Campaign of the Month: June 2008

Horn of the North

Bowels of the Keep
A reflection before saving the world (or our little corner of it)

20 Kythorn 1479DR

Checkmate's edge, the stench!

We have holed up in a hobgoblin barracks for a well-earned rest.  I fear this may be the last we can take, for as best I can tell, evening is approaching and the work of Shar will most likely be accomplished by the stroke of midnight.   My mind is scatterd with the enormity of what we face – deep in the bowels of what was once Sir Keegan's keep…  his tainted sword Aecris in my hands to redeem the slaughter of his family at his own hands.  I truly hope that Selûne is still watching over us, even here where her dark sister holds sway.

I do worry about my companions – or more specifically, my ability to lead them.  The Grandmaster knows, unlike the village boys I've been "commanding," these folk have no reason to listen to me or adhere to my tactics.  

The field around me is a lanceboard in my mind, with myself as the king. However, losing control over the movement of the other pieces forces me into the role of the queen piece – moving with abandon where needed, forced by circumstance into the midst of the combat rather than guiding it around me.  When I have to abandon my king position, all I can feel is the impending checkmate from our opponents.

The doughty dwarf Rurick is my "rook" – a sturdy piece, but single-minded in its movement, always rushing to the nearest opponent.  I need him to trust that, given a few seconds, we can work together to make the battlefield our own – side-by-side, flanking, forcing movement around and through a gauntlet we create.  If we force our opponents to react to us, I feel we would both fare better in the aftermath of our encounters.  It wil be far better for us to work in tandem than for either of us to fall as an isolani.

In near opposition, Elithia and Kalar move like pawns – slowly and carefully – but they also strike hard at a distance, making them more like bishops – more difficult to move, but equally potent as the rook.  I need them to come off the back rank as an opening gambit, creating opportunities for Rurick and I by giving our opponents more candidate moves to consider, possible traps to ponder.  Ultimately, even one or two wounds taken by each of them can spare Rurick and I as many, if not more.

And then there is Dot.  She comes off the back rank much more readily, but she also favors distance attacks.  Her ultimate advantage in my mind, however, is her unorthodox movement by teleportation – she can create the same advantages and opportunities as my "bishops," with less risk to herself.  She is my "knight."

I do regret our rogue having to leave the field so early into our incursion into the keep.  Another piece on the field would be of great advantage to us, especially since he favored close-quarter combat.  But regrets are unsound, and I must finish this match with the pieces I have remaining…

Quick-n-dirty notes from last session (12/12/08) 

  • Finished the trap room – Elithia nearly flushed
  • Ghoul Warren – Holy cow are ghouls tough now!
  • Cathedral – Priestess of Shar well-feathered, Beserkers a bit tougher.
  • On to the ritual room… need to retcon a couple more 5-minute rests. 
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    How the first heroes came together

    I, Aikarus, shall begin the story in the Forest Kingdom of Cormyr. Truly that is where this tome has its beginning. The origins of the various heroes whose exploits shall comprise these pages are tales best left told by other authors in other volumes.

    On the 17th Day of Kythorn in the Year of the Ageless One (1479 by the Dalereckoning) four heroes arrived to join a fifth in the Cormyrian border town of Winterhaven. Elithia Verdantstrike, an elf ranger of the Dales proficient with the bow and arrow, Dot, an eladrin warlock of Myth Drannor and friend of the fey, Kalar, a wizard of the elves also from Myth Drannor, and Rurick, a stout fighter of the northern shield dwarves, all joined Alain of Winterhaven, who walked the path of a warlord.

    Rurick, Kalar, Dotara (who shall be Dot henceforth, the nickname she prefers), and Elithia – who all came to Winterhaven for a myriad of reasons – had found Kobolds and destroyed one band of them shortly before arriving in town. While in town, discussions with Lord Padraig, the hereditary lord of the small fief of Winterhaven, led to the four heroes setting off the next day (Kythorn 18) to destroy the Kobolds in their own lair. Alain, not formally a guard (though he was trained to be a leader of men by his father, a member of the town watch) and wanting to take the fight to the Kobolds rather than wait, set out secretly to join the four.

    It was outside the lair of the lizardly beasts that Alain met up with the others. After clearing out the den and putting to the sword one, “Irontooth” – a goblin of some skill – a letter was found suggesting that Shar spies and cultists had infiltrated the town and environs. They returned to Winterhaven and helped root out and execute a Sharish spy for the cult leader Kalarel, a she elf ranger named Ninaran.

    On Kythorn 19, the heroes set out to find one Douven Stahl of Arabel, an eccentric explorer who was a childhood mentor of Kalar. He had sought, and found, a dragon burial site near Winterhaven and had vanished some months back. They found him at the burial site, beaten and near death at the hands of Kalarel’s minions. What they sought in the burial site, at the time was unclear. All signs pointed to the Keep on the Shadowfell, the former ancestral home of the Keegans of Winterhaven, as the den of Kalarel’s evil. He sought to summon Shadraxil, a Dragon trapped long years past.

    On the morning of the Summer Solstice; the 20th day of Kythorn, the heroes awoke to a spectral purple sky and the oppressive weight of a ritual of dark magic taking place. They raced to the Keep on the Shadowfell to end Kalarel’s magic and prevent the return of Shadraxil…

    The is the H1 Keep on the Shadowfell module which I will be glossing over in this journal and just touching on the high points. As of this writing, the party is about to face Kalarel himself in the final room of the dungeon. We began the Module in July of 2008. In spite of various setbacks, it appears on course for completion … or a total party wipe.


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