It’s been over a year since my last post. I have no excuse. Sorry. Moving on.
The group has decided to reinstate the blog, this time mustering up enough help to keep me from getting burned out. We will all be submitting posts from here on out. Together, we hope to provide valuable insights into both running and playing D&D. The adventure posts will continue as well, complete with encounters you can easily steal.
To introduce ourselves, we would each like to present a recap of the exploits in our epic campaign. When last we left off (that is, the last you’ve heard), the group was off in search of Kas the Betrayer to try to recruit him into the battle against Vecna…
The DM’s Take
The group met up with Kas, he had gotten their messages to meet the group under the floating rock. He challenged Asterion to a one-on-one duel to determine their worthiness of his assistance. The fight was suitably Epic. Both contestants stood upon a table and had to fight without letting their feet touch the ground. Round one, the table was cleaved in two. Both fighters kept their balance, kicked pieces into melee range, grabbed each other to keep from falling, jumped, slid… really, it was awesome. Guess you had to be there.
Unfortunately, Chi-Kal interfered and Kas refused to help… until the group mentioned the Sword. The Sword of Kas. The lust was easily seen in Kas’ eyes as he agreed to help in exchange for the sword. In order for Kas to be well-played, I called in a friend, Justin. He agreed to join our group for a month or so and play as Kas the Betrayer. I filled him in on the story, he researched Kas as much as he could, and played his role quite well.
The sword happened to be located in the Forest of Know Trees (A D&D cartoon reference). There, they found the forest horribly blighted by some sort of evil. The group correctly assumed it was the swords influence on the land. Within the blighted forest, the group found Baba Yaga. She told them more than they needed to know, speaking in riddles and prophecies about their future. To Akmenos she said to wade within Sea of Tears to find his army there; to Chi-Cal she said he could harness the power of a god if he could forgive a lich; to Asterion she said he would have to make a choice.
The sword was found deep beneath the forest floor and (surprise, surprise) The Betrayer immediately went into action. I gave Kas solo based hit points and one additional action point to use in the encounter, then let Justin do his thing. There were vicious plants around to attack both sides of the battle that I got to play. Worse, the plant/minions exploded in a 10 square radius for HUGE damage. As a DM, I mainly sat back and enjoyed the show. It was fun and frustrating all at the same time. Player vs. Player always gets heated. Each person has reason to believe that their character is superior to any other… asking them to prove it is a different matter entirely, especially when it’s a fight to the death. Though tension was high at the end of the night, the encounter ended as it should. Kas was dead and the sword was in the hands of those who were off to defeat Vecna. More importantly, the group was all smiles and laughter as we said goodbye to Kas/Justin.
Along their journey back to Zvomarana, they came once again upon the House of Black Lanterns and decided to take a rest…
Here’s where things get interesting. I’ve had the idea to do a Tarantino-esque timeline within D&D for a while now. We needed a couple more players and asking a newb to join up at level 25 is a little much. So we began our heroic campaign… more on that in the days to come.
I will be posting as/about the characters Asterion and Jae W. Braeburn.
And, like everyone else, in general:
Kas met us, and after some diplomacy, agreed to a test of strength. Kas leapt upon a table his lieutenants had set for our meeting, and challenged the mightiest among us to confront him in honorable combat.
Asterion, being both hopelessly honorable and recklessly mighty, accepted. Kas, called betrayer, began the challenge by breaking the table in two, creating difficult terrain, so that neither combatant might shift.
Ch’Kal, in an ill-advised bout of unity, struck Kas with a DAZEing power. Asterion, forcing the rules of the challenge, laid hands on Kas
Virtue’s Touch (power, utility, daily : remove one condition from the target)
Asterion then apologized to Kas, insisting that such interference was beyond their competition, and equally despised!
Having said, Asterion then re-DAZEd Kas.
No other dared interfere as Kas and Asterion shattered the table upon which they fought.
They fought, Asterion Grabbing Kas, and Kas Dominating Asterion, until the Minotaur proved victorious.
((semi-detailed fencing-corridor challenge, available))
After the Challenge, Kas remained hesitant; however the first mention of the Sword brought him into full compliance. From there the party delved into the Forest of Know trees.
The poisoned wood was quickly/eventually navigated by our heroes, curing the blight upon the lands by removing the Vecna-infused sword.
Predictably, at the first moment the Sword was available, Kas, called Betrayer, challenged the three heroes.
Baba Yaga gave us a mighty Gift (L25 appropriate items) and we suffered and scratched our way out of her yet-blighted forest.
After a short rest, and a short effort we came upon the Inn of Black Lanterns
The inn which can only be found when one is lost…
The Tiefling’s Take
The name is Akmenos, played by one Dave Papajcik. I am a master of the battlefield, and a convincing slick talker. I am what the bodily form of Red’s head – Bard|Warlord is what I am now. Anyway, enough about me – let’s get to what you really want to hear.
We had managed to meet up with Kas, apparently receiving our summons. Kas felt the need to challenge our worthiness, as if our ability to summon and meet with him wasn’t enough. Chi-Kal’s silly interference, however, almost cost us our opportunity to work with him and use him, so only by mentioning his sword and our knowledge to find it were we able to recruit him to help us defeat Vecna. Conversely, Kas is also a crazy asshole who needs to be under strict supervision.
So we were off to the Forest of Know Trees – a place I, and probably the others, first improperly interpreted as “No Trees”, which flat-out confused me since how can you have a forest without any trees. But with some strain on my brain I managed to pull a fragment of memory out about the Forest of Know trees and was able to pass along the information about what this place was like. The trees fought against our presence and seemed to not want us to enter. Perhaps they sensed our intentions. No matter. We assumed the sword had corrupted the forest somehow and pressed onwards.
Within the forest, there was a clearing with a lake in which an island sat in the middle. On this island, there was a house of some sort and I must say I was indeed curious. Once we got to the island we were met by an old women named Baba Yaga. She told us much, though it was buried in riddles – some still unsolved. She told me, more or less, that my army awaits at the Sea of Tears. Though I know not what army she speaks of. She also warned us about the sword and trees, but as my story will come to tell, there wasn’t much option.
As we left and got closer to the sword, the corruption of the forest became worse, but we managed. At long last, we found it. Buried inside a large tree. Surrounded by stupid plants that exploded for huge damage over a huge range. Of course I tried to stay out of it, but it proved to be difficult. Sir Asshole, er, Kas slobbered over that sword and instantly disregarded everything else in order to grab the sword. Not totally unsurprising, but still disappointing because it meant he was not going to actually be of any real help to us.
The inevitable battle began and Kas eventually became his own third faction in it. Asterion took it upon himself to lock axe with Kas and rightfully so, since he was the only one capable of going toe to toe and absorbing the damage. Asterion managed to tell Kas “no” to having the sword and take it away from him on 3 occasions. In one of the efforts to keep it from him, it was given to Chi-Kal while he then turned into a swarm of butterflies making it impossible to grab. Kas managed to dominate Chi-Kal and force him back into humanoid form. A shame really… Chi-Kal’s willpower is almost as good as mine… oh well.
Sword in hand, we headed back to Baba Yaga who seemed to be in trouble once again. So we came in and threw the intruders into the lake and held them from going near the poor old woman. Once she was safe and sound, we left her to start work on repairing the damage to the forest. Zvormorana was calling us and we needed to kill Vecna, or as I call him – BitchWhore. I mean, c’mon, he has what is CLEARLY a feminine name, and I don’t know how many times I’ve said she instead of he because of it. Along the way, the House of Black Lanterns reappears with near perfect timing to help us out.
Though not too long into our resting there, Chi-Kal hears/senses (I’m still not quite sure what that bug-man does sometimes…) some kind of disturbance, and I convince the owner to relocate right next to this “disturbance”. What was outside that door was rather intriguing…
The mental journal of Chi-Kal…
…A Thri-Kreen druid who spends a significant portion of the day as a swarm of countless glasswing butterflies.
We have protected the Raven Queen twice already, she gives commands and makes requests as if we are her servants and allies. She forgets our purpose can turn against her just as easily as it comes to her aid. On that day my thousand tongues will savor the blood of she who presumes to claim dominon over death.
We stand on the parapets of Zvormorana. Those standing beside us are servants of the Raven Queen, who corrupts the flow of souls to her own ends; our enemy any other morning. Today we fight like brothers to hold against the seething tide of corruption that blankets the earth around us. Within that tide is only the clanking of metal and creaking of leather. I hear not one heart beating in anticipation of battle, only Fear lies there now. Fear of their master drives them forward today, but the greater fear that corrupts their dimly-rememberd souls is the annihilating fear of the question ‘What comes after?’. So many who stand beside me fight with the same fear in their breast, I pity them.
We have come to treat with the walking corpse known as Kas. What little speck of self it has left wants nothing more than the destruction of Vecna. Kas can be a powerful weapon, but must be managed carefully. It calls itself Betrayer and demands honorable combat with one of our party, which among us will it be? There is no other choice, Asterion is our Champion in word and deed. Myself and Kas will come to blows only once, and it will be no duel. But I will not stand and watch as a mere attendant, I know The Betrayer will act according to its nature just as I know the pride, honor, and fury that pulse within Asterion’s heart will resent my doing what must be done, but we must hold the depths of our power in reserve for the inevitable.
After the battle Kas knows two things for certain: Asterion is not to be trifled with, and my thousand eyes are watching him for the nearest hint of betrayal. We will travel with it to the forest of Know Trees and reunite the Sword of Kas with its namesake, however temporarily. Arming Kas for the battle against Vecna is a dangerous game. All I see within the creature’s tormented mind
Corruption lies deep in the heart of the Forest of Know Trees, twisting the forest denizens themselves into a deadly weapon against us. A great grandfather of the forest tore itself from the earth and we had no choice but to reap it. As my selves battered against it I made short contact with its ancint slow mind, I felt its pain and saw the abomination Kas working in concert with my hungry wings to drain it of vitality, I could not help but question the futility of saving the world for life if such a mockery of life is allowed to exist. We came upon and took refuge with an ancient Baba who claimed deep and terrible knowledge, yet her portents were so absurd as to be laughable and I could hardly bother to commit her words to memory. Despite her unsound claims, the path to the heart of corruption she set us on proved true, and we found our way to the mortally wounded Know Tree Heart.
The Know Tree Heart had become irredemably corrupted, the Sword of Kas burrowing so deep within it that even its ancient children erupted fromt he ground as tortured burls and stood in our path. Their precious fragile lives, so ancient and yet still at the merest beginning of life, were crushed beneath our terrible purpose, but pain that rent through me from their psychic cries of anguish will forever scar my soul. Did the abomination Kas hear their cries, I wonder? Does it remember enough of its former life to know empathy still?
We came upon the Know Tree Heart and, just as I feared, the Sword of Kas lay lodged in its dying flesh, surrounded by yet more of its corrupted children. The moment it was able, Kas once again fell to its nature and took up the accursed blade, turning it upon us who it had called “friend” not minutes before. The vile blade had empowered him far beyond the pathetic creature Asterion had fought in his “duel” and my thousand eyes searched only for weakness to exploit to the creature’s enevitable destruction. It was only later that I regretted our inability to turn such a weapon as Kas against Vecna. Many times Asterion was able to wrench the vicious blade from Kas’ hand, and each time it found its way to return. Knowing what must be done I took the blade into hand and spread it among my thousand selves, but as the blade and my form merged I found to my shock that a wretched mockery of life lay twisting within the dark iron heart of the blade itself! The wash of fear and hatred that flowed from the blade combined with it and Kas combined desire to be reunited shocked me so greatly as to stun me into inaction for the crucial seconds that allowed Kas to recover the blade.
Thankfully separating the Betrayer from its blade was sufficient to turn the tide of battle, though I hesitate to call being left in our current situation a victory. We leave the Forest of Know Trees cleansed of corruption and nearly empty handed. The vile consciousness that lies withing the Sword of Kas resists all kindness and logic, demanding only that we spill the blood of our brothers. I now carry this blade upon my back, its demanding whispers tugging at my mind and constantly reminding me of my failure. Returning to the baba’s hut we are quickly beset by agents of the Lich, no doubt tracking Kas and emboldened by the destruction of such a terrible enemy.
We rest and recuperate in the Inn of the Black Lantern. Akmenos is boisterously celebrating while Asterion finds his own comfort administering to his charge. The Lich Vecna has thrown so many obstacles in our path, does it even know of our existence? It will not survive wronging me, if I do nothing else I will plunge the blade on my back into Vecna’s shiveled mockery of a heart.
The other two, Samantha Umbra and Gashix are no longer with us. We are joined by two newcomers though, Tal and Josh. Their stories will be in a future post.