The World of Stronghold

Heroes of Dragonsfoot: 2nd Week of Icebreak, 1409
To the Wizard's Manse

Calveric, Magic-User, and Detmar the Dwarf, native to the Homestead Heaths region in the northwestern corner of Dromeda (played by Jason), Conralion, Elf, native to Eleauthea, an elf-dominated wood thousands of miles to the north (played by Ian), Barst, Cleric of the Secret Church, and Narow, Thief (played by Samuel) and Cedric (played by Ian), all members of an extended family whose farmstead near Dragonsfoot was recently destroyed by raiders<o:p></o:p>.

<o:p> </o:p>Calveric was sent by his wizardly mentor Chementar to barter for a manual of golems with his long-estranged former associate Phandle.  He was teleported along with his faithful dwarf sidekick to Wizard’s Manse, but a teleportation error sent the hapless duo to some location about 40 miles north of their intended destination, the village of Dragonsfoot near Phandle’s mansion.  Finding themselves beneath a dead oak tree, slightly stunned from the journey, the pair was waylaid by group of bandits.  These thugs took everything, including Calveric’s spellbook and the tiny magical treasure coffer sent by his mentor. Deciding the luckless pair was not worth ransoming, they were beaten and left for the wild pigs. Fortunately, none came; the pair was left with nothing but their clothing and a crossbow quarrel fletched with raven feathers dropped by the raiders.  Not long after Calveric found a scroll tube the bandits or some of their victims seem to have dropped, containing scrolls including read magic and sleep that Calveric began using in lieu of his spellbook. 

Later encountering two boars that hungrily began snuffling about their next meal, the pair was rescued by a mysterious elf wanderer named Conralion on a mysterious journey.  Living off the land, the three travelled together to the small ghost-like village of Dragonsfoot. There locals laughingly told them that Phandle died almost 20 years before! His manse was thought to be haunted and had been looted repeatedly over the years.  Some say he died of Miasmal Plague or some other curse, others said he was slain by a rival, and still others blame monsters. Now, accompanied by three fellows from a farmstead near the manse that was razed recently, the whole group of brave (and destitute) adventurers (and their mule) travelled to the Manse to seek their fortunes, determine the fate of Phandle, and perhaps even complete the initial quest.  Leaving their mule tied to a tangle of blackberry bushes outside the wall of the Manse compound and prepared to explore the ruins.<o:p></o:p>

Heroes of Dragonsfoot: 2nd Week of Icebreak, 1409 (cont'd)
Menaces of the Wizard's Manse

The group journeyed without incident to the ruins of the Wizard’s Manse.  They found the ruin itself to be surrounded by a hexagonal wall overgrown in places by trees or shrubbery. After encountering a bizarre gargoyle guardian at the front gate that demanded the party leave their weapons outside, they decided to find another entry if possible. Briefly scouting the environs, they found a stairwell secreted within a tree and descended in hopes that the dungeon passage connected to the Manse. <o:p></o:p>

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This proved to be true, but first led directly to the lair of a noisome troll!  Wielding fire and steel, the party quickly bested the menace, finding a nearby secret room containing bulk treasure chests holding significant amounts of copper and bronze coinage.  Continuing their explorations, they fought various types of vermin and small monsters, exploring a small jail complex and various ruined chambers.  They eventually discovered a teleporter, and used this to ascend to upper levels of the Manse.<o:p></o:p>

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The party then made a variety of interesting discoveries, including several magical musical instruments and an enchanted bathroom featuring a self-heating bath and a bizarre commode that contained a bag of devouring!  This proved to be useful as they scoured the halls of the Manse, fending off various creatures ranging from stirges to giant rats, including a mysterious aranea (a giant magic-using spider).  Calveric died briefly after suffering the venomous bite of a black widow spider, but Conralion put an elven hornscroll to good use to reverse the effects of the spider’s bite.  The group also encountered a bizarre phantasm on an upper floor- repeatedly frightened from the room, the party doggedly attempted to discover some clues about this anomaly.  <o:p></o:p>

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Knowledge is perhaps the most valuable of any treasure, and a great deal was discovered in the Manse, although it led to yet even more questions in the mind of the party.  The party discovered several books, as well as a few spell scrolls.  They also discovered some rare elvish hornscrolls, one containing a map to the legendary lost Elven Lifespring.  The party also discovered a treasure map that led to a location not far from Calveric’s initial encounter with the Blackbolt bandits.  They also found a room containing animated sculptures of a variety of human and humanoid races, each enchanted to speak its own language (apparently in eternal punishment by Phandle).<o:p></o:p>

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Soon enough the party finished their exploration of the Manse and moved on to the outbuilding and grounds.  There they found several highly-detailed statues that appeared to be various creatures that had been petrified somehow.  They also explored a magical gazebo filled with a variety of exotic and unusual plants… but attempting to take items summoned a guardian gargoyle that dumped the offender outside the compound wall. Finally, they discovered evidence that the manual of golems (which was the original object of Calveric’s journey to the Dragonsfoot area) had been taken by someone called the “Golem Master”.  This evidence explained the several animated guardians that had been encountered elsewhere, including wood and crystal sentinels that the party previously fought and destroyed.<o:p></o:p>

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Once satisfied that most or all interesting items and areas had been discovered, the party exited the compound to head back to Dragonsfoot, leaving much of their heavier haul in the cache beneath the Manse.  However, a group of halflings that had been skulking around the complex had hijacked the party’s mule.  Standing up to the party’s demands to return the mule, the halfling highwaymen seemed to respect the party just enough to let them leave with their possessions, and they had no other encounters on their return to Dragonsfoot.<o:p></o:p>

Chronicles of Calveric: 2nd Week of Icebreak, 1409
A Day in Dragonsfoot

The party repaired to the Old Barn Tavern to relax and reflect on their journey.  Here they learned that they had encountered the Greenleaf Gang, the halfling highwaymen named for their lair in the Greenleaf Grotto west of the Manse.  They also learned that the stabler was rumored to be some type of spellcaster.  Visiting the stables revealed that Cortchet the Stabler was in fact a wizard who agreed to mentor Calveric.

Chronicles of Calveric: 3rd Week of Snowebb, 1409
On the Trail of Treasure/Attack of the Blackbolts

Guided by the treasure map found in Quasqueton, Calveric, Detmar, and Blodgett determined to leave Dragonsfoot for the 4 day journey north. They met Wallociia, a cleric of the Temple of Knowledge, and her companions the hulking dullard fighter Geofric and his war dog grunt and their companion the gnome Quint Cogspinner, who are seeking a lost temple of their order rumored to have been part of a magical academy ruined decades ago.

Wandering east, the group met a band of halfling mead traders from Goodhive and exchanged pleasantries before arriving at the treasure site. A series of arched bones formed a gallery in a clearing near a hill covered by brambleberries. Under the dragon's ribcage they found any number of digging tools, discarded weapons, and various other (ruined) adventurer's gear. They soon understood why as arrows screamed down from the hill and a group of the infamous Blackbolt bandits (who had waylaid Calveric and stolen his tiny chest months ago) who spread the treasure maps far and wide to lure seekers to their doom.

On this day doom failed them, as Calveric and the group dispatched them quickly. Finding a footpath east, the adventurers soon found a forlorn motte and bailey fort full of tents and a wooden watchtower, full of Blackbolt warriors. Sneaking around to the creek behind the fort, the group discovered a forgotten, or poorly-hidden, entrance to the stronghold. Bursting in they found and dispatched the Blackbolts' leader and other high-ranking members of the gang, as well as a few priests of the Way of the Raging Dragon.

They did not find the chief priest but did find what seemed to be his shrine to the fell Dragonmother and defiled it with impolite acts. They also found the priest's quarters, including a scroll from the High Priest instructing the cleric to search in the area between the bandits' fort and Dragonsfoot, including "Quasqueton", "Madcopse", "Dragonwood", and the "Temple of the Troglodytes". They also found a long book entitled "Magical Mirrors of the Mythus Mage", detailing the many sorts of magical glass this powerful wizard created and scattered around the whole world.

The adventures found themselves at a forked passage, pondering which direction in which to continue…

Chronicles of Calveric: 4th Week of Snowebb, 1409
Triumph over the Blackbolts

Calveric, Wallociia, and their companions continued their vendetta against the Blackbolt bandit gang. One large group of bandits and Way of the Raging Dragon priests were laid low and captured by Quint Cogspinner's color spray, and the head cleric of the Dragonpriests was caught mostly unawares with two of the bandit officers tippling and quickly dispatched. Having come through the secret back exit and eliminating nearly all the Blackbolt leaders, the few remaining rank and file bandits were easily dispatched. To cap the rout, one of the bandit prisoners was dressed in a salt pork vest while Detmar loosed the chained (hungry!) owlbear to rampage through the bailey and the tents of the rank-and-file Blackbolts.

The prisoners were dumped into the cell discovered in the fort, while three prisoners were freed. Traynor, a purported guild merchant from Brokenbridge, desired to return home and implied a large ransom/reward awaited, and he set out in that direction along with the bounty hunter Lortha who wanted only to continue her search for the scar-faced renegade thief Leper. The third, the halfling beekeeper Elmer Brightpipe from Goodhive, practically begged to come along as the expedition followed the "real" treasure map to the marked location in a copse to the east.

Two days' walk through hills led the party to an ancient burial mound, seemingly left by the Arcaenians eons ago. Barely avoiding the ochre jelly on the ceiling within, the party opened the rune-covered sarcophagus and (Elmer) dug deep into the strange black earth found under the crumbling mortar and flagstones of the false bottom of the sarcophagus. Finding nothing in the gloomy soil, the party continued on across Rust Creek and camped for the night, which was punctuated only by the twang of bowstrings as the group shot Elmer down as he tried to flee with Calveric's book collection. They then administered the traditional Dromedan halfling punishment for thieves: hung him upside down by one foot, shaved.

The next morning they discovered a plank (hunting?) cabin at the end of the gloomy copse with closed shutters, its stout door barred from the outside. Leaving it be, the group moved into the dark woods, eventually coming on a circle of burial cairns around a large statue of the White Quoddess standing in a huge bronze bowl atop some sort of grey stone. They stand at the end of the footpath they followed east, beside an overgrown wild rose bush that stands next to the pathway of slate stepping stones leading to the center of the glade.

Chronicles of Calveric: 4th Week of Snowebb, 1409- cont'd
Treasure of the Charnel Glade

The heroes began to explore the strange gloomy glade, 8 small stacked cairns of mossy stones encircling a 10'-tall statue of the White Quoddess standing in a brass bowl atop a stone pedestal. But first they faced down the guardians of the glade… a vampire rose bush that sapped Geofric of his vitality, a horrid ghoul wolf, and three ghast/ghouls. Finally able to explore in peace, they tinkered with the statue until a small treasure vault opened beneath the bowl, in which they found several scrolls, a chest full of coins, and a case of several potions and a skeleton key. Wallociia examined the scrolls, only to discover that one was cursed to turn the reader into a Quoddess statue. Fortunately one of the potions was stone to flesh, and Wallociia was soon returned to normal.

As the band headed back to civilization, they passed by the strange rough cabin with door barred from the outside only to find it occupied. Several Dragonpriests cowered on the cabin roof along with a human prisoner, fending off a gaggle of ravenous oil beetles. Picking them off from a distance took time, and Wallociia was scalded by a blast of the noxious beetle oil, but the heroes managed to defeat the beetles just as they finished off the Dragonpriests. The freed man identified himself as Yuveen, a prospector from Dead Mule, captured after being separated from his companions. The Dragonpriests had repeatedly told him he was to be sacrificed at "Dragonbane Castle"; Yuveen knew of a large complex of ruins to the north of Dead Mule but was unsure if that was what the Dragonpriests met.

The group asked Yuveen to come along with them to Cauldronford and Dragonsfoot and then offerred to take him home if no caravan passes through in the meantime.

Chronicles of Calveric: 1st Week of Freesail, 1409
Cauldronford and Dragonsfoot

The group continued back towards Dragonsfoot, stopping to investigate buzzards circling a pair of bodies off the trail. After driving the giant and normal sized buzzards off, the group examined the deceased. Two women in all-white dresses with white veils had been throttled by something, necks unbloodied but badly bruised and abraded. Puzzled at this discovery, the group turned south away from Sanctuary and towards Cauldronford. The mystery was partially solved as the group was besieged by four wights during the night, two former Iron Knights and two (relatively weak) females in tattered and bloody white gowns with bruised necks. After a desperate fight with burning logs, magic weapons, and a failed turning attempt, the trader Yuros was killed and Geofric was drained of one level. To avoid propagating the wights, the group burned all of the deceased despite the risk of alerting others.

The next day the band arrived at the humble motte-and-bailey farmstead of Cauldronford. In the so-called "Mudbug Tavern" the group heard about a band of local heroes that saved the town from the depredations of a horrible minotaur and continued on to adventure in the Hollow Hills mines, minus two members, an elf and a dwarf, who mysteriously disappeared on the road to Ironkeep. The locals also mentioned Dweomerdays, the two days in the second weeks of Icebreak and Snowebb, when the Starmoon and Firemoon are at half phase and the border between the Prime Tangible and the Faerie Sphere are at their weakest. When the Leafmoon is also at half phase, and if the Seamoon also happens to be at half phase, the ruin of the Palace of the Dweomer Princess becomes material and can be entered- many have over the years and none have yet returned. A gaunt man and woman in chain armor were also there, preparing to enter the Dweomer Princess' palace.

The other occupants of the Mudbug were a cheerful mongrelman named Kiewok and his hooded, taciturn companion. Only after deciding to continue to Dragonsfoot together did it become clear that the hooded misanthrope was the infamous Leper, subject to bounty by the Ironkeep Thieves' Guild for stealing "something". The new companions were anxious to leave town quickly, so after a quick trip through the Ironvale Bazaar (and purchase of a few potions and some noxious gnome cheese and an enameled metal can in which to carry it) the gang marched on towards Dragonsfoot.

There the group heard more about Dweomerdays and the Palace of the Dweomer Princess and Brother Meagol (curate of the Circle of the Wolf) told of a Mask of Restoration rumored to be able to reverse the effects of energy drain and explained the Dragonbrides of Sanctuary, pledged to mollify an ancient dragon who no longer claims them and now held safely there by a sect of Quoddess priestesses. Detmar fruitlessly searched for plate mail armor, only to learn that smiths capable of producing it are rare to vanishing along the Iron Trail, worth far more than their weight in gold. Finally, Calveric met with Cortchet and learned a new spell (phantasmal force). Cortchet also provided a bit of information about the Mythus Mage and his Eldritch Hexad, located somewhere due west of Ironkeep. He also speculated that a sage might be able to divine or deduce the command word to open the tiny chest.

The evening ended with a brief scuffle when Kiewok decided to stay with the group but Leper activated his stolen cloak and boots and headed for the door. Detmar quickly doused him with a handful of flour and Calveric blasted him with his wand of paralyzation.

The group now ponders his fate and theirs, considering exploring the Palace of the Dweomer Princess, the Hollow Hills, finding the ruins of the Eldritch Hexad, or moving on to Ironkeep before trying any of them…


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