The Dragonsbane Knights

A New Challenger
The Palace of the Vampire Queen (Pt. 2)
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INTERMISSION PART THREE
The Tomb of Horrors

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INTERMISSION PART TWO
The Tomb of Horrors

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The Tomb of Horrors
Intermission (Pt. 1)

Many years into an alternate future, the adventuring group is known throughout the land. Having long ago laid to rest the vampire queen, having slain dragons, demons, and giants, fame and fortune follows in their steps. Receiving a summons from a king, the heir to the deceased King Pendar, the Rogue, the Barbarian, the Bard, and the Monk all travel to answer his call. With much hemming and hawing, the king reveals that there is a blight on nearby royal lands, the center of which is an ancient hill, believed to be the final resting place of Acererak, the Demi-Lich.

Many hard days travel brought them to the center of the tainted lands, a tall stony hill, rocky and desolate. Searching for a possible entryway, the rogue found one possible entrance. Cautiously prodding the ceiling, he leapt back, narrowly avoiding a cave in. Another entrance led to a compacting trap, from whence the rogue just barely escaped. Finding a third way in, barely large enough to squeeze through, the rogue entered the tomb. A long hallway led into the side of the hill, clearly the work of skilled craftsmen.

Brilliant colors are everywhere; pigments painted on stone are undimmed by the passage of decades. The floor is a colorful mosaic, featuring a distinct, winding path of red tiles forming a 2-foot-wide, meandering trail south down the corridor. A few chips and gaps reveal that cement or plaster covers the underlying stonework of the corridor, and it mostly provides a smooth surface for the many illustrated scenes.

The images depict fields with cattle grazing, a copse with several wolves in the background, slaves—human, orc, elven, and strange human- animal mixtures of pig-human, ape-human, and dog-human—going about various tasks.
Certain frescoes are more focused and show rooms of some building—a library filled with many books and scrolls, a torture chamber, and a wizard’s work room. Chairs, windows, boxes, bales, doors, chests, birds, bats, spiders, and all manner of things appear on the walls.

Tying a rope around his waist, he carefully walked down the hallway, and found that the precaution was well taken. Hidden pit traps were set into the floor at seemingly random intervals, and he nearly fell into several, coming face to face with skeletons, grinning among jagged poisoned spikes. He examined the paintings as he went, finding specific interest in the fresco of the wizard’s work room.

Two jackal-headed human figures in this painting are portrayed as if holding bronze chest—which is real, and protrudes slightly into the corridor! The chest is hinged on the bottom so as to allow the lid to swing down.

Avoiding a simple trap within the box, he pulled a hidden lever concealed inside, dropping the floor out from under him, leading to yet another spike trap! He called to his friends, still outside the tomb, to haul him back up.

Reaching the end of the hall, he found himself face to face with a massive green devil’s head, mouth gaping open, wide enough to step through.

A fork of the red tile path leads directly to a leering devil face set in the mosaic at the corridor’s end. The devil’s mouth gapes wide and empty—in fact it is dead black, emitting no hint of light and allowing none entry.

Deciding on the other fork, he called to his companions and began to inspect the curious sight along the second fork.

A section of the red tile path leads into a mist-filled stone archway. Three large stones are embedded in the arch. Each has a different hue—yellow on the lower left, bluish at the top of the arch, and orange on the lower right.

Touching the stones at random, the rogue found that the stones glowed as they were touched, clearly magical. He began to carefully try them out in sequence, finally finding the combination “Yellow, Blue, Orange” caused the mists to dispel and allow further entrance to the tomb. Stepping through the archway, he found himself in a strange new room, facing down a massive gargoyle statue.

A broken, 8-foot-tall statue of a four-armed gargoyle squats here, alone and in the dark. Its three remaining hands appear as if in positions of supplication, or need.

Searching for a way out, he discovered a crawlspace hidden behind the statue, just in time for the rest of the party to appear, having followed him through the arch. They squeezed past the imposing statue, finding themselves in another long, painted corridor.

The floor of this long, wide hall is inlaid with tiles, and the walls and ceiling are painted with figures of animals and strange signs and glyphs. Humans and humanlike creatures hold painted spheres, each a different color from the next.

Looking around, the party realized they had just emerged from a hidden passageway, disguised by the image of gold sphere, held aloft by a monstrous figure. Testing each sphere in turn, they first discovered a secret passage leading to a trio of heavy chests.

The chamber is bare but for three conspicuous chests, each about 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 3 feet deep. One appears to be of gold, the second is silvery, and the third is constructed of hardy oak banded with thick bronze.

Carelessly opening the wooden chest, after finding that it contained no obvious traps, the party accidentally summoned a massive bone golem, wielding two scimitars, their first company they had had since entering the deadly tomb. After putting the bone golem to rest, the rogue deferred to the barbarian for the opening of the second, the silver chest. Inside, lay a clear crystal box, seemingly of carved from a flawless diamond. Inside the clear box, lay a brilliant ring, glowing softly. Pulling the box free, the rogue was treated to a volley of spring loaded darts, but managed to avoid the worst of them. Finally, the barbarian opened the gold chest for completions sake, quickly slamming the lid back down on a massive nest of vipers.

Returning to the hallway, the party next ventured down a secret passageway, leading to a massive chapel.

Chapel accoutrements fill this chamber, including great wooden pews on either side of a central mosaic path that leads toward an altar on the far side of the room, which is separated from the pews by a wooden railing. Scenes of everyday life are painted on the walls, but all the people are portrayed with rotting flesh, skeletal hands, and worm-ridden orifices. Yet depicted amidst these disturbing portraits are various symbols of readily recognized benevolent deities.

Behind the wooden railing is an opalescent blue altar, which is set before a tiered dais that supports a well-carved and padded wooden chair. Two large brass candelabra, each holding five white candles, stand on either side of the dais. Two large white pottery urns, each stoppered with brass, sit in each corner. A human skeleton wearing badly rusted and torn black chainmail lies dead in the south- western portion of the room, one outstretched arm seeming to point into a mist-filled arch on the southern end of the west chapel wall.

Approaching the chair sitting on the dais, the rogue sat down in the heavy chair, and touched a glowing blue stone on the arm. As he touched it, a lightening bolt shot from the chair, down the center aisle, charring the wall opposite. Luckily, no party members were inside the blast at the time.

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TO BE CONTINUED

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DWARVES ALL LOOK THE SAME.
The Palace of the Vampire Queen (Pt. 1)

Flying north, towards the ancient outpost of Saker Keep, the party debated what their plans should be. The Druid and Paladin each agreed to get off the ship at the next city, leaving adventuring behind for the time being. Skorad Brewthane (Fighter) agreed to stay on as a permanent part of the party. Coming up from below decks, they also met a rogue, Sloane, of the resistance fighters.

Landing near Saker Keep, the party spotted a campfire on the hilltop outpost. Creeping up, Sloane and Cassandra Monroe listened in on the pair of men camping there.

The men were older, dressed in well worn travel clothes, and seemed to be arguing about something.

“You’re full of shit!” said one.
“I’m telling you, there are vampires in those hills!” said the other.
“And I’m telling you, you’re full of shit!” said the first.
“I was right about the troll under the bridge, wasn’t I?” Said the second.
“Yes, but you were wrong about the demons at the beach! You’re full of shit!”

It was at this time that Sloane and Cassandra stepped into the circle. “Vampires, you say?” said Cassandra, curiously.
“Aye,” said the second man. “There’s tale of a vampire queen up in the Dwarven mountains. They say there is a bounty on her head. They say she kidnapped some noble or another.”
“Don’t listen to that crock,” said the first. “He’s got no idea what he’s talking about.”

The pair soon launched back into what seemed like an old argument, and the two party members quietly excused themselves. Reporting in to the rest of their party, it was decided that the ship should fly north, to dwarven lands, and investigate the vampires.

*

The Dwarven capital of Helmshold, nestled deep in the mountains, is home to the largest Airship Docks outside of Carran, and is far less xenophobic than the people of the walled city. The docks adjoin a bustling trade quarter, where stalls sell armor, weapons, food, supplies, and all other manner of goods. If you want it, Helmshold’s got it.

The ship was met at the docks by a short, broad dwarf with a red beard and a ludicrously tall green hat, informing them of a hefty docking fee. All attempts to haggle with him only led him to increase the price. Finally giving up, the party paid him his fee and entered into the trade quarter. Splitting up and going the various booths, the party went about replenishing their supplies.

  • Hral went to the weapons stall, run by a short, broad dwarf with a red beard and a ludicrously tall green hat. The dwarf agreed to sell Hral a full set of new javelins for the remainder of Hral’s pocket money. Hral happily took the offer, and promised to remember the vendor, should he need more armaments at a future date.

*Sloane, the rogue, went to the provisions stand, run by a short, broad dwarf with a red beard and a ludicrously tall green hat. There, he made a deal, quietly acquiring a poison kit and some disguises.

*Ranger Ralf went first to the armor stand, run by a short, broad dwarf with a red beard and a ludicrously tall green hat. Finding little of interest, he went to the information desk, run by a short, broad dwarf with a red beard and a ludicrously tall green hat. There, Cassandra Monroe was already waiting.

When asked by Ralf and Casandra, the information desk was hesitant to reveal anything not on the official tourism brochure. Upon seeing Skorad, however, the information dwarf revealed that yes, there was a dwarf chieftain in the small village of Skarshold who had been plagued by the bloodsucking beasties. Thanking him for his information, the party moved on.

*

In Skarshold, only Skorad was allowed in to speak to the Chieftain, who tearfully revealed that the vampires had not only captured his daughter, but the children of many of the villagers. The dwarves of Skarshold had been powerless to stop it, and thus he turned to the outside assistance of the adventurers to help him. He promised as large a reward as the village could muster for the head of the vampire queen, having nearly given up hope on ever seeing his daughter again, he only wanted death to those who had so injured his people.

*

Arriving at the Palace of the Vampire Queen, the party took a survey of the land. The palace was a tall, imposing building, more fortress than manor, stretching up to tall, jagged spires. Lights flickered in windows on the upper floors, but the bottom floor windows were heavily barricaded. Tall oaken doors led into the palace, and revealed themselves to be unlocked. The party cautiously entered, finding themselves in a long, poorly lit hall, that seemed to show few signs of civilized habitation.

Entering the first room on the left, the party found that they had disturbed a warren of squatting goblins, who leapt into a screeching frenzy upon seeing the adventurers. The party made short work of them, clearing out a series of filthy rooms, and finally discovering a treasure room, containing one huge chest. Poking his fingers into the locking mechanism to try to open the chest, the rogue pricked his finger on a hidden needle. the finger rapidly began to change color to a deep sickly green, whereupon Skorad chopped it off cleanly before the infection could spread.

The rogue’s condition is, as yet, unknown.

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The Escape
The Warrens (Pt. 3)

As troops poured through the gates, the party swiftly errected barricades and began to prepare for siege. After several waves of combatants, the Druid caught something out of the corner of her eye. A cloaked figure seemed to be making its way behind their lines, making a bee line for the bell tower Almorran Carson was standing in. She concentrated all her magical might on the figure, sending a pillar of burning light to pinpoint it.

It was Lira Darksun. The party swiftly surrounded the remaining men, concentrating their fire on Lira, who took refuge in a nearby house, to avoid the Druids spell. Leaping from rooftop to rooftop, Almorran fell through a loose bit of thatching, disappearing from view in the tavern.

This was when Lira emerged. She jumped off a balcony, taking out two resistance archers in the process, and stabbed the Druid, critically wounding her. She then turned to face the now much less fearsome party.

The Paladin rushed to the Druids rescue, using his healing magics to stabilize her even as he warded off Lira’s attacks. Cassandra Monroe and the Cleric each lent a hand as well. The conflict finally turned in the party’s favor with a well placed javelin from the Hral. Lira, in desperation, revealed her true form, that of a half-dragon. She launched herself into the sky, away from the party, as the ground began to rumble all around them, a sign of impending siege weapons. Hral through another javelin at Lira, just missing her, leaving the party helpless to watch her escape.

At that moment, the bell tower exploded.

A small airship emerged from the wreckage, piloted by Ranger Ralf and Almorran Carson. Dropping a rope ladder to the party, Almorran called out that he could get them out of the city. Flying overhead, the ship dodged the attacks from the ground, and managed to outmaneuver or destroy the scout ships, managing to snare a pair of small dinghies on its way out.

Almorran jumped onto the battlements as the ship flew past the great walls, calling to the party that they could borrow the ship, but that he had unfinished business in the walls.

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Traitors, all.
The Warrens (Pt. 2)

The Party found themselves in talks with the man they had been sent to murder-fy. And strangely, he did not seem quite as evil as Lira Darksun seemed to think. The man, whom the Paladin recognized as Almorran Carson, a long since retired captain of the guard, claimed that he was doing what was best for the good of the kingdom.

During their talks, the aging rogue insinuated that all was not well in the guard hierarchy, and that his uprising was a result of a direct threat to the king. He stated point blank that all guardsmen who did not either join him or willingly accept exile would be killed with no remorse. He also seemed to know far more about the captain of the guard than anyone else, mentioning casually that no one had ever seen her don anything but her stiff plate armor, a perfect hiding place for… something, he would not say what.

Upon careful consideration of the tough archers holding them at arrowpoint, the wry wit of the old rogue, and the rather poor poker face of the DM, the party decided to betray the town guard and join with the rebels, ready to storm the castle. At this point, one of Almorran’s archers fired a glowing arrow into the air, a sure signal to outside troops. There was a traitor in the midst. Swiftly cutting down the man, Almorran turned to face the gates of the warrens, now flung open by approaching troops. The fight was going to begin a bit sooner than expected.
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(This is what I found when I searched for fantasy city combat)

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Reconnaissance
The Warrens (Pt. 1)

Reading the notes on the pirate’s desk, the party found that the gunpowder plot was only the first step in the plan to overthrow the monarchy. Once the palace had been set ablaze, a militia, striking from the Warrens, would emerge, striking swiftly to overthrow the king.

After returning to the captain, the party was given a new set of orders. Enter the Warrens, find the headquarters of the militia, and destroy all those who would be a threat to the kingdom.

The party prepared themselves, and, bringing along a pair of guardsmen for backup, entered the district at high noon. They split into three, each taking one of the branching paths in the warrens. The barbarian found himself in the tavern, accompanied by the mage. The Druid and the Cleric took a guard for protection and began knocking on doors, and the Paladin and Bard went to investigate another section of town.

Leaning on the bar, the Barbarian got the attention of the barkeep. “I’m looking for a good fight,” he growled, and the bartender smiled. Turning to the rest of the rabble in the room, the bartender called out “I’ve got five gold on the big guy!” Chaos ensued. Knocking the other combatants about the room, the orc made short work of the first few brawlers to attack him, but soon became embroiled in a mass of punching, kicking, biting flesh.

The commotion in the tavern got the attention of the Paladin and Bard, who ran to see the orc smashing one poor fellow into a wall so hard, he seemed destined for a pine box. While the paladin tried to enter the fray, the Bard danced about, taking bets and calling encouragement to her friends.

While this was happening, the cleric and druid were having a hard time of getting anyone to let them in, or even get any information at all. They attempted a ruse, adopting the guise of funeral workers, assuming that in the Warrens, surely someone must be dead. After several false starts, they found a suspicious house, that had all the signs of criminal proceedings. Announcing their allegiance to the town guard, they broke the door down, incapacitating all inside. A quick glance around revealed a nondescript room, but with a trapdoor leading into the sewers. A broken window revealed that one of the occupants had fled before they had a chance to enter. They spotted him just as he reached the tall belltower in the center of the district.

Alerting their comrades in the tavern, the cleric and druid ran after the escaping foe, the whole party just reaching the belltower as the heavy iron bell began to ring out a warning. As if by magic, all the windows around them opened simultaneously, and archers appeared at each vantage point. The party was surrounded.

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A Deadly Trap
Fighting Your Friends is Fun!

Pursuing the fleeing pirate through the door at the end of the underground warehouse, the party was struck by a sudden sense of dread, as the floor fell out from underneath them. After what seemed like ages, the party finally hit the floor of separate chambers far below the warehouse. Each member of the party faced off against an opponent that seemed to have been carefully selected to face them. The Cleric and the Monk each faced an exact double of the orcress, Hral the Barbarian faced a duo of cackling devils in a narrow hall, while the Druid and Bard stared down a towering ogre.

Leaping bravely into combat, both Cleric and Monk soon realized that all was not as it seemed. The orcress acted with strange tactics and her bow seemed to be affecting the monk, not with arrows, but with strange negative energy. Putting two and two together, the Monk realized that his assailant was not an enemy at all, but the Cleric herself. Their disbelief dispelling the illusion, a quick glance around confirmed what they had feared, looking through an enchanted window as the orc bellowed profanities at his own comrades, the two spellcasters desperately trying to keep him contained and subdued. Climbing out of their cell, the Monk and Cleric called to their companions, trying to prevent bloodshed. While the casters were freed from the spell, the Barbarian flew into an even greater rage, striking again and again at the pinned duo.

Finally, through a liberal use of magic, the barbarian was put into a magical sleep, whereupon he was promtly tied up and hauled onto the upper level. From there, the party proceeded to search the office of the now long gone pirate.

Items of note: Peshka’s Hat, Mysterious Orders

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An Assassination Order
Don't screw this up.

After being arrested, the party was thrown into a prison cell, all except the Rogue, who was taken away for “enhanced interrogation”. While in prison, the party was approached by Lira, the captain of the guard, who informed them that they had one of a three options. One, she could leave them to rot in prison for their crimes, two, she could kill them outright, or three, they could do a special job for her.

Uniformly deciding on option three, the party also recruited some fellow cell mates for the job. Lira informed them of a terrorist plot in the Docks district, and stated that she wanted every conspirator killed, off the record. No capture, no trial. Agreeing to this, the party split up to gather information on the underground warehouse that was reported to be the headquarters of the terrorists.

Rumors heard:

  • The leader of the terrorists was a Half-Dragon.
  • Half-Dragons come with a major price on their head, if you can find the right buyer, and you keep the “pelt” undamaged.

Upon reaching the warehouse entrance, the party noticed a pair of particularly conspicuous burly guards keeping watch outside. Sneaking in a back entrance, the party swiftly neutralized the men inside, which included a two man band, one of whom was particularly saddened that his harmonica preceded him in death.

One of the guards charged in to put a stop to the party, but met his death swiftly. The other guard did not seem to overhear the combat, possibly popping off for a quick bite to eat, or just being hard of hearing.

Discovering a trap door, the party climbed down into the underground section of the warehouse, where they found an impressive amount of orcs and goblins loading alchemist’s fire into improvised bombs. Above them all, on a balcony, stood the orc pirate, now wearing an eye patch and holding a cane, accompanied by a hulking gnoll bodyguard.

The druid entangled the warehouse workers, and the party made short work of them, managing to deal with the gnoll quickly too. The orc escaped, but not before her hat was knocked off by an errant arrow. She fled into a room at the back of the warehouse, not waiting to see if any of her men survived.

Items of Note: Alchemist’s fire, Peshka’s Hat

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