DCCZ: Defenders of the Red Keep

Into Castle Whiterock: Level 6-The Black Cave (Year 2: Winter-Month 11 Day 12-13)

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The party rests undisturbed in the dungeon once controlled by the White Roc tribe of beastmen. (level 3)
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The next day Dantalv summons the ghost of one of the dead toadmen. it is uncooperative and ultimately attacks the wizard. Xoon dismisses it with a single blow of Mourngrummel.
The party returns to Benthoc’s caverns. Using the corpse of the toadmen, Brother Jon commands their spirits to speak. They learn of the toadmen’s leader Sossank, who dwells deep in the Black Cave in a hidden pool. They also learn of the meaning of the crowned stalactite symbol found on the toadmen’s weapons. It is the symbol of the Thane of Narlborg, the lord of a dwarven kingdom in the the Underdeep.
Brother Jon also learns that beneath the Black Cave lies the Watery Way, and subterranean river system. Below that is something called the Immense Cavern.
Brother Jon casts protection spells on the company and they return to the Black Cave. They find a rope that leads down through a hole into a deeper part of the cave system.
There they are ambushed by toadmen hunters. Without the effects of the Toad Fiend’s curse, the company strikes them down with hammer and fire!

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Into Castle Whiterock: Level 6-The Black Cave (Year 2: Winter-Month 11 Day 12)

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After spending the night in the comfort of the Red Keep, the company returns to Whiterock. They travel down the strange unnaturally smooth tunnel leading down from the troglodytes cave into the foul smelling darkness. Finally, the passageway opens into a cave.
The adventurers feel an oppressive spiritual power pressing down on them, making them feel weak. A familiar bubbling voice whispers in the back of their minds. As Dantalv seeks to dispel the heavy darkness, acidic spittle hits him in the face from out of the blackness. Huge toadfolk lumber out of the dark and attack with clubs.
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With them are strange lizards with human faces and bulging eyes, the sight of which attacks the very minds of the heroes.
The spiritual power that weakens the heroes causes Dantalv’s spells to fail. The Treemoot appears deaf to Brother Jon’s entreaties. Even the might Xoon feels his mighty muscles fail. The company retreats back to the troglodyte caves to rest and recuperate.
But the toadfolk, with a toadpriest bearing a might spear, follow them and attack again.
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However, outside of the cursed oppressiveness, the company wages mighty battle and fells the toad warriors. Their priest leader disappears during the battle.
Brother Jon realizes that the black cave must be a unholy sanctuary dedicated to the Toad Fiend itself, Bobugbubilz!
Armed with that knowledge, the druid prepares protection magicks to counter the curse of the Black Cave!

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Into Castle Whiterock: Level 5-Submerged Courtyard (Year 2: Winter-Month 11 Day 9-11)

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Xoon and Brother Jon clear out the underwater dungeon after encountering two jelly slimes. They find a shaft that leads up to the well on the dungeon’s third level.
Returning to the submerged court yard, they find the hydra’s treasure hoard in the ruins of the guard’s tower. A trove of coins, some valuable art objects and two magical items: a returning arrow and the Obsidian Ring of the Weird. Finally, Dandalv has found found the object of his quest!
In the days it takes to remove the treasure, the company is confronted by a war band of nixies.
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When their leader discovers that Xoon rescued his sister Nissa and now bears her ring, they become friendly. They lead Xoon and Brother Jon to Sygnathus, who is hiding in a bladderwort field. Brother Jon charms the giant pike who lives in the field, and in turn the pike slays Syg and drags its corpse to Brother Jon. With that, the underwater level of the dungeon is cleared!
The party returns to Castle Whiterock with its treasure.

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Into Castle Whiterock: Level 5-Submerged Courtyard II (Year 2: Winter-Month 11 Day 9)

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Xoon and Brother Jon returned to the depths of Lake Whiterock. At the bottom of the descending staircase, the duo find an ancient grave yard. Investigating glinting metals, Xoon is attacked by ghouls.
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The war chief and druid slay many of the undead creatures, and the rest flee.
After the battle, the two are confronted by Sygnathus a gargoyle.
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The creature offers to guide Xoon through the underwater ruin. Xoon refuses, and he and Brother Jon returned to exploring the ruined underwater fortress. They open one of the doors they discovered in their earlier explorations. They are immediately attacked by a water giant, Trossk, and its eel companion.
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Syg and its brother Lyg attacked from the rear, and Xoon and Brother Jon found themselves in an ambush. Xoon struck down Trossk with Mourngrummle and then finished off Lyg. Syg and the eel manage to escape.

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Into Castle Whiterock: Level 5-Submerged Courtyard (Year 2: Winter-Month 11 Day 9)

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Seeking a legendary library to find information on Xaroth the Undying, Xoon and company head back to Whiterock via the Green pathways.
Before they even enter the dungeons, Xoon sees a shadowy figure on the shore of the lake. The group finds a set of stairs leading down into the depths of the water. The barbarian and Brother Jon descend into the water; Xoon uses the nixie’s magic ring, and Brother John uses the mended bottle of air. The two find a giant clam bed and manage to liberate some valuable giant pearls. They also find a secret door that leads into a section of the castle. They find some treasure (including some magic arrows!) and some giant beetles, which are hastily dispatched after mistaking our adventurers for food.
Peering out ancient arrow slits, Xoon catches a glimpse of something massive and serpentine swimming in the water. Returning to the surface, the company goes fishing! Brother John summons a horse, the company ties a rope to the poor beast and sends it swimming. In a moments, the adventurers hooks something massive. A great seven headed water hydra bursts from the lake’s depths and swallows the horse. Battle is joined.
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http://animal-dream.com/data_images/hydra/hydra6.html
With surprising easy, the company defeat the monster with a combination of powerful fireballs, mighty curses and flying hammers. La La helped too!

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Exploring the Wilderness (Year 2: Winter-Month 11 Day 6-8)

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https://jonhodgson.deviantart.com/art/Nazgul-428312770

Exploring the forests north of the Red Keep, the company is attacked by dark spirits from someone called the Dark Lord. Remembering the warrior Ashoka’s mention of battling the death knights of the Dark Lord, the party travels the Green Paths back to the elder’s cottage, where they find him training Asefeh. They learn that the Dark Lord is Zaroth the Undying, a necromancer who rules a desert kingdom to the south. While Ashoka has never encountered Zaroth himself, he did face the necromancer’s greatest servant, the Lord of Iron and Shadow, a powerful death knight. Ashoka barely escaped with his life.
At this point, a pale-faced Asefeh makes a confession. She knows the Lord of Iron and Shadow; she had escaped from his fortress. She knows little of the Dark Lord, only that the death knight was keeping her for Zaroth. While the Lord of Iron and Shadow was absent on the necromancer’s business, Asefeh escaped from the fortress and fled north to the Red Keep.
Xoon and company return to the Red Keep. Dantalv summons the spirit of long-dead wizard named Kesh. Dantalv learns that Zaroth is an undead creature called a lich. He also learns that more information about the Dark Lord might be found in an ancient library rumored to be in . . . Castle Whiterock.

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Exploring the Wilderness (Year 2: Winter-Month 11 Day 4-6)

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The company stays in the hunters camp for the night. The snows begin to fall before sun up, and Xoon and his allies buy appropriate weather gear from the now friendly hunters.
The group heads east in the morning, following the smoke of a chimney. They come upon a quite clearing and find a small hut. There they meet the legendary warrior Ashoka. Xoon and Asefa ask to be trained, but Ashoka claims he is interested in only pursuing peace. After much discussion, the old warrior agrees that if either Xoon or Asefa can touch him before he strikes them in combat, he will agree to train that person.
In the first combat, Xoon is stunned at how fast the old man moves, and the fight is quickly over. However, Asefah turns the tables on Ashoka, who finds himself lying flat on his back. Stunned, the warrior agrees to honor the challenge and train Asefah. She stays behind as the others return via the Green Way to the keep.
The next day, Xoon and his now smaller company heads north. They are attacked by a giant swarm of wasps. but Dantalv’s fire meteors make short work of the insects.

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Exploring the Wilderness (Year 2, Month 9, Day 20-Month 11 Day 4)

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https://art.alphacoders.com/arts/view/5864

Dandalv retreats again into his tower. There, using the bone from the dragon skull of Cinderalis, he creates a powerful magical staff to replace Vesuvian. He emerges six weeks later, and winter is coming to the Red Keep.
Xoon and company had busied themselves with their duties. Rumors had arrived at the Keep that the legendary warrior Ashoka, long thought dead, had settled to the south. Xoon fitted his company for cold weather travel and headed out to find him.
On the way, they dispatch a small nest of stirges. They also discover a ragged company of hunters and fur trappers. The two groups talk, and the ornery hunters agree to pledge loyalty to Xoon if he kills the giant scorpions that had been plaguing them recently. The warrior and his allies find the scorpions’ lair and dispatch them quickly enough.
Then, hearing tales from the hunters of a mighty giant boar dubbed Goretooth, the company tracks the beast down and subdue it. Brother Jon returns everyone to the Red Keep, and he takes the mighty boar back to his shrine to heal and perhaps join the druid.

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Exploring the Wilderness (Year 2, Month 9, Day 16-20)

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Xoon and his allies set out from Silvercliff to clear more of the vast wilderness around the Red Keep. In the first wooded area, they find a powerful fey spirit, Bathustra. This strange being, a giant with an elephants head with the wings of an insect, demands homage from the barbarian warrior. After some negotiations, the company challenges Bathustra to combat and quickly defeat the fey. They find a large cache of silver coins buried where the fey being stood.
After traveling to the keep via the Green to sleep, the company returns to the wilderness.
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This time they discover an Elder Owl, a mighty and ancient animal. Brother Jon tries to negotiate it, but the creature does not appreciate Xoon’s brash nature and attacks. Xoon injures the giant owl’s wings, bringing it to the ground, and Dandalv puts it into an enchanted sleep. Brother Jon carries the great animal back to his shrine via the Green, and the others return to the Red Keep for the night.

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Back at the Red Keep (Year 2, Month 9, Day 16)

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It is fall when Dandalv emerges from the Black Tower. The wizard immediately calls a meeting. He tells the group of his discovery of a powerful spell to summon Azi Dahaka, Demon Prince of Storms and Serpents. He argues that the demon would be a powerful ally for them. Brother Jon argues against contacting this evil being. Xoon is neutral. Ultimately, Dandalv decides not to use the spell . . . for now.
The others inform Dandalv of what he has missed over the last three months. Xoon has been working with his guards and overseeing the building of three ballistas on the towers of the keep. Brother Jon has been tending his shrine. Asefeh spent the months riding with the road patrols and teaching them horseman ship; the men all seem to idolize her. La La informs the group that someone snuck into the keep and stole her snake charm bracelet, an item of some magical power. The group searches the keep and the surrounding village. Dandalv even walks the area using his ability to detect magic, but he only manages to terrify the villagers who all think he is half demon.
A guard brings to the group’s attention that the village graveyard appears to be haunted as zombies have arisen over the past several nights and have had to be put down. The company visits the graveyard and Brother Jon discovers a wicked spirit hiding among the graves.
With a wave of his holy symbol, the priest dismisses the foul creature. The villagers are greatly relieved, and their love of the wise old druid increases along with visits to Brother Jon’s shrine out in the woods.
The company readies their adventuring gear and heads out into the forest where Brother Jon opens the Green Way, taking them to Silvercliff. They appear in a small copse of trees in the town and make their way to the Inn of the Slumbering Drake. There they meet Chauntessa and sell her the gnomish books they found in the Clockwork Academy. After taking some refreshment, they ride out into the wild to clear the land for more settlers . . . but not before Asefeh makes a quick stop to give a gift of 1000 gold to the master of the local thieves guild, whom she had offended during their last visit to town.

GM NOTES
Using the Kingmaker events table (modified) on a monthly basis now for events that happen to the Red Keep. Results for the three months:
2.6-Sensational Crime: someone stole La La’s charm bracelet!
2.7: Good Weather!
2.8: The Dead Rise: a wicked ghost in the town graveyard is raising zombies

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