Sunday, 25 April 2010

4ed Campaign -- Session 46 -- Sunday 28th March

In which the only good hobgoblin is a dead hobgoblin, the architect of the Creation Forge is revealed, and Jonas happens upon an excellent method of uncovering hidden traps...

Roster (Party Level 9th)
Berend - Dwarven Fighter
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard
Finial - Half-elf Paladin
Jonas - Human Rogue/Ranger

As the caravan halts for its scheduled stop and the Cannith brothers begin to make preparations for moving out, the company persuades Wilder to lend them three more of his best horses, and rides out, following from Jonas's memory the map into the Rowenoaks.

After a morning's hard ride along a route designed to hide their destination from anyone in the caravan, they've passed through several miles of uninviting plain, gradually giving way to a series of dry, grey foothills carpeted in shale. Even from memory, the map is not hard to follow, and the terrain leads them to the remnants of a small camp in the shadow of a steep hillside. The embers are warm, and there is clear evidence of a dozen or so booted humanoid feet milling around the camp and heading towards a dark cave half-way up the hill.

A treacherous climb leads the company to the cave mouth, which is a great yawning crack on a ledge in the hillside, with large boulders and shattered rubble strewn all around. The cave within is lit by torches mounted on metal poles and stabbed into the gravelly earth, and dotted with tall boulders as far back as the eye can see. Jonas creeps in, and almost immediately spots a couple of hobgoblin guards lounging about. Despite not paying much attention, Jonas uncharacteristically gives himself away, and the armoured guards immediately raise the alarm and call for help.

The guards are well trained, moving into penetrating defensive formations and unleashing great, cleaving blows on the company. However, despite help arriving from a tunnel towards the rear of the cave, the defense is overrun, and only one of the guards survives to make a desperate lunge for daylight, tumbling down the scree slope and running for his life. Several of the more athletic members of the party run him down, however, and is afforded only a brief moment of defiance before being cut down. The company learns little from the battle except that this is a group of mercenaries called the "Bladebearers".

Pushing through the cave, Jonas almost falls foul of a powerful arcane trap left to defend the entrance, but shrugs off the scorch marks to see that the rough tunnel emerges into a well-built inner chamber, its west wall blown open to allow ingress from outside. Several constructs, reminiscent of the warforged they discovered under Crow's Atoll but humanoid rather than dragonborn, stand silent vigil in the room, their fleshy inner workings open and exposed as if impromptu surgery has been performed on them, and their red eyes bathing the place in a lurid glow. In the middle of the room, topped by a red gem which pulses in time with the glow from the eyes of the warforged, a strange glyph-painted machine of metal and stone stands sentinel.

Jonas sneaks in and is enamoured with the gem, but when he climbs to the top of the device and touches it, the constructs lurch somewhat unsurprisingly to life and. From two adjoining rooms, more of the creatures emerge to attack, one of them dragging its severed upper-body along the floor in a desperate bid to do harm to Berend.

"Mother! Mother, damage thresholds have been exceeded. Mother... help..."
-- One of the warforged experiments in the Forbidden Forge.

While the defenders keep the attack from the main body of the party, Jonas and Elumai work to disable the machine, but in the end the assault is dispatched less by wit and more by brute force. The sounded of booted, marching feet from a north door suggests they head south, and Jonas creeps ahead to find his path blocked by a closed and locked door, its wooden panels burned and charred, but only superficially, the unharmed wood clearly visible underneath.

Sneaking a look inside, he sees a grand octagonal foyer with its entire south-east wall charred and crumpled inward, and its floor scattered with rubble and bones. Jonas's keen eyes pick out small metal spouts jutting out from the cracked walls around the entire circumference, and beneath the dust on the floor, a complex mosaic that was once skilfully applied: it is the sigil of House Cannith, writ large for all to see.

Once the others have caught him up, they creep into the room to have a look around, but upon disturbing some of the bones -- which, Elumai spots, are inscribed with runes of binding, designed to subordinate creatures to someone else's will -- a pale blue light fills the room as the ghostly apparition of an old man rises theatrically from the center of the floor. His clothes would once have been expensive, a patchwork of silks and fabrics, some of them embroidered with the mark of House Cannith, and his long hair flows behind his head. Where his heart and eyes would be, there are now artful rosettes of blue fire.

He opens his eyes and looks around at the party. "More visitors," he sighs. "Am I to get anything finished today? There is important work to be done!" Jonas attempts to convince the apparition that he is an emissary from the "Court of Shadows", and insists that whatever this "work" is, it must stop, however the ghostly figure is unimpressed, having never heard of this "Court". He does however reveal himself to be Haestus d'Cannith, one of the oldest patrons of the Cannith family.

"What kind of institution would pedal its influence, and yet no-one would have heard of them? I could not travel five leagues without meeting someone who speaks the name of Cannith with the reverance befitting such a storied House."
-- Haestus d'Cannith, to Jonas in the Grand Foyer of the Creation Forge

Haestus is dismayed to hear that two of his descendents have discovered the location of the Forge and are on their way here right now, and as he investigates the ruinous remains of the once-splendid foyer, the party contemplates their next move...

1 comment:

Wedge said...

Not a huge amount to say here, other than the first few encounters of the Forbidden Forge played very well.

Which is not to say the adventure isn't without its problems -- for example, the map has NO BLOODY KEY ON IT! Grr.

It was also moderately amusing to watch our Rogue fall foul of essentially the same trap twice (albeit in different locations), but it shows quite handily that Rogues are not the de-facto trap finders of 4E the way they have been in the past.