DCCZ: Defenders of the Red Keep

Building a Kingdom: Troll Battle! (Year 2, Month 1, Day 1-Day 14)

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The day after the group returns to the Red Keep, a company of dwarves arrive. They claim to have been sent by the King of Elfland, and they begin restoring and reinforcing the fortifications of the keep. They tell Destruction that, if he were to retrieve the bones of any giants, they could add them to the keep walls, thus making the walls magically powerful. The company goes out hunting in the area of the keep. They find panther tracks as well as the signs of a large company of monstrous humanoids. The company is even set upon by a clan of bandits. After much discussion and a short skirmish, the bandit’s leader, Robin, is convinced to join Destruction rather than die horribly at the claws of Kolash. Ultimately the group finds and slays three hill giants. They return to the keep and hand over the giant corpses to the dwarves, who note that three more will be needed to cover all the walls of the keep.

The following day Destruction and company begin to claim the territory surrounding the Red Keep. For the most part, this process is initially a quiet one until the group comes across the a mighty pack of eleven trolls. The company quickly retreats to the keep with the trolls in hot pursuit. They make it to the walls and a bloody fight follows. Ultimately, Destruction and his companions are triumphant, though the barbarian himself, Zeb, and Kolash the bear all fall the claws of the trolls. Brother John’s healing magicks are able to revive Destruction and Zeb, but the bear seems lost. Only the use of the might Horn of Kings brings the bear back from the land of death, and then the ancient artifact crumbles to dust. The band tracks down the trolls’ lair, and discovers a great hoard of copper and silver, along with a potion of giant power, a scroll with three might spells enscribed, and a mysterious magical ring.

Destruction and his allies have rid the area of a great horror! For two weeks, the group recuperates, Destruction trains both his barbarian followers and his newfound ex-bandit archers, and Dandalf studies the magical spells from the scroll. During the band’s “vacation,” they are first attacked by a pack of hell hounds. Who could have sent these evil demonic creatures? Even worse, a great ooze 100 feet across comes out of the Broken Lands, burning a path in its acidic wake. A mighty battle ensues, and our heroes emerge triumphant! Finally, a party of young adventurers arrive at the fort. They gather information, are warned away from traveling into the deadly Broken Lands, and head north towards the Briar, the halfling homeland.

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The King of Elf Land Rewards the Company (Day 25?)

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Upon returning to the floating city of Alfheim, the company reports its success to the King of Elf Land. The king absorbs the mystical energies of the magical toad idol from the Croaking Fane, the elf blade from the Orb Widow’s lair, and the blackened shard of the God Seed and uses the power to awaken Lore!
The king gifts Destruction with a mighty hammer called Mourngrummel. He promises Brother John the companionship of Krulg the Cave Bear, and he cures Dandalf of his corruptions. In addition, the king gives them a great hoard of gold. Finally, he returns the companions to the Red Keep on the wings of giant ghost owls.
As if waking from a deep sleep, the band finds themselves standing in front of the Red Keep. They enter the compound as returning heroes only to discover that the place empty and with a strange arcane eye painted on the gates of the keep. The company has been lost in the mists of the Elder Wood for six months, and some calamity has befallen the Red Keep!

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Destroying the God Seed (Day 25)

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Keyros the Elf guides Destruction to the Mount Welwood to destroy the God Seed, an evil entity seeking domination of this dimension. Traveling deep into the mountain, the company battles the God Seed’s mutated followers before facing the being itself. After a mighty battle, our heroes destroy the God Seed.

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Visit to Redcap (Day 24-25)

Destruction and the Company rest in the gnomkin village of Redcap. They meet Sister Zasha, the priestess of the Treemoot. They also buy a choko-bird named Bob, Jr. and they hired a choko-trainer to help take care of the thing. The gnomkin’s name is Smebulock . . . and he talks a lot.

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The Great Labors-The Croaking Fane (Day 23-24)

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Fought the transformed cultists
fought the Toad Thing
fought the mummified toads
destroyed the cursed tablet
rested in the chapel
tried to leave the temple, triggering the toad idol attack-defeat the toad idol and escape the collapsing temple

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The Great Labors-The Croaking Fane: Toad War! (Day 23b)

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The company continues to explore the lower levels of the Temple of the Croaking Fane. They stumble into a deep cavern and do battle with a host of giant frogs. Wave upon wave crash against Destruction and his companions until the gore piles up around them. Several of the heroes fall, only to be healed by Brother John.
After the battle, the group finds a trove of platinum pieces and a prisoner, a slightly unhinged cult member locked in a cell. Once freed, he leads the party deeper into the caves where they fight off some horrible flying vampiric frogs. Again Brother John calls on the healing energies of his masters. But his repeated requests for aid draw the ire of the Treemoot, who punish their priest by stripping him of his clerical powers! What will be the cost of this terrible judgement?
Lacking Brother John’s healing, the company uses the might Horn of Kings to heal themselves, Following the freed lunatic, Destruction and his allies discover a horrible scene. A deep bubbling pool of mystical fluids, floating upon which is the cult of the Croaking Fane. Each of the cultists is transforming into toad-like fiends. The lunatic screams in joy and dives into the pool, disturbing his brethen who rise to destroy the interlopers.

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The Great Labors-The Croaking Fane (Day 23a)

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After Brother John communes with the Trees to determine the cave’s safety (Second Sight), the group spends the remainder of the day and an evening resting and recuperating in the Mistress’s former lair. The next day they return to the Temple of the Croaking Fane. Destruction and Company finish their search of the temple’s upper level, destroying a swarm of killer frogs as well as a primeval slime. They also desecrate a great idol, stealing its gemstone eyes (classic move!). Then they move down into the subterranean level of the temple.
There they loot the head priest’s room and Dandalf smokes some bad witchweed from a water pipe (permanent -1 Intelligence!). Still they uncover the priest’s treasure stash and score some serious gold.

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The Great Labors-The Mistress (Day 22)

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Destruction tracks the trolls back out of the swamp and into a mist-shrouded forest of tamarack trees. There he discovers a nest of orb weavers. The party destroys six of warrior males before facing and defeating the Stygian Widow herself, Mistress Dralnibulla, in her extradimensional lair. Afterwards the group discovers a powerful magic item: the Staff of Vesuvian.
In defeating this terrible foe, Destruction has completed the first of the Elf King’s Great Labors.

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The Great Labors-The Croaking Fane: Minions of "the Mistress" (Day 22)

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As the group rests and Brother John heals the bloody mage, their barbarian leader hears whispering in the darkness back the way they came. When they investigate, they discover a group of satyrs setting up an ambush. A battle ensues and the party makes quick work of the savage goatmen. No sooner have they cleaned their weapons than a voice calls them outside.
There they find a giant, bent-back, green form who tells them that “the Mistress” wants them dead. Another lurking troll pounces from above, and Destruction and Company find themselves in a terrible battle. Both the barbarian and Zeb are struck down, but Brother John’s healing saves both men from death. Only the fiery spells of the battered Dandalf save the group, burning the trolls down. All feel lucky to escape the encounter alive. Who is the “Mistress”?

[OOC: Playing with my eldest while out of town. I brought everything we needed . . . except for the module “The Croaking Fane.” I scrambled and created this encounter to “pause” the adventure. Holy *(&% DCC trolls are nasty. Now I’ve got to figure out who “the Mistress” is . . . ]

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The Great Labors: The Croaking Fane (Day 22)

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The company enters the toad temple. They explore a strange fountain, desecrate a sarcophagus filled with mummified giant toads, and avoid tampering with votary candles. Finally, moving into the nave of the temple, Destruction and his allies are attacked by flying toad gargoyles. The party triumphs and Brother John even bends one of the creatures to his will using his powerful lotus stare, but Dandalf the Faceless is struck down. The party assumes the wizard is dead, but Lucky La La turns him over to find him barely alive!

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