The Blue Rose Cycle

update!

:: Tumbleweeds ::

::Low whistle ::

View
Trouble in Bujarra

We find our heroes having just finished their exchange with Getsuga, a prominent dragonborn representative from the Sons of the South. The party spends some short time in the tavern seeking more information from Jeremy, our local contact with the Brotherhood of the Shortest Path. They ask him about anything else he might know about liches and how to defeat them. Jeremy informs them that a lich often maintains itself through the use of a phylactery. With that, Jeremy takes his leave and the party decides to do the same.

We decide to take Gluntz up on his offer of hospitality and return to his extravagantly appointed tent.There, despite their master’s absence, Gluntz’s attendants tend to our every need. Sufficiently pampered and cleansed, the party settles in for a much needed rest. Gluntz returns just prior to sunrise looking disheveled and exhausted. Shael and Narya engage him and discover that Gluntz’s efforts to sway the town have met with some unexpected resistance from his long-time rival, a man named AbuQir. It seems that as Gluntz sided with the south, AbuQir sided with the north. Gluntz laments the turn of events and idly wishes that this obstacle could somehow be “removed” before Bujarra is torn apart by conflict. Narya, in her characteristic bluntness, suggests that AbuQir be killed but Gluntz makes it clear that he does not want to be connected with any talk of assassination.

Shael and Narya wait for the rest of the party to wake before relating this latest news. The rest of the party is hesitant to commit cold-blooded murder on a man simply for his political affiliations and decides to have a talk with AbuQir. We quickly make our way over to AbuQir’s estate, a solidly constructed villa near the docks. There the party gains entry by introducing themselves as the heroes responsible for saving Balthazar, the Voice of Din. We then try to convince the young merchant that his best interest lays with the Sons of the South. AbuQir resists and Wren attempts to convince him through intimidation. Negotiations sour quickly but the party does manage to convince AbuQir to consider a trade deal with the south if they can deliver an offer within the day.

We quickly set out to find Getsuga and his dragonborn but discover before too long that there are now more dragonborn roaming Bujarra’s streets than yesterday. We manage to avoid a conflict with yet another surly bunch of dragonborn by openly declaring our affiliation with the Sons of the South. After more searching, we find Getsuga and negotiate from him a letter of marque offering AbuQir exclusive trade rights and favorable tax status.

The party returns to AbuQir’s villa but finds him absent. His guards escort us into the atrium where we first met him and we settle down to wait. Hours pass despite the guards’ assurances that AbuQir will return shortly. Night finally begins to descend and the party dispatches Aelar to scout out the docks and perhaps find the missing merchant. Eventually, the party grows impatient and resolves to leave, only to find the exit locked. Wren and Thomas proceed to kick down the door before they hear AbuQir’s voice behind them.

AbuQir, armed and at ease, eyes them from across the small garden. He reveals that he knows more about the party than he should. At this point, his guards enter from secret adjoining doors and combat ensues. His guards are revealed to be terrible mezzodemons from the Abyss and AbuQir himself is revealed to be yet another shape-shifting “skin-spy” similar to the one they fought amongst the Sandsingers. Memnon, Shael, and Narya are nearly felled during the fight, but our heroes eventually win the day and defeat AbuQir.

Attempts to bind the skin-spy prove difficult and the party’s plans to reveal its true nature are complicated by its ability to change its face. Hesitant to march a bound and beaten simulacrum of Balthzar out into the city, the party struggles with its next step. Shael cuts the argument short by killing the skin-spy with a blast of flame. We then proceed to burn down the rest of ABuQir’s house, but not before making off with a substantial amount of loot.

Gluntz appears unfazed by the singed and soot-stained band that tromps into his tent. In unspoken appreciation for their help in eliminating his rival in the city, Gluntz provides the party with an assortment of services to help get them equipped. The party then makes contact with Getsuga, hoping that AbuQir’s removal will prove accomplishment enough to avert the planned assassination of Balthazar. Getsuga informs us that things are coming to a head in Bujarra as a force of northerners has begun advancing on the city. Getsuga makes no assurances on Balthazar’s life if the city falls to the north.

The party resolves to help their side by clearing out the fortress that overlooks Bujarra. If the Sons of the South can situate themselves in a defensible location, they reason they might be able to halt the northern advance. Freshly rested, the party sets out the next morning to scale the steep path that leads to the entrance of the lich-haunted fortress. Once inside, they discover that the temperature drops dramatically. This frozen labyrinth eventually leads to a large cathedral-like chamber with a symbol of a black hand pierced by a single blazing dark eye. Still deeper, the party finally encounters the lich, pacing about with an ancient tome in hand.

The undead reveals his name to be Ismael. He apparently has some knowledge of the Incarnum plane, garnered from a recent visit with someone named Cardiz. Before the party can question him further, he retreats deeper into the darkness, beckoning the party to follow…

View
Anniversary

This Friday’s session will mark eight months precisely since we sat down with Narya, Thomas, Zan, Bungle, Iroquois and Ember on their final initiate test to investigate strange disappearances in the town of Quell.

Take a moment this week to think about all we have done as characters in this world, and how much things have grown over nearly 30 sessions. The roster of players has changed a bit, (for the better) the characters themselves have morphed dramatically, and the world around us has been enlightened and explored and come crashing down and left behind, only to open more doors and other worlds.

I look forward to each Friday all week. We have taken this journey together for a long time, through roads old and new and I while it hasn’t been easy to make room in our busy lives for at least 5 hours a week, I can honestly say that we have done admirably.

It has only gotten better and better.

As people we have managed to consistently achieve something very rare; something I take as a deep honor to be a part of, and something that warrants congratulations and celebration.

We play Dungeons and Dragons.

I love this game. I love you for playing it with me. Thank you.

~Luke

View
Decision 1576
November 14th session

We begin on the doorstep of the Academy, fraught with many questions. How long have we been in there? Where is Charlie? Where is Zani? Where are Kodro and the Lady Valiant? We also have a clear destination, the town currently known as Khaladun, far to the East and South, where we may find some help.

“The children play with him.”

After hearing that the nearmen have developed some sort of relationship with a dragon, finding Zani becomes our first priority. Halfway down the steep pony track to the farming crescent below, we are ambushed by a now dog-sized Zani, who smothers Shael in affection and rejoins our party. After securing horses, we set out through a dark archway mere yards from the doorway of the Academy, a mirror to the riddled portal near the magma river.

One by one we appear in the jungle-strewn heights of some unknown mountain range, and descend a narrow path towards the shimmering ocean. Two day’s easy ride brings us to a fork in the path. With the sounds of battle growing in the distance, our choice brings us unannounced to a desperate sight: a caravan is being ambushed by four enormous vulture demons. We take a breath and plunge into a tooth and nail fight. Thanks to Shael’s fiery spear from the heavens, the well placed taunts of Narya Sylandrian, a few lucky critical strikes, and Memnon’s tenacious ethereal scythe, we manage to pin them to the ground and wear them down to bone and blood.

Panting and lathered, we are met with applause from the dozens of townsfolk who bore witness to our struggle. We are greeted as heroes by Gluntz, a local merchant of substantial means who traveled from his largess to escort Balthazar, who introduces himself as a missionary of DIN. Riding beside these two men and their servants, we set off for the merchant city Bujara, the city on wheels. We glean from an eyebrow-less, white-robed servant of Balthazar’s that the year is 1576, some three years after Memnon and Wren set forth from Bujara to meet their fate in the desert. Pressing through the outskirts of town, we behold an aging castle atop a hill outside town. Gluntz informs us that this fort is haunted by the perennial Lich, and is therefore of little use to a potential occupying force. As we continue Memnon notes that an odd fashion trend has appeared in the clothing of the locals and Wren points out that all the grain and rice fields have been harvested some two months early. An inordinate number of people seem to be wearing unmarred silver or copper pendants at their shoulder. A brief investigation reveals that this historically neutral town is about to take sides in vast, intercontinental conflict for the first time. One bearing silver sides with the northern Servants of Din and their spiritual leader, while copper denotes allegiance to “The Sons of the South,” a scattered resistance movement emphasizing preservation of individuality. We forestall a much needed rest in Gluntz’s offered pavilion to enjoy a demonstration by Balthazar, who wastes no time in getting out the good word.

A large crowd gathers to surround a central stage flanked by a gallows and a chopping block. Balthazar and several attendants bearing clay jugs mount the platform and the audience hushes. No introduction is necessary for this man whose name is on the common tongue. A voice that seems to effortlessly carry across the sea of cloth and flesh radiates into each person’s ears as if it was intended for them alone.

“There are many rumors surrounding myself and the faith I profess. I would dispel these immediately and begin tonight with a demonstration. Have there been any husks today?”

A swollen-eyed woman approaches the dais and is led before Balthazar. She bears an infant in her arms, its body and face swaddled in cloth. With a compassionate nod, he gentle receives the child and uncovers its blue-lipped cherubic face. He holds the naked child aloft briefly then cradles it close to his chest and holds a hand over its forehead. After concentrating for a moment the child begins to squirm and when he removes his hand and raises the now-pink child overhead again, its cries can be heard unto the very edges of the massive crowd, which soon erupts in a broken-voiced cheering. The Voice of Din lowers the squalling babe and returns it to his mother, whose eyes shine with tears of joy as she leaves the stage singing, presenting the child to the audience, who seem eager to see the proof for themselves. After a moment, Balthazar casually raises his hand and the crowd quiets again. His face seems as joyous and awed as those in the crowd.

“It was nearly three years ago my sister’s child was born cold and silent. Overcome with emotion, I cradled the niece I would never know in my arms before they could bury her. It was looking down into that face, still wet with her mother’s blood that I first felt the light of Din flood within me and I knew, simply and absolutely that he acts through me and could answer this injustice. Her name is Tierlan, and she is very fond of flowers.”

Our party is suddenly aware of how few young children there are in the audience, and realize that the cries of this one child are the first they have heard since …

“Three years have we been wasted by this blight. Three years have we turned away from its purpose, from the reason it has infected us, and the only true and elegantly simple reply. Hers is not the first husk Din has touched through me, nor the hundredth, nor the thousandth. I have come to Bujara myself, not with a sword, nor even a shield, but with an answer, to show you that there is hope for us. There can be new life.”

As the next words fall from his lips, we notice some of the crowd nod as if recognizing the first chords of a favorite childhood song. Some people even mouth parts to themselves, as one sometimes does while reading alone.

“In ancient days before time was counted, and men still feared the wilds, there was a faithful missionary man traveling alone across the open plains. He feared the dark, and the things that make it their home, so he built a large fire to push back the night and take comfort in its warmth. Later that night, he was sitting on a stone, huddled close to the well-tended fire when he suddenly became aware of a figure sitting across from him. The flames were built high, and the figure’s face could not be seen, but he knew at once that this was Din, come to share his fire. In his haste to show proper respect, the man dropped to his knees from the stone, but left himself no place to press his forehead to earth. Din smiled, and said ‘why do you hesitate?’ With that, the first prophet lowered his face into the fire.”

He pauses. Somehow the look on his face reminds everyone of all the pain and struggle and fear they have seen over the years.

“When all have surrendered themselves to the freeing light,, this punishment will be retracted, and a new golden age shall be born. Any who would make their commitment a physical reality are invited to come up now.”

Soon a line of citizens forms and people wearing both color disks are led to Balthazar, who anoints there face in oil, sets it on fire, and has it immediately extinguished by an attendant.

After the speech, Shael turns to the first copper pendant he sees and asks, “so no children have really been born alive in three…” He trails off as his eyes move from the enormous copper plate pinned to the heavily armored shoulder of this tall martial figure, to the annoyed slitted eyes and wide, draconian head of this grim dragonborn warrior.

An altercation ensues. Shael is dumbfounded at first, staring wide-eyed at this increasingly gruff stranger, who labels the stage demonstration “pornography.” Thomas tries to step in and smooth things out, only to make things worse by insulting this demihuman and his three companions’ martial abilities, much to Narya’s amusement. Then Zani nearly brawls a doggish dragonspawn pet they have, and its owner spews degrading words on Shael, who this time replies boyishly in Draconic. A tense moment passes where the dragonborn draws his weapon, spits on the ground and says “it’s obscenity to have someone who looks like you speak our language.” He then reaches into his vest and pins an enormous copper pendant on Shael’s shoulder. “But you speak it so well.”

With a sigh of relief we head to Gluntz’s for a much needed drink and discussion. There Gluntz confirms our suspicions that no child has been born alive since the exact day of our arrival on this plane. We are informed of the exact nature of the geopolitical atmosphere, with the mighty north united as never before behind a faith of hope and peace, preaching an answer to the blight, now turn their armed masses to the south, claiming that there can be no future until all nations see the error of there ways. Meanwhile, the only southern people taking the prospect of invasion as a serious threat are the dragonborn, who have summoned a partly mercenary army to the land just south of Bujara in an attempt to plug this critical chokepoint. Their goal is to buy time for envoys to incite the other southern nations to band together and convene here in defense of their disparate ways of life. Gluntz acknowledges that the only way for him to keep his power and lifestyle, not to mention the city of Bujara together, is for the town to throw in with one side or the other and welcome their army with open arms. He is personally neutral in preference, and seeks our thoughts.

After much debate we decide to flip the town for the Sons of the South. Still undecided are the issues of how high-profile we want our support to be, in what capacity we will attempt to travel to Khaladun, and how much time, our most precious resource, we want to invest in securing this position for our touchy new friends. Wren’s suggestion was that we might have the easiest time getting to Khaladun with a certain head on a pike. We head off to have a few words with said head.

Balthazar, voice of Din, is found resting unguarded beside the stage, where acolytes continue to administer fiery late-night administrations. Thomas greets him, praises his intentions, if not his God, and parts with an embrace as friends of different faiths. Shael, pushing the awkward scene, asks at which point his quest might find an end. “When the entire world sees the truth, then perhaps we will shall forgiven.” Leaving him, we search out the envoys of the south in a likely place.

The tavern, if you can call it that, spreads out huge beneath multiple tents with long aisles of circular tables and no booths. In the center, near the bar are our targets. Shael, believing he has an “in,” strides off toward them, only to be caught by the arm by a passing waiter and drawn to a smoky corner. After a series of significant looks, he says “well, I’m at your service.”

We request information regarding the whereabouts of The Lady Valiant and Kodro, the prophecy that brought Memnon to the desert, and number of other things. We are informed that our airship has been seen pirating off the coast, raiding small villages, stealing and killing and perhaps even raping.

Shael again approaches the dragonborn table. After a halting beginning and some talk of murder, he suspects that they may intend to assassinate the vulnerable Balthazar. Believing that this would only serve to foment more violence Shael, with Thomas’s subtle assistance manages to convince them to wait a day on the assassination. If we manage to swing the city to the south, then perhaps a closer relationship may be formed. We close this scene with an embrace between Shael and the leader of southern resistance.

View
From Sand to Summit: Nov. 7th
"I hate this place."

So for the benefit of absentee players and for those with less-than-steel-trap memories, myself included, I intend to post a sort of outline of our sessions as they happen, highlighting things that I remember and which seem important. This week’s game was a little confusing so I’m sure everyone can use a little recap. Also, I will step from behind the curtain and explain some things that may not have seemed clear at the time, and which are not intended to be multi-session mysteries.

Here Goes,

We began in The Lady Valiant, preparing to travel northeasterly on our bipedal riding iguanas for the closest decent civilization: Bujara. Packing two week’s provisions, seeking more knowledge regarding the defeat of ancient evil, we cheerily wave farewell to Kodro and Elrich, who remain to repair the once-proud astral craft.

Halfway through our journey, Aelar informs us that the black wall on the western horizon is in fact a rapidly advancing sandstorm the likes of which he has never seen. Survival being an issue, we gamble some time to mount a nearby dune and survey the land with the hopes of finding some shelter. Luckily, there appears to be a real-life oasis nearby, complete with palm trees and some sort of statue. After a quick race, charging break-neck down the dune, we manage to beat the deadly sandstorm to the oasis, or at least we would have had Thomas Hardwill not insisted on crying “giddyup” and poking his slow-blinking mount with ineffective spurs. Instead we had to wait for his lethargic mount, and subsequently didn’t get a good look at that statue until after we had spent a night huddling in its lee, waiting out the storm, which insisted on trying to entomb us in its gritty embrace.

The next morning we discover the now-buried oasis is waterless and in possession of its very own mystery. A triple sized stone man lies half-buried, his palms pressed to his eyes, elbows spread wide in wincing anguish. Around his wrist winds a steel chain with a glass bauble at the end. Scratched into his breastplate are the words:

I cover cities and destroy mountains, I make men blind, yet help them see.

After someone says the magic word aloud, the statue crumbles into sand, freeing the bauble-bracelet and revealing a blasted hunk of honest-to-goodness eternum with these words scratched into its surface:

I have many tongues but cannot taste.

Again after saying the keyword aloud, reality is altered. This time the world goes dark, the sand around us melts into wavy goo and we walk within a protective sphere of eternum-centered light through a frozen sea of rough glass to a river of flame. We soon discover that leaving the aura of the marker ensures confusion as we are pushed to and fro by a churning crush of less-than-polite phantom pedestrians. A bridgeless bridge gate holds another scrawled message:

I run around a city but never move.

This time a correct answer lifts the darkness, revealing high city walls waving at us from opposite the magma flow. Employing out dust of frozen passage (sic) we gingerly begin to traverse a narrow strait of thin rock. The heat intensifies, the darkness redescends and a portly demihuman charges us in glee and exasperation, only to clutch on to Thomas, breathe a dizzying yet harmless exhalation of bluish vapor onto the lot of us, then scramble back the way he came, confused. The bewildered party, crouched within its light-bubble, continues across the bridge, to be set upon by mummies and a large Oni, which manages to escape incineration from Shael by morphing into mist. That is except for Aelar, who is left outside the aura, being knocked around in a daze, surrounded by lethal magma on three sides.

A mysterious voice informs us of Aelar’s plight and offers to help in exchange for “a boon.” Sháelaccedes, and Aelar is returned to the light by a devilish flying creature calling himself Grinn. He then warns of danger ahead, and the benefits of capturing said magically versed creature. We ignore him. While being subjected to long-range attack from this unseen foe, we discover another riddle tattooed on the stone wall:

Stronger than steel, And older than time; I am more patient than death and shall stand even when the stars have ceased to shine. My strength is embedded in roots buried deep Where the sands and frosts of ages can never hope to touch or reach.

The answer dissipates the darkness, revealing several things. First, behind the wall looms a high and forbidding peak sparkling with wisps of magic and a snow-wrapped summit. Second, our assailant is a tiny floating skull who quickly retreats to safety when attacked. Overwriting the first passage is a second, visible only in true light.

I am loved more than life, Feared more than death,

Success opens a smooth-walled tunnel through the massive obstacle. We leave the fires and sands behind us to ascend a dark and lifeless peak of dark stone; out of food and low on water. While on the path that night we are again bathed in a bluish vapor and again Aelar falls dazed. After much posturing we discover a hidden and well appointed nook in the mountain face featuring a treasure chest, but no food. Long-suffering Thomas, ailing from what appears to be mummy rot, claims the mattress for his recuperation, enjoying all the accompanying ironic joy that befits sleeping in a nightmare-thing’s own nest. While entranced that night, Shael is put to sleep by a third assault of Oni breath, and Narya, alarmed by yet another ambush of the ogerish thing from under the bed, begins calling out loudly while engaging in single battle over the slumbering bodies of her comrades. The Oni, who had been lurking in a crack under the bed in gaseous form, enjoys walloping elf girls around as much as anybody, but fails to fell her before she awakens healbot-5000, so with a frustrated cry, he abandons his lair to the invaders to safely plot his revenge. Oni are nothing if not vindictive.

Two days of hard waterless travel sees the return of the devil, offering dark sustenance to any and all who might accept his one smoky term. Aelar, who already owes his life to the being, trades his word and drinks deep of its offered wrist. Promising to return, Grinn leaves us to our increasingly arduous ascent. Another day brings a final riddle, this time emblazoned on a mighty gate at the head of a secluded valley.

Iron roof, glass walls Burns and burns And never falls.

Answers bring answers and an achingly lush valley opens its soft bubbling streams, cool grass and fat, abundant game to our desperate party. That magical night is spent camped on the serene banks of the unnamed creek, bellies full of warm meat and hearts at rest. Morning brings cold disillusioning truth, flashes of our nighttime selves scrabbling in nail-breaking hardpan for ethereal nourishment and again we stand just inside the gate, yellowing eyes filled with a desolate tract of barren stone. Clenching bleeding fingers into weakening fists, we trudge on in silence, a series of three stone towers mocking us from the frigid heights above. This valley tests us all, and our skin is pricked and opened by a multitude of perfect rose bushes bearing azure petals that fall to dust in our mouths. This sea of beauty and torment leapt into existence from nowhere and dogged our every step for hours and hours. At the end of endurance, Grinn secures the vow of two more companions. Wren and Narya seal their pact in smoky blood like peppered gravy. Stalwart Memnon, Thomas and Shael must be carried up the last leg of the journey.

One final climb unveils a modest farm and its rotund offhuman inhabitant. He feeds us home-grown “manna” and seems unsurprised by our presence destination or condition. The Nearman Glen informs us that the Gods live at the summit and drives us across battle-scarred farmland spotted with rural cottages to Midpost, a centralized farming community where the path to the top truly begins. A steep pony relay courtesy of another local leads us to the top. A tall monkish man calling himself Emmanuel explains that he resides in a sort of college, where the pursuit of knowledge takes precedent. He warns that sacrifice is necessary to gain wisdom, thus the mountain challenges those who would plumb its cerebral treasure, ensuring only those nobly intentioned and suitably dedicated could reach the top. He adds that such pursuits have a habit of disconnecting you from the world they enlighten, an irony for the ages. At last he invites us into a small side door, where all but Shael’s adopted dragon enter. I small, seemingly temporary antechamber awaits us with the scent of old food and recent use. A sliding eye-slit opens and we are allowed to enter the expansive and cluttered marble-columned halls of the college. Amongst the closest heap of ancient relics and texts lies an off-kilter glass case, holding a suspended blue rose. A close inspection announces an infection of deep black dust motes dancing along ruining petals. Upon questioning, Emmanuel labels it an indicator of the Paradigm, and seems lost in thought, trying to remember a name.

We are led through bustling halls, and several messengers enter and leave through the doors behind us. Young children fairly sprint through the clutter and jumble, delivering notes and food, or being instructed in small groups by emotive, glib young women. Expressive faces and keen, stripping eyes stand substitute to everyday conversation among the lithe populace. We jog to a senate-style room of marble steps and columns to an elderly man in robes, holding several different conversations of a report-and-command nature simultaneously. As we arrive he cuts off all other contact and faces us fully, eyes flitting to and through each of our faces.

“You have my attention.” He says.

More is communicated through inference than actual words, but a proposition is laid out quite suddenly where this leader offers the services of his entire school, access to all material resources, and a tap into a spy network all in exchange for one item, a magical reference book they call Finneas, which has been in our possession for quite some time. We accede, and are rushed off to various wings, where four days are spent in deep research on the subjects of the Paradigm, pre-exodus Gallatine, the Primal Aspects, and the cosmos. An immediate result of this inquiry into the latter is the name Khaladun, the modern name of an ancient site where an important temple focusing in cosmology existed. Much information regarding previous campaign material is now available to us through knowledge checks and some connections, such as the anachronistic character a certain half-orc are made aloud. Emmanuel becomes increasing noisy, pointing out how important we are to the fate of the apparently threatened world, how we have uncovered a destination that may lead to more specific information outside the school, and again how this sort of delving study has its costs.

When asked specifically if time moves quicker outside the school, Emmanuel drops his eyes and mumbles that it would only have hampered our study. Outside, a man confirms that he has been on what he calls “lookout” for about six months. Shael’s winged companion is nowhere to be seen.

~Luke

View
Fleshing out the Wiki

Hey guys. Looks like it’s just me, Luke and Tim signed up here so far, but I thought it would be good to start fleshing out and formatting our new wiki. I’ve gone to the trouble of creating several article stubs and pages so that anyone can add to them. There’s plenty of stuff to add so if you think of something else that we’ve encountered in game or some obscure part of a character that you’ve never gotten to flesh out, here’s your chance.

I am going to be adding mostly stuff from my notes that is important for background information. Some stuff on the primordials and my last campaign that never got aired… Lemme know what you guys will be doing.

-Chris

View
PLAYERS sign up and say hi.
just a few words

So. What do you think of the description?

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.