Dungeons & Dragons 5e Homebrew Campaign
5th May 2022
|Characters:||Fayd – Half Orc Barbarian|
Gunnar Orcsson – Half Orc Barbarian
Jaraziah Grimm – Human Cleric
Iivan – Drow Rogue
Balasar Aurumingis – Dragonborn Sorcerer
Luther – Half Elf Bard
Navarro – Half Elf Paladin
Tad Hemlock – Halfling Bard (Retired)
Tianzi – Half Elf Sorlock (Retired)
Battered and bruised from the encounter with the old witch and her scarecrows the party decided to see to their wounds before continuing South in search of the rumoured Nearith Outpost. Though for Navarro and his new squire the hunt was more for the old knight Don Camilo di Fiore, anyone asking Luther directly might find he didn’t fully share Navarro’s motivations….or indeed have interest in joining the proud Paladin’s order at all in fact.
The party loaded their wagon and set out again, the strange feeling of being watched returned weighing them down with feelings of dread and despair. The mood was subdued with Iivan quickly taking his horse and ranging ahead of the wagon scouting, while Navarro seemingly undeterred by the ominous feeling would often ride alongside lecturing Luther (and anyone else in earshot) on martial matters…seemingly oblivious to his squire’s reluctance. Gunnar and Fayd remained with Grimm, Luther and Balasar in the wagon taking the opportunity to rest and of course keeping a sharp eye out for passing rabbits.
After a few hours Iivan cantered back to the group to warn them the trail they were following was becoming more and more overgrown and that they should abandon the wagon and continue on foot. Luther pointed out they didn’t have enough horses for everyone and he flatly refused to walk, the ominous feeling of oppression that seemed to radiate from the very land itself was taking a heavy toll on the normally vivacious bard. Reluctant to abandon their wagon and the potential for treasure retrieval it represented to the more avaricious among the party Gunnar and Fayd agreed to clear the brush so Grimm could thread a path through the trees.
With the two burly orcs hacking away at the verdant foliage the wagon was able to make slow progress over the next few hours. Used to long hours of man breaking labour from his time chained at the oars, Gunnar seemed prepared to hack down every tree from here to their goal. Indeed, while hacking away at a set of particularly stubborn vines the half orc realised that the rocks they had seen littering the area showed signs of being worked stone, a little digging soon showed that indeed they seemed to be travelling through ancient ruins – presumably Nearith in origin, though without Amberclad they could only guess at the truth.
Despite Gunnar’s claim that the ruins showed they must be close to their goal the slow progress coupled with Iivan’s continued warnings that they were making too much noise and too little progress eventually won over the others, even Balasar who had been trying to assure his companions that his fire magic was controllable enough to aid in clearing a path. So finally, with the sun beginning to sink toward the horizon a drained looking Grimm hauled on the reigns a final time and agreed it was time to abandon the wagon, they would rest for the night and continue in the morning on foot – returning for the wagon later if they could.
With several members of the party now openly effected by the omnipresent feelings of dread the watches were set and Luther and Grimm were left to rest through the night in the hope this might shake their exhaustion. The first watch passed uneventfully and in turn Gunnar and Iivan were roused to take over. Not too long after both watchers saw a familiar purple wave of energy shoot across the landscape, roiling silently over and through the camp and their sleeping companions.
“That can’t be good” declared Gunnar, on edge now but seeing no other threats emerge from the darkness surrounding them.
“Monolith” replied the drow “or something like it anyway” he continued, before cocking his head towards the wagon “do we wake them?”
A little surprised that Iivan seemed concerned for anyone but himself Gunnar thought for a moment before decided it would be better to let the others rest for now, they wouldn’t be able to do anything about the strange magic, so it was better they save their strength for whatever awaited them. The rest of the night passed without further incident and at dawn they began to break camp and warn the others of the strange energy wave they’d seen the night before.
Pressing on the woods gradually became denser and more tangled, eventually forcing both Navarro and Iivan to dismount and lead their horses carefully through the trees. Grimm was struggling to lead Thunder, the old horse baulking at every step South, Gunnar wondered if he should try and help the cleric, but after a day of clearing trees he couldn’t muster the energy for a conversation with the old nag….fearing it would focus more on the local supply of apples and their disturbing scarcity in Thunder’s belly. The waves of energy were hitting more frequently now as they went on, Unpleasant as these waves were, they could all feel they must be nearing the end of their journey at last.
Fighting through a thicket the party emerged into a relatively clear canyon between two ridges, rising out of the valley ahead of them they could make out two large stone carved figures on an escarpment flanking an apparent opening into the mountain beyond. Cautiously approaching the entrance, the party were hit by another wave of energy that emerged form the dark tunnel mouth before them, but in in the strange etheric light of its passing they saw hints of shambling movement ahead. Not being blessed with dark vision and keen to learn more about the ruins Grimm began walking forward, seemingly unsure whether he should be holding his mace or his notebook. Lost in his own thoughts he was stopped short by Fayd’s shaggily muscled forearm across his chest.
“Zombies there brother, why not stay back a ways out of reach in case one of us needs healing?” suggested Fayd, eyes fixed on the advancing horde. Flustered the young cleric reluctantly agreed and was led away from the frontlines gently by Luther “Stick with me babe, we’ll let the others handle the rough stuff”.
“That’s right Squire, protect the healer while we deal with these foul creatures” Navarro was beaming with pleasure that finally all his lessons on military tactics were beginning to pay off.
Ignoring the preparations of their comrades Fayd and Gunnar moved forward to the mouth of the opening and braced themselves to meet the charge, Gunnar unslung his longbow and rolled his shoulders before notching an arrow and half drawing the bow while Fayd/ came up to on his toes and threw a flurry punches to loosen up. The first of the zombies was closing on the half orc pair when without warning Balasar rushed past them and launched a lance of fire at one of the undead.
Fayd called out a warning but was quickly engaged by a charging zombie, Gunnar loosed his arrow then dropped the bow in favour of his axe as he realised they would need to cut their way to the dragonborn sorcerer who was by now already surrounded by a swarm of jaw snapping undead. Navarro spurred his horse forward crashing into the flank trying to clear an avenue for Balasar to escape. Fayd leapt forward, darting between his foes surefootedly, his claws dripping with blood as he slashed his enemies. A zombie reared up ahead before the back of its skull exploded as Iivan shot it from where he’d concealed himself behind a tree. A churning blast of flame erupted from the knot of fighting around Balasar, blasting several of the zombies apart and Balasar’s cry of triumph announced that the half dragon was still alive and fighting. More crossbow bolts and blasts of divine power from Luther and Grimm added to the carnage and soon the zombies’ numerical advantage was lost, and the party was left standing over the fallen bodies.
Despite some wounds they decided to continue into the tunnel immediately rather than risk continued exposure to the debilitating effects of the energy waves. Moving cautiously forward the walls and floor or the large tunnel suddenly flickered into light, as if some unseen eye sensed them and activated a strange magic to light their path. The passageway was otherwise devoid of any decoration, uncannily smooth surfaces, made from a material none of the party had seen before. Grimm was scribbling in his journal frantically recording as much detail as he could while his companions advanced.
A side passage to their left led to a room half buried in rubble from a cave in, the strange lights flickering or entirely dark – damaged by the cave in perhaps. Not that the erratic illumination was a problem for Iivan, his drow heritage conferring excellent eyesight even deep below the surface. Gradually the tunnel opened into a huge chamber, another statue loomed ahead of them, strangely devoid of features and seemingly untouched by the passage of time…in fact there seemed to be no dust anywhere in the main tunnel either.
“I’ve seen things like that before” offered Luther as Grimm and the others pressed forward to investigate the figure “Mother always drew the Nearith that way in her books”. Only Gunnar hung back, reasoning he wasn’t much of a scholar and it might be wise to keep an eye on their only exit from this place should anything unexpected happen. The others began to fan out around the chamber searching for another door or passageway that might lead deeper into the ruins. Aside from the huge statue the only other thing they could see was a carved stone lectern near the far wall. As Grimm and Fayd moved closer Iivan cried out a warning as a huge amorphous blob fell from the ceiling above, oozing forward it passed through and around the statue, leaving the stone smoking and scarred before engulfing the pair of them.
Hauling out his bow Gunnar began sending arrows into the strange creature, Iivan dashed away firing rapidly. Fayd managed to drag himself clear of the smothering mass, his fur smoking and skin blistered with his clothes dissolving against his skin, bellowing in rage and pain. Grimm freed himself from its cloying grip, but the remains of his charred armour slowed him down. Navarro spurred forward to drag the injured cleric to safety, but his steed was panicked by the strange creature and reared wildly hooves thrashing the air.
“Squire! Get to the corner and we can trap it” bellowed the paladin. “Fuck that!” Luther cried backing away rapidly towards the side passage they’d passed on the way in “It’s a bloody cube, it’s built to go in corners!”. The cube lashed out again, snaring the two holy men and their horse and dragging them back inside. “Get them out of that thing!” cried Balasar at Gunnar, who fired a last arrow into the seething mass before rushing forward to try and reach his friends.
Knowing they couldn’t survive for long Navarro channelled his power into his spear and began stabbing the creature from within, whether it was the thrusts or the divine power something must have injured the animal as it stopped moving and began to dissolve onto the floor spilling the two men gasping for air onto the floor. Along with the two men the dead creature seemed to have contained some weapons and an old wooden shield, sensing an opportunity for loot Iivan picked his way delicately through its remains, careful to ensure as little of the remaining jelly touched his clothes and disdainfully prodded the weapons with his toe.
“I owe you my life brother” panted Grimm, before offering Navarro a handful of clear gems he’d recovered from the remains of the monster at his feet, much to Iivan’s annoyance…
With careful deliberation Navarro took out his horn and sounded it long and hard to proclaim their victory, the echoes reverberating around the chamber and causing Iivan to curse under his breath about the noise as he continued his search for loot.
“Here” grunted Gunnar moving up to the shaken Fayd and handing him a sack “for the…cold” pausing to grin down at his fellow half orc before moving off to inspect the lectern while Fayd fashioned himself some rough coverings from the sack. “Try your map” the young orc suggested, pointing to the lectern Balasar was investigating.
Meanwhile, Luther seemed fascinated by one of the walls in the corridor and reached out to touch it, jumping back as it silently slide aside to reveal a new tunnel. Without hesitating the bard stepped forward, only Fayd seemed to notice him slip away, not wishing to lose any of the group he headed off after the elf.
Navarro and Grimm knelt over the corpse of the fallen horse in prayer as Iivan and the others tried placing Gunnar’s map on the lectern, the air was heavy with anticipation….but no matter what they tried nothing happened. Disappointed Gunnar and Iivan turned their attention to the rear walls of the chamber, studying it for any hidden mechanisms that might reveal a way deeper into the complex.
Ignoring Fayd’s whispered shouts to wait for him Luther continued wandering further into the passage, following it round a turn and walking forward. Fayd scampering to catch up and cursing under his breath behind him.
Balasar moved to investigate one of the wall frescos, touching and poking until with barely a sound the wall panel he stood before slid aside and revealed a hidden passageway. Startled the dragonborn called out to the others and edged forward, he thought he could hear approaching footsteps from the T junction ahead of him and he began to channel his power, flames licking up around his outstretched hand
“Shit” he grunted as Luther and Fayd appeared in the tunnel ahead of him, letting the flames he’d summoned dissipate as another pulse of purple energy washed over and through them. In the main chamber the others watched as the wave swept out of the wall behind the lectern, but this time after the initial surge patches of purplish swirling mist seemed to coalesce and linger, gradually thickening before vanishing and revealing several strange figures. Standing well over 7ft tall on three writhing tentacles, each creature had scaled skin and mantis like forearms ending in wickedly sharp slashing blades.
Navarro dragged Gunnar with him to the passageway Balasar had found
“We make our stand here” he barked, eyeing up the slithering approach of the largest of the alien creatures. Gunnar hefted his weapon and touched his shield against the paladin’s, prepared to meet this new danger alongside the holy warrior.
Seeing two of the same creatures materialise before them Luther froze in panic, overwhelmed by the horror emerging from the darkness ahead. Fayd howled a challenge and leapt forward to try and shield his friends from this new threat, his form stretching and becoming more lupine as he rushed forward to slash at the onrushing foes.
Iivan backed away from the nightmarish apparition that appeared to melt through the fresco’d wall he’d been studying, then ducked to his side and sprinted for the exit gun blazing as he ran. Grimm stranded and unable to reach Gunnar and Navarro’s crude shield wall braced himself as two of the creatures, loomed over him and began slashing down with their claws with an inhuman speed. Fighting for their collective lives the party was hard pressed on all fronts. Fayd and Balasar combining to keep their attackers at bay, Luther seemed to have had the fight knocked out from him and could barely defend himself. Back in the main chamber Navarro faced off with the biggest creature, supported by Gunnar and the raking shots of Iivan as the drow rushed across the chamber to elude his pursuers. Grimm finally sank under the weight of attacks he was facing, seeing him fall Gunnar darted forward, ducking away as blades flashed out at him, sliding to a halt by the fallen cleric the half orc frantically searched his pouch for a healing potion which he jammed unceremoniously into the senseless man’s mouth.
As the cloying liquid did it’s work Grimm drew in a sobbing breath and sat bolt upright on the floor eyes wild and frantic, he raised a shaking hand and called upon Helm as he sent a glowing bolt of energy into the creature that was driving Navarro back. Helm must have heeded his call for aid as the bolt seemed to grow in power as it arced across the chamber before smashing into the huge beast – atnic light blazing and lighting the chamber as the huge figure screeched and dissipated into a purplish mist. As the echoing shriek fades the other creatures were also shrouded in a strange mist before vanishing, leaving the beleaguered party injured and stunned.