mass; Turn Undead, Spiritual Hammer…), the Captain’s zombie minions were destroyed and his physical form defeated; however, the party then had to contend with a very angry spirit. Thankfully, the party’s obstinance and skill allowed them to carry the day, and they left the ice cavern with shinies galore.

Unfortunately, the bleakborn Captain was a load-bearing boss, and the ninja glacier had begun the process of breaking apart. This created a dilemma with the half-starved sailors who sought to take Caeven’s vessel by force. Durdle Hulinforge’s forceful words and Usmok Ochretangle’s giant eagle, Twizzix, gave the men second thoughts, and most of them peacefully filed onto the ship in preparation for departure.

And that’s where you’ll find the party now, some time in mid-Hematite 682, back on a boat and sailing towards Dracana, whose artificial canal creates a convenient naval bridge between two seas. What future mishaps await Durdle, Usmok, Tenroujima, and Thorak the Ineffable? Only time will tell…

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Session 20 Recap
What you missed on "Dungeons and Dragons Z"...

Drama. Intrigue. Suspense. None of those things happened in the last session. It’s as if the ancient spirit Thar the Grim had possessed the ship and sabotaged the party at every turn. The group sailed from one ship-stopping obstacle straight into another, this time a supernatural storm that nearly wrecked the ship were it not for Caeven Stonewave‘s sturdy hand. He led us to a relatively peaceful bay with a relatively peaceful fishing village which contained relatively peaceful inhabitants and a relatively peaceful temple. There, our intrepid explorers got the idea that the source of the storms came from inside the temple… and, realizing that they’d have to do something about it, ventured inside to find whatever malevolent entity was responsible.

Deep within, the party encountered an array of physical challenges. For one, there was the deathtrap puzzle which animated a construct upon being solved. There were also acid pit traps, gargoyles, narrow passages, narrow passages suspended over a large pit, and four large air elementals. All of these things were yummy and delicious. After the group defeated the air elementals, they found the thing responsible for the storms: A planar rift to the Elemental Plane of Air. After some fact-finding searches and debating amongst themselves, our incredibly intelligent adventurers deduced how to close the rift and, thus, allow their ship to leave the bay unfettered.

So they did that, along with escaping a huge golem who did not take kindly to our actions. We managed to escape it, though, and climbed up a huge pit in order to get back to the surface. As it turned out, the party was correct, and the rain and lightning had already dissipated. Afterwards, they found the supplies needed to repair the ship, returned to the ship, and once again began their journey to the city of Dracana… which is where Session 21 will begin.

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Session 21 Recap
What you missed on "Dungeons and Dragons Z"...

The party arrived at the city of Dracana, the gateway between the southern sea and the rest of the world. Its artificial canal sees considerable traffic, and Caeven Stonewave‘s ship was one of many. While Caeven himself disembarked to deal with paperwork, our “heroes” sought to stretch their legs on land and perhaps do a bit of shopping. Along the way, they met a too-friendly, too-crafty street urchin by the name of “Little Mike.” The kid took great interest to the group for reasons he didn’t mind sharing: Someone in Dracana was waiting for them to arrive.

After the party finished peddling their wares, circumstances conspired to cause them to split up. Being the incredibly gifted individuals they are, they saw no problem with going their own separate ways within the strange city. Durdle Hulinforge (played by Gryphongod) learned that someone was waiting for him in a bathhouse. Alfred (played by iPope) met an “old friend” of his who wished to discuss “the old times.” Tenroujima (played by SirKulinski) was messaged by a familiar voice who wished to test her dedication to the one true god who would bring peace and prosperity to the world. As for Usmok Ochretangle (played by Jake) and Thorak the Ineffable (played by Grimith)… well, no one was stupid enough to want either of them, so they went off exploring.

As it turns out, being less desirable is a good thing. While relaxing in the bathhouse, Durdle came face-to-face with his old master, a fellow named Bart who had plans for his former apprentice. Alfred gave his spellbook to a man who turned out not to be a long-time friend of his at all. Tenroujima ended up listening to some shadowy creature who wanted to convert her to the service of Nerull. Three player characters, three assassination attempts. …But, wait, what became of Usmok and Thorak?

Well, Usmok’s random wanderings took him to the park, where he saw Tenroujima under attack and saved his friend from the shadowy apparition. As for the half-ogre… Little Mike found him and warned him of the trouble that the others were in. Thorak then proceeded to smack said trouble in the face, starting with the fire-breathing sorcerer who threatened Alfred. Ultimately, the three threatened characters survived (Thorak saved Alfred, Usmok rescued Tenroujima, and Durdle stabbed a mass of incorporeal cold in the face), and, after their various ordeals, they all returned to the ship and resolved to leave Dracana as soon as they could.

The characters sold their loot, claimed their returns, and steeled themselves aboard their vessel for whatever perils lie beyond. Because, rest assured, these adventurers have made many enemies, and those enemies will not rest until they bring ruination…

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Session 22 Recap
What you missed on "Dungeons and Dragons Z"...

Sailing, sailing, sailing the ocean blue… People want to kill us all; that they’ll never do!

The party sailed from the city of Dracana, following the western coast of the southern Scar, heading towards the city of Thrakai. Along the way, crew morale dipped to unacceptable levels… so Durdle Hulinforge (played by Gryphongod) decided to resolve this through performance arts. Unfortunately, his performance was so exceptional that it attracted the attention of a kraken, who feasted upon numerous members of the crew and threatened to break apart the entire ship. On the other hand, this majestic sea creature wasn’t very bright, failing to play to its proper strengths out of what one could assume was hubris. After all, it’s not every day that you encounter a group of adventurers who can go toe-to-toe with a gargantuan creature.

The kraken, finally realizing that being exposed outside the water wasn’t the best idea it’s ever had, jetted away in a flurry of ink, leaving the group breathless and the ship damaged. On the bright side, crew morale sharply increased. What a great performance that was!

Shortly after dealing with the foul beast, the party spotted an approaching ship on the horizon. Who was aboard the custom-made dwarven vessel? Why, dwarves! …And elves! Dwarves and elves, bound together in naval matrimony. Apparently, the captain had received orders from the priests of Pelor to find the travelers and bring them to some city named Elven Wharrgarbl. The party, after contemplation, agreed to this because… well… it seemed like a good idea at the time. At least they weren’t splitting up or anything stupid like that, right?

Upon arriving at Elven Wharrgarbl and becoming acquainted with the surroundings, the group was escorted by a talkative dwarven monk to some spiffy healing springs which, true to their name, rejuvenated those who laid within them. However, the primary purpose for being there was because of Tenroujima (played by SirKulinski). Tenroujima had a… rather unfortunate run-in with a servant of Nerull back in Dracana, and she may have done things that she later regretted. Kind of like partying during Exam Week in college. The guardian of these springs – being another servant of Pelor – decided that he’d help Tenroujima by channeling positive energy into allowing the fallen cleric to face the darkness threatening to overwhelm her… which totally sounds like a great idea. So that’s where this session begins now, in the hour before the darkness arrives. What horrors await our intrepid explorers? Will they involve advanced sahaguin? A squad of sirens? Various temptations that will cause the party to split up? Perhaps more people will politely ask them to leave their equipment and valuables behind.

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Session 23 Recap
What you missed on "Dungeons and Dragons Z"...

On the island of Elven Wharrgarbl, at a spring full of positive energy which served as a planar rift, an elven paladin performed a ritual designed to allow the party to confront the shadows haunting them, particularly Tenroujima. The ritual was a success, and the adventurers fought heartily (some of them without any equipment) against their foes.

Good news: They won.

Bad news: They were sucked through the planar rift into parts unknown.

Stranded and confused as to their surroundings, the party had no choice but to go forward into the mysterious realm. Rust monsters were slain. A bridge over lava was found. And a peaceful garden, full of various rare herbs for all sources of purposes, was located. Seeing no method in the grove by which they could return home, the adventurers were forced to cross over the lava bridge and into another portal, a portal which carried them to a different area of the miniature plane, where there resided a giant crystal and an old man with a curious head wound.

The old man, at one point, had been a wizard of considerable skill who had made this place to pursue his own endeavors. However, the injury sustained to the back of his head appeared to prevent him from remembering anything about his life, so he could be of little assistance. All he “remembered” was a sheet of paper which could summon an Elsewhere in a nearby pool of water, through the library. The party took this paper, shrugged to themselves, and ventured south.

Unfortunately, it was a trap, because the sheet of paper summoned a mind flayer and its coterie of lampreys! Durdle Hulinforge and Alfred Deyzac were stunned for some time, whereas Tenroujima and Usmok Ochretangle were charmed and soon knocked unconscious by Thorak the Ineffable. The half-ogre, on the other hand, withstood the mental assaults and tried to bait the mind flayer to come within melee range. Failing to do so, Thorak then leapt at him… and fell short, into the water. Fortunately, Durdle soon broke free of the stun, and he managed to finish off the foul creature.

Returning to the old man, the barely conscious Alfred began poring through one of his textbooks, trying to unravel the secrets of the plane. Everyone else stayed sharp and waited for what challenge awaited them next…

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Session 24 Recap
What you missed on "Dungeons and Dragons Z"...

The party continued its adventures in ouuuterrr spaaaaaace! More specifically, a journey into some sort of memory simulator embedded within a special plane created by a once powerful wizard. The goal? To gain control over the plane. Unfortunately, the party did not, in fact, know anything about the man who created the plane, so they had a difficult time reenacting his memories. So, after failing to bypass the security measures, they were accosted by an apparition of the wizard… one who didn’t take too kindly to the forgetfulness of his real life counterpart. Ergo, he asked the party to kill him and revive him with a special ring, thus restoring his memories; in exchange, he would return the party to the Material Plane.

However, the party didn’t trust the old man, and for good reason. What little the group knew of him was that, long ago, he WAS a powerful wizard… and was also what some would call “evil.” Call it a hunch, but the party agreed with that philosophy. To this end, Alfred Deyzac (played by iPope) hoped to gain the old man’s memories – and thus control over the plane – by having the other adventures put the ring on his finger after they, well, killed him.

Thorak the Ineffable (played by Grimith) obliged.

It didn’t work.

So, after expending a one-shot true resurrection tool, the party went back to the memory simulator to find another way to wrest control of the plane. This involved considerable hurr-durr through fist-shaking and saber-rattling until Alfred – being the incredibly intelligent man he is – managed to convince the apparition that he was, in fact, the old man. With the security measure successfully bypassed, the transmuter gained control over the plane, and the day was saved!

After some fiddling, Alfred created a portal from his sweet new ride back to the material plane, to that positive energy rift the party fell into ever-so-long ago. What does he plan to do with the digs? Only a wizard could say! What about everyone else? Well, they’re getting back on their newly repaired boat and continuing the trip to Chkarthamore. The grand adventure will inevitably continue to be filled with more sabotage than you can shake a stick at; just because Tenroujima (played by SirKulinski) got purified doesn’t mean there aren’t ninety-nine other enemies of the party.

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