Princes of the Apocalypse, session 10

The Stoneheart Monastery. The Sumber Hills. 11th Kythorn. 591 DR.

Once again, the adventurers entered the monastery; this time with Krovis pre-emptively charging at the door on his newly acquired paladin’s mount and smashing it down. The minotaurs and monk behind the door were quite surprised by this and fell after a short combat, although – once again – Krovis was hurt rather severely by the minotaurs. They are extremely dangerous beasts!

However, upon searching the monk, the adventurers discovered a note, which read: “Do not engage the intruders! Greet them and bring them to me in the shrine.”

Some groups would ignore this note, especially given that they were now on their third expedition into the monastery – having, in each one, left death and destruction behind. Not this group, chaotics that they were. They immediately tried to come up with explanations as to why they’d slaughtered the monk and the minotaurs…

The group knew the way to the shrine, having visited it on their first attack, and immediately made their way there; this way through the front doors. A pair of living statues observed them as they entered, but did not attack. Within the shrine stood the priest they’d met on their first venture, and they greeted him with an apology for the trouble they’d caused. Xarbo, for that was his name, was not amused to learn that the monk at the door had been killed by the unruly minotaurs (and that the adventurers had slain them in retaliation), but controlled his anger and greeted the party.

Jandar declared that the adventurers represented the Zhentarim and was quickly shushed by the rest of the adventurers, with Ivan apologising and explaining they were seeking the missing delegation. Did Xarbo know anything about them? To the adventurers’ surprise, he replied in the affirmative, explaining that a number of the delegation were seeking enlightenment in the mines below. They were there by choice – if he liked, he could escort the adventurers to them!

The adventurers were sceptical, but agreed. Xarbo sent his two guards down the stairs to show the way, the party following behind them. However, at this point the treacherous priest triggered a trap on the stairs that dumped all of the adventurers in the room with the Umber Hulk, and the door to the cage was open! It charged at the group. The adventurers could now see it had been half-blinded and had its claws augmented by great metal talons.

It tore apart the guards and started in on the adventurers; thankfully, its blinding removed its great weapon of its confusing stare, but the talons were sharp and deadly. Krovis and Jandar were at the front of the group, protecting the others from its attacks, and took great damage before it eventually fell.

With the beast dead, they were surprised to hear applause – Xarbo had come down the stairs behind them, and congratulated them on their victory. They had passed the final test; as he couldn’t those unworthy to meet with those in search of enlightenment. He took them back upstairs to a waiting room, and went in search of the delegates. The group accompanied him without protest.

Eventually, they met with two of the delegation, who were dirty and dusty from their work below in the mines. When asked about their circumstances, both replied that they were fine, and that they were seeking enlightenment. The word “enlightenment” came up many times in the conversation, although exactly what it meant was not explained by the delegates. Eventually, the adventurers wearied of the conversation and the seekers of enlightenment returned below. Xarbo arrived, happy to have shown the adventurers what they sought – and declaring that they too might be worthy of enlightenment.

More conversation followed, in which he revealed that although the monastery had managed to save some of the delegation, the party as a whole had fallen prey to the vicious, evil Wind Knights of Feathergale Spire, not far to the west in the Sumber Hills. He urged the adventurers to deal with that evil, and was pleased when the adventurers agreed. After a good nights’ rest, the adventurers set out to Feathergale Spire.

A few days later they arrived, to see a pair of knights riding on griffons and giant vultures above the tower. Thumbalina was enchanted, and the group were greeted by a vivacious young woman, who offered to take them to meet the leader of their order – on this happy anniversary, the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Feathergale Knights! The adventurers accepted the invitation, and proceeded inside the spire…

The Players and their Characters

  • Michael is playing Krovis Thorn, LN human Paladin 5. (Soldier, Lord’s Alliance)
  • Jesse is playing Jandar, CN human Fighter 4 (Criminal, Zhentarim)
  • Josh is playing Ivan, CN water genasi Bard 4 (Pirate, Lord’s Alliance)
  • Danielle is playing Thumbalina, CN dwarf Barbarian 4 (Outlander, Emerald Enclave)
  • Dean is playing Zed Lepplin, CN human Warlock 2/Fighter 1 (Entertainer, Zhentarim)

DM Notes

We were down to five players this week, Mikey and Noah unable to attend. Michael took advantage of the one last chance before reaching level 5 to rebuild his character as a straight paladin rather than a paladin/fighter, after I pointed out how important it was to reach Extra Attack. I feel his character was much more effective as a result.

And so we finally got in a session where there was a lot of roleplaying and a lot of lying – from both sides! Yes, Xarbo was in no means telling the truth, and I don’t think the players really bought his explanations, but were willing to play along with them to see where things were leading. (This was certainly the case in Dean’s case, who several times was very sceptical of the “enlightenment” answer. Certainly I attempted to play the delegates in a brainwashed manner; I tried to present their words in a flat monotone, giving away their compromised state. I don’t really know how successful I was at that, but then, Danielle probably didn’t care. She was completely delighted by the Feathergale Knights, though!

Watching the group after they found Xarbo’s note was absolute joy – there’s nothing like seeing a group think they’ve just made a terrible mistake, especially when they’re scrambling for justifications for their actions.

With the group now approaching the Feathergale Knights in a diplomatic fashion, it offers up all these possibilities for the next session…

3 comments

  1. monsterenvy

    Given that Helenrae was killed last session but her body was left behind at the Monastery. You could show off a bit of the Cult Power and resources by having her raised by the next time they come back.

    She is considered one of the highest ranking members of the cult so if anyone was to be raised it would be her.

    Like

  2. Carl

    Wow, my players really surprised me with the way they tackled the monastery.

    Rather than go in head on (their usual style) they infiltrated the kitchens using the monk robes and a mask they’d found under the cairn in the hills. They took out the kitchen monks, drugged two huge vats of stew and proceeded to successfully serve it to all the monks at dusk.

    They then infiltrated the monastery dressed as monks, received a commendation from Quarbo (he was high as a kite and feeling euphoric), easily took out 8 woozy monks and the duergar with effective use of Web spells in corridors, and then Quarbo and his guards, who they lured out into the corridor with tales of enemies using web spells. Another monk came to investigate and was immediately charmed; they now have a guide.

    My group have finessed the Sacred Stone Monastery wonderfully so far, and seemed to have had a great time doing it. Sometimes as a DM I can forget that players don’t always want challenging combat encounters to have fun; they want to outwit their opponents, short-circuit the tough battle and feel smart that they’ve got one up on the DM. Very enjoyable for all concerned.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Callan

    They had passed the final test; as he couldn’t those unworthy to meet with those in search of enlightenment.
    And that actually worked? They are playing chaotic characters!

    Like

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