The Pyres of Irefell

Chapter 2: Defenders of the Barrow-Lands

 

Shortly after Lord Ulthor departed, the party set to work on restoring their new fort, with the help of their new assistant, Haskill. They evicted an unwanted Ettin from the keep and set about hiring some of the more important staff members.

The party opted to begin construction on some of the more damaged portions of the fort, including the curtain walls, forge, and armory. Lobus also used some druid-craft to create a bountiful harvest for the farmers in the area surrounding the fortress.

The party chose Bjorn, a young lumberer who makes a mean meat pie to be their cook, but had to put the other decisions on hold when the quartermaster interviews turned ugly, and an applicant named Raven seemed to permanently blind Five and escaped, claiming that she was another student who served his master. As Five fought off the poison, his old master came to him in his blindness, and gave him a mighty gift in the form of a runed headband that bestowed the power to see without eyes, warning that this former student served a dark master, and that she would return to him when the time was right to strike back.

In the aftermath of the botched job interviews, the party decided to keep several of the other applicants on retainer, including Selene as a potions maker, the half-orc brothers Thunk and Krunk as warriors, and Anhtar Khoreem, one of the refugees they met aboard the Northern Wind, as another guard.

Some time had passed with no sight or word of Barney, and the party began to weigh their options and consider the next course of action in the meantime, including going in search of Barnabus and Avilhara, heading north to Daegaren to receive a new mission from Lord Ulthor, and investigating the disappearance of Albert, an old man who had intended to apply for the kennelmaster / stablemaster position.

They also received a warning from Vizexa that the enemies she was sworn to seek vengeance upon were growing near. The party set out northward, ultimately headed for the capital city but deciding to stop at Albert's hut along the way. After a brief search they found it abandoned, and also signs of a fight. They followed the tracks northward using Five's keen "sight" and ultimately found their quarry. Albert had been taken by a group of Githyanki warriors, led by the Githyanki knight known as Veraxon, one of the 4 responsible for stealing Vizexa's power. After an intense fight in which Iriel and Angus nearly died, and the rest of the party was harried by the Githyanki's psychic greatswords, Iriel dealt the final blow to the leader of the war band, and they freed Albert from his captivity.

The hovel where they made their stand was in fact being converted into a creche, or a training ground for young githyanki warriors (as creatures do not age on the astral plane) and Albert, an earth sorcerer, had been taken with the intent of fixing a broken orb that could open a portal to the astral plane. The party hired the grim Alberthane on as their stablemaster / kennel master, and also promised him some low-key work as an enchanter.

With Albert rescued, the party pressed on to Daegaren without Angus, hoping to find Barnabus alive within the bustle of Irefell's largest city. Along the way, they stopped for the night in Kilnton, where after a night of celebration and revelry they party fell into a deep slumber induced by some wine that may have been spiked or altered. Luckily, some failed CON saves proved advantageous, and the party ultimately woke up in time to stop a pair of brothers, Ethrain the warlock and Ethelred the wizard from being slain by religious zealots. They warned the party that such prejudices run truer in the capital and they pressed on to Blackstone Keep, while the adventurers made for the capital.

They arrived several days later, having acquired horses in Kilnton, and stopped at Entire Provisions for some magical supplies. Ehtar bought an amulet to provide some protection against divination magic, Iriel purchased some Dust of Disappearance to make the party temporarily invisible, and Lobus found the useful Amulet of Critters, which provides some additional uses of wildshape.

Afterward, the party found the mansion of their recent acquaintance, Pock Dunquil, and spent the night catching up with their friend over some wine and drink at what is soon to become Daegaren's premiere venue for parties and fancy shindigs, before resuming their search for Barney. 

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Chapter I: The Box of Many Mysteries

On The Northern Wind, a cog one day away from making her destination, Ironport, three new heroes began their adventure together. Ehtar, a drow warrior was keen to partake in a dice game against the trader Boris and lost 1gp to the dwarf; the wise monk Five talked to Captain Strongarm about the strange woman that was aboard the vessel, but the Captain revealed that he did not have (or at least didn't care to share) any insight into her activities or purpose. 

Boris asked Five if he would like to play the game of chance as the monk walked past, but five insinuated that the game was not fair and that Boris was actually a cheat. Ehtar, from below, heard the discussion and joined five in challenging Boris directly. Combined, the two adventurers were able to make Boris admit that he was a cheat and Boris offered future discounts on his magical items if they didn't report him to Captain Strongarm. Spurred on by five's idea that they could take all the profits and goods if they did report him and the Captain sentenced him to death, five and Ehtar reported Boris to the Captain. When confronted again, Boris tried to hide his cheating from the Captain but failed and was locked in the hold; as a reward, Ehtar and five were given 50gp each by the Captain.

Later that night, a final feast was had on the main deck. Despite Boris' incarceration, his ale was drunk (especially by Ehtar…) and a fine meal eaten. During the feast, five discussed the aspirations of the First Mate and later the worsening situation in Kehkmankar with a family escaping religious violence there. five tried to sneak his 50gp reward onto the patriarch's body, but was detected; after some initial reluctance, the man accepted the donation.

Everyone settled in for the night, but a great shudder awoke all hands as the ship ran aground on a rock and water started to pour into the hold. five freed Boris from his bonds and joined the rest of the party on the main deck where Captain Strongarm discovered that his helmsman's throat had been cut. The Captain demanded that Hob, a halfling cleric of Pelor speak with the dead to discern the murderer, but before the answer was gleaned, a raiding party of Sahuagin, slimy water monsters with spears, attacked the ship.

Iriel the elven rogue, aka Jiminawig, covered her rapier in the blood of Sahuagin as she demonstrated great fighting skill. Ehtar fought an equally matched Sahuagin before joining Iriel to fight a large, spellcasting Sahuagin on the forecastle. five used his bō and his elbows to kill one but fell overboard and barely caught himself above the water when he tried to parkour up to the helm and assist Captain Strongarm. 

Just when the adventurers and crew had the Sahuagin under control and the battle looked easily won, the last three Sahuagin disappeared overboard and a large swimming rock?! was closing on the disabled ship! 

Captain Strongarm gave to Ehtar a secret box engraved with a strange sigil

and a mission to deliver it to a cleric of Kord named Barnabus, a short way away in the town of Barrowford. To accomplish this task, Ehtar, Iriel, five, and Pock escaped into a lifeboat as a gigantic Dragon Turtle chewed through the ship like it was seaweed. 

Safely ashore in the early hours of the following morning, the party rested before setting off mid-morning into a region marked by several old Dennish barrows. Between three barrows, two of them previously opened, the group found several Skeletons battling a Rust Monster, the latter of which was drawn by the scent of metal in the freshly-opened barrows. To limit the risk of damage to their metal weapons, five went in and used his wooden bō against the rust monster and quickly defeated it while the others dispatched the skeletons. 

With the monsters killed, the party searched all three barrows for treasure and found 37 strange, old coins; a triangular rock with a rune carved into it; and two pieces of deathglass. With a bit of bardic knowledge and religious scholarship, the party recalled that Deathglass is a substance naturally occuring in and unique to Irefell, and it has the power to resurrect corpses in proximity to it; everyone agreed to remove the stones from the barrows to prevent additional dead being raised, but questioned how and why these necromantic artifacts had been placed in the barrows. The runestone, they discovered, was a key to open up the remaining closed barrow.

After being joined in their quest by the druid Lanna, who quickly disappeared but was conveniently replaced by the merfolk druid Lobus, the party fought their way to the bottom of the Barrowford cemetery, through hordes of zombies, skeletons, and a particularly precarious river, the party found that the cemetery actually connected to an ancient Dennish tomb, and at its terminus, they discovered a large chamber, where a necromancer with a skeletal mask was performing evil rites over an altar of black obsidian, scrawled with infernal runes. After vanquishing their foe and his skeletal minions, they came once more to the surface, where they were greeted by a dwarf riding a hippogriff – none other than Barnabus, the very dwarf whom they had been instructed to give the box to.

After a bit of negotiating and cautious greetings, they agreed to meet back at the inn in Barrowford to discuss the box and the implications of its discovery. At the inn, Barnabus revealed that he had come to Barrowford a year ago, waiting for a sign from his god, Kord, of a coming storm. A month prior, he began to notice the proverbial winds beginning to rise, as signs of necromantic activity increased. Finally, he tracked them to the Barrowford crypts, and witnessed a necromancer more powerful than the one the adventurers had faced, as he summoned a demonic being from the altar, slew it, and took something from its corpse. Barnabus fought with the weakened necromancer, but his foe fled before he could land the killing blow, and he lost him in the ensuing pursuit.

However, he told the adventurers that the box is made to contain either great good or great evil, and that with the right ingredients, a plant called Seer's Root, he might be able to divine its contents. However, he noted that time was also of the essence, as the box has a magical trace on it, designed to help someone or something to find it.

It was around this time that Pock Dunquil, the party's traveling companion to this point, opted to take his leave and return to Daegaren. However, the renowned bard and cartographer offered beds in his mansion should the adventurers find themselves in the capital, in return for his rescue from the Northern Wind.

In addition, Iriel found a cloak of white moth wings in the crypts of Barrowford, and after donning it, and dealing an impressive, mortal blow to the necromancer, the cloak began to speak to the elf rogue in the voice of Vizexa, the Queen of Moths. Iriel took Vizexa's offer of great power in exchange for her sworn sword in the Moth Queen's own quest for vengeance against the Githyanki knights who ended her long ago.

The adventurers now had a new task – to find enough Seer's Root to allow Barnabus to divine the contents of the box. They consulted with Selene, an herbalist who directed them to the hills northeast of town, where they might find the rare herb in a cave. But this cavern was inhabited by a vicious beast – a manticore which prowled the countryside and terrorized the farmers on the outskirts of Barrowford. However, after a bit of "goat-ing" by Ehtar (a.k.a Goat-ar) the beast was made to attack, and the band of adventurers dispatched it handily, bringing the root back to Barnabus.

On a stormy night, Barnabus channeled the power of Kord through the tempest and cast his auguries, using the seer's root to peer into the box. He saw visions of a black conch shell, scrawled in abyssal text, a merrow using it to conjure a massive, black wave that swallowed a white city whole. He also sees a throne of iron and driftwood, and a creature with two heads and tentacles, and the conch shattered into pieces. With a history-buff merfolk in the group, Lobus informs the party that this seems to mirror the legends of a relic called the Soul-Catcher, an evil item given to the merrow, sworn enemies of the merfolk, from their creator, Demogorgon. It was long thought lost to time, but now apparently resided in the box before them.

At this moment, several of the necromantic cult's most powerful members appeared, garbed in black robes and skeletal masks, and a vicious battle ensued. The party just barely managed to prevent the box from being stolen, and defeated their foes. The threat, it seemed, was over.

The adventurers enjoyed a well-deserved break at Holfyntyde, a fall harvest festival in Barrowford and the surrounding region. While Barnabus took the box north to Daegaren for safekeeping in the Temple of Kord, Pigs were wrangled, fortunes were told, old friends from The Northern Wind were found once more (Boris Rumnaheim and Vhlad) and a battle royale was had. However in the final rounds of the fight which was to conclude the night, the town and the fighting arena came under attack by members of the cult of necromancers and their undead minions. The party barely escaped with their lives thanks to help from Avilhara, a tiefling warlock whom they had met back on the Northern Wind, unbeknownst to them at the time.

Avilhara claimed to be a huntress in the service of The Jade King of Kehkmankar – a mysterious figure who is said to collect and curate magic items of power and significance, and that she was sent to retrieve the Soul-Catcher in order to avert great tragedy. After a brief discussion, she explained that the cult likely took over the town in order to use the souls of its people to fuel some kind of ritual, since the power stored within Soulcatcher is no longer available to them. She agreed to give the adventurers information to stop the necromancer cult in exchange for the whereabouts of the box. They parted ways, and the party continues on their mission to stop the cult once and for all.

They released a barbed devil from its prison in exchange for safe passage, and journeyed through a complex network of tunnels along an underground stream to find the final resting place of the legendary King Daemon Thrice-Damned, buried in secret beneath Barrowford ages ago. After battling the cultists, apparently trying to resurrect Daemon using fresh souls of the townsfolk in lieu of the power of Soulcatcher, they landed the final blow against the cultists' leader, a powerful sorceress, and ended their grip upon the town.

In the aftermath of the battle, they also found an egg that had been included in the ritual, which hatches into a silver dragon wyrmling named Angus. Ehtar also managed to find a set of powerful armor on the corpse of King Daemon.

As the adventurers helped the town rebuild in the wak of the tragedy, Lord Ulthor Barden arrived with a small force of soldiers upon hippogriffs, to award the adventurers the collective title of "Lords Protector of Barrowford", and he gifted them the management of Black Stone Keep, along with the charge to restore it to working order.

 

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Welcome to Irefell

Getting Started

Hail adventurers, and welcome to Irefell! In order to get yourself acquainted with the campaign, check out the Welcome Page, which gives a "cliffnotes" version of the land we'll be traveling to. Also check out these pages for some general information:

Lands

History

Magic

 

After that, if you're still feeling adventurous, feel free to learn more about your starting place, and our initial cast of characters (NPC's).

Campaign and DM Notes

As a DM I plan on using a lot of visual elements, wherever I can, to try and make the experience as immersive as possible. This includes some basic terrain elements and miniatures. If this proves to be a bad idea, we'll probably switch to a more traditional setup.

In general, I also tend to be a little more free-wheeling with rules as written in favor of making the adventure more exciting and not spending tooo much time in the rulebooks - if you want to do a particular action the book doesn't lay out clearly, speak up! 

Time-wise we can discuss how often we'd like to run this campaign and what player preferences are since this would mean we'd be running 2 campaigns at once - twice per month would probably be my absolute max – once a month would be more comfortable to provide enough time for me to plan a good solid adventure for each time we meet.

All classes and prestige classes in DND 3.5 (same system we've been using) are open, but know that arcane spellcasting is considered "taboo" but not outright outlawed, in Irefell.

Lastly, I want to make a world that's really immersive and incorporates personal elements of your characters, so if you want to provide any backstory for your character, any desires and wishes or other sub-plot hooks, I will do my best to work those into the main story at various points, too! And if that's not your thing, that's completely fine too!

 

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On the Deck of the Northern Wind...

You find yourself on board The Northern Wind, an Umbrosi cargo ship hauling luxury goods and spices from the port of Arsanople in Kehkmankar to Ironport, on the southern coast of Eswyck. You have booked passage to Irefell for your own personal reasons, and perhaps you have come from one of the many ports of call between Kehkmankar and Ironport. You come with your own stories of the past, and dreams for the future…

…Dreams which have been hard to come by, as of late, as the crew and passengers of The Northern Wind have spent their journey crammed into a communal sleeping area beneath the deck, spread out on old skins and blanketrolls. Sleep is hard to come by, and you can't wait until your journey is at an end in Ironport. 

It is a light shipment, which is why the captain, Dayle Strongarm, allowed so many of you to book passage. In addition to yourselves there are a few others onboard, including a dwarven merchant and his bodyguard, a gnome cartographer, a human family with two small children fleeing religious violence between the clergy of Tiamat and Bahamut in Kehkmankar, and a mysterious, cloaked woman who is full of mysteries and short with words. You are nearing your journey's end, and as the sun begins to set, you know that when you awake you will arrive in Ironport if the winds are good and the captain's word is true.

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