Masks of the Great One

Crypt of Tir Nagul: Session 1

AnathraVarrokh, and Onan sit at their table at The Broken Tree tavern in Duragzhar discussing their next scheme. Anathra suggests they smuggle some spider silk from Mathlann to Duragzhar. He also knows of some rumors of an ancient site called Tir Nagul in the forest of Atharti. Varrokh arranges a buyer for the spider silk via his contact, Panash, and the party heads out with a donkey and cart.

After traveling through the plains for days, trees start to appear. A few days later they are in the dark Atharti wood. They lose the donkey to a displacer beast, which flees after a fight with the party. They manage to drag the cart the rest of the way to Mathlann.

They stow the cart with Anathra's contacts at the Temple of Lolth and go to the library to research Tir Nagul. They learn more specifics about the location and that the name means "High Bald Point" and assume they are looking for a bare area in the forest.

They head northwest into the woods from Mathlann.

Crypt of Tir Nagul: Session 2

When traveling through the woods, the group is attacked by a pack of ghouls. These ghouls seemed to come from the direction the group is heading. Hoping they came from Tir Nagul, the party follows the ghoul tracks toward their source.

They come upon a place barren of trees with two monolithic stones. One stands, the other has fallen. There are two barrow mounds. Bones strew the ground in front of holes that had been dug into them. A ghoul stands watch. The party attacks. They slay a dozen or so ghouls.

A search of the area reveals, among other things, a winged bone statue with a featureless face. There is writing on some stone in the mounds, but none of the group can read it.

There is what appears to be a metal trapdoor at the base of the standing stone. The grass around it is singed. When they try to open it, a lightning bolt strikes from the sky. Varrokh manages to disarm the trap, and the party rests before entering.

The party enters the ancient structure. They find an embalming room, where the fight some skeletons. A summoning room, activated by their entry, conjures some creatures resembling the bone statue they found.

Crypt of Tir Nagul: Session 3

The group enters a many-pillared room and a helmed horror attacks them. The creature seems to shrug off most of what the party can do, but Onan lays a hex on it, allowing Varrokh to repeatedly wrestle it into a pit trap. After a very difficult battle, the group finds a place to rest in relative safety.

Crypt of Tir Nagul: Session 4

The party eventually finds what appears to be the main tomb at Tir Nagul. In it, they find a mummy and two wights, and manage to destroy them all. The party continues searching the tomb, and dispatches a few more minor undead, but leave a few intact, as they do not appear to have anything worth taking.

The party returns to the surface, and Onan, having learned a ritual for understanding languages, reads the inscriptions inside the burial mounds. They learn that the tomb was dedicated to a great conqueror who ruled over sister cities: one in the northwestern plains and one in the moorlands. With this new information, the party returns to Mathlann.

They acquire some spider silk and return to Duragzhar. They earn enough profits from graverobbing and smuggling to upgrade equipment. Onan hires a scholar to study ancient history of the region, hoping to get more information that can lead to similarly lucrative adventures.

Masks: Session 1

Panash makes contact with Varrokh. The job is to pick up a delivery of saffron arriving in Carroc Azuul from the east and bring it back to him in Duragzhar. The team adds a new member, Sidum Raj, knowing that they needed someone who can speak thieves' cant in order to do effective business with Lira Anderkin, their contact in Carroc Azuul.

The group buys horses and leaves on the week-long journey. They are waylaid by a shambling mound and lose one of the horses. After a hard battle, the party is not fooled when the shambler feigns death and destroys it.

When they get to The Boot, Lira's bar in Carroc Azzul, the saffron has not yet arrived. They ask Lira if she knows of any jobs they could do in town while they wait, and she directs them to her sister, Sigrun, whose son went missing two weeks earlier.

They arrive at the dilapidated, but once proud, longhouse of the Devkin clan, where Sigrun lives after marrying Ivar Devkin. The dwarf who greets them at the door has a strange bony lump on his forehead. They are escorted to the back of the longhouse, where Sigrun prays to her son's clan ancestors for his safe return. The back wall is covered in bronze death masks, cast from the dead faces of important members of the Devkin clan before burial. Except for the first, each of these masks shows a similar bony growth on its face.

Sigrun explain that her son Bjarne went missing two weeks earlier, presumably after wandering into the moors. A member of the community wanders into the moors every few years for reasons unknown. They always return after a few days, so no one will help Sigrun because they assume Bjarne will return on his own. Upon return these dwarves have memory problems. Bjarne's father had been one who had wandered into the moors, about a year before Bjarne was born. He died five years ago, and his death mask now hangs in the clan shrine. The only living dwarf to have wandered into the moors is Erasmus Hildkin, the local undertaker.

Sigrun shows the PCs to Bjarne's sleeping alcove. The walls are covered in charcoal portraits of various dwarves, including a self-portrait. Bjarne is young, about 20, with a patchy beard and a thin face. The PCs decide questioning the undertaker about his experiences in the moors is the best place to start.

Erasmus claims that he doesn't remember anything about going to the moors, but he seems to be hiding something. The PCs press him, but he becomes belligerent after resisting a charm person spell. When he suspects the questioning may become violent, he calls over his young assistant to show he is not alone. The PCs decide their next lead is to try to follow Bjarne into the moors.

They are able to pick up his tracks, and follow them north from the city. After traveling for a few hours, they see a group of large moving shapes in the fog. As they sneak closer they see it is a sounder of giant boars, with two fully grown females and their piglets. They are investigating something on the ground. Charming the dominant female with a spell, Anathra sends the boars away. When they investigate the area, they find a set of dwarven clothes and a pack. The pigs had been investigating some food that had been left behind. There is no blood on the clothes, and nothing to indicate that there was a corpse here. The sun has gone down and the pigs have destroyed the tracks in the area. Further investigation down this avenue will have to wait until morning, but the PCs do see a group of four lights circling a nearby hill.

They stealthily investigate, finding that the lights are not lanterns, but instead will-o-wisps. They decide to attack, and get the jump on the unprepared creatures. Two are damaged, and they all flee by phasing through a stone trap door on the top of the hill.

The PCs pry open the door and discover a temple under the hill.

Masks: Session 2

The PCs investigate the temple. They find that it appears to be four secretly connected temples, each with the same layout consisting of a chapel, priestess's cell, and holy of holies devoted to one of four unknown and alien gods. These rooms and temples connect in geometrically impossible ways, causing mental stress on the explorers, except Onan, who has seen this sort of thing before. They find a number of books (Harbingers, Apocrypha of Lesser Gods, The Godling Made Flesh, Dead Heresies), including a magical one called Rites of Phuathos. At first, the temples seem to be deserted, with no sign even of the will-o-wisps that led them here, but after much exploring they find a dwarven woman with her hands shackled, lying on a bed in one of the priestess's cells.

She's scared, and tries to get the PCs to leave the temple with her. When they detect that she is under the effects of a transmutation, they become suspicious. She is eventually persuaded to reveal her true form, a succubus. They get her to explain something of this temple. She worships the Great One, an old god with many forms. The four temples connect to different places in the world, each meant to appeal to the people who once lived there. Worship for the masks of the Great One have declined at the temple over the centuries, leaving her and her deacons luring innocents here one at a time for sacrifice. She was shackled by her deacon and left here. She tries to convince the PCs to help for seek out her deacon so that the magical shackles can be removed.

The PCs cannot trust a succubus. Combat ensues. She tries to escape, but is killed. In her chamber they find a smooth marble disc with an indentation on one side. The PCs continue to explore and find in one of the holy of holies, in front of a statue of Golathan, and 10 foot wide pit full of humanoid bones. Four dwarven skeletons lie on the sides of this pit. As the PCs go to investigate he skeletons, the will-o-wisps attack. During the fight, Anathra and Sidium are killed and one of the will-o-wisps is destroyed. The remaining three will-o-wisps are destroyed by crushing the skulls of the skeletons they seemed to be protecting.

Varrokh and Onan investigate the skeletons and find they recognize two of the individuals. One is Bjarne's father and the other is Erasmus, the undertaker. It seems that when dwarves go missing into the moors, the don't return afterall. They are instead replaced. Investigating the books, they find that Rites of Phuathos is a book of five forms: one for each Mask of the Great One worshiped at this temple, and the base form, called Masks of the Great One. From this base form they discover that the priestess is served by doppelgangers. They collect the distinctive parts of the skeletons as evidence.

In the book, The Godling Made Flesh, Onan discovers a ritual that can be used to revive their fallen comrades, but which requires an expensive gem. They return to town, and find that Lira believes they assaulted her sister. After explaining to her about the doppelgangers and showing her evidence, she decides they might be able to be trusted afterall.

Masks: Session 3

After selling what was plundered from the temple and dipping into Anathra's savings, the living PCs are able to get the gem needed for the raising of their companions. They return to the temple and complete the ritual, using their gem and the blood and heart of the dead succubus at the statue of Golathan. When Anathra and Sidium return to life, they've changed. Their eyes are blood red and, though this is yet unknown, they have a fiendish essence.

After discussion and debate, they decide to take their evidence to the dwarven king, but decide to leave out any evidence that shows that Sigrun, their client, unknowingly coupled with a doppelganger and produced its offspring. Anathra and Sidium go to Erasmus the undertaker's home to keep an eye on things while Varrokh and Onan go to Thron Fort to see King Alaric.

No one is at Eramsus's home. Sidium breaks in and discovers a magical scroll and a smooth disc that matches the one found in the succubus's chamber. Finding these valuables gives them hope that he has not given up on this form. They stake out the home, waiting for Erasmus to return.

Meanwhile, Varrokh and Onan convince King Alaric to investigate the doppelganger threat. King Alaric decides to see to it personally. He and one of his clansmen go with Varrokh and Onan to Erasmus's home. Anathra and Sidium explain that he's not home, so the king decides to ask around. This investigation is very short, since when he steps into the nearest tavern, he finds Erasmus and his assistant carousing. Anathra immediately uses a spell to revert the doppelganger to his true form. King Alaric and his clansman arrest this doppelganger. The assistant attempts to sneak out the back, but is pursued and taken down by the PCs. He too is a doppelganger: Bjarne, the young dwarf they've been looking for. Both doppelgangers are bound and taken to Thron Fort. It is announced that the doppelgangers will be burnt at the stake at dusk.

Varrokh doesn't feel right about Bjarne's impending execution. He doesn't seem to have murdered anyone or done anything wrong besides being born a doppelganger. Varrokh is able to stealthily unbind Bjarne, who is then able to make his escape on his own. That night, only one doppelganger is burned. His true form shows him to be the original doppelganger. Bjarne has disappeared.

When the PCs return to The Boot, the saffron they are to deliver to Panash has arrived. They meet with the courier Na Dae Won, who recognizes Varrokh from his time in the east. Won probes Varrokh for information to bring back to the people who want Varrokh dead. Varrokh doesn't give any, but what Won knows about the deal is enough to cause trouble in the future.

The Hatchling: Session 1

As the party leaves Carroc Azuul, they see the smoke of many campfires burning to the south, towards the swamps. This causes some curiosity, but they have saffron to sell in Duragzhar, and so head that way. When they reach Duragzhar, the party splits up to gain information. They find out that one of the lizardfolk clans, the Iron Scales, has been expanding their territory and their numbers, putting to the spear any lizardfolk who would not join them. Many lizardfolk are fleeing the swamps. Refugees crowd into the slums of Duragzhar.

Varrokh wants to lay low, and knowing the swamp well, decides to do so there. The party sees this as a profit making opportunity, and buys metal weapons to sell to the lizardfolk.

When the party arrives at Varrokh's smuggler shack, they realize their horses won't make it through the swamps to Keth. They leave Varrokh behind, with a sending stone, to guard the horses, then continue on to Keth. They are ambushed by a group of Iron Scales, but kill them all.

When they arrive, they seek out Slyssk in order to set up a deal to sell their metal weapons. He says it will take time to find a buyer, and to come back the next day. The party stays in a communal hut that night.

The next day, Slyssk has set up a buyer. The buyer is Harka, chieftain of the Iron Scale clan. Among his retinue is a female shaman. While some in the party are uncomfortable selling to these aggressors, a deal is made, and the party leaves with many pearls.

The party splits up to investigate the situation in Keth. Sidium stays with Slyssk in order to start learning to speak Draconic, Anathra goes to talk to the local druid circle, and Onan invisibly scouts out the Iron Scale camp within Keth.

The local druids are very concerned about the aggression of the Iron Scales. It upsets the balance of their people. The Iron Scale shaman is a stranger to them, and will not parley with them.

The Iron Scale camp is already busy affixing metal spear tips to their hafts. Onan finds the tent of the chieftain and overhears the shaman talking about "The Hatchling" being almost ready. Onan sneaks into the tent, but is unable to find any evidence of what The Hatchling might be.

After exchanging the information they learned, the party sleeps the night again in Keth. That night, Onan is wracked by unholy nightmares. Anathra notices a hideous woman straddling Onan in his sleep. When she sees she's been caught, she disappears. When Anathra describes what he's seen, Onan's mind goes back to the death of his grandmother. The day she died, Onan saw a similar creature disappear from her bedside. Onan becomes convinced that this is a chance for revenge.

The Hatchling: Session 2

The party decides to stay in Keth for another day, hoping to learn what they can of the Iron Scales and the hag that attacked in the night. Sidium continued his study of the Draconic language, Anathra consults the druids, and Onan searches the communal hut and outskirts of Keth for tracks or clues.

The druids tell of children seeing a witch in the night. Anathra is able to find and interview one such child, learning that the hag has been stalking the area for some time. Onan finds some tracks in the communal hut, and is able to find some similar tracks on the outskirts of town, leading into the swamp.

When the group comes back together, Onan brings them to the place with the hag's tracks. Anathra asks a tree what it has seen. The tree seems to be in fear of this woman, and speaks of the blight she brings upon the land. They stay one more night in Keth, hoping to catch this witch in the act. Onan acquires some snare traps, and hides them in the dirt floor of the communal hut.

When the witch visits that night, she is caught in the snare. The group assaults her, but she again disappears. When lizardfolk come asking questions, there is no real evidence of violence. The party is free to go. Having no other leads, they follow the blighted plants. This leads them north, towards the moorlands. When they find a cottage surrounded by blight, the group prepares for a fight.

After Sidium scouts it out, the cottage seems to be empty. They enter and ransack the cottage. Sidium acquires a magically poisoned dagger. Shortly thereafter, a troll bursts through the door, apparently a sentry for the hag. After a short fight, the troll lies dead. The group finds a pseudo-dragon that the hag was attempting to make its familiar, which they free. Onan finds and scribes her scroll of find familiar into his book of shadows. When he casts it later that evening, the pseudo-dragon they freed chooses to become his familiar. The group finds a partial ritual creating a hearthstone, how she disappears at will, and evidence that she was in Keth. Communicating via the sending stone, they have Varrokh find a buyer for the horses and meet back up with him. Reunited, the party decides to return to Keth to continue their investigation, leaving traps behind if the hag should return.

The Hatchling: Session 3

When the party returns to Keth, Anathra is able to use a spell to locate the hag's hearthstone. They find it in the chief hut of the Iron Scale clan. However, Harka and most of his clan have left Keth.

The party concludes that Harka's shaman is the hag and decides to pursue them. After a little investigation, they learn the Iron Scales were headed to Ioth Okarthel Maurg, an old ruined temple dedicated to fertility.

The party pursues them. They encounter little resistance as they travel north, until a group of lizardfolk led by a shaman attacks. The party successfully kills them all. Notably, Anathra uses a scroll to trasform into a tricerotops and stomps the shaman into the earth.

When the party arrives at the temple, they find it a crumbling ruin. They spot lizardfolk sentries, but Sidium is able to stealthily kill a few before general combat starts.

After killing the sentries, they find a more intact area of the temple with a staircase leading down.


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