The Mountains of Morpheus

Session 12: Crossways, part two

Overview

The PCs rested in the town of Wyvern’s Eye for three days, recuperating from their travails in the Mountains of Morpheus. They discussed events with Merissa and Daria, as well as sold some of their loot acquired in their adventures. Merissa noted that there were other sites in the Mountains of Morpheus that may be relevant to the PCs:

  • Another mystical sect was located in the Mountains, about 50 miles north of the Circle of Pines. The Sect of Hades was located in Dancingwood, a shriveled and dead forest. The sect practiced a “dark druidism,” bent on fusing plants and fungi with corpses, creating bizarre amalgams of the living and dead to serve them. Merissa knew little of their intentions or status, however. The sect had their own “hidden temple,” possibly much larger and vaster than her sect’s.
  • A “temple of storms” located southeast of the Circle of Pines. This temple was created by the Orvahii, some pre-human race that built numerous dungeons and temples in the Mountains of Morpheus ages ago. The temple was considered a nexus of elemental energies, though Merissa knows little about its actual purpose, if any. Rohfa stored some relics and books in this temple, and was able to reach it through_ wild shape_, turning into a bird. The temple is also guarded and inhabited by a bronze dragon, of unknown age and power.

They reached the city of Strigis one week later, relating their exploits to Cicero. Cicero seemed surprised at some of the events, and explained the situation to the best of his ability:

  • Before the war, the former Prince of Strigis had an alliance with the Sect of Indigo. Cicero acted as a liaison between the two groups, thanks to his friendship with Rohfa. After the war, the Sect of Indigo became disconnected. Cicero sought to make contact with them in order to broker a possible alliance between and Lord Count Arawn, a high-ranking nobleman in the Strigis’s new regime. However, Cicero hoped that the Sect would make its own (informed) decision — hence his desire for discretion.
  • Cicero understands that the druidic relic, Marten’s Right Hand, has powerful divinatory capabilities when brought into conjunction with its companion relics, Marten’s Skull and Marten’s Flesh. These relics were intentionally scattered about five years ago, for reasons unclear to Cicero. Rohfa gave Marten’s Right Hand to Cicero, and instructed him to return it in a time of need.
  • Cicero did not intend to manipulate the PCs into an undesirable position, though he did ensure their discretion. Now that the PCs have relayed news of the sect’s destruction, and of Rohfa’s condition, he considers all debts between him and the PCs cleared.

Cicero desires the PCs to locate and rescue his friend Rohfa from this “Chaotic Transformation,” but is at a loss as how to pursue this task. His contacts across Strigis are extensive, but mystical knowledge isn’t his forte. He proposed several alternatives of alliance: with no one, with the Old Faith temple in Strigis, or with Lord Arawn himself. The PCs seemed most inclined toward the second option.

Why the Sect of Indigo was destroyed remains a mystery. The PCs and Cicero speculated that someone — perhaps a powerful member of the aristocracy — sought to destroy the sect in order to prevent it from being used by Lord Arawn. Cicero supposed that a Lady Countess Ombrea, equal in rank to Lord Arawn but a rival to him, could have sent such marauders. There is no evidence for such designs, but then again, the Countess’s abilities of subterfuge and concealment are supposedly remarkable.

Details

On the way to Strigis, the PCs were detained by several soldiers acting in Baron di Zhatto’s name. A violent altercation ensued, but surprisingly, no one of either party died, as Morgran healed the brunt of the injuries the soldiers suffered. It remained, apparently, ambiguous as to whether the soldiers detained the PCs in good faith, or simply sought to extort them. It remains unclear to the PCs, however, whether the soldiers will identify the PCs as violent criminals, or simply keep mum about the incident due to humiliation.

There were riots in Strigis on the day of the PCs’ arrival. They were thus made to wait outside the city for a whole night.

Inventory

The party gained:

  • 150 sp each, from Cicero.

The party’s adventuring bill for this session is 0 gp, as Cicero has managed to cover the PCs’ expenses this session.

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Session 11: Crossways, part one

Overview

The PCs returned from the Mountains of Morpheus to the kingdom of Strigis, meandering through the countryside in search of safe, anonymous shelter, and routes toward answers to questions they have barely begun to articulate. They briefly liaised with the bandit-rebels near St. Hermos, and dropped off Merissa at the Old Faith temple of the town of Wyvern’s Eye. With the temple’s High Druid, Daria Levano, they discussed some possibilities of solving the problem of locating Rohfa’s Chaotic Transformation, as well as issue of how to “restore” her.

Daria offered to send out contacts to find more information about both points, as well as liaising with an urban sect in Kasha’s Watch about Marten’s Skull, a companion relic to Marten’s Right Hand. Daria advised that one of the more knowledgeable mystics in the sect is a Leo Underwood. However, Underwood is believed to serve as an advisor to Lord Cyrus Brixia, a local-level lord and vassal to Baron Sata. It may be possible, however, to locate sources of advice in urban Strigis … especially if more informed persons such as Cicero are involved.

Details

The PCs, near the South Pass, encountered an insane traveler, claiming the presence of “demons” among the party, as well as the possibly imminent end of the world. He made demands to view the party unclothed, as well as examine their belongings. He seemed especially disturbed by Cevei’s bizarre insect-parasite, found within the whip-poor-will. It was not long before the PCs tired of his unreasonable demands, and pummeled him, and left. Merissa speculated that he was a Malkavian, but could not be sure.

Inventory

The party gained:

  • About 12 gp from the wandering madman.

The party spent:

  • A typical mushroom-potion of healing

The party’s adventuring bill for this session is 10 gp, or 2 gp for each PC.

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Session G-5: The Rescue of Summer Eyes

Overview

The player characters fought further through Cicero’s dungeon, slaying the wizard’s pet mimics and mephits, until they at last reached the locked cell holding Summer Eyes, their captured comrade. The PCs wasted little time in escaping Cicero’s tower, fleeing for home: the Mountains of Morpheus …

Storm-Eye stole a small portion of Cicero’s project: the portion concerned with “curing” the gnoll condition. It seems that Cicero’s research was at best partial, and he was never wholly successful in his experiments to transform a gnoll into a mortal. However, it did seem that Summer Eyes was deeply confused about his memory, at times expressing doubt over whether he “belonged” in the Mountains of Morpheus.

The core PCs — Araceli, Cevei, Janduin, Morgran, and Pip woke from uneasy dreams of their adventures as gnolls. It remains unclear to them how much of what transpired — if any — was the actions of others, and how much was fantasy. Certainly it struck them as suspicious that their “enemies” shared the same names as Cicero and Rofa …

Inventory

The core PCs gained:

  • A small, rough, raw, dark crimson garnet.
  • A fancy-looking, well crafted wood and iron trident.
  • A spell scroll of guiding bolt.
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Session G-4: The White Chalice

Overview

The player characters traveled to Khrysmnara to investigate the “White Chalice,” where they found reason to believe in a connection between it and their captured comrade, Summer Eyes. They cautiously traveled west from Lil’ Badger, refusing to heed Rofa’s demands that they return to the Mountains of Morpheus.

Along the way, the PCs conversed with a local Ashoumite priest, posing as devout pilgrims seeking a “White Chalice.” The priest suggested to them that perhaps they were confused, for such an item may refer to the legend of St. Albano quelling the rage and hunger of a dragon, accomplished by giving it a drink of holy water from a white chalice. In this legend, the dragon then renounces evil, accepts God, and leaves the mortals it once terrorized in peace. Walks-without-Sound and Strongest Son surmised that the White Chalice could simply be a symbol of some project to “cure” gnolls.

The PCs later came upon a lone rider galloping in their opposite direction: quite possibly from Khrysmnara to Lil’ Badger. When the PCs hailed her, she attempted to evade their questions, then flee. When the PCs fought and subdued this woman, a wizard named Svenka, they learned that she was a member of the “White Chalice” project, serving an accomplished wizard named Cicero. Before killing her and taking her keys, the PCs tortured her and learned that Cicero’s tower was located a few miles south of the town of Khysmnara.

Around this time, Bru began to feel disoriented, his mortal personality resurfacing. The PCs psychically communicated with their leaders in the Mountains of Morpheus, and were advised to continue to attempt to rescue Summer Eyes and destroy any mortal project that would attempt to reverse the gnoll condition. They were also advised to give Bru some personal space.

After some furtive spying, the PCs discovered that Cicero’s tower seemed lightly guarded — likely relying more on secrecy than force for protection. Using Svenka’s keys, the PCs simply forced their way into the tower, defeating its occupants (two mephits, two sentries, and another wizard named Jina), and capturing Cicero. They also got their hands on much of Cicero’s written research, and began to study it, though expected to destroy most if not all of it.

Interrogating Cicero, they discovered that Summer Eyes was kept in a dungeon beneath the tower. The PCs traveled partway through the dungeon with the wizard, but were ambushed by mimics: one disguised as a clay jar, one disguised as a bookcase, and one disguised as a chair. Morning-Killer struck Cicero down, and the PCs (being battered and exhausted) fled the dungeon, hoping to rescue Summer Eyes at another time …

Inventory

The party gained:

  • Svenka’s items; some gold, a wand used as an arcane focus;
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Session G-3: Rampage through the Hills

Overview

The player characters (PCs) recovered from yesterday’s setback by exchanging the warlock Marlow for their companion, Walks-without-Sound. During his captivity, Marlow spoke of the “White Chalice,” where Summer Eyes was being delivered. However, he could not specify details. Morning-Killer attempted to use legend lore to find information on the White Chalice, but the magic failed.

Shortly after the exchange, the PCs were tipped off one one of Lady Cremona’s soldiers. She intimated that Lady Cremona had gotten involved with the White Chalice, and that this is something sinister, evil, unholy, and magical, possibly with wizards involved. She told the PCs that the White Chalice (whatever that is) could be found in the nearby small town of Khrysmnara, and that someone named Cicero was involved.

It is presently the morning of Monday, November 2.

Details

The PCs hired a local goon, Lucius, to help them with the lay of the land. This was useful, as Lucius knew of a local family that had a cache of weapons scavenged after the Wheat-Harvest War. The PCs quickly moved to steal the family’s weapons, armor, and gold.

The PCs stored Marlow inside an abandoned, isolated chapel of the pagan god Talos. They slew its original occupant, an undead creature.

Inventory

The party gained:

  • About 25 gp, and 80 sp;
  • Three longswords, two battleaxes, a greatsword, a trident;
  • Two light crossbows;
  • A set of leather armor, studded leather armor, hide armor, and a chain shirt.

The party paid Lucius:

  • About 30 gp, and a longsword.
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Session G-2: The Harvest Festival on Lady Cremona's Land

Overview

The player characters (PCs) followed their best lead — a barbarian warrior in the employ of a Lady Cremona, master of several villages west of Kasha’s Watch, who was instrumental in capturing Summer Eyes — to the village of Lil’ Badger. They asked the locals about how they might humbly present themselves to Lady Cremona, though many peasants were busy harvesting wheat and preparing for the harvest festival.

As Bishop, Lady Cremona’s seneschal and advisor, entered the village to prepare for the harvest festival, the PCs presented themselves as modest knights-errant looking for a master to serve. Bishop and his retinue — including “Rofa the Heartless,” the barbarian warrior — were intrigued, and agreed to allow the PCs to serve as security for the harvest festival, though their larger weapons and armor would have to be kept in Lady Cremona’s castle, and they would be forbidden from using magic.

As an afterthought, Bishop also instructed one of his warlocks, a man named Marlow, to use detect magic on the group. Marlow had to cast detect magic as a ritual, leaving him, a servant named Marcus, and the five PCs relatively alone at the edge of the village. Beginning to panic — for detect magic would reveal their disguise — the PCs attacked Marlow, capturing him and Marcus. They fled as quickly as possible, being chased by Rofa and her soldiers, and Walks-without-Sound was captured.

Strongest Son, Storm-Eye, and Morning-Killer interrogated Marlow in the empty night countryside. Marlow confessed that he was largely ignorant of why Lady Cremona sought to capture a gnoll, though he did indeed accompany Rofa the Heartless in capturing Summer Eyes. Marlow mentioned something about “the White Chalice,” but was too ignorant to explain what it might be. Marlow was eager to convince the PCs of the wisdom of conducting a prisoner exchange, and even attempted to aid the PCs in such an endeavor.

Marlow also stated that the original gnoll (Summer Eyes) was no longer in Lady Cremona’s possession, and … well, “delivered to the White Chalice.”

It is presently the morning of Sunday, November 1.

Details

At an inn in Northwater, the PCs encountered a Malkavian — a person driven mad by Morpheus’s Grip. He ranted about people coming from the east, the “Mountains’ taking back what they’re owed,” and someone named Cicero.

The PCs met some kind of traveling salesman on the road to Lil’ Badger. He fairly sold them two healing kits.

Inventory

The party bought:

  • Healing kits.

The party lost:

  • Any weapon larger than a short sword, including their bows and arrows;
  • Their armor of medium or heavier;
  • Anything on Walks-without-Sound’s person;
  • Walks-without-Sound’s horse.
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Session G-1: The Search for Summer Eyes

Overview

The player characters (PCs), a party of gnolls — Storm-Eye the warlock, Morning-Killer the ranger, Walks-without-Sound the druid, Bru the barbarian, and Strongest Son the knight — in the Mountains of Morpheus, conducted a routine patrol through the forests of Fangwood. They found evidence of a party of mortal adventurers traveling through the Mountains at the behest of a patron, a Lord Brixia, to survey the area. The PCs ambushed the five adventurers, killing the dwarf but successfully capturing the rest.

The PCs returned to the gnoll stronghold in western Fangwood, where they were congratulated by one of their leaders, an older gnoll mystic called Shining Snow, on their success. Shining Snow and the PCs interrogated the adventurers, but found little that concerned them, and thus imprisoned them to eventually transform them into gnolls. On the same day, Shining Snow apprised the PCs of a concerning matter: two patrol groups of gnolls have recently been attacked, and one gnoll has been captured, by a band of mortal adventurers.

The testimony of Leaf, a gnoll who survived the second attack, states that a band of mortal warriors fought his group, and intentionally captured one gnoll, named Summer Eyes. They were led by a powerful barbarian warrior who fought “with the strength of three men.” Shining Snow’s scrying confirms that Summer Eyes is still alive, and may be in one of the mortal cities or larger towns. Fortunately, Leaf and Summer Eyes did slay one of the mortals, and Leaf, who fled the battle, later retrieved the dead man’s backpack.

The PCs and Shining Snow reviewed the contents of the backpack: A large chunk of spicy cheese, a locket containing the sketch of a young woman, an Ashoumite icon of St. Rabinus, and a few love letters between the man (presumably “Marius”) and his lover (“Elena”). The PCs gleaned from the letters that the two were to meet in the small town of Northwater during the popular harvest festivals, usually occurring between October 31 and November 1.

Aided with Shining Snow’s gnoll-masks, the PCs wasted little time in entering mortal society and investigating, though they violently raided a village and stole a horse for each of them. At Northwater, they spoke to some of the locals, and eventually encountered a woman with Elena’s likeness by chance at an outdoors theater. Walks-without-Sound confronted her with the bad news that Marius had likely perished in the Mountains of Morpheus, though it seemed like Elena already suspected such news.

Elena said that Marius and his companions — led by a barbarian warrior possibly serving a Lady Cremona — were for some reason tasked to enter the Mountains of Morpheus, though she did not know why. The PCs were more or less satisifed wtih this lead, and let Elena be.

It is presently the evening of Friday, October 30.

Details

The PCs understand that in this region of Strigis (the Kasha’s Watch area, in the barony of Kasha’s Watch, ruled by the Lord Baron Adrian di Zhatto), tensions between the two mainstream religions, the monotheistic Ashoum and the druidic Old Faith, are often high. Such tensions sometimes break out in violence during the autumn harvest festivals, which have their root in Old Faith traditions. Street fighting or even a small riot is not unexpected.

Inventory

The party gained from Rudolphus’s party:

  • About 50 gp;
  • Two common potions of healing;
  • A rough, crimson garnet;
  • A high-quality longsword.
    The party also gained:
  • Five gnoll-masks;
  • FIve fairly good horses.
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Session 10: The Hidden Temple, Part three

Overview

The player characters (PCs) continued their investigation throughout the Sect of Indigo’s Hidden Temple, and eventually came across a closet containing a number of magical items: mushroom-potions, the pilgrim’s buddy, and the icon of St. Poythora. However, their searching was interrupted by a pair of Guardians of the Deep, one of them apparently the creature they had fought at the temple’s entrance. This temple, the PCs managed to negotiate a truce. The Guardians of the Deep took Araceli and Pip on a brief tour throughout the temple, but were not forthcoming with information. After some negotiation, the Guardians agreed to allow the PCs to meet with the sole surviving druid in the temple: A woman named Merissa Doving, who had been left paraplegic from the attack.

The PCs shared the information that Rohfa is still somewhere, caught in what Merissa described as a “Chaotic Transformation,” or a vanar vadrana: a sort of subconscious, sleep-walking state where one transforms from form to form, acting out violent urges. Merissa asked for a way to be returned to the kingdom of Strigis, and potentially find a way to save Rohfa. What that entails, however, is a matter of discussion …

The PCs were allowed to take Merissa with them, as well as take several of the Hidden Temple’s magical items: what they found earlier, as well as the fretted axe and a set of splint mail. In exchange, they fought and destroyed the remaining shadows that haunted the temple.

Details

The PCs also encountered one of Merissa’s friends, a large, hulking man, who opted to leave the Hidden Temple as well: not with the PCs, but setting out alone into the world. Merissa explained that this person, “Lock,” is a mimic.

The Guardians of the Deep are bound to the space of the Hidden Temple, and are possibly one its sole inhabitants.

Janduin and Araceli helped Merissa dig up the body of one of the slain druids. She took some possessions off the body.

Inventory

The party gained:

  • Various mushroom potions, with effects of healing, lesser restoration, and spell recovery.
  • The pilgrim’s buddy, a +1 short sword that loses its magic in urban areas.
  • The fretted axe, a +1 battleaxe.
  • The icon of St. Poythora.
  • The griffin shield, a formerly enchanted shield that could be repaired back to a +1 shield.
  • A set of splint mail.
  • Any ordinary goods they desire to take from the Hidden Temple, within carrying capacity.
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Session 9: The Hidden Temple, part two

Overview

The player characters (PCs) left the Hidden Temple to rest outdoors, gathering their strength for the perils within, i.e. take a long rest. Over their day of rest, they encountered and evaded a warband of gnolls, which included two black bears. However, in fleeing they lost their mules and both their wheels of cheese. In this chaos, Araceli discovered the mummified right hand of which he had been dreaming.

Venturing into the Hidden Temple, the PCs provoked an attack from a giant spider. While the beast was not very threatening itself, a pack of ghostly undead shadows took the opportunity to attack them; all monsters were defeated. Further inside, the PCs discovered a small cluster of hallways, storerooms, closets, a bedroom, and a large library, as well as two obvious signs of some kind of recent attack: (1) More corpses, probably of the druids of the Sect of Indigo, with their heads severed; (2) Numerous smashed, burned, and destroyed items, including the vast majority of the sect’s literature and texts.

The PCs then encountered another Guardian of the Deep, i.e. a lampad conjured by the druids. They exchanged harsh words, later doing battle — at which point they were attacked by a pair of bizarre furniture-shaped monsters. Presumably these were the “killer mimics” referenced in Daria’s diary.

The PCs won the day again, and slunk into a bedroom to recuperate.

It is presently the afternoon of November 7.

Details

The benefits of Fiona’s Cairn echoed in the minds of Araceli, Cevei, and Morgran. They “remembered” a conversation some months ago between Rohfa and another druid, apparently her senior in the Sect of Indigo. It seems that they foresaw both: (1) their own destruction, and (2) some larger calamity. However, the sect appeared to dissent over the truth of these predictions. Rohfa and the other druid also discussed two important relics: Marten’s Right Hand, and Marten’s Skull. The PCs suspect that they are carrying Marten’s Right Hand, which has been hidden in Cicero’s cheese for their journey — until now.

Araceli psychically communicated with Rohfa, though it seemed like he was able to give her only a few brief minutes of mental lucidity. It would appear that Rohfa herself is in some shapeshifting fugue state, prowling around the villages of eastern Strigis. Araceli successfully communicated to her their travails in the Mountains of Morpheus.

The PCs discovered, in the Hidden Temple, a sack of severed, smashed heads. It’s unclear exactly how many: perhaps 15 to 20. Elsewhere, they discovered five headless bodies, including that of an elvish wizard, as well as a bizarre, monstrous, cube-shaped— body — perhaps that of a mimic?

Inventory

The party gained:

  • Some books;
  • Some preserved mushrooms;
  • Two spell scrolls, of shield and arcane lock;
  • Three pearls, likely used as the material component for the identify spell;
  • Some coins and personal miscellanea from the dead elvish wizard.

The party lost:

  • About 10 lbs. of food (though this is replaceable by scavenging from the Hidden Temple);
  • Their two mules;
  • Cicero’s cheese;
  • The decoy cheese.
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Session 8: The Hidden Temple, part one

Overview

The player characters (PCs) looted the gnolls they fought and slew near Fiona’s Cairn, obtaining a map of the local environs, which showed a site west of the Circle of Pines, which they had not previously encountered. They also brought spiritual offerings to Fiona’s Cairn, and dreamed at the mystical site.

The next day, the PCs visited the marked site, but encountered only a large pack of worgs. The PCs scuffled with them, killing two before fleeing.

The PCs then set out to investigate the Hidden Temple, first passing through some winding tunnels, filled with sleeping bats and leading underground. They didn’t get far before encountering a fey creature — something that looked like one of the dryads they’d encountered, but with pale skin like that of a smooth stone, and bat-like ears and long talons. Negotiations with this “Guardian of the Deep,” also called a lampad, broke down, and the PCs were able to defeat, though it was a close fight.

It is presently the evening of November 5.

Details

Araceli dreamed of a mummified hand. He intuited that this item was in the PCs’ presence, but could not discover where. The PCs will gain an XP bonus if they find this mummified hand next session, or the one after.

Inventory

The party gained, from the gnolls:

  • A map of the surrounding area of the Mountains of Morpheus. The Circle of Pines appears to marked, as well as several villages in Strigis located just west of the Mountains. A location west of the Circle of Pines is also marked, with a crude picture of an animal’s head (or a gnoll’s head?).
  • 639 copper pieces, 44 silver pieces, 63 gold pieces.
  • A silver and leather bracer, of rather impressive quality.
  • A glaive, of high quality.
  • A dagger, of high quality.
  • A dose of a black, sticky, tar-like substance.
  • About 15 pounds of food (mostly fruit and meat).
  • A nice silk lavender scarf, which could be sold for at least 10 gp in a city.
  • A piece of stone that looks almost exactly like a mouse.
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