2/4/11: I've decided to set Crimson Throne aside and go old school. We're playing the ultimate adventure, converted to 4e. John's character is a changeling who randomly changes sexes when he/she goes to sleep. Jurod, the male, is evil. Jolene, the female, is good.
The original adventure is set in the world of Greyhawk. I've changed some names and placed it on the world of Nyrod. This region is just north of the Nentir vale, and a few days south of the city of Olwynn.
Carric Cendoria - Elf Seeker
Fayte Bonesunder - Human Paladin
Jurod/Jolene - Changeling Mage
We kicked it off with some of Gary Gygax's trademark long-winded boxed text:
"Your party is now approaching the Village of Holmaren. You are badly equipped and have no large sums of cash. In fat, all you have is what you wear, plus the few coins that are hidden in purses and pockets. What you do possess in quantity, though, is daring and desire to become wealthy and famous. Thus your group comes to Holmaren, Is this indeed a place for adventurers to seek their fortunes? You all hope, of course, to gain riches and make names for yourselves. The outcome of this is uncertain, but your skill and daring, along with a good measure of luck, will be the main ingredients of what follows, be it for weal or woe.
The small community at the crossroads is a completely unknown quantity What is there? Who will be encountered? Where should you go? These are your first explorations and encounters, so chance may dictate as much as intelligence. Will outsiders be shunned? Are the reports true - is the whole community engaged in evil practices? Are the folk here bumpkins, easily duped? Does a curse lay upon those who dare to venture into the lands which were once the temple's? All of these questions will soon be answered.
The dusty, rutted road is lined with closely-grown hedges of brambles and shrubs. Here and there it cuts through a copse or crosses a rivulet. To either hand, forest and meadow have given way to field and orchard. A small herd of kine graze nearby, and a distant hill is dotted with the wand stone chimneys with thin plumes of blue smoke rising from them. a road angles west into the hill country, and to either side of the road ahead are barns and buildings - Holmaren at last! The adventure begins...."
The adventurers began to explore the village.
Cheese - The heroes visited the home of the town cheesemaker. His name was Cowherd Charg, and he was a bit of a jerk. Jurod argued with Charg and his mother, Chilk over the high price of the cheese wheels. But once Jurod tasted some of the 5 gold cheese, he had nothing but good things to say and he became friends with Cowherd Charg.
Panda Farmer - Farmer Frook was a pandaman and the captain of the guard. He told the heroes of the recent troubles involving bandits, and how it may have to do with the evil temple that was sealed off 10 years ago. He also said that a trio of adventurers had headed east to investigate a ruined tower and never returned. They were Lemunda the Lovely, Rinthmaw the Archer & Voldor the Strong. The heroes met Frook's son, Elmo, a drunken pandaman who wore pants held up with a rope belt. They'd end up hiring him to join them on an expedition to the ruined tower.
Inn of the Welcome Wench - The heroes ate a meal. Jurod flirted with the waitress, Gelyn, who was innkeeper Ostler Gundigoot's daughter. Ostler warned Jurod to leave her alone. Jurod then overheard some citizens ranking the babes of Holmaren, and heard of a widow who was quite fetching. He and the heroes decided to go check her out.
Widow Birta - Jurod came on strong to the widow. Birta explained that her husband had gone to check out the ruined tower 6 months ago and never returned. She still believed he was alive...
Brother Smith - Across from the inn was a rugged blacksmith who stood outside pounding on his anvil. Ladies swooned and waved as the sweaty man did his work. Brother Smith was friends with Jaroo the druid, and recommended that the heroes visit with him.
Druid's Grove - Jaroo's black bear was wary of the heroes, but Jaroo called it off. Jaroo offered to use his magic to aid the heroes in any way he could. He worried that the evil of the temple was returning...
Trading Post - Jurod bought a waterproof hooded cloak. He also bickered with Gerag, the thin half-owner of the post. The heores looked at the mongrel dogs he had for sale and were appalled. The horses did not look well, either. The heroes met a man-at-arms with a bristly moustache named Mardix, who the heroes hired on as help.
Church - The church of Clarissa was run by Canon Terjon. The heroes met with his assistant, Calmert. Calmert offered to help the heroes with magic, and also introduced them to Salima, a new acolyte who agreed to join the heroes expedition. She was a half-orc cleric of Clarissa.
Baryx & Rakotis - A mage and a fighter, respectively. These two heroes had a small militia known as The Badgers. They lived in a tower and were hoping for funding from the Church of Clarissa to build an entire keep to help make Holmaren safe. Baryx told the heroes what he knew of the recent troubles:
10 years ago, a great evil was uncovered beneath the ruined tower by an evil wizard called Zenopus. The evil was said to be a demon lord imprisoned underground thousands of years ago. Zenopus released the demon lord, who founded a temple devoted to a great Elemental eye. The temple gained hundreds of evil followers, and they began to raid nearby settlements.
King thennrynnia caught word of this, and tasked two legendary heroes to lead an army against the temple. Saridrina and Vault (from the Eldritch Might campaign) led the soldiers, and met the followers of elemental evil in the battle of Emridel Meadows. The heroic army chased off the army, whose demon lord leader fled back to the temple. The heroes followed and razed the temple, sealing it off with powerful magic to once again imprison the demon lord.
Now evil seemed to be stirring at the ruined temple of Zenopus again. Bandits and goblins wearing the symbol of the elemental eye had been causing trouble. Jurod offered to investigate the ruined tower - for a price. Baryx was put off by this but ultimately agreed.
The heroes slept for the night at the Inn of the Welcome Wench. Jurod had Mardix guard his door. Overnight, Jurod became Jolene. Mardix was baffled when Jolene emerged from the room. While he found her beautiful, he was most unsettled by her gender shift. As the day wore on, though, the man-at-arms grew fond of Jolene.
Unfortunately, a rainstorm hit just as the adventurers began their trip to the tower of Zenopus. After an hour of walking, the heroes were surprised by a panicked boar with an arrow in its' side. Elmo sliced it as it ran by, and Jolene killed it with an arc lightning spell. They pulled out the arrow, and saw the symbol of the elemental eye on the tip. The heroes looked around for the hunters, but found none.
They traveled for a few more hours, and came upon the ruined temple. It was in a swampy area... frogs croaked and lightning bugs hovered about. A statue of a terrified bandit was in their path. The heroes were certain this was a man turned to stone.
The heroes found a stairwell and went down. It led to a dungeon area. The floor was covered in a strange green mist, which felt somehow soaked in ancient evil. Fayte stepped into an intersection and fell into a false floor pit. The heroes lowered a rope and helped her get out.
The heroes headed to a set of doors down a hall to their right. Fayte opened the door, and saw a dais with a stange seven pointed star glowing red. She stepped in... and four skeletons emerged from dark alcoves and attacked!
Mardix was bloodied by the skeletons' arrows. But Jolene used her hypnotism spell to force the skeletal archers to fire at each other as Fayte and Carric made short work of the others. The heroes were victorious. A search of the room turned up nothing further. They made their way back to the intersection, careful of the pit.
They headed straight forward, their way lit by Fayte's sunrod. They came upon the rotted remains of an archer and a fighter, lying dead before a wooden set of double doors. Jurod used a mage hand spell to smash a head against the door. The heores heard swift shuffling from the room beyond... Jolene had alerted the goblins inside to their presence!
Fayte opened the door, and over a dozen goblins fired off arrows at her! As the arrows plunged into her and Elmo, she boldly waded into the room, cutting down goblins as more arrows struck her. She fell to the ground, dying.
The goblins also had a magic ballista that fired explosive force bolts. Carric and Jurod countered witha fire spell and elemental spirits. The fire raged and the spirits howled, and the goblins were swiftly slaughtered. Salima healed Fayte and helped her to her feet.
The heroes searched the room and found a number of chests under the goblins beds. Carric volunteered to check them for traps while everyone else waited outside the room. Most were empty. Two had 500 silver. And one chest holding a potion also had a gas trap, which knocked Carric unconscious! The elf was in a magical slumber, and would not wake for an hour.
Fayte slung Carric over her shoulder and the heroes decided to hole up in the skeleton room and wait out Carric's poison. But after 15 minutes, an enemy patrol came knocking! A hooded priest led a band of zombies into the room. As the doors burst open, the hooded priest dropped a couple of death burst spells which devastated the heroes (and criticaled the poor prone Carric).
The heroes cut down the zombies, but were chagrined to see the zombies get back up and attack again! Fayte soon realized that the hooded priest had a magical aura that could re-animate the zombies. She directed her friends to focus on him.
The battle was fierce. The hooded priest had used his magic to close the false floor trap. The heroes pushed him and the zombies back, further and further. Salima kept four of the zombies occupied as Fayte, Mardix and Elmo closed in.
The hooded priest chanted, and re-activated the trap! Fayte and Mardix both fell in! the priest then cast an immobilization spell on Mardix, and ran. The heroes pelted the priest with ranged attacks, nearly killing him.
The bloodied priest burst into the western room, which had a bridge over water. In the water were skiffs full of sleeping bandits. The priest shouted at them to wake up and help him. The bandits climbed up to the bridge. Elmo had given chase, and was staring down a half-dozen brigands.
The heroes had no choice but to withdraw. Elmo was able to join the heroes in the stairwell, and they emerged back in the forest. The rainstorm was heavy, and the brigands did not give chase.
The adventurers were hurt, and needed to return to Holmaren. They had braved the tower and survived... they were certain to return to finish the job.