World:Hobbes FR Campaign/Campaign Info/Journal

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Chapter 1: Sons of Gruumsh

The members of the group, all in Melvaunt for various reasons, are brought together by a call for help from Lord Woarsten Nanther who is the head of House Nanther.

Melvaunt, often referred to as the merchant capital of the Moonsea, lies on the north shores of the Moonsea and is one of the central trading hubs in the region. Just north of the city lie the Galena Mountains. Ore from those mountains are mined and sent to Melvaunt where blacksmiths forge the ore into all manner of tools, weapons, armor, and other goods.

Bitter rivalries plague the city’s great merchant families, the most powerful of which are the houses of Bruil, Nanther, and Leiyraghon.

Lord Nanther offers the random group of adventures a large reward to recover his son Oreal, now missing for five days. The scions of four other merchant houses are also missing but Lord Nanther makes it clear that while all the scions should be returned if possible the reward is for the safe return of his son only. He informs the group that the Lord of Keys has conducted an official investigation but he has heard nothing of the results.

The Lord of Keys is a fierce and brutal man by the name of Halmuth Bruil. He was the true heir of House Bruil until a falling out with his father. Giving up his birthright he secured the position of Lord of Keys and commands Melvaunt’s army and city watch. Even though his own son Argens is one of the missing scions the Lord of Keys seems to have little interest in helping locate the missing scions.

The group agrees to help Lord Nanther and conducts an investigation within the city. Speaking to guards at the north gate of the city it soon becomes apparent that the scions fancied themselves as adventurers and left town willingly with the dwarven orc slayer Dorn Crownshield. Their destination was the legendary citadel of Xûl-Jarak deep within the marshes of Thar. The heroes set off for the citadel hoping they can arrive in time.

Along the way they come across a foul troll and during combat with the fearsome creature a half-orc ranger by the name of Haravak comes to the group’s aid. With the troll slain Haravak agrees to help the group in their search for the missing scions. Haravak fights to protect Thar from the evil that infects it and is familiar with the land and it’s inhabitants. He also knows the location of the citadel and while he has never been inside it he has observed it from a distance.

As the group travels deeper into Thar they soon comes across an ambush site where they find the body of Dorn Crownshield and several dead orcs. There is no sign of the missing scions but as they continue along the path they find the remains of horses that were eaten by the orcs and it becomes apparent the group is on the right path.

During the eight day journey to the citadel the group encounters several orc patrols and Haravak comments that there seems to be an unusually high amount of activity in the area. The group finally arrives at the gates of the great gray citadel which rises out of the foggy marshes. With a steady rain falling the group sets up camp for the night and at first light, with the rain still falling, Tarin uses an invisibility and flying spell to scout out much of the interior of the citadel. The group then devises a daring plan to infiltrate the citadel by flying in past the orc archers who guard the walls.

Once on the roof of the citadel the group begins a huge battle against the orc forces garrisoned in the citadel. Tarin uses his magic to create illusions of an invasion force breaching the walls of the citadel. Many of the orc archers attack the illusion and with their forces split the group clears the upper level of defenders. With the archers on the top level dispatched the group then turns its attention to the defenders on the ground level.

From behind a curtain wall the group has a decidedly advantageous position and defeats a fearsome pet wyvern. The wyvern belongs to Vhazror, the orc in charge of the local defenses. With his precious wyvern defeated he joins the battle in a rage as he rallies his remaining orcs to try and stop the companions. As Vhazror falls the citadel fall quiet and only the sound of the rain can be heard as it washes the blood of the orcs away.

The companions regroup and rest a short time before heading down to the ground level. Now inside the citadel the group finds a winged monk by the name of Zhael who was being held captive in an old horse stable. They free him and discover that he had been ambushed and captured by the orcs he was in the process of breaking down the wooden stable doors that held him when the group came upon him. Glad to be free he decides to help the companions in their search for the missing scions.

As the continue to explore the ground level of the citadel they come upon a statue of Gruumsh which contains a red ruby in its eye socket. Entranced by the shiny gem Milo eagerly plucks the ruby from the statue and falls under an evil curse.

As the companions try to determine the effects of the curse, a group of orc emissaries which had been in the citadel to pay their respects to the new warlord Thrull come upon the group and attack them. An evil human cleric named Livikus salutes the group for their bravery before engaging them in combat. The evil cleric uses a devastating combination of physical strength and magic to attack the group but in the end is not up to the challenge and falls in combat.

Milo’s curse manifests itself during this combat and at several points during the fight he stands idle, unable to take action, move, or even talk. With Livikus defeated the group finishes scouting the ground level of the citadel and then decides to rest for the night.

In the morning Marcus is able to rid Milo of his curse and the group descends into the subterranean levels of the citadel. They meet up with only token resistance as the main guard force had been on the two upper levels.

As they continue down into the citadel they come into an area which has been converted into a forge. An evil looking orog shouts orders to various orc smiths who slave over the hot forges pounding metal into weapons and armor. The orog is the brother of the new warlord Thrull and he is in charge of weapon and armor production for the upcoming war. The group defeats him and his smiths and then continue their search for the scions.

Pressing deeper into the citadel the group is discovered by an orc patrol. With enemies in front of them and two orc scouts behind, Harvak chases after the scouts in an attempt to silence them before they can report back to their commander. The companions have no choice but to engage the orc defenders. With their defeat there is no word from Haravak and despite their misgivings they decide to press on and hope that Haravak is able to stop the scouts on his own.

They then discover a passage leading down into the darkness. Tarin, with his knowledge of dungeoneering is able to determine this passage leads into the Underdark and steers the group clear of the passage. Later the group discovers it is this very passage that the orog Thrull and his two brothers used to emerge from the Underdark.

Continuing to explore what appears to be the last level of the citadel the group encounters to orcs by the name of Rulgar and Jurrg. Rulgar is an orc ranger and it was he who discovered the long lost Hammer of Gruumsh. Rulgar knew he was unworthy of such a magnificent weapon and took the weapon to his sister Jurrg, an Adept of Gruumsh.

When Thrull and his two brothers emerged from the Underdark they came upon Rulgar and Jurrg who had been using the abandoned citadel as shelter. Jurrg convinces Thrull that he is powerful enough to wield the weapon and unite all the orc tribes of Thar. Under one banner such a force could rule the entire region.

As news of the Hammer slowly spreads orcs begin to flock to Thrull’s banner. He sets them to work repairing the citadel as he gathers more tribes to him. Before he can wage his war against the humans he must first prove himself before the eye of his god, Gruumsh. Jurrg begins to research and prepare for the Bloodspear Ritual which will prove Thrull's devotion to Gruumsh. Now, months later, Jurrg is only a day away from completing the nine day ritual at the end of which the scions will be sacrificed to Gruumsh as part of the ceremony.

The companions arrive just in time and are able to defeat Rulgar and Jurrg just before Thrull emerges from his room, wearing magical heavy plate armor. He engages the companions but they prove too strong for him and finally Arlen deals the killing blow to the evil orog.

In searching Jurrg’s room Tarin discovers a document which as part of the Bloodspear Ritual chronicles the history and achievements of Thrull. It is then that the group uncovers a plot by House Leiyraghon to help the orcs invade Melvaunt, in return for which House Leiyraghon will govern the enslaved city.

During the battle one of the scions, Argens Bruil, is slain by one of the orc defenders. The rest of the scions are freed as well as a human wizard named Mordak who had also been captures by the orcs. Mordak's forehead holds a grisly wound given to him by the orcs. The orcish rune for “death” has been carved into his forehead with a dagger and while he was held in captivity he was brutally tortured. Upon being freed and regaining consciousness Mordak snaps and in a fit of rage maims the already dead body of Jurrg with her own quarterstaff.

Zhael disarms the crazed wizard who eventually calms down and requests to stay with the group until they are safely out of the citadel. With the group’s resources largely having been used the group decides to rest overnight in the citadel so that Marcus may prepare to use a scroll of resurrection on Argens. The next morning Marcus deciphers the scroll and then uses it to bring Argens back from death. Refreshed, the group sets out for the surface.

Upon leaving the citadel the group is reunited with Haravak who informs them that he successfully stopped the two orc scouts and that he has also discovered thousands of orcs camped a couple of miles to the northeast of the citadel. Wasting no time the group heads south as quickly as possible. It isn’t long before orc hunting horns can be heard in the distance. Haravak sets a fast pace in order to stay ahead of the orc war parties now hunting them.

After two tense days the orc war horns fade in the distance and it become clear the group has evaded the orcs. The mood becomes more relaxed and the group even enjoys a hot meal that night, their first in several days.

Kara Caludron, a half-elf wizard and one of the rescued scions takes a romantic interest in Arlen but this causes a problem with Kalman Leiyraghon, another of the rescued scions who is in love with Kara despite the fact she does not feel the same about him. While eating a hot dinner and drinking some mead Kalman gets drunk and then attacks Arlen with a quarterstaff. The paladin calmly disarms Kalman who then passes out.

Almost four days into their journey back to Melvaunt the group encounters a powerful group of ogre mages and barbarians. A tense fight ensues during which Tarin previews a glimpse of Mordak’s power. Already concerned about his mental state, the group is even more wary with a demonstration of the great power he wields.

Mordak’s mental state continues to spiral downward though and he erupts into a hysterical tirade brought on in part by Tarin's reluctance to allow Mordak to study the Hammer of Gruumsh. Mordak pleads with Tarin to come with him to his tower in Hillsfar where together they can overthrow Mordak's master and then rule the Moonsea as equals. Tarin denies him again and Mordak, in a fit of rage, teleports away.

On the journey back Tarin is able to read and study the documents left behind by the orc adept Jurrg which implicate House Leiyraghon and also detail the orc invasion plans. Kalman denies any knowledge of such an evil plot and is deeply troubled that his father might be involved.

The orcs planned to use a magic portal system built long ago by the ancient orc king Vorbyx. The entry portal is located in the Tomb of Vorbyx which has long been protected by magical seals which prevent anyone from entering. The documents detail that using a lost key to the Tomb, Thrull could then lead his forces into the Tomb of Vorbyx and then use the portal to bypass the local defenses of Melvaunt. The orcs were not currently in possession of the key but seemed confident of obtaining it soon.

As the group nears Melvaunt, Haravak decides to part ways as he seeks to return to the wilderness and find a new wolf companion. He tells them to contact his friend Ulblyn Blackalbuck, owner of the Blackalbuck Swap Shop in town. He informs them that despite Ulblyn’s appearance as a greedy merchant he actually works tirelessly to help protect the citizens of the region and covertly fights slavery in the city.

The group returns to Melvaunt as heroes having rescued the scions as well as having stopped an impending invasion of the region. All of the noble houses whose sons or daughters have been rescued send their thanks. Zhael, forever the wanderer searching for his place, decides to take his leave of the group and departs.

Inside the city the group randomly encounters an elf running from several merchants guards. The elf had apparently stolen an apple from a cart and the guards were going to take their payment from the elf by beating him mercilessly. Cornered in a dead-end alley the strangely tattooed elf hisses menacingly at the guards. The companions intervene and pay the guards for the apple. The strange elf’s name is Cat and he has only a crude understanding of common but is immensely curious about this group of strangers that has helped him and decides to secretly follow after them.

House Leiyraghon, seemingly complicit in the orc invasion invites the heroes to a feast in their honor. Unsure of who is involved in such an evil plot, the companions accept the invitation and cautiously attend the feast. Dornig Leiyragon, the head of the great noble house, greets his guests as if nothing is wrong. Included at the dinner are his older son and heir Bremen and his younger son Kalman who was one of the missing scions.

Cat, the strange and somewhat feral elf follows the group to the Leiyraghon manor where outside he discovers a group of orcs climbing the walls of the manor. Sneaking in through a window Cat goes in search of the group to warn them.

As the dinner progresses an orog, the third and final brother of Thrull, and several orc archers ambush the companions and attempt to murder Dornig. It quickly becomes evident that Bremen was the one who had made the deal with the orcs in exchange for governorship of the city once the orcs had conquered it. Bremen planned to murder his father and thus would inherit all of the family holdings. Bremen flees while the heroes save Dornig. Cat arrives inside the dining hall just as the orcs spring their ambush and helps the group defeat the orcs.

The group secretly meets with Ulblyn to help protect his carefully crafted identity. Ulblyn, himself a former bard, is a student of history and using his own knowledge as well as his various contacts in the region he is able to find out where the key to the Tomb of Vorbyx is being kept. He informs the group that a tribe of ogres in Thar is currently in possession of the key but that the word “possession” is somewhat misleading.

The key is magically protected inside the compound of the ogres but the ogres are unable to open the magically protected container which holds the key. To open the container a riddle must first be solved but so far no one has been able to open it. The ogres, in an attempt to gain access to the key, allow anyone will to try and solve the riddle access to the compound but only in small numbers.

Ulblyn recommends that rather than try and destroy the overwhelming number of ogres in the compound that perhaps a subtle approach might work best. He recommends Tarin and Haravak travel to the compound and that Tarin attempt to solve the riddle. Tarin accepts and after making some preparations heads out to meet Haravak outside the city.

Three days later Tarin returns victorious with the key. He informs the others that he was able to solve the riddle and gain access to the key. The ogres had not actually expected him to be able to solve the riddle and had only posted one guard to watch him. Upon opening the container the ogre guard had prepared to attack Tarin and take the key from him but using his magic he was able to teleport himself and Haravak a short distance outside of the compound where they then mounted their horses and fled at top speed.

With the key to the Tomb safely in hand the group next turned towards destroying the Hammer of Gruumsh. While the magical weapon itself is not overly powerful, it is a strong symbol to orcs in the region and in the wrong hands could be used to unite the warring orc tribes in Thar. Ulblyn recommends a trustworthy smith who can complete the job and Arlen goes to meet him.

Upon arriving Arlen meets with Ulblyn and Ulblyn is annoyed at the blacksmith who arrived late. He expresses to Arlen that the behavior is unusual but doesn’t seem overly concerned. As the blacksmith begins his work he mutters a strange word and his anvil flashes brilliantly and everyone near the shop falls to the ground asleep.

Outside the smithy, passersby also fall under the effects of the magical sleep spell which alerts the others to trouble. Arriving on scene Tarin detects several magical auras and determines that the blacksmith was under a magical enchantment and that a Symbol of Sleep was used on the anvil to trap anyone nearby in a magically induced sleep. Arlen strongly suspects Ulblyn of double crossing them however Tarin suspects that Mordak was the likely culpruit.

The group decides that the Hammer must be recovered. Tarin, knowing firsthand of the power than Mordak wields, begins crafting magical items to help the group prepare for their confrontation with the insane wizard.

Chapter 2: The Wizards Tower

With the orcs scattered and the planned invasion at least postponed the heroes take steps to prevent the orcs of Thar from flocking to a new warlord by seeking to destroy of the Hammer of Gruumsh. They also obtain the key to an ancient orc king's tomb which contains a teleportation network which could be used to bypass the defenses of Melvaunt. Just when they think they have stopped the orcs the Hammer of Gruumsh is stolen and now the heroes must locate the powerful weapon again.

It quickly becomes apparent that Mordak, a prisoner of the orcs of Xûl-Jarak and recently rescued by the heroes is behind the ambush and has taken the Hammer of Gruumsh back to his tower in Hillsfar. Using the arcane arts the heroes track him to his tower and begin their search for the Hammer. Confronting Mordak the group gives him the choice to surrender but Mordak instead chooses to attack. The heroes take heavy losses but in the end manage to defeat Mordak and reclaim the stolen hammer.

Chapter 3: City of the Spider Queen

Heading back to Melvaunt the group then hears of drow surface raids near Dagger Dale. Answering the call for help the group sets out to investigate this dire new threat but is captured in the underdark when a treacherous deep gnome infected with an ancient evil springs a trap on them. The group is rescued and once revived they set out to investigate the source of this ancient evil in the Desolation in the far east.

Chapter 4: The Slumbering Tsar

Over the distant northern hills, beyond The Camp, and past the Desolation stand the pitted walls of Tsar. A hundred armies have crushed themselves against this bulwark in futile attempts to breach the city. Even the combined might of the Heavens and Earth were unable to break through in the final battle of Tsar. So why was the city suddenly abandoned on the verge of victory, and what waits for those foolish enough to enter the Temple-City of Orcus?

The Black Gates await.

Only the bravest and most powerful of heroes dare the depths of the Desolation and live to tell of it. But what happens when they penetrate that blasted landscape and look upon the gates of the very center of evil on the earth. Can even heroes of such renown breach the Walls of Death and live?