The Uneasy Alliance

Adventure Log #4: Mini Quest - Cave of the Horse, Part 1
Almond and Bard attempt to find a stolen horse, Almond dazzles Bard with his stealth skills, and the heroes possibly murder innocent blind people.

In a far flung region of Galsopp is a small, nameless mountain town that sits atop a vast network of underground caves.  A group of bandits utilizes the tunnels to conduct their nefarious endeavors, including the theft of the local knight's prized war horse.  Unable to pursue the villains without leaving the town undefended, the knight enlists the aid of two adventurers: the mighty halfling Almond Leafybottom and the hero Bard the Bard.

The heroes journey to the entrance of the cave, which the locals use as a dumping ground for all manner of refuse.  Feeling the presence of many scurrying rats, Bard attempts to call a swarm to him.  However, he discovers to his dismay the the rats here are untrusting and speak a dialect he doesn't understand, and no rats come to his aid.  Feeling nervous, Bard suggests that they approach with stealth.  Almond agrees, but tells Bard that he is not very good at stealth.  As Bard turns to reassure Almond, however, he finds that the 7 foot tall halfling has disappeared.  Feeling extremely nervous, Bard creeps to the mouth of the cave.  Just as he peeks around what appears to be a large pillar, the pillar turns around and reveals itself to be Almond in a makeshift gillie suit.  In awe of Almond's talent, Bard follows him into the cave.

The two heroes immediately notice the cave's dank air and jagged ceiling.  The also perceive that the floor is covered in long dead vines.  Along the back wall grows a thick growth of tangled green vines.  After searching the area for loot and finding nothing, they deduce that the vines cover some kind of concealed doorway.  The pair cautiously approach the vines (well, Bard uses caution), and Almond suggests that they pull the vines away.  No sooner does he say the word "vines" than a large section of vines pulls itself from the wall into a humanoid form.  Four smaller forms rise out of the dead vines on the floor, one in each corner of the cave.

Almond immediately roars and swings his two handed warhammer into the large vine figure, which takes a sizeable chunk out of the monster's midsection.  Bard leaps back and fires his crossbow at one of the small forms, but he misses.  The small vines advance slowly.  The large vine being gathers a huge ball of vines from the wall behind it and slams it into the ground.  The vines surge forward, creating a thick, tangling carpet that attempts to ensnare Almond and Bard.  Almond smacks the large creature again, taking another chunk.  He realizes that these are blights, vengeful spirits inhabiting the vines.  Bard struggles with the vines, but casts Dissonant Whispers on the nearest of the advancing small vines, which immediately crumbles.  Bard decides not to question how a being without ears died from a music based attack and continues to try and break free.  As the lesser blights continue their approach, one enters the vine carpet and gains a thick exoskeleton of green vines.  Almond slams the large blight again, and Bard breaks free of the vines, turning his crossbow on the larger spirit.  With a shudder, the large blight collapses, and the others hasten their advance.  Two blights rush up to Almond.  One of them attacks, dealing minimal damage, but the other is so cowed by Almond's hulking figure that it is unable to do anything.  Almond smashes both blights with his club, pounding them into vine paste, and Bard kills the last blight with another arrow.

Almond and Bard celebrate by pulling the rest of the vines off the wall, revealing a door.  Bard offers Almond a healing potion, but as Almond has a stupid amount of hit points, he respectfully declines.  The two lament that the blights left no loot, but Bard takes a cutting of Blight Vine anyway; one never knows when such things could be useful.  The two descend into the next room, with Almond making note out loud that Bard has magical powers.

They enter a cavern with an altar on their left and an image of a door carved into the opposite wall.  As Almond goes to inspect the door, Bard approaches the altar, which has a shallow basin.  Above the altar is written:

IT HAS A GOLDEN HEAD, IT HAS A GOLDEN TAIL, BUT IT HAS NO BODY

After pondering the words for a moment, Bard remembers hearing this riddle before, and tosses a gold coin in the basin.  With the sound of rushing water, the basin fills with water, and drains away, taking the coin with it.  The carving of the door swings inward, revealing that it is, in fact, a real door.

The two go down a hallway with multiple corners.  Almond uses his top notch stealth skills to check around each corner, until they come to a door.  Almond immediately opens the door, and the two enter a room with a door to their left, a chest to their right, a cooking fire with a roasting goat in the center of the room, and three sleeping hulks behind it.

The mass on their left wakes up and turns around, revealing a huge face with empty eye sockets.  It roars in a guttural language that neither adventurer understands, which wakes the other two forms.  In typical heroic fashion, Almond rushes forward, grabs the goat off the spit, lights it in the fire, and throws it at the center creature.  Bard fires an arrow into its chest, adding to its pain.  The creature roars as the flaming carcass and arrow slam into it; at the same time the heroes notice that the creature seemed to track the missiles with its face when they came in close range, as though it could "see" them.  The middle creature and the one on the left rush forward in the general direction of the heroes, locking onto them as they get close.  The far creature shambles along the wall, trying to get close to the others.  Almond suggests a retreat, but Bard says to hold fast, and that he has an idea.  Almond immediately smashes the middle creature to a fine pulp with his warhammer.  Bard casts Bardic Inspiration on Almond to bolster his next attack, then turns and casts Dissonant Whispers at the beast on the left.  Echoes of death and despair overcome the creature, and it crumples to the ground dead.  The two heroes turn to face the last of their foes; to their surprise, however, the creature bursts into tears and runs from the room.

The two heroes ponder for a moment if they had perhaps acted too quickly, but are soon drawn to the chest in the corner of the room.  After approaching it cautiously and checking it for traps and trickery, Bard opens the chest, revealing 60 gold and a strange set of pan pipes.  Examining the pipes, Bard is thrilled to discover that they are Pan Pipes of the Sewers, which can be used three times a day to summon a swarm of friendly rats.  The heroes split the gold, and Bard, with Almond's blessing, pockets the pipes.

As the scene fades on the two adventurers, and the DM wonders how he randomly rolled loot that fits so perfectly with the persona of one player's character, we are left to wonder: what happens next?  We shall find out soon enough …

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Adventure Recap #3: Side Quest!

Summary: Almond, Thoronoth, and Lia open someone else's mail, murder some cats, and help out a goddess.

After their adventure in the forest, our party of heroes enjoy some well-earned rest. On a rainy evening, Almond joins his two friends, Thoronoth (a human cleric of Pelor) and Lia Amakiir (a high-elf ranger), in the local tavern. Almond orders a glass of spearmint wine. Thoronoth quaffs a hearty mead. Lia nurses a glass chalice of top-shelf mead. Our trio of characters are relaxing after a rousing rehearsal with the local Adventurer’s Anonymous Community Choir (AACC). Almond and Lia sang enthusiastically atonal, while Thoronoth stunned the entire ensemble with vocal flourishes and cadenzas of a true virtuoso — taking extra liberties during their rendition of “Ragnarok, the Red-Scaled Dragon”.

A courier steps into the packed tavern and calls out if anyone knows the local cleric, Buddy Martin. Thoronoth immediately rushes forward to assist, while Almond calls back that Buddy is out-of-town for a few days. The courier curses her bad luck, and asks if these adventurers would mind delivering a package to Buddy on his return. Almond, Thoronoth, and Lia agree to take the poorly-wrapped package.

As soon as the courier steps out into the rainy night, Lia and Thoronoth rip-off the packaging paper — revealing a small ornate statue of a woman on a plinth of verdant hills, holding a small pyramid in one hand and a disc in the other. It is a statue of Isis, goddess of fertility and magic. The adventurers marvel at its beauty, though Almond notes how strange it is for Buddy, a cleric of Osiris, to receive a statue of such high craftsmanship for a deity not his own.

The statue is placed on the table, and our adventurers notice the sounds of the tavern fading away. From within a clear circle centered around the statue, Thoronoth, Lia, and Almond watch the tavern and its patron begin to blur and shift into a new setting.

 

The three friends find themselves magically transported to a vast desert under a clear, starry sky. A full moon hangs above, casting its light on an immense pyramid — seeming to glow with otherworldly splendor. Two imposing statues, shifting with every blink into a new form, stand at the foot of a staircase leading to the entrance of the pyramid.

As Almond and Lia observe their new scenery, Thoronoth is already climbing the staircase. The two rush to catch-up, and the three adventurers enter the strange pyramid. The inside passageway seems ancient, yet strikingly immaculate. Without a single mote of dust, the walls of the passageway are decorated with shifting hieroglyphs and images depicting the history of worlds. Civilizations rising and falling, the gods sending boon and calamity across the aeons.

As Thoronoth leads the way, he unwittingly steps on a pressure plate. A section of the floor shifts into a steep slope, and Thoronoth hurtles towards a line of spikes. His feet shred themselves on the trap, but he escapes an untimely demise. Almond and Lia navigate around to rescue their friend, hauling Thoronoth up with a length of rope. Almond firmly walks in front of the party, venturing cautiously into the pyramid.

The three come to a door, and Lia eagerly pulls a lever to open it. Almond, Lia, and Thoronoth enter a large room, decorated with more ever-shifting murals and mosaics. They see an ascending staircase, and two doors on either side of the room. Almond calls into the pyramid, hoping for a response from someone in this strange building, but he hears no reply. Thoronoth decides they might as well try the door on the right, and Almond approaches it.

Raising his fist to knock, as good manners would dictate, Almond is overcome by a wave of dread — opening this door might be a bad idea. Thoronoth impatiently flings upon the door. A vile darkness fills the opening, slurping and sending two large tentacles towards our adventurers. Thoronoth barely manages to leap away as the tentacles slam the door shut. The adventurers agree that door might not be the best option.

 

The trio decides to try the door on the left, and reveal a staircase leading downwards. They descend into the pyramid, the stairs gracefully ornamented with fine carvings. The murals that have decorated the walls slow in their shifting dance.

The adventurers enter a hallway with what seems to be one door at the end. As Almond reaches to open the door, he notices a secret door embedded in the the wall to his left. The adventurers open the secret door and are greeted by a slew of angry, hissing cats guarding a lone sarcophagus.

Thoronoth immediately shoots holy fire at a cat, blasting it back into a wall. Lia informs Almond that the cats have pie, and Almond rushes forward with his warhammer — crushing the cats with mighty blows. Lia shoots her bow, and skewers a cat. Thoronoth rushes into the middle of the cats and tries to bash them with his shield, but the cats nimbly dodge away. Almond picks-up a cat, sustaining quite a few scratches, and tries to ask it where the pie is located. Lia proceeds to shishkebab three more cats with a single arrow. Thoronoth ignites another cat with his divine magic. Almond feels bad for all of this cat murder, and tries to gently hurl the last two into the hallway. Unfortunately, they crash into the far wall with tremendous force and die. Our adventurers stand victorious in a room filled with dead cats.

Thoronoth, Lia, and Almond search the room for valuables. They find a number of jade cats statues. and two lovely teak carvings. They also find a clearly magical feathered-pillow bedroll, which Thoronoth takes advantage of for a brief nap. He has an extraordinarily pleasant rest, filled with the peaceful and wondrous dreams. Feeling rejuvenated, the three adventurers take a crack at the sarcophagus. Almond slips a crowbar under the lid, and snaps the crowbar against the sarcophagus. They deem this to be a lost cause, leave the cat-filled tomb, return to the first chamber, and climb the ascending staircase.

 

Our adventurers find themselves at a four-way intersection, each ending in a door. Lia marks the door they entered with the broken crowbar. The three head straight down the center. Lia pulls on yet another lever, and the door springs open. They find a room with a fair amount of cat poop and a viscous oil covering the floor. Three cat-sized openings line the far wall of what appears to be the pyramid’s litter box.

Just as the three step into the room, the oil coating the floor coalesces into an ooze. Almond is thoroughly disgusted by an ooze rolling in poop, and smashes his hammer through the beast — splattering it against the wall. A collective moment of relief fades into disappointment upon learning there was no loot inside a room full of cat poop…

The three adventurers backtrack and head toward the door down the rightmost passageway. As Lia, once again, pulls a lever, a giant log swings forth from the ceiling. The adventurers duck in the nick of time, and conclude the other door would be a safer bet. They head down the last passageway and find another staircase rising into the pyramid.

 

As Lia, Almond, and Thoronoth climb the stairs, they notice the designs on the walls quicken — reaching an almost dizzying whirl of images. They enter a large room and find themselves looking at shifting murals of themselves. The walls of the room catalogue their actions, and alternate outcomes, throughout the pyramid. Someone being pulled into the door filled with dark tentacles. A tomb filled with even more dead cats. Lia pulling lever after lever after lever…

After studying the walls, the three adventurers look around the room and notice there are no other doors or stairs exiting the room. Only a lone bronze pillar stands in the corner. As they ponder where to go, Almond manages to spot a secret lever hidden within one of the images on the wall. Almond eagerly pulls it, for once beating Lia to a lever, and a sturdy rope ladder descends from the ceiling. Lia immediately begins to climb the ladder.

With Lia halfway up the ladder, Almond wanders over to the bronze pillar and casually prods it with his hammer. The pillar jiggles and a large bronze ooze forms, revealing the staircase it had engulfed. Lia shoots an arrow into the ooze, and Thoronoth hurls another mote of fire. Almond swings his hammer, and the three adventurers make short work of the bronze ooze.

 

Almond and Thoronoth follow Lia up the ladder, and the three find themselves in the back of a dimly-lit room near the top of the pyramid. What appears to be a man stands with his back to the adventurers. Thoronoth asks to be thrown towards the man, and Almond obliges. As Thoronoth flies through the air, gouts of fire rush from his hand and sear the skin off the man. As the man turns around, Thoronoth lands nimbly on his feet and Lia rushes forwards with two short swords. She slashes them across the man’s throat, but no blood rushes forth.

The man laughs at his “feisty sacrifices”. He is dressed in tattered ceremonial robes, with a gleaming gem embedded in his chest. The man’s undead flesh knits itself whole as light flashes forth from the gem. The man passes his hand over Lia’s eyes, and for a moment they go dark.

Almond roars, and rushes in with his hammer. With a critical hit, his hammer shatters the gem on the man’s chest. The undead monster cries out as it crumbles to dust, and Lia’s eyes return to normal — spared from the mental domination of the undead horror.

As quickly as the battle ends, a warm glow fills the room and a voice washes over the three adventurers. The voice of Isis, goddess of fertility and magic, thanks the three heroes for purging darkness from her temple. As she grants each adventurer her blessing and boon, she pauses with Almond as if in recognition. Whatever she sees is quickly brushed away as the goddess, again, offers her thanks and congratulations. Isis informs the heroes that her statue will return them to their world.

Before leaving, the three adventurers ask the goddess if she has any material reward for their efforts. Isis hands them another jade cat statue, muttering under her breath about getting rid of useless knick-knacks, and her presence fades. Counting their blessings (literally), the three adventurers descend and return to the statue outside of the pyramid.

 

Thoronoth, Lia, and Almond touch the statue and return to an empty tavern. Morning light shines through the windows, and all of their drinks have been cleared. Cedric, the antisocial bartender, walks over and hands them the bill for their drinks — grumbling under his breath.

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The Adventure Begins

Summary: we meet at remedial school, Buddy is a bad Cleric, we slice and dice some Kobolds, a bear and a cultist.

We begin in the grimy basement of a tavern. Candles flicker, tables and chairs are non- proportional to the beings inhabiting them, there is muffled music playing from upstairs. This is Adventurers Anonymous.

This is  where lackluster adventurers/ school children learn the rules to adventuring. A Gnome (named Just Fred) is at the chalkboard, lecturing about the basics.

In the front of the room, a 7- foot tall half-orc sits in a smashed chair (obviously intended for a halfling). This is Almond Leafybottom, and to him this is the perfect chair . Next to him, a small wood- elf is taking copious amounts of notes. It is his best friend, Alice Quill, a wizard. Behind them, a human man has fallen asleep with his hands in his pockets. This is Bronwin Saul, a probationary rogue. In the back of the classroom, a tall half- elf chides the teacher and is too cool for school. This is Daud- <u>just</u> DAUD, a ruthless paladin.

After class has ended, Buddy Martin – a bumbling cleric, stumbles in looking for his old friend Alice. Buddy went to The Academy with Alice back in the day, before he dropped out to become a religious man. Buddy has been accosted by some cultists, who have stolen his Holy Symbol- a crook and flail blessed by Osiris. Buddy's check- in for beginner clerics is coming up, and he's not prepared. He also hints that this could cosmically be an issue.

Apparently, about two weeks ago Buddy passed out while practicing some "hard core flood rituals".  When he awoke, was attacked by cultists, who attacked him at his van near the river and stole his crook and flail. Buddy was able to fend them off from taking anything else by doing some "sweet kara-te", but he lost his holy symbol.

Bronwin lets Buddy look through his bag of stolen goods, but unfortunately there isn't anything to substitute what has been taken from him. Alice chastises Bronwin for sleeping in class and inserting himself into the conversation- thus officially introducing herself and Almond to Bronwin. Alice insists Bronwin refer to Almond as a halfling, and Bronwin extends a mage hand to shake with almond. Alice, unsure about religion, drags Daud into the conversation, insisting that his hefty pieces of armor ( being brought to him piece- by- piece by small children) looks like that of a Paladin. 

Almond, Alice, Bronwin & Daud decide to help Buddy, following him to his home, a hut with the words "VAN" painted on it next to a big creek, that Buddy insists is a river. Buddy's hut has been damaged by the cultists, and Buddy shows the adventurers a leaf that the cultists have left behind.

<u>The Leaf says the following:</u>

False Profits be damned, False gods to die.

below the words is a crude drawing of a three- headed dog, traditionally associated with The Cult of Cerberus.

and the adventurers also find false paw prints around the area, as if someone was trying to make paw prints in the soft river bed leading up to Buddy's "well-irrigated" house. The paw prints look like small people made them, not big enough for human feet to have made the prints. The paw prints turn out to be necromantic, and everything else is abjuration ( or protective magic).

The group agrees to follow the prints in the morning, after making camp for the night and resting up. They head into the forest, Bronwin leading the charge and Buddy staying behind. They follow the paw prints, realizing that they have subtly become more Kobold- esq, and some new prints have started to follow along the same path, clearly human prints. There are likely only 3-4 humans along with a fair amount of kobolds. This has become a foot trail that has been trafficked before.

Bronwin charges ahead, disappearing into the trees. The group approaches a clearing, some noticing five Kobolds crouched down, waiting to attack.

<u>Welcome to the first combat of the campaign! </u>

Bronwin doesn't notice the Kobolds, but Almond does! An arrow flies through the air and hits Alice, who is bloodied (as she is not a particularly strong character). Almond is angered, but Daud heals Alice back to full strength. Daud calls out to Bronwin, who is still hidden, alerting him to the presence of the kobolds. Bronwin, stylishly has two real daggers and one false one in his teeth. He shoots his arrow, then throws his dagger, splitting the arrow into two AND the dagger. The two shards of the dagger bloodies one of the Kobold, and the arrow halves fly into another Kobold's eyes. All of this defys physics, but happens anyway. One Kobold is dead, and one is bloodied.

The Kobolds attack, hitting Bronwin in the stomach- and Daud is out of healing! Daud charges the bloodied Kobold, gracefully jumping over a pit in his heavy, shinny armor. Daud quarters the Kobold. Another one down.

Almond rushes over to smash the nearest Kobold. Almond falls into the pit, but it barley phases him, and he keeps on going. Almond smashes the Kobold into a bloody pulp. Dead.

Alice reaches her hand out and conjures a ray of frost, the air in front of her becomes really hazy, and a ball of haze explodes out of her hand, impacts on one of the remaining Kobolds. He is frost bitten, with permafrost taking hold. He tries to run away, but has reduced speed so is going in slow motion. The last Kobold books it.

Bronwind attempts to shoot the last remaining Kobold, missing. Daud dashes towards the last Kobold. Almond picks up the frozen Kobold and shot puts it towards the running Kobold, just like he used to thrown Gram Gram's sheep. Just as he throws this Kobold, Bronwind casts light on the frozen parts of the Kobold's body just to make it look cooler. The now dead frozen Kobold hits his brethren. 

This one Kobold remains. Alice hard- core wizards it, but misses and ray-of-frosts a tree to death. She apologizes to the tree.

The Kobold keeps running away, while the team decides to take a short rest in order to recuperate.

While the team rests up, a wild bear approaches. Alice attempts to pacify it by standing still, speaking Fae at it, and totally fucks up. Almond attempts to hug the bear. Bronwin almost impersonates a bear, but decides not to blow his false identity on it. Daud attacks it. Bronwin assists, trying to put it out of its misery. Daud kills the bear, skins it, and uses all of its parts while Alice quietly weeps.

After the bear fiasco, the team comes upon a collection of hovels in a clearing in the woods. There are two larger hovels touching, not connected but pretty close to each other. There is a third hovel, kinda resembling a shed. There are two Kobolds standing guard.

Bronwin sneaks into the garage, finding a potion of jumping and a dust of some kind ( I don't remember the properties). He comes back to the group, telling them about the potion but not the dust.

Alice and Bronwin( ?) distract the guards with illusion magic and sneak up on them, killing them. Daud and Almond barge into the hideout and Daud halfs a robed figure playing cards. After some intimidation, the second robed figure shows the group to a trapped door under the hideout.

To be continued….

 

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