EarthDawn - The Age of Legends

A Rebellion in Jerris
Striking against the Denairastas

After battling the Horror King and freeing his victims, the PCs returned to their home in Throal. They had gathered several trophies, including the twisted, bony crown of the Horror King himself, and set about creating a Trophy room there, to keep the various treasures and artifacts they had acquired.

When wandering the city, Nazeer was approached by a Human Named Kos Steelgaze. Kos had a job for them, but first he needed to know something: Where did their loyalties lie? After some consideration of this question, the PCs determined that their loyalties lay with the free peoples of Barsaive, and no other. This answer was satisfactory to Kos, who revealed that he was a member of the Falcons, the air defense force of the city of Jerris. The Falcons had been outside the city when it was taken by the Denairastas during the war, and had been unable to return while it was under their control. He was looking for a group of adepts to infiltrate the city and aid the Rebellion against the Iopan usurpers. The PCs gladly accepted this offer, and made their way to Jerris.

In the city, they were met by agents of the Resistance, and escorted to their secret headquarters in the ancient sewer tunnels. There they met with Chardis Morningfall, the head of the Engineers guild in Jerris. He told them about how the Iopans had come to him, asking for volunteers to help them discover the secret of the ash that blew in from the Wastes and fell constantly on the city. Apparently, the Iopans had managed to clear out a kaer in the Wastes, and planned to use that as a laboratory to study the ash. Chardis did not completely trust them, but finding a method of stopping the ash-fall would be a tremendous blessing to the city, so he agreed. He arranged for his people to contact him secretly though a messenger spirit, and sent out five volunteers. The first spirit arrived successfully, giving the location of the kaer and directions through the Poison Forest to find it. But the next spirit never arrived. He had waited as long as he could, and now he wanted the PCs to journey into the Wastes, find the kaer, and determine what had happened to the Engineers.

They were lead through the sewers to the Poison Forest, where they met the Obsidiman Purifier Orin Draneth, who gave them some healing poultices against the rotting disease of the forest. The PCs journeyed into the Forest, and after battling some of the corrupted creatures within, they emerged on the other side and headed into the Wastes.

After traveling through the desert of blowing ash for a short time, they discovered a crashed airship, and the entrance to the kaer. There was no sign of activity outside or in the kaer that they could see, so they made their way into the airship, where a group of ashen cadaver men attacked them. After defeating the cadaver men, they discovered two Iopans who had been trapped inside the vessel by their attackers. One of them was nearly dead, and the other was poisoned by the ash getting into the various cuts and wounds on their bodies. They both had strange marks on their faces, and the conscious one explained that they were Oathbreakers, and that mark indicated that he had betrayed the Denairastas by refusing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the ship. Nazeer offered to dispatch them right there, since they were obviously dead men anyway, and the Iopan took him up on this disturbing offer. Buulgath and Phylinius left the ship while Nazeer performed his gruesome deed.

Inside the kaer, there were signs of a fierce battle, with broken and shattered equipment everywhere, but no bodies to be seen. Nazeer ordered Phylinius and Buulgath up the stairs to the second level, where they proceeded to explore. As they entered an empty room, Nazeer ordered the two to watch behind them and make sure nothing snuck up on them. However, both Buulgath and Phylinius thought that the other was watching behind them, and the trio ended up trapped in the room, with a wall of ashen cadaver men blocking the exit stairs.

After battling their way past the animated corpses of the researchers, they discovered a room that looked more like a torture chamber than a research lab: there were shackles on the walls, and a pair of dead figures still chained into them. One of the figure looked as though it had somehow “unraveled”, like a tapestry coming undone. Searching the room, they discovered that these dead figures were the lost Elementalists, and a fragment of a journal told them why: the Iopans had overcome the mages immediately upon their arrival at the empty kaer, and began using them as test subjects, injecting the distilled ash directly into their bodies to see what effect it would have. The effect took them by surprise: one of the Engineers had become a Horror construct, and began rampaging through the kaer, slaughtering the researchers and even downing the airship when it came to investigate. Before the PCs could escape with this knowledge, the horror attacked and nearly slew them. Ultimately they were triumphant, and escaped back to Jerris with this terrible news.

Upon their return, Chardis and the rest of the resistance were outraged. Chardis wanted immediate revenge on Gellad Denairastas for his slain people, but Pihgram Tor counseled restraint, especially against directly confronting Gellad. He was a Denairastas, after all, and a very powerful magician. Ferrin Avric suggested an alternate plan, but Chardis was determined to make him pay directly for his crimes, and resolved to confront him the next day.

The Samsarans accompanied Chardis to the city’s central square, where he intended to confront Gellad with proof of his crime in front of all the people. Gellad was there, surrounded by his personal bodyguards as well as members of the Firescale Trollmoot. Chardis confronted him and attempted to attack him, but the bodyguards and Gellad’s personal power was too much for him. A fray broke out in the square, and the Iopan guards quickly descended on the crowd. The PCs pulled Chardis out of the melee and escorted him safely back to the resistance hideout in the Wastes.

Later that day, Chardis agreed that his action had been foolish, and agreed to the proposal Ferrin had made earlier: Gellad had a Pattern Item in Jerris with him, a malachite dagger. They would create a diversion, steal the dagger, and cast a spell on him though it – he would have no defense against that. While others created the diversion in the airship yards, the PCs agreed to do the sneaking, and that evening they made their way to the manor house that the Iopans had occupied.

Upon arriving, they heard a tremendous explosion from across town, and several guards rushed out of the house, led by Mara Corovan, Gellad’s personal assistant. With the distraction firmly in place, they snuck into the house, Phylinius disguising himself as a guard captain and ordering the remaining guards to follow the first group and help with the fire. They then made their way to the second floor, where Gellad had his quarters.

Upstairs, they found several magical traps which Buulgath managed to disarm, and they gained access to the room. As they searched the room for the chest they knew contained the Pattern Item, they found something odd: on the a nightstand was a wide variety of makeup, and several wigs each matching Gellad’s hair. They were confused for a moment: was this not the real Gellad? Did he have a body-double? They eventually decided that it didn’t matter, because the Pattern Item would only affect the real Gellad. They quickly acquired it and made their way out of the room.

Out in the hallway, they heard the sound of approaching footsteps, and Phylinius quickly transformed into the guard captain he had previously copied. Just in time, Mara Corovan walked around the corner, and questioned the “guard” as to why he hadn’t followed the others. Phylinius told her that he saw someone sneaking around, and came up to investigate. She ordered him off to fight the fire, and Phylinius quickly escaped with Buulgath and Nazeer sneaking along behind him.

Upon returning to the resistance headquarters, they presented the pattern item to Chardis. Chardis immediately began a ritual spell over the item, sacrificing an Elemental Fire Coin as well as several drops of his own blood, and sealed the act by declaring it just revenge for the death of King Varulus. Somewhere in the city, Gellad Denairastas was consumed by a pillar of fire. Chardis immediately left for the Wastes.

The next day, Mara Corovan paraded an Elf who looked exactly like Chardis Morningfall through the town square, reading off a list of the crimes he had committed. When the list was done, the doppelganger immediately caught fire, and burned alive in front of the entire town. This, she said, was the fate of all who resisted the Iopans. The PCs were concerned at first that Chardis had actually been caught, but upon returning to the resistance’s hideout in the Wastes, they found the real Chardis in perfect health. He thanked them for their bravery, and asked them if they would be willing to perform one more task for the resistance: he asked them to go to Parlainth, and ask the Dragon Charcoalgrin if she would be willing to aid their cause. They had discovered a powerful item that they thought would be a suitable gift for her: The Sword of Vargas, the legendary Dragon slayer. The PCs agreed, and set out for the Forgotten City of Parlainth.

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In the Kaer of the Horror King
Descent into darkness

After the Battle of Sky Mountain, Nazeer, Phylinius and Buulgath coasted on their fame and success for a while, but eventually they decided they needed to go and pursue some new goal. Buulgath purchased a map in the bazaar that supposedly led to an unopened kaer, and the trio decided to try their hands at kaer-delving.

Making their way to the kaer, they found it buried in almost plain sight, but the entrance was still closed. A combination of Buulgath’s magic and good old fashioned muscle power managed to pull the door open just a bit, and they were surprised and pleased to hear voices from the other side. The voices quickly turned to shouts of terror and fear, and a trio of kaer guards in old-fashioned armor attacked them as they squeezed into the entrance. They fought back bravely but carefully, making sure to only knock the guards unconscious, as they seemed to think the trio were Horrors in disguise.

Making their way into the kaer, Phylinius tried playing music to convince the kaer dwellers that they were not Horrors and that the Scourge was over. The residents seemed inordinately terrified of them, however, and they fled at the trio’s approach. In the middle of the main entryway, they found a small amphitheater with a tiny hut in the center. As they made their way in, they heard a child crying and an adult voice trying to soothe the crying, telling the child everything would be okay, and the King would protect them. As they entered the hut, they saw a man standing over what appeared to be a sacrificial alter, knife in hand, with his own child strapped to the stone. As soon as he saw the three heroes, he cried out that the King would protect them, and plunged the dagger into his child’s heart before Nazeer could move to stop him. Suddenly, the trio found themselves in the rocky entry hall, back on the other side of the door. The door was sealed once again, all their effort undone, and a wet, gurgling laugh sounded throughout the tunnel – definitely a Horror.

Knowing now that the people in the kaer were under the influence of a Horror, they proceeded more cautiously. Forcing the door again and sneaking back in, they slipped stealthily past the guards and the kaer dwellers, doing all they could to avoid notice. Towards the back of the kaer, they found a hidden doorway, leading to a stylized throne room. A twisted and mutilated Name-giver sat on the throne, the flesh of his or her face and head twisted and warped, pulled up to form the shape of a crude crown.

The trio immediately attacked The King, and the Horror defended itself handily, seeming to disappear and reappear at will to dodge their attacks. Finally, Phylinius landed a lucky shot with a thrown dagger, and the battle came to an end. The Horror’s body disintegrated, leaving only the bone crown that had been on it’s head. As the others stepped forward to touch it, Nazeer quickly moved in and knocked them aside, claiming the crown as his own prize. Surprised, the other two allowed him to keep it.

As they went back out into the rest of the kaer, the dwellers were shaking their heads and walking around in a daze, as though they were just waking up from a long dream. They explained that the King had convinced them that the only way to keep the kaer safe was through the sacrifice of those they loved. Buulgath explained to them that they had been under the influence of a Horror, and that they were now free. Phylinius told them of the world outside, and the three heroes led the dwellers into the light beyond their underground home.

GM Commentary:

The King was one of my first personal creations. I wanted to create a monster that was not only a terror in combat, but also evoked a certain feeling in the players themselves. The shocking imagery of the sacrifice certainly got me the result I wanted from the guys, and set the tone for future Horrors I created or adapted for the game.

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The Battle of Sky Mountain
In Defense of Throal

After escaping from Sky Mountain, Captain Hanso K’tanga flew them directly to Throal to warn the dwarves that the Therans were coming. Looking back as they fled, they realized that Sky Mountain was invisible from the ground, that it could only be seen from the air, making it difficult to detect the super-fortresses approach. Exploring the holds, Nazeer, Phylinius and Buulgath found several chests of strange amulets, enchanted with some unknown magic. There were many hundreds of the amulets, enough to outfit an army.

Upon arriving in Throal, the group met with King Neden himself and his advisors, telling him what they had seen and presenting him with the scroll. After some time spent translating the scroll, it was determined that it was written in Maracan, a language of one of the Imperial provinces. It spoke of how Sky Mountain was controlled and powered by a Jinari spirit, who both maintained the magic of the super behemoth and controlled the Horror within it, which was to be used as a super weapon of sorts. Apparently the Horror was powerful enough to level mountains with it’s fiery gaze, and Abbadon intended to level Throal with it. It also explained the chest of amulets – while in proximity to Sky Mountain, the amulets would allow the wearer to fly, giving a strong tactical advantage to even normal soldiers. Although Throal was still relatively weak from the Second Theran War, Neden knew that if he did not act to stop the Theran super-behemoth, nothing would be able to stop Abbadon from conquering Barsaive with it. He asked the trio if they would fight alongside the Throalic troops, as they had the most intimate knowledge of the vessel, and they quickly agreed.

The Throalic force moved quickly to intercept Sky Mountain, and mobilized their limited air fleet to reach it before it got close enough to Throal to attack. When they were in sight of the vessel, their amulets activated automatically, and each soldier found they could fly as easily as they walked. They quickly found, however, that the Theran soldiers had the same items, and they met their enemies in combat in the air over Sky Mountain. Nazeer, Buulgath and Phylinius joined in the fray as well, and made their way to the massive doors that held the Horror within the mountain. With the knowledge gleaned from the scroll, Buulgath knew he could weaken the magic containing the Jinari spirit, and allow it to unleash the Horror – thier only real hope of destroying Sky Mountain. As they approached, however, the jet-black form of Lord Abbadon appeared before them, preventing them from accessing the crucial point. As Phylinius and Buulgath pulled back, Nazeer confronted Abbadon himself, and the two crossed swords in mid-air. Abbadon was the better warrior, naturally, but Nazeer was no slouch and managed to hold his own against the mighty Great Elf. Finally, Nazeer struck a lucky blow and actually severed one of Abbadon’s legs, sending the crystal armor plummeting to the ground below. Stunned by the attack, Abbadon was caught by surprise by a fire cannon blast from an airship commanded by Captain K’tanga, and was sent spiraling away from the field of battle. Their way now cleared, the trio freed the Jinari spirit, Buulgath sensing that he got some aid from the spirit of his deceased master, Obrulon. The Jinari broke free, and just as predicted forced the Horror to destroy the mountain with a mighty blast, sending ash raining down on the plains south of Throal for years to come.

The battle won, the trio returned to Throal as heroes, and were given a personal honor by King Neden for their bravery and resourcefulness. Phylinius was given a special treat for his third circle advancement – he was to perform before the King himself at a special banquet honoring the fallen heroes of the battle. Wracked with nervousness, Phylinius wandered the halls of Throal, trying to determine what would be an appropriate song for a king. He found himself looking at mural of past rulers of Throal, and realized that the crown must be a terrible burden. He decided then to write a song about how difficult it is to be king, and perform it for Neden and his court.

The next day, after a long night of writing and rewriting, Phylinius was finally ready to perform for the king. As he began, the entire court grew silent at the sound of his voice, and Phylinius himself seemed suddenly lost in the performance. As the group watched on, a female singer appeared next to Phylinius, singing along with him, apparently unnoticed by the troubadour. They sang together, the entire court staring open-mouthed at the apparition that was before them. Finally, as the song wound to the end, the apparition disappeared, and Phylinius stood alone again, finishing the song by himself. When he finished, the entire court was silent. No one stirred to applaud, nor moved, nor spoke. Phylinius was nervous for a moment, until he realized that tears were streaming from King Neden’s eyes, and he was overcome with emotion. Recovering, he declared that he had not been so moved by a performance in many long years, and only a truly great performer could have so inspired the Passion Astendar to appear and sing along with him. Neden declared then and there that Phylinius would one day be a great performer, and a mighty legend.

GM Commentary:

Phylinius’ performance was a song called The Burden of the Crown by Baldwin of Erebor, a performer in the SCA. My mother first heard Baldwin perform that song at a royal feast, and aside from the divine manifestation, the result was identical – the crowned heads at the feast sat in stunned silence after the song was over, crying openly at the beauty of the words and music, too stricken to applaud. The song is one of my very favorites, and Baldwin has a CD out called Welcome to the Current Middle Ages I recommend you buy.

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Escaping the Empire
Captured by the Therans

On arriving in Kratas, Obrulon, Gram, and Jacob set out looking for their old ally Captain K’tanga. Nazeer, Buulgath and Phylinius were given instructions on where to meet, and advised to watch their backs in the city. They did have an altercation in a back alley with a group of determined thieves, but came out with their lives and their purses intact.

Later that evening, they met thier mentors and Captain K’tanga in a tavern in the city center. K’tanga was initially not very happy to see her former comrades, and refused to give them any aid. Suddenly, Theran agent burst in the front door, having tracked the group to Kratas. As the group fought their way out and into the streets, K’tanga changed her mind and agreed to help them after all, if only to thwart the Therans. They made their way quickly to the airship docks, and departed on her vessel.

K’tanga said she knew someone in Urupa who could translate the captured scroll, and and turned her ship towards the port city. While traveling to the city, however, they were overtaken by a squadron of kilas that seemed to appear from nowhere. Rather than allow the youngsters to be captured, Captain K’tanga and their mentors hid them in cargo boxes and allowed themselves to be captured instead. The boxes were taken aboard the kilas, and then transferred to another vessel nearby, while their mentors were led off in chains. .

After being sure they were secured in a cargo hold, the three removed themselves from the boxes and began exploring. As they snuck around the vessel, it became increasingly clear they were not on a kila anymore. Looking out a window, they could see what appeared to be the side of a mountain, and the Barsaivian countryside passing by below. They finally found they were within just one structure on top of a mountain-sized airship, larger than any behemoth yet seen. Further exploration revealed that they were aboard Sky Mountain, a super-behemoth commanded by a Lord Abbadon.

Nazeer & Buulgath secured Theran uniforms for themselves, and Phylinius used his disguise self talent to allow them to walk unnoticed around the ship. At one point, they encountered Lord Abbadon himself, who failed to immediately see through their disguises. Eventually, their disguises failed and they were forced to flee, escaping down what they thought was a garbage chute. Upon reaching the bottom, they found the pit they had landed in was filled with corpses, and some horrible magic was corrupting them, animating some as cadaver men. Pushing their way out of the pit, they found themselves face-to-face with an even greater terror: a gigantic Horror, chained to the core of the mountain, it’s eyes burning with power. Fortunately, it seemed preoccupied with consuming the corpses fed into it’s pit, and they were able to escape.

Sufficiently motivated now, they sought out the holding cells where their mentors and K’tanga’s crew were being held. They found K’tanga, tortured and battered but still alive, who told them that Jacob and Gram had been killed when they refused to reveal what had become of the scroll Abbadon wanted so badly. The trio freed her and as many other captives as possible, starting an uprising that quickly spread into a running battle across the buildings of Sky Mountain. K’tanga led them towards the airship docks as the fighting continued, and the captives freed slaves and incited them to rebel against their masters. Finally, they reached the docks and found a Theran airship ready to leave. As they were battling to take control of the ship, Lord Abbadon himself appeared on the dock on the opposite side, and for a moment all seemed lost. However, Obrulon strode in from the other end of the dock, and engaged Abbadon in combat long enough to allow the trio and Captain K’tanga to escape, stealing the airship and it’s cargo and flying to Throal at all speed.

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Leaving Home
The adventure begins...

Nazeer Narinian, Phylinius Goldstar, and Buulgath Ghosttouched watch from the safety of their homes as an airship crashes a short way outside their hometown of Samsara. Investigating the wreckage, they find one survivor, dressed strangely and clutching a scroll. As he lies dying, the survivor implores them to not let the Empire get their hands on the scroll, and then passes away. Quickly fleeing the scene and heading back to Samsara, they watch in horror as a trio of Theran kilas bombard the town, completely destroying everything and everyone they’ve ever known. Terrified, they head to the only safe place they can think of: the hut of a lone adept outside town, an Obsidiman Nethermancer Named Obrulon. There, they find that Obrulon is hosting a pair of old friends from his adventuring days: Gram Sawtooth and Jacob Stonebender.

Telling the adepts what they and and showing them the scroll, the trio determine that they need to get this information to Throal. Lacking any magical transportation and needing to keep things as quiet as possible, they decide to trek overland to Kratas, where they can meet an old friend with an airship that can get them the rest of the way to the Dwarf kingdom. The three adepts also see the potential of the boys, and offer to teach them their respective disciplines while they travel. The group leaves to make their way to Kratas, pausing only to allow Obrulon to destroy his hut in an attempt to throw off any pursuing Therans.

During their travels, the three boys pick up their new disciplines quickly, and their teacher decide to test them a bit one night. Obrulon attracts some cadaver men into the middle of the camp, and the teachers hide to see how well their students deal with the threat. Buulgath has a hard time weaving threads, and Phylinius and Nazeer are not enough of a combat threat to pose much danger. However, Nazeer does manage to score a solid hit on one, causing it to go berserk with the pain and terrifying the inexperienced Nazeer. Eventually, the trio defeat the cadaver men, and are told by their teachers that they are now ready to adventure with them, having achieved the first circle of their disciplines.

GM Commentary:

My first ED adventure was not intended to be a huge long campaign, it was just going to be a few short sessions parodying Star Wars: A New Hope, which I had always thought would be simple enough to do in a fantasy setting. So the guys started out with their families getting killed by “the Empire”, and them meeting the hermit on the edge of town to learn the ways of magic and become an adept. They would then journey to Kratas, “a wretched hive of scum and villany”, etc, etc. I veered from the story a bit as it went on, but it was fun to do.

The cadaver man thing really did happen, Alex still talks about it to this day. I was also learning the ropes as a GM, and I was as surprised as they were how bad the cadaver man’s berserk ability got to be.

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