The Hellmarch

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Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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Devilish Rumors

Summons of king ithias

starting in Valena, capital city

We are the Party of Five! (help is always on the way)

needs group of skilled adventurers to deal w/ important matter

  • young man in ’20s (the king) on throne, having conversation w/ cronies in massive halls
  • king plagued by nightmares of dark forces devouring throne
  • asks us if we’ve heard of Hellgate

Brood makes an awesome speech

  • throne predates kingdom of Kaldor
  • Hellgate = Nine Realms (Abaddon Badlands)
  • if throne destroyed, Hellgate will remain open forever
  • gate must be destroyed, but no one can find gate
  • last Hellmarch 700 years ago; defeated by allied army of humans and dwarves

strange creatures wandering wilderness, Ithias convinced invasion imminent

  • must recruit from Hammerheim and Johiran Barbarians, etc. to marshall forces (treaties apparently exist)
  • We’re all Ambassadors of Valina
  • dwarves honorable but don’t interact w/ others very often; barbarians may be issue
  • barbarians pushed out of territory, become hostile; united under new leader
  • Ithias: start in Johiran scrublands: look for barbarian warchief
    disappearances, sightings in shadow; one confirmed sighting in Kuza (bordering Johiran scrublands), followers of Erathis from Rethem
  • Ithias wants us to talk to General Halbarad, convince him of danger

Meeting w/ General Halbarad

  • not convinced this invasion is imminent
  • hard to guess age, weathered half-elf
  • joined by small band of soldiers and hot chick (human), Lilith, his lady
  • tells us our talents are wasted; has heard of our reputations
  • says the head of a devil will convince him, nothing less
  • whole cohort less than impressed, smirking at us
  • parting shot: dwarves keep to themselves, he admires that in people (ooh, burn!)

Journey to Kuza (couple of weeks on boat, following Rumar River)
a few hours outside scrublands

  • few-dozen houses, not in Kaldoran style (built decades ago); barren (Johiran architecture)
  • villagers gather: middle-aged woman (Lydia); not happy to see us
  • old abandoned temple an hour north of here; she’s sure we’ll find our demons there
  • totally unhelpful

Abandoned Temple

  • stairs down, scent of brimstone
  • we fight giant constrictors and spiders, kill them
  • we fight firebats near old well, kill them

MILESTONE

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Uncreative title

The party answers summons of King Itheus and learns that the king believes that valena, nay the world, shall soon be threatened by a Hellmarch. The party agreed to recruit armies to on behalf of Itheus

Learns about Hellmarch, and that conditions will be right in a few months.

The party learns that the independent city-states are not directly ruled by the king. The king is kept in place as the city-states find the position useful for adjudicating disputes and preventing intra city war.

There have been numerous sightings and disappearances, but no solid evidence of a Hellmarch. Itheus is aware of a sighting at Kuza, a hamlet bordering the scrublands.

Hellgate location is unknown, except that it is somewhere in the Abadon badlands

Gives parties copies of treaties with the dwarves and Johirans

Dwarves are currently not communicating (which isn’t unusual as they keep to themselves), Itheus is awaiting a reply to allow the party to visit.

Johirans may not be enthusiastic about helping Velena; the last 50 yrs have seen the progressive encroachment of Rethem and Koor hamlets in Johiran territory. This expansion, backed up by the armies of Koor and Rethem, has pushed the Johirans into the scrublands, where life is especially hard.

Johiran situation may be complicated by the emergence of a new war-chief that has successfully united the inter-warring clans. Most are worried that Johirans are now on a war footing.

After leaving chamber, the party runs into General Halbarad vas Koor. And has an unpleasant exchange with the party.

Halbarad doesn’t believe that a Hellmarch is imminent. He requires troops to marshal his forces. He is more concerned that Kamesh or the Johirans will exploit the movement of the army to the north, and attack their rear.

Halbarad is accompanied by a small cohort of soldiers, including a remarkably beautiful woman in a slim black silk tabard, that does little to conceal her form (g cup, or standard size for any of peter’s campaigns). Tash is away tucking in the kids at this point, so the rest of the party demands more details. She is later identified as Lilith, Halbarad’s Lady.

Johirans get no sympathy from Halbarad, as he feels their land claims are the result of artificial boundaries made around the territories occupied by Kamesh before independence.

The party travels to Kuza, only to find a small community of religious zealots, and a cold reception. The party can tell that the hamlet is actually a former Johiran town, and that the Kuzans had the Rethemi army chase off the Johirans. The party also determines that the sighting story is more likely a front to trick someone into clearing out a subterranean temple so the village can use it themselves. Nonetheless, the party goes to the temple in case there is any evidence to be had. Veronwe loses his cool on a peasant named Lydia. Unlike every other female in Kaldor, she is dressed conservatively.

The party gets in and smells brimstone. The tension is palpable. The party is ambushed by snakes and peter learns a quick lesson in scaling encounters.

The party finds the room is filled with skeletons, they also find a gold bracelet worth 250gp, as well as 50gp.

The party next explores a room with a well. The scent of brimstone is much stronger and the party braces for the worst.

A bunch of flaming bats do a really poor job of setting things on fire. Peter learns that the PCs have weirdo powers, and that d8s are very rare.

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Find Amiri Skill Challenge

Complexity: 6/3

Endurance (DC 16) – At least one character must make an Endurance check
for the party, thereby resisting the debilitating effects of prolonged exposure to the elements
and wandering in the wilderness. On a failed check every player loses a healing surge.

Nature (DC 15) – At least one character in the party must make a Nature check each turn to help the group find its way through the wilderness, avoid natural hazards On a failed check every player loses a healing surge

Perception (DC 14) – you notice something that helps, provides +2 to next nature or end check

Perception (DC 22) – you notice a mark at the bottom of a tree that reminds your of something you heard about barbarians (unlocks history & Insight).

  • History (DC 11) – Barbarians leave signs to each other by marking trees and arranging stones, barbarians must be near
  • Insight (DC 16) – You determine what the sign means, and can deduce the likely direction of a settlement
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Out of the temple, into the scrubland

Temple cont’d

  • we clean out spiders

Outside temple — meeting w/ royal page

  • Ithias negotiates treaty w/ barbarians
  • right to settle east of lake Ge
  • area is lush, not settled — accessible to single pass located at
    top of cliff
  • Rethen more expansionist
  • now we have extra leverage to win Johiran over

Entering Scrublands (skill challenge)

  • greyish brown landscape, sunlight dimmed
  • arctic chill
  • we pass skill challenge to find Amiri

barbarian village

  • muscular red-haired woman, 25 years — sitting at fire, poking it
    w/ hammer
  • not too impressed by formality or civilization
  • Brood asks about Hellmarch – Amini not impressed by treaty or
    imminent threat of devils
  • Says Kaldorians never honor treaties
  • Villagers malnourished, warriors fed first
  • Amini says they sent scouting parties to Vale but all disappeared
  • Brood: demons will be worse than Kaldorians
  • Amini: shamans have said this, our words carries some truth
  • we prefer actions to words; to south is tower of wizard Ezrin,
    who commands slavers that prey on us; you will see to it that he
    does not survive; north is Kuza — wants us to kill Lydia and
    villagers
  • Brood: killing villagers will only cause aggression

Slaver quest Ezrin

  • slavery thrives in Kaldor
  • they abduct many Johirans
  • Ezrin: minor Rethemi noble, has aspirations to be king, also
    wizard

To the pass!

  • hiking for 4 hours out of camp heading to Freefall Pass
  • open field; mist surrounds you, man blinks into existence: crude
    robes, animal fur, carries staff; says Ezrin
  • says he can make us better offer: why not capture or kill Amini
    instead? if we do, he says he’ll loan us 3000 mercenaries to
    fight demon threat
  • admits he controls Freefall Pass; trapped nasty beat in cliff to
    harvest slaves
  • we try to bluff him, but he sees through us and combat starts

Slaver attack

  • hyena: pack attack, swarm enemy; if they get near, they can make
    you grant CA to everyone next to them
  • slaver: humans, try to take you alive; can entangle w/ whips
    (immobilize); dressed in leathers
  • we destroy them
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Climbing Freefall

complexity 8 successes before 3 failures

Special: 1 stealth, 1 end check per turn, each player must do 1 each, players choose order

Stealth DC 13 – you are able to climb without being seen or heard
Pass/Fail Limit One per turn

Endurance DC 15 – You are able to climb, despite the cold and physical hardship
Pass/Fail Limit One per turn

Athletics DC 14 – You are able to ascend part of Freefall through physical vigor
Pass\Fail
Pass\Fail

Athletics DC 30 – while your allies grow weaker, you are able to pick up the slack
1 pass, cancel 1 fail/Fail

Acrobatics DC 13 – You are able to ascend part of Freefall through superior technique
Pass\Fail
Pass\Fail

Acrobatics DC 20 – You are able to use superior technique to pass an especially difficult portion of Freefall
one pass and one ally gets +5 on next roll (ath, end or acro)/Fail

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Jagged Cliff, Hidden Dragon

Trip to entrance to Freefall pass (several days journey)

  • waterfall actually mist
  • Freefall: surface porous and jagged (patient climb); remains of
    humanoids in several states of decay
  • they died from falling a great distance
  • bodies: tooth and claw marks (dragon family, adult size, probably
    white dragon): one corpse pulverized
  • Kalkennash: white dragons heartless beasts driven by hunger and
    greed; not very smart but ferocious; breathe ice; greedy (bribed
    with gifts: gems, diamonds)

Skill Challenge to climb cliff

  • Voronwe doesn’t fail a single check, is awesome
  • we maintain quiet, climb last half (something flying overhead
    while we’re climbing)
  • mound of frozen corpses at top (Johiran guard)
  • rhythmic breathing of white dragon
  • Voronwe sneaks up to him but Brood ruins everything by failing a Stealth check

Combat w/ white dragon

  • long, bloody battle but we finally kill him and find treasure

We reach other side of pass

  • descends at shallower rate on other side
  • lush greenery carpeting range as far as we can see
  • no signs of civilization
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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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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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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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