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March 22, 2000

Defenders Summary #83: See the World, They Said

Party Roster:

Felix, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Joel
Cassian, 8th level cleric, 51 hp, played by Katherine
Kain, 7th level cleric, 45 hp, played by Jeff
Quentin, 9th level druid, 44 hp, played by Jeremy
Donald, 8th level mage, 43 hp, NPC
Bogomel, 4th level fighter, 41 hp, henchman
Alduin, 8th level thief, 39 hp, played by Vic
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Albee, 6th level monk, 37 hp, NPC
Nakumanu, 4th level fighter, 30 hp, henchman
Chiaro, 6th level illusionist, 12 hp, played by Aaron

We last left our party choosing a mission. Chiaro had just trained to 6th level, gaining a huge 3 hp to stand at 12, and picked up Hypnotic Pattern to give him an actual offensive 2nd level spell.

The party had also gone bankrupt, currently in debt to Cassian a total of 4000 gp, with about 1500 gp in cash.

We decided to attempt a mission in the Tegefed Mountains in Northern Cromwell/ Western Latt (near Groorg’s fortress). We have a poem about the Horn of Iguil, and notes from Kaal Na Ka’s journals, of a strange dungeon with demons and vampires and virtually anything imaginable. There is also great treasure about. The most detail we have are notes of a CERTAIN party that ventured there in the 2140s and defeated a vampire in stasis by using every single protection item they had…. They decided to leave the area after a really bad encounter with two major demons.

Sounds like fun!

We set off from Teft on March 20, 2184. We traveled with a caravan to the town of Cromwell. After changing our money and purchasing riding horses, we set off through Cromwell, passing through towns and asking for directions along the way and performing the usual social blunders. We did have enough “savvy” to pack our weapons and armor on horses before we set off and so experienced nothing other than occasional strange looks, with one exception. When we passed by a forest in a particularly unpopulated section of one of the provinces, we were hailed by a man appearing out of the forest. It turns out that he is a local druid and was completely caught off guard by the appearance of a member of the Druidic Court (or whatever the terminology is) without any warning. Quentin apparently has not yet become accustomed to his growing stature among the druids.

We eventually reached the northern towns, and a rude guard refused to inform us that we should equip ourselves near the swamps in the north, and it was only when we encountered a man from Posidenus on the road that we realized we should equip ourselves.

Finally, we reached the very distant towns to the far north. A kid came up to us in a bar and asked if we were adventurers who had responded to the advertisement. We investigated and found that there was a 150 gp reward for eliminating two ogres who had been stealing stuff from the townsfolk.

We were going to stay the night anyway, so we said, what the heck. Quentin and Kain scouted and found the two ogres dragging a cow back to their lair (which was across the border in Drake). They returned and grabbed Donald. Donald polymorphed into bird and the three set off, and found the ogres in their lair. Donald stepped back, and lobbed a Fireball into the cave, and flames jetted out of the cave, leaving a charred smell.

The three sifted through the wreckage and found melted silver and gold coin glop, and a mostly intact chest with a lock that had melted shut. Donald took the ogre’s club and with a roar bashed the lock open (02 on bend bars!). Inside was 400 gp and cloth bits, etc. Donald made some crack like, “Gee, what do I need you guys for?” and we took the stuff and headed back.

The mayor/deputy/whatever was pretty stunned that we had pulled it off in two days, especially since “most of you never left the bar.”

We got our reward plus a 50 gp bonus for recovering the lost goods (with a 4 gp extra “for a job well done”). They asked if we lived nearby, to which we responded, “… no.”

Nonetheless, we told him we stop in on our return trip, and that we really had to hurry to the Dim Forest.

We reached the town of Hook Hill, which is right near the Dim Forest. There we restocked on supplies and consulted with the local sage. Although his information was similar to Augman’s, we did learn about “the Despicable,” a type of undead monster in the western Dim Forest that is apparently immune to all weapons and spells, thereby being unkillable. If we stayed on the road we wouldn’t see those.

Also, since the fall of Groorg in 2180, the monsters of the area were getting more desperate as the controls fell away. Also, there is a Realmish bandit group roaming about, a rogue group from the Wuncan civil war. They are very well armed and the possibility cannot be eliminated that there is a shocktrooper among their ranks.

We thanked him and set off after reselling our horses (at a loss of only 10 gp total!). We have about 1500 gp plus other things for bribes for the inevitable encounter with Lludd, the behir who lives in the area (in fact very near the Horn of Iguil area).

We set off into the Dim Forest. There was only one encounter, when at night 30 ghouls ran screaming at the party. However, before they could reach us, 12 ran away, 6 exploded, and most of the rest were Webbed. Cassian then blew the rest up and Quentin slept through the entire encounter.

We emerged from the Dim and set off on the path into the mountains. We were notified that a party of dwarves would probably be coming down about a week from when we set out from Hook Hill.

We climbed for a few days with Cassian and Bogomel helping with their skills. Alduin and Morgan were also good climbers. The cliffs weren’t sheer, but travel was very slow.

The front line of the party abruptly stopped one day when a few hobgoblins appeared at the top of the cliff and started shouting. Warned that the tribes were becoming much more violent and desperate since the death of Groorg, we knew to expect hostility. This was further solidified when we heard in dwarven, “Give us all your weapons and gear and maybe we will let you live.”

Cassian, Bogomel, and Felix were near the top at this point, while Balinor, Chiaro, Donald, and Quentin were lower down. No one could see anything except the edge of the plateau, so Kain turned into a crow and flew up to scan and report. Alduin turned invisible and he and Morgan moved up the cliff face, Morgan hanging just behind Alduin.

Balinor and the others climbed down to a safer location while Kain scouted. He discovered that there were at least 15 hobgoblins with spears and swords and all sorts of stuff. Donald shrugged, and waited as some of the hobgoblins moved forward. Then he let loose a Fireball, exploding above the hobgoblins (who were out of his sight range) and killing all of them, or at least dropping them.

Kain went up for another look and now it become clear that he had somehow missed the main force. There were at least 60 other hobgoblins up there, including formations with composite longbows and spears and crossbows, and a shaman figure with several bodyguards. Anyone who crested the cliff would be met with a hail of arrow fire. Several hobgoblins were crawling forward to save some of the burnt hobgoblins from the Fireball.

Things looked pretty ugly. Quentin anxiously fingered his scroll of Call Lightning and looked at the partly cloudy sky. Then, of all people, Chiaro saved the day.

Chiaro cast a Spectral Force, and several “Defenders” crested the cliff, where they were shot at repeatedly. A lightning bolt streaked at them, went through, and arced down and hit Quentin (who was carrying Thunderstruck).

The “warriors” staggered for a moment and then began to advance under Chiaro’s command. Meanwhile, a new demonic warrior appeared with a glowing sword of lightning. This must have freaked them out, because the shaman yelled something and threw an object that bounced into the vicinity of the cliff area, in the middle of the illusions. All of the hobgoblins dove for cover.

Nothing happened.

The hobgoblins looked up in disbelief.

Several hobgoblins began advancing once again, and this time, Chiaro hit them with a “Fireball.” Half of them collapsed, “dead.” Now the hobgoblins were really in a pickle, as they went to retrieve their new “dead” comrades. Chiaro’s illusions were rapidly losing credibility, but it was too late for the hobgoblins.


Because all of this had bought time for Cassian to cast a Dust Devil.

The little air elemental soared up and reached the object, which was still lying on the cliff face… and kicked it.

Right back at the main hobgoblin force.

They all dove for cover.

It didn’t matter.

The object vanished in a rapidly expanding orange sphere and a huge demonic being appeared in the area. It turned and darkness enveloped orange sphere, and the cloud moved over the hobgoblins who were too slow off the mark. The shaman and his fellows staggered out the back, running, and a jet of flame emerged at one point. There were screams.

After a few minutes, the cloud began moving rapidly after the fleeing hobgoblins. Behind it were only bits of armor and equipment.

The cloud enveloped the shaman and his cohorts, and it was all over in a matter of minutes.

The darkness dispersed, and there was nothing there.

The Defenders climbed the wall and searched through the gear at the top, finding all sorts quality weapons and armor, but mysteriously all money and any magic items (if there were any) had vanished. All we had was one hobgoblin who still thought she was dead, who we tied up and questioned.

It turned out that they were a nomadic tribe and that they had apparently set up their camp here. The hobgoblin didn’t have much useful information to volunteer, and so we had to decide what to do with her.

Quentin wanted to bring her along, but a massive outvoting by everyone else stopped that route of madness. We offered her either a quick death or to be released. She preferred release, and we told her that most of the weapons were still intact and that the dead tribe was over there. She ran off. Didn’t seem particularly bothered by the incident.

Well, there you have it.


March 15, 2000

Defenders Summary #82: The Resolution of a Few Problems

Party Roster:

Felix, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Joel
Cassian, 8th level cleric, 51 hp, played by Katherine
Kain, 7th level cleric, 45 hp, played by Jeff
Quentin, 9th level druid, 44 hp, played by Jeremy
Donald, 8th level mage, 43 hp, NPC
Bogomel, 4th level fighter, 41 hp, henchman
Alduin, 8th level thief, 39 hp, played by Vic
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Albee, 6th level monk, 37 hp, NPC
Nakumanu, 4th level fighter, 30 hp, henchman
Chiaro, 6th level illusionist, 10+ hp, played by Aaron

A very cool and productive game session!

The party had several goals for the final adventures of the party. We would like to gain Morgan the ability to rise in level, as he is less than 10,000 XP from 8th level, which he cannot train to. There were two ways to accomplish this: actually raising his level (or just his level limit), or raising his strength.

We also wanted a Potion of Treasure Finding to find the remaining treasure of the defeated will’o’wisp, which was clearly hidden somewhere in that area.

We split into two parties to accomplish this. Morgan, Alduin, and Donald went to Carse, while Felix and Nakumanu went to Koralgesh. Cassian and Bogomel went to Teft to train, Kain went to Teft to work with the Silban church, Chiaro went to Koralgesh to drill and train, Quentin trained in Restenford, Balinor remained in Restenford, and Albee went to Barnacus to train.

We went broke making our training costs plus treasure finding potion costs, and the Baron lent us 10,000 gp to tide us over until the will’o’wisp’s treasure was recovered.

In Koralgesh, Felix fumbled around but found absolutely no offers. Morgan was (surprise) much luckier.

On the first week, as Alduin was nailing up a sign, a man showed interest. He offered Morgan a Belt of Hill Giant Strength! That’s strength 19, permanently!

We had several items to trade, but clearly we were going to have to give up something valuable to us to complete the trade, and over the mild objections of Donald (and Cassian—but not the rest of the party), Morgan traded the Horn of Valhalla for the Belt.

So now Morgan’s level limit is at least 9 (it may be higher), and he is transformed into a super-strong fighter! The Defenders now deal ridiculous melee damage:

Morgan: 1d8/1d12 +12 every 2.5 segments
Balinor: 2d4+2/2d4 +15 every 2 segments
Felix: 1d6/1d8 +14 every 1.5 segments
Bogomel: 1d6/1d8 +9 every 4 segments

That’s a total average damage between the four of about 33 per segment!

In addition, either Cassian or Alduin or Morgan (I can’t remember which) got a good deal on a Treasure Finding Potion for only 4800 gp. Felix did not accidentally purchase a second potion before he found out.

Cassian trained to 8th level, gaining 6 hp to stand at 51. Quentin trained under Almax to gain 9th level and 7 hp, bringing his total to 44. He flew to the Druidic Court to undergo the ceremony to receive fifth level spells, and is now the most powerful spellcaster in party history! Bogomel trained to 4th level, gaining 10 hp to stand 41. Chiaro trained, but has not been rolled yet. Albee trained to 6th, gaining 6 hp to stand at a ridiculous total of 37 (which is just as good as Donald’s hp). For example, the maximum possible hp for any 6th level monk is 42.

Obviously, our XP was excellent, ranging from 4000 for the henchman, 9000 for Albee to about 13000 for everyone else!

The only debacle over the winter occurred when Duke Haermond wanted to reward the Defenders for giving him the Staff of Kings. The Duke’s messenger was met by the only resident of the house, Balinor. The unfortunate conversation that followed involved the messenger waiting in the rain for an hour, and becoming so angry that he deliberately miscommunicated Balinor’s blunt statement about money problems such that the Duke thought we were having a minor cash flow problem and ignored it. This is actually better because the party really had other ideas for the favor anyway… like if we build a town (see below).

The party gathered back in town to uniformly smack Balinor upside the head, and then set out to get the will’o’wisp’s treasure. Felix used the potion and we found that the treasure was under an oak tree. With Quentin helping and lots of Cure Light spells we managed not to kill the tree and dig out a large metal chamber (bronze) with a neat jarlike opening device. Alduin disarmed the trap on it (wonder what it was?) and we went inside. We found two dead bodies with two strange objects on one of them. We found a cannister with a weird knob. We also found a strange lead box.

There were also 30 leather sacks of gold and platinum.

We took the money (which amounted to 15,000 gp) and the items and were moving the bodies (which were non-magical, as was everything else in the room) on top to bury them, when one of the bodies got up and started walking toward Barnacus.



We tried to follow it, which was difficult but possible. Kain cast Hold Person at the creature and it turned to follow Kain, who backed away for about a half hour. The creature picked up a rock, and Kain ducked behind a tree. The thing put the rock back down, and started walking toward Barnacus again.

While Kain and Quentin followed it in crow form (various attempts to slow it had little effect, including Entangle), Cassian slept to get Speak with Dead spells.

Kain tried a Dispel Magic, and the creature turned around and pointed at him. Kain felt a chill pass through him and the thing turned around again (Kain saved).

Cassian ran without her armor and with an escort, and finally with a Fly spell managed to close the distance gap in the middle of the night (not the best time to be wandering Lendore Isle unarmored). Much of the remainder of the party headed back to Restenford with the money and stuff.

Cassian cast Speak with Dead, and the creature stopped and she spoke with it. It appeared to be some sort of spirit that wanted vengeance on another person that betrayed him. The target was named Yearnt and probably was in Barnacus. The thing nearly grew angry when Cassian inadvertently asked what its secret was, but further communication attempts failed (the spell only occasionally works on undead, but it’s actually a conversation). We decided to warn Duke Haermond and let him deal with it while Kain Quentin tracked it in turns.

They reached the outskirts of Barnacus and Kain freaked out some farmers by yelling (while still a crow) for them to get out of the way. Kain was surprised not to see the usual group of 20 cavaliers and paladins standing at the wall waiting for the thing, so he flew into Barnacus proper. After speaking with a confused guard on the wall, Kain observed the revenant reach the pauper’s grave area where a number of horsemen stood, not looking particularly worried. The creature reached a grave, and then fell down in a heap.

Turns out Yearnt had been dead for four hundred years. Oops.

The bronze chamber was some sort of scry-proof room, but it was too embedded to dig out easily. We showed the Baron where it was and left it at that.

The cannister turned out to be some sort of flamethrower! It was refillable but only with a liquid that required scales from a fire salamander…. We gave the item up to the Baron as we owed him one anyway. We also repaid our debt to him with the money and finished our donations.

The box was much weirder. Inside was a diorama of a small town. But six of the little building were magical tokens of that building! There was a fortress, a jetty, a merchant ship, a town hall structure, a lighthouse, and a stone tower!

This awe-inspiring set was locked away in the Baron’s chest for now, but clearly this town-founding stuff is beckoning!

Next we need to decide on a final quest. We’ve been looking at the maps, and though I’m sure there will be much e-mail discussion, we’ve been more in favor of certain ones, basically narrowing down the choices to a place north of Carse and Ventris Isle, a place in the Tegefed Mountains on the Latt-Drake-Cromwell border (right near Tharizdun, for those who know that reference), and one other in Southern Cromwell where the Yatols and another mountain chain meet—I think that’s the center of the frost giants or where you enter the Southern Wilderness or something.


March 01, 2000

Defenders Summary #81: The Big Bang Theory

Party Roster:

Felix, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Joel
Cassian, 7th level cleric, 45 hp, played by Katherine
Kain, 7th level cleric, 45 hp, played by Jeff
Donald, 8th level mage, 43 hp, NPC
Alduin, 8th level thief, 39 hp, played by Vic
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Quentin, 8th level druid, 37 hp, played by Jeremy
Albee, 5th level monk, 31 hp, NPC
Bogomel, 3rd level fighter, 31 hp, henchman
Nakumanu, 4th level fighter, 30 hp, henchman
Chiaro, 5th level illusionist, 9 hp, played by Aaron

(Note: I would NEVER write a false summary on April Fools Day. Have no fear.)

The party had just been dropped back in time though a time warp/simulation or whatever, perhaps inside the grey philosopher’s twisted mind. We had woken to find ourselves in the ancient Khargish city. Our first contact was made with the high priest of the Korian church, an older man named Matar (which, I noted, means “to kill” in Spanish).

After we at least partially convinced that we were weird and probably not entirely insane, Matar agreed to meet with us daily in a park in town, where all the trees had been cut down. It seems that the situation in the city was roughly this:

The city is the capital of the declining Khargish empire. It is ruled by a Council of eight people, representing each of the four churches, plus defense, trade and fishing, agriculture, and the stables. The council members make policy decisions and commoners are not present at those meetings—rather, the commoners tell their elders who tell the council members. There used to be a royal family, but it was eliminated along with forty people in the great castle by a single invading “Westerner,” a shocktrooper (we think). Since then the Realm established a colony in Barnacle Bay on Hasding Island (where Duke Haermond of Barnacus currently resides in his castle). The Realmish troops attacked the Kharg frequently until finally the Kharg had no choice but to seek aid in a war they were rapidly losing. They hired the privateer Zaklek to attack Barnacle Bay, and the attack appeared to proceed slowly but successfully as the Realmish supply lines were cut.

The Kharg had no money to give, so instead they paid in labor and goods. Specifically, they repaired the privateers’ ships when they sailed in. This required a great deal of wood, which the Kharg had little of. They were eventually forced to take wood from the Argo Forest to the east, which is a wood of treants. About this time the clerics of Silban in the area intervened and suggested a compromise wherein some of the wood would be cut down but properly replanted.

The Silbans were promptly annihilated by both sides and all-out war began. Every time the Kharg needed wood they would send massive forays into the forest with flaming brands to keep back the treants while they chopped down one or two trees, and then they fled. They dug a trench to fill the area with salt water and harm the trees in the vicinity to make this process easier. A small fortress was placed on the ruins of the Silban church.

Naturally, the cost of wood rose dramatically. Taxes were being raised steadily as wood became harder and harder to obtain. The citizens complained, and the most influential councilman, Lile, began to listen to them. Still, it was difficult to refuse the privateers, especially since it seemed that Barnacle Bay was completely blockaded and on the ropes.

A council meeting was due to occur in two weeks on the matter. We didn’t even have enough money to stay at an inn that long!

We settled into the cheapest residence possible—floor space in a rundown inn full of drunk half-orc privateers. The information compiled above was obtained from various sources including random townsfolk (from chatting in bars), the half-orcs, merchants and drover that Cassian met while posing as a teamster, the brownie druid of the Argo Forest (whose name was, I’m not making this up, Bobohead), and Matar.

We needed to identify two things:

Who was the grey philosopher? What exactly was his decision?

The first was actually simple to confirm. Chiaro used a Phantasmal Force spell to create a artist sketch of grey philosopher as he appeared in Cassian’s vision earlier. He was identified as Lile, the councilman. The crusaders in the earlier paintings were identified as the Barnacle Bay forces. Zaklek was the pirate.

We decided first that we should attempt to influence Lile’s decision by influencing the view of the people. Cassian’s vision had been of the councilmen arguing heatedly and both them and the pirates walking away angrily from a summit meeting. This seemed to indicate that Lile had refused to pay the wood. We decided to start on a propaganda campaign to encourage people to pay the tax, as then the pirates and crusaders would not simultaneously attack.

We did this for several days, and we experienced very limited success, until finally disaster struck. Kain was confronted by the “Minister of Defense” councilman, who we identified as carrying a very familiar bastard sword. This was one of the skeleton warriors!

He accused Kain of being a spy for Zaklek, and threatened him if he continued on this course. When Kain was unwilling to explain his presence or actions, the threats became more clear, and we put an end to the propaganda campaign.

It was becoming clearer that this was not a good solution in the end anyway. Clearly the Argo Forest was unwilling to negotiate, and wood demand would rise to an intolerable level. Then we began to think about the role of treachery in all this.

It was time to check out Barnacle Bay. Quentin flew to the site of Barnacus, and made some very interesting discoveries. First, he noted that where the town of Barnacus is in the modern day there was a completely square forest! As he circled in, Quentin realized that this was a Hallucinatory Forest and that it was all an illusion. Still, he was unable to penetrate the illusion with his sight, but he flew in and noted people camped in the forest. They were the crusaders, the Realmish army, and they weren’t being besieged by pirates…

Furthermore, there were six ships of Realmish make heavily camouflaged in the Bay between the forest and Hasding Island. Clearly the pirates had switched allegiances. Quentin noted in his eavesdropping that they were going to march that day or the day after on the Khargish city!

Simultaneously, we had Cassian speak with birds on the shore and we discovered that a fleet of 11 ships was headed this way, led almost certainly by Zaklek. Clearly things were coming to a head.

When Quentin arrived back, it finally dawned on us what our role probably was. Our mission here was to provide Lile with additional information to make a different decision and see if the results are different. We set about doing that.

We arranged a meeting with Lile, which turned out to be surprisingly easy. He rode out on a horse from the Temple of Thim (he was the high priest) and we convinced to him to give us an audience in a place of his choosing. He also chose the same spot as Matar, the park with the chopped down trees. There we eventually convinced him as we had Matar, and he agreed that we were probably not all suffering from the bizarre delusion. We insisted that he at least confirm our reports of the army. He agreed and (after remaining intently in thought for a moment) took his leave from the party.

We decided that there was nothing else we should do. We had done our part in the experiment and all we could do was wait.

Two days later, we awoke to find most people leaving the town and a few remaining behind to take up arms. Matar informed us that Lile had met with Zaklek on the shores and indicated that he had evidence of his treachery and both had stormed off angrily. We were horrified… had we somehow stumbled onto the same result despite our efforts, or in fact BECAUSE of them?

I say with pride that we didn’t panic. We simply went to Lile to ask what had happened. He explained the situation, that he had confirmed the crusaders’ advance and knew that he could not hold the city. Therefore he was evacuating the city except for enough volunteers to make it look like they were still there defending it. He would wait until the final moment of the attack and then activate the staff, destroying the city and killing all the crusaders and pirates.

Thinking we had failed, we nearly despaired. Then we realized that things had changed as Lile said, “The bridle of Farin left two hours ago.” It had been replaced by a replica. The town was being evacuated. These things were different than Cassian’s visions, which was a very good sign.

We realized that had done our part and said our goodbyes. We left town and picked a good vantage point in the mountains to the south (where the Blue and the Gray now reside) to watch the huge explosion that would happen. Quentin warned the Argo Forest of the imminent disaster in the hopes of reducing the damage.

From our neat vantage point we could see the city and its surrounding areas, nestled between the Argo Forest and what we realized was the Trenhurst Forest to the west. The townspeople had noted that even in this time no one had ever come back (they’d tried to get wood there—now that’s a fun logging expedition).

The crusaders passed us, encompassed in a moving illusionary forest that moved across the ground! (Though none of our characters know this, Edwin explained that the Codex of Illusions can create some pretty disturbing one-shot illusion items) Zaklek and his ships landed and the fighting began in earnest. The combat had been going on for about three or four hours when there was a sudden roar. The entire plain underwent a ripple effect as all the ground blew sky-high and then sunk lower in a wave which spread outward. We could see the shockwave approaching, and the entire party was knocked off its feet, leaving us stunned and nearly killing Chiaro (he took 10 damage).

The ripple effect spread out, unearthing about a quarter of the Argo Forest and uprooting all the trees and flinging them about. The wave moved west, enveloping the farms, and then it reached the Trenhurst.

And completely and abruptly stopped dead, leaving the Trenhurst completely unaffected.

The city’s land had sunk, and before we could walk back, a mist had already set in down below. Since we hadn’t come out of the “dream” we decided to go back down to the city to investigate. Suddenly we found ourselves on solid ground…

And we awoke on the floor of the grey philosopher’s building. (Each of us had to make a system shock to see if we were healed of the damage inflicted in the combat, which only Morgan both failed and was actually injured anyway) The skeletons and the philosopher lay nearby, their equipment gone outside of the two swords on the skeletons.

Some things had changed. The area was no longer consecrated evil ground. The Wall of Fire was gone. There were 160 dead skeletons on the floor below. And we noted that the mist, while still present, was considerably less oppressive than it had been.

We buried the philosopher and the skeletons and carved tombstones for them (with Stoneshape). The second skeleton warrior, by the way, had been the leader of the outpost next to the Argo Forest. Also, we noted that the “high ground” we always camped on was the top of the druidic stones marking the former Silban temple.

We buried the skeletons in a mass grave. We Rest Eternalled the philosopher and his men.

We checked out the rest of the city, but the undead had vanished. It was clear that ships had been moored at the harbor, but that they had sailed away.

Yes, a half-dozen ghost ships just sailed north toward the Korinn Empire.

Not our problem.

In the lighthouse we found two hideously trapped chests containing about 4000 gp each. The skeletons’ swords were magical. We also found a fourth skeleton of a crusader with a petrified arm reaching for the smashed bridle case in the Temple of Thim. His stone hand held the tattered remnants of a bridle.

Perhaps the replica was nastier than just a simple copy.

For the moment, there was little of interest in the city. The mist remained and the swamp remained, although the evil was gone. The place was not inhabitable, but perhaps now the Argo Forest can reclaim some of its land. In any case, the city will soon be infested by lizards and snakes and killer frogs and whatever else. But at least we accomplished our mission.

We returned home uneventfully. A quick check with the Argo Forest confirmed the existence of one Bobohead, who told many stories that no one deemed worth remembering. So we’ll never know.

We learned that we had been asleep on the floor of the temple for two weeks! This is even more bizarre when you consider that we didn’t spend that long in the simulation?!

We sold our stories of the ruins to Augman for sage credit. He passed several on to Orimaxes in Cromwell.

The treasure:

Platinum staff with singing bird—we learned that this was the Staff of Kings (from Matar)—will be presented to Duke Haermond on behalf of the party as a potential diplomatic gift to the remaining Kharg. (It doesn’t actually do anything, it’s just worth a lot)

Falchion +1/+4 vs. woodland creatures—will be given to the Druidic Court as partial payment for training and donation.

Bastard Sword +2—Also has the awe-inspiring power that it Mind-blanks twice a week. Even though no party member uses the bastard sword, we kept it for this ability.

Five Force Beads and an Illusionist Scroll—We gave up two to the Baron and kept the rest. We owe a good magical item in salvage tax, but it seemed worth it.

Chiaro gets the Illusionist Scroll, which has Hypnotize and Hypnotic Pattern, which he does not have.

Treasure amounted monetarily to something like 10-15,000 gp.

An exciting and satisfying conclusion to an adventure that has been on our mind for a long time (since 2176).

Next time, training and the rainy season of 2183-4!