Saturday, August 23, 2014

WH5 The Walking Stones: Tannoch Rest of Kings

Notes: The adventure is based on Tannoch Rest of Kings and introduces part of the campaign arc for the Weathered Heath. The full Player's Handbook is used together with monsters from the Hoard of the Dragon Queen web supplement and D&D Basic for the DM V0.1.

Cast of Characters:
  • Bruenor "Bonebreaker", male dwarf fighter (soldier)
  • Grandor Runnaheim, male dwarf cleric (acolyte)
  • Khelben, male human wizard (soldier)
  • Mab, female human fighter (soldier)
Khelben and Mab are still trying to solve the mystery of the vanished stones, when Silea, the half-elven druidess of Miller's Crossing asks them for another favor. The village provides food and other consumables to a group of nuns living on a rocky island in Lake Crescent. They belong to the church of Celos, the deity of light and wisdom. The nuns apparently guard the resting places of magicians. But the last supply ship sent by the village a week ago, hasn't returned. So now Silea is worried and asks Khelben and company (Mab and Grandor) to investigate what happened.

But before they can set sail for the island, the head of the town militia reports that just outside of town, a caravan is attacked by "flying creatures". Khelben immediately asks: "Do you have trouble with harpies?" A perplexed militia captain answers "Yes, sometimes.." (good call by the player). So the three rush out to help the caravan that is under attack. 

There, they find Bruenor defending the caravan leader against attacks by vicious harpies. But all in all, not a big issue, since Khelben and Company makes short work of the harpies. Then they head back to town with the survivors and Grandor recognizes Bruennor as a cousin from the south, and of course Mab remembers the dwarven fighter who saved her live at the Battle of Madrenor. Five years ago, he literally dragged her out of a pile of dead soldiers shortly before the firewall spells hit the battle lines to cover the retreat of the defeated army of Thoran.

After taking a short rest, the companions set out towards the Isle of Tannoch Rest of Kings in a small sailing boat. Much to the dismay of Bruenor who somehow doesn't like water. Shortly before reaching the rocky island, they are attacked by an aquatic orgre who destroys their boat, but can be defeated. Mab almost looses her enchanted plate mail armor during the battle, as she wasn't wearing it. Mab has the idea of clinging to the wreck of the boat and swim the last few minutes to the island.

The plan is sound, but as the approach the stairs leading up to the tower on the island, rocks are thrown at them. The remains of the boat are smashed to pieces and they have to start swimming while rocks are launched at them. This attack continues all the way up to the tower, apparently perpetrated by an ogress who clings to the topmost battlements of the ruined tower.

Inside the tower, the group heads down into the lower levels. Everything here is wrecked and apparently, the nuns were taken as food by the ogres during the previous months. They barricade themselves in the lower levels and take a short rest. Suddenly, they are startled as a surviving nun appears out of the rock. Marta, as she is called, fills them in on what happened here: during the winter, three ogres came and stormed the nunnery. She tells them that the nun were guarding the remains of evil magicians who feared for their souls at the end of their lives. She also tells them about an ogre in the crypt who has started to open the graves and eating the ashes of the deceased. The group decides to search for that ogre.

Mab continues to think about everything that was happening in winter: three standing stones disappear, three ogres appear. She seems to see a connection.

But first, they battle the one-eyed ogre in the crypts. He is very strange. Each time Mab cuts him with her sword, something escapes from his flesh. Once even a spectre that is turned by Grandor. The group quickly dispatches the spectre after defeating the ogre. Then they return to Miller's Crossing, promising Marta to send her provisions.

In Miller's Crossing, they continue to investigate what happened. Apparently a lot of things:
  • The dead wizard Hallad al-Bim was brought to the isle of Tannoch in the last summer by his apprentice Stannus.
  • Later in fall, the apprentice re-appeared and tried to be taken to the island. But the villagers didn't help him.
  • Stannus seemed to be looking for something.
  • On the hill with the three missing standing stones, they find a small altar dedicated to Vathris, a southern sun goddess associated with fire.
They come to the conclusion that somehow Stannus managed to turn the stones into ogres after they hearing legends from Silea that the standing stone in the Weathered Heath were originally giants turned to stone by the gods themselves. But how can that be? Giants are a myth and only appear in the tales for children to frighten them. But Mab thinks there is truth behind the stories. Now Khelben worries that Stannus might be out there, trying to turn other standing stones back into giants.

During the investigation a couple of adventurers arrive in town: Kellion, apparently a sorcerer, and Tris, his ranger companion. The two have even met Stannus and Hallad al-Bim, because they were fighting them about a year ago. They know that Hallad al-Bim possessed a diadem of some arcane power. Apparently that diadem was taken to the isle of Tannoch, but Stannus wants to have it for himself. That's why he came back.

Fearing for the nun's safety, Khelben and Company return to the island. But there, the nun proofs rather uncooperative and even summons spirit guardians to keep the heroes from investigating the diadem that rightfully belongs to her order. Frustrated they leave.

In the evening, Kellion and Tris return from their adventures and tell them that another circle of standing stones has gone missing. This time six of them. Kellion posits that, if the myths around the standing stones are true, the unravelling of the gods' curse could cause a chain reaction, slowly turning all standing stones back into giants. Khelben is rather unsettled at hearing this. He asks them, where the next standing stones are located. They tell him that it's across the lake. The circle is called the Dancing Dew Maidens. Khelben decides to investigate. First, in all haste, but then Kellion tells him that the spell probably won't unravel over night. The group debates on the fastest way of getting to the Dancing Dew Maidens: either two to three days by horse or six hours straight across the lake by boat and then a short hike into the woods.

To be continued...

Closing note: My players are far too experienced. I had hoped to not have them notice that the standing stones walked away for at least another couple of months, since they are still too low level for the main plot which includes fighting giants.

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