Up From the Dust

Tenth Session Recap
DM's Log - 11/14

This session picked up right where the last one left off—just before a fight with Jedra (a minor templar under Kralice’s command) and his summoned sand elemental.

1. The party engaged their hated foe and his bodyguard on a balcony overlooking the templar’s gardens. They found it difficult to avoid attack in the cramped quarters, but a series of punishing attacks from Naeem and Narathir kept Jedra and the elemental effectively controlled. Jedra was finally brought down by a stone from Feklar that caused him to stumble over the balcony’s railing, after which the elemental was quickly dispatched.

2. After looting Jedra’s study, the party sought refuge at Veso’s safe house in the Warrens. They made sure to stay on the good side of the Toothcutters by sharing their loot, and headed toward the city gate in the morning.

3. The next morning saw the city calmed down some and the guards out in force. The party was stopped by a guard patrol led by a mul named Zalcor. He identified them and ordered them to follow him to the Golden City to stand trial for the murder of Jedra under the authority of the new king. Everyone was eager to fight, but Narathir opted to comply, thus diffusing the situation.

4. The party is led to the palace and left in an anteroom with Zalcor as they await their trial. Before they can be called before the tribunal that will hear their case, a guard rushes in and informs Zalcor that yuan-ti are pouring into the palace through the basements. Zalcor asks for the party’s help, promising to speak for them if they can save his men. They agree and set off.

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Ninth Session Recap
DM's Log - 11/7

I ran the party through a good old dungeon crawl. Since I’m feeling lazy, and I’ve already detailed the whole thing in my latest article over at Eye of the Vortex, I’m going to just point you there. Go read my article for this week’s recap.

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Eighth Session Recap
DM's Log - 10/31

This session was extremely short due to the premiere of The Walking Dead that night. The party escaped their cells during a dinner party Jalaal was hosting. Along with the other gladiators, whom they have convinced to join them, the party made short work of their former master and his guards. They fled the school and headed off to find Fyrian, the dray who helped them in their last arena match.

The party found their ally being held in a slave pen at the foot of the newly-completed ziggurat. From this vantage point, they saw the battle between Kalak and his renegade High Templar. In order to free the slaves, though, the party had to first fight their way past the two enormous half-giants guarding the pen. Complicating matters, Kalak was constantly drawing upon the life force of the slaves to power his spells. If they didn’t hurry, their ally could have been killed by the defiling.

They did end up saving him, however, and he pledged his friendship to them before setting out to find his people in the desert.

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Seventh Session Recap
DM's Log - 10/24

The session picks up just after the characters have endured the punishment meted out as a result of their fight with Rani and Ravi at the end of the previous session. The party has been split up and, with the exception of Feklar (who is still in the infirmary), are being kept in multiple smaller cells. We move into the action immediately.

Scenes
1. The characters still locked in the cells are set upon by mysterious robed assailants. They shout their allegiance to “the Gaolers” before attacking the sleeping gladiators with wicked-looking metal knives. Naeem and Narathir appear to be their primary targets, so both men suffer through the pain of their control collars in order to make use of some quick magic to subdue the attackers. Zunni likewise risks herself by openly using her magic, hoping the guards can’t see to report her to the templars. Once they are weakened, the rest of the gladiators are able to pile on and finish them off. After death, their bodies vanish into black dust.

While all this is taking place, Faklar sneaks through the school and steals the ritual scroll that will allow her companions to remove their collars. She retrieves the ritual and components without being seen.

2. Since preparations for their escape are not yet ready, the party is forced into one final round in the arena. They are pitted against a team of dwarves in a Tyrant’s Pyramid match. The first team to defeat their opponents and reach the top of the pyramid wins. Things are complicated by numerous traps scattered around the structure and the dray defiler placed at the top. Unbeknown to their masters, the dray has struck a deal with the party. In return for him focusing his attacks on the other team, the PCs will help him escape. Their combined forces make short work of the other team, allowing the party to win without too much injury.

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Sixth Session Recap
DM's Log - 10/17

Now full-fledged gladiators, the characters are given a few days in the cells to recover. They meet Jalaal‘s more-experienced gladiators, and Asa (Narathir’s player) determines how each have treated Narathir in the past.

After a lengthy discussion between the new gladiators and the veterans about the possibility of escape, the party is hauled off to their first match in Kalak’s great games.

Scenes
1. As above, the characters discuss escape plans and gauge the willingness of the veteran gladiators to help. Some tentative plans are laid, the most promising of which is for Feklar to steal the ritual book that will disable the magic user’s collars.

2. After this scheming, the party is brought to the arena for their first match. It is against Rahob, a feral psion, and his pack of five dominated crodlu. The arena floor is littered with the skulls of Rahob’s previous victims, each of which is a psychic reservoir that provides bonus damage when crushed. The PCs make quick work of Rahob, but have some difficulty with his remaining crodlu.

3. After winning the favor of the crowd in the fight, Feklar fakes an injury at the hands of a downed crodlu. Given her new favor in the city, she is taken to the school’s infirmary and left there alone while the medic is busy at the arena. She steals some bandages and a scalpel to make an improvised sling and dagger, respectively, and settles in to wait for night so she can sneak into Jalaal’s house and locate his ritual book.

4. While this is going on, Ravi and Rani attack the other characters, who are all still injured after their arena match. The brothers are quickly disabled, but all the slaves are punished for the fight.

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Fifth Session Recap
DM's Log - 10/3

The PCs wake up in the cells beneath Jalaal’s gladiator school. All of them injured, and some of them scarred beyond recognition, they feel pretty miserable about their lot. With the exception of Zunni, who surrendered willingly, the magic users all have control collars on.

Naeem immediately panics, and when confronted with the inescapable nature of his confinement, lashes out at his allies and Gar, the mul gladiator in the cell across the hall. Gar takes an immediate dislike to Naeem and uses this as an excuse to taunt Narathir, whom he has always hated.

After trading barbs with Gar from their cell, the party is finally led to the general room for the gladiators. It is full of newly purchased slaves, all of whom will be subjected to Jalaal’s harsh training regimen. The party avoids being too friendly, but take a liking to Rani and Ravi, two brothers captured in a raid on a slave village.

Scenes
1. After some discussion with the other gladiators, the new slaves are introduced to Sefu, the gladiator trainer. He briefly attempts to inspire them to greatness before subjecting them to harsh training. Everyone uses skills to adjust the difficulty of an Endurance roll that is made after every round. Each skill success gives 1 person a +2 cumulative bonus. The challenge ends once everyone has passed the hard difficulty Endurance test. Each failure results in a loss of a healing surge for the next fight.

2. Narathir, now going by the moniker “Sharif,” manages to get a moment alone with Sefu. He attempts to convince his old friend to rebel against Jalaal’s harsh ownership, but the old master won’t commit to anything.

3. After days of brutal training (and many lost healing surges) the slaves are brought together into a great melee. They are armed and told that only seven gladiators will be chosen. The rest will be killed. The party bands together to quickly dispatch all other competitors except Rani and Ravi. This includes the brothers’ friend, Saleem, and they clearly hold a grudge.

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Fourth Session Recap
DM's Log - 9/26

Tonight’s session kicks off with the party still in Kralice’s vault in Under Tyr. They’ve secured the fruit of life and Akhbar is packing it up to haul away—the only thing left to is is decide whether or not to explore the tunnels to find a safe passage out for the slaves.

The party decides it’s best not to venture further into the dangerous tunnels given their health. This results in Kada getting chewed out by Shihab, her main abolitionist contact, as the slaves she wanted to help now have to wait until another route is located.

After a few days, the word comes in from Akhbar that Kralice accepted the trade. The warrant for their arrest is dropped and Melestan declares them exonerated. They all drift away into the city and are subjected to another round of expense checks (skill checks to avoid losing money) to account for the next two weeks.

Scenes
1. After two weeks of looking over their shoulders and starting at shadows, the PCs are brought together once again by Melestan. He offers Naeem a chance to continue his field work, this time at the tower the party discovered on their very first adventure. The tower is supposedly the site of an ancient artificer’s tower (Adrik the Mad) and the School wants to delve into it. The old half-elf seems nervous, though Naeem dismisses this as the party gathers provisions and purchases an erdlu (which Naeem names Bocephus). Kada only comes along once the group promises to help with her slave problem immediately afterwards.

2. After stocking up on a full complement of provisions, the party heads into the desert. Some good Perception and Nature rolls reveal a baazrag nest near their campsite after the third day. The party scouts out the nest and defends their camp as the lizards attempt to swarm them. The meat and water they get out of the fight saves them all a survival day.

3. The party arrives at the old tower and decides to smoke out whatever’s inside. They complete a skill challenge to do so, only to discover the silt runners who have returned were murdered two days prior. This prompts Naeem to bring up Melestan’s nervousness, and it is decided the psion should contact his tutor. As he attempts to summon an animal messenger, Melestan makes a direct mental link and tells Naeem to run.

4. The party runs out of the only unblocked tower entrance and right into the waiting arms of tiefling slavers. The trained jhakars and tieflings all receive a beating, but the timely interference of a templar (Haroun) of Tyr turns the fight against the party. Everyone goes down except Zunni and Feklar. Zunni, fearing for everyone’s safety, acquiesces to the templar’s wishes and surrenders, even going so far as to offer to become an agent of Kalak. Feklar attempts to flee, but is eventually run down by the templar and the surviving slaver.

The party experiences visions as they are hauled back to Tyr in a drug-induced stupor.

  • Naeem sees Melestan overpowered and murdered.
  • Feklar sees Akhbar on the run back to the Forest Ridge.
  • Kada sees Shihab flee the city for the safety of the slave settlement.
  • Narathir sees a vision of an imprisoned Erathis, who commands him to begin the process of emancipating civilization.

They all wake to find themselves in Jalaal‘s gladiator cells. Naeem and Narathir have been mutilated so they won’t be recognized by the crowds. Everyone else is an unknown, so they have been left alone for now.

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Third Session Recap
DM's Log - 9/13

Tonight’s story picked up just before the id fiend fight.

~1. The PCs locate the rumored oasis and see the dessicated form of a student lying in the reeds around it. When approached, the body stirs and the barely-alive man croaks out a warning. An id fiend shows itself on the ruins sticking out of the water and forces its puppets to attack. The party rapidly dispatch the enslaved students, tending to the wounds of each immediately after they fall. The chathrang reeds (using razor cactus stats from the adventure Marauders of the Dune Sea) present some difficulty, but they are eventually avoided. Once its living shield is removed, the id fiend is quickly killed and its brain is harvested.

The party returns to Tyr as heroes, but they’re asked to stay inside the walls of the School of Thought while it and the noble houses argue their case to the templars. It eventually comes out that the templars as a whole are fine letting the characters off, given their service to the city, but the one templar who hired the thugs, Kralice, doesn’t want to give up her grudge.

While the PCs wait for either Melestan to win over Kralice or Kalak to finally get involved, Feklar is approached by Akhbar, another halfling from the streets. He tells her he has a lead on some valuable treasure located in a templar’s vault in Under Tyr, but he needs some muscle to get to it. When he heard about the trouble the party was in, he figured they would be interested, since the templar in question is Kralice.

At the same time Feklar is being pitched on the job, Kada is approached by her ally and asked to scout a route through the upper reaches of Under Tyr for use by escaped slaves. Though the offered pay is meager, Kada bolsters it with her own funds to convince the party to pull double duty in the underground.

Scenes
1. The party winds its way through the midnight streets of Tyr, successfully completing a skill challenge to avoid the templar spies and reach Under Tyr. Thanks to an exceptional Bluff check by Feklar, they can bypass a fight with a street gang on Sand Street, instead bribing the rowdies to secure safe passage down the well.

2. After exploring the ruins of a dry cistern for some time, the party reaches a large room, featuring a door and a dried up fountain decorated with some sort of fish person. They are ambushed by a pack of ghouls (flesh seekers from MM3 and ghouls from MM1) and find that some of the cobbles under their feet conceal a lower passage full of a teeming mass of ghouls. The ghouls in the cistern are eventually defeated with the help of Akhbar and his two human allies, but the horde remains under their feet.

3. Seeking to escape the cistern before any more undead come looking for them, the party breaks through the door and enters the tomb of Kralice. It is full of scores of Kralice’s mummified ancestors, many of whom were clearly templars before her. The party notices a large vault door and immediately sets to work breaking through it. As soon as Feklar touches it, though, the skeletons rise from their niches, and the ghouls from below begin to climb up the holes in the other room. Akhbar and his men guard the hole and beg the party to quickly dispatch the skeletons and open the vault. Once the party realizes the skeletons will keep animating, they break through the mechanical, arcane and psionic locks (but not without getting zapped by a protective rune on the floor of the crypt a few times).

Now badly beaten (many PCs have 0 or 1 healing surge remaining), but loaded down with the healing fruit, the party must decide if they want to brave the other passage they found in search of a safe way out for escaped slaves.

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Second Session Recap
DM's Log - 9/6

Naeem is approached by Melestan, his mentor at the School of Thought, about looking for some students who disappeared while searching for an uncharted oasis south of Tyr. The tutor heard about the practical applications Naeem put his powers to use for and hoped he would be able to hire some experienced desert trackers and caravan guards to help locate the missing boys.

Scenes
1. Naeem goes looking for his former companions, locating each in turn until everyone arrives in the Brickyards to find Kada. She agrees to help, and the party heads out; however, they are ambushed before they can leave town. What they think are simple street thieves turn out to be agents of the templars. The killing of these agents stirs up the templars and their guards, forcing the party to flee the city without full provisions.

2. While following the rough chart given to them by Melestan, the party first scares off some scavengers (thus avoiding a fight immediately after the next one) and encounters a lone half-giant. She appears friendly at first, but arms herself and calls for her hidden companions after determining the party’s identity. She is joined by a mul and an enslaved gith drone. The mercenaries are swiftly defeated, but the party is left feeling wary.

3. The planned id fiend encounter was pushed back until next week.

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First Session Recap
DM's Log - 8/30

Looking to earn some money, the characters each took guard work for some caravans headed from Tyr to the trade town of Altaruk. They all arrived without incident, but once there were recruited by House Wavir to locate a caravan wagon lost in a sandstorm.

Scenes

1. The characters head out into the dying sandstorm to track the lost wagon. They follow the road until they see wheel tracks heading off into the desert. After following the tracks for a couple miles, the party is ambushed by a group of silt runners. The small lizard people batter the party, but are ultimately killed.

2. The tracks continue from the ambush point, this time flanked by the wide, webbed foot prints of silt runners. After a few more miles of tracking, the party locates the wagon—but it’s being scavenged by a pack of kruthik. The chitinous lizards are quickly dispatched and the silt runner tracks are followed to the ruins of a tower on a hill in the distance.

3. The party find the remaining members of the silt runner tribe in the cellar of the tower, conversing with a lone ssurran about the fate of the captured Wavir drivers. The party charges in to rescue the captured men, but are nearly overwhelmed by a counter charge from the silt runners. Some timely intervention on the part of Narathir turns the fight in their favor and the silt runner tribe and ssurran are dispatched.

Wrap-up
The party finds an amulet of health on one of the silt runners. The House Wavir enclave in Altaruk handsomely rewards the party and gives them passage back to Tyr on a northbound caravan.

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