Campaign of the Month: March 2016

Ptolus, City by the Spire

Session 31: New Leads, Ancient Houses, and Killer Butterflies

26th of Bloom, 721 IA

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Young Tolliver the Fast is very thankful to be rescued. Again.

If there was any doubt remaining, he assures you that he’s absolutely finished with the cultists.

He shares the information he overheard while in the clutches of the cultists:

After dumping off Tolly and the other two urchins with Mother Barrow, we headed for the Ghostly Minstrel for an overdue meeting with our patron, Jevicca Norr.

She was also surprised to learn of the legend lore scroll provided by the Lothianite priest Brother Heth, but agreed that it was a very good idea to use it on the Sealed Door to hopefully learn a way to seal it permanently. She asked the heroes to do so and report back to her the next night.

The entire city is buzzing about the barbarian horde on its way to Ptolus.

Things we heard:

  • The barbarian army is fifty thousand strong.
  • The Twelve Commanders have turned to the Inverted Pyramid for help in fighting off the barbarians.
  • The Commissar’s Men are already preparing the Commissar’s Guns for the coming battle.
  • The Commissar has sent requests to Tarsis for military aid, but they have been ignored.
  • The barbarians intend on razing the entire city to kill the Holy Emperor because they hate Lothian.

After a night’s rest, they headed back to the Broken Seal. Kalerecent had been standing guard at the long tunnel entry, and reported that no one had disturbed the place. With scroll in hand, the delvers returned to the Banewarrens and cast the Legend Lore spell.

The spell revealed:

  • The Banewarrens were said to be sealed with the highest level of spells. If the lore of such spells still exists, it is probably locked up in the Banewarrens themselves or in Jabel Shammar, the fortress atop the Spire.
  • Even the walls are enchanted and laced with exotic materials that make them virtually impregnable. Certain doors of the Banewarrens are sealed with extravagantly powerful spells that only a special key can open.
  • The key to the Banewarrens is in the possession of House Vladaam, and takes the form of a human hand.

Aendir Meliamne and Thorzin Oakwood then returned to St. Valien’s Cathedral with this alarming information. Chesh Briarthorn took this information back to her own superiors at the Temple of Teun, Nethwen Nagel went home to ask her mother about what they’d found, Mosquilius Kito went to the Temple Observatory of the Watcher in the Skies to inquire about prophecies, and Yona Note called upon her questionable contacts to search for answers.

What we learned:

  1. House Vladaam is not only the oldest of the noble houses but also the most decadent and corrupt. The family funds a number of criminal organizations, profiting from theft, extortion, smuggling, illegal gambling, assassination, and trade in slaves, drugs, and evil magic items. Even in a city where demons walk the streets (as the Fallen), the Vladaam family may hold its darkest depths of evil.
  2. If we wanted to keep the existence of this Banewarrens Key a secret, we probably shouldn’t have told as many people as we did. Someone’s gonna blab.
  3. If House Vladaam realized what they had, they’d have used it by now. So it stands to reason that they don’t know the hand is a key.
  4. According to Helmut Itlestein, high priest of the Watcher in the Skies, there is a prophecy related to the barbarian horde. It says that some strange celestial event that would occur when the barbarians surrounded the city…
  5. Brother Heth gave us each a 1,000 gp reward for completing this important task. He asked us to further investigate the magics that seal this door, and possibly find a way to procure the key from the Vladaams before they learn what it is.

As Aendir Meliamne and Thorzin Oakwood were leaving the church, they noticed something odd. One of the Order of the Dawn guards who’d been in that meeting was hurrying from the building, and had guiltily made eye contact as she hustled away. Curious and suspicious, they tailed her to Tavern Row in Midtown, where they spotted her ducking into the Griffon, a popular inn and tavern.

They followed her in and confronted her. The half-elf she was meeting there quickly made himself scarce, exiting through the kitchen. They let him go and focused on the Lothianite. After a bit of pressure, she confessed that she was being paid to provide occasional church secrets to House VladaamAendir Meliamne convinced her to turn herself in.

They met again with Jevicca Norr that evening at the Ghostly Minstrel to report everything they’d learned. She also rewarded everyone with 700gp apiece for their work, and asked them to find a way to get that key from House Vladaam. She hinted that, if they found a way to re-seal the Banewarrens, there would be payment of magic items from the Inverted Pyramid’s stores.

Yona Note had some luck finding someone with both a hatred of House Vladaam and knowledge of the Vladaam Estate layout. A meeting was arranged, and the group met with a bard and Knight of the Chord named Nicalon Regelis (Nico for short). He has good reason for despising House Vladaam, and is willing to take us into the belly of the beast. We didn’t tell him exactly what we were after, though; we told him we were after documents in their family’s library. He agreed, but insisted that no innocents could be harmed during the robbery.

Nico needed a couple of days to get everything prepared for a delicate infiltration mission, so we agreed to meet again in a couple of days.

In the meantime, we did have a “secret project” in an Oldtown apartment building to investigate, thanks to the information provided by Tolliver the Fast. The Cults of Chaos were doing something there, so we decided to go check it out.

The apartment building seemed normal from the outside, but the windows were all dark with curtains drawn. As we entered the foyer, a purplish slime hidden on the ceiling just inside the door splattered to the floor and nearly caught us unaware. (Thank you, Hero Points!

In the far corner of the foyer, a large mass of strange material blocked a door. Looking most like the remains of a broken-open cocoon, this sticky and seeping shell was roughly seven feet in diameter and about ten inches thick. As we poked around, a strange black and red-colored insect (a few inches long) crawled out of the shell’s interior. Fearing the worst, Nethwen Nagel skewered it with an arrow, killing it neatly.

But that woke up the rest of the insects. Looking like a swarm of red-and-black butterflies, thousands of these insects emerged from within the shell and took flight! The heroes frantically attacked with weapons and every bit of fire they could quickly produce, though the thick swarm quickly blinded several of them as it attacked…


Fearing the horrid swarm, Yona Note opened a side door in hopes of finding a way around the swarm. Unfortunately, she found something worse! Two six-foot-tall humanoid insects were behind that door, and the rogue suddenly found herself in dire straits as they both leapt forward to attack.

The swarm was venomous, as were the bites of the two horrid insects, but they weren’t immune to fire. Or blades. Or bullets.

After defeating the horrible guardians, the party explored the first level of the building. The insects had chewed large holes in several interior walls, and they spotted (and carefully avoided) several more empty cocoon husks throughout the level. They also found one unopened cocoon/nest, pulsating and glistening with slimy secretions at the base of the stairs leading to the upper floor.

In the northwest corner of the building, we found a large hole in the floor that led straight down 25 feet to what appeared to be the Sewers. There’s a rope ladder there, too.

In the northeast corner of the building, they found a truly horrifying place where a pair of demonic minions (easily dispatched) were apparently injecting their human prisoners (the former residents of the apartment building) with a magical poison that mutated them into the horrible insect creatures!

We procured a couple of syringes full of this strange poison and freed the five prisoners, then headed upstairs…

End of Session.

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