Joey's 5E Rise of the Runelords

Chapter 3
The Hook Mountain Massacre

The party decides to set off by boat. Shleleu, the ranger that helped them with the goblins, asks to join them on their journey. The winter rains start strangely early this year, as well. They charter a passenger boat to take them up river.

The journey through well patrolled waters goes very poorly from the start. First, large aggressive Gars attack, then Scrags. After they beat the aquatic trolls, sahuagin swim by, staying out of bow shot and just watching. As the party is distracted a gigantic snapping turtle, poisoned and enraged, tries to destroy the boat.

The less patrolled waters offer no such problems, and they make it to Turtleback Ferry in short order. It is a small fishing village tucked up against a small corner between the northern shore of Claybottom Lake and the Eastern Bank of Skull River.

They check in to the small inn, immediately noticing the innkeper’s daughter has a very discreet seven-pointed star tatto. The next day they notice several townsfolk with similar tattoos. They also hear that Paradise, a pleasure barge, sank 3 weeks ago. All on board were lost, including Lady Lucrecia, the proprietor. People were deeply affected by the loss. In such a small town, every death is keenly felt. Paradise has apparently only been operating for about a year.

Even as big as this event, it was overshadowed by the fact that the Black Arrows, the local group of rangers that protects the area, went silent. The party hired a boat to bring them out to the barge. Broxigar used his newly granted divine power to shift the waves to see what they can find out. They see that Paradise only had minor damage that was caused from the inside, no money was on board, and all the doors were sealed. They tow the boat back to shore and start repairing it. They come close to finishing before they decide to leave and head to Fort Rannick, the Black Arrows base of operation.

Halfway there, they come across an elven druid and a firepelt cougar stuck in bear traps. The elf frees himself while the party works together to free the large cat. Before introductions are finished, a large, deformed ogrekin crashes through the woods with a pack of hunting dogs. Enraged that they Freed his quarry, he attacks. They defeat him and listen to the Elf’s story.

He is one of the few surviving Black Arrows. He was on patrol when the fort fell, and his group was ambushed by a family of ogrekin. He escaped but his squad is still being held. The party agrees to help and they backtrack the hunter’s path back to his house, the Graul Homestead.

They check out the barn first, killing the 2 guards, and finding the captured rangers. They also find a massive spider, but leave before it can get up to them.

They notice one of the of the rangers, Kaven, has the same seven-pointed star tattooed on his forearm. They let the Rangers rest, while the rest of the party tackles the house. Inside they find many instances of neglect, sadism, cannibalism, and outright cruelty. They encounter many traps that seem dreamed up by some rather twisted individuals. There are more of the Graul Boys inside, and they are quick to attack. The druid and cleric’s powers are drained by something in the house. They discover the source fairly quickly.

Mammy Graul, an incredibly obese, vile ogrekin, is still in bed when they enter. She is angry and starts yelling at her boys and them. They fight her, while she throws spells and suck the divine and Druidic power from the party. Three ogrekin zombies join in for a very short time before they are finally laid to rest. After wounding her, she teleports to the barn, where she releases the spider and goes invisible. They party finally dispatch her and end the blight that is the Graul Family.

The rains increase in intensity. They realize these aren’t natural weather patterns.
They rest for the night after the taint is cleared. Jakardos, a ranger captain, is confronted by Shalelu. They have a past. They tenuously work through it with a very emotional confrontation.
After leaving the farm, they head to Fort Rannick. The surviving rangers insist on helping . they find it overrun with Ogres. They have Shalelu and Thaddeus lure most of the ogres out, while the rest of the party sneaks in. In the Dungeon, they discover 9 more surviving members of the Black Arrows. Surveying the Fort, they figure out it is too defensible to be taken by these disorganized clan of ogres. There was an inside man.

Under the Fort they find a large family of shocker lizards, who they smoke out and force into the Fort proper. Mass confusion and combat erupt upstairs as scared lizards meet angry ogres. During the confusion, Kaven disappears. The party quickly makes it upstairs and confront Jaagrath Kreeg, the Ogre chieftain. They kill him and his lieutenants after a long and rough battle.

Before they can rest, Lucrecia rounds the corner. She congratulates them on their victory and offers to them join her. They refuse and she transforms. She is also a Lamia Matriarch, and Xanesha’s sister! They find Kaven in the next room with a noose around Shalelu’s neck. He jumps put the window, pulling her with him. Paul feather falls her, Thaddeus arrives, and battlet is joined. The ogres have returned and are below in the courtyard. The battle becomes hectic, with enemies and allies all over the place. Eventually Lucrecia grabs Z and teleports high above the battle. they trade blow for blow the whole way down.

Kaven tries to escape in the confusion, but is struck down with a sleep spell. Just before hitting the ground Lucrecia retreats, transporting herself to the other side of the cliff. She runs west. The party successfully retake Fort Rannick.

The party finds clues that Commander Lamatar, leader of the Black Arrows, was not in the Fort when it was taken. He was in the Shimmerglens, a marsh on the western bank of the Skull River. The surviving Black Arrows are very eager to investigate, but have their hands full cleaning up the Fort. Captain Jakardos sends Vale to Magnimar to update them on the situation and ask for aid. Shalelu stays on to join the Black Arrows. Jakardos also warns that this was only a small portion of the Kreeg Clan. The party leaves Kaven with his fellow Black Arrows. Their style of justice is swift, but first he has questions to answer.

They return to Turtleback Ferry just as the Skull River overflows its banks and floods most of the town. The flood only lasts about an hour, and in that time, a quarter of the town is washed away. Also washed down river is Black Magga, a legendary monster. She is hurt and confused by her wild ride down the flood waters. The party engage her, before she swims away, disappearing into Claybottom Lake.

They quickly leave to investigate the cause of the flood. This leads them to Skull Crossing, an ancient dam of Thassilonian design. It was currently being destroyed by a crew of Kreeg ogres. A large section seems to have given way when Black Magga investigated the activity, causing the “minor” flood .

The party finds a lot of evidence of fighting between the native Skulltaker Trolls and the Kreeg Ogres. Apparenly they were not allies. There are only 4 survivors of each side left. The party makes quick work of both. Deep in the belly of the dam, they find the withdrawn patriarch of the Skulltaker Trolls. An old Scrag, Grazuul.

After a rough fight, they find the controls of the Dam, and its guardian, a very ancient construct called a Skull Ripper, a scorpion-like creature made of skulls. They destroy it and start examining the small replica of the dam. They discern its connection to the dam and the basics on how it works, but the power source doesn’t seem to be working.

In the next room they see why. They find two very ancient and powerful warding circles. In one, a small pile of ash, in the other a severely drained and weakend Pit Fiend. It begs them to release it, offering all manner of promises. It doesn’t seem to have the strength to push too hard, before falling back down. The party seems to be a loss as to what to do.

The bard and War Cleric go up to the top of the dam while Thaddeus, Aelar, and Jaelyn stay behind. They examine the mechanisms and dam looking for clues. Thaddeus is studying the circle, and Aelar is watching for danger when Jaelyn steps into the other circle. The dam instantly starts to rumble as she slumps to the floor. She feels her life essence drained, but still lives. There is a blinding flash from the first circle, and when it clears, all that remains of the devil is a fine pile of ash.

The dam’s floodgates open, relieving the pressure. It takes hours, but the water level of Storval Deep lowers to more manageable quantities. The party gathers together and head south. They quickly reach Fort Rannick to check in. The cleanup effort seems to be progressing well. The Ogre bodies are being mass burned and buried, while the fallen rangers are treated with more respect. Broxigar leaves them with a large quantity of funds to help resupply. They don’t stay long, but they do pick up on the last whereabouts of Commander Lamatar Bayden.

The party travels to Turtleback Ferry to resupply. They just pass through though as they are anxious to be on their way. Jaelyn uses her magical token to create a large boat and they set sail to the marshes. The short journey goes Mostly uneventful. They remove a small group of ogrekin hunters, and make it inside.

Once inside they immediately see signs of decay. They also encounter a small pixie, Yap. He begs the to help his mistress. There is something wrong with her heart and it is destroying the wilds. They agree. He shows them the way into the heart of the marsh. They encounter many signs of rot and corruption. Nature and it’s guardians were dying.

They make it to the center. There, they find a dead tree all smashed apart, a dryad body half hanging out. They also see a small pool. Yap refuses to enter the clearing, just pointing and saying his mistress is inside. As they approach, she comes forth put of the pool. A painfully beautiful nymph spirit. Instantly half the party is blinded by her sheer beauty. She yells at them and accuses the party of failing her love. Apparently Commander Lamatar was her lover and he was taken and killed. She firmly believes this but his spirit is somehow trapped. She wants to be reunited with him. The party agrees and she let’s them go. They hurry before her corruption reaches the lake.

They head for Hook Mountain, the clan hold of the Kreegs. The party believes he is be held there. They find the base of the mountain easily, but have trouble climbing. Yap accompanies them and proves to be a useful scout. They make it to the top and find the clan cave entrance.

They dispatch the 2 guards, and enter through a giant draconian rib cage. It is many centuries old and is decorated with the Seven-Pointed Star rune. Up until now, the symbol seems to have come from nowhere about 5 years ago. Here is evidence of it being much older. They also find a towering 40ft tall giant with a massive amulet with the same symbol. Jaelyn climbs up and takes it off. The giant, that was of a type they have never seen or heard of, crumbles.

They encounter another group of giants in a main intersection, who calls even more reinforcements. A long, rough battle ensues. , but they make it through. The next room they enter was clearly once the clanhold. It has been converted into a large forge room. The clan has been forced to make weapons and armor for creatures much larger than them.

Off of this room they see 3 different in entrances. Down one is a giant geode, with massive smashed crystals. The next was a half started mine shaft. The final was a pointed down cone shaped mine. Broxigar rode a mine cart all the way to the end, and crashed into a pile of blankets and furs. Eventually they made it back to the main intersection and go to head to the northwest. As they leave, one of the ogres starts to stand back up. He tells them to leave this place and attacks.

They exit the tunnel to the northwest and follow this path as it turns due north. Aelar climbs onto the ledge above and finds many ogre statues. They line the path on other sides. About halfway down the tunnel, they hear a voice to turn back. More ogres start to reanimate. It becomes a running battle. When they get to the end, they find a massive room with a bored looking Stone Giant sitting in a massive throne. Next to him sits their previous antagonist, Lucrecia. She is already in Lamia form. He tells them to leave, as dark energy starts to gather around him. They have come face to face with Bar Breakbones, lord tyrant of the Kreeg Clan. Battle ensues.

A stone giant guard hurls a massive boulder at Broxigar. More giant zombies keep coming, which Aelar keeps from overwhelming thr party. Jaelyn and Broxigar take down the stone giant guard. Lucrecia and Barl use their respective magic to hurl at the party. The spirits of those who dies in this forsaken place also seemed to be at Barl’s command. They constantly come out of the walls and floor to grab or swing at the party.

After a rough fight, Lucrecia flees and Barl surrenders. The party doesn’t accept and they continue to attack. After slamming him into the ground, Thaddeus finishes him off. After catching theor breath they find the remains of the Kreeg Clan treasury. It has clearly been ransacked, but there are still some goodies left.

That is when they hear cackling in the distance.

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Chapter 2
The Skinsaw Murders

After Nualia’s defeat the party had a bit of a breather. They were able to relax for a few days before Sheriff Hemlock came to them with a problem. They met some of the locals, drank a bit, and did some research. They went over what they learned so far. Then the serious started again.

Someone murdered a young couple at the saw mill. One was Banny Harker the operator. He was tied up with a seven-pointed star on his chest before killed.
The second victim, Katrine Vinder, apparently interrupted this ritual and was pushed through the log splitter.

The party investigated the scene and didn’t come up with much information. They interviewed some key witnesses but each one lead to a dead end. The party went to the sheriff, updating him on what they did (n’t) come up with. He let them know that this was actually the second murder in a like number of days.

Apparently three grifters got lured to a barn outside of town with the promise of a luctritive business deal. They were also trussed up with the Seven-Pointed Star carved into their chests. A pattern was starting to emerge, except there was a survivor this time. Apparently they brought a bodyguard, Grayst, who was found wandering and gibbering non sense the next day.

The group went to see Grayst in his new abode, Habe’s Sanitarium. He was dragged out by two hulking Tiefling attendants. He was nearly catatonic until he saw Alar, then he flipped out. He attacked her, but was easily cut down in his near-death state.

They returned back to town at the same time as a hollering, blubbering Farmer Grump. Something terrible happened at Hamby Farm, the southernmost farm outside town.
They immediately went to investigate.

Most of the southern farms were found abandoned. They made it to Hambly farm after a few hours and some backtracking. All around the farm, they came across the missing people. They were tied to poles, dressed up as scarecrows. When the party came close, they went crazy, ripping free from their bondage. They were transformed into ghouls.

After fighting their way to the farmhouse, theor leader showed himself. Farmer Hambly, the onetime caretaker of Foxglove Manor, was a ghast. After defeating him and a large group of his old neighbors, they find a key to the Manor. They quickly make it there.

Enter creepy house. Even though Aldern Foxglove told them he has been working on his family’s Manor for about 3 months, very little progress is shown. The party immediately starts coming across clues and hauntings. Terrible things happened in this house over several generations and most of a century.

They found Aldern’s wife, Iesha, locked up in the attic. She was murdered, and the energies seeping out of the house brought her back, seeking revenge. She rushes toward the basement, even ripping through the floor near the entrance. Below they find stonework tunnels much older than the house, very ancient. Fighting through some groups of goblin ghouls, they discover Aldern Foxglove himself. He is in an old laboratory and much changed. He is some form of advanced ghast. Iesha attacks him relentlessly while he switches back and forth between maniacal killer, to repentant guilt-wracked widower.

They defeat him, but find the source of evil behind the house haunting in the lab. Aldern’s grandfather attempted and failed to become a lich in this very room. His wife interrupted the ritual and the backlash infused the house with his malevolence. Broxigar consecrated the ground and sent his essence on to the next plane.

They also found clues that Aldern was sending some of this essence of nasty to an employer, Xanesha of the Brotherhood of the Seven, a secret society out of Magnimar. They also read that she is the one that taught him the star-carving, killing ritual. They also found a few keys.

They head to Magnimar and find a city under the grips of terror. Someone has been killing people, in the same manner as Aldern. They go to the Foxglove estate to follow up on an earlier clue, where they find Aldern and Iesha, apparently alive and just sitting down for dinner. They don’t fall for it and attack. The couple shift into a weird mouthless, leather skinned duo. Faceless stalkers. After dispatching the monsters, they rest for the night.

Over the next week, they investigate the murder scenes and do some light shopping. They find out the murders are mostly merchants or thieves. Greedy individuals. The townsfolk are nervous, very few come out after dark. There are never any witnesses, and the guards have no leads. The days go mostly uneventful, except for a slight incident at the Mage’s Guild. The party looks deeper into the Brotherhood of the Seven. At the Estate they found the original deed to Foxglove Manner and it mentions that in 20 years the Brotherhood will inherit it. They also found a letter instructing Aldern to bring payment to one of the Brotherhood’s holdings. A woodmill in the southern part of the city.

The party heads there and finds a few workers, but keeps moving. Out of sight the workers Don some weird cultist attire and attack. It becomes a running battle up the stairs as more cultists join the battle, followed by their leader, Justice Ironbriar. He is the City Councilman in charge of the guards and their investigations. He attacks with blade and magic, like a man possesed. Broxigar dispels a very powerful charm effect on him, and all fight leaves Ironbriar.
He agrees to tell all he knows in exchange for his life and time to leave town.

He tells them about his love, a beautiful woman, Xanesha, who came into his life a year ago. All feelings of affection are now gone with the removal of the magic affecting his mind. She quickly took over the Brotherhood of the Seven’s secret assassin branch, The Skinsaw Cult to suit her mysterious ends . While many important people in town were part of the Brotherhood, almost none knew of the cult. He told them she was based out of the Shadow Clock in the slums. They let him go, and within hours he is gone. They find in his office trophies of a long and sinister life. Skinned faces of victims, some many decades old, cover his office wall. They leave soon after.

They easily found the broken down, decrepit old clock tower. Instead of bursting through the front door, they flew/climbed up the outside and came in through the roof. Immediately they are attacked by a large winged demon. In the recesses of the small roof room, also emerged a large, half-snake, half-Woman creature. She attacks very skillfully with blades and magic, both of arcane and Divine in origin. The demon is quickly discerned to be illusion, but the trio of Faceless Stalkers that sooned the battle, were not.

After a rough fight, Xanesha is defeated. They collect her body, distribute her gear, and search her room. They find a crumpled letter from someone in Turtleback Ferry, alluding that something similar is happening there. They give her body over to a local charismatic mage, Bayl Argentine, in exchange for magical gear. He tells them all he knows about her. Apparently she is a form of very powerful Lamia. They are an ancient cursed race of women with animal bodies that hates all divine beings and their disciples.

They set off to Turtle back Ferry!

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Chapter 1
Burnt Offerings

The story begins at the Swallowtail Festival in a village named Sandpoint. It is a small fishing and farming village about 80 miles northeast of the much larger Magnimar. Each character came to be there from different paths. Their stories will be detailed in their own sections.

The town was also reopening the monastery that burned down 5 years ago. The Festival started as a great success. At the climax of the ceremony, goblins attacked. They seemed to be more focused on chaos, destruction, and burning things down, than some actual goal.
The party killed a few groups before rescuing a young noble, Aldern Foxglove.
Most of the goblins were killed or run off by this point.

The party investigates and discovers the reason for the raid was actually to steal the remains of Ezakian Tobyn, the previous high priest who died in the fire that destroyed the temple. Shalelu, A local ranger tells them that in the raid there were representatives of all 5 local tribes (which never happens). They also found a ladder leaning against the inside of one wall. There was an inside man.

They got to know some of the townsfolk over the next few days. The innkeeper was confronted by her father who caused a scene trying to make her leave with him. She refused and disappeared that night.

They found a note in her room that her brother,Tsuto, wanted to meet. They go to her family’s place, the Glassworks. It is overrun with goblins. They confront and subdue Tsuto, and find Lonjiku in the basement. They also find old smuggling tunnels.

They find an ancient temple dedicated to Lamashtu, goddess of monsters. Exploring it, they quickly discover it is very old. They find relics of ancient magic, with parts collapsed. After clearing it out they confront it’s master, Erylium, a Quasit. Before destroying her, she mentioned training her new General.

When they get back to town, they find Tsuto escaped. He killed a guard on the way out. They track him to Thistletop, the home of the most powerful goblin tribe in the region. Thistletop is a massive head, the last remnant of an ancient statue.

They fight their way in, killing many guards and even the goblin chieftain. Deep inside, they find and fight Tsuto, several mercenaries, and their leader. Nualia. She was the adopted daughter of the previous town high priest, thought to have died in the fire. She was an Aasimar but started a horrible transformation into a demon. She sacrificed her father’s remains to start the shift with her arm. She was going to sacrifice the town to complete her metamorphosis. The party puts a halt to her plan with blade and spells.

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