d20play house rules toren campaigns 01/23/02

TOREN 2000 - Stories
The Lost Tower of Radeem

We decided to return to the swamp one last time and search the ancient tower ruins. The madman Plygar had found a biography describing in some detail the exploits of the ancient mage Radeem, furthermore he suspected that the ruined tower was the stronghold of the old mage. If it were true, the old ruins could house considerable wealth, just waiting to be recovered, however it may also house considerable danger, apparently Radeem was no middling mage as evidenced by his journal:

· Summoned an air elemental that devastated the Rotting Claw gnoll tribe that lived in the distant Berhen Hills.

· Incinerated a tribe of lizard folk who lived in this swamp before him using a wand of fireball. He also subdued a young black dragon who ruled the lizard folk. No vestige of the reptile tribe remains to this day. The dragon lived in Radeem's stronghold.

· Helped a tribe of Ogres (the Bonebreaker clan) defeat the dark druids of the Low Black Forest by causing a great flood of the Vardostus River. The ogres then took over the druids' lair on the edge of the Vardostus River just south of Lopic Castle. The Ogres were Radeem's allies thenceforth.

· Called upon an earthquake to drive a band of goblin raiders from their cavernous lair (which is reportedly near the wizard's stronghold). This deed awed a nearby clan of wild gnomes, who agreed to help the wizard excavate the dungeons beneath his stronghold.

After much travel between Tathan, Cherry Knoll, and Ersel Keep, we were able to sort out the mess caused by Plygar and turn him over for justice at the capable hands of the sheriff of Ersel Keep. A small penance on my part for slaying the poor souls caught up in Plygar’s misguided quest for revenge. Soon with all our duties attended to we were once again able to turn our attention to the swamp. Our first order of business was to investigate the dead knight. We set off in the morning and arrived at the large clearing near midday, once there we prepared ourselves and approached the long dead warrior. As we approached it became apparent that thick webs, and not necromancy as I suspected, supported the knight. Arngrimnir and I approached the figure intent on further investigation, but we were stopped short by strands of near invisible webbing, the thick strands stuck to my armor and shield, and as if that were not enough spiders the size of large dogs scurried out the trees and down the webbing. They were blindingly fast, and their dagger-like fangs dripped with deadly venom. Before I could rip free of the entangling webs one of the creatures was atop me, the beast tore through my armor as if it were cheesecloth, and sunk its envenomed fangs into my shoulder. I could feel the warm venom cascade down my arm and hoped his fangs had not struck true. Fear giving me strength, I tore away from the webs and brought my magical sword down heavily upon the creature, filling the air with a smell of ozone and burning flesh and hair. I quickly turned searching frantically for Daltree, who I knew now carried vials of anti-venom, but instead found Arngrimnir with his hands full. Not only did the spider that ran past me engage him, but also two more had come from the other side. He was still mounted on Stout, his war pony, and fighting the creatures as best he could as they scurried beneath his mount biting at his legs and Stouts vulnerable belly. I rushed over to help, thoughts of poison pushed to the back of my mind, but I was too late to save Stout, the pony collapsed convulsing. The surprisingly agile Arngrimnir was able to land on his feet, and without missing a beat brought his axe down heavily upon the chitinous shell of a spider splitting it wide. The two of us were able to quickly dispatch the remaining spiders, keenly aware of a second battle raging to our flank. The rest of the group, Dylon, Daltree, Zandor, and Mick had been attacked from behind by two more spiders and grotesque creature vaguely resembling both a spider and a man. Fortunately the four were able to slay the spider creature and its two pets quickly with magic. While it appeared that none of the spider venom had gotten into my wound, I took no chances and drank some of the anti-venom Daltree had purchased in Tathan.

We continued on to the swamp and found that it had drained some since we left it, but it still had several days to go. While waiting we decided to explore the area. Apparently the stagnant waters held some powers; we found all forms of giant insects and animals in the area but nothing of real interest, except Daltree who seemed to take an interest in the wolf pack we encountered on our last trip, he spent much of his time there while we fended off the unnaturally large denizens of the swamp. When at last the swamp had drained enough we gathered ourselves at the base of the ruined tower. A single door of rusted iron guarded the entrance to the tower but we found that a key we recovered from Plygar fit the lock perfectly, and so we entered.

The tower was dark, dank, and reeked of decay. We moved down some stairs and beneath the water table, finally finding ourselves before a bronze plaque and clockwork levers. Dylon recognized the writing as elvish, his native tongue, and translated.

"Only those who know of the maste's magic may pass unharmed. Which of the four elements did mighty Radeem call upon to drive the goblins from their lair?"

The answer was obvious; however anyone without the journal we recovered could only guess. Once we pulled the “earth” lever, a section of the stone wall swung open revealing stairs leading even further in the bowels of the swamp. The stairway was treacherous and we took them slowly, Arngrimnir keeping watch, his dwarven eyes accustomed to the hollow darkness. It was not long before the stairs widened, and Arngrimnir informed us that a room opened ahead, and it was filled with the walking dead, not dissimilar to those we encountered in the crypt of Valankriis. We moved to engage them, however the treacherously slick stairs caused me to slip and tumble headlong into the first of the long dead soldiers. Giving quick thanks to the mage who enchanted my armor I stood drawing my magic sword, whose crackling energies cast an eerie glow on the legions of skeletons and zombies before me, the stench of their death clung heavy in the air, but for all their hideousness the dead are poor fighters, panic and fear being their best weapon. Dylon, however, stole even that; he ground their bones to dust with but a prayer. Even here in the dark and the cold, Arksorn’s power was undiminished, and the dead were obliterated before its awesome might. It took the rest of us little time to dispatch the remaining skeletons, and even their champion, an enormous skeletal ogre fell quickly under our onslaught.

The room was once a grand hall, with a balcony overlooking a vast audience chamber, now filled with mud, and whose expanse could not be determined even by Arngrimnir’s keen dark vision. At the far end of the hall were a set of massive stone doors, one of which had been forcibly ripped from its hinges by some terrible force. We found several other exits however all but one had been caved in or mud filled. One of peculiar interest ended in an unusual intersection, paths angled off in a circular fashion to the right and left, and following the curve of the far wall were mysterious engraving etched into the floor filled with colored sand. I had seen such markings, but where, I pondered a moment while Zandor examined the etchings, then it came to me . . . an old book in the Tathan library, a book about magic writings and spellcraft. This was a thaumaturgic circle, used for protection and imprisonment of Outsiders. I pulled Zandor back, while the tower had been in ruin for many years, it was possible that the circle still held something. We sent Mick to the left, to follow the mysterious trail; his arrival from the right confirmed my suspicions. The magic circle contained something on the other side of the wall. Mick further announced that on the far side there was a stairway leading up, and that he carefully picked his way between the etched symbols to enter the circle and climb the stairs. He told us of a finely decorated room, and a woman of exquisite beauty sitting at a table, but that was not all, the woman had wings, like a bat and short horns growing from her forehead, surely some sort of demoness. This did not sound good, but Daltree searched for magic and said the circle of protection was still active, and was in fact the strongest magic he had ever seen.

We decided to search the rest of the area while contemplating what to do about the demoness. We returned to the grand hall and the smashed stone door, while Arngrimnir advanced to examine it he noticed an intense smell of decay coming from the room beyond. He moved cautiously forward prepared for more undead, but I could tell from the look of surprise on his eyes that is not what he saw. He stammered out the word dragon before regaining his battle senses and reading his axe. Dragon! Redeem's black dragon, gods this trouble I backed against the remaining stone door and fumbled for my potion of magical strength. Arngrimnir was already moving into the room, and Dylon lit the area with a sunrod. Putting my fear aside I rolled off the wall and charged into the room, uncertain of what I might see.

The room was now fairly well lit, and I could make out the gigantic carcass of a black dragon atop a vast pile of treasure resting atop a three-tiered dais. Arngrimnir was at the base of the first tier peering over the lip, he pointed up towards the carcass and whispered “baby dragon, behind the mother”, I quickly climbed onto the five-foot tier and took a shielded position against the second tier. The rest of the group made their way into the room, keeping an eye out for anything. Suddenly the beast rose from a shallow pool at the far end of the doomed room, barely within our light source. Zandor was ready with a spell, and darts of pure magic shot from his fingertips, hitting the beast directly, however it retaliated with blast of corrosive acid, catching several members in its path. I began moving towards the creature when I was blindsided by a second dragon. While no larger than a dog, the creature attacked me with a ferocity I had not thought possible. If not for my magically enhanced strength I may have been able to fend it off. Fortunately Arngrimnir was close and beat the creature back with his axe, but paid a high cost for his heroics as the second dragon blasted him with its acid spray as well. Behind me Zandor was casting spell after spell with reckless abandon, he was able to bind the first beasts with webs, but then sent some misaimed spell in my direction, sending a wave of exhaustion cascading through my mind, it was only though sheer force of will that I was able to shake its effects and continue to battle the dragon. Arngrimnir’s strike took much of the fight out of it, enabling me to go on the offensive and beat the creature back with inhumanly powerful blows. Soon with the combined might of the group we laid the beast low. With its sibling dead, the other dragon flew into a rage, spraying acid all over its silken prison and dissolving the thick treads. The beast charged a flurry of claws and teeth, but I was ready and met it with my magic sword, the electric charge dancing across the glistening scales of the dragon as I plunged the blade deep within its scaly breast. And with that the fight was done. We spent the rest of the day gathering up the dragons’ treasure horde and searching the remainder of the ruins. We scoured the rest of the keep but turned up little, save for collapsed and impassable corridors and five gigantic statues within the mud filled audience chamber. Eventually all that remained was the decision of what to do with the demoness. We resolved to rest and investigate further with magic on the marrow.

We rose the next day with Dylon and Zandor better prepared to divine and combat the creature. We first sent in Dylon under the guise of invisibility to determine the strength of the creature. He used his magics to determine that she was a powerful and evil creature of the lower planes, exactly what sort of demon he could not determine, however any otherworldly creature could prove extremely dangerous. This left us with two options. The first, leave this hellish creature confined within her circle and hope magic of the circle survives longer that the demon, or second, confront the beast in its lair in hopes of banishing it from the world forever. While I knew nothing of the dangers of facing a demon I did know that allowing this evil to remain here unchecked would not sit well with my conscious. I cast my vote and the others agreed, and so we devised an attack plan. Mick would sneak in under the guise of invisibility, Arngrimnir and I would lead the rest up the short flight of stairs, then while the demoness is distracted by our approach Mick would make quick work of her with a well placed crossbow bolt. The plan worked perfectly, except the demoness saw the bolt as it left the crossbow, and with lightning-like reflexes she was able to dodge it, turning a killing blow into a mere flesh wound. It mattered little however, as the rest of us of flooded into the room and engaged her. But the fight was not out of her yet, she began speaking blasphemous unholy words, so vile they clouded my vision and burned at my spirit, but I held strong as did the others and we were able to end her foul existence moments later. Dylon then doused her unmoving form in holy water, which caused the body burn as if the liquid were acid.

We gathered all that remained of Radeem’s lost treasure, and discovered a mural depicting a map, that plotted the locations of Radeem’s reported exploits, sources of adventure? Perhaps, but for now we will return to Tathan to take a well-deserved rest, and I shall begin training in the mystic arts.

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