DCCZ: Defenders of the Red Keep

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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Back at the Red Keep (Year 2, Month 6, Day 15-Month 9, Day 15)

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Bearing several wagons loaded with treasure liberated from depths of Castle Whiterock, the company returns to the Red Keep to find a summer festival going on. The crowd cheers Xoon and his allies as they enter the growing town. The heroes spend the day enjoying the festivities.
In the morning, Aurik invites the company to the counsel room in the keep to discuss their loot. He hands out bags of gold to all members of the company. Then he asks about several items. The head of Cinderallis the dragon is to be cleaned and the skull mounted in Xoon’s hall. The claws of the dragon and the eyes of the xorn are taken by Dandalv for use in his arcane studies, along with the scrolls of magic and the nixie’s ring for examination. There is heated discussion over what to do with the wand of Benthoc, but ultimately Brother Jon convinces Xoon that it is best destroyed. Xoon decides to take the holy book of Justicia to the Blue Shrine in the hopes of making peace with the abbey.
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The next morning, the company (sans Dandalv deep in study) heads to the Blue Shrine. That evening they are greeted warmly by the Abbot and his brethren, despite a scowling Brother Caleb standing by. They enjoy a meal and when they give the book to the abbot, he is delighted. In private they discuss the problem of Dandalv and the Demon’s head. Xoon convinces the Abbot that he can be trusted and will vouch for Dandalv, and the priest agrees. Brother Caleb storms out, but not before Xoon warns him never to return to the keep.
The next day the company rides for home.
For three months, Dandalv holes up in his tower, learning powerful magicks and studying various items. He learns that the nixie’s ring is actually a mighty artifact, one that needs a specific ritual to activate it. The wizard calls upon the power of the Demon’s Head to repair the magical bottle of air, and while he is successful, the process leaves its mark: Dandalv’s eye are now black pits of darkness.
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He also casts powerful spells on good old Oinker the magic pig, transforming the animal into a winged arcane creature with a quick tongue and spells of its own.
For some time, Dandalv had become more and more concerned about the powerful staff of Vesuvius he carried with him. It’s voracious hunger for magic items was growing more desperate. Oinker was openly terrified of the staff and warned the wizard to get rid of it. Finally Dandalv agreed. At that very moment, the staff transformed into a dark, robed figure. It laughed loudly as it pulled back its hood to reveal a twisted version of Dandalv’s face. As smoke begins to whirl about it, the creature points a finger at Dandalv and croaks, “You think you will destroy me, fool? It is I who will destroy you!” With that, the dark figure disappears.
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Into Castle Whiterock: Level 4-Cinderallis, Mad Daughter of the Red Doom (Year 2, Month 6, Day 15)

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Down a long winding, smoke-filled tunnel off of the worship chamber of Benthoc, Xoon and company find a demented red dragon with crippled wings sitting upon a pile of treasure and warming a clutch of eggs. Nearby sways the skeletal dragon the group had chased off during the previous night. Calling herself Cinderallis, the dragon tells the group that she is the wife of Benthoc and wants to know where her husband is. She seems confused. In a fit of honesty, the barbarian hero tells Cinderallis that they have slain her husband. The dragon doesn’t seem to be that bothered and repeatedly refers to Benthoc as an “idiot”. It’s only when she starts asking for her children, the red troglodytes of the cavern, that Xoon realizes the danger. He tries to exit the room but she grows more agitated, finally breathing fire on the group. La La, Dandalv and poor Oinker are caught full in the blast and are burnt to charred husks! Then Cinderallis cries out in a unknown language. As the dragon roars, Asefeh fires two arrows into the it’s smoking maw, causing the beast to choke and cough. Xoon charges the dragon, smashing it’s skull into pulp with the power of Mourngrummel!

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https://cthulhuburger.deviantart.com/favourites/39909172/Badass-Monsters
At that moment, the mighty troglodyte champion Grzzlk appears in the tunnel behind the party to answer his mother’s call. The warrior brings a cadre of warriors with him. Seeing Cinderallis dead, the champion backs up and studies the heroes with cold reptillian eyes. Angry at being burned by the dragon, Kolash the Cave Bear charges and mortally wounds the trog. Asefeh puts the champion down with two well placed arrows, one for each eye. The band of troglodytes runs in fear. Meanwhile, Brother Jon heals Dandalv, Oinker and LaLa. The power of the Treemoot is mighty! The risen Dandalv hurls a terrible fireball at the fleeing trogs, incinerating them before they escaped.
In the dragon’s humble hoard, the party finds much gold, platinum and jewels, along with some magic harp strings (the Sorrowsong Harp!), a silver scroll tube containing the arcane runes of the spells of Ekim’s Mystical Mask, Consult Spirit, Magic Mouth, and a powerful incantation to communicate with the Demon Prince of Storms and Waste! Dandalv is intrigued; he has heard whispers about the power of Azi Dahaka.
Xoon severs the dragon’s head, a trophy for his keep. Then he takes the dragon’s heart, performs an ancient ritual he learned from his tribe, and eats it. In seconds, the barbarian’s faces contorts, growing huge teeth. His hands morph into terrifying red claws. He transforms into a bestial terror that can barely restrain itself from attack its allies.

The party explores another chamber, this one east of Benthoc’s great cave. This one is filled with webs and the bones and carcasses of unlucky victims. Dragon Xoon narrowly avoids a pit trap, leaping back into the tunnel he came from. La La uses her magic cape to teleport across the pit and explore, but she is immediately attacked by a giant spider. The halfling avoids the spider’s webbing and the battle is on! Xoon leaps at the creature, striking it a mighty blow with his dragon claws. Asefeh rendering one leg useless with a piercing arrow. The spider screeches in rage and retreats back up into its webs. A flying hammer, deadly arrows, and a magical fireball end the threat quickly. Amongst the bones and offal, La La finds a copper scroll tube with a dragonskin parchment inside containing the spell Control Fire. Meanwhile, Xoon returns to his normal, human form, much to the relief of his companions.
Next the party finds itself in a strange labyrinth filled with numerous cave eels attacking from their hidey holes. It takes awhile, but Asefeh and Xoon handle the problem with hammer and bow. They discover a long passage leading down into the next level of this endless dungeon.
The company decides to return to the Red Keep with its newfound treasure. Exiting the castle without incident, the company travels down the mountainside and into the forest. Brother Jon opens the pathway to the Green, and the party is instantly teleported to a tree near the Red Keep.

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Into Castle Whiterock: Level 4-Benthoc, High Priest of the Red Doom! (Year 2, Month 6, Day 14-15.)

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Xoon & Co. seek to bed down and rest so that Dandalv can study Mend from his spellbook to fix the Sorrowsong flute.

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while on watch, Xoon hears a fluttering noise and wakes up the party. Dandalv discovers his bag of gold is missing.
They search the cavern and find nothing . . . but Kolash senses something hovering above them.
fireballs don’t work.
detect magic reveals an imp flying above them; Dandalv magic missiles it. Kolash sits on it. BJ heals it.
it wakes up but isn’t cooperative. it does mention the Impressario, a name Dandalv recognizes as the dwarf master of the Bleak Theater in the Dark World. They return the imp to its native plane.
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Then they are assaulted by two large dragon skeletons but they make quick work of one and the other runs away.
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the company defeats a great number of troglodyte warriors
they discover the living quarters of the female and child trogs and leave them be
They return to the dead warriors; BJ casts Speak With Dead. They discover that the Trog leader is called Benthoc and that he is the Priest of the Red Doom and apparently a bad ass. The dead trog tells them which way to go so they can get their asses kicked.
The party follows directions and finds themselves in a great chamber, marked by a smoking pit, the statue of a dragon, some creepy trog acolytes and some half-dragon abomination that is apparently Benthoc.
Battle insues—
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The acolytes turn out to be weird cold trog-wights.
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by rocketworm
Dandalv turns several to stone-in the process, he tears the fabric between planes and something old and horrible slithers out and eats a spell from his brain (Levitation). He feels he got off lucky.
BJ turns the trog-wights, destroying one in the process. they flee.
Asefeh feathers Benthoc in the brain with several arrows, slowing him down. He tries to cast Silence, blindness and hold on Dandalv, but the wizard fights off his attempts.
Xoon closes with Benthoc, who covers himself in the red glow of his god. Dandalv fireballs Benthoc, which only heals the abomination. In a fit of rage, Dandalv magic missiles Benthoc into ashes.

GM NOTES
_The BG was appropriately terrified of Benthoc, which made the combat fun.
5+ level warriors and mighty deeds are show stoppers.
weird magic makes things fun; I should figure out a way to add weird magic to every combat

I so enjoyed BG rolling planar schism or whatever and losing a spell to an Elder Thingy—I think it is a great balance to all the crap I dole out to him in our adventures. I need to find more ways to take things away . . . I think it builds a healthy attitude of “you get cool stuff and you lose cool stuff” . . . that’s how I want this game world to work. And I’ve always told him, you want something (back)? Just go quest for it.

should be some good loot from this fight: a healing potion which the BG has learned you hang around the cleric’s neck in case of emergency; a wand of Paralysis (not sure what he is going to do with that . . . might allow him to turn it in the spell fodder for Dandalv or let BJ destroy it for XP). Plus some dragonhide armor that would be great for BJ._

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Into Castle Whiterock: Level 4 (Year 2, Month 6, Day 14-Cont.)

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Cleaning Room
Destruction goes down the chute to confront six water elementals.
Asefeh follows…
Dandalv follows
Xoon, Asefah & Dandalv gets dropped
Brother Jon steps out of chute in time to heal him
La La drops down.
La La gets dropped.
BJ gets dropped
Xoon goes berserk and kills all the elementals.
-rolls BJ’s body: he’s alive!
BJ heals everyone.
They find awesome treasure: rust bag of tricks, elven cloak, gloves of arrow snaring, halfling jump cape

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Faculty Rooms: search, find “nothing” of interest.
Faculty Lounge: smashing down the door summons a metal wasp/wolf demon, which Dandalv & Xoon slay.
-discover secret vault in lounge, use code phrase to bypass phantasmal killer

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Vault
four constructs attack and are defeated; one is paralyzed for later study
when PCs destroy the bodies, the heads pop off and fly around shooting lasers; he got smart and started destroying heads first. I’ve got my hands full with this guy.
while investigating the room, party is attacked by animated table (transformer style), which is destroyed.
party discovers secret vault door & construct book (learn animate object with MM-powerful caster! OR sell for $50K gp—Dandalv convinces party to let him have it)

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The Stacks
LL crawls up a shaft to discover library room filled with weird menacing blue lizards (who must clump together to max attacks)
Dandalv launches massive fireball up the shaft, frying the lizards who had clumped together to get anyone coming up shaft
-they find some stuff, the spyglass being only of real value (goes to Asefeh)

Party Returns to Organ room to rest & Dandalv needs to memorize Mend to repair the magic flute.

GM NOTES
BJ & Kolash leveled after this session
BJ got the + 1 AC vs. ranged attacks from table
-Kolash got: 40. You do d6+str damage unarmed: There’s nothing wrong with them that you can’t fix with your hands… You go up one die each time you re-roll this.
→I think I’ll just +1d each of his attacks so d12 for bite & d7 for claws.
-need to bump Kolash to level 6

-party almost TPK’d. I fudged one dice roll to keep him in the fight, but he ultimately took all the monsters down himself which was impressive. It was a close thing. I was already planning the adventure in which his followers stormed Castle Whiterock to recover his body. What would have happened next? I have no idea.

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Into Castle Whiterock: Level 4 (Year 2, Month 6, Day 14)

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The company moved deeper into the foul-smelling cavern complex. They find an immense chamber arranged like an amphitheater around an ornate magical pipe organ. A voice emanates from the organ, and the company discovers that an ancient elemental spirit has been trapped in the instrument for hundreds of years by an evil elven sorceress. It begs Destruction and his allies to free it and asks them to find the Sorrowsong instruments: the pipe, the harp and the drum. Dandalv produces the charred remains of a pipe the group found in Drugilla’s exploding treasure chest. Realizing that he must use his mending spell to restore the pipe, Dandalv insists the party rest so that he can learn the proper incantations. But before they can bed down, the elemental warns them of a magic “wall” at the rear of the cabin.
Upon investigation, the company discovers the wall is an illusion. Passing through it, our heroes discover themselves in an low-ceilinged, ornately decorated hallway ending in a small iron door bearing a sign in Gnomish. A few minutes later, Xoon had smashed the door down with his magic hammer Mourngrummel.
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The company finds themselves in a four way intersection. They follow the passage to the left to find a large work room filled with dusty tools. As they move to investigate, the party is attacked by a small, animated cart. The cart is easiliy dispatched, but the ruckus awakens an alien creature: a xorn! Battle ensues, and the creature appears immune to much of the company’s attacks . . . until Xoon strikes it a mighty blow with his hammer, killing it instantly. The battle does little to lessen the barbarian’s confidence.
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Moving back to the intersection, the party heads down the right passage. They find themselves in some sort of dormitory, complete with a common area and individual cells. They are immediately set upon by strange constructs that appear to be a mixture of gnome statue and three-wheeled vehicles. The party triumphs quickly, Xoon with his mighty hammer, Brother John with his divine curses, Asefeh with her bow, and Dandalv with arcane fire. La La is content to watch her friends succeed.
After the fight, the halfling finds a small chute that leads down into darkness. She creeps down and finds a room filled with water. As she moves to exit the chute, six watery forms rise up and move towards her. She wisely returns to her friends above.

*GM NOTES
*-Dandalv leveled to 6: picked up Runic Alphabet, Mortal and + 2 on saves vs. spells.
-realized that Xoon was already level 7 (?!): picked up Swashbuckler (leave combat w/out incurring attack), Mourngrummel goes to + 2 & thunderclap on crits (Fort Save or dazed w/in 10’)
-if the party frees the elemental, it will offer to help activiate the magic water ring gift from the nixie which is a magical artifact.

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Into Castle Whiterock: Level 4 (Year 2, Month 6, Day 12-14)

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https://theroomfillswithwater.wordpress.com/tag/dd-monster/

The company leaves Castle Whiterock and, traveling the Green Path, magically teleport back to the Red Keep.
Brother John returns to his shrine, but sends Destruction several ravens as a manner to contact him in an emergency.
Dandalv disappears into the Black Spire.
Destruction tends to business at the keep. He orders Aurik to transplant a tree from the forest into the keep as an avenue to the Green Path. He inspects the guard. Zeb has used the horses captured at Whiterock to institute patrols of the road, thus encouraging travel and trade on the Hunter’s Path and the Old Road.
More folks have settled around the fort, including a blacksmith, a tanner, a weaver and a potter. Market days have begun every Saturday, drawing many of the local farmers.
The Red Keep grows rapidly.
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That night, Destruction is attacked by assassins sent by the Cult of Bobugbubilz but he defeats them easily by himself. His legend grows among his soldiers.
That day the company sets out to travel back to Silvercliff. Along the way they explore an area of hills off the Old Road and near the pass to the Broken Land. They discover a next of giant, horrific spiders, and they destroy them, thus making the area safe for settlement.
They journey on to Silvercliff and stay at the Inn of the Slumbering Drake. They speak to Lady Chauntessa and play with her little dragon companion.

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The next day they travel to Castle Whiterock. Near the site, they are attacked by Cultists of Jubilex. These assassins, covered in foul slime, are quickly defeated. Destruction unwisely tastes the slime and is struck by horrific visions of the Great Slime, its horrific will bent to his destruction. He is nearly struck mad, and Brother Jon has to heal his broken mind.
The company continues to into Whiterock. Traveling down into the depths of the fourth level, they are confronted by a horrific stench that makes Dandalv physically ill. In the first cave, they are attacked by weird octopus spider creatures that spring on them from their perches on the ceiling. The battle ends decisively as Destruction enters a battle rage and slays all the creatures, to the wonder and fear of his comrades.

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Into Castle Whiterock: Level 3 (Year 2, Month 6, Day 12-Cont.)

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Finally Destruction confronts Drugilla in the buried tower of her cloud giant ancestors.
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After dispatching her giant-sized henchman (made-so by the power of the White Roc artifact), the company chases her through the tower, as she flies in the air above them. After a lengthy battle, Drugilla is brought low as Dandalv turns her to stone. Her fall from high above destroys her stone body along with the powerful artifact she carried.
At the top of the tower, the party is confronted by a cloud giant skeleton! The conflict is blody, but ultimately Destruction and his allies bring the undead death machine down. In the ruins of the tower, La La finds a legendary halfling magical item: a bag of unerring stones!
Still looking to clean out the third level of this dungeon, the company explores the various tunnels around the sunken tower. They stumble upon a massive green slime, one that fills an entire section of the dungeon.
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With Destruction’s hammer and Dandalv’s fireballs, the party vanquishes this horror.
The company continues deeper into the tunnels, finding an underground lake. They are approached by a small nixie with a tale of woe; she is trapped in this cave by a great beast. Could the company save her? Destruction and his allies swim through an underground tunnel and confront a monstrous crawfish. After a brief skirmish, Brother John charms the giant beast and sends it on its way. In appreciation, the nixie gives them a magical ring, which Dandalv quickly discerns is a powerful artifact!
And with that, Level three of Castle Whiterock is cleared!

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