Stoneport Campaign

Encountering King Hawklight
In which the party attempts to flee to Mexico to avoid having to be adults and take responsibility for their actions

The party, having killed Black Betty, returned to the nearby village to celebrate their victory and rest up from their injuries. While there, they learned that Black Betty’s death would likely upset the balance of power in the region and cause the local dark dwarves to go on the warpath in retaliation. The group, realizing that this would, in fact, soon come to pass, fled the area almost immediately. Hastening them on their trip was the knowledge that King Hawklight, the man who wanted the Spyglass from them, had men in the area searching for them.

The group began the long walk from Canada to Mexico, with no long-term plan or any idea of what they wanted to do beyond avoid Hawklight. Fate intervened, realizing that this would effectivley end their journey were they to succeed, and so Hawklight’s men found them. A team of five samurai on horses chased down our heroes, and, after a short fight, all but one of them were killed. The survivor, a samurai named Gobanme Senshi, was tied up and interrogated. He explained that Hawklight actually wasn’t out to kill the party, but instead, to talk to them. Mumbling a couple of half-hearted apologies for killing four men without any real justification, the group traveled to Hawklight’s home nation of Japan and visited him in person. Gobanme, still tied up, crawled away on his stomach, using his incredibly defined abs to travel like a snake.

Hawklight was angry that the party had destroyed the spyglass and killed several of his men, but he offered them a chance to redeem themselves. Hawklight’s goal was to unify Japan under his rule. Using the spyglass was the easiest way to do so, but other ways also existed. It was to fall to the party to help Hawklight to do it the hard way. Their first task: to enter and clear out an ancient cave of demons, in which a legendary treasure of the Crane clan was supposedly stored. Hawklight hoped that by finding and offering the lost treasure to the Crane, they would join him under his banner.

Having little choice but to go along with the railroad plot that lay before them, the group agreed, under two conditions: Lark wished to have a green robe that matched that of Hawklight’s right-hand man and chief advisor, and Kiroku wished to have a cabana boy. Hawklight agreed that such rewards were reasonable, however, they would not receive them just yet. The Crane mission was simply to remove the threat of death from over their heads; a second mission would be required to earn a robe and a slave.

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Killing Black Betty
In which the spyglass is destroyed and a dragon is killed.

The group returned to Stoneport, where Balkaran decided to purchase the now-empty manor that used to belong to Vardis and convert it to a tavern and inn for his own business use. He threw a grand party, to which Riz Xepiroth was invited. Kiroku was not invited, but he showed up anyway because he wasn’t forbidden, either.

At the party, Balkaran chose to be spectacularly unhelpful when Riz approached him about finding a replacement party member, but eventually Aleister Fidgin wandered by, looking for his old friend Vardis. After learning of Vardis’s death, Aleister tried to drown his sorrows, and ran across Riz. Riz explained the situation, drawing the attention of Norendithas Songsteel, who had been playing a divinely-inspired song on his hurdy-gurdy in the garden but had stopped momentarily for a drink.

Kiroku also made his own appearance. He had been expelled from his Clerical order for sociopathy (and probably sodomy), and had turned to Alchemy in an attempt to better himself and recover from the blow to his fragile, fragile ego. He was still slightly mutated from his latest experiment, but he was game for another adventure to try to figure out how to destroy the spyglass. Aleister revealed that he actually knew the location of a black dragon named Betty Jr., who made her nest in a mountain deep in the frozen northern wastelands of Canada, surrounded by dark dwarves. Norendithas, afflicted with a severe case of wanderlust, decided to tag along for the grand adventure to the Canadian tundra. Besides, he was slightly drunk, and the crowds were growing very slightly weary of his hurdy gurdy.

The four men rode north to the mountain in Canada where Betty Jr. was known to rest, where Riz was able to find evidence of dark dwarves and eventually the cave through which they hoped to find Betty Jr.

The inside of the cave was finely carved by dwarven hands, and before long, the party found an open room with five doors in it. In the first door, they found thirty bunk beds arranged in a barracks. Opening the second, Riz found a trio of dark dwarves surrounding a table with a map laid across it discussing the movement of several dozen more soldiers to protect Betty Jr.

Kiroku suddenly transformed into a massive, bestial version of himself without explanation and stormed into the room to begin mauling one of the dwarves. Nobody really cared. Aleister asked the dwarves in the room if they knew the whereabouts of Betty Jr., and one of the dwarves yelled back, “How dare you call her by that name!”

Ten seconds later, all three dwarves were dead. After looting the bodies, the group checked the next room, in which six dark dwarves were practicing combat in a training room. Riz conveyed the information, and the group slowly closed the door again and moved on to the final room, in which a dark dwarf sculptor was patiently chiseling away at a stone table in what appeared to be a dining hall. Riz snuck up in front of the dwarf and put his sword to the poor fellow’s throat. The rest of the group quickly followed in and they demanded that the dwarf tell them where Betty Jr. was. The dwarf explained that Betty Jr. was on the bottom of the cavern, but the way was blocked by an immovable rod used to hold a heavy stone door in place. The group insisted that he move it anyway, so he totally did, using a command word: “open” in Undercommon.

The group moved on through that door and forced the dwarf to take point. Things continued uneventfully for a short while, until the dwarf triggered a pitall trap and fell into a pit of acid. Aleister suddenly realized that they had never gotten the dwarf’s name, but the dwarf, now drowning and dissolving, said that he no longer had any desire to tell it. The group made fun of him for a while, before eventually throwing him a rope and pulling him to safety. They washed him off with a Decanter of Endless Water that Kiroku had been carrying around since God knows when, and moved on. The dwarf, who, now half-dead, revealed his name as Dolgrin, suddenly jumped backwards after stepping on a pressure plate ahead of the group that sprayed acid from the walls. The party insisted that Dolgrin go first across this trap, but he demanded to be healed first. Norendithas healed him slightly, and Dolgrin charged across the pressure plate. The rest of the group jumped across it without difficulty.

In this manner, they eventually reached a door which Dolgrin realized was also trapped. Aleister used Open/Close to open it from a distance, and a pendulum axe swung down and nearly cut Dolgrin’s face. It didn’t, though, so they pushed him forward and into an entirely new area of the caves: a subterranean swamp, with a high temperature and bioluminescent plant life that lit the entire area.

In the center of this swamp, they found Betty Jr., a massive, old, black dragon. Dolgrin, suddenly growing a pair of gigantic balls from seemingly nowhere, yelled that the party were intruders. Riz attempted to slit Dolgrin’s throat for the treachery, but only reduced him to 1 HP. This left Dolgrin still alive and fully ready for action, but he learned his lesson anyway and stayed still. Betty Jr. shot a line of deadly acid from her throat at Kiroku and Norendithas in response, but the group asked her to stop and simply hear them out. They explained that they were in fact only hoping to get Betty Jr. to breathe her acid onto the spyglass and destroy it, and that they didn’t really feel the need to kill her. Riz stayed silent during the exchange, saying nothing.

Betty Jr. replied that she would be happy to breathe acid onto the spyglass, provided that the group not make any moves that she could interpret as hostile and have one person hold the spyglass directly in front of their face for her to breathe on. Riz asked Aleister if black dragons were normally evil; Aleister said that yes, they normally are. The group spread out, Kiroku holding the spyglass in front of his face after downing a flask of liquid courage, and Riz whispered “swift death to my enemies” to his Oathbow.

Betty Jr. eventually spit her acid at Kiroku, who had actually downed a potion of Draconic Reservoir and thusly took nearly no damage from the acid blast. Riz then unleashed a volley of arrows from his bow, Kiroku lobbed a bomb, and Aleister started throwing fireballs. In ten seconds, Betty Jr. was killed.

The party looted her treasure hoard and rejoiced that the spyglass was now destroyed. Dolgrin, still alive, stood there awkwardly.

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The Spyglass Assembled
The group finished assembling the spyglass and learns its true power.

The group returned to Vardis with the first two pieces of the spyglass, and discovered that he had been killed by his wife, who had secretly been a lizardfolk in disguise. It was unknown how long she had been in disguise, but it explained why she was immune to the poison she’d been given by Taldore.

The mansion in tatters, the group was unable to find the location of the spyglass’s main body. The clues suggested that the lizardfolk had already taken it, and Riz was able to track the lizardfolk who had ransacked the mansion to the coast, where he learned that they had set up a home on Skull Island. Hiring a group of villagers to row their boat by offering them alcohol to “stop the shakes,” they set out to retrieve their spyglass.

Seeing that the island was surrounded by slow-moving boats filled with ballistas and armed lizardfolk, the group realized that boats do not move as fast as any one of them could walk. Knowing this, Kiroku cast Waterwalk and Bull’s Strength on Balkaran, who wrapped a length of chain around his torso and physically pulled their boat more quickly than any boat could travel. Upon arriving at the island, the gods and the forces of the universe rewrote the ways boats work and made them all faster.

The average lizardfolk, unable to penetrate the armor of the three heroes, were no threat. They sent wave after wave of large animals to try to kill them, but each animal they sent out was swiftly killed and beheaded by Balkaran. Balkaran eventually had to build a small sled out of other animal parts to carry the head of a tyrannosaurus rex which had first swallowed, and then was killed by, Balkaran.

Upon reaching the lizardfolk’s leader, the group killed him and took the body of the spyglass. They then tracked down and killed Vardis’s wife, who claimed she’d been hired by a king: King Hawklight XXVII, descendant of the original King Hawklight, the spyglass’s original owner.

The group found that Hawklight XXVII was a king of a small country on the continent of Japan, who hoped to use the spyglass to reunite all the kingdoms into a single superpower. The original King Hawklight had ruled the entire island long ago, but was overthrown and his kingdom fractured.

The spyglass’s powers came with a powerful price: any who used it would first become Lawful Good, in an attempt by its creators to ensure that it would only be used by the worthy. However, it would never stop affecting its user, eventually causing them to become paranoid and fascist, as they grew to mistrust all those who failed to live up to their impossibly high standards. Which would be everyone.

Kiroku used the lens of the spyglass to spy on Hawklight XXVII, learning that he was in fact a just ruler, but he told the other two characters in his group that he was a violent rapist and a madman. Riz, skeptical, snuck into the king’s castle and was captured by the guards. After the other two came to bail him out of prison, a long conversation ensued in which the trio explained that while they respected Hawklight XXVII’s hope of uniting the kingdom, they feared the power of the spyglass and had no intentions of giving it up. Hawklight XXVII chose to let them go, hoping that they would lead him to the spyglass.

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Finding the pieces of the spyglass
The group finds the eyepiece, lens, and body of the spyglass

To find the first piece of the spyglass, the trio of Balkaran, Kiroku, and Riz Xepiroth entered a dark cave and fought their way to the bottom. They had to fight a large number of golems and the undead, but they eventually won and retrieved the eyepiece. It was, all in all, a pretty simple smash and grab mission.

To find the second piece, the group found the camp of a powerful Warlord, who had set up a large, semi-permanent warcamp staffed with dozens of his men. By pretending to join them, they gained entrance into the camp.

Once inside, they learned that the Warlord had three lieutenants. The first of them was a dwarf who wore a suit of adamantine plate mail which hid much of his face. He demanded that the trio fight a number of his own men to prove their worth as new warriors for the camp, and they handily KO’ed the thugs. The dwarf then challenged Balkaran to a drinking contest, recognizing a fellow alcoholic. Balkaran had surprisingly little trouble drinking the dwarven lieutenant under the table, and then stripped him of his armor to impersonate him. He also took from him the lieutenant’s two axes: a powerful enchanted greataxe, and a battleaxe which could be thrown and would return to its thrower. Kiroku then killed him on their way out.

The group, now led by Balkaran impersonating a lieutenant, moved on to another tent in which the second lieutenant was eating dinner with several of his own men. An awkward moment ensued, and the lieutenant offered the trio some food. They agreed that they would, in fact, like to eat some food. So the lieutenant sent his men away to fetch food for the first lieutenant and his two newest recruits. Once the trio were alone with the second lieutenant, Kiroku cast a Silence spell and all three men dogiled on and killed him. Riz took the lieutenant’s studded leather armor, his enchanted bow, and his adamantine longsword.

Entering the third lieutenant’s tent, they found the man sleeping next to a locked chest. Kiroku climbed into the sleeping man’s lap and tried to seduce him. The man, unresponsive to Kiroku’s charms, was killed by Kiroku and had his key taken from him. The chest contained a mithral breastplate, a throwing stick, and a trident with a head made of brilliant energy, which Kiroku also took.

With only the Warlord’s tent remaining, the group decided on a battle plan that would require as little effort on their part as possible. Kiroku cast a spell outside the tent to surround it with thickly overgrown plant life, and then both the tent and the plant life was ignited by Riz, who launched vials of Alchemist’s Fire onto both the tent and near the entrance of the tent. As each person inside the tent attempted to flee, Riz shot and killed them. This included the Warlord himself, who had been a powerful Sorcerer who simply did not have any teleportation spells. The group took from him the second piece of the spyglass: the lens.

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First Arc
The arc in which Vardiss in met and the spyglass is mentioned

Originally, the Cleric Vardis was a powerful adventurer, who traveled the world righting wrongs in the name of his god, Pelor. Nearing the end of his long life, he called forth a team of heroes from many lands. Many responded, but only three actually mustered the effort to make it all the way to his manor in Stoneport: Balkaran, Riz Xepiroth, and Kiroku. The rest went home as soon as they realized it would be dangerous; they had no love of excitement and a powerful fear of danger nested within their hearts.

Upon entering Vardis’s manor, they met Vardis, his wife the Lady Vardis, the butler Taldore, and his nephew Gretan, the group was ushered in and they shared a long and awkward meal, during which Vardis complained that his maid, Lamal, was taking an awfully long time to return from town. Riz noticed some dirt on Taldore’s collar and overheard Gretan whispering to Taldore about “not in it to kill anyone,” but chose to keep these things to himself. They had bigger things about which they were concerned, like how much they were to be paid and how strong the alcohol was.

Vardis explained to the group that, though his rituals had told him who to summon, he was unsure that he had performed the rituals correctly. As such, he wanted the trio to go out into town and perform various minor missions to prove their might. He also took them for a tour of his manor, and Riz noticed that the garden contained a mound of freshly moved dirt. He chose to keep this to himself as well.

After dinner, Kiroku met with Lady Vardis in the bath and they shared an even more awkward encounter together, from which Kiroku inferred that there wasn’t a lot of love in the Vardis household.

Wisely letting the mystery of the maid and butler percolate for a bit, the group headed to town and performed the errands they were asked to perform.

They were called upon by a farmer to remove a senile old man from his chicken coop. Balkaran smashed the coop down with his shield arm, causing the old man to collapse in cardiac arrest. Kiroku revived him with CPR, and they hauled his barely-conscious body to his wife. They were given meager compensation for their efforts, as the old man was barely alive and the chicken coop was destroyed.

They retrieved a thug named Bromis from his girlfriend’s house without much of a fight and turned him in to the local authorities.

They tracked and fought a mage’s apprentice who had been experimenting with creating an army of sheep-men to do his bidding. After Kiroku entangled him with a domain spell, Riz fired a flaming arrow and immolated the mage, killing him.

They tracked and found a bandit named Kolaret the Donkey Slayer, who was celebrating the murder of several donkeys in the forest with his friends in a local forest. Balkaran staggered drunkenly into the clearing, greataxe in one hand and flagon of ale in the other, declaring that he was also a bandit. The bandits were just drunk enough to believe him, and raised their own flagons in a toast to their new old friend. Balkaran took advantage of the way the Donkey Slayer’s head was tipped back to chop off his head with the axe, and Kiroku and Riz made short work of the remaining bandits. One attempted to flee, but Riz got a lucky shot into the back of the man’s neck and killed him with a single arrow.

They also found a necklace which had been lost in the sewer. It was hanging out of a drain pipe and they just reached down and got it.

After performing these various tasks, Vardis, now on his deathbed, told the trio of their true purpose: he wished for them to retrieve the three pieces of a legendary spyglass, an artifact of great power which he wished to see destroyed. The trio agreed to help so long as the price was right.

Seeing that Vardis was dying, Kiroku determined that he was being poisoned. The group interrogated Taldore and discovered that he had been steadily poisoning both Vardis and his wife, though the wife was not showing any signs of illness for reasons that the trio simply did not care enough to investigate. So they didn’t.

They also found that the mound of dirt in the garden contained the corpse of Lamal, and they had Taldore arrested for her murder. Gretan also confessed that he was in league with Taldore and was not Vardis’s real nephew; he was merely a conman. The dastardly duo arrested, the group left town for the first piece of the spyglass, leaving Vardis and his wife the sole occupants of their manor.

Kiroku also cured Vardis of the poison while he was at it.

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