Owl Bear it if You Can

DM Note: We haven't played this since April, so a welcome return to the table, getting back up to speed. Fortunately we were right at the start of an adventure...

Temple of Aderra, Minensal, Northern Tarlanor, 22nd April 1626

Caitlin of course had little choice but to agree; she owed Aderra [link to page] and she knew it. The others could have left her to it, but their bonds of comradeship were strong and they all nodded. After a little discussion, they accepted Krensa Denarran's offer to secure them rooms at his inn - The Lusty Giant - and decided to lay in some supplies and preparation before tackling the task. Caitlin was unconvinced about the need ("I am prepared. I'm me!" she declared), but the others convinced her that their chances of survival would be improved by some careful preparation. "My ancient and mystical elvish powers suggest to me that we may be facing the undead," said Yoshin dryly. 

The Market Belt, Minensal, Norimo Region, Northern Tarlanor, 22nd April 1626

Krizzen and Caitlin had hoped to find a collector specializing in Fae Mhor artifacts, but were unsuccessful. After some time, they discovered a stall set well back on the south side of the Belt, owned by a man calling himself Talamas the Collector. While not a specialist, he was interested enough in the dozen unusual Fae Mhor sleeping rolls to pay a fairly good price for them. When Caitlin flashed a flirtatious smile at him, he melted a little, and settled for a little more. 

Meanwhile, careful inquiries had taken Yoshin to a part of the trade district where metalsmiths worked. Pausing outside the shop, he spoke with the apprentice who was minding the stall, and was pleasantly surprised to find him respectful and slightly awe-struck with the appearance of one of the Fair Folk. Too many people in Tarlanor still remembered when elves and dwarves were hunted as vermin under the rule of the Dragon. 
DM Note: The Kukri came from the litter in the nest of rats under Hightower....

Yoshin produced the item he wished to sell, but the youth - Rob - didn't recognize the kukri and called on the master smith himself for his opinion. Most human smiths Yoshin had known were big, heavy men, but Invervyr was wiry and sinewey, with keen dark eyes that glittered as he turned the glittering blade around in the spring sunlight. Laying it down on the counter, he moved his fingers over it and Yoshin felt a slight ripple of magical energy. "A nice piece," Invervyr said, "where did you get it?" Yoshin blinked for a moment; he couldn't remember which trove it had come from. "Some ruins," he said finally, which was probably true. 


Invervyr considered for a moment, and then offered nine and a half thousand for the blade. Yoshin considerered; it was far more than he'd been expecting, but belatedly it occurred to him that with his limited knowledge of weapons, he didn't know if this was a good price. He shrugged. "That will be fine," he said. Recovering swiftly from his surprise at the lack of haggling, Invervyr began to count out the money in gold, platinum and gemstones. 

Although most of the money was to go towards their collective need for magical healing, Yoshin wanted to lay some by for emergencies. A human in a city like this would have sought out a banking house, or a merchant guild prepared to issue letters of credit. To Yoshin, however, cities were ephemera - "blink, and they're gone," he thought. He remembered, for example, when Minensal hadn't been here at all. So he bought himself a stout oilskin bag and gathered five hundred gold into that, planning to bury it when he found a secluded place. 

On meeting up with the others, Yoshin heard their description of Talamas the Collector and decided to pay the merchant a visit, so he and Caitlin headed back while Krizzen returned to the Temple of Aderra with the profits of their morning, to arrange the magic they needed.

Talamas eyed the pieces of spidershell Yoshin had produced with interest, commenting that someone would probably make armour out of them; they were light and very strong. After a price was struck for them, Caitlin turned her wiles on the man again, wheedling him to offer her cut-price rates for items helpful in her coming endeavour. Though not specifically a supplier to adventurers, Talamas sold her five bags of wicked caltrops and a small, runecarved object he called a thunderstone, which if hurled against a hard surface would detonate with deafening volume. He also sold them a carved wooden box holding twelve vials of an anti-toxin he swore would counter the effects of any poison. 

"What are you kitting out for?" he asked as they settled up. Caitlin explained about the Denarran house, and Talamas looked taken aback. "You're going into Nuchar's Tomb?" he said in wonder. "You're braver than I thought." Yoshin threw up his hands with a disgusted snort. "I told you!" he cried, "it's a deathtrap!"

Caitlin urged Talamas to tell them more, and he related that the house had been abandoned for twenty years. The lady of the house, Nuchar Denarran, disappeared suddenly. A year and a day after, every living soul in the house died horribly in one night - according to rumour killed by something created or called by Nuchar herself - and the place had been haunted and cursed ever since. No-one would go near it and it had remained abandoned. 

Caitlin purchased a selection of biscuits and cakes, and having established that the two power figures in Minensal were the governer, Nurnimen and the elvish merchant prince Gilhetar. However, she soon discovered that while gifts of confectionary worked well in small, informal places like Sebril, the rulers of major cities were harder to get to see. 

Denarran Town House Ruins, Minensal, Norimo Region, Northern Tarlanor, 23rd April 1626

The house stood alone in overgrown gardens, a little outside the current edge of the New City. A rusting iron fence encircled the building, and a strong sense of disquieting menace filled the air. The building itself was more than half fallen-down, rubble littering the floors of what were once rooms, but the Denarran crest was clearly visible over the front door. 

Before entering the outer gate, Caitlin applied her usual diagnostic to the potentially dangerous - she threw a stone at it. Everyone braced themselves, but it simply bounced and skittered among thr rubble. Slightly reassured, the party investigated. 

There seemed nothing to find in the house; just a rotting shell. However, after a while, Monsarana announce she could feel very strong evil radiating from a point on the floor. The same location had attracted Caitlin's attention, and she had uncovered a very cunningly hidden trapdoor, beneath which were stone steps leading into darkness below.

Session 1 TacMap. OK, so we didn't get far.

1. At the bottom was a short passage which turned left into a square antechamber. Three feet of dark, ominous, stagnant water filled the bottom of the passage and the stained stone chamber, dark green and opaque in even the brightest light. Yoshin took one look at it and decided he was not walking around in it. He cast Fly four times, and soon the party were floating into the room, legs crossed like a bunch of peculiar gurus. 

At the south end of the chamber, the water lapped against a giant iron disc, 8’ in diameter, painted black but streaked with rust. "They really didn't want whatever's down here to get out," said Yoshin with acute perception.

The first room and the seal - click it for larger image!

Some checking showed that it opened on hinges, and Caitlin and Krizzen put their backs into pulling it open. As they did, there was a bright flash and a wave of fire erupted from the seal. Caitlin hurled herself flat against the side wall out of its path, but Krizzen and Yoshin were caught and scorched. As their vision returned to normal, they had cause to bless their foresight in stocking up on magical healing. 

2. Like the foyer, the room revealed beyond the seal was also 3’ deep in stagnant water. It was the same general shape, and closed at the far end by a plain door, more normal and badly rotted. Alerted to traps, Caitlin set off cautiously checking the walls and ceiling for them, and was thus completely unprepared when a silvery shape reared up out of the water below her.

An Owlbear that's not a ghost

Massive as a bear, the shape was translucent and partially transparent, and did not disturb the water as it rose out of it, suggesting it was some kind of ghost or spirit. It was not human, rather an obscene mixture of a bear and an owl. Yoshin had heard of the foul magics that had created the owlbear in the dim past, but had never seen one - until now. Without a moment's hesitation, he snapped a flight of magic missiles at it. The bolts of energy tore into the incorporeal matter of the ghost, and it growled, more in anger than pain. 

Caitlin ripped out her rapier, silently blessing the fact that she and Yoshin had traded weapons earlier; mundane weapons would not bite on a ghost, but magical steel could affect one. It reared back from Yoshin's strike, though, and she missed it on the first lunge, as did Krizzen, now gripping Soothslayer. Behind them, Monsarana murmured a prayer to Aderra, spreading the goddess's blessing on her aliies. 

Caitlin attacked again, and this time Taylor the elvish rapier slid through the silvery spectre, cutting into its' undead form. From the far side, Monsarana's great hammer tore a rent through it and the ghost roared in fury. Then Yoshin's second barrage of magic missiles ripped into it. This time the holes expanded and joined up, gradually tearing the form apart until it was gone. 

"It'll be back," panted Caitlin. "You can't kill a ghost like that. Only by completing what it left undone, or breaking whatever binding holds it here can you kill it. But it will take it a couple of days to rebuild its' form."

Session Date: 10th August 2014