The Second Generation

So it begins...

…again, for the first time, much like the third time. But not to be confused with the second time which no one wants to remember anyways.

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Broken Town
or: "What Came Before, part 1"

This is a placeholder entry for a summary of past, unplayed adventures by the party. It will feature a short scene detailing how the group met in a place called Broken Town (as 3rd level adventurers), and how they came to travel together, along with an account of whatever adventures they had there (elevating them to level 4).

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Tainted Hollow
or: "What Came Before, part 2"

This entry is a placeholder for an entry detailing the party’s unplayed adventure, bridging them from 4th to 5th level. In it, they find themselves in a large town called Tainted Hollow, which was defended by a wooden palisade and moat. The sky had been stained black by mysterious smoke, and the governor, a man called Cyna, enlisted their help. Somehow they attracted the attention of a local illusionist gnome named Bali and, after proving themselves worthy somehow, he taught them each 4 Bonus Feats through some kind of shenanigans.

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Tinque
or: "What Came Before, part 3"

Bali the gnome wizard, seeing that the heroes had done very well under his tutelage, felt that the next step in their growth would be to go out into the world and do a great deed. It was important, he taught, for those who would do good to make themselves known to the world. He had heard troubling whispers of late, that deep below the earth, in the Underdark, trouble was brewing… he sent the party to Tinque, in the hills not far from Tainted Hollow, the gnome settlement that Bali had once called home himself.

Tinque was a very large gnomish settlement indeed: a massive underground network of burrows and tunnels in the hills, Tinque was very old. The party learned that once the gnomes had hoped to make it large enough to be accessible to the larger races, hoping to encourage trade and expansion, and as such had dug very deep into the earth. However, all those centuries ago, they had once accidentally breached the Underdark itself, and fearing the things that emerged from within, they collapsed the tunnel and decided unanimously that that was “deep enough, thanks.”

When the party arrived, they learned quickly that, of late, goblins of all things had begun raiding in Tinque. They had breached some of the older, disused tunnels, and had also unearthed another entrance into the Underdark… Queen Ann, ruler in Tinque, had received threats (in the form of poorly written letters) from Bango Skank, the Goblin King, demanding she abdicate and relinquish the gnomish city to the invading goblins.

Queen Ann had sent her reply – in the form of a small task force of gnome warriors. They outmatched the disorganized goblin forces, driving them into the Underdark… and getting cocky. Before long they had stumbled into Tydfil, a drow city that spanned a chasm beneath the earth… and the battle drew their attention. King Skank, a natural agitator, drew the attention of the locals, and the drow leader, Midhi, rallied the local militia for a counterattack. The gnomes were able to retreat, but in the weeks since, the vicious stupidity of the goblins had protracted the conflict, and often the fighting spilled over into Tinque… and the fights were slowly reaching higher and higher, into Tinque’s industrial district, home of their magical forge, the source of power for the gnome’s varied magical inventions.

Queen Ann, not confident in her soldier’s ability to fend off drow as well as goblins indefinitely, was eager to accept help from the traveling strangers. She employed Benjin, Jeysen, and Baernabas in planning the city’s defenses, and they planted explosives in the deepest tunnels, near the breach and the entrance to the Underdark, resolving to seal it off completely once and for all. However, before they could finish setting up this countermeasure, yet another battle between goblins and drow broke out. The team sprang into action, using Baernabas’ magic and the martial prowess of Benjin and Jeysen to drive the fighting down into the tunnels. However, the explosives had been misplaced by hasty and panicked gnome civilians, and when they were detonated, they not only collapsed the tunnel leading into the Underdark… but also the section where the gnome’s magical source of energy was kept.

In spite of this loss, the gnomes proved grateful to the visitors for ridding them of both the raiding goblins and the sparring factions, bringing them peace, even at the expense of certain comforts they’d grown accustomed to. No longer was the city bathed in fancy lights, or were their pantries equipped with coldboxes, or other such useful tools, but Queen Ann assured them that the gnomes would be able to rebuild, in time. They thanked the party for their services, and held a great banquet in their honor.

The heroes stayed for a few days, enjoying the rest and the adoration of the locals, but before long they began to feel mounting guilt: the gnomes seemed to be growing more and more disheartened by the loss of so many convenient tools. As they wondered what they might be able to do to help, Queen Ann summoned the team and told them that she’d received word of a fallen star a few days ride away. It had reportedly landed in a hostile wasteland that the gnomes considered unsafe and unlucky… but gnomish legends suggested that fallen stars could be a source of wonderful magical power… and perhaps, if given a sledge to cart it back, these fine men, whom she called “Queen Ann’s Champions,” could be persuaded to retrieve it for her… Baernabas and Benjin agreed at once, eager for a new adventure (as Fharlanghn’s worshipers always were), and Jeysen found he couldn’t turn down a job that would surely pay handsomely. By noon that day they were outfitted for travel and headed into the wastes…

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The Burned Sands
or: "What Came Before, part 4"

Baernabas, Benjin, and Jeysen travelled out of the gnomish hillside and through an increasingly dry landscape. Before long, they reached the Burned Sands, a desert of deep purple and black sands. In spite of the name, the desert was actually quite cool during the day. The Burned Sands, according to some lore Benjin had once read, had once been a lush forest, but had been scorched during the Arefah Purge, a famous battle fought long ago during some forgotten war. The desert, he continued, was famous for its lone, towering pyramid, engraved with glyphs in an ancient language. Now that they were there, Benjin was eager to see the pyramid for himself.

Their journey was held up briefly by an encounter with a gang of travelers much like themselves. When Benjin hailed them, they appeared friendly enough, and asked where the heroes were headed. Jeysin, who was not as inclined as his teammates to trust strangers on the road as openly, quickly told them “To see the pyramid. It’s supposed to be famous, you know.”

The other travelers agreed that this was so. One said, “We figured you were also headed to see the fallen star. That’s what the last party we saw was searching for.”

Baernabas seemed disheartened, but did not betray the truth, following Jeysen’s lead. Instead, he asked, “I see. Did they find it?”

But the travelers revealed themselves then: “No… unfortunately for those fools, we found them first!” Suddenly their illusions melted away, their alter self spells fading, revealing the three strangers to be lamia! These beasts, like lion-bodied centaurs, began attacking the team. A vicious blow left Baernabas feeling mentally drained and confused, and he felt his willpower slipping away… Benjin warned that these creatures were fond of brutal tricks, and would often sap away at the minds of their foes to confuse and discombobulate them before going in for killing blows. Luckily, it seemed they had no taste for a fair fight: sensing Baernabas would make for a more satisfying target (being the wisest of the three), they lost track of the diminutive Jeysen. Using this to his advantage, he dealt devastating sneak attacks against two of the lamia, and when the third turned tail to flee, Benjin rode it down on horseback, slaying it.

After a night’s rest, Baernabas was right again, and the team was able to continue on. Before long the pyramid was in sight… and before that, they came upon the impact crater of the fallen star. But… something was down there, a humanoid shape whose body seemed to be actively dissolving into whirling smoke below its waist. It was speaking quietly and gesticulating above a loose sphere of white-hot, glowing plasma about a foot in diameter. Baernabas identified the words as belonging to some kind of transmutation spell, and understood that if they didn’t act quickly, the creature would likely use up all of the star’s magical energy in its incantation.

The team hurried down into the surprisingly massive crater and hollered at the creature, surprising it and disrupting its spell. It revealed itself as the djinni Babahouka, and demanded to know who disturbed his work. The team explained themselves, quietly steeling for a fight: they had sworn to retrieve this star for a colony of gnomes in need of a new source of power. The djinni seemed moved, and impressed by their dedication, but explained that it, too, needed the star, in its entirety, so that it could complete a complicated ritual that was “beyond your mortal understanding.”

Jeysen, a natural salesman, began to make offers in exchange for the star, but Babahouka would not be swayed. “But there must be something!” he finally exclaimed. “Everything has a price!”

Babahouka, now seeming to enjoy tormenting the team, agreed that he would allow them to take the star in exchange for something more valuable: ambrosia, the name given to pure joy given physical form. After Baernabas confirmed that yes, this was a real thing, the team agreed that they would attempt to find some… but Babahouka warned that they had only until sundown to locate one gallon of this rare liquid. Providing a glass decanter for the task, he warned them: “Time’s a-wasting…”

Baernabas was only vaguely aware of what collecting ambrosia would entail, and as they hurried off, he told the others what he knew: there was a spell involved, but he was of course not prepared to use it that day. He spent a half hour in a meditative state, praying to Fharlanghn, before sighing in defeat. He had gained insight into the spell’s nature: not only had his vision shown him that the spell he needed was purely arcane – and therefore outside of his purview as a divine spellcaster – but even then it needed a full 24 hours of preparation before it could be cast, far outlasting their strict timeline. Jeysen suggested it was a trick meant to drive them away from the star while Babahouka completed his ritual without distraction, and suggested simply attacking the magical being. But as they started back, they saw that Babahouka was, in fact, waiting patiently, and not interacting with the fallen star at all. it seemed he would be true to his word… but time was running out.

Benjin wondered aloud what ambrosia even looked like. He seemed to suspect that, from the way Babahouka had spoken of it, the djinni may not even know himself what ambrosia’s true properties were. Jeysen, looking for any excuse to swindle the treasure from the djinni, concocted a plan… and minutes later, a combination of a create water spell, some dried fruit, and some crushed mint leaves left them with a gallon of a fruity beverage of some description, mostly lemon and lime.

They returned to the djinni, triumphant, presenting the jar of what essentially was lemon-limeade. Babahouka’s eyes lit up, only confirming to the party the truth: the djinni had no idea what actual ambrosia looked like. Giving his best salespitch and talking up the sweetwater something fierce, the djinni happily accepted the “ambrosia” and plane shifted away, leaving behind the fallen star.

The star, white hot and dense, had to be carefully handled and loaded onto the sled provided by the gnomes. With the help of Hoof-Hearted, a mule Baernabas had purchased back in Tainted Hollow, they dragged the star, unimpeded, back to Tinque. The star was delivered to Queen Ann with much acclaim, and she turned it over to the gnome tinkerers. Within four days, during which the team enjoyed an extended royal treatment and frankly exhausting partying, the star had been installed as Tinque’s new source of magical power. The tinkerers were astounded at its output, and theorized it would be enough to power their entire city for centuries all on its own!

When Benjin, Jeysen, and Baernabas eventually left the city, tales of their deeds were already spreading outside of the gnomish settlement. Statues of them, in miniature, were being carved in Tinque’s underground town square, a long-lasting tribute to Queen Ann’s Champions. Bali had been right, it seemed, and they were indeed beginning to gain accolades and a good reputation… but, unknown to them, tales of their deeds were also spreading among goblins, hobgoblins, and the Underdark… and somewhere, an angry djinni was plotting revenge against the heroes, as well…

Where the road would take Benjin, Jeysen, and Baernabas next, however, remained to be seen…

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Someplace Else
or: "What Came Before, part 5"

This is a placeholder entry for the next adventure our heroes had after leaving Tinque. Ben suggested the Goblin King/Underdark adventure, and Dave suggested the falling star quest, so this adventure to take the team from Lv. 7 to Lv. 8 should be a thing of Brian’s devising.

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Nargabuz Spires
or: "What Came Before, part 6"

The team, over the following weeks, became thoroughly lost in the Nargabuz Spires, a mountain range to the east. In all their wanderings, none of them had heard much about these mountains or the history surrounding them; they only knew there was a lush valley at the heart of the mountain range. Now, in addition to being lost, their luck continued to get worse: one evening, a violent thunderstorm broke overhead. In their search for shelter, however, they noticed something odd: the storm itself seemed to be growing quieter and quieter, although it was certainly not letting up.

They encountered a lone dwarf on the run who, after noticing Baernabas, motioned silently for them to go with her. Desperate to get out of the strangely quiet storm, they followed along, thankfully taking shelter in a tunnel that had clearly been dug by dwarves. When she indicated that they should keep following her, Baernabas began to speak a word of thanks in dwarven, but was stunned to discover that his words were nearly whisper quiet. The others didn’t notice that he’d spoken at all, and continued forward until he tapped them. Only when they stopped and tried to ask him what the matter was did they understand: some kind of unnatural silence was being imposed upon them! They whirled on the dwarf, but she seemed not to have heard them either (only then did Jeysen notice that their scuffling in the tunnel seemed also to have been muted), and was still advancing down the tunnel. Baernabas didn’t detect any magical effects in the tunnels, and neither did Benjin sense any evil intentions nearby. With no other choice, and craving an explanation, they followed down into the dwarven city.

An engraved sign over the archway leading into the city proper read, in dwarvish, Berdiskali. Looking downward, they saw that the city was, like many large dwarven cities, dug down into the earth, with multiple tiers. Most of the buildings were constructed from massive stone blocks, expertly masoned. The edges of the city, made of compacted dirt, were lined along roughly a third of the city, on each tier, with what the team took to be tree roots. Benjin thought this odd, as the mountain outside had been very rocky and nearly barren…

Though people milled about everywhere, the team noticed that there seemed to be nearly no sound at all. Businesses appeared to be open, but the proprietors seemed to be, on the whole, not attending their shops. Unthinking, Jeysen began to ask the dwarf who had led them there what was bothering everyone, but again, the strange silence kept his words to a near whisper. Benjin, also briefly forgetting, asked about the strange roots – and gave up when even he could barely hear his own words.

They spotted a few older-looking dwarves seeming to get worked up. They wore black scarves – apparently a symbol of rank here, as other dwarves scuttled out of their way. These scarfed dwarves pulled knives on the vines, hacking away at them, pulling them out barehanded from the dirt walls, gritting their teeth against the dirt they knocked loose with the roots. When they’d cleared a patch roughly fifteen feet across, they seemed to sigh with relief… and they spotted the newcomers. Glancing at each other briefly, and seeming to light up slightly, they turned and waved to Baernabas, Jeysen, and Benjin. They approached slowly.

One of the dwarves, who wore priestly robes along with her black scarf, surprised them by speaking audibly (yet still somewhat faintly): “By your look, you must be the champions our neighbor gnomes send word of. Answer quickly and true: are ye?”

Baernabas, a fellow dwarf, told her that yes, he supposed they were. “Why is everything so quiet? … and how can the gnomes send word in this magical silence?”

But the dwarf was already rushing to answer him. As she speaks, she begins to grow more frantic, and eerily, her voice is already fading: “They send letters, don’t be a fool. I must speak quickly, as these roots grow back in a blink. There is a great tree on Tower Mountain, and it strangles Erond’s Tower. Its roots have spread here through the valley floor and into these mountains over the last thousand years. It feeds on sound, do you understand? These roots suck the very sound out of us, it’s driving us all mad, it’s killing our will to live, please, if you’re the heroes you say you are, you must help us! You… you must…” Realizing that even she can no longer hear herself speak, her shoulders dropped, her head lowered in utter defeat. Her legs went out from under her and she began shaking. After a moment, the team realized she would have been sobbing loudly, had the roots in the walls not already grown back into place.

Although it was too late to share the information, Benjin was able to place the name “Erond’s Tower.” Though he had had no knowledge of these mountains, the name Erond the Cowardly had come up in his studies once. Erond was a king of legend, dating back over a thousand years, to before the Unity Wars, who built the tower so he could survey his domain from on high. In time, though, he began to fear that being so close to the heavens might leave him vulnerable to incursions from beings of the heavenly planes… and sure enough, some kind of planar breach happened, quite by accident. At the first sign of something emerging – stories differ as to what it was, but Benjin had heard it was a strange green rain – Erond abandoned his tower, calling on his people to flee for their lives, leaving his small kingdom a silent ghost of its former self.

Now, Benjin reasoned, there was some answer to what had come through the breach: some kind of seed from another plane was surely planted there that day a millennium ago. Perhaps it was due to this origin that Jeysen was unable to burn away the roots with his torch, as he had tried to do once they had grown back. Resolving to assist these dwarves, Benjin produced paper and pen and sketched a few mountains on it, then handed it to one of the older dwarves. He understood what was being requested, and hastily sketched out a map to Tower Mountain, at the heart of the valley at the center of the Nargabuz Spires. He, Baernabas, and Jeysen looked at each other, resolving to help these people; surely it must be torturous to have to live this way.

After three days of traveling in silence – an unspeakably mind-wrenching task, they learned to their sorrow – they came upon the Whispering Valley (they wouldn’t learn this name until later, at which time they would also learn that, ironically, the name predated both the great tree and the Tower that gave Tower Mountain its name). It was indeed a lush valley, and here the great tree’s roots were much larger, bursting up from the ground in places. Tower Mountain itself stood alone at the center, with both Erond’s Tower at its peak, and the massive tree the dwarf had spoken of growing tall, twisting itself in, through, and around the tower itself.

Crossing the valley they were accosted by a variety of local fauna which seemed to have grown from the roots of the great tree, which Baernabas decided would qualify them as flora, as well. Fortunately, they were mostly unintelligent, and the plant creatures were easily slain when they could not be avoided outright. By nightfall on the fourth day after leaving Berdiskali, they had reached the path at the base of Tower Mountain, where they made camp.

In the night, while Baernabas kept watch – updating the star chart he’d been keeping while traveling – a large, winged shadow passed over the moon and, apparently, landing atop Erond’s Tower… it appeared, alarmingly, to be a dragon! In a panic, he roused the others, shaking them from their sleep, but of course, unable to communicate what he’d seen. He had to resort to pantomime to suggest a large flying monster overhead, which at least got the attention of his comrades. They waited for the break of dawn, only a few hours away, before setting out up the path and toward the tower.

As they drew close, the dragon, who had been watching their ascent, swooped down upon them. Its green hide thick and heavy, this dragon seemed old indeed. It did not attempt to speak, but instead grinned down at them, then looked over at the tree. Jeysen couldn’t quite credit what he was seeing, but… it seemed as though the dragon were proud of the tree? Could it be tending to it? Jeysen made a tentative step forward, hand on his blade, but the dragon blocked his path. When Baernabas produced a torch and lit it, the dragon seemed to understand why they’d come, and lashed out at them!

Terrified and outmatched, the team fled for cover in the tower itself. The dragon would, of course, never fit inside… but the floor and walls shook beneath them – it was going to try, anyway! Benjin motioned toward a staircase, and they did the only thing they could: fled upward! The dragon, undeterred, struck the walls, hoping to strike into the tower and claw at the little apes that had come for its tree.The sound-sucking properties of the tree finally worked to the team’s advantage here: in their haste, they would have been making a great ruckus, but the dragon could not hear them at all, and was forced to guess at their positions.

On the tower’s roof, however, the odds were evened once again, and the dragon, now furious, confronted them with its acid breath. While Baernabas and Benjin took the brunt of the assault, Jeysen spotted a massive scarlet-and-yellow fruit dangling in the tree’s topmost branches, which reached a mere ten feet above the tower. The fruit was larger by far than Jeysen himself, but suspecting the dragon’s pride was at stake, he began climbing the tree as the others fought a losing battle against the green dragon. He quickly cut the fruit loose, dropping with it from the branches and onto the tower below.

It struck and squashed itself on the stone, unleashing an incredibly loud note, the sound of a thousand voices singing a joyous chord into the heavens, overwhelming the senses of not just the heroes, but the dragon as well. The dragon, so disoriented and surprised by the sudden note, clutched at its ears and began to fall from the sky. Meanwhile, with the destruction of the fruit – what they’d later call a Songberry – the tree seemed to lose vitality, and with a loud groan it began to wither. This was bad news for the heroes: the tree seemed to be the only thing that had been holding up the tower over the last few hundred years, and with the new damage freshly inflicted on it by the green dragon, it would only be a matter of minutes before the whole thing collapsed!

Regretting that they couldn’t collect much from the dragon’s tower-top gold hoard, they were forced to retreat. Luck was on their side, as the now recovered dragon, furiously shouting that they’d ruined his masterpiece of gardening, had gone into a frenzy, and heedless of the collapsing tower, tried again to strike them through the walls. Somehow it got itself entangled in the falling rubble, and though the heroes were able to escape outside, the dragon was not. Crushed under the collapsing stone and withering wood, only its head protruded from the rubble at the end, breathing sickly and heavily, even then trying to struggle out from beneath the destruction. Benjin drove his lance into its head, slaying it, but not before its horrible, ragged breathing was embedded in their minds. As a final touch, the team heard the sound of coins sliding along stone nearby… some of the dragon’s hoard of gold coins had survived the destruction, and was pouring down the side of the rubble onto the ground.

In the following weeks they stayed with the dwarves of Berdiskali, who hailed them as heroes. Limil, the leader of the elders of Black House who governed there, thanked them profusely. She explained that they’d lost many teams that had been sent to investigate the tree, but the dragon had turned the entire valley into its personal garden, and dealt harshly with intruders. Now, though, the dragon’s death and the destruction of the Songberry Tree quickly became the subject of songs and tales told in taverns over tankards of ale. It transpired that Berdiskali was a major exporter of gold, and as such were rich here in the east… meaning hefty rewards and gifts for the heroes. Jeysen found himself with a number of well-crafted goods and treasures to add to his collection of wares, while Baernabas was met with multiple contracts, establishing fruitful trade with his parents’ business back at Bastion’s Ridge. Benjin, meanwhile, was gifted with a treasure map by a group of retired adventuring dwarves who regretted they’d grown too old to seek the treasure themselves. And, naturally, they were paid handsomely for their services – at the dwarves’ insistence.

The dwarves bid the heroes good luck and, after providing directions back out of the mountains they’d been lost in from the start, sent their heroes on their way to their next adventure…

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Another Place
or: "What Came Before, part 7"

This is a placeholder entry for un-played adventures the party had, taking them from Lv. 9 to Lv. 10. Possible plots include Benjin’s treasure map, the vengeful djinn Babahouka or something completely different.

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Yet Another Place
or: "What Came Before, part 8"

This is a placeholder entry for un-played adventures the party had, taking them from Lv. 10 to Lv. 11. Possible plots include Benjin’s treasure map, the vengeful djinn Babahouka or something completely different.

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Brook's Hold
or: "What Came Before, part 9"

This is a placeholder entry for un-played adventures the party had, taking them from Lv. 11 to Lv. 12. Possible plots include Benjin’s treasure map, the vengeful djinn Babahouka or something completely different. Entry title taken from the town Jeysen reported about to his guild leader in the “Rayn’s Hamlet” entry.

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