Tales of Caledonia

And so it begins
The story from 11/03/2013 to 12/30/2013

Our intrepid adventurers having successfully completed yet another quest retire to the Weary Horse Inn for a night of drinks and relaxation when a young Vistani boy delivers a note.

Hail to thee of might and valor:
I, a lowly servant of the township of Barovia, send honor to thee. We plead for thy so desperately needed assistance within our community. The love of my life, Ireena Kolyana, has been afflicted by an evil so deadly that even the good people of our town cannot protect her. She languishes from her wound and I would have her saved from this menace. But I fear the only cure lies within the dreaded walls of the castle, where none may enter without risking their lives. There is much wealth in this community. I offer all that might be had to thee and thy fellows if thou shalt but answer my desperate plea. Come quickly, for her time is at hand! All that I have shall be thine!
Kolyan Indirovich,
Burgomaster of Barovia

Upon reading of the plight in Barovia the party decides to journey to the township to offer their “very specific set of skills” to the Burgomaster. Upon arriving at the gates to Barovia the party encounters an unusual gate that opens (and slams shut) on it’s own. After entering the town proper the ever present fog clears enough to make out the husks of abandoned homes and businesses. Shambling through these abandoned structures are undead of many shapes, sizes, and states of decay and apparently quite hungry. Upon dispatching a small group intent on making a snack of our intrepid crew, the party makes it’s way to the center of town following the glow of an apparent bonfire. Upon arriving at the center of town through a thoroughly destroyed barricade they witness a single Paladin engaged in combat with a horde of hungry zombies and a creature covered in grave dirt. Rushing to assist the embattled warrior the day is soon won but not without cost. Ashlyn, the Paladin, lost one of her remaining allies. She speaks of her other allies who have gone to secure the towns Church. When the party inquires of the location of the Burgomaster’s home, Ashlyn offers to lead them there. Upon arriving at the Burgomaster’s mansion the party is informed of the untimely passing of the Burgomaster by his daughter Ireena Kolyana. The party feeling pity on the grieving young woman offer to assist her in delivering him to his final rest in the Churchyard Cemetary. Upon arriving at the churchyard they find the gates locked. Ashlyn indicates that this is a standard precaution her allies use when securing an area. The party opens the gate and proceeds onto the grounds. Ashlyn and Ireena take the burgomaster’s body to the crypts while the party goes to fetch Farher Danovich and Ashlyn’s allies. Upon entering the church they are greeted by an eerie chant and a near pitch dark building. Approaching the altar they find Father Danovich to be the source of chant and upon his realization of the party’s presence he unleashes the spell he was forming summoning a circle of darkness and pain outright killing and possessing a trusted ally with a lesser demon lord, He Who Walks Behind. The ensuing battle defeats both Danovich and the Walker. Leaving the party weakened and hearing moans and creaks from the basement below.
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Into the night

Gordaz and Elenya are found in an underground area and saved by the party. We’re trying to find a way into the castle but there are vampires on the loose. We are attacked on the way back to the Burgomaster’s house (where we were going to rest). The vampire says that Ireena is who he wants and that she is the master’s future wife.
This vampire is able to walk around in full daylight—he says that it is a gift from his master.
We beat the vampire and head into town (he is not killed, just defeated). There are less zombies now, and the ones that we do see are “old” ones—they’re more rotten.
Og is cured—no longer undead.
Ireena and Ashlyn give us info on the werewolves. Ashlyn was attacked by some on her way in. The tracks to the body were wolf, but the ones leading away were human.
Falkner and Elenya head to the inn to talk to the gypsy. Hawk stays with Ireena. The soldiers are no longer overwhelmed.
Falkner and Elenya ask about the Vistani camp location. It’s near the Tser Falls which is on the road that leads to the castle, near a large pool of fresh water—two hours away.
Falkner and Elenya, along with the party (minus Hawk), go to the Gypsy camp and ask for Madame Eva. We’re taken to a large tent with a large (giant) woman inside. Need to ask about Strahd- Lord of the Castle, the zombies, and the werewolves. Also need to ask how to invigorate the Sunsword, the page from the book on the Tome of Strahd, and the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind.
Madame Ava does a reading for us.
—Lord of the Castle: his enemy is light and he has power beyond mortality. He finds us many times, but we’ll find him only once: where his birth lies dead. Seek the crypt of his mother beneath the castle.
—Great Sword of the Sun: bring it to the dizzying height all loathe to climb, above the clouds to the castle’s highest tower.
—Tome of Straud: water and air; seek where the river flies. Find a cave beneath the river and find how to rid the lord of his strength.
—Holy Symbol of Ravenkind: powerful force-protection against darkness. Seek it among the dead. The symbol is buried. The holiness has fled, it needs holy hands to touch it and take it to the last sacred ground in the castle.
—Zombies: death leads to death and stems from the first death. The lord of the castle is the source.
We go back to the church with the underground tunnel (where Gordaz and Elenya were found) and we follow the tunnel to a room with three coffins in it. We can hear breathing from one of the coffins.

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Load up the wagon

From room with coffins:
Battle with ghouls (2) and a harpy
-Elenya is initiated into Knight of the Raven: get celestial raven companion
-Elenya acquires the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind
-acquire Harpy talons (6) and abundance of feathers-enough to have two Harpy feather pillows
Go to burgomaster’s home to rest (and pray) 16 hours.
Load up wagon and head to the Tser Falls. Headed up a switchback trail that leads around and behind the falls. Turn corner and see torchlight. Elenya sees four wargs sleeping in a large cavern, and humanoid sized furniture. Near a fireplace are two dire wolves. We battle and one warg appears as well. All are killed in battle. We find a tome and a ladder that leads above the falls. There’s a trail leading to a bridge over the river and leads to the other side of the falls and the path leads down. Something else got away—speaks dwarvish and strong enough to move the boulder blocking the path above the ladder.
The tome talks about ancient places—fanes have power in this country. They are sources of natural power. There are three fanes: one in the forest (south west), one in the mountains (north of the castle), and one in the swamp (south of the castle). The fanes have guardians each site has a relic that is a part of a ritual. The tome also has rituals written in it, and the tome has some magical properties. The ritual we found from before came from this book.
We skin the direwolves and wargs. Nedreama gets one direwolf skin the other is gifted to the Vistani and we camp with them that evening. I keep one warg skin for a cloak. Ireena takes a warg cloak, as does Falkner and there is one warg skin left.
We rest for the next session.

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Mmmm, Warg jerky

Og carries the tome. Nedreama makes two canoes for us to use. The Vistani agree to watch over our wagon. Falkner proposes that we build a raft and float it between the canoes. Hawk prepares food for the journey (warg jerky). We travel down the river for a day and a half. I use the raven to spot—he reports that he sees lost of bats (including dire bats). It is dark by the time we reach the shore. Hawk casts light. We take the raft and create a lean-to from the materials. Nedreama informs us that dire bats fly by during the night.
Around midnight the clouds part, and there is a full moon. A dire bat attacks Falkner and Og. It misses and screeches as it flies away in an unknown direction. We begin to see eyes watching us from the forest: some are wolf height and some are human height. Hawk casts light on the lean-to. There are 2 vampire spawn standing near Ireena and two wolves flanking the camp. They’re all working together. The two that are human height are humanoid-hybrid werewolf archers.
We kill them all and rest for the remainder of the evening.

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Slogging through the swamp

Recap: We won the battle and examine the enemy-all were lycanthropes (elvish). The leader has nice armor.
Elenya gains a masterwork longsword and 30 arrows (10 of which are masterwork also).
We move into a thicker part of the forest-transitioning to marsh and found the attacker’s campsite and equipment. We take an extended rest so that we’re at full health.
We begin to move into the swamp proper. The trail begins to deteriorate: brackish water is more often what we’re seeing now. I wildshape so I won’t sink into the deep mud. I spot a 6’ wide fissure that is 30’ long filled with brackish water—I warn the party to jump over the narrow end. I also send Hurrn to scout ahead. He spots a sort of village: straw roofs and very large occupants. The village is straight ahead and slightly left of our current trajectory. There are about 12 huts. Hurrn stays near the village to watch it.
We continue on—water is up to our knees, mud up to our ankles. We see a wall of vines, some of which are moving. They are bog creepers. We hear a plop plop plop bubbling up type of noise. There are gas vents that are slowly exploding from below. We move on and hear something near us sloshing through the swamp—similar to how an alligator moves. It’s a kobold with an unusually long snout. We get past the kobolds without being detected. We reach the village near dusk. As we get closer to the village the ground begins to become more solid ground instead of swamp.
Hurrn approaches and says that he saw bog trolls. Some built a fire, and some took spears and went to the swamp to hunt. There are 12 huts, with 100 sq ft between the huts. The huts are about 10 × 10.
We find suitable camping in the trees. The late night watch will see the giant bat out patrolling. It seems to know where we are. Otherwise, everything is calm during the night. Hurrn says that everyone is back in the village for the night, the fire is burnt out and they are sleeping. We make it through the village and move quickly through the terrain using spells to assist us. By the time the spells end we’ve made it to firmer, but still muddy ground.
Ireena remembers vaguely that the fane is about 200 yards to the north. Hurrn finds the clearing—a circular area where there are no trees. The ruins are overgrown by the swamp. There’s a large, round table with runes on it.
We make it to the place Hurrn sees and find the fane. Here the water is clear. The strongest source of magic is from below the stone table. It’s a form of consecration magic, approximately the size of a softball. There’s also the feeling of abjuration, necromancy, conjuration (water), and purification (keeping the water clear). The runes translate into a binding spell. Whoever’s blood is spilled here can command the fane of the marsh.
Kirk and Damian try swimming to the table. Blood red worms start swimming toward them. The worms are about 20’ long and 5’ wide. We begin our fight. The table itself is 20’ wide and has places to tie off. There is 50’ between where the main part of the party is to the table.
!(Sea Hag)
X (Hawk) (Nedreama) (Table)
-———-20’ water——————--—————30’ land——————————{———table is 20’ wide————-}
A sea hag enters the clearing (swamp hag). She’s 12’ tall. We kill all! :D
We attain level 8 and wait for the next session.

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The Swamp Fane

We try to figure out how to deactivate the fane.
—overgrowth is unnatural and overcharged because of magic
—ancient power—once home to several sites, it would it would live here part of the year (1 of 4 sites)
—there are two holes in the center of the table, the size of two fingers-perhaps to lift it. It turns when adjusted with fingers inserted
—sense of magic. We see the image of a skull. It is a concentration of power the size of a softball.
We remove the stone and there is nothing but darkness below. We drop a lit stone and it hits stone—another stone table. This one has a shroud covered body laying on it. There is an aura of holy magic. We find a functional trap—one that was recently used and recently reset. Rudimentary. We deactivate it.
The shroud is covered in normal cloth and there is a holy symbol similar to the Ravenkind symbol. The skull on the body is not the one that belongs to the body. It is cleaner and appears to have been bleached. It is covered in carved runes that are also divine in nature. They provide a protection from arrows. The skull shows more recent preparation, the rest of the skeleton is covered with dirt and normal decay. There is a sense of necromancy about the skull. After performing a divination, we see a skull in a bag, a forest, a mountain, a hand, and a mummified finger bone.
—four poisonous arrows were found in a trap
—we remove the skull successfully—the skull has layers of runes that are old, the newest runes are the ones of arrow protection I> Rougly made—looks very old, maybe the sharp point of a dagger made it. Is older than Nedreama.
Leaving has more to do with fixing. We head northward to King’s road and toward the forest. The farther away the skull is from the fane, the weaker the fane’s magic gets. The skull is still the same power.
We travel one week and get back to the city. We stop at Ireena’s home and restock our supplies and rest.

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The Sky is Falling!

Two days after resting there is a clear, sunny day—which is unusual. It may be a result of our actions. People are celebrating.
Around midday, at the Blood of the Vine tavern, we have lunch. The sky goes instantly black, as if the sun has been blotted out. We can still see the outlining glow of the sun. From the darkness comes a green comet—the glow withdraws into an object. It is still glowing but is not radiant any longer. The object is 10’ tall and 4’ wide. It impacts just outside of town. After impact, the eclipse ends and it returns to being a beautiful day. We see a column of smoke coming from the area of the church.
We go to the church where we find it destroyed. Only the front door is still intact. What remains is a smoldering crater that is not glowing. The object turns out to be a pod and it is laying there, ripped open. There are large humanoid tracks heading from the pod and leading west. The pod is made of fine steel and the base has a symbol on it-the symbol of the mother of the dead.
In the beginning there were four deities: forest, bravery, evil (shadows and darkness), and the seas.
The mother of the dead hates things being kept from her. The priest of the church had brought is son back from the dead—stolen him from her. This pod has destroyed the church. One of the mother of the dead’s prized champions is the chain lord.
There is a 4’ diameter circle with the symbol on it.
The back side has two things:
—pieces of the monster we killed before (he had not begun to decompose)
—also Jonathan’s original character, Lancairn—was a walker, may have been reforming.
As skull gets closer to remains, black smoke begins to appear from the remains. Smoke goes into the backpack—enters eye sockets and sockets glow briefly and then flicker out. Power of skull never changes. Something causes a reaction. Augury says that this is a good/positive thing.
The footsteps head westward—raven reports that he sees trees falling over. Some trees look broken off and some chopped. Damage goes in a straight line for the most part.
On way to Vistani camp we see Halfling tracks running away from the direction of the Vistani camp. The Vistani camp is much smaller than normal. The large ornate tent is gone. They are beginning to move out. They are heading east. Madame Eva moved in the evening of the previous night. Next camp is five days travel to the east, near what they call the Jewel Cities. We wish them well and head back to the path. We run into a rocky area where the path is hard to follow. When we do find it, it’s starting to curve to the north.
One tree has been left alone, he went around it. It’s an oak—sacred to the forest god, lover of the mother of the dead before she became such. Creatures of the mother of the dead treat the objects of the mother’s prior deity status, and that of her lover’s, as poison. I climb the tree, thank it for its sacrifice of branches and nuts, and collect a few and toss them down. I also look around. We hear rustling in the bushes heading toward us.
We get attacked. We hear a chain rattling from where we came from. Damage and energy drain (disadvantage on future rolls). Largest dire wolf has a collar and chain on it and is being held in check by a dwarf. Creatures are killed and wolf/bat flew away. We gain one dire wolf skin-Farcash. Group skins and take meat for food.

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Tracking the Chain Lord

We get six warg pelts and one extra dire wolf pelt (Falkner and Gordaz get one each in addition). One magical battleaxe-has warding and defensive properties. Same bonus as using a shield, +1 attack. Gordaz takes it. Two small handaxes, leather armor, 60’ length of chain, iron, weighs 75 pounds (Falkner takes it). Also, 20 gold pieces, and I harvest enough wood from the tree for arrows and staffs. It’s midafternoon.
We find 19 traps and Og carries them.
We continue up the mountain, and the day begins getting darker, and it starts raining just before nightfall. We send Nedreama (by land) and Gordaz (by air) to spy. We see the creature is heading toward heavier growth of the forest.
It’s humanoid, wearing leather armor and has gray skin. They hear muttering, but in three different voices through heads on each soldier. There is a chain wrapped around his torso, big enough to secure a ship and a Farcash sized chain around his hand with a cage attached. The cage is empty, and one that he can use as a trap. He also has an iron maiden on his back (has the face of the mother of death). The creature is saying “must find it and must return it.”
Hurrn sees an unusually tall pine tree in the forest. Under it is a perfect ring of no trees. He feels the place is sacred. Lawrence goes ahead to the circle. Hurrn is on lookout. They will see: a hill giant equipped for a fight and two ogres equipped with hunting stuff. The two ogres are cooking. The hill giant is as large as what’s coming. There are sacred symbols on the tree. It’s carved all of the way up to the canopy in a celtic style-runes of warding and protection. The tree is fireproof.
Clearing is 100’ across with tree in center. Hill giant is to rear, right of tree; rune circle is to right of tree, Madame Eva’s wagon and horses are directly in front of tree, and ogres cooking are to left of tree.
Lawrence and I go to talk to Madame Eva. She says that what is coming will not find what he seeks with her. She has seen his rise and fall and she will survive. We ask if we survive. She says that we will find out soon, but says that your paths diverge here. The other creatures here owe allegiance to her. We all go in the same direction, but take different paths. For our quest to be a success the creature must be dealt with. The things the mother used to hold dear hurt her avatars. What is sought used to reside in the top of the tree, but now it resides in a higher place. A man came by many years ago and now it remains active. The fanes are wellsprings of power, now directed toward protection-if the direction is reset, it can be magic or mundane. She cannot assist in our task as it is not on her path. The protections on the tree are against flame, rot and age.
The creature arrives. Madame Eva says “flee fools” and we go hide.
Nedreama finds a space in the tree roughly his height, where something is ripped out. Shards of red crystals in opening—are the color of blood.

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Rattling the Chains

The chain lord bursts into the clearing. Nedreama is 50’ up the tree. The ogres stop cooking and grab their spears. The hill giant is 25’ tall, the chain lord is 30’ tall and the ogres are 12’ tall. The rest of our party is just behind the chain lord.
Initiative.
Chain lord is immune to charms.
We fight, and we win! Chain lord explodes, and the hill giant and ogres die.

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The Forest Fane

When the chain lord explodes, what is left behind starts to dissipate. We express our condolences to Madame Eva regarding the loss of the trolls and hill giant. We offer to resurrect them, but she says that it’s not a good idea to steal them back from the mother of the dead after killing her minion.
Madame Eva brings a box out of her wagon and places the floating box near the runes. She begins calling us over one by one to the chest. She gives gifts to those who protected her when uncalled for (is what she says). To release the power one must enter the fane. Madame Eva continues to dispense gifts to each member of the party. Afterwards, she disappears. Hawk identifies items. Ireena hears a voice: Hello, you must be Straud’s newest target. Ring of mindshielding—attunes to specific people only. We all rest for the night.
We wake, and the only evidence from yesterday is the campfire and the out of place boulder (and the furrow it created when thrown).
We find two holes the size of a finger, about 1’ apart. Og puts his fingers in the holes and suddenly disappears. Hawk does the same thing and disappears also. The lord of this fane was associated with the arcane.
We find ourselves in a 30’ x 30’ room. There is light, but no obvious light source. There is a table in the middle of the room and a shelf along one wall (is darker than the rest of the room). There is stuff on the shelf and a skeleton on the table. One bone has a carving of runes and sigils (the femur). The runes are similar to before, but in a different order. These are filled with gold and silver. Read magic: magic makes it a rod of absorption.
The shelf contains a small armory.
—lightweight crossbow with white runes carved toward the top. The runes say “white.”
—length of iron chain, 15” long, magic unknown
—shield with runes around the edge-similar to arcane runes in the circle of protection
—sword with a leather scabbard, started to rot. Sword feels cool to the touch
—The chain goes stiff when touched and looks like a wand, the sword creates ice when drawn and the shield has a spellguard.
—the crossbow is an oathbow (+1 all attack damage). When words are spoken the crossbow emits light. Can make an oath sworn aloud: swift death to you who have wronged me. Named becomes sworn enemy until 0 hit points or seven days and can’t make new oath until next morning. Get an additional 3 d 6 on hit. Ignore cover except total cover, suffer no disadvantage to long range and have advantage on rolls. Downside: while having sworn enemy I have disadvantage on every enemy but him.
We search the room and find a 3’ wide ring of iron with a baseball sized sapphire not touching the ground. Stones like this are often used to center a spell. Takes a spell’s power and flings it to somewhere else.
A spell’s center can be destroyed if it is removed from this plane. We put it in the bag of holding. The light goes out, there’s a loud noise and light comes back. The ring appears to have instantly aged and decayed.
On the wall, there’s an outline in chalk of a human with two holes in the torso. We transport back above ground and begin to head toward the mountains.

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