Genosha

Epilogue: After the Storm

As the adventurers accepted the swords from General Zithiruun in surrender, the sounds of battle around them seemed to quiet for a moment. Then, a messenger ran past, shouting to them as he went, “The king! The king! The king is here!”

King Thomart had indeed arrived with his household troops and other forces he rallied along the way from his summer castle, arriving after two days of intense marching. They charged into the rear flank of the Devenerian army, shattering the legions with their unexpected assault. With their veteran forces broken and their leader captured, the enemy army soon dissolved. Some Devenerians escaped, but many others were captured, while the mercenary forces quickly abandoned the imperial cause and slipped away from the fight.

Though damaged from the imperial assault, the city of Calatan has weathered the storm, standing tall and proud. The adventurers have truly proven themselves the Heroes of Calatan, and are recognized wherever they go. Several different establishments across the city offer them free room and board for several months, and entering most taverns in the city results in cheers, offers of free drinks, and requests for another telling of their exploits.

General Zithiruun is sent to the Palace of Penitence, where he is kept in confinement according to his stature. His future is uncertain, as it is yet unknown whether the Emperor would ransom a man who had failed at so vital a task set as his last chance to redeem his honor. In the meantime, he broods on his failures, and the troublesome adventurers who foiled his plans.

Priestess Lavinya abandons her temple in Crow and instead takes over Haelyn’s duties at the Shrine of Erathis. “If this is where the people wish to pray,” she says, “then who am I to tell them otherwise? Erathis needs no stone walls, merely the hearts and souls of those who would bring civilization and culture to the world. Haelyn understood this long ago,” she adds with a sad smile. “I only wish I had not taken so long to learn it myself.” Haelyn’s body was found in an unmarked grave hidden behind her old shack, and Lavinya has it moved to a place of honor beside the statue of Erathis, with a finely-carved stone celebrating her devotion to her goddess.

Bishop Oakheart experiences a reawakening of his faith. His time of confinement of torture, followed by his rescue at the hands of the adventurers and his survival of the siege, cause him to reevaluate his recent years. From a beaten-down, tired, and increasingly corrupt politician, he returns to his younger identity as a devout priest of Pelor. In helping to turn him around, the heroes have gained a grateful and influential ally, and they have done a great good to the religious community of Calatan as a whole. This is particularly important, since the high priests of most of the other temples in the city were suborned by the Devenerians, and their replacements are all younger and inexperienced. Over the following months, Oakheart emerges as a true spiritual leader for the entire city.

Duke Steveren Culceaster, already an ally of the heroes, now holds them in the highest esteem for saving the life of his beloved wife. It will take many months to rebuild White Oak Manor in its former glory, but in the meantime, the duke and his household find other quarters to occupy, and the heroes are frequent guest of honor, sharing fine meals and wine with members of the king’s council and other notable members of Arathorn noble society.

Despite all the honors and glory heaped upon them by a grateful city, however, the heroes still mourn the bizarre and sudden loss of their friend Gorgoth. They consult with learned sages, wizards from the Circle of Anthros, and diviners from the Library of Ioun, yet there are no certain answers as to where their companion has gone. Despite this, they cling to their belief that he will yet return – and that if he does not, they will go to great lengths to find him.

Thus does the curtain fall on this chapter of the story of Genosha and Monster Management.

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Episode 47: The Missing Caretaker
5-7 Korden, 997 D.A.

Cast of Characters
Kaolen Bearcharger, male human ranger (played by Jason Sproles
Gorgoth Khrem, male dragonborn wizard (played by Ben Moy)
Kedrick Killmeister, male human paladin of Erathis (played by Derek Beam)
Perrin Tuatha’an, male halfling bard (played by Christopher Schwartz)
Aiccan Windhand, female elven druid (played by Juliana Parks)

At the request of the priestess Lavinya, the adventurers investigated the disappearance of Haelyn, the kindly caretaker of the Shrine of Erathis. When they went to her home late at night, they were ambushed by the new caretaker, Grovald, and his minions. In his ramshackle hut, Aiccan found a burned scrap of a letter that hinted Grovald was working for someone – possibly a Devenerian general named Zithiruun.

The next morning, the adventurers split up, visiting different temples in the city. What they found confirmed Lavinya’s suspicions that a number of Calatan’s religious leaders were behaving strangely. In particular, Kaolen was escorted from Arathorn Cathedral by the Red Cloaks under orders from Bishop Oakheart.

Notes

  • This was Aiccan’s first full session with the group, and despite being the main target of Grovald’s attacks, she performed quite well.
  • The group found a tattoo of Zehir on Grovald’s chest, leading them to believe there was a cult of the god of darkness at work.
  • The companions plan to visit Duke Steveren Culceaster to warn him of their suspicions.

DM Commentary

I was very pleased with this session overall, one of the best we’ve had in a while after a run of several mediocre or disappointing episodes. I tried several new tricks, including a cold open that started the party already in the midst of their investigation and led directly into combat. Then, I used a flashback to return to the scene where Lavinya actually set them on their quest. While I was a bit uncertain about trying this method, it worked out better than I could have hoped, and the players all seemed to really enjoy it.

One trend that has changed over the months is the players’ attitudes towards capturing enemies. For a long time, they attempted to make at least one enemy in every combat surrender and interrogate him or her. Now, they seem to kill almost every foe and figure it out later. It’s not a problem, of course, it just means I have to make sure I don’t rely solely on them interrogating enemies to get crucial pieces of information. I just find it to be an interesting change in their attitude.

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Episode 46: The Duke's Banquet
21-22 Avandris, 997 D.A.

Cast of Characters
Kaolen Bearcharger, male human ranger (played by Jason Sproles)
Gorgoth Khrem, male dragonborn wizard (played by Ben Moy)
Kedrick Killmeister, male human paladin of Erathis (played by Derek Beam)
Perrin Tuatha’an, male halfling bard (played by Christopher Schwartz)
and introducing
Aiccan Windhand, female elven druid (played by Juliana Parks)

On the morning of the banquet in their honor, the adventurers have time to pursue individual interests. Gorgoth decides to visit the Library of Ioun in Abbey Hill, but outside he meets a young boy, Nilus, who gives him a powerful prophecy. He rushes to find his friends, and they return, at which point Nilus pronounces another prophecy – one that indicates they should seek out a fifth member of their group somewhere in the city.

That night at the dinner, the heroes are treated to seven sumptuous courses, as well as lively entertainment. Songmaster Willowrush performs a stirring rendition of the epic song Sir Robin on the Wall which leaves the Duke of Culceaster overcome with emotion. The adventurers also have the chance to meet several of the other guest, important members of Calatan’s elite, including Bishop Gilex Oakheart.

The next day, the heroes seek out the companion prophesied by Nilus. After several hours of searching, they head to the ancient druid’s grove in the Pelwood district. There, they find Aiccan Windhand, a young elven druid. On her lap rests Sous Chef, Kedrick’s missing pet raccoon. The appearance of Monster Management fulfilled a vision she had seen in her meditations, and she quickly agreed to join the party.

Notes

  • At the banquet, Lady Silith seemed entranced by a performance by a dance group. Tarthan explained to Perrin that she was well-known as a patron to many types of artists, and to be invited to perform for her privately was considered a great honor.
  • Duchess Rosalyn Culceaster revealed to Kaolen that since the attempt on her husband’s life, he had changed dramatically, becoming more attentive and loving, as well as more focused on his duties.
  • Bishop Oakheart suggested that Kedrick could join the Holy Order of Protectors, serving the Church of Arathorn in an official capacity – if he was willing to give up his life of adventuring.
  • Likewise, Breder Iscalon, adviser to House Culceaster, suggested to Gorgoth that he might be admitted to the Circle of Anthros’ Academy of High Magic to further his studies if he wished to leave his adventuring life.
  • In his private library after the feast, Duke Steveron questioned the party about the dangers facing the city and the kingdom. While they had no concrete proof of any specific threats, their answers still worried him.

DM Commentary

After weeks of patiently waiting, Juliana was finally able to enter the game as a player at the end of this episode.

Sadly, this was possibly my worst session ever. My players were troopers, but it was cleared they were mostly bored or even clueless as to what the point of it all was for most of the session. This ultimately was my fault, for ignoring the play styles and preferences of the majority of my group, and above all for not giving the banquet scene a major conflict or objective. While there were interesting pieces, the whole just didn’t add up to an engaging whole. If nothing else, I hope I can learn from this experience and put things back on the right track quickly.

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Episode 45: Questions and Curiosities
20 Avandris, 997 D.A.

Cast of Characters
Kaolen Bearcharger, male human ranger (played by Jason Sproles)Gorgoth Khrem, male dragonborn wizard (played by Ben Moy)
Kedrick Killmeister, male human paladin of Erathis (played by Derek Beam)
Perrin Tuatha’an, male halfling bard (played by Christopher Schwartz)

In the fetid sewers beneath the city of Calatan, the adventurers sought the roots of the assassin’s guild plaguing the city. Having survived an ambush in the dank tunnels, they proceeded down a dark tunnel towards an odor of tobacco. There, set in a wall covered in mold and muck, they found an iron-bound wood door. Above the handle was carved the small symbol of a five-petaled flower: an oleander. Perrin attempted to pick the lock, but triggered a tiny golden pin that struck out and filled him with a debilitating poison. When he recovered, the companions bypassed the door.

Beyond, they found a well-appointed office that could have been at home in any manor in the city. At a large oak desk sat a well-dressed, muscular man of middle age. After he finished reading a series of papers, he calmly introduced himself as Sir Bram and greeted the Heroes of Calatan – for he already knew who they were. While he expressed disdain that they had bested his agents, he seemed unperturbed by their entering his chamber, and even thanked them for their earlier work in dispatching the assassin known as The Scorpion. As thanks, he offered them the gift of information: he would answer any three questions as truthfully as he was able.

The companions disagreed about the questions to ask, and grew increasingly hostile towards Sir Bram. They coerced him to answer more questions, until they finally seemed appeased, and he left. At that point, Perrin ransacked the master’s chamber, finding a box of treasure and what appeared to be a contract for the assassination of a northern merchant.

The companions left the safe house, and returned to the ladder that led to the hatch by which the oni they fought earlier had escaped. They headed up, finding themselves in what appeared to be the basement of the Prosperous Swan. They found a group of toughs there, and despite confused attempts at negotiations, a pitched battle ensued. After the deaths of his companions, the last assassin surrendered. Perrin abruptly took his leave, and the others escorted the prisoner to the Old Donjon in Old Town. With that, the rest of the party returned to the Wolf and Whistle, their task done for the night.

DM Commentary

I was particularly excited about the encounter with Sir Bram, and ended up being very disappointed with how it played out in the end. Some of the players are dogged in always attempting to get full, unequivocal answers to every question they have, and seem unable to deal with incomplete information. My hope was that forcing them to work together and think carefully about which pieces of information they would get from a specific NPC would lead them to rethink this method, but instead I failed in this by letting them bully me somewhat and throw me off of my game plan. Part of it may have been my fault in not presenting the situation in the same way it appeared in my head – making clear how powerful Sir Bram was, more strongly hinting at the dangerous nature of the situation they were in, etc. – but my desire to leave an air of mystery and allow the players to feel in total control sometimes hinders me.

I was also disappointed that the PCs chose to ignore the other tunnel, which I thought I clearly presented as an interesting and important path to adventure and intrigue. Perhaps part of that was my fault, but I think it was largely a byproduct of the entire session falling apart at the end due to player tension and disputes.

On that note, there was a lot of interesting action and choices on the parts of the PCs, but there was also a growing thread of tension throughout the session that was frustrating, and it ended in another intense argument between several of the players. While there have been various contributing factors, this has been a problem over several of the last sessions, and I am highly concerned about what this means for the cohesion of the group and our enjoyment of the game. Suffice it to say, if we can’t find a way to resolve these issues soon, I worry for the future of the campaign.

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Episode 44: White Flowers, Black Roots
20 Avandris, 997 D.A.

Cast of Characters
Kaolen Bearcharger, male human ranger (played by Jason Sproles)
Gorgoth Khrem, male dragonborn wizard (played by Ben Moy)
Kedrick Killmeister, male human paladin of Erathis (played by Derek Beam)
Perrin Tuatha’an, male halfling bard (played by Christopher Schwartz)

At the behest of Magistrate Nunna, the adventurers headed to the Four Oaks neighborhood to investigate strange comings and goings at Prosperous Swan Curios. The proprietor, a young elven woman named Irva, was star-struck to have the heroes of Calatan in her shop. After a lengthy conversation, the heroes could see no connection between her and the alleged assassin’s guild that Nakaro seemed to believe was operating out of the building.

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Side Trek: Coppernight Hold

Cast of Characters
Davorin Evermead, male dwarven fighter (played by Christopher Schwartz)
Marcus Coldshore, male human rogue (played by Chris Rampolla)
Morthos, male tiefling warlock (played by Derek Beam)
Rogath Ambershard, male dwarven warlord (played by Jason Sproles)

Inspired by the deeds of Monster Management, a group of would-be heroes from Harkenwold formed their own adventuring party. Calling themselves the Lions of Harkenwold, they set out to make their mark in the world.

At the request of Bran Torsson, the adventurers set out to find Coppernight Hold, a small keep being constructed by Kavalar Coppernight, a dwarven prospector from Overlook. Torsson had sent two militiamen to seek Coppernight’s aid during the revolt against Baron Teso, but they had never returned.

The companions traveled west, reaching the excavation site only to determine it was overrun by kobolds. They cut their way through the small reptilian pests until reaching the inner chamber of the keep, where they found a green dragon wyrmling. After a fierce battle, they defeated the beast and his followers. They found a locked room where Coppernight, his surviving followers, and the missing militiamen were chained to the walls. Once they were certain that Coppernight and his fellows were safe, they returned to Tor’s Hold, their first quest as an adventuring party an overwhelming success.

DM Commentary:
This was a one-shot session intended to allow Chris Rampolla a chance to play with the group and get his first experience with D&D 4th Edition. Overall it was a very successful venture, and I was pleased with how well it went. The other players also seemed to really enjoy getting to play different characters who were outside of the roles they have grown comfortable with in the main campaign. I would be interested in doing more side trek adventures of this sort, both to give the players something different to experiment with, and to tell tangential stories in the world.

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Episode 7: Sindarak

Flush from their victory over Sinruth, the adventurers delved further into the crypts of Raventree. Returning to spiderweb landing, they charged up the stairs to confront the remaining members of Sinruth’s Hand. The hobgoblins were quickly dealt with, and they coerced the group’s leaders into surrendering. One – the archer who has hounded them throughout their time in the crypts – turned out to be Sindarak, tribe brother of Sinruth. They interrogated the hobgoblins for information and learned that the captives had been taken to the lower levels, where the wight makes his lair. Sindarak also taunted the group that other goblin tribes would be arriving to bolster their numbers.

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Episode 6: Sinruth

In the depths of the Raventree Crypts, the party knew they needed a plan to find the missing captives and get out alive. They decided to return to the Raven Queen’s shrine in hopes of finding clues to the missing Mirtala. They did not, but they did find more goblins, who were unable to ambush the adventurers thanks to Kaolen’s keen senses. The battle was brief, and brutal for the attackers – only the hobgoblin archer who had harassed them before escaped.

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Episode 5: Rescue at Raventree, Part 3

The adventurers burst through the doors to a spiderweb-filled landing where three hostile ettercaps waited. After defeating the vicious, spider-like creatures, they found the body of the unfortunate guard captain, Kartenix Osborn.

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Episode 4: Rescue at Raventree, Part 2

The group raced down the corridor, hot on the trail of the shouting goblin sharpshooters. They rounded the corner, finding themselves staring at a group of waiting hobgoblins. A pitched battle ensued. The combat was fierce, but the companions defeated their enemies – except for one hobgoblin archer, who escaped up a metal stair to another floor.

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