A Cracked Earth

Fourth Session Summary

We wake at the lodges and politely attend morning services.

We meet with the Leader Elf and warn him of Eight, as well as the cultists, and he has no information for us.

We engage in some trade.

(and now, Josh will take over narrating…)

We begin… at the elven Lodges. We attend their morning prayers, at which Nine is given a pass because he came in with Blounce, and Cassidy confirms that he thinks he’s better than the elves, because they pray to something they can’t even see.

Scout holds a meeting with the leader of the elven lodges (Weaver, Cassidy, and Nine attend). Scout goes on to explain about accidentally freeing Eight.

We also warn him about the group who attacked us yesterday—with their strange X symbol and their “greatest light.” Cassidy realizes that the elf leader is mostly humoring Scout, though he’s polite about the “danger posed to the forest” all the same.

(The leader of the elves calls us a “motley group of beings.” I feel like Nine is going to bring this one back up.)

We sell all of the armor we acquired from the cult, and net 55 gp.

We exhaust party funds and acquire 2 potions (Scout takes one, Nine takes the other).

We return to Spireview on the bustling Market Day, and tell Renaud after everything. He indicates the diagrams for making living golems dates back to the late Era of the Witch-Queens.

Renaud gives us 50 gp apiece.

We concoct an elaborate silly scheme to use Scout’s disguise self ability to appear as the cult leader whom we’ve captured. We march Scout through town, and an elderly half-orc (?) woman seems very interested in this, doing a lousy job of shadowing us. We take her to an inn, and rent a room there, despite how unhappy the innkeeper is.

We prepare a sting for her—Blounce following her in cat form, Cassidy guarding the door of the room, and Weaver and Nine downstairs. Our mysterious shadower goes up, she magically attacks Cassidy, and battle is joined as Blounce turns into a giant spider! When we come running up the stairs, Nine doesn’t attack the spider (“Nine not jump on wild animal!”) but Weaver totally does shoot it (read: Blounce) with a crossbow. She actually stabs herself in the neck, but Blounce heals her and after a bit of scuffle Nine finally is able to grapple her, and break one of her hands.

Cassidy interrogates her, beating her save. She also indicates she serves “the Greatest Light, light to burn the earth clean.” “My god can blot the sun, brighter than the sun, who can eat the sun. The Greatest Light will burn the filth of all life…” (and she sort of implies even them). When we produce the scroll we recovered, she looks at disguised Scout—“Was I right? It was the lizard-people, wasn’t it? They have uncovered the light! It will burn from the north! They must have dug too deep—they’ll be the first to die.”
We search her body and find another holy symbol of this same death cult. She also has spell components, and 2 daggers.

She also has a vial of poison which adds +1d4 poison damage if applied to a weapon (single use).

We also take 6 gp from her.

(A search of her body reveals she is probably mongrelfolk.)

We pay the innkeeper off more for his troubles—after having stuffed the mongrelfolk woman into Cassidy’s bag of holding—and Dan promises to name both the inn and innkeeper who tells us we CAN’T do this sort of thing regularly… but maybe on Market Day (which is monthly).

Our investigation in the Market yields only a little more information—the mongrelfolk woman has been seen before on Market Days, and probably spent all day looking for someone or something she didn’t find.

In cat form, Blounce is able to track down where she’s staying in the rougher section of town. She clearly has been scrawling notes there, including the holy symbol of this cult, and also her presentiments that the lizardfolk are digging somewhere and don’t understand danger, but might be possible fellow worshipers?
I invest in another healing potion.

Our plan is to head north, towards the lizardfolk, to find out what they discovered when they dug.

We gain 205 xp from this session, going from 860 xp to 1065 xp, and moving to 3rd level.

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Second session summary

Ankheg, as it turns out, does not taste good.

We continue along the old ruined road, towards the Hot Springs and the Ruined Fort.

As we’re walking, we see three orcs coming towards us with a tattered banner. The banner indicates they’re the Six-Fingered, which is a tribe that migrates nearby. They indicate that they mean no harm, and are just passing through. They’re seeking Renaud, because they took a wrong turn and ended up in a place that didn’t seem right. Apparently they were digging at an old settlement to “put down some roots.”

Cassidy tries to (not so subtly) tip them off to the advice that Granny gave him, and only really ends up spooking them.

(Orcs have for the past 2,000 years been largely peaceful—without the influence of their god, there’s nothing driving them towards slaughtering the innocent. Staying in one place, however, they sometimes become aggressive, so they’ve become very migratory. Cassidy’s “Granny” finds them interesting, because they’re a race that’s been pushed to do awful things in the past—so she’s looking for a foothold.)

(Goblinoids had no reason to keep themselves from killing each other without their gods, and so the subspecies destroyed each other.)

Nine eats a goodberry given to him by Blounce. It tastes okay, but the feel of it in his mouth is strange. He is fully nourished by it, however.

We travel into the woods, which seem like they are well-tended by the elves of the Lodges. A day’s travel and a night passes uneventfully.

We eventually make it into the wilder part of the woods, where druids of the Lodges do some of their first forays into training. The going gets harder—more vines and underbrush, fewer deer paths, etc.

We eventually encounter a fort, with a 20’ wall, and a tower at the southwest. This place seems like something I’ve seen before (after making a Wis saving throw). I remember that it was not a fort—it was a tower, and a huge one. Nine remembers being on the top level of it, and seeing trees way below me. Looking up, he saw a boat in the sky. That’s all he can remember.

There are humanoid tracks that go up to the wall. Blounce checks the tracks (natural 20): heavy boots, but traveling light. A single person was running pretty quickly into the fort.

We hear whimpering and sobbing, a “help me”, and find someone in a structure.
Nets fall on us, but miss. When I look up, there is a group of perhaps 10 kenku, who are all pointing shortbows at us. They shoot at us, and combat is joined! The massive amount of arrow fire fells Scout and Cassidy, but we manage to kill some and drive the rest off. Turns out grappling IS good, if you use one kenku as a weapon against the others.

(Nine can remember kenku from a time before, but they had wings then.)

The corpse was human, but not an ethnic group that Cassidy has ever seen before. He is likely the one who was chased in here by the kenku?

We get about 4gp, 2 sp.

Lodged in the corpse’s throat is a scroll case that he tried to swallow, and then probably choked on it unable to get it down. It is damaged a little bit, and slightly blurred. But the scroll discusses, in Elvish, as a letter to someone and from someone:
“something has changed”
“coming through”
“the Southern Crack”

The tabaxi and lizardfolk come through the Cliffwall Crack to the North. The Southern Crack is the one which Scout is worried about.

Cassidy kills the kenku to keep him quiet.

The large table here is sized for Nine. In fact, he has sat at it before! He remembers doing a very good job. In his memory, there are five more things like him (complete with numbers), and Nine is the one that can hold the fork and the spoon.

Blounce’s investigation of the larger structure—thanks to her dwarven stonecunning—reveals that it might have been 30 stories tall. It’s tremendous foundation work, and clearly has sub-basement beneath sub-basement.

We approach the larger of the two towers now—the first floor is well-lit and broken up into several rooms. They’ve been pretty clearly picked over, but they were obviously well-furnished at some point. While looking through this, Nine flies into a rage, and smashes through a scroll rack (failed Wisdom save to remember anything).

We go down into the basement, and find stone benches, and a stone slab in the floor with an iron ring.

Scout finds small clutches of eggs in a few corners—they’re tiny, colored like the stone, and webbed over slightly. Weaver picks one up and it’s warm to the touch. She puts it back, but now Cassidy takes a few.

When Nine moves the stone slab, a huge symbol on the floor lights up—Weaver, Scout, and Blounce fail Wisdom saves and are suddenly terrified of symbol and room. We are then set upon by darkmantles, but ultimately triumph.

We continue down into another sub-basement, into a room that is 20-foot square. There are gears and shafts and levers. Nine tries to remember what this is, but fails the save, and rages briefly, smashing things. Weaver and Nine pull a lever, but are unable to get the system to unjam.

We eventually find a door—through it is a place where Nine remembers he used to sleep. There are scroll-racks through half of the walls, though half of the room is collapsed. There are rows of sarcophagi, like the one I used to be in. There are numbers for the four remaining—8, 1, 3, and 6. One is missing (presumably Nine’s, taken by Renaud). Others are buried in rubble, and we can’t tell what they are.

There are scrolls and books—the book is mostly ruined, but seems to be some sort of religious text (written in Common).

We are able to retrieve two mostly intact scrolls (written in Draconic). One of them has a body schematic of a Goliath.

Nine opens the sarcophagus marked 8, and something that looks like him rises up from it. Presumably, this is Eight. Scout’s sense tells us that all of the visible sarcophagi have been desecrated. Nine struggles with Eight, but he frees himself, drops to all fours, and runs. Nine pursues him, but to no avail, as he escapes.

When we review the book, it seems to be a text about worshipping Ran-Na-Mal, a relatively high-ranking demon, the Demon of Constructs. Religious rituals to this demon could cause constructs to become desecrated.

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Third session summary
Sigils and Fantatics

We rest back in the woods after accidentally freeing Eight. We wake up around noon and realize we have all fallen asleep and for much longer than intended.

When we wake up Blounce is missing. Instead there is a bear curled up on top of her sleeping bag, which is a bit shreaded. We question it with what abilities we can muster. It runs away saying “Bear hungry!!!” and runs away. We all chase it and come upon Blounce in the woods. “Yeah, the bear was me,” she says. She is clearly proud of herself. We return to camp.

We decided to clear the collapsed area of the tomb room, in search of a door Nine remembers. Nine and Scout clear boulders while everyone else skulks and loafs about.

Weaver explores the machine room. She finds some uncut black gems. Blounce recognizes them as emeralds, although they are the wrong color.

Cassidy finds a sack hidden behind a bookshelf. He finds a book, which he secretly pockets, and some scrolls: a recipe for potion of healing, a humanoid diagram (treatise on comparing the quality of different races’ various body parts, concluding that goliath parts should be used as much as possible, though footnotes decry the lack of resulting intelligence), and one with diagrams in a language he doesn’t recognize (cleric spell scroll – animate dead), which he declares.

Blounce, in sitting around, discovers that levers in the machine room cause effects in other rooms.

With the room cleared, 2 crushed sarcophagi and likewise crushed bodies. 2 remain unaccounted for. Nine busts a padlock and a sigil on the door goes off, frightening away half the party and dealing some psychic damage to the 2 who remain. Weaver manages to draw the sigil in her notebook, taking additional damage, before fleeing.

After a short rest we go back in and check on the door to ensure it’s not now sitting unguarded. The door is still magical with abjuration; 3 wards are cast upon it simultaneously (drawn one on top of the next). We pile some rocks back in front of it and head home.

We start back toward Spireview, then decide to go to the lodges to warn the elves about Eight (zombie golem?).

The next morning we come upon a party of 6 humanoid travelers. Scout tries to talk to them. Their fallen comrade was taken in the night. It becomes clear this is the body we found taken by the Kenku. When Scout reveals this, their leader orders, “kill them!”

We defeat them after a long tough battle. We bring the leader to unconsciousness and tie him up.

30 gp, Potion of fire breath, potion of hill giant strength, 2 suits studded leather, 2 suits leather, 3 maces, 2 longbows, 60 arrows, 2 short swords, 2 daggers.

Symbol carved directly over their heart; looks like an encircled butterfly. We don’t know this religion. Matches what we saw on the body at the Kenku fort.

I’ve crossed a crack to come here, far to the south. I came to meet a friend in Spireview; she will reveal herself to me. I serve the greatest light.

However, it’s unclear whose side these people are on. Cassidy puts an axe in his head.

We make it to the lodges.

Cassidy surreptitiously passes the book to the head elf. Weaver sees this, without understanding its significance (cannot speak the language in which the transaction takes place) and tells everyone about it.

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First session summary
Please go ahead and edit this if you'd like

Each of the PCs got a chance to interact with Renald. He spent much of the time acting strangely as he organized a visit to his closed stacks. There, PCs met Nine and were tasked with bringing him to the ruined fort in the Braudle-af Forest. They traveled part of the way there and encountered a pair of ankhegs. More to come!

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Welcome players!
Getting started on characters

Greetings all!

Welcome (or for some of you welcome back) to The Cracked Earth!

As you are thinking about your characters, take a look at the History of the Cracked Earth and the information about PCs. These are all part of the Wiki for this campaign (which you should be able to see on the left side of this screen).

You do not need to put your full character sheet up on this page if you do not want to, but please make an entry for your character (again, under Character on the left. From that screen, look for the ‘+’ sign on the upper right) that includes their personality traits, ideals, flaws, and bonds. Let me know if you have any questions about that. Your character should have some connection to the NPC named Renald Truthspeaker, he is the custodian of The Spire in Spireview, the town that will serve as many of the adventures’ starting points. You can express this connection in your character’s bonds (You met him once while foraging in the wilds, you are currently employed as one of his messengers, you are on a quest to contact him to find out about a vision that you had, etc.). Again, let me know if you have any questions about this or would like some guidance about an idea that you already have.

We can spend some time in our first session finalizing characters, so you don’t need anything other than an idea for the first time we get together.

I’ll send an email soon to schedule the first session. In the meantime, feel free to look around the Wiki for more background for the world.

See you all soon!

- Dan

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