The Hellmarch

CV buidling
  • The party discusses the pros and cons of freeing Du’Cell, ultimately deciding to free him after extracting several concessions: 21,000gp, help in defeating Syntyr’s Hellmarch, and freeing the souls he’s won over the last 400 years.
  • party notes that in the last 24 hours, they’ve killed Synelle/Lillith, Halbarad, a greater devil, and freed a devil onto the world. It is only tuesday.
  • Party kicks butt on preparations SC
  • party kicks butt on wall defense SC
  • party defends a wall breech in an exhausting 4 wave combat
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Devil dealings (2 sessions)

May 2nd session

  • The party continues exploring Morpoc the Beholder’s lair, and discovers a passageway that leads back into Du’Cell’s base. there they find a portal that ends up sending them a great distance, which turns out to be a cavern under Valena.
  • the party discovers nearly a thousand coins representing souls lost to duc’cell, and determines that they are also used in some sort of scrying ritual.
  • Du’Cell is found in an inn 200’ above this chamber. He gives the party some information, but holds back the essential information and will only share it if the party can defeat him in a game of cards.
  • the party barely manages to do so, and by the end of it, needs to ante up all their souls just to have a chance
  • the party learns several pieces of important information:
  1. Lilith is actually a devil Succubus named Synelle, who replaced the real lilith after Tuladin killed her. The party learns that one of the doomed souls in rockshatter cave was actually lilith, and also learns that the broken unicorn horn pieces were kept by both Lilith and Dylena, the duchess of Peran.
  2. The Hellmarch is triggered by a mortal making contact and pulling a powerful devil to this realm, and in so doing triggers a chain reaction that culminates in the Hellmarch. This devil also controls the hellfire pillars, a devastating weapon employed by the devil horde.
  3. Istarel, Duke of Koor is familiar with the unicorn horn incident that ruined Lilith and Dylena’s friendship when they were young children
  • realizing that Istarel is the key to exposing Lilith, the party contrives a plan to draw Istarel out of his heavily guarded palace, and gives him the unicorn horn so that he may see for himself that lilith is an imposter
  • this ploy works, allowing the party to defeat Synelle easily at the landsmeet, where her devil form is revealed when Istarel rebukes her. She is escorted by Halbarad, 2 erathis temple priests, and several koor guards who all turn out to be devils (with the exception of Halbarad who is dominated for the encounter)

May 9th session

  • The party deemed Halbarad’s sins too great and advised executing him for his crimes. Halabarad took his punishment with stoic acceptance, impressed that Itheus had the backbone to do it
  • As the party recognized the priest Acele from the Erathis temple had been replaced by an imposter devil, the team immediately traveled to the erathis temple, and found it infested with Hellmarch doom cult members
  • in one of the priest offices the party found a trapdoor the led to an underground cult base. It’s presence also suggest a long term relationship between the church of erathis and the hellmarch doom cult, but no evidence was found that explains it.
  • the party defeated the cultists after a long battle, exacerbated by Voronwe unwittingly alerting cultists on the lower levels to their presence.
  • on the lower level, the party gets into another battle, and is stunned to find a 40’ tall devil engrossed in his own thoughts as a battle rages around him. As well, a portal displays a marshaling army in hell, with dozens of devils observing the party.
  • the party finds a adamantium shard infused with radiant energy, and immediately realizes that it could be used to free du’cell if they so choose.
  • the party gets into a conversation with Kauth, the devil in the wards, but doesnt get much info. They do learn that Lydia, the Erathis zealot they encountered in kuza, is the mortal who summoned kauth and triggered the hellmarch.
  • after getting enough time to examine the wards and discern Kauth’s motives, the party sucessfully convinces/forces him to leave
  • as this occurs, each party member is given an opening (from sucessfully unlocking the option during the SC, to permanently defeat Kauth. Voronwe proved the most skillfull, and manages to run up kauth and deliver a blow with his fullblade that, although insignificant in damage, is enough to disturb kauth while he is trying to re-trace the intricate sigils required to return to hell. Kauth is ripped asunder by the swirling vortex of time and space. Voronwe claims kauth’s head as a trophy, as the witnessing devils recoil in terror, one even fainting upon enduring Voronwe’s stare.
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Delve!
  • The party recovers Eamon’s Banner, which grants the party healing powers.
  • the party recovers 1,000gp worth of black pearls from a demonic looking statue
  • Kalkenesh discerns that the ruins were teleported from another realm and are sustained by magic, but that magic is diminishing and the area is collapsing where the magic is weakest
  • Voronwe knows that 2 statues posted at a door with 3 locks are gorim and kast, devils who tempt people from the straight and narrow path (the origin of this expression on this plane of existence
  • the party doesnt get the hint and instead slowly crosses a room with a crush wall trap,but manages to avoid tripping it
  • party discovers a cave system below the ruins, and soon learns that area is the base of a Beholder named morpoc
  • Brood encounters some drow, and is able to milk them for information: within 5 hours, a platoon of drow will arrive in the area and raffin venomblade, a drow adventurer, is to wait for them
  • the party defeats the drow when they realize the party is not what it seems
  • the party encounters raffin venomblade, who gets along well with brood, but whom he recognizes almost instantly
  • an alliance is formed whereby each group will attack a section of morpoc’s base.
  • after the party defeats their section raffin turns on them
  • the party then encounters and defeats morpoc, then finds a mysterious passage hidden behind a wall in his lair
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When do we get the fricken guns?
  • Party visited Dylena, and she agreed to commit 3,000 troops
  • Party decided to interrogate Raki, and was successful. Learned that Halbarad called a Landsmeet to either seize the throne, or provoke a civil war if the votes go against him.
  • Party attempted to bully Raki into mis-informing Halbarad, but were unable to make the intimidate check. Raki chose to die by his principles.
  • Party went to Valena, and gathered info. Found out that Halbarad is meeting with undecided nobles to try and gain their support.
  • Party visited Itheus, whose nightmares are getting worse. He knew the name Du’Cell is important, and suggested the party look for someone knowledgeable at the royal college
  • Party went to royal college, met Fruegeon, who Kalkanesh remembered from the tales of the order of the phoenix. He told the party Du’Cell was a Devil commander. The party discusses further and learns that one of the legends says that DuCell was imprisoned on this plane as a punishment for failing to capture valena.
  • The party learns that the Devil horde had the ability to summon Hellfire Pillars to wipe out entire legions, but this was not done at the Battle of Valena, for some reason
  • Party learns church of Erathis has a large archive vault that may have more info, but that they will note be granted access as the info within is sensitive.
  • Party goes to temple of Erathis, and is denied access to the vault, manages to frustrate a priest with an attempt to bribe.
  • Party goes to Halbarad’s meeting, and although subjected to withering accusations about all their misdeeds, manages to convince the neutral nobles to either favor or at least delay the Landsmeet. Party convinces all but a noble from house Sevelda.
  • Party breaks into the vault (by blackmailing a hypocrite priest, disguising self as high-level priest and sending the guards away, recognizing a shoddily installed water trap, and picking the vault door lock
  • Party finds a map that lists all the old devil commander bases, then discovers all clues to find that Du’Cell’s base was located in Hyza
  • Party goes to Hyza, wails on some undead soldiers.
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Tuladin is a sick f*ck

The party explored a long tunnel that ended in a treasure pile, the pile was rigged to set off a cave-in. The party escaped mostly unscathed, but Voronwe and Mr.Black took some significant hits.

The party encountered 4 cultist thugs in a mist filled cave. The cultists used what was later identified as flame salt (an ingredient of alchemist’s fire) to cause a reaction in a geyser that belched blinding caustic fluid throughout the cave each round. The party defeated the cultists, and neutralized the geyser reaction by pouring a potion of healing into the geyser. The cultists have similar ritual burnings to the ones defeated while rescuing the caravan after leaving Hammerheim.

The party barricaded the door in the cave and long-rested. During each watch on the rest, someone (later revealed to be Tuladin) taunted the party by loudly knocking on the door. Tuladin also used the lull in the action to burn documents in his room/torture chamber. Voronwe’s Superior elven senses found a burned letter where the letters “Du’C” could be made out.

The chamber contained a potion table where tuladin made pain enhancing potions, a wall with 2 corpses that had been tortured to death over a very long period of time, and a sarcophagus that someone have been buried alive in. Tuladin is a jerk.

The party found Tuladin in an adjoining cave. arvind detected 9 consciousnesses, but the party could only see Tuladin and 4 shambling corpses. In the cave are 4 braziers and a table with 4 objects. Kalkanesh used her religious knowledge to determine that each brazier has a tortured soul attached to it. each object on the table is attuned to a tortured soul. The party learns the hard way that each tortured soul is giving Tuladin to regenerate 10 points a turn (each!!!).

The party listens to each voice and get a fragment of each souls story, where they are recounting their greatest regret.

The party determines which objects are attuned to whom, and allocates them accordingly.

At this point in the battle, Tuladin drinks a mysterious potion. Although Tuladin is a formidable opponent, the party manages to keep Tuladin in a dazed state for four turns at one point, and eventually defeats him. Before he dies, Brood offers Tuladin the chance to surrender. Tuladin seemingly accepts, but soon dies from the potion he imbibed, earlier (revealed to be poison).

The party returns to Peran, and learns that someone has been gathering info on the party.

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Missing notes, last 2 sessions

The party wipes the floor with the remaining baddies at keshan inod. Aeisgir gives them a crown he forged in his youth as a symbol that they may vote in the council in his stead. The return to Hammerheim is uneventful as the party met up with a returning army. The party passes carts of corpses from the town of Brand, victims of the gang war the party helped instigate by supplying weapons to Hurag, on behalf of Logrim. In a tense confrontation in the dwarven council chambers, the party chose Logrim as the next king of Hammerheim. Logrim then committed to sending 3,000 troops to defend Valena.

Upon leaving Hammerheim, the party learns that Gwyddis has imposed exile on himself, rather than remain. the party retrieves a message from a messenger hawk from Alevar that warn of a plot afoot in Peran, and to hurry. The party encounters the remnants of a trade caravan that was attacked by people in demonic masks and robes. The party elects to rescue the survivors rather than immediately heading to Peran. The party reaches the ambush site and tracks it back to the survivors, one of whom is about to be sacrificed by cultists. The party defeats the cultists and rescues the survivors. One tells them that an animal messenger arrived and informed them that someone named Du’Cell "cannot help us, his condition prevents him from lying and he has found his own way of escaping (full wording in to-do list wiki).

the party rendezvous with a river barge and travels to Peran. Before arriving, an unnatural fog rolls in, out of which a sloop emerges and assassins attack. Voronwe detects another assassin “Tuladin” hiding and observing the battle. Eventually “Dlotho” (another assassin) begins calling to his master to help. Tuladin eventually emerges, but soon abandons the fight and leaves Dlotho to die. On the sloop, the party find a man chained to the wheel who says he was forced an knife-point to pilot the boat.

The party arrives in Peran and negotiates a reward from the merchant who owns the sloop (it was to be 100gp in amber, but a high diplomacy check and some bluffing and thievery by Brood and Voronwe push it to 2,000).

The party does several streetwise checks and learns;

  • a guard was murdered at the palace. The assassin was apparently targeting Duchess Dylena
  • Mercentius of house sevelda (relative of Ezren the wizard) is in charge of the investigation
  • Mercentius smuggled a large crate from out of customs without it being inspected.

The party also meets Rynley, Alevar’s agent in Peran. He tells the party about the plot in peran, and fills them in on more details, particularly that a number of suspicious deaths have occurred recently, and the nobles are all terrified.

The party visits Dylena, and has a tense confrontation where a particularly insightful observation by Kalkanesh that Mercentius looked guilty when the river-pirates attacked. After he stormed off, the party is informed that the nobles have elected Mercentius as they have faith that he can protect them.

As mercentius is in charge of the investigation, the party will take a -2 on all checks during the ensuing skill challenge (they cannot help but feel they woulnt be dealing with this if they had only arrived earlier). To rid themselves of this penalty, they decide to attempt to expose mercentius as a criminal. They break into his house, get the staff to leave by bluffing them, and then voronwe sneaks into Mercentius’s office (a servant is still around). After failing to pick the lock, a servant walks in and offers to open it for 1,000gp, so that he can buy himself out of indentured servitude. The party bluffs him, making him think they will pay off his debt, but will instead leave him ruined and penniless. the desk contains a scroll protected by an obscuring ward. the office also contains a coffin containing Ezren’s earthly remains. The body is missing its skull.

the scroll turns out to be a contract twixt Mercentius and Dlotho to kill off the party for 5,000gp. this is enough evidence to have Mercentius arrested by Dylena’s guard.

The party then proceeds to the skill challenge. they capture all 4 assassins. They learn the location of the assassin’s hideout, a cave called rockshatter. The party arrives at the cave and brood distracts a large group of assassins by pretending to be one of them. At the same time the rest of the party is setting up a rockslide. the party is successful and kills the assassins in the ensuing rockslide. the party invades the cave and gets into a pitched battle with a dozen various assassins.

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A Bridge Too Far

We fight our way through four sections of the bridge, with some difficulty. Voronwe drops twice but survives because of Norss’s healing and also because of a sweet natural 20 on a death saving throw. We wade through hordes of Duergar, Orcs, and Ogres until we reach the lever. We destroy it which sets us up for a final battle with an Ettin and two Duergar Theurges, whom we have already grown to hate. Battle begins but we wrap up the session because nobody wants Melissa to get hurt.

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Duergar Killfest

Underground cave

  • we kill duergar in torture room
  • left room: arcane room, office for magic-user sculpture of hand
    with blood
  • top room: jail cells
  • right room: stairs leading down
  • ancient dwarven crypt, long since been looted; invading dwarves
    must have smashed their way through altar on north wall; ancient
    air seeping through wall; thru wall narrow path over chasm
  • statues of paragon; altar on dais; duergar. we’re about to fight.
    tough combat; brood drops but we survive.
  • statues better quality than ones in Hammerheim. Passage leads
    into trail. MILESTONE & EXTENDED REST.

Aesgir’s trail

  • more signs of battle. Closer we get to place, the more we see dwarf
    bodies. we discover a bridge over magma. Duergar wounded, fighting Aesgir
    & friends. Duergar waiting for something (reinforcements?).
  • Aesgir doesn’t give a crap about Hammerheim, too busy with his quest to clean out this area. Will not return to Hammerheim, wages endless war in lost kingdom.
  • We have to hold the bridge and seal it in order for Aesgir to
    give his sign to help us. But we also have to prevent the Duergar from rushing past us and killing Aesgir. End of session.
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Info Dump, Then Absolute Suckage

We arrive in Rethem in roughly two weeks

  • rooftops have lots of activity — 2nd city exists up there
  • vibrant, very diverse — we blend in
  • we go straight to Earl
  • middle-aged man w/ quick intelligent eyes walks into chamber,
    introduces himself as Earl Alovar vas Rethem
  • Brood tells him we have treaty, we’re trying to recruit armies
  • Earl: treaty only applies to people outside Kaldor
  • spy ring can’t find proof that Kamesh are behind the devils scare
  • Earl remains unconvinced; we tell him about Kuza but he’s never
    heard of her; he’s happy we killed Ezren; cautions us against
    family who will certainly retaliate for killing him.
  • Skeptical that Halbarad is on board; Kalkinash Insights to figure
    out Earl is being political
  • He thinks Halbarad & Lilith plotting to usurp crown; Halbarad
    believes Itheus is using devils as blind for Kamesh invasion, may
    not want to be puppet ruler, always been suspicion that Kaldor
    royal line would betray kingdom to Kamesh.
  • Page tells him no record of Lydia vas Rethem (Kalkinash fairly
    certain he’s being honest). We’ve been had, guys!
  • Our army is only 3000; without help, we can’t do anything about
    the Hellmarch. We tell him that we’ve got Amiri’s 3000. He
    doesn’t think Halbarad will tolerate 3000 Rethenians marching
    across Kaldor. We still think he’s working an angle: price of his
    influence is valuable to both parties (us or Halbarad’s potential
    takeover of kingdom).
  • Earl Istarel vas Koor is 100% loyal to Halbarad; wants tangible
    proof of devil invasion (e.g. a head). Ports of Rethem rich in
    culture — maybe we can find mages. Says he’ll tune some of his
    hawks to us so he can contact us with news.

Streetwise to find out more info

  • Ezren’s death not reported too much. (people don’t generally know
    who their nobles are)
  • Some know about slaver being killed (Ezren)
  • No one knows who Lydia is.
  • Voronwe buys Horned Helm (1800 GP from communal pot).

Journey to Hammerheim

  • following path up to Hammerheim
  • arrive at landing in front of door, lined with market stalls
  • we learn the King of Hammerheim is dead (within last month)
  • We enter huge room with pulley system and hole; faraway sound of
    metal picking into stone. Single guard there; he notices us. He
    says it’s a bad time for us because king is dead. Kalki asks how
    king died. Guard says some suspect murder; others say Logrim is
    usurper (member of ruling council, challenging Norin’s son’s
    challenge Gwydis).
  • We go down into pit. Glowy pit opens into hundreds of dwarves
    going about business. We’ve arrived in Hammerheim. Group of
    dwarves talking animatedly. Crowd steadily increasing in size.
    Crowd gathers around two specific dwarves: one blond, young by
    dwarfish standards (Gwydis); other much older, dressed in noble
    dwarven guard (Logrim). Two begin to quarrel.
  • Crowd gets violent, guards disperse crowd. Guard-captain remains.
    Doesn’t want fighting commons. Calls us topsiders. Brood tells
    him we’ve come from Valina, bearing pledge to recruit army. Asks
    who we can speak to. Captain says only king can command army (but
    king is dead, duh). He says we’re welcome to go to the council
    chamber, where the council is arguing about succession. Captain
    just wants to defend land against Underdark hordes. Hammerheim
    has been civ in retreat for several hundred years. Points to
    another city below pit (Brand, where casteless dwarves live) and
    endless sprawl of cities.
  • Gwydis on good terms w/ merchant and trade castes; Logrim accuses
    Gwydis of arranging death of his older brother Dorn on
    battlefield (died fighting in Lost Kingdom against giants).
    Logrim respected among higher castes; claims dying king doesn’t
    want his son to succeed him. Eldest son Dorn died during last
    year. Dain Deepaxe.

We’re denied access to Council chamber

  • Streetwise checks reveal merchants with Gwydis, who would allow
    casteless to serve in army and open up trade to outsiders,
    whereas Logrim supports Council who believes he protects their
    freedoms. Gwydis may be in league with casteless criminal gangs,
    says Logrim camp. Dregol Copperthumb, associate of Gwydis,
    merchant, works w/ miner caste; Nerul Grayrune, office in Noble
    District one of Logrim’s associates.

Two sides

  • Dregol — beardless dwarf approaches us w/ deal. takes us to
    local tavern. We mention treaty and he gets excited. Gwydis has
    always advocated relationships with topsiders. Might be able to
    get 1000-2000 casteless dwarves to join us. Wants us to expose
    proof of Logrim’s supposed malfeasance in the council. Review of
    caste: miner caste should be higher on echelon than brewing
    caste, being disputed by Olaf Kegbreaker. Logrim has promised
    both sides their votes via letters.
  • Nerul: Says it’s a disgrace that Hammerheim isn’t in position to
    help us with Hellmarch problem. Says Logrim will only do things
    by the book and observe traditions. Says Gwydis is sowing discord
    using criminal gangs in Brand, ruled by overlord named Herag
    Burntbeard: despicable but keeps violence off Hammerheim. But
    Gwydis is supporting rivals to Herag, spreading violence as
    cover. Herag has contacted Logrim and offered us deal, wants
    goods in exchange for pacifying Gwydis. We have to deliver goods.
    Worried that this will be front to carry out political
    assassinations. 2000-3000 if successful.

We decide to pick up goods first

  • we go to Brand: crumpled ruins of ancient dwarven city. looks
    exposed if gates should be breached. lack of light compared to
    Hammerheim. Everyone has facial tattoo given at birth to
    casteless. No one wants to approach you.
  • Crippled female dwarf approaches us. She works for Ajda
    Mintsilver. Tries to get us to leave chests with her.
  • We reach Herag’s headquarters. Used to be armoury, now
    rough-looking dwarves outside. Led inside. Fierce-looking dwarf
    w/ huge black beard — Herag. We give him the goods.

Now favor for Gwydis (Skill challenge)

  • we pass SC, convince people that letters are genuine

Back to Nerul

  • He hopes it will prevent more bloodshed. Takes us to Logrim.
    Sense of sadness about him. Succession battle is taking its toll.
    Wants the last living paragon to come back and vote for him to
    heal wounds and unite council: Aesdir Redbeard. Leading an
    endless campaign in Lost Kingdom. Promises to send 3000 troops.
    Needs us to go find Aesdir Redbeard who promised to seal up
    Kesham Inod passage, took 200 dwarves, and hasn’t been heard
    from. He also says the old King thought Gwydis had murdered his
    brother.

Back to Dregol

  • We tell him we delivered the letters. Young dwarf enters chamber
    (we recognize from brawl when we came in). Introduces himself as
    Gwydis. Wants us to deliver Aesdir to Gwydis instead of to Logrim.

Finding the Paragon (Skill Challenge)

  • at the maze, farther from Hammerheim
  • Aesdir headed to Glanrel, houses relic Hammer of Moradin
  • We fail horribly at this skill challenge, accumulating 9 failures. As a result, we have to lose 1 healing surge each for every failure beyond the normal three (we have option to lose a daily attack power to get two surges back).
  • we encounter duergar and combat starts. Break for the session.
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Taking Care of Business

Going to the lake

  • verdant, miles across — almost size of Denmark
  • no signs of civilization
  • some large wildlife long thought extinct
  • nothing else remarkable SO FAR (duh duh duh)

Going to slavers

  • takes a day to get around Ezrin’s area
  • as we approach, we can see tower of Ezrin located in bog; loose
    patrols hundreds of yards apart looking for intruders (slave
    bands of 15 or more)

Skill Challenge to sneak in and avoid patrols

  • Brood fails Intimidate check
  • we succeed

We enter Ezrin’s tower, kill him

  • Voronwe does 77 points of critical damage to kill an invisible,
    blurred Ezrin — BOO-YA!
  • we find treasure
  • Ezrin from Rethen (House Sevelda), does stuff via scrying mirror
  • MILESTONE

Amiri’s camp abuzz

  • “we heard Ezrin’s dying wail — well done!”
  • Kuza village was destroyed, Amiri thinks we did it; we tell her
    differently
  • we tell her about killing white dragon; Amiri promises to send 3000 ragers, 500 honor guard to muster against devils

Examining the body from the village

  • broken bones, severe burns
  • something not natural, not that fire would do
  • Kalkinnash can’t shed light on this death
  • something killed entire village in one shot
  • Amiri: signs of Hellmarch approaching; shamans attuned to signs
    and legends; when time is right, she’ll go to Valina, otherwise
    send messenger

Going to village

  • travel out of scrubland, more familiar so no SC needed
  • as we approach Kuza, we can see something amiss: buildings
    largely disappeared; fully daylight but no one stirs; craters
  • must have been ritual
  • must have taken months to do this much damage
  • looks like impact; something must have exploded; feels like a
    myth or legend
  • tracks (as many as five survivors); one was wounded
  • maybe go to Rethem first (on the way), then Hammerheim

Travel to Rethem

  • commotion to south
  • owlbears attack!!!
  • burn marks on corpses; looks like they were herded here
  • Norss tracks them to lair; smells of brimstone (devils)
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