Greyhawk

The Grinder

With high priestess Carol Saagan of Celestian accompanying us on our journey to the stars, we learned a bit more about our universe than we had hoped or imagined. Our first day out after our jaunt to Nyrond had her by the window gleefully talking about the sun, Liga, our two moons and how our universe was geocentric in nature. Educational to all, it packed a rather dull two days with a question and answer discussion on the bridge of the ship while I sat happily on the helm. Amongst the stars of Greyspace, Rainiar was put at ease only slightly. The rest took turns looking out the windows through a telescope Carol brought with her or watched the illusion light display of the universe provided by the helm.

With a day of rest around Luna, or Raenei to some, Ivorian tried to soothe Rainiar’s mind with stories of how the moon was covered in untouched forests and mega-fauna. This seemed to do the trick. With this done, Ivorian retired to his quarters to study his spell books and consult star charts he had purchased in Greyhawk. In the morning, we set our sights on a settlement called Freeport on an asteroid called Ceres in the asteroid belt called The Grinder. The saddle shaped rock had a large round lake where ships could land with buildings crowding the shores. Once we landed, we found the only tavern and inn with a curious, yet friendly beholder bartender!

Rainiar suggested we find a bard to record our tales of adventure. With everyone in agreement, we were pointed to a strange, brightly painted building on the edge of the settlement by the beholder bartender. The Reigar couple were of a race of androgynous artists that inhabited the brightly colored home. While friendly and hospitable, they declined to leave their home and pointed to another asteroid populated by dwarves. With Kel and Pholtharian behind in the bar, the rest of the group journeyed to Motherload, the dwarven settlement. That’s when we had an unexpected visit…

A large oak door, framed with demonic carvings appeared in the bridge room of our ship. Rainiar knocked on the door and we could hear distant footsteps coming toward the door. The door opened and within stood Iggwilv! Insisting that we were in no danger, she thanked us for destroying her simulacrum below the ruins of Castle Greyhawk and bid us to come inside. Reluctantly, and only after a strange insect-like demon was sent away, did we agree to sit at the witch’s table. It seems Iggwilv had a series of jobs for us, if we wanted it, to collect locks of her hair from her former lovers. While we declined to say whether or not this interested us, she gave us a lantern we could use to communicate with her. Tirion questioned the witch about the Spelljammer and she told us a little about the life cycle of the living ship, which shed some light on what we might potentially explore. Iggwilv explained, after she chided us for such a simple request for a reward, that the Spelljammer flits between the crystal spheres searching for it’s captain. It orbits the largest fire body of that system for months, waiting for her captain to show, while it soaks up the warmth. Once a captain arrives, the garden ship shuts it’s doors and a great famine erupts, causing much strife. Months later, the Spelljammer gives birth to many small ships and leaves the universe. Satisfied with this tale, we left, placed the lantern in Echo’s chest cavity for… safe keeping… and returned to our ship through the strange door. With that, the door disappeared.

Once we nearly reached an orbiting dwarven citadel circling Motherload, the dwarven ships escorted us to their outpost and asked us what business we had there. After they knew we weren’t claim jumpers and we only wanted to employ a bard, the dwarves practically threw a human bard at us named Alphonse. While not from Oerth, he informed us he was from a distant planet called Ginsel in our solar system and had the misfortune of being abandoned by his adventuring group on the dwarven rock. On our way back, Rainiar gave Alphonse an additional task of coming up with a new name for the group! Another task taken off of my shoulders and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Back in Freeport, Kel and Pholtharian chatted up three adventurers who were bound for the outer reaches and planned on landing on the Spelljammer in search of treasure. While this initial meeting went well and some information was exchanged, Kel felt that they weren’t telling us everything and were withholding some key information. With the group reunited, a dance began between our group and this group of ruffians from Ratik… if that was surely where they hailed from, began. The Blackbird Trading company invited us aboard their ship and then asked to see our ship. It was clear they were sizing us up and from the collections of weaponry on their ship, they were a formidable force. Knocking our helm as just a “minor” one, the female captain began to brag about her bejeweled eye-patch. She called it an “Ultimate Helm” and showed us how she could control her ship with her thoughts from within the walls of our ship.

That’s when Rainiar and Pholtharian hatched a rather crazy plan and began to scry on their group to find out if our mistrust was well placed. The pirates, not only wanted to land on the Spelljammer, but they wanted to seize control of it. Our ruse began as Pholtharian proposed a purchase any magical items they might want to part with while he sent his mephit familiar over to their ship to rob it blind. A well placed charm spell from Echo’s helmet began the plan to divide and conquer. Kel purchased a brooch which produced breathable air and Pholtharian buying a ring of telekinesis, then dropped the ruse while Rainiar bungled a baleful polymorph spell on the female pirate with the eyepatch, transforming her into a chipmunk-human hybrid. Seeing this, Pholtharian rectified the matter by changing her into a canary and placed her in a bone cage provided by Rainiar. Pholtharian used an illusion to imitate the female captains voice asking for help with carrying the gold, sending each man in to meet Tirion’s arrows of doom. Our gold was put back in the vault.

Thankfully Carol was in her room reading, but Alphonse the bard had all he could bear and scuttled off to his room and shut and locked the door. With the pirates unable to flee without their captain’s eyepatch, a sizable treasure mentioned above and several swords purloined by the mephit, and their captain now in the form of a canary in a cage, we now had to figure out what our next move was to be. Ivorian decided to let the group discuss their plans and retreated to his private quarters with a smashing headache.

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Nyrond and Beyond!

“Just one last thing before space.”

Echo insisted we do the honorable thing and help the Nyrondese ambassador with an curious task and the group agreed. It seems the Nyrondese were tipped off from a mysterious mage that magical defenses would soon fail leaving a piece of a magically dangerous and powerful staff unguarded and free for the taking. With the mage being “too busy”, the ambassador came to us. Sadly, we were perhaps the only ones to answer the call.

Nyrond is a good nation, but there were suspicions as to who the mage of power was had the group on pins and needles. Thankfully, we didn’t have to travel far to seek this item though we did have to travel into the sewers of Greyhawk to retrieve it.

A sewer worker showed us to a wall in the foul tunnel far below the Garden Quarter, marked with the laughing face of Zagyg in stone before us. The group let out an audible sigh. No sooner had the worker shown us the brick work, he turned tail and left the dank darkness. Rainiar quickly moved the stones with his earth magic, where we came upon two ghastly hags waiting outside a shimmering wall of force, waiting for it to fail. With surprise on our side, we took them down.

The wall of force flickered, failed and came to full power before our eyes, only to repeatedly flicker as the last of the magics died. A longer pause and we moved through to the other side, just as the force field came bounding back once more. Not completely free, we were joined by wave after wave of vampires looking for the staff as well. There was no question to my mind, with our recent journey to the depths of Zagyg’s castle ruins, that the dark shape trying to appear in the room with us was none other than Fraz-Urb’luu, the demon prince of deception! Luckily for us, some unknown force was preventing him from gating in.

The vampires bit nothing but dust and if it hadn’t been so frightening, the running around of Pholtharian collecting these “new spell components” would have been comical. Another wave of vampires were slain and the sudden appearance of Mordenkainen finally put all the pieces together for some of us. The Nyrondese, much in need of gold, were simply a cover or fence for this chunk of Fraz-Urb’luu’s Staff, with a large chest of gold exchanged in exchange for this potent item. We, of course, were given a small percentage for our “trouble”. The rumors of Mordenkainen pulling strings was never more evident.

Before we could ask any questions of Mordenkainen of the Spelljammer, he snapped his fingers and was gone with the staff fragment. Our group volunteered to deliver the riches for the ambassador to a liaison with the Nyrondese royal family in Rel Mord via the turtle ship.

Rainiar had requested information regarding a destitute farm (Nyrond’s choice) outside of Rel Mord and put in some work that next day to cause crops to burst forth from the frosty ground as if it were spring, much to the amusement and delight of onlookers. It was quite a show and a festival atmosphere erupted centered on the farm’s barn. With promises given to Rainiar that the family to work the ground, the treasure handed off to the liaison, and boxes and bags of candy handed out to onlookers – we waved good-bye and headed to the stars.

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Having A Ball

Rainiar, playing a hunch, soon had us investigating the Winter Estate’s fur trading business at the request of Ralliman Winter himself. Ralliman, being a good man, wanted nothing to do with illegal activities and asked Rainiar to check into it following Tenser’s revelation that the fine leather and fur were permanently polymorphed human and elf skins.

We were rounded up and travelled by Able Carter’s Coach from Greyhawk out to a remote ranch half a days journey south. Rainiar concocted a plan to distract the workers that we would set in motion when we discovered the leads we were hoping to discover. Posing as workers with work papers in hand, we went about tasks from loading and unloading wagons, overseeing the tanning of hides, and preparing the various skins for curing. A man with short, dark hair appeared to look over things at the camp, and when satisfied with whatever it was he was looking for, collected himself into a carriage bound for Greyhawk. When all seemed above board, Echo discovered that one of the crates headed for McGloogan’s Warehouse in Greyhawk contained an assortment of magical items and weapons and another held human and elf bodies. Ivorian and Kel went over the books in the small office indicating various shipments and a chest of coin originating in the Pomarj and the lands of The Scarlet Brotherhood.

With all the evidence needed, Rainiar and Ivorian instigated the magical distraction, including a violent storm and the reversal of the permanent polymorph spell on several of the hides. This sent the workers into a panic allowing us to collect what we needed to head back to Greyhawk and to booby-trap the chest for Mr. Winter to pick up at his leisure.

A quick stop a McGloogan’s proved that either the workers were unaware or not telling us what scheme was taking place in the warehouse. In either case, the no-nonsense warehouse manager told us where we might find Tarnek McGloogan – in an apartment above a small bakery or at The Green Dragon Inn.

Investigation of the apartment over the bakery turned up little except he was caring for his infirm father and a very large giant killing sword. Posing as clergymen and healers, Echo and Kel healed some diseases that ailed him and got a little more insight into the McGloogan’s home life. There was some debate about taking the sword, but decided to leave it in the closet as to not tip anyone off that they’d been snooping in the apartment. It seemed that Tarnek was caring for his father in his final days with hopes of selling off the warehouse.

At The Green Dragon Inn, Rainiar, Tirion, and Ivorian mingled with the afternoon tavern-goers hoping to spot Tarnek. Being a huge hulk of a man, he was easy to spot in the far corner. Tirion flirted with the red-headed barmaid and watched the crowd, noting the barmaid’s behavior especially. With Ivorian distracting some of the pub crowd with delightful cantrips, Rainiar noticed that Tarnek was on the move and there was something left on the table. He summoned a bird to obtain the note left under a tip of some small coins left behind. The note indicated he’s found their mark, a rather inept young wizard staying in the inn.

The Companions decided to scope out the Inn but sent a group to tail Tarnek. Tailing Tarnek McGloogan, Kel, Tirion and Echo discovered that Tarnek was using a messenger to alert someone staying in the Lord’s Crypts. Reconvening, Rainiar waited across from the Inn out of sight with a bottle of ale (and a bag of flour) for the mysterious person to arrive. Inside, Ivorian and Tirion guarded and informed the naive wizard that he was a target. Outside and on cue, Rainiar spied Tarnek and a mysterious dark figure meeting in front of The Green Dragon Inn. With Tarnek disappearing inside after locking eyes with the druid, Rainiar threw his finished bottle of ale at the cloaked figure, narrowly missing the drow’s head but catching a glimpse of drow features and causing the drow to panic and head inside. This is when all hell broke loose.

Rainiar pursued the dark figure inside trying to blend in with the crowd then lost him. Now invisible, and then spotting the dark cloaked figure through magical means, Rainiar flung the bag of flour yelling, “DROW!” Tirion fired pheromone arrows into the drow. Tarnek flipped over a table hoping to block the incoming arrows of Tirion’s trusty bow. The crowd immediately went into a panic fleeing, giving Tarnek and the drow the moment they needed to escape into the streets as well.

In hot pursuit, The Companions split into two groups. One chased the drow all the way to the High Market while Echo, in Cuthbertine nun guise, brought Tarnek to his knees in submission. Unfortunately, for our trusty heroes, no good deed goes unpunished. Everyone was surrounded by the city watch and spent the next few hours in jail for minor offenses. Rainiar, the druid, was given a little more of an interrogation and reprimand due to his use of a fire-based spell in the High Market.


After the City Watch was satisfied that The Companions were upfront and law abiding citizens and warned of using destructive magics within the confines of the city walls, they were set free with bail and fines paid for by an anonymous benefactor.

As it was the day of the ball, all lose ends were tied up. Rainiar met with Ralliman Winter to inform him of our findings and tended to the druid’s circle. Kel blessed a caravan headed out of town on a great pilgrimage. Tirion filed paperwork and plans for taking up the Lord Mayor’s offer for land and a proposed home. Ivorian met with a team of dwarves to go over plans for his tower. A new mage joined the group, Photharian, seeking out The Companions having heard of their recent adventures and knowing Ivorian from the Mage’s College.

Tirion, eager to find out what Tenser had uncovered regarding a magical bow rounded everyone up to head to Magepoint. Tenser revealed that the bow is now in the possession of a bard in the employ of The Mage of the Valley. Tentative plans were discussed to return to the valley of the mage to seek out this bard.

Rainiar, producing the drow’s cloak, hoped Tenser could find out where the tricky dark elf had made off to so quickly. Tenser ushered everyone up to the top of the tower, under the crystalline dome to see if he could do just that. It was revealed to the group that the drow in fact did return to the Lord’s Crypt hideout, and was ther, but there were two high level mages from the Wizard’s College with them begging him to keep his business going. Feeling adventurous, Tenser teleported the group right into the tomb, while everyone made quick work of capturing the threesome and brought them to justice.

Teleporting the group back to The Fortress of the Unknown Depths, Tenser said his goodbyes and The Companions returned to Greyhawk City to prepare for the Winter Ball. After a quick meeting with Simone to go over the plans once more, the group was finally told that the tiger idol with the emerald eyes held a secret inside a hollow she intended to hand over to Ivorian.

The ball was a grand affair, with no expense spared and was rather formal. Everyone’s tickets were taken, guests were announced, food was buffet style, and the party was serenaded by the beautiful Aestrella Shanfarel. After the main event, which included the unveiling of new paintings and a printing press (a new dangerous looking invention of dwarven make), the group went to work. As soon as everyone intending to head to the tower had gathered at the foot of the grand staircase, Ivorian went to work casting mass invisibility and then began dispelling magic on various furs and leather items worn by the crowd which made for great cover. Rainiar summoned rats to entertain two poor children and to take the attention from the gruesome unveiling. Ivorian and Rainiar stayed behind to watch the Spelljammer through a telescope and mingle while Simone, Tirion, Kel, Photharian, and Echo went about finding their prize.

After passing the door by using the firefly pendant that D’Arcon obtained weeks ago, the group entered the tower holding the Winter family treasures and keepsakes. Tapestries, paintings, sculptures, and display cases and pedestals dotted the circular chamber. The room was made cold by the winter air coming in through the carelessly open window to the north. Soon, it was determined that the idol wasn’t immediately visible, which Kel guessed must be hiding due to the puzzle he just noticed on the floor.

riddle.jpg

Kel postulated that the four lines of text in the center of the circle were somehow relational to the string of text that bordered the circle on the large round capstone. Tirion began working out the puzzle coming up with this answer:

HIDDEN LANTERN

The group darted about searching for a hidden lantern, Kel noticed a walking stick that belonged to his faith resting on a pedestal. Taking this as some sort of sign he grasped it from it’s place when he noticed all of the words carved into the sides of it fall onto the ground and disappear, except for the words “City of Greyhawk” near the top of the plain wooden staff. While Tirion told everyone to look for a hidden lantern, Simone, Echo and Photharian searched for said lantern, Kel investigated the puzzle’s inlay and discovered a small hole at the top in which something could be placed, like his new walking stick. This is when Kel also noticed a small divot in the top his walking stick that the firefly pendant could rest in. Tirion lit the lantern which caused a concentrated beam of light to shine up to a small mirror in the ceiling, down to a point above the hole in the puzzle. Kel thought fast and assembled the staff with the pendant and placed it in the notch in the floor. The light from the lantern refracted through the pendant and down onto the puzzle’s written verse in a separated prism of light. A rainbow, Kel thought, the answer to the puzzle in the center.

A ribbon of dancing light appeared around the capstone, then there was the sound of stone against stone, as a secret room holding the statuette rose up out of floor! Success was short lived, because as Simone reached for the statue an unseen force lifted it away from her grasp. That’s when a foe appeared at the open window.

A man with a half mask matching his all grayish-white clothing and cloak stepped from behind the curtain near the open window wielding a wand, drawing the statuette into his grasp. Words were exchanged between this masked man and Simone as she now negotiated for the contents of the statuette, which was Simone’s real prize. All this was for naught as the thief in white was attacked and laid low by Photharian’s enfeeblement spell, the contents on the statuette removed and the statuette replaced and the gang climbed out the window to the stable below. Nearby, Ivorian and Rainiar were peering through a telescope with the poor cobbler’s family. Rainiar kindly gave the telescope (provided by Ralliman winter) to the destitute family and then joined the rest of The Companions.

With the thief in white as their captive and the scroll from inside the statue in their possession, The Companions went back to the flying turtle ship to plan their next course of action.

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The Winter Ball Approaches

Upon our return to Greyhawk, we discovered a stow-away aboard our ship. The goblin, Puss-mouth, had taken up residence in the warmth of it’s walls, ate a cake left for us by the faerie queen and subsequently all our rations. After catching the rascal, Leuwiss told everyone about how puss-mouth tried to eat his mother and we toyed with what to do with him after Kel cured him of a goblin disease that caused his gums to leak with an infection brought on by eating refuse.

In Greyhawk, Rainiar purchased an animal skin to take to Tenser’s for analysis.

With the urging of Kel, Tirion and Rainiar came up with the brilliant idea of putting the cursed, alignment switching headband of intelligence upon the goblin’s melon-shaped head. Now a creature of good, we dubbed him Robin and set him to various tasks about the ship, like cleaning up after our animal companions, sweeping up messes and retrieving things aboard the turtleship.

As we headed for Magepoint, Leuwiss spied many columns of thick black smoke spiraling into the air far to the north. Tenser would later tell us that open warfare has broken out between the good nation of Furyondy and the evil armies of Iuz because of his two week absence trapped in the God Machine.

A quick visit to Magepoint, a visit with Leuwiss’ parents and an audience with Tenser gave us a little more insight into what Tenser was up to with golem construction and the mysterious request to have us teleport Sir Robilar to Tenser’s fortress. It seems Sir Robilar has been alignment switched with a duplicate from another Oerth and Tenser is desperately looking for a way to switch him back, dealing a severe blow to Rary the Traitor in the Bright Dessert, as Sir Robilar is his right hand man. Tenser performed a magical “upgrade” to Echo’s head, transferring the magic of the helm of telepathy to Echo’s old head.

Tenser, right now, is a very happy wizard. With everything neatly tied up, Tenser urged us to return to the city and visit with Priestess Carol Sagaan.

The flight back to Greyhawk was calm and uneventful. We sold Iggwilv’s spell books for a set of peculiar anti-polymorphing rings and a tidy sum of 28,000 gold. The rings will be explained later. Our treasure, much of it in spell components, lab equipment, and magic items worn by the false Iggwilv, were either stowed below in the cargo hold or the secure vault.

Upon arrival, we were rushed into the city for a full audience late at night with the Directing Oligarchy for a private retelling of our harrowing adventure. Much whispering and nodding came from the oligarchy and at one point Nerof Gasgol had to bang his gavel to bring the session to order. It was decided that all members of the party should be made citizens of Greyhawk, with full rights from voting to property owning abilities, and that each of us could elect for land and the title of noble! While Leuwiss has the right of citizenship being born in Greyhawk, the title of noble with land rights is certainly something the group should consider! Other members were not nearly as excited as Leuwiss, with Rainiar not wanting this in the least.

Leuwiss planned on meeting with a committee and some dwarven stonemasons to begin construction on a tower where his parent’s shop once sat, complete with a new storefront. Leuwiss also has the matter of this priceless, magical, golden octych to research.

While everyone went about town, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of a Needfest well underway, something hadn’t been sitting right with Rainiar for weeks. He suggested we pick up our Winter Ball attire, visit with the priests of Celestian at the Grey Observatory, and meet back at the hut that serves as a meeting spot for our group.

After visiting the tailor, we ventured outside the city walls to the Grey Observatory and a meeting with Carol Sagaan, the high priestess of Celestian, to witness the coming of the Spelljammer into our crystal sphere. Proud of the new lens in the viewing tower, Carol narrated what we witnessed – from the constellation of The Sisters being a gate into our universe, what dangers of “the phlogiston” were, and the peculiar obelisks now being ejected into our universe via the gigantic gemstones that made up The Sisters constellation. We left Carol to ready herself for a trip into the wilds of Greyspace to investigate the coming of the Spelljammer and the strange obelisks.

Rainiar excused himself from our group to do some checking up on this Winter family responsible for the 3rd annual Winter Ball and their business in the fur trade. Having met with the patriarch, Ralliman Winter, in private, Rainiar learned many things including his unknowing involvement with some sort of scheme where people were being permanently polymorphed into various hard to find creatures, skinned and used for his business. Rainiar provided proof via the skin of a partially de-magicked elf skin from our time earlier with Tenser. Rainiar vowed to get to the bottom of the situation and pledged discretion.

It is now the day before the Winter Ball.

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Vanquished by The Companions!

Before entering the archway, we decided to take the bodies of the faithful of Boccob and the multitudes of equipment and pricey spell components back to the ship and back to snowy Greyhawk to tie up some loose ends before returning to defeat the foul witch’s plans. This was done via the teleportation device designed by Zagyg, which would later come in handy for our hasty retreat.

Entering the blue mist gates guarded by the diamond golems teleported us even deeper within the crust of the Oerth to the impenetrable layer of mad Zagyg’s God Trap Machine. A round room, crackling with eldritch power yet unseen by The Companions sparked, roiled, and danced along the walls. Huge gemstones seemed to be evenly placed around the circumference of the room, with 3 of them holding dark shapes. One of the gemstones seemed to be getting most of the focus, with 5 identical witches all taunting us from powerful tentacles of power arcing from the edge of the pedestal disk we now stood on. To our backs stood a mighty statue of Boccob, the god of magic, with outstretched arms seemingly in favor of the scene before him. The stone disk we stood on was edged in a crystalline material and was leveled or perched upon a great pyramid that extended 50’ below us.

“You’re too late heroes!” cackled several of the false Iggwilvs, “Soon I will have absorbed all the power I need!”

With that, our group swung into action. Spells were flung back and forth in a dizzying array, with some prepared before we entered the blue must archway to boost our abilities, with some spells used to probe the defenses of each group now at odds with the other.

Kel (the priest) and the orc, Brelsh, waded into combat first. We soon determined that the “extra witches” were in fact loyal demons pretending to look like Iggwilv in order to confuse us. Kel received a deep slash across his chest and Brelsh was torn asunder ending his short, strange life as a “good orc”. Echo vanished, due to the use of a maze spell, and reappeared toward the end of combat having defeated this powerful trickery. Tirion shot a barrage of arrows into one of the foul creatures ending it’s life here and sending it to the lower planes. Leuwiss attempted to bannish another, like he did earlier, with no success, then resorted to counterspells to protect his trusted friends dispelling attacks while Kel fought off the seductive voices of the foul demons. Rainiar attempted several spells with varying success, probing the witch’s weak spots and strengths while the animal companions moved in to make quick work of another demon and smoking out the true object of our ire, the emboldened and powerful faux-Iggwilv. Tactically moving as one force, it was quickly decided that “Iggwilv” was using the spell stoneskin to absorb damage.

Spells and curses volleyed back and forth as demons fell to the powerful teeth of a wolf, ape, and arrow. Gates were closed by silently dispelling them. Powerful clouds of insects flew at our enemies. Missiles, stinging spells, and demons fought back at us when we worried all was lost, Echo appeared wielding Ashendra’s Holy Avenger! The tides turned against our foe as only the false Iggwilv remained!

Wiggling free of the great ape’s grasp, Iggwilv was struck by pheromone arrows as she turned invisible, disappearing from sight but not by scent. Raniar conjured forth a great winged reptilian bird that circled the air above, striking the weakened witch and dealing the death blow to cause the simulacrum to burst into millions of shards of ice!

Suddenly, arcs of immense power shot from where the witch once levitated, back into the gemstones that held three captives, shattering them and causing the ground around us to violently shake. Quick thinking from Echo, and the sharp eyes of Tenser, spotted a weary figure struggling to gain his footing in the mouth of one of the gemstone chambers. Echo reached into his chest cavity, producing a scroll that was not there moments before, and tossed it to Leuwiss. Leuwiss quickly read the incantation causing the weary figure to vanish from view.

Another peaceful looking figure rose from his cell, looked upon us and simply nodded in our general direction filling us with a feeling of thanks. We had freed the lost god, Zuoken, from his many years of captivity! Filling us with a divine peace, he soon departed for whatever pressing matters a god might need tending to.

Lastly, a shriveled little imp of an old man spat in our general direction. Without hesitation, Tirion loaded arrows into his bow while the manikin yelled, “Watch your backs, heroes!” and disappeared. We had now surely earned the lifelong enmity of Iuz the Old!

The ground shook more violently, accompanied with horrible noises and The Companions scrambled to the teleportation device. Appearing once again on the snowy hillside that the ruins of mighty Towers of the Zagyg stood, we ran down the embankment to our snow covered turtleship only to witness the towers beginning to fade from our realm. Gleefully, Raniar pointed out he knew this would happen as the towers blinked out of view as if they had never been there at all.

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Adventurers at the Gate

We discovered the gallery of paintings, just as the goddess, Merikka, spoke of in The Everlore Pit. Each painting showed various places the Company of Seven adventured in, each more dangerous and perilous than the next. White Plume Mountain, the tomb of some lich, and more fantastic places I could not fathom. Two paintings, in the two galleries, were exactly identical showing the Castle Greyhawk in it’s prime. Here we knew we were facing some sort of secret door that would gain us access to the final chambers before the God Machine.

These two paintings, locked as they were with an arcane locks, gave way to a control room with two ornate tables with glyphs in draconic, abyssal, celestial, and another language I am forgetting at the moment. Lucky for us, we were able to figure out how to operate this by tracing our finger over the desired symbol to transport us to Zagyg’s deepest chambers.

The elven druid, Rainiar Silverleaf, has proven to be a mighty and clever companion. His use of tunneling and transmuting stone to mud spells in the most genius ways enabled us to gain the upper hand. With his judicious use of these spells and a well placed greater invisibility spell on Leuwiss’ part, these enabled the druid to create passageways around demonic foes and get the drop on a foul demon and something much, much worse…

It seems that in the space of time we embarked on our “little adventure” to the castle ruins, the Lilitu demon managed to infiltrate the temple of Boccob in the City of Greyhawk, kill and impersonate the high priestess, capture and dispose of several people who must have gotten too close to discovering something was amiss, somehow swapped out the body of Riggby for a double, returned here with people she captured, tortured them, killed them, did foul magics upon Riggby’s body to turn him into a monstrous undead creature, and defiled Zagyg’s temple to Boccob — all within a week and a half!

Thankfully, the druid was able to work some spiritual energy that hallowed the ground once more. Leuwiss was able to convince everyone easily that we must return the bodies of the faithful to Greyhawk as soon as possible. Boccob is also Leuwiss’ deity.

All was not foul and misfortunate! Through the druid’s tunneling, we discovered a larder, now many centuries empty, contained a secret panel. Within were the cloak, holy sword and prayer beads do the fairy queen we rescued earlier!

We pushed further on finding a bedroom and laboratory now being used by the false Iggwilv. Many compartments containing vast amounts of spell components, many rare and valued, were neatly tidied and placed within bed linens and sewn shut by Tirion, the elven ranger. These were placed near the door for an expeditious escape should things go incredibly awry.

One of the cubby closets containing spell components contained a false bottom which contained a passageway to the gate to the dreaded God Machine. The gate, guarded by two 15 foot tall diamond golems were difficult to fight directly. The cleric, Kel, was blinded by a beam of light and the ranger was slashed by the sharp hand of the golem. Quick use of a stone to mud spell created a pit below one golem. Tandem shots of heat and cold spells from Leuwiss and Rainiar caused the other golem to explode and rain down a shower of diamond shards! This was effective but had the unwanted side effect of causing many cuts.

Now that everyone is eating, resting or studying before the gate of swirling blue mists that will surely take us to the God Machine.

Perhaps someone will make a speech before we wade into the greatest battle of our lives?

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Three Shards, A Key and a Warning

After a meeting with the Oligarchy, the Companions ventured back to the ruins of Castle Greyhawk to stop Iuz’s army at the Oligarchy’s request to stop the armies of this mysterious Vayne. Descending to the depths, the group encountered a group of orcs they tricked into becoming canon fodder for traps and tricks in the castle, defeated Vayne, but all was not settled. While the troops marching below in the Underdark set to invade Greyhawk would now disperse because they had no leader, theproblems were just beginning.

When Vayne was put down like the dog he is, Iuz appeared full of anger at his lackey and was set to fight the Companions in what would surely become their tomb. Instead, tendrils of light attacked Iuz and trapped him far below the ruins of Castle Greyhawk.

Eventually, The Companions discovered Zagyg’s Ziggurat in a cave far below the surface. Hundreds of years ago, this hidden lair was home to the Mad Achmage. The Companions fought “Mauvaug”, a dracolisk, in the statuary around the ziggurat and descended through the fiery door at the top with aid of the glowing crystals found in a cave adjacent to the ziggurat cave.

Inside the ziggurat, there are many rooms. After urging from Leuwiss, the group stayed to investigate the library and found a secret room holding Queen Ashendra, a fairy queen from the outer planes. Armed with notes scribbled in the margins of books in delicate red penmanship and clues given by Ashendra, the Companions now had a more solid idea of what they were to face.

It seems that the witch Iggwilv is not what she claims to be, but a simulacrum created by a lock of the real Iggwilv’s hair by Vayne. The notes in the books indicated that this faux-Iggwilv is intending to use something called “The God Machine” to suck the soul out of the real Iggwilv and ascend to godhood! Queen Ashendra informed the group that a Lilitu demon named “Lavashti” and the fake Iggwilv bragged (in Abyssal) about sending twisted versions of Iggwilv’s former adventuring group to various planes to hide shards of something of great import to prevent anyone from stopping her plans.

The Companions found some interesting books in the library on topics like the Spelljammer, Greyspace, prophesies, and Zagyg’s spellbook. Below the ziggurat, the group fought off a guardian dragon, vanquished him and descended to “The Hall of Memory” where they found gates to other planes where the 3 shards must be and several museums dedicated to Zagyg’s favorite journeys to far flung places. Sadly most of the glass cases were smashed, with most of their contents pilfered recently by the faux-Iggwilv … with the following exceptions: At the Museum of Malice & Mayhem: A Rod, a Bag, a Crystal Ball, a Headband of Intellect given to the smarter Orc follower “Brelsh” ; a vaguely skull-shaped Gemstone, a Book, a Sword, and a Spear, plus the Moaning Belt. Echo put on the Cursed “Moaning Belt” from Zagig’s “Museum of Malice and Mayhem”. Pink frilly lace belt, adds +4 to STR, but moans in a lewd manner at the slightest movement. All of these items are cursed. Leuwiss collected the complete set of a Deck of Many Things, postulating that the cards drawn by the faux-Iggwilv bolstered some of her abilities and brought down the wrath of Queen Ashendra from the outer planes explaining the enmity where there wasn’t one previously.

The 1st shard was found in Zagyg’s favorite pocket dimension, The Isle of the Ape, a tropical primitive plane with giant apes, poisonous plants and dinosaurs… which lead to another dimension full of bubbles, which contained a shard. After the shard was obtained, the group was teleported back to the shore with the gate back to Castle Greyhawk.

The 2nd shard was in Dungeonland, a demi-plane of Zagyg’s creation, with endless underground labrynth and traps. We faced one of the duplicates of the Company of 7 in the Red Queen’s court who also had the 2nd shard.

The 3rd shard was in “Hollow’s Heart” which is the 176th Layer of the Abyss; Fraz-urb’luu domain. We had to pass through the “Hall of Rage” which was Fraz-urb’luu’s leftover rage after being trapped. A duplicate of Zagyg had it in his tent where a tiger-headed demon and some cultists were attempting to drain magical ichor from a vanquished demon’s heart.

It was revealed that Leuwiss was concealing a portion of a key “borrowed” from the top of the College of Magic in Greyhawk. This key is called Zagyg’s Key, lets us know the direction to best continue the quest, and is strangely drawn to the 3 shards. We have no idea what these things do.

Leuwiss found the Everlore Pit, which Zagyg used to contact powers on the outer planes.. Rainier the Druid used it to contact Merikka, a minor hearth goddess, who had been used in the past by Zagyg in the God Machine to ascend to godhood. She gave the whole party her blessing (a +1 on all saving throws, listed in the “Misc” column) for the duration of this quest. Merikka says the portal to the God Machine is behind a painting in Zagyg’s museum of paintings, but there is a puzzle to be solved before the portal opens. We must fight Iggwilv’s simulacrum while she is near the machine. She spends most of her time there, absorbing its powers. If we can kill Iggwilv while she’s near the machine, its energies will cause a feedback loop which will blow up the machine. We’ll only have a few moments to escape the dungeon before the machine and the dungeon will be blown up.

We now stand before the room with the paintings.

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Ruins, Necklace, and an Invasion?

The day started out normal, with the air buzzing with thoughts of Needfest in everyone’s mind. D’Arcon was nowhere to be found and the priest of Farlanghan was busy in his faith’s chapel, tending to the road weary and exchanging stories about his travels. Simone and Erevis we’re busy appearing about town, merrily working out their backstory for their upcoming ploy.

Ranier Silverleaf was busy tending the druid’s circle and making new friends. An elven ranger had stumbled upon his very own Invitation in a box of Idani Whips at the Green Dragon Inn. Here, he heard tales of the mysterious fire that consumed the confectioners shop and decided to investigate. The druid came upon the ranger snooping around the Spelloyal ruin and sent his crow to find Leuwiss so the three could make plans and not sit idly by as the city came alive.

Leuwiss cheerfully became an impromptu tour guide, steering the trio away from the poor section of the city and getting them fitted for the approaching Winter Ball and gossiped about the Winter family, their philanthropic efforts and how they made their fortune in fur trade.

Somehow the trio ended up back at the Green Dragon Inn hoping for excitement when a group of seasoned adventurers came in swimming in coin, buying drinks and spreading some early Needfest cheer and generosity. The group overheard that the adventurers had just come from the ruins of Castle Greyhawk. It was decided that the three would travel aboard Leuwiss’ fantastic ship to the ruin and take their chances. They collected Echo for some muscle and took to the skies.

Unknown to the druid, mage and ranger – the ship contained two stowaways. The night previous, D’Arcon was busy setting Phase 1 of Simone’s plan: switching out the necklace Urden Winter wore around his neck for an exact copy. Urden Winter, a swordsman of dubious virtue and one of the two sons of Ralliman Winter, was an easy mark. Urden had a weakness for men, drink and gambling. D’Arcon played his part well, guided the drunkard to the quiet turtle ship docked at the wharf, and made the switch of the necklace after the drunken fool passed out. Sometime in the middle of the night, Urden woke with a start and snuck out of the ship while D’Arcon lightly slept.

Kel, the traveling priest, had just finished his long and fulfilling day at the chapel of Farlanghan and decided to walk the city at night. This is where Kel spied D’Arcon and Urden leaving the Wheel of Gold and tailed them. The priest, unsure of what was going on, snuck aboard the ship after the amorous pair to assure nothing bad was taking place. When nothing seemed out of the ordinary, Kel dozed off until mid-morning.

When Leuwiss was taking the druid and the ranger up the Selintan River, Kel and D’Arcon became aware that the ship was in motion. Kel and D’Arcon revealed themselves to the others. Apologies and introductions made, a course was set for the ruins of Castle Greyhawk.

The turtle ship was set down in a grassy field some short distance from the three decaying towers upon the hilltops that once was home to the mighty Zagyg. Now with a full party, Echo offered to stay behind and watch the ship. The towers, while abandoned, weren’t completely without life. As one of the most famous dungeons in all the land, it drew onlookers, adventurers, and the occasional sheepherder unafraid of its’ reputation.

The towers, while crumbling, were harder to gain access to their depths than one might imagine. After an hour, the ranger found a debris covered secret door that lead to a laboratory somewhere beneath the Tower of Zagyg.

The lab was the home to a mage and his kobold minions. The mage, unhappy with our intrusion, ordered us out. Silverleaf attacked the mage with biting insects and the cranky magician fled to the darkened halls below. The kobolds, larger than we had ever seen put up a good fight but were no match for the coordination of The Companions! While the equipment in the lab would net a hefty sum back in the city, the group opted to leave the fragile stuff behind. D’Arcon decided he’d try some of the food the mage was concocting for his kobolds and nearly poisoned himself. The mage left behind a notebook and diary that gave the group more information on this mage, coming from the Bandit Kingdoms to the north.

The mage blocked the door with a wall of ice, delaying us from continuing on. Quick thinking from the group prompted experimentation with the liquids in the beakers upon the ice wall and eventually we were through the temporary barrier!

The group descended the depths and came to some sort of living quarters, long abandoned by followers of Zagyg. A curious set of tapestries in a room told a narrative detailing three points in Zagyg’s long life. The first tapestry depicted Zagyg as The Lord Mayor of Greyhawk with cheering crowds. The second tapestry showed the man Zagyg near some mysterious device with him engulfed in energy. The third tapestry showed Zagyg flying up, arms extended to the heavens.

The group spent some time snooping around here until another passageway was found, bisected by a natural cavern filled with mud. The Companions fought valiantly against a neo-otyugh with Bo-Bo taking serious damage from a powerful bite and D’Acon hurled against a wall and winded. The beast was tough but fell to the ranger’s well-placed arrows blinding it and natural magic when the druid hurled acorns into the neo-otyugh’s gullet, impaling it upon a mighty oak tree that sprung from it’s rocky insides.

It’s death revealed 12 rough gemstones and a considerable treasure in electrum coin. Healing and conversation took place next. The group decided to press on, deeper into the depths. At the end of a long hall, voices could be heard.

A man, answering to Vayne and wearing Iuzian symbols upon his clothing, and a mysterious woman bickered about something while a hobgoblin stood near them listening. Apparently, the woman was insubordinate to Vayne and he was displeased with her. He wouldn’t tolerate it when he gloated that his “plans for invading Greyhawk would not stop. The invasion force of orcs was almost ready.” Vayne took leave and went further below while the woman went back to researching furiously in a library.

D’Arcon became invisible and decided to take a closer look. He saw she was making notes focusing on a collection of tomes penned by Zagyg himself where some machine was repeatedly referenced. Either because the woman was sharp or perhaps it was something else, she detected D’Arcon and nearly burned him to a cinder with a well placed, yet weak, lightning bolt. Quickly, the group made a hasty retreat with the druid sealing the passageway with rock.

Teamwork removed the tapestries found earlier and brought them to the turtle ship and back to Greyhawk. Some hours later, Leuwiss had run off to speak with some contacts about their discoveries. An emergency meeting of the oligarchy was convening and it seems The Companions would be interrogated within the hour. The group was being summoned to The Grand Citadel!

Decisions would need to be made by the group…

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Return to Greyhawk

While we ate and talked and took in the comforts of the Fortress of Unknown Depths, Simone and Erevis returned to Greyhawk ahead of us to prepare their little scheme. Simone has her eyes on some sort of statuette that is now in the hands of the Winter Estate, a petty “noble” in Greyhawk known for their philanthropy.

Leuwiss planned on the retrieval of the deed to the property his parents shop and several of their recipe books hidden in a secret compartment near the 2nd floor fireplace. More importantly, the group was to see what the priestess of Celestian that Tenser mentioned has to say about the notes taken from Rary’s followers and this coming midwinter prophesy.

All grim seriousness aside, it will soon be Needfest.

We flew most of the way down the Selintan River until we reach Zagyg’s Bridge and then sailed the rest of the course to the Wharf District and put down anchor. We arrived at the docks with minor problems and signed in the gate at the Foreign Quarter. It seems Leuwiss’ appearance frightens some of the locals and think he’s a vampire.

Durg, the large fighter, left our group to head toward the lower quarters of the city with a poster in hand. It seems he is going to try his hand in the fighting arena known as “The Pit”. Bloodraven, our monk, has decided that time at the temple of Zuoken shall do him some good.

D’Arcon made mention that he’d like to check in with his estate and make sure everything was running smooth, but here is where we have our first problem. The lights were on in the home but the help didn’t look familiar. The impatient and chaotic D’Arcon stormed up to the front door and demanded an audience with the person now inhabiting his home. Nobody expected to see the face of the dwarven tax collector, Dorshak Crane, descend the stairs.

Ignoring the two heavily armed guards at the door, D’Arcon brandished a dagger and threatened to slit the dwarf’s throat! Quickly, Leuwiss put a hand on D’Arcon to not only keep him from harms way, but in the hopes of gaining a clearer picture of what had transpired while we were away on our task for Tenser the Archmage.

It seems that Dorshak Crane, now at full mental faculty, was cured of his dementia and had resumed ownership of the estate! As D’Arcon cooled down a bit, we was able to find out that a cleric was sent at the behest of Lord Winter to cure him – the very man we are to take a tiger statue from in a 3 weeks time. And because he was no longer a threat to the general populace, Dorshak was released and was provided papers to reclaim his former estate. It seems somebody knowledgeable of Greyhawk City law exploited the 7 Year Residency loophole, barring anyone not living in Greyhawk for 7 years total from owning property, and had all the necessary paperwork ready for him to sign, thus kicking D’Arcon out of his home and onto the streets!

We thanked the dwarf for the information, retrieved the documents and books from the 2nd floor candy shop secret compartment with aid from D’Arcon and made our way to the Druid’s Gate where the elf and priest were likely waiting for us. It seems that Ranier Silverleaf, our elven druid companion, has made quick friends of the centaur and two druids who tend the stone circle. He has made some sort of makeshift shelter and workshop here. Kel, the priest of our group, was also in attendance, eager to meet with the Celestian priests up the hill at the Grey Observatory.

At the Grey Observatory, a joint venture between clerics of Celestian and the Grey College, we met with the priestess, Carol Sagaan. A mere glance at the notes the elf and priest had prepared had Carol sweeping us into her private chamber to talk quietly. While she knew that the solstice that was to take place this winter was significant, she was quite unaware of the other information and her face was ashen grey. She informed us that a gate would open and into our universe a great power would come forth. A power called The Spelljammer. She was able to describe the fabled manta ray shaped ship for us with a few frightening accounts of witnesses disappearing forever once they boarded it, for it contained a vast city that seemed to spring from it’s very back. She used some sort of magical ritual, pressing our book of notes against another blank book, enabling her to have an exact copy of it’s contents now in the pages of the blank tome. She informed us that the planets would all align opening a gate at the center of the Sisters, a constellation of 9 starlike objects, on the same night as the Winter Ball.

At “Lady Davenshire’s” manor, Simone’s persona claiming to be from Veluna, we regrouped with this information and shared it with our friends. While indeed grim, this information was taken into account and put aside for our next task as a group. Lady Davenshire, was attended by Erevis who acted as her consort and body guard. It was here that were informed of the Winter family, with Lady Davenshire opening the kitchen curtain where we could see the large estate cross the way. The two sons were noted, one with a penchant for gambling and attractive men with the other a petulant minor mage I know from my studies at the Wizard’s College. The daughter saw to the household needs of the Winter estate. The prize, a single tiger statuette with gemstone eyes, was our target. In the meantime, everyone was to assume roles at the estate as cover.

Simone described each person of note, tasking D’Arcon to befriend and seduce the gambling son with the purpose of replacing a necklace worn by him. This would gain us access to a vault high in the singular tower high above the estate. This would be where the tiger statuette would be located. Ranier voiced some concerns about gaining entrance, to which Lady Davenshire produced several fine forgeries of tickets for each one of us. She noted that these tickets were hidden in the remaining boxes of Idani Whips, bought before the fire at Leuwiss’ parent’s shop, and have caused quite a stir amongst the populace as everyone wants to be invited to this prestigious costume ball, so the guest list wouldn’t be checked closely as any person with a ticket would be admitted. Leuwiss was told that he would need several spells in high supply, namely Sleep and Dispel Magic. Erevis produced several potent sleeping potions and minor poisons that we were to introduce into the banquet food to cause a distraction so we could gain access to the upper levels.

While Simone stressed the need for no improvisation, Leuwiss confided in Ranier that he does feel that this is almost an invite for said actions by the companions. We would have exactly 3 weeks to make the switch of the necklace, plan our costumes, and attend the ball on the ill-fated Winter Solstice night.

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The Gem of Souls

As the group entered the room with the fancy metal room with seating, footfalls came fast down another corridor leading to the room we were all in. It was Erevis! Just as the doors were closing shut, Erevis flung the Amulet of Recall into the room and the priest of Fharlanghn, Kel, caught it. Along with the amulet was a note from Tenser:

“Without this amulet, you’d be unable to get back. Rary approaches and I take Echo, Simone, Erevis, and Durg back to the Fortress of Unknown Depths. Good luck my friends!”

With most of us finding a comfortable seat, except for the Celenese Druid who was slammed to the floor, we were overcome by a dizzy feeling and when the spots before our eyes cleared – a hole appeared in the ceiling where there wasn’t one before.

With D’Arcon help, we climbed up the shoot into a misty, airy room of unknown size where we Kel was promptly attacked by a hieracosphinx! The Celenese Druid reacted fast calling upon the mists and electrocuted the magical beast to a crisp with Bloodraven dealing a deathblow to the creatures brow. Scattered all over the floor were many coins from past victims and a few things were found that might be of more import.

Once we were done in this large cavernous and airy room, we ascended the spiral stairs far to the west. This was interrupted by an attack from 3 roosting lizardlike birds (pterosaurs). One was killed by The Druid while we made it quickly up to the top of the stairs, avoiding the other two flying beasts.

One this level, a thick forest covered everything from top to bottom, with only small paths winding it’s way to the other side. Here we were attacked by su-monsters. The druid’s carnivorous ape companion came to Kel’s rescue and make quick work of the beast. This also allowed us to pass through the jungle level without any more attacks from the su-monsters.

We came upon a clearing where a woman was singing and tending roses. Everyone smelled a trap and when the woman revealed she was a medusa, the druid acted to entangle her in her own deadly roses. Here the druid took a sample of the roses for some special arrows he would be constructing while the medusa slept (the rose thorns induced sleep) with a sack on her head that D’Arcon placed over her. The group bickered over whether to slay the medusa or to continue and when things became too heated, Leuwiss stepped in to remind everyone of the goal – The Gem of Souls.

The next level, was a sea of fire, with narrow stone paths and a fire giant at the other end ready to hurl boulders down upon our heads. D’Arcon made Leuwiss invisible so he could get in range of the fire giant to fling a spell at him. Unfortunately, a reverse gravity trap in the floor flung Leuwiss straight up into a hole in the ceiling! Quickly the group reacted as a boulder landed into the fiery sea sending and incendiary splash up and against the wall of the tower. The druid notched one of his new arrows and quickly put the giant to sleep. D’arcon rummaged through a sarcophagus filled with copper coin and found a fancy jeweled crown and a ring. With nothing more on this floor of interest, the group followed Leuwiss into the reverse gravity field.

On this level, the gravity was completely reversed and we all splashed down into what seemed to be a tropical sea. This whole level was covered by 15’ of sea, a sand island and coral reefs and inhabited by a large fish and a strange humanoid manta ray. This danger was mostly averted by Leuwiss casting a cone of cold spell, which created an ice bridge for the rest of the party to walk across to a clearing in the coral which had a strange door with a turnable wheel handle. The group hurried down into this passage and came out into a great domed room.

In the center of this room floated a large melon shaped blue-white gem that occasionally bathed the room in a blinding white light. Quickly the group spread out around the gem to approach it when disaster struck, or more accurately, a blast of white light. Leuwiss was the first to fall, bathed in a painful white blast and crumpled to the floor with a scream. A mixed bag of luck, Leuwiss was now completely without spells and he and his fox were now permanently bleached white. From the floor, Leuwiss called for the party to attack an invisible forcefield around the gem… and quickly!

Next, Bloodraven was hit and fell, but wasn’t as lucky. His soul was ripped out of his body and drawn into the swirling cavity within the Gem of Souls! The companions worked quickly and beat down the barrier and took the gem in hand. The druid asked that everyone grasp hands, grabbing the monk’s hand as well, and the priest activated the amulet and everyone went swirling through space and time back to the Fortress of the Unknown Depths.

Back in the safety of Tenser’s Fortress, we handed over the Gem of Souls and he restored Bloodraven back into his now fully bleached white corpse. Now alive and in his body, but visibly shaken, Bloodraven was eager to get some rest. Simone, Erevis, Echo, and Durg came into the common area to greet us while the druid and priest informed Tenser of the matter of a strange prophesy we stumbled upon earlier.

While Tenser could only give us scant information on what he could see, he directed us to a Priestess of Celestian at the Grey Observatory who could help us, named Carol. There we plan on dividing up the treasure and finding out more of what Simone and Erevis are planning. That night we ate at a feast provided by Tenser the Archmage and staying under his roof.

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