D&D Character Creation Workshop

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THIS THURSDAY, October 19, from 6-8 PM at Books & Boards on Main Street, in Downtown Columbus.

Creating characters can be overwhelming and tricky.

Join local D&D experts Jeremy Hammack and Joss Hevel to learn how to make sense of it all!

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Dawnreach Campaign: Gimble (11.19.2016)

Jeremy’s Group – 19 Nov 2016

Xante – Blue Dragonborn Ranger (Dakota)
Marcus – Halfling Rogue (Sean)
Dagol – Wood Elf Monk (J.D.)
T’ymm – Bronze Dragonborn Sorcerer (Eric) (POV character)

I began the day after downing a nice, hearty breakfast of three kinds of sausages, eggs, and some wonderful local culinary oddity called Dawn Cider to wash it all down; it was quite refreshing. Dawnreach was the first real town I have ever stayed in for more than a few hours at a time; yet, I have been pulled to this place for some inexplicable reason. I miss the steppes, but at least they have some lovely mountains around here, so it’s not entirely alien to me.

After thanking mighty Crom, I met up with an old friend of mine, Dagol. He is a monk who studied at the monastery up on Mount Criba, and he often would spar with me and with the others in my clan. I can’t help but think that he was going easy on me when he did so…but no matter. He had brought with him a Dragonborn such as myself, but this one was clearly from another tribe. This one called himself Xante, and said that he was a ranger; I suppose that means he keeps to the wilderness. I can respect that. Pity about those garish blue scales, though; bronze looks so much better. He’s a fellow son of the dragons, so I expect he can’t be all bad. Much to my surprise, they had a third with them – a shifty little small one of my prior acquaintance called Marcus. An unrepentant rogue, he and I had met when we found ourselves captives in some petty noble’s fortress – Marcus stood accused of filching some gewgaw from this fop’s court; they took me in as well simply because the silly smoothskins didn’t seem to appreciate the inherent beauty of a dragonson.

In any case…We soon found ourselves assembled in the offices of the local Adventurer’s Guild, the Order of the Dawn, where we had all signed up just the day before. We were officially inducted, and given our marks of office. We were then ushered into a small office where we met with a…unique human called Lance Tuelguine, who didn’t exactly live up to my visions of a refined gentleman who would be sending us out to save lives and undertake heroic deeds. He fell quite short of that ideal, truth be told. He was accompanied by a lesser reptile whom he called Vrin, so I suppose there’s that.

Tuelguine proceeded to hand us a dossier about our first official Guild quest. We were to go to a small temple about an hour outside of town and meet with our client, one Sister Charon. We were then to gather all of the information that we could about the objective: a gnome named Gimble Melbourne. We were instructed to find him, and either bring him back alive, or to bring back his corpse, along with the head of whatever slew him.

Once at the Commonplace Chapel, as it was called, we made inquiries of the guardsmen and acolyte with regards to any unusual happenings in the area, as well as about Melbourne, as we awaited a meeting with the Sister. We also discovered that the place was selling healing potions quite cheaply; as we lacked a proper healer, we all took advantage of the opportunity to stock up. I suspect Marcus “took advantage” in an entirely different way, as he seemed to have potions to spare, but his purse seemed none the lighter. Oh well, no matter.

The locals couldn’t tell us much – really only that the women of the community had been seeing some strangers in the area, and that nobody there really gave a dragon’s whisker if this Melbourne fellow was dead or alive. Many of them seemed to believe that the former was preferable. Word had it that the party he had accompanied into the mountains just days before felt the same way, after he led them on an ill-advised attempt to besiege a fortified orc stronghold and came back with only his magic wand. Perhaps they were responsible for his demise; will have to look into it later.

An acolyte soon brought us to meet with this Charon person, who pointed us in the right direction and sent us on our way. Before doing so, she gave us our target’s description, and advised us that he was often flighty and unpredictable. When she last saw him, she said that the gnome had seemed lost, and was furtive, as if he were looking for something.

We soon found ourselves at the end of a valley, in a remote area leading up into the local mountains. However, this wonderful occasion was not to be, as we were almost immediately set upon by a hungry displacer beast. A sable feline the size of a horse, with long, barbed tentacles and a nasty disposition, as well as the natural ability to appear to be in two places at once. The creature jumped down from its perch and charged us, only to find that we were not about to become an easy meal for it. While our stalwart – or perhaps foolhardy – ranger faced the thing in direct combat, I chose the wiser path, instead, putting out a steady stream of arcane lightning from my fingertips. This had the fortunate side effect of preventing its blurring effect from functioning for much of the fight. Once they had clear targets, the rogue and monk were finally able to use their own weapons to assist the ranger in finishing off the – now slightly crispy – monstrosity. Having dominated the fight, I took its hide for future use; such things can be very useful in the right hands. We then all took our own trophies from it, in recognition of a battle well-fought.

Having no need for extra rations, we then buried it in order to avoid attracting any other nearby predators. The ranger stopped for a moment to leave an odd mark near the site, and then caught up with the rest of us. As the edges of the valley walls closed in on us – so very unlike the wonderfully flat, open steppes of my homeland, where one could run a hundred miles and still see a destination days off in the distance – we happened upon a cave. Some unidentifiable noises and grunts issued forth from within. Our erstwhile treasure hunter signaled us to wait in the shadows, as he scouted out the source of the noise; it turned out to be our quarry – the gnome nobody wanted and his dear, close friend, the goat. The poor creature had no doubt been drafted into his employ, judging by the rope around its neck. However, it accepted its lot in life, and paid precious little attention to its captor.

The gnome himself quickly gave us reason to believe the stories we had been told about his welcome – or, rather, his gift for wearing it out. He spoke to us rapidly, confusedly saying that he wanted to press on into the nearby cave, and something about this bizarre wand that he had recently acquired. He wasn’t quite sure why, as he didn’t even know what the wand did. I asked him to let me examine the device – it was definitely magical, but, oddly, I could not discern exactly what type of magic it held. The design was simple and functional, though inlaid with a number of garish designs that gave me a bit of a headache.

Melbourne went on to say that he was on some sort of grand quest of his own, and that he felt inexorably drawn to something within. He refused to leave without satisfying his curiosity, so we had no alternative but to follow him. Par for the course, he led us right to a large, very well-fed ogre which was greedily stripping a massive thigh bone of all its meat in record time. While it was distracted, the rogue took it upon himself to sneak past the creature and let fly an arrow in order to distract it. It was, for him, the shot of a lifetime, as the great dumb beast keeled over after a single shot to the heart. If I had had doubts about this little one’s skills before, they were gone after that.

Now that the monstrous guardian had fallen, our new companion found himself at the goal of his own quest – An obelisk that someone had apparently left in the cave. No sooner had the half-pint touched it (why do they always have to DO that without taking  any precautions?!?), than a bright light issued forth from it. Most of us were able to shield our eyes from it in time, but it seems that Melbourne and Xante did not, earning themselves somewhat scrambled brains for their carelessness. Our ranger recovered quickly enough, and, for the gnome, it was hard to tell the difference anyway.

Our quarry satisfied  – if suddenly somehow even MORE talkative and annoying (something about seals and destiny and all sorts of nonsense that we couldn’t make heads nor tails out of) – we turned around to leave the cavern. Naturally enough, it was simply that easy. A trio of robed figures blocking the way out. It was clear that these silent figures would brook no argument, as they simply closed ranks when we began to leave the cave. Once we were halfway there, their apparent leader drew a fine sword from its scabbard, and his two companions promptly teleported to flanking positions at our sides. The ranger moved to intercept the leader; the monk prepared himself and then turned to face one of the subordinates, leaving the last obstruction to myself and the small ones.

I took up a tactical position where I could hit all of the enemies with my spells as the fracas began. Xante started it off by closing with his chosen enemy; the enemy promptly responded by causing his blade to glow with some sort of eldritch green flame. I’ll have to take a good look at that one later. They went back and forth for a while, but our ranger eventually prevailed, albeit considerably worse for wear.

Dagol, meanwhile, had leaped halfway across the room in a single bound (how DOES he do that?!), aiming a solid flying kick at his mage’s hidden face. While his blow struck true, the mage simply shook it off and laughed. As this seemed like the strongest of the threats facing us, I redirected my ancestral wrath in his direction. He didn’t seem to appreciate that quite so much. Out of curiosity, I attempted to use the wand against our foe at one point; it summoned a small clockwork creature, who agreed to help us fight only after I promised to pay it for doing so. The modron, as I would later discover its species to be, charged into battle and landed a blow, only to get blown to smithereens for its trouble. Thanks in part to that distraction, the monk and I were able to finish off the enemy soon thereafter.

Meanwhile, the small ones were…well, I really couldn’t say for certain what in Crom’s name they were doing. First, they somehow got caught up in a sleep spell (presumably thanks to the surviving mage) which would have put our monk down for the count, were it not for his elven heritage. It did, however, put our dear rogue down for the count until we could spare a moment to wake him up.

Meanwhile, the mage turned his attention to our dear Mr. Melbourne, who promptly started chanting and casting in some bizarre fashion with which I was unfamiliar. I figured I’d ask him about it if we survived. He first threw some sort of fire spell at the enemy, who retaliated with his own magical attacks. His next spell seemed to do nothing but cover himself and the sleeping gnome in a swarm of butterflies, causing his opponent to laugh, and miss with his next attack. As we had finished off our mage, I ran over and slapped Marcus out of his reverie. The gnome then ponied up another spell, which…called in more butterflies. This was beginning to get just a little bit silly. Another miss from the now-frightened mage who had just seen his two allies fall, and Melbourne tried one last time. Surprisingly, it worked! The enemy was struck full-on by a glorious, crackling column of lightning.

It was at this point that our final remaining enemy decided that caution was the better part of valor, and so he teleported nearer to the way out and made a run for it. Fortunately, I had one last spell up my sleeve, and brought him down with one final masterwork stroke of lightning. As it happened, he survived, but barely, so we tied him up, patched him up, and took a brief rest before heading back to the chapel.

The monk claimed the odd sword for his own, as  the rest of us claimed our foes’ enchanted cloaks – it turned out that they provided the wearer with Darkvision; the monk did not need this, so we decided that it was all fair enough. The leader also had some gemstones, which the others shared. I had the wand and the beast’s hide, so we felt that that, too, was fair. With our captive now bound and gagged, we walked him along with us. Perhaps the Guild has a bounty on his head, or would be able to get some useful information out of him…?

When we returned to the chapel, we were greeted mostly with despair once they noticed that their favorite gnome had survived. Oddly enough, the people there claimed to have no knowledge of anyone called Sister Charon or anything like that. Puzzled, we returned to the Guild with our treasures, our quarry, and our captive. Teguin met us there, paid us our bonus, took away our captive, and got us settled in to our shared bunks as we finished our first day as members of he Guild. I spoke with the Guild craftsmen about the displacer hide I had brought back, and they told me they could certainly use it to make a nice cloak in my size – but that it would take several weeks to do so. I agreed, and traded them the strange wand as payment; I figured, if the blasted thing was as unreliable as its prior master, I wanted nothing to do with it. Good riddance to bad rubbish. I earned my keep that night Identifying magical gear for a number of Guildies, my own party included, before I turned in for the night.

I wonder what will happen tomorrow…?

Melkhavin T’ymm of Clan Melkhavin
Order of the Dawn
19th of Elevensies, in the 16th year of Crom’s Third Turn

Dawnreach Campaign: Coffins

The Story So Far:

Players met at the adventurer’s guild to choose quests from the tasks requested by locals.  Mara the Wizard, Sorin the Ranger, Raziel the Cleric, and Falcon the Monk set off to the Allistair Polmonetti’s Joiner Shop in Dawnreach.  He asked them to solve a strange problem occurring at the shop:  coffins had recently been going missing.  Allistair ordered extra security, but eventually had to stop because of the expense.  As soon as the guards were dismissed, the coffins started being taken again; two days ago, a coffin was returned, but with blood in it.  He asked them to discover what was going on and to put a stop to it.

They talked to four people at the shop – a female half-elf in charge named Lucyinil Font; a glassy-eyed, distracted, and somewhat creepy male human named Jon Florence, another human male who told them about the mahogany coffin he made going missing, and a sleepy halfling who explained that it was more than blood in the coffin – it was chunks of flesh left behind.  Lucyinil was by far the most helpful, providing a story about a graverobbery in the north and a missing druid-in-training-classmated named Aldatrude.  Lucy wasn’t sure how the graverobbery, missing friend, and missing-and-reappearing coffins were connected, but she seemed sure that it couldn’t be a coincidence.

After investigating the returned coffin, learning about the engraving placed on all Allistair Polmonetti-made coffins, and securing a map of the northwest abandoned farm regions from Lucyinil, the adventurers set off.  On the way out of town, Raziel helped obtain a carriage ride north to the region Lucy had described.  A kind noble half-orc named Daisy took a fancy to Raziel and acquiesced to take them as far as where the path split off to their abandoned farm region, but she would continue on north.

Having saved themselves and hour’s walk by procuring the carriage travel, the group was well-prepared for the quest to begin.  They had enough talk and investigation and were now ready to find out what could possibly be going on.  Upon entering the northwest area, the party noticed it was absolutely silence in the mountain valley, with the only sounds of wildlife echoing through the mountains to the west.  All of the adventurer’s noticed a horse-like creature standing in the middle of the field down the path into the mountain valley and back eastward toward the road from which they had come.

Though it was the monk, Falcon, who led the discussion back at the joiner’s, it was Raziel who suggested they split up to investigate the fields.  Sorin followed without comment, and Mara, the wizard, stuttered something and went along with the monk to Guthery Farms.  A barn was in the distance.  Meanwhile, Sorin and Raziel went to see the strange striped horse.

Mara’s fire magic and shocking grasp were useful in the barn when they encountered a pair of poltergeists and a lonely ghost.  However, Mara’s stuttering and stammering was an odd quality to the honorable monk.  In truth, the pair barely escaped with their lives.  Were it not for the young ghost boy apologizing for the angry spirits, that could have been the end of Mara and Falcon’s adventure right there.  A quick search of the barn provided an unknown potion, and a family picture that revealed that the poltergeists were likely the parents of the sad and non-vengeful spirit of their young son, the boy.

Meanwhile, Raziel and Sorin ventured into a field of their own.  The horse-like creature, upon seeing the pair, charged ahead.  The force spooked Sorin a little, but ultimately they opted not to draw their weapons in case the creature was well-meaning.  Their hunch paid off, as the creature was clearly eager for the pair to follow it to some other location.  The ranger and cleric followed it to a most unexpected scene.  What they expected to be a horse field was actually the site of a halfling, sprawled flat on his back and trapped by some sort of forcefield.

A frustrated halfing, introducing himself as Milo Kettleknight, caught the two up on the situation.  He had come to the Kettleknight Farms – his family’s land – to find his beloved sister, Aldatrude, who had traveled there the day before.  He tracked his druid-sister to the field, but failed to track her beyond there.  Milo had seen a robed figure – he thinks a male – in Kettleknight farms.  Milo called out to him, but the figure cast the invisible wall that now pinned him securely to the ground.  Milo recognized the spell as necromancy, but couldn’t figure out how the necromancy pulled it off without being in range and concentrating on the spell.  Milo’s loyal pet – a zebra named Jailhorse – went after the figure, but the robed necromancer teleported away!

Learning that the adventurers were too low level to have a proper disintegrate spell in their aresenal, Milo begs them to find his sister and hopes that killing the necromancer would free him from the wall of force around him.

Raziel has the forethought to ask if Jailhorse would like to join them, but since Jailhorse was acquired from another dimension, Milo thinks it’s not wise to have the zebra trotting around.  Oh, yeah, and one more thing – Milo urges them not to go to the barn because of poltergeists or to go to the temple because of dozens of zombies.  He says he checked both places, but there was no sign of the necromancer.

And, so, the group met up once again, where planned, and continued to the next area.  Still a little worn from their encounter with the poltergeists, Falcon and Mara agreed to skip the temple’s many, many zombies and, instead, head along to the final farm propery – Hymnstead Crop Fields.  The journey there yielded little at first.  Falcon and Sorin took minor wounds from moving boards aside from a fallen shack.  Their efforts resulted in the freeing of some passive will-o-the-wisps, that floated about awhile and then soared off away from the wooden boards that seemed to be trapping them down – or were they just playing in the rubble?  Mara struggled to communicate with the spirits, but to no avail.

But a figure – off in the distance!  A male undead-looking thing was spotted in Hymnstead Fields heading north.  It must be the necromancer!  The party fired away with fiery spells, projectile damage, and a hot pursuit of the entity, who ignored the barrage and trudged on slowly to the north.  The group that once given every single creature the benefit of the doubt unleashed their attacks onto the rambling undead without an attempt at diplomacy.  Luckily for them, the revenant undead with the giant axe cared only – and maniacally – about pursuing he who wronged him above all else.  But when the creature swatted away at a melee attack, once the group was in range, the revenant shouted a “QUIT!” that gave the adventurers pause.

Mara quickly lept to converse with the axe-wielding shambler.  After extensive patience and a committment to trudge along at the mind-numbling slow pace as the revenant, Mara finally got through to the creature that the group – moving quickly ahead of the revenant toward the same cemetary goal – was better off joining them.  Reluctantly, and with only a few seconds break in his psychotic pursuit for revenge, the revenant handed them a map to the cemetery’s crypt.  The party, undead vengeful creature included, continued to find the necromancer at the cemetary.

The cemetary was abandoned, but indigent dead were still regularly buried there – people who had no one to claim and bury them otherwise.  Two or three graves were open and fresh and suggested recent grave robbings.  The group investigated – except the slow reventant, he trudged straight on to the crypt door.  The door was locked, and as the group tried to read the message, the single-minded revenant clanged his axe against the concrete, still only occasionally repeated phrases like “I WILL KILL HIM!”

The crypt gate revealed a clue in the form of a name:

Errick Hamm A  roVe r

After a short time making a plan of action, the group decided to stay together and read the names on the gravestones to see if the same surname might have appeared in the graveyard.  The group surveyed each name on the headstones before coming to one that stood out – Mara.

Mara froze.  The awkward wizard wasn’t one for words before, but she didn’t need them to convey her feelings at that moment.  Creepy as it was, they had no answers.  As Sorin, Falcon, and Raziel kept looking through to find a potential surname match, Mara wrote a note to herself and put it in the grave – an action that raised more than a few eyebrows.

A breakthrough!  They found “AndroVeer,” which fit with the name on the door.  Falcon tried speaking the name first, but ended up grabbing a nearby rock and carving the name in as best he could like the other letters.  That worked!

The crypts were not large or confusing to navigate, but the experiences there were ones that the adventurers would surely rather forget.  The battles began with an attack from severed hands.  After defeating the crawling claws, Mara decided to burn them along with the other appendages scattered about.  Even Mara’s constitution was rattled by the smell.  They continued on to fight a pair of mummies.  Mara happily ignited one, and Falcon finished it off.  However, the other mummy ran in terror when the Sorin masterfully resisted its carefully calculated fear spell.  This time, Mara reaching into the fallen mummy’s rotted flesh just to receive a couple of silver pieces led to group repulsion.

More horrors awaited in a small alcove containing jars with organs in them, tipped-over yet empty urns, empty jars, and seemingly corrupted or diffused components for magic spells.  Mara tucked away a couple of vials and a clean parchment, but most components weren’t recognizable.  After sifting through some clay pot shards to find another potion, the party kept exploring the crypt.  Onto a more cavernous looking room amongst the concrete walls, the adventurers stepped around black ooze to reach a switch on the wall.  Falcon dutifully flipped the lever without caution, but the group heard only an unseen mechanism.

Passing back through the way they had come, Mara burned some strewn-about bones on their way to the other direction in the crypt.  The revenant banged away at a dead end, which the adventurer’s could discern from the map that a room should be there, if not for the revenant’s undaunting revenge and sense of where the necromancer might be.  The part found a ghoul guarding the room they had been searching for.

A quick search revealed the fallen body of Aldatrude Kettleknight, the beloved sister of Milo and druidic classmate of Lucyinil Font.  The party was sullen, but continued investigating to discover other bodies and coffins complete with the Allistair Polmonetti engraving.  Making note of the location of the room, the adventurers pressed on to find a stairwell containing some trophies and a ring that Mara tucked away for later identification.  Carrying on to the second of the cavernous rooms filled with black ooze, Falcon pressed forward without caution again, but this time it cost him a bone spear to the arm.  Luckily, he sustained only minor wounds.

Flipping the second lever made the same mechanism sound, but it was followed by a clanging sound and a cheering, rageful revenant, as though he had opened the dead end himself.  The party ran back to the entryway where the revenant angrily slashed away at the necromancer.  Unfortunately for . . . Errick Hamm AndroVeer? . . . the party made quick work of him.  His bones were no longer around to be turned to skeletons thanks to Mara’s fire, and to add insult to injury, Mara blinded the skilled caster, putting a stop to many of his aresenal of spellworking fun.

Thoroughly battered by a barrage of Sorin’s arrows, the fists of Falcon, the revenant’s rage, and the diverse spells of Raziel, the Necromancer eventually succumbed to defeat.  His plans to project his soul into a jar to survive were foiled due to blindness, and his once savvy plan to mind control the crypt’s tresspassers into a black oozy death were no more.  The adventurers looted the body, but they had begun celebrating too soon.

Just as soon as a relieved revenant left the crypt to wander the fields, no longer filled with rage, a familiar face entered the crypt – the necromancer!  The party was dumbfounded and confused, giving the necromancer an opportunity to fire off a missed attack.  The monk punched the somehow-returned necromancer, but the damage was miniscule compared to the impending arrow of Milo Kettlenight.  The halfling ranger had freed himself of the forcefield when the necromancer perished and arrived as swiftly as he and his jailhorse could speed across the fields to the crypt.  Milo obliterated what turned out to be the necromancer’s clone.

The adventurers told Milo about his deceased sister, and the halfling was rattled with grief.  The party helped him transport the coffins and his sister back to the joiner.

Back in Dawnreach, Milo’s more experienced understanding of high level spells helped fill in the pieces of the puzzle.  This necromancer – perhaps a descendent of Errick Hamm AndroVeer (perhaps one of the mummies buried there?) was using powers he shouldn’t have been able to wield.  The necromancer stole coffins and carved chunks from his flesh to cast the spells to clone himself – magic that should have been beyond his grasp.  The revenant, apparently made the mistake of returning the coffin in the hope that the joiners would not miss it if it was not gone.  However, the revenant was unaware of the flesh-stained contents – an unforgivable mistake that led the necromancer to kill whoever the revenant was in life, and ultimately leading to the revenant’s vengeful undead quest.

All seemed to be right again at the joiner’s, and a very happy Allistair Polmonetti bestowed loot upon the group, giving them both a longbow and a shield that he had crafted himself.  Sorin, Mara, Raziel, and Falcon went to leave the establishment, content with their positive impact on the town and excited to have their newfound loot.  But before the group left the coffin shop, Jon Florence, one of the coffin makers laid a cold, thin hand on Mara and said “I’ll see you soon” with a creepy smile.  Mara noticed the nameplate on the coffin he was currently making read “Mara.”

The Beginning (10.8.16)

The tent was filled with commotion and murmurs, but behind the impatience and chaos was a boring sigh of collective waiting from the mercenaries gathered. We were promised gold, and we were promised that there was an amulet available for plundering. But I was seeking something more.

Growing up in the temple taught me to follow the Gods where ever they may lead. When the wheel to my cart broke bringing supplies back to the temple, I ended up in a small village. A farmer in that small village sent me to Merryport. Leaving my horses in the care of the farmer, I arrived in Merryport to a scene of gossip and worry. But where there be worry, there also be a cause. When the Gods challenge us with a tragedy, they often pave the way for the forging of new heroes.

The guards of Merryport mistook my hallowed robes and traveling supplies for tell-tale signs of a hero in the making. Though I did not seek glory – actually, I didn’t even knew what all of the chaos was about at the time – I did know that everything happens for a reason. As the guards thrust a scroll of orders into my small dwarven hand and practically pushed me passed the raised portcullis leading to the city, I knew that I had been called to help.

We waiting for only a few minutes in the tent, but it felt like hours. People came in and out, and eventually a half-orc female filled us in on more specific directions. A duke had gone missing, and the mercenaries who gathered were chosen to enter the cave and find him.

I could only surmise that our group was assembled for diversity of background; for, there was a bard, paladin, sorcerer, druid, barbarian, fighter, and rogue. There were two clerics including me-self. Perhaps more diverse groups, once formed, would be sent in at a later time. But I couldna think about that! I could not submit to thoughts of failure or search parties going in after the search party.

Our journey started slowly and awkwardly. I found myself quietly following those who led the charge. The rogue, Garon, was outspoken and uncharacteristically jolly for a drow. The other cleric was a younger dwarf lad named Klister, but he was friendly enough. The sorcerer, Tim, was apathetic from the start. Crowfang the paladin wasn’t particularly remarkable – other than the fine lass who saw him off before he left on our quest. She was quite the maiden! But Crowfang brought a dog with him – named dog. I guess that shows the cleverness of the half orc naming strategies.

We had a pair of muscle with us – both human. The fighter was named William, and his barbarian counterpart was Yuric. The two got along famously for two lads who just met. Wulfgar the druid was a tough sort, too – sturdy and prepared. However, when battle began against a pair of statues inside the cave, his attempt to pull the monsters to us and fling them off the ledge of the platform fell flat . . . and he sighed in resignation. The statues eventually fell, no thanks to my bloody axe failures!

During the battle, the sorcerer actually left! Gods forgive him. I thought we would have to depend on the little arcane magic that the bard possessed for more intellectual bouts, but T’ymm returned. When he came back, it was almost as if he was a different person…Huh. A full party once again, we continued.

We traveled deeper inside, noting the fragile nature of the ropes suspending the platforms above a deep ravine. Eventually coming to a rope going up, the party ascended one by one. A bright light filled our eyes, and the adventure seemed to stop there . . .

But, to our surprise, we awoke in a temple that was filled with pillows and comforts. We were surrounded by elven monks. The reverence of the scene made me feel at home. I took charge, speaking Elven to the monk standing before us, who quickly scooted away to allow the monk in charge to handle our questions.

How did we get here? The monk explained that people frequented the temple for the trials.

What about the duke?! The monk knew of no duke going missing.

There was absolutely no reason to do these trials of cunning, heart, insight, and power, except that there were two very good reasons. First, we had no idea what else to do, and second . . . didn’t I mention that everything happens for a reason?

The first trial – cunning – was quite the event. The party went in as a group, which surprised me since only Garon and perhaps Grif the bard or Wulfgar the druid, were especially equipped to handle agility trials. Still, in we went to find a strange crystalline striped room where the ceilings and the walls were indistinguishable from one another, save for the fact that they were on opposite sides from us. But soon, that, too, would change.

We were greeted by a mischievous ghost-like snake that tunneled in and out of the walls. It toyed with us, leaving the paladin and bard thoughtfully contemplating how to succeed in a way that we could pass the trial. Tag was the game of choice for the spirited snake, and upon “tagging” William and Yuric, the adventurers were flung about seemingly by gravity itself, slammed into the walls, taking damage as it occurred.

Garon was more straightforward and playful than the rest of us. At first, it seemed to work to our advantage. The snake delighted at the rogue’s comments that the game of tag that it brought us into was “fun.” But after someone managed to “tag” the snake and win the talisman, the rogue’s insistence that we “play again” was not such a welcome turn of events.

After another much less fruitful game of tag, we returned to the temple, successful, but licking our wounds. This time the party did decide to split up, taking a cleric each. I stayed with Tim, Crowfang the Paladin and his dog, and the Grif the bard, while Wulfgar, Yuric, Klister, and Garon ventured forth to a different trial. William, injured from the trial of cunning, decided to stay behind in the temple as we continued forward. Yuric was disappointed to leave his comrade behind, but remained focused on the task at hand.

My group undertook the challenge of insight while Garon and company continued on to the challenge of heart. The shrine where we entered the trial of insight contained blind monks who worked on a sculpture despite their conditions. It was an inspiring scene of faith and ability from the most faithful of followers. The Sentinel has true believers.

A globe in the room caught our attention. Though we could speak to the monks, they required proof that we had passed a trial. Since Garon – now off with the other party – had the talisman of cunning, we did not receive help from the monks. And we did not press the issue further.

We turned to the globe and pressed our hands against it. We had difficulty connecting with the magical sphere at first, but eventually, it came into our minds. It saw within the four of us different understandings of knowledge – nature, religion, history – the letters became clear. The crystals were lighting up with the letters to the word “vision,” a word that the sorcerer and his mastery of intellect were quick to point out.

We received the second talisman and a ring as a reward. We stood waiting at the shrine to learn what the other party had encountered. I found myself praying to the Gods that they succeed, though I still don’t know why. Letting fate steer my direction has led me to moments of doubt, but ultimately, I have resigned to follow this quest where it leads.

– Otis Whitebeard