Our journey began: 11th of Coldeven, 599 C.Y.
it is currently 13th of Coldeven, 599 C.Y.
Alexia Aerogenesis, Human Cleric of Murlynd
Elerra Vae, Drow Cleric (Ellistrae)/Sorcerer
Flotsam “Sam” Stormsurge, Animan (octopus aspect) Rogue/Alchemist
Meroln Sands, Half-elf Fighter
Squizzles, Kobold Bard
Wilfred Fizzlebang, Gnome Summoner
Once having signaled the Blackwater Dancer to return to shore and pick them up, the group boarded the barge and set sail once more for Greyhawk City. Several spells were cast in an attempt to discover the frog statue’s nature, but all that could be revealed was an aura of mild transmutation and the sense not merely that there was more to the statue than they could detect, but that the statue itself had a personality.
After about a half day’s sailing south on the Nyr Dyv, Elerra (who was carrying the party’s prize) began hearing a voice in her head, a voice that offered magical knowledge and power. While tempted to keep this to herself, she soon decided to inform the others about this development. It was decided that it might be best to purchase a lead-lined box to keep the frog in, to block it’s telepathic contact, lest it possibly possess her, but there were none to be had on the river.
On arriving in Greyhawk, the group repaired to the shrine of Ellistrae that Elerra frequented, hopefully to learn more about it’s properties. Kiamyr Loroth, the priestess who maintained the shrine could do little but confirm that lead would block the frog’s communication, but did add that the statue was intensely evil, and that contact with it should be severely curtailed. The group also asked what, if anything she knew of their patron, Galen, but she knew only that he served what she called a False God, named Mabelrode.
Eventually the party made their way to the Green Dragon Inn, but according to Jenny, Galen was “out”, and might be away for several days. Drawing the party into one of the private back rooms, she told them that should they choose to do so, they could seek out Galen’s partner, whom she identified in hushed tones as Tenser the Archmage. After she left, the party debated doing this, but Meroln argued strongly for only turning the item over to Galen himself.
Elerra and Wilfred got private rooms at the Inn, with Squizzles and Meroln taking the last available room for themselves (Sam having already paid his private room days in advance). Alexis chose to bed down in a nearby inn, rather than ride 15 miles to her family’s estate outside the city. Elerra snuck out of her room to return to the shrine for more instruction, leaving Wilfred a message that she’d left the Frog in her room. Ultimately, Squizzles took possession of the Frog, but he did not stay in close enough contact with it for it to bind with him.
The next morning, during breakfast, one of the innkeeper’s sons informed the group that Galen had returned, and would meet with them in the meeting room in a half hour’s time. Before the meeting, Elerra, who had returned to the inn in the wee hours of the morning, cast Detect Evil before going in to see Galen, to establish that he, himself was not evil (the spell indicating that he was not).
Galen accepted the Frog from the party, and answered some of their questions about the other parties they had encountered. According to Galen, the Mallets of Wastri fervently (if erroneously) believed that possession of all 10 Frogs would either bring their god Wastri to them, or somehow grant him additional power. The Blessed Children of Anura sought the Frogs to help free the Demon-Lord Anoor, while a third group, which the party had not yet encountered, called the Eyes of Domm, was a sect of Boccob worshipers whose goals involved the acquisition and sequestration of dangerous, powerful magic items (like the Frogs).
He further told them that should they encounter any of his brother priests of Mabelrode, that they were not aware of the project that he and Tenser were involved in, and that if encountered, they should be told nothing and avoided if possible. He went on to explain that where he came from, the paradigm was one of Law vs. Chaos, rather than Good vs. Evil, and that while Mabelrode was a god of Chaos, here in this world the majority of those humans who chose to serve him would be considered evil (in addition to being chaotic).
After paying the group for their completion of their task, he offered them a further contract for recovering another of the Frogs, this one cut from a single emerald. he gave it’s current location as within a ruined tower in the Gnatmarsh in Nyrond. because of the distance and travel times, he was offering the group 1500 gp each (half paid up front), and would contribute 1500 gp to the group as a whole for travel expenses. After the group agreed to these terms, he left them to make their arrangements.
The group quickly rejected traveling overland, and decided to take a barge south on the Selintarn to Hardby, and to then take a ship to Nessermouth, and travel up the Nesser to the marsh. Before departing the city, they consulted with a sage who identified the tower they sought as likely having belonged to a warlock named Randolph, who had terrorized the region before being cast down 40 years prior.
More time was spent purchasing supplies and crafting potions and items for the journey, and the party set out from Greyhawk on the 18th, arrived in Hardby the following day, and set sail aboard the merchant vessel Sahuagin Tart (a brigantine with a figurehead depicting a spectacularly well-endowed sahuagin, captained by Reesa Dajur) on the 21st.
After 4 days of smooth sailing, the Tart made port in Nessermouth. The party unloaded their horses and spent another four days traveling north along the Nesser before they reached the Muddy Boots Inn, the last bit of civilization at the confluence of the Nesser and the Duntide Rivers. The Muddy Boots was nearly full to capacity, as twenty soldiers in the service of the Count of Brackenmoor were there blowing off steam. Their commander, Sir Guye of Larmont, spoke with Meroln, asking if it was his groups intention to journey into the Gnatmarsh, and informing him that if that were so, that there was a 5 sp bounty on goblin ears.
Sir Guye also told him that his father had been among those who had besieged Randolph’s tower, and that the “goblin problem” in the ’marsh stemmed from those times. Even with Randolph dead and gone, goblins still patrolled the marsh wearing his device, a black hand.
As the party made the transition into the marsh itself, Elerra and Sam both spotted a armored man riding a “small” blue dragon in the skies over the marsh. As the day wore on, he was spotted several more times, and we was wearing a tabard that Alexis recognized as belonging to the Eyes of Domm.
On their second day in the marsh, the party encountered a pile of 40 or so (ear-less) goblin corpses, slain perhaps hours before. Most of these corpses bore a tattoo of a black hand somewhere on their bodies. A search of the area revealed no tracks, but a nice leather saddle with it’s cinch cut was found several yards away. Late that afternoon, after several more sightings of the dragon-rider, the group came to the Tower of Randolph, and came face to face with three more followers of the Eyes of Domm, who introduced themselves as Gampstel, Eodain, and Elaine. After a brief bit of diplomacy, the two groups decided to ally themselves in exploring the tower, with the ultimate fate of the Frog both groups sought to be determined later.
Sam defeated the mundane traps on the outer door of the tower, and successfully saved vs. the Symbol of Pain that also guarded the door. Once unlocked and unstuck (thanks to Meroln, Gampstel, and Alexis), the strengthened group moved into the tower, electing to explore the upper works before the lower. In the main room at the base of the tower, they detected a magical candlestick holder, but nobody could read the word written on the base of it. Elerra pocketed it and the group moved on.
On the third floor of the tower, which had obviously been Randolph’s living quarters, Sam found that the scorched remains of the wardrobe there had a false floor. He blew his check for detecting the magical trap on the compartment (another Symbol of Pain) and then failed his save vs. the trap, leaving him writing in pain on the floor. Squizzles moved forward to snatch the contents of the compartment, but he, too, fell victim to the symbol inside, though he managed to pull out the leather-bound tome that rested within.
As the group investigated the final level of the tower’s upper works, someone finally broached the subject of the absent member of the Eyes of Domm (the one outside on dragon-back). Gampstel explained that Varian was keeping the area free of goblins. After sam located the trap (contact poison) on the ladder to the roof, Meroln climbed up, unbolted the trap door, and took a look around; Varian could, indeed, be seen perhaps a mile off, swooping down on what was likely a group of goblins. There being not much else to see, the group made their way to the basement levels.
The first basement proved to be a combination kitchen and pantry, but the level beneath that was bare except for a henge composed of an unknown dark stone (marble?) into which six magical symbols had been carved on the supports (three on each, repeated on both sides). The configuration detected as magical, and the symbols certainly were some sort of activation code, but their exact purpose was unclear.
Stymied by the stones, Eodain suggested that they consult the tome they’d located upstairs, which bore what they assumed was Randolph’s device, that of a black hand. The tome revealed itself to possess four sections, the first of which detailed the nature of bargaining with the Dark Powers for the ability to become a warlock. The next section was a copy of the exact bargain Randolph had struck with Asmodeus for his power (i.e. access to the abilities of a warlock and eternal youth, for the price of several dozen souls a year, contract void should Randolph be killed). The third section was a journal and accounting of every soul Randolph had pledged to Asmodeus (the longest section of the book by far). The final section dealt with the henge in the basement, detailing the construction of a special paintbrush (requiring an ulna and hair from a sentient creature) and the correct order in which to paint the symbols in fresh blood to activate the portal that led to a pocket dimension, where, it was hoped, Randolph had stored his greatest treasures (namely the Frog).
As we ended the evening, the group was arguing about how and where to acquire the ulna, hair and blood, most balking at performing a blood sacrifice….
It is now the 2nd of Growfest, 599 C.Y.