“Alt-Magic” Campaign: Slim Pickings

Another chapter unfolded in our recently launched D&D 5e Campaign, something I’m calling (for now) “Alt-Magic”.

Mike (Acamus the Warlock) and Steve (Braxton the Spellbound Paladin) joined in via Skype, while around the table were Aaron (Jone the Rogue), Connor (Abraxas the Wizard), and Joy (Ziyal the Cleric), as well as new additions to the party, Mason (Toman the Barbarian) and Rodney (Kelwyn the Druid). We also welcomed Molly to the table, who watched intently and whom we hope will be joining in our next adventure (perhaps as a gnome or halfing?).

group1

group2

Here’s how things unfolded:

The wind gathers and moans as snow falls anew, the rising sun a pale orb awash behind thick, grey clouds. Distantly, winter lightning courses in the skies above and a low thunderous rumble adds its voice to the grim morning.

Helmeister Strom adjusts his belt, hand feeding winter grass to his burly oxen. He approaches the high elf, Tim’ezkeen, handing him a satchel. Inside the elf discovers six potion bottles, a wine skin, and six days rations.

“What is this?” the elf asks.

“Sustenance for your journey”, the monk replies. “Drink to sooth ills of the flesh and spirit, and food for ones belly.” He looks toward Jone. “I will not be travelling forward with you, but would see you fair in our passing.” He points into the foothills. “North and west, on a bentback trail, past a copse of gullyferns, you will find the villain’s lair, the undead conjurer known as Jodeb Gultaire.”

With ox in tow, the wandering priest travels east, disappearing into the morning fog rising from the fresh fallen snow that blankets the earth.

Gathering your gear, you set out on the trail, finding it as promised, but, as you near the copse of trees described by the robust monk, you espy a robed figure leaning on a staff outside the wizard’s cave.

He turns, lowering his cowl and announces, “Well met, adventurers. I am Kelwyn of the Henge. I have been hunting an Orcband for several days and their trail has led me here. I am of a mind to venture forth and bring these killers to justice. I trust you are like-minded?”

After a long rest, Tim the Elven Rogue and Velius the Sorcerer remained at the ruin encampment, guarding the pass while the rest of our adventures set out upon the trail in pursuit of the stolen artifact, per Helmeister’s instructions, eventually meeting the druid Kelwyn and his companion, Toman along the way.

Upon nearing the “Wizard’s Lair”, the party was attacked by goblin sentries. Abraxas and Kelwyn attempted a ruse, invoking the sun god and using illusory magic to enthrall them, but Acamus unleashed an eldritch blast that incinerated one of the combatants, sending the others fleeing, one toward the main entrance while two others scurried into small cave openings in the side of the cliff.

The party separated at this point, with Abraxas and Kelwyn pursuing the two goblins into their little hidey holes, and Acamus, Braxton, Jone, Toman, and Ziyal entering the Lair via the cave entrance.

FIVE AGAINST DARKNESS

Approaching a set of double doors baring the cave, Jone disabled a trip wire and threw open the doors hoping to intimidate the goblins inside. Instead, an armored cave troll, bearing a shield and spiked mace was found waiting on the other side.

Jone was pummeled, but Acamus successfully targeted the creature with a witchbolt while Ziyal channeled “his” deity making the beast vulnerable, enabling Acamus to finish the troll off with another jolt from his spell. Jone, recovering thanks to Ziyal’s healing magic, loots the corpse and uncovers a key.

The party continued deeper into the lair, ascending steps that led into a strange chamber with a radiant pool filled by water pouring from the statue of a skeletal gargoyle with an Amulet of Vecna, the Whispering One, around its neck.

Acamus detects gems at the bottom of the pool, unseen by both Braxton and Ziyal. Sensing a trap, Acamus moves on, opening a door to the south and discovering a black obelisk with strange writing upon it. He and Braxton then hear labored breathing from the backside of the stone marker.

tentacle

Meanwhile, Jone takes note of the gems in the radiant pool and dives in to investigate, discovering they have been set into the floor bottom. Using his dagger, he pries one free, unleashing a hellish tentacle from within. Grappled by the beast, Ziyal attempts to help her companion, only to fall into the water as well and also being ensnared by the creature. They are dragged to the bottom, slowly being crushed.

Braxton and Tomen attempt to free their allies, but things look grim.

A DEAL WITH A DEVIL

Abraxas and Kelwyn pursued the goblins into a maze of narrow corridors. The wizard uses disguise self, assuming the visage of a minor devil, sending the critters scurrying into the darkness. The two continue onward, eventually finding their way into the presence of a stout, bald-headed figure with a thick mustache. His foot rests atop the artifact cask the party has been pursuing.

slim

After a tension-filled exchange, the man, calling himself “Slim”, kicks the cask into a seventy-five foot deep pit. He tosses Abraxas a pouch with coins and gems with 2000 gold pieces, telling him they can keep the treasure if he and his companions leave his “home”. Kelwyn says they had no interest in gold. They were here for the artifact. Slim offers another artifact in exchange, an amulet that he tosses to Abraxas.

Slim then reveals their friends in dire straights, creating a magical illusion depicting them in battle with the tentacle in the radiant pool. Kelwyn and Abraxas agree to the deal and they see Jone and Ziyal released by the creature.

Heading through the west door, they follow the corridor northward, Abraxas whistling a Vistani tune as they approach a black obelisk ahead, behind which they hear labored breathing.

DIMINUTIVE RETURN

Jone and Ziyal gasp for air as they are pulled from the radiant pool by their allies, but then Braxton, hearing a haunting tune being whistled from where he and Acamus had uncovered an obelisk prior to the tentacle’s attack, leaves them, cautiously.

Stepping into the doorway, he espies the approach of Abraxas and Kelwyn. He motions toward the obelisk. Abraxas ceases whistling and nods. Braxton steps around to the backside of the standing stone, towering above the source of the labored breathing — a halfling.

“Oh, my,” the halfling stammered, “you’re not at all what I expected.”

And thus the session ended.

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