Dragonlance: Dragons of Despair
From the journal of Mordred Straightlance
Five years has passed since we all met in Solace in our quest for the true Gods. There seems to be no Gods to be found. The group consists of:
- Mordred Straightlance, Knight of the Crown. Hero.
- Socrates, one-time Seeker, now just another man in a tin can.
- Azun Lightstep, Handler, Kender
- Cedric, Another man in a tin can
- Windrush, Elven wench. A ranger (Lance fodder but quite good with a bow). Has a wolf
- Karanon Starbreeze, Outcast of the Silvanesti elves (arrogant, conceited and bigoted). Wears a red robe and has silvery hair
We are making our separate ways to Solace where we agreed to meet. On the road Cedric, Karanon and Windrush encounter several strange creatures. An oaf on a mule demands a blue crystal staff, tells his Hobgoblins to kill everyone and retrieve the staff from the bodies. He then rides into the wide blue yonder.
Karanon lets fly with some form of lightning spell. Quite the anti-climax as they all fall down dead. Windrush hits the leader with an arrow but he still gets away.
As we (Myself, Socrates and Azun) round a corner there seems to be several robed humanoids pillaging bodies. Ever the unified party, I charge, Azun taunts (my hero) and Socrates reasons. I lance one of the bad guys and continue onwards however, I fall off my trusted horse and try to get up and draw my sword. Azun seems to like the woods however Socrates races to support me. I am wounded but not too badly though. Not sure what Azun is up to, probably pillaging the dead! Both Socrates and myself face off to the villains but they're quick on their feet and we're unable to strike a telling blow. Azun is still missing. I manage to kill one but it inconveniently turns to stone on my sword. I am forced to resort to using my fists which is distinctly unfair. An arrow flies in as Cedric, Karanon and Windrush come around the corner.
Windrush fires another arrow and misses, Cedric charges and misses, in fact everyone misses as I draw my dagger and Karanon throws a spell.
Cedric cannot hit the side of a barn at 50 paces! Windrush fires and again misses. Cedric hits and blows rain down on my shield and I slash at one of the creatures. Karanon chucks more magic, again with no effect. I really can't see any value on archers in an army. I kill another one and lose my dagger in the process. I pick up a loose blade. We seem to be taking damage, lots of damage.
Azun backs off a little while Karanon helps by flanking one of the creatures with me (wizard in combat?). Arrows knock another two down. The last falls to one of Karanon's spells.
It would seem that the creatures turn to dust when touched later.
The bodies that turn out to be a couple of nomads, a man and a woman. Both are dead and died fighting. The woman is carrying an unusual blue crystal staff which hurts the mage when he touches it but not me. In fact all my wounds are healed. I must have been destined to pick up this device! It is most holy! I pass the staff to Socrates with an oath to defend the staff and Socrates whilst he holds it. The two bodies are buried and we continue.
We argue about the staff. All the humans get healed when they take the staff but it would seem that elves take damage (Azun refuses to touch it - he must be feeling ill). Some of us argue that the staff is evil and some say it is divine, one person says the staff is evil and divine! It is pointed out that Gods can be good, evil and anywhere in between. The other suggestion made that the staff is a staff of elf-slaying or just human friendly.
We arrive in Solace and go to the in of the Last Home. We get taken to a table by a pretty young thing. Karanon talks to the barman and it turns out that the Seeker council are after a blue crystal staff.
As we about to leave when Socrates is stopped by a man who says that the blue crystal staff needs to be taken to Xak Tsaroth to we will face the greatest peril in contest for the greatest gift given to man.
Next morning Azun takes the staff and he nearly falls over. The conclusion amongst the demi-humans is the staff is a racist staff!
We leave for Xak Tsaroth through the fields and eventually try to enter Que Kiri, which is closed. Apparently there are fires approaching and they have 600 men which of course will protect them from their doom!. We camped outside the town and have a peaceful night. We move out towards Que Sue. Some people detect the smell of Burning. Que Shu has been burnt. We go into the town and find three corpses, burnt and hanging from a cross piece in the square. The uprights have been forced into the ground with a lot of force. Somebody suggests that something has cooked these bodies. The villagers seem to have been chased by some creature. Some debate to follow these tracks is eventually forgotten and we progress on towards the marshes and Xak Tsaroth. We camp the night and are not harried but there is an ominous glow to the north and again a smell of smoke.
We enter some hills and eventually come to a bridge over a ravine which is guarded by fourteen figures and they have seen us. Windrush tries to reason with them.
From the journal of Socrates
One says he is called Gudrun. We tried talking to them claiming to be Seekers but they seemed unconcerned. We opt for the straightforward tactic of attacking. Karanon casts some form of spell which huts several of them but none go down. Windrush shoots a wounded one its stays on its feet. Karanon casts another magical sphere and this time four drop. Windrush shoots and slays another. They finally decide to attack and charge towards us. We wait for them to reach us while Windrush charges in. I follow, then Mordred . He hits. Windrush is getting pummeled but everyone else is missed.
The battle continues...Azun wades in with his mighty dagger (the little guy seems to be a more effective fighter than Mordred!...I miss surprise!.... The DM is looks for some new dice that can manage to hit something apart from the table.....Azun strikes again with his dagger .....Karanon hits and kills another (even the bloody mage hits)...... I receive a critical hit...... I eventually manage to hit twice before Mordred finishes them off.
We then debate whether we should now wear the robes from the dead dragon men. Mordred thinks this is dishonorable but we finally all put on robes apart from Azun. We move on down the trail and rest.
The ruins are about 7 miles ahead. Karanon doesn't want the staff and wants to throw it into the swamp. We arrive at the edge of the swamp. Small insects abound and a nice rotting smell permeates the air. Mordred and Socrates remove their armour and attach it to Mordred's horse. We start through the swamp.
Windrush hears something ahead.and goes to have a look. She sees a monstrous creature. We retreat and find another way round. We come to an area with a few weapons on the floor at least one is of which is detected as magical by Karanon. Windrush fires an arrow and hits something. A tentacled beast rises into sight. Karanon casts a magical sphere before being paralyzed. I use staff to try and unparalyze him but nothing happens. Azun strikes the beast as does Mordred. The creature has 12 attacks and hits everyone nearly killing me. I use the staff to heal myself and surprisingly Windrush. All the non humans suddenly like the staff as it now is is obviously non-lethal!
The ruins of Xak Tsaroth eventually come into sight. Plus a nice vine bridge over swamp.We decide we need to kill the horse as it can't go over bridge and it wouldn't be kind to leave it by itself in a swamp full of monsters. Windrush takes care of it though Mordred seems a bit upset.
From the journal of Mordred Straightlance
I meditate for some time as the others decide what to do. Karanon decides to carry all the armour on his magical floating disk.
Windrush crosses the rope bridge easily and Karanon also makes short work of it. However he then comes back across for some reason and slips and falls slowly in to the water. It would seem that he can't swim either, must be those red robes getting tn the way! To add insult to injury there are some snakes making their way over to feast on the hapless mage. Azun runs to his aid holding tightly to the rope and lowering his Hoopak. Karanon is bitten by one of the snakes. I carefully start to walk across the bridge. The brave Kender moves off the bridge As Windrush finishes off the last snake with an arrow. Eventually we all get across. Karanon stinks and looks very cold and seems to be getting worse. Windrush then realizes that she has forgotten Shadow (her pet wolf). Socrates heals Karanon but he is still wet and very cold.
We move across the island, Karanon covered with blankets. At the other side of the island is a fallen tree trunk going 60 foot over to the next island. It is green and slimy and looks totally unsafe. We spend the afternoon making a rope from vine and Windrush and Karanon have an argument about making a fire. Finally we have a plan - I hold the rope and Windrush goes across.
On the other side Windrush is ambushed and strings her bow and then thinking better of it runs back across the log as quickly as possible - getting hit in the back with magic from the far side. I move to cover Windrush and help her into cover. Karanon throws a spell. We all find cover. The area is suddenly covered with webs and Socrates is entangled. Windrush has started wasting arrows by firing them down the bridge. More webs appear and we are all held fast apart from Windrush and she keeps firing. It would seem that Windrush guessed correctly - the opposing mage's are invisible. One is struck by an arrow and appears - another Dragonman! He demands our surrender, which provokes a mixed response. I manage to break free of the webs and charge striking the abomination hard. No more talk about surrender!
Magic slams into us as both Windrush and I get hit by their magical missiles. Other Dragonmen appear. I get first kill and I am mildly surprised as it explodes burning acid over both of us. It's starting to get messy now as we move from target to target. Luckily they don't hit very often which makes up for their magic now they are all in hand to hand. Eventually we vanquish the enemy.
We eventually try to cross the gap and I fall in and have to swim across. We debate what to do and decide to move on. Karanon is unhappy about this so we decide to rest, then we debate some more and decide to move on. There are three paths from this islet. We opt for the middle one but Karanon argues for taking another path. Eventually we take the middle path anyway. Much time is wasted but fun was had by all! Across the log are building ruins. Also there are a group of the stone lizards and a big creature/lizard with wings (dragon?). We pull back.
Windrush decides to scout another island taking the right path. On our travels I fall in again!. We continue to skirt around what appears to be the central island. I HAVE ANOTHER UNWANTED DRINK OF WATER. I AM NOT HAPPY! We eventually find the edge of a cliff the water trickles over the edge from the marsh to the sea a bout a thousand feet below.
We camp here over night, in the morning we decide to tackle the main island. Surprise, surprise! I fall in the drink again! We make it over to the middle island and move over an obelisk away from the dragon (if it is still there). We discover buildings and Windrush scouts the area as we armour up. Azun examines a large well which plunges into the earth here. It is dark and vapours rise from it. As he looks the darkness seems to intensify and with a gush of air rises from the well to encompass the surrounding area.
From the journal of Windrush
Everything goes dark. A wail of pain comes from the direction of the well. Was that Azun? Then the darkness vanishes as quickly as it appeared to reveal a huge black dragon hovering in the air above the well. I am suddenly feeling very small. I always wanted to see a dragon, well they do say be careful what you wish for!
Out of the corner of my eye I see Karanon hiding behind a column, and then before I can move the dragon turns its gaze towards me! Pain. I am stung by several bolts of magic. As I regain my composure I see Socrates dart into the temple and the Kender calling to the dragon. I think he is taunting it! My feet take over and before I can even think I am also inside the temple. I pass Mordred moving to help Azun. Run you fools.
A jet of liquid spouts forth from the dragon's mouth towards Azun and Mordred. Azun is reduced to a pool of flesh and bone. Mordred's armor and weapons melt away to reveal a naked and seared body. The dragon then plunges back down the well. At the same moment the inner doors of the temple swing open to reveal a statue of a beautiful woman and a feeling of warmth and love sweeps over us. An eerie silence descends.
Karanon, in a fit of madness, peeks outside and then runs over to the site of the carnage. Mordred is nowhere to be seen. Karanon scoops up the remains of the Kender and throws it onto his floating disk. He's definitely lost it! Then he sees a naked, hairless and blotchy red man walking towards him and, finally coming to his senses, runs back inside. I string my bow. Oh, it's Mordred!
Whoa! The statue comes to life and starts speaking. She claims that the gods have returned and that we face our greatest test. She says we MUST retrieve the disks of Mishakal from the dragon's lair below, and then find a true leader of the people. But what shall we do tomorrow? Then Socrates resurrects Azun! The gods have returned!
We dish out our spares to Mordred: Windrush gives him her masterwork Longsword, Socrates gives him a heavy shield and Karanon gives him a blanket. Mordred gracefully accepts but is mortified at the loss of his ancestral sword. Windrush also lends a blanket to Azun, who only has his dagger.
We then set off to try to find some kit for our colleagues. As misfortune would have it we open the first door we come to and run straight into a stone lizard patrol. Karanon is in the front rank with Socrates, which is amusing but seems to work well. I immediately start shooting scoring some strong hits. Mordred charges in naked, weapon in hand. Karanon impressively gets off some spells while fighting defensively. We make short work of them.
The room has marble benches and a raised dais. Rolling on the floor is an old scroll case. Karanon runs to pick it up with a manic look in his eyes. I am beginning to think the encounter with the dragon has seriously unhinged him. He casts some magic, looks pleased, and then puts it in his pack.
We go back and open another door of the main chamber where we find five smallish dwarves clawing at frescoes on the wall. They are talking crudely amongst themselves. When they see us, they grovel and start pleading. Karanon comes over all fatherly and starts addressing them in baby talk. I am now seriously worried about his sanity. After lots of baby talk, Karanon gets nowhere, though he appears to lose the ability to count.
After checking the remainder of the temple and finding no kit for our naked colleagues, the blankets have slits cut in their middles to become makeshift ponchos.
We let the gully dwarves lead the way to the ‘bosses' and down. Proceeding down a long spiral staircase, we come to a large hall with a very unstable floor. Then the dwarves dash off down a side corridor and disappear from sight. We follow their path and discover a corridor lined with what look like cell doors and then come to a line of gully dwarves slowly filing down the corridor.
Azun investigates one of the ‘cells' which looks like a looted and empty crypt. We then proceed on until we get to the back of the gully dwarf line. The ones at the rear cower when they see us, and Karanon gets all fatherly again. He must be getting broody; I will definitely sleep with a concealed dagger from now on. The sound of a cracking whip echoes down the corridor from time to time and the line of gully dwarves moves forwards slightly.
The Kender tries to disguise himself as a gully dwarf. Most unconvincing! He works his way down the line and peers around the corner. A strange sight confronts him, a large pot hangs from a chain and two large lizards guard the pot. One cracks his whip and a bunch of gully dwarves pile into the pot and it descends through a hole in the floor. Azun then reports back.
As we stand in the side corridor discussing this we hear groveling from the main corridor. We all push back flat against the wall and hope. Six stone lizards pass by without spotting us. Presumably they are going to look for us in the temple above. We discuss some more and when we hear the whip crack again we move to hide more convincingly in a side room. After some time we hear more whimpering from the corridor. When it subsides we plan our attack on the two guards, which consists of us charging in. How original!
We drop one of the guards in seconds as my second arrow strikes home. The second one drops shortly afterwards. A bell rings so we all pile into the pot and it descends steadily. After descending for what feels like ages and several hundred feet the upwards pot passes uneventfully. We descend into a courtyard where there is a wicker dragon with a large disk on its chest, but fortunately no obvious guards other than the lizard operating the bell pull.
From the journal of Mordred Straightlance
We decide to try to sneak past the guard. The main problem is the lack of light. First out of the pot is Windrush and her wolf. Socrates follows but makes a hell of a noise as he tries to climb over the lid of the pot in plate armour. Needless to say the guard is alerted to our presence.
I charge into battle and slam my blade into the enemy. An arrow flies over me into the creature. Socrates joins me in the battle as I strike again.
More Dragonmen appear from the north. Magic flies through the air and hits one of these new combatants and more arrows fly over head. Things start getting messy. Karanon starts looking for a stone to throw as he seems to be out of spells. Unable to find any he starts watching and shouting encouragement. I am now quite heavily wounded. Unknown to us help is at hand from behind the Dragonmen …
I was unconscious for the last part of the battle but it would seem that we have won. We've met two new allies, a Dwarf named Harad and another Kender named Kereth. The dwarf kindly offers some help and provides some light. Kereth finds a new passage. After comparing pouches the two kender disappear around various corners as the rest of the party tries to decide where to go. We eventually start following the Dwarf, simply because he has a lantern.
Kereth has gone ahead and has found a drunk Dragonman. He wakes him up, talks with him and then kills him, taking it's sword as it is shiny. Around another corner there is more combat. I charge in as the two elves talk between themselves - something about showing willing. We are in an ancient armoury and find a master work sword.
The Kender disappears again and shortly the sounds of combat are heard and it starts again. Azun eventually allows me to attack. I kill one as the others make short work of the other creatures. Socrates now spends some time healing the others with the staff. Kereth and the Harad now have an argument - something to do with going off by oneself!
The group continues to explore. Windrush now spots a dorm nearly full of sleeping bodies. Karanon throws a spell inside and then throws another in to the room again.
From the journal of Socrates
I love the smell of fried Dragonman in the morning!
We explore some more, eventually leaving the building we're in through bronze double doors that open onto a ruined street. We hear the sound of running water and see a large plaza to the south. After a debate to decide whether we should rest or not we retrace our steps and explore elsewhere. We find another large avenue that leads to the same plaza. A large waterfall empties into this acenue and a river runs through the centre.
We move towards the plaza and see a very large black dragon talking to the Dragonmen and hear
'Begin the search. Find them!'
Search parties are despatched. We retreat to the barracks and ambush one of the search parties. One of the Dragonmen runs off to raise the alarm. Harad and Kereth try to circle round and flank the Dragonmen. The combat continues…. Things aren't looking too good at the moment. Socrates strikes a killing blow as does Mordred who gets his sword stuck in the body of the dead Dragonman as usual. Meanwhile the Harad is repeatedly struck with magic missiles. Eventually the spell-casting Dragonman retreats and the remaining Dragonmen are killed.
We retreat further, looking for a place to hide. We find a room that has toppled onto it's side with water flowing through it. Fungus on the floor seems to be moving and closer examination reveals the presence of a number of snakes. We try and stack up more rocks to conceal the entrance and hand a blanket over the darkened corridor to conceal us. Some dragonmen look down corridor and then go away. We rest overnight.
The next day we follow the river away from where we saw the dragon. We spot another tunnel leading off need to cross the river. We tie a rope around Karanons waist and he jumps it. He casts Tensors Floating Disc and we cross over the river. We meet some Gully Dwarves torturing a Dragonman. They run off when they notice us. Azun tries to intimidate the captured Dragonman while I try diplomacy (Good cop / Bad Kender). He doesn't respond to our efforts however. Karanon adopts a sneakier approach, letting the Dragonman out of his bonds. He pretends he has been sent by the High Lord Verminard to investigate the dragons behaviour.
Turns out we are on the outskirts of the Gully Dwarf realm. Our illustrious leader finds a room full of gully dwarfs who pelt him with noxious food after he says he will scare them with wondrous magic. My what a great smell he's discovered!
We head off to another room and find the High Bulp. We continue to pretend that we are working for Verminard and want to check on the dragon's lair. We bribe him with 5 gold. He then asks for ‘two more gold' and he tells us of a secret passage to the dragon's lair.
Kereth, being the sneakiest amongst us takes the lead to see if the dragon is in residence, Surprise, surprise! The dragon is in and it spots Kereth. We are in big trouble!
From the journal of Mordred Straightlance
Here there be Dragons! It's huge! It's got big teeth! It's got loads of treasure! It's seen us!
Kereth leaps out of the hole saying “It's a dragon!” while everybody else tries to remember what Mishakel said in the temple above. Harad the dwarf continues to insist that dragons don't exist right up to when he sees it and then shuts up very quickly.
Everybody leaves the passage except for Karanon and Harad (who has shut the door behind us and is gibbering to himself). Kereth and Azun seem more intent at looting the dragons lair than confronting the dragon, something I thought was supposed to take place once the enemy has been vanquished. I charge towards the dragon only to miss…….. Twice!
Azun and Kereth are still treasure hunting. Socrates tries presenting the staff to the dragon (Here dragon, look at this staff!). Karanon casts a spell which does not seem to work. Harad tries to parley with the dragon. I miss again. Socrates starts to babble incoherently. The Dragon hits me twice, ouch! Harad, failing to parley starts babbling about insurance, whatever that is (seeing the dragon seems to have affected him quite badly). Socrates tries to hit Windrush.
The Kenders seem to have found the Discs of Mishakel (maybe treasure hunting wasn't such a bad idea). Windrush starts laughing, and laughs, and laughs, and laughs….. I move back to Scocrates and try to grapple the staff from him. Kereth and Azun are hurt when they try to handle the disks so Azun looks for some cloth to wrap them in. I succed in grabbing the staff from Socrates but get hit with magical missiles - I feel exceptionally hurt. Nobody else is doing anything. I am severely annoyed.
I charge in and touch the dragon with the staff and it breaks. I am surrounded with light and the dragon screams in pain and disappears. Everyone tries to leave as the cavern starts to collapse. I try to rescue Windrush while Socrates goes to plunder, as does Kereth and Azun. But we all get out.
Kereth does not want to release the discs. I point out that I've been through a lot and that they are far too important to be left in the hands of a mere Kender.
We quickly retreat to the surface where we rest and Socrates studies the disks. In the morning, with a gleam in his eyes he tells us of the True Gods.