Rise of the Planar Trade Consortium

Run 85 Rise of the PTC: Interlude Pt. I "Mirya's Fall"

In which our heroes receive prophecy, divert Gilgamesh’s attentions from the south, are reunited with Rook, investigate a slain trade caravan, track the “raider” into the desert, are beset by Mirya, and defeat her.

Camillas is given a prophecy that if Gilgamesh goes south he will surely die. Soon thereafter word comes to the court of the Great King that trading caravans from the south have been slain by mystical raiders employing magical arrows. While speaking with the nobles who bring this to the court of Gilgamesh Rook is returned to Sioned by the Crone of the Shadowfell, who destroys his body and takes a corpse over so that she can stuff his soul into it with powerful necromantic magics.

The heroes succeed in convincing Gilgamesh to let them investigate the raiders while he stays home, Mitya offers to take him (in disguise) on a tour of the brothels of Uruk.

Investigating the trail of the caravan the group travels away from the rivers and into the desert seeking where it was destroyed. In the depths of the wastes they find the first site, but little evidence is left. Camillas uses magic to speak with the flora in the area and her description of the attack makes it clear that Mirya, the djinni wife of Prince Balaam, is responsible. The plants describe her quite accurately as “flying down from the sun and slaying everyone with golden arrows before returning again to the skies”.

Using more magics Sioned begins to track Mirya’s path out into the desert. After many hours of travel she believes they are getting closer. It is at this point that Mirya, who has been watching them, flies to the attack. (again appearing out of the sun)

The battle is a nasty one. Mirya rarely descends to the ground. Her bow, the Rainbow itself, is lethal in her hands, and her golden arrows cause great concern every time she plucks the golden string in her bow. Rook succeeds in using divine magics to bind himself to her, and is granted flight by his allies such that she cannot escape him. Giilos and Camillas pepper her with “shots”, weakening her. Sioned barely manages to keep everyone on their feet, despite the massive damage Mirya is outputting.

In the end Rook’s binding is too strong, and Mirya is felled by his blows.

Thus endeth the session.

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Run 84 Rise of the PTC: In Uruk, A King Pt. II "The Forest Demon"

In which our heroes meet a priestess, receive a prophecy, depart Uruk seeking information for Gilgamesh, the King, travel across the lands encountering strange and savage peoples, discover that the villain of the piece is an old friend, rouse the King to battle, and guard him while Enkidu and he prepare to battle The Forest Demon Humwawa.

In Uruk, a King, Gilgamesh. In his court Three Great Heroes: Mitya, Giilos, and Sioned, strangers from distant “lands”.

To the court of Uruk comes the High Priestess Nin-Hursag, Lady of Ianna-Sin who shall in time be called Ioun. The High Priestess arrives not alone, nor in secret, but accompanied by several hundred warriors, borne upon the backs of many strong litter-bearers. Gilgamesh arranges a grand reception, on the spur of the moment summoning a thousand of his greatest soldiers, his richest merchants, his grandest priestesses, and his haughtiest nobles beneath great tents erected before the Gate of the Moon; close by his side, Sioned, Mitya, Giilos, Camillas, and his companions.

Nin-Hursag brings word of a prophecy her Goddess has given to her. If Gilgamesh and Enkidu do not set forth upon a journey to the ends of the world a great disaster will befall the cities of The Valley of Two Rivers; the Forest Demon Humwawa will come and destroy all mortal creations therein.

Gilgamesh sends our Heroes to seek information from the dangerous sorceress Akalabeth, who lairs outside the city in the hills nearby. She tells them that Humwawa is a powerful primordial of the forest who mostly sat out the Great War in favor of tending his wilderness and that “he” dwells in the great forest to the east by the Silver Sea. She and Camillas undertake some more ritual magics seeking information whilst the other three return to Uruk.

Sioned, Mitya, and Giilos then set out from Uruk seeking more information about Humwawa. On magical steeds they race up the Valley of Two Rivers and follow the trader’s paths east to the Silver Sea. There they turn south and follow the coastline for a few days. Along the way they seek out the sporadic villages of humans the savage tribes of halflings of Humwawa’s Forest seeking to learn more of “him”.

The humans are mostly useless (damn humans), they have no particularly useful information to impart about Humwawa save that he can not be seen by “mortal eyes”. The savage halflings prove more useful. They second the human’s tales of Humwawa’s invincibility. However they also point the heroes towards a young girl, living alone in the forest, who it is said is visited regularly by Humwawa. In return for the help of the shaman of the halflings they trade to him the ritual of Fey Passage, so that he and his tribe can enter the Feywild to there confront several forces that have been vexing them.

Traveling to the area indicated by the dinosaur-riding savages they discover a small hut in a vale, with a small lake nearby. In the gardens a young human girl, perhaps 14, is working. She is initially terrified of the invaders, but warms to them when they offer to help her. Mitya sneaks a peek into her hut, and finds it filled with mundanities like stored food and sleeping furs and clothes.

The next day the heroes talk further with the girl, and discover that she is possessed of several magical compulsions. She cannot leave the wilds. She must be terrified of strangers. She MUST keep people away during the night lest they be destroyed by the monsters of the forest…..

Giilos lies to her and tells her that the next night they will continue to rest near the lake, away from her and her hut.

In fact Mitya and Giilos sneak up to the hut. Sioned trails them, some distance behind so as to not give the other two away with stray noise. Inside they can see a bright light, but the door is locked, and it is also far more strong than the rickety hut (or it’s appearance) would warrant. With great effort, and a lot of time, Mitya succeeds in disarming the wards holding the door shut, he peeks inside.

Inside the hut things are transformed. Mitya sneaks into the hut, leaving the door slightly open for Giilos to watch through. He finds himself in a brightly lit room, draped in silks, with pillows scattered around. In the center of the room, unaware of him, a girl weeps. She is garbed in fine silks, and perfumed with the most exquisite scent. Mitya observes her for a time before Sioned approaches, and the noise alarms the girl.

Spinning, with effortless motion, the girl rises . . . and grows in size . . . transforming into Ayla, the First Wife of Prince Balaam. She knows not the invaders of her home, and raises an impenetrable wall of fire between herself and them (a Wall of Force with some color-text). Untouchable she succumbs to Sioned’s clever words, and is trapped into monologuing her evil plan. (like every good supervillain can be) She let’s loose that she has prompted Humwawa into attacking the Valley of the Two Rivers and destroying the only human civilization in the world. She even reveals that only “The King who has become enlightened and awakened his Third Eye” can even see Humwawa, much less defeat him.

The group despairs, Gilgamesh is pretty much the anti-thesis of an “Enlightened King”.

But with Akalabeth’s help, and the advice of Nin-Hursag and Akasha they discover a ritual that will allow a mortal to awaken their third eye, and see the un-see-able. Together Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and our heroes, travel into the wastelands to intercept Humwawa. Before they battle Gilgamesh and Enkidu charge our heroes with guarding them while they undertake the ritual Akasha, Akalabeth, and Camillas have given them. While they lie incapacitated the forest arises, wakening deadly tree-spirits to assault the King. Giilos, Sioned, and Mitya succeed in defeating the spirits and save the lives of the King and Enkidu.

The next morning, awoken from their ritual slumber, the two heroes Gilgamesh and Enkidu battle the “Demon” (no demon contained, man but humans are dumb) Humwawa. Our heroes (Sioned, Giilos, and Mitya) see nothing more than a pillar of smoke and fire. In the end Gilgamesh and our heroes return to Uruk, the fearsome head of Humwawa in their possession as a trophy.

Thus endeth the session.

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Run 83 Rise of the PTC: In Uruk, A King Pt. I "Those whom the Gods would destroy, they make mad"

The session opens with the group in the proto-city of Gloomwrought. Sioned is contacted by Akalabeth, who asks her to use a sigil-sequence to come to her. Rook cannot be found, but Sioned is moderately unconcerned, and everyone piles through a planar gate opened to the sequence Akalabeth has given them.

The group, less Rook, arrives in a hot world: A world with a bright, blazing, sun looking down on them. Akalabeth has taken up residence in a hut many miles from a great city, on a river. Akalabeth relates that she needs the group’s help.

She tells them that Akasha, daughter of the Raven Queen, has taken up residence in the “nearby” city of Uruk. She also relates that there is currently a problem in Uruk, Gilgamesh (the King of Uruk) has been oppressing his people and the Gods have chosen to curse him as a result. They have taken their powers and cursed a man into becoming a fearsome beast that will afflict Uruk. Alas, the man in question is Akasha’s lover, and the father of Alruna. He, Enkidu by name, has been turned into a nigh-undefeatable monster and is ravaging the wilds outside of Uruk.

The group agrees to help Akalabeth, who fears that her sister will be harmed, and head to the nearby city.

In Uruk they make their way to the King. (this might well prove more of an obstacle to less epic heroes, but Sioned, Mitya, Giilos, and Camillas easily make their way up the chain of command) In a courtyard they find Gilgamesh wrestling with his companions. Mitya agrees to wrestle him, and despite losing impresses the King so much that Gilgamesh rewards him with a drink from his own golden horn and commends him to his court. (said court is much impressed)

Camillas, and Giilos each, later that night, prove themselves worthy as well. And Sioned decides to bed the King, who proves more than equal to the task.

The next morning the group convinces Gilgamesh to let them investigate Enkidu. Traveling north, on steeds made of smoke and magic, the group easily locates the area where the wild-man lairs. Soon enough they encounter him in person. Enkidu proves undefeatable, after much fighting Sioned and her companions retreat, rather than face defeat.

The next day Gilgamesh marshals his army and marches north with Sioned, Mitya, Giilos, and Camillas. He find no different result than they did however, though he is mighty Gilgamesh is NOT the equal of Enkidu.

The following day the group suggests that perhaps the key is to send Akasha to seek Enkidu. (following several good history checks) This proves successful as Akasha is beloved of Enkidu. He so loves her, and their daughter Alruna, that he will even follow her out of the wilds and become a civilized “man”.

Now tamed Enkidu returns, with the party and Gilgamesh, to Uruk. Enkidu also proves to have a powerful sense of right and wrong and puts a stop to Gilgamesh’s depradations upon his own people. (teaching the proto-King that his own desires are not as important as the needs of his own people)

Thus endeth the session.

(it’s worth note that Pelor is not entirely “not present” for this, though it’s only tangential it’s apparent that the people who fled “the World” for the Shadowfell, and there founded Gloomwrought, come from this world, and this land in fact)

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Run 82 Rise of the PTC: The Shadar-kai, Pt. III "Dark Deals, dark consequences"

In which the heroes travel to the House of Blue Lanterns for answers, seek the Crone in the marshy plateau atop the Mountains of Yg, free the Keepers from their predators, and return to the Valley of Moaning Dreams to steal the Shadowtongue from the Crone so that the Shadar-kai can negotiate with the Keepers, resulting in the creation of the Walls of Gloomwrought (with attendant consequences).

In the Citadel of Zakarad the heroes prepare for their day. Sioned and Camillas use powerful magics to learn more about the Crone of the Valley of Moaning Dreams. They then depart, skirting the borders of the Forest of Tears along the foothills of the Mountains of Yg they travel “north”, towards the House of Blue Lanterns. Resting there for the night, the House has not yet chosen to leave where they last saw it, they ask after the Crone and how to reach her.

The following day is a hard one. Knowing they need to reach the plateau of Yg, and the marshes therein, they depart the House. The Mountains of Yg are powerfully cursed however, the curse rapidly shreds the magics they were using to travel thus grounding the party in the foothills. Mitya leads the climb, clambering up sheer cliffs with a magic rope which the rest of the group then uses to follow his path upwards. As the day ends the group just crests the peaks and looks down onto a vast marsh stretching into the distance.

The next day Camillas summons a wilderness guide, in the form of a “swamp-thing” mound of muck and goop, to guide them to the Valley. But the Valley of Moaning Dreams can only be found by following the setting sun, so the guide leads them aimlessly into the depths of the swamp until the disc of the sun begins to touch down upon the peaks of the mountains. It then turns and leads them towards the sun, surprisingly they come upon a valley in the midst of the swamp.

The Valley of Moaning Dreams is well named. Scattered around are comatose humanoids, many encased in silken cocoons. Each moans in their sleep, moans of terror and horror as if caught forever in the depths of the worst nightmare possible. Following a stream up the valley our heroes find a small hut, in which lives the toad-like Crone.

The Crone is quite enraged with them, she claims they’ve stolen her Shadowtongue and she wants recompense. The Crone is quite mad, and lives backwards in time as well, so the conversation is a bit disjointed. Giilos gets her to speak enough of the theft that they can figure out how they will do it, and Sioned convinces the Crone to forgive them at a price. She will forgive them only if Sioned steals the House of Blue Lanterns (which she refers to as “The Crossroads”) from her. She warns them, for the first time (for her), to be sure they get rid of it within three days and nights lest they suffer dire (but unspecified) consequences.

She then tells them that seeking out the Keepers can not possibly help as they have been disabled by enemies of reality. But, she will send the group to where they live, if they will take their chances. The group enters the portal she opens, and emerge in the Shadow-Heart to find an Illithid Elder Brain dominating the whole place.

They fight the Elder Brain and it’s (god-like) Thoon Hulk of a guardian, along with some mind-flayer scourges who are nearby. The Brain gets banished several times by Camillas’ magic, allowing the group to concentrate on eliminating first the Thoon Hulk and then both scourges. By the time it’s down to just the Elder Brain it’s obvious how the fight will end.

With the death of the illithids the Keepers wake, but the group cannot speak to them no matter what they do.

Returning to Gloomwrought they seek out, and purchase, several magical sesame seeds from the earliest of times. Making a seed-cake from them is difficult, but if you’ve been fortunate enough to see the magics employed it’s not impossible for an epic spell-caster, and thankfully Sioned and Rook have both spent time with Zahura (the djinni wife of Prince Balaam) and know how to do so.

Returning to the Valley via a portal sequence to an ancient circle near the Crone’s hut the group sneaks forward. As she said she would be, the Crone is asleep. Her guard-dog, a hound so huge that it has eyes the size of mill-stones, is soothed to sleep when it consumes the seed-cake. Beneath the Crone’s bed they find the box containing the Shadowtongue.

Having stolen the Shadowtongue they use it to give the Council of Elders the ability, though just for one night, to speak to the Keepers. A Deal Is Struck. In return for allowing the Keepers to feed off the fear and dread of anyone living in the city the Elders get the Keepers to agree to raise up a great wall around the city to keep it safe, as well as creating buildings and streets suitable to a planar metropolis.

In the fullness of time Gloomwrought will now rise to it’s fated glory.

Thus endeth the session.

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Run 81 Rise of the PTC: The Shadar-kai, Pt. II "Dark Lord in a dark land"

Run 81 Rise of the PTC: The Shadar-kai, Pt. II “Dark Lord in a dark land”

In which our heroes lead an army of rebels, journey through the Forest of Tears, fight twisted and tormented spirits lost in the land of Shadows, and treat with a power Lord of Darkness, the Death Titan Zakarad, in the remnants of his stronghold.

Camillas wakes in the House of Blue Lanterns. She uses a spell of invisibility to wander the House in safety, not knowing what the Dark Ones are doing there. In the end she reveals herself to Sioned and Giilos, and speaks with them and Shahmar before everyone beds down for the night.

The next day the Dark Ones prepare to depart, Skrillik and some of his creepers are staying at the House. The rest of the rebel slaves depart, maybe 800 souls strong the column begins moving towards Gloomwrought. Along the way our heroes work hard to fight off the predators of the Shadowfell. By the end of the long, and exhausting, journey most (though not all) of the Dark Ones make it to Gloomwrought.

At Gloomwrought Sioned manages to forestall a battle between the army of the city and the army of refugees. However a fundamental problem remains, Gloomwrought lacks the resources to take in the refugee slaves. Adding 30% to the city’s population will absolutely result in starvation and death in just a few months. But the followers of Pelor, freed slaves themselves, do not turn away the Dark Ones; instead they take them in and begin seeking solutions.

After sleeping in a tavern the heroes are brought before the Gloomwrought Council of Elders the following morning. Tamarak is present, but is so lost to “the Grey Death” that he barely bothers to say anything at all, and House Cinder loses influence as Ilia (of House Anarrak) wields her tongue like a knife. Ilia is initially quite hostile, but eventually befriends the heroes and asks for help for the city. The Council as the group to go negotiate with Zakarad, the most powerful of the Death Giants, and try to aid the city in case the Giants are holding a grudge over the death of Gorodzh.

The following day the heroes summon magical steeds to journey through the marshes and the Forest of Tears. The journey is not uneventful, but nothing they confront can challenge a group of heroes as epic as ours. Approaching the fallen citadel of Zakarad they see the city walls are still strong.

At the gate they are attacked by a group of Tulgar. The spirits of a destroyed land they have been reformed in the Shadowfell and hate all life, especially those allied with the Gods (who they blame for the loss of their land). Camillas tries to hobble their tactics by filling the gate with a wall of ice, but the Tulgar spirit-talker banishes the wall with a blast of primal force. The Tulgar press the group a bit, but once Rook and Mitya close the battle is pretty-much decided. As is typical Mitya takes a moment during the following short rest to carve some insulting graffiti about how wussy Tulgar are and how awesome Mitya is into the nearby citadel walls.

Searching the citadel for Zakarad takes more time than there is daylight remaining. The group rests in an extra-dimensional space before resuming the search in the morning.

In the center of the citadel they find the Death Titan Zakarad. He broods upon a throne of black obsidian in a ruined throne-room. Initially he ignores everything the party does, until Giilos sparks his interest. In return for word of Gorodzh’s demise he offers word that Gloomwrought is likely safe. Gorodzh’s allies are Zakarad’s enemies and are unlikely to pursue Gloomwrought out of love of Gorodzh, doubly so since with one of his enemies dead Zakarad intends to take all of Gorodzh’s power (by eating the souls of his remaining slaves) and then perhaps he might even attack Gorodzh’s allies. (provided he can be bothered)

Zakarad even offers to help Gloomwrought some. He tells Giilos of the Keepers, and directs the heroes to seek the Crone of the Valley of Moaning Dreams if they wish to speak to the Keepers. Zakarad then stands up from his throne and begins to cast magic, the party departs (though Camillas stays long enough to garner a portal-sequence to a circle in Castle Gorodzh).

Thus endeth the session.

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Run 80 Rise of the PTC: The Shadar-kai Rebellion, Pt. I "Rook, is that really you?"

The session begins immediately following the fight, no time even for a short rest. As soon as the violence is over a crone appears, apparently she had been concealed as a boulder. She says something about meeting the group a third time, claims that by defeating the famine spirits and golem they’ve defeated her guardians, and as a result won from her the prize of the House of Blue Lanterns. She gestures; and with that reveals a great house behind the group, puts Camillas under a magical sleep, and vanishes. The last words she has to offer are that when the group has passed ownership of the House on Camillas will wake, and that it would be best if they lost it gambling instead of dying defending it’s ownership.

The House is organized around a courtyard, only a wrought-iron gate leads into the courtyard. (this is the same gate that connects to Sigil) Inside the courtyard everything is illuminated by many blue lanterns. Entering the main door from the courtyard reveals an inn. The inn is well-furnished, but totally uninhabited. There’s a ledger, but no sign of who owns the inn.

While most of the group explores the House Rook goes to look around outside the courtyard. While doing so he sees a pair of black carriages coming down the road. When they pull up he opens the gate to the courtyard and lets them in. Tamarak (an ancient man) and Emril, plus twelve followers, exit the carriages and the principals enter the inn. Rook remains in the courtyard, and later the carriage-house wing, with the servants who are attending the carriages. Giilos and his “wife” (Sioned) greet the two nobles and get them rooms and food, Mitya tends bar.

It turns out Tamarak is in charge of a diplomatic mission. The people of Gloomwrought need stone to build their city-walls, as the Shadowfell is a terribly dangerous place, and Tamarak (of House Cinder) is charged with negotiating the purchase of said stone from the Death Giants who rule the lands nearby. Sioned convinces Emril, the younger noble (and clearly next in line when Tamarak dies) to let them come along to help. Before leaving they put Camillas in a cot, in a locked room, sealing the door with an Arcane Lock. Giilos grabs the Book of Days, but Sioned refuses to touch the thing.

Late in the second day Giilos is shocked, he becomes certain that one of the young scions of House Cinder, accompanying Tamarak, is Rook. Once he points it out everyone can see the similarity, Shahmar is definitely Rook, or will become Rook some day.

The group works hard during the negotiations with the Death Giant Gorodzh to make Shahmar look good to his family. They succeed handily and Emril appoints Shahmar to remain and handle details and logistics while the rest of the group returns to Gloomwrought. Our heroes remain with Shahmar at Castle Gorodzh. The next few days are hectic, but Shahmar rises to the challenge brilliantly, he is a very driven young optimist with a bright future ahead of himself. (or so he thinks)

Shahmar also turns out to be quite the idealist, and very much a good and lawful person. He is horrified at the treatment of the Dark Ones by their master Gorodzh and must act. He has a plan to escape and warn Gloomwrought of the nature of their new trading partner, but is convinced by Sioned and Giilos to instead work with them in instigating a rebellion by the slaves.

Convincing the Dark Ones to rebel proves no easy task. Mitya spends time sneaking around the castle looking for weaknesses in Gorodzh’s defenses. Rook eventually notices that the Dark Creeper named Skrillik seems to be a leader and points that out. Giilos tries to prove how powerful the group is, but Skrillik doesn’t scare easily (no surprise for an elder Dark One in service to a Death Giant). Sioned’s silver tongue, on the other hand, does the trick and Skrillik agrees to help sneak the party into Castle Gorodz for an attempt on Gorodzh’s life. Picking the lock to Gorodzh’s inner sanctum takes a good amount of time and effort, so Rook ends up getting into a fight to distract guards, this succeeds in buying Mitya the time needed to break into Gorodzh’s inner-sanctum.

Gorodzh is defended by an Iron Golem. He’s a much tougher fight than the last, but can’t stand against the power of the four epic heroes facing him once the golem is down. After the fight Mitya leaves some graffiti expounding on how awesome he is, and how much of a wuss Gorodzh was, this will have repercussions once the Death Giants read it.

Following Gorodzh’s death there is a vicious civil war between the Dark Ones. Some wish to continue following their Death Giant “Gods”, we’ll call them “tories”, while others desperately want freedom, we’ll call them “Patriots”. Rather than continue the war Skrillik leads the “patriots” away from the castle, towards Gloomwrought and freedom. Along the way everyone stops at the House of Blue Lanterns to rest up. While there Mitya manages to get some gambling going, that little guy ain’t nothin’ but trouble. During the game Skrillik wins big, REAL BIG, like “Wow, I can’t possibly pay that debt, could I just sign over ownership of this inn to you and call it even?” big. (one could also view this as the players winning big, but Skrillik doesn’t know that)

Thus endeth the session.

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Run 79 Rise of the PTC: To Seize the Cage!, Pt. V "A Great Betrayal"

Rook dies, and is resurrected. While dead he begins the journey every soul must take, and finds himself in the Land of the Dead (Nerull’s Realm). His soul is pulled back by the ritual Camillas and Sioned undertake.

Whilst undertaking the ritual Akalabeth conducts several magical experiments. She determines that she could take over the Cage, and thereby control it’s portals. When Sioned and Camillas are finally free she relates this. Sioned works hard to convince her not to do so, because she’ll be trapped for eternity in the Cage, and Akalabeth agrees to hold off (for now). More usefully, Akalabeth has also determined how to open a portal from this side, though it only works on portals with some kind of power-linkage that reaches through them. (Sioned sealing a portal leaves traces of that power in the portal and proves a handy way of gaining the linkage needed) People do NOT relate this immediately to Grazzt.

A’kin returns to the group carried on a large litter by a horde of demons. He’s still badly broken, and about the only truly functional thing he has is his voice and cunning. (thankfully those are his most potent weapons) A’kin relates that he has gotten Gabberslug to agree to negotiate with the group, and will bring them to meet him.

While the devils are occupied Sioned, Mitya, Camillus, and Rook go to meet with Gabberslug. They may not have brought friends, but Gabberslug has definitely brought an army, a Waddling Horde in fact! The two sides meet across the empty space provided by a now-ruined city-square. The Horde surges forward when it smells Mitya, but is beaten back by Gabberslug who rides out to meet with Sioned on the back of a fearsome, demonic, lizardy-drake-ey beast he calls “The Kadyx”.

The negotiations take a while, and Gabberslug demands a bunch of things. But in the end he agrees to betray Baphomet and help the devils. In return he gets a permanent place of power in the Cage, plus magical warding against other demons, and a host of “perks”. (most of the perks are clearly just attempts by him to see how far he can push the party, and the answer is “pretty far, we need you”)

The battle goes entirely as predicted. The remaining three legions line up in battle-formation to face Baphomet’s army. The demons swarm forward in unstoppable masses, the center anchored by The Waddling Horde. When the sides clash both the devils and The Horde turn, each to one flank, and work together to slaughter the demons.

Following a great celebration Grazzt leads the legions back to Hell. He promises to return, for the Cage is the perfect marshalling point for Hell, but for now his lord (Asmodeus) needs him and his “men” desperately. He warns Sioned, who he’s getting some suspicious feelings about, that if she tries to keep him from the Cage he’ll see to it that she is trapped there and will never leave the place. (he thinks this is a terrifying threat and hopes to dissuade her from opposing him in the future) Giilos departs for Hell as well, alongside his legions. (his legionnaires have done extremely well in the battles in the Cage, well, those who survive the experience that is)

Akalabeth departs for The World, using the gate beneath where the House of A Thousand Doors will stand. Camillas, Sioned, Rook, and Mitya depart for the Shadowfell, using the gate Rook’s soul went through when he died (and using the link his soul’s passage provided to open said portal)

Arriving in the Shadowfell they exit out a wrought-iron gateway. They find themselves at a crossroads, with a hangman’s scaffold a bit down one road and nothing else in sight. The forces of the Shadowfell, objecting to the intruders, coalesce around them. Darkness infuses, and animates, the corpse on the scaffold which grows in size and moves to attack them. From both of the other two roads the dark power coalesces into a pair of famine spirits.

The fight itself is no particular challenge. Camillas handily locks down the Hangman Golem while the Famine Spirits are slain. No one takes much of any damage. (my dice were sooooo cold)

When the fight ends, the session ends.

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Run 78 Rise of the PTC: To Seize the Cage!, Pt. IV "A Great Battle"

Some communication is gotten from Gabberslug that is nominally positive in nature. It seems that Baphomet had captured both A’kin and Mitya, and turned them over to Gabberslug. A’kin is recognized by Mitya when they’re both imprisoned together, and the two cut a deal that should get both free in time, it just involves being handed over to a powerful demon (Gabberslug). Despite the tastiness of the halfling the nalfeshnee swine-guards who pick up A’kin and Mitya bring him intact (with just a little drooling on their parts) to Gabberslug. Some violent negotiations ensue.

In an extra-dimensional space Akalabeth has conjured the heroes plus the three sisters (and Estevan & baby Alruna) rest up. During the rest Akalabeth reveals she is planning on seizing the Cage, so as to control it’s gates, Sioned works to try to convince her against that plan. Suddenly there is violence right near the entrance to their resting-space, nalfeshnee are tearing down the walls of the building they holed up in. They dump a badly wounded A’kin and a bound Mitya, as a present and depart. A’kin relates that he and Gabberslug have cut some kind of deal, mostly just one that would guarantee his and Mitya’s lives: Gabberslug did in fact wait out the attack on Orcus, and is now willing to consider helping Sioned et al, provided they can prove themselves worthy by slaying one of the two remaining demon-princes aspects and driving it’s army from the Cage.

There is some debate amongst everyone over the next step to take, but in the end agreement is reached that combining their forces with the infernal forces to destroy Demogorgon’s army is the right answer. (there is risk in this since it will leave the infernal army badly weakened, and free Baphomet’s forces from the constraint of needing to fight Demogorgon’s demons) The group then travels to where Grazzt, Glasya, and Fierna have encamped (with about 25,000 devils remaining).

Together there is agreement that something needs to be done, the infernals are still losing the war in the Cage. Consensus is that with the hero’s aid, and Akalabeth’s help, the infernal army can win a great battle, and with that agreement plans are put in motion. The infernal army musters, and marches on Demogorgon’s stronghold. Grazzt is as brilliant as his reputation claims and chooses an excellent battlefield to deploy on, Demogorgon is more crafty than hoped for but does come charging to the attack when taunted with Orcus’s rod sufficiently.

The Battle of the Cage (I) is nasty, and hard, and long. Sioned attempts to inspire the devils, but despite her silver-tongue they don’t really respond to her speech as strongly as she’d hoped. Camillas is more effective, her walls of ice prove critical to channeling demonic forces during two critical moments when the devils are at risk. Giilos proves tremendously effective, he joins the front line and fights side by side with the legions, rallying them when they flag and leading them onwards in when they charge. Mitya proves nearly as effective, sneaking past demonic lines to assassinate several demons in charge of largely-mindless forces, without their leaders those formations readily break and flee.

In the end it all comes down to one moment though. The moment when, ground down to maybe 15,000 remaining “men” Grazzt’s army faces certain doom. The battle is at it’s most violent, dust, noise, chaos, all obscure what is going on. Rook somehow manages to spot the final demonic thrust before it lands. A marilith general has spotted a weak-point in the devilish lines, a gap between two units that if exploited will break the battle line. Like Alexander at Gaugemela the moment she sees the opportunity she, and her hezrou retinue, charge it!

Surrounded by thousands of demons and devils the heroes are now all that stand between the army of Grazzt and certain defeat.

The fight is brutal. The hezrou are very tough, and their bites are extremely nasty. But it’s the marilith who really dominates. When she raises a shroud of steel around her, whirling her blades so fast they can barely be seen, she is almost impossible to hit. Additionally her ability to dance forward, striking multiple times proves deadly; she initially hammers Rook, planning to take Mitya down following him, but Rook just won’t drop. Even her weapon dance isn’t quite enough, but the marilith has another trick up her sleeve and she connects on the back-swing shrouding him with steel. (and slaying him outright) The remainder of the fight doesn’t get any easier after Rook dies.

With the death of the marilith, and her retinue, the battle is no longer in real doubt. Grazzt sends Glasya around the flank to pin the remaining demons in place and uses Fierna to hammer them into the dust of the Cage. Having slain a good quarter of a million demons, at the cost of almost half the remaining infernal army, everyone retreats to the devil’s camp to rest for the next day.

During that rest Rook is raised from the dead. (though the cost is brutal, no one has enough reagents or residuum on hand so they have to disenchant the Rod of Orcus that they were hoping to keep as a trophy) Everyone now wonders what Gabberslug will do; if he turns stag and helps Sioned’s forces even the mere 15,000 troops the devils have will probably win a fight with Baphomet, but if Gabberslug sides with the demon prince there is no chance in Hell that a mere three legions (cobbled together from the remains of ten legions, so not trained up together) can possibly survive.

The next day will surely bring a Great Betrayal, though who Gabberslug betrays will determine whether the result is a glorious victory or a complete defeat.

Thus endeth the session.

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Run 77 Rise of the PTC: To Seize the Cage!, Pt. III "Die Orcus. DIE!"

Our Heroes, Sioned, Giilos, Rook, and Camillas, discuss current events with Glasya and Fierna. The discussion breaks down fairly evenly along two sides. Fierna wants to press the enemy aggressively, if the party of heroes can slay Orcus aspect the fight will be more evenly matched. Glasya wishes to consolidate territory and regroup with Grazzt’s survivors, if there are any. The group twists; Rook has no opinion, but Sioned, Giilos, and Camillas all waver from one side to the other.

It becomes apparent that both Glasya and Fierna have a plan, but are reticent to speak it, much less commit to it, as it has low odds of them surviving it. But if they both fall back towards Grazzt, and then aggressively press an attack on Orcus with their forces they may regroup with successfully and also distract Orcus’s forces. If they can be distracted there’s good odds that Giilos and the other three might be able to penetrate Orcus’s stronghold and attack his very aspect. (unspoken by the group is that this may also allow them to close the gate to the Abyss that is feeding Orcus’s army reinforcements)

There is much debate, but in the end Giilos (lies) asserts that he has authority, as he has the hellfire and is strong. Fierna and Glasya both accept his speech inspiring them to sacrifice their forces, and possibly themselves, for the greater good and for their allies. It is becoming very obvious by now that this close to “The Fall” the devils are still just angels of a god of Good, Order, and War, that have been cursed with fiendish forms, they have yet to be corrupted by the power of the Seed of Evil.

As Camillas holes up with Sioned to begin some magical preparations “the Girls” head towards Grazzt’s last known position with their forces. A combination of powerful magic, mixed with some good old-fashioned stealth and perception, allows the group to out-run anything they can’t avoid. Soon they come up against the gates of a fortified position, a great “wall” of rubble and fallen walls behind which they know the gate to the Abyss resides. Guarding it is a huge undead monstrosity the aspect of Orcus has raised up in his defense. The Bone Collector proves a cunning foe, retreating away from open positions to defend it’s gate from behind, but not even that saves it.

Searching quickly Rook finds the group a hidden place in a ruined attic to take a few minutes and rest up. Below they can hear, and occasionally see, masses of Abyssal ghouls, hungry and corrupted by Orcus’s power. With some magics to aid them, some stealth and some flat-out-running alongside a few quick and bloody skirmishes gets the group past a massive amount of ghouls and deep into a sub-Sigilan lair.

There they find a Deathpriest Heirophant, and the Aspect of Orcus which he has called to the Cage. (since it’s unguarded at the moment) A number of ghouls are also present. Camillas opens by cutting the battlefield down to size with a wall of ice. Orcus strides forward and engages, the heirophant maneuvers to get close to the party where his necromantic aura can weaken their defenses. Most of the ghouls die quickly, but the heirophant utters a blasphemous word, the Word of Orcus, and stuns a number of people for a time. Much use is got of pushing enemies into the gate to the Abyss, which might be one-way-in but still has a nasty damaging effect. Even after the ghouls and the heirophant are slain the battle runs for a long time (much longer than we play out). Orcus is a damn tough customer, but with Sioned’s magic, supplemented by her forge-mail’s enchantments, the outcome is in no doubt; Orcus simply can’t hit hard enough to overcome her healing magic.

Once Orcus is slain Sioned gets down to the business of examining the gate to the Abyss. She connects to it in the same way she connected to the one that used to house the Bone Gate, through the pain inside her. Using that pain she cuts away the power that sustains the gate, closing it, for now. Before she can finish the job there is an unexpected consequence, from the depths of the Abyss something climbs upwards, riding her power across the portal. Razorvine erupts from the gate before being cut-off and withering as it closes. Razorvine also climbs up from ground beneath Sioned’s feet and winds it’s way up her legs and torso, enveloping and cutting her ever so briefly (and sharply) before it too withers and is brushed away.

Thus endeth the session.

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Run 76 Rise of the PTC: To Seize the Cage!, Pt. II "War, war never changes"

Following the initial fight Gabberslug departs, suspiciously the halfling who had fallen through time and been caught by Sioned goes missing at just about the same time. . . .. .

More important is the fact that there is a large oni with a massive two-handed sword pointing it at our heroes. Despite appearances it turns out to be Estevan, it would also appear that over the centuries between now and “later” he changes substantially. The heroes try to convince Estevan, Y’larra, Akalabeth, and Akasha to work with them. Akalabeth seems to be mostly in charge, though it’s clear Estevan doesn’t take orders from her where the safety of his charge (Y’larra) is concerned. Akalabeth doesn’t fully trust Sioned, or her friends, but agrees to travel with them until they can hole up somewhere.

Once the two groups are further from the ongoing battle, which the demons seem to be winning, they stop to assess the situation. Sioned plays things pretty straight up, telling Estevan and Akalabeth most of the truth, the only thing she keeps close to her vest is that she is the Lady of Pain and will be taking over the Cage. The two groups agree to work together to try to figure a way out of the Cage; Akalabeth and her sisters will stay hidden and she’ll try some arcane tests to see what she can do, Sioned and her “crew” will go to see if they can deal with the portals.

After determining the nearby portal to the Abyss’s location, and realizing it is under the control of Orcus, the group heads out into the streets. They manage to make their way across enough of the city to make it to where the House of a Thousand Doors will stand, in the future. The journey is perilous, as the streets are filled with demons harrying retreating devilish forces. They approach what is clearly a fortified battle-line, and Rook searches out an unseen route through it. Now in devil-controlled territory they avoid a few patrols before finding the location of the House of a Thousand Doors.

Rook searches the area, after everyone discovers that the location itself isn’t important, and discovers a passage to Under-Sigil (sometimes named Ligis). Below the House they find where the Bone Gate was first assembled, and the bodies of the dabus who died to empower it. But the Bone Gate is gone, and while Sioned can close the portal that leads in to it, she decides not to do so at this point in time.

Also near the gate is a copy of the Book of Days. It seems Njalla has been lost in time, a split-second out of phase from reality. She can see our world, but can’t interact with it. Running low on food, and magic, she tries a ritual to send things across her “gap”, but the Book of Days is a powerful artifact and it’s magic messes with her ritual resulting in a copy of it appearing where Rook will find it, near the Bone Gate. Camillas duplicates her ritual, and the group sends Njalla several weeks of food and water, as the book records her saying she’s running low. It’s clear Njalla is watching them, and can communicate (one-way) by writing in the book. (though given the amount of space in the book, and ink that Njalla has, it’s clear only important messages should be sent via this route)

Having exhausted the possibilities at their current location they return to the streets of the cage to discover that the devil’s fortifications have been over-run. The devils are in full retreat, pursued by masses of demons. Now that Sioned knows how to close the gates consensus is to depart the area and attempt to find Orcus’s gate to the Cage, and close it.

This time the streets are even more chaotic, the fall of the devil’s battle-line has resulted in very dangerous streets. The group begins to move back towards the meeting place w. Akalabeth, to confer prior to assaulting Orcus’s gate, but fails to entirely avoid trouble.

Rook hears conflict to the front of the group, and they spot a battle line of devils holding against demons for the moment. They try to route around them, but a pair of armanites and a handful of lesser demons burst out from some ruins and threaten to hit the devilish battle-line in it’s rear, which will surely shatter it. The group attacks.

Camillas goes first, and ensures the safety of the devils by raising a wall of ice to stop the charge of the demons. Most of the lesser demons fall quickly, but the armanites are tough customers. Camillas gets caught in the front lines and takes a beating but doesn’t drop before Sioned and friends dispatch the demons.

Before anyone can get a rest in the wall of ice explodes as multiple bursts of hellfire hit it, from the other side. The devils have held the field, and now turn to our heroes seeking . . . . information. Furthermore it would seem that they aren’t just some little skirmishing force, leading them is a badly beaten up un-powered Fierna. (Giilos can practically smell how low her reserves of hellfire are, she positively doesn’t glow from inside with the flames of hell, like she normally does.)

Giilos takes point in this conversation, and mostly stalls Fierna until he gets close enough to seize her in his arms and kiss her. (fulfilling her demand that the next time they met he would “kiss instead of kill” her) The touch of fresh hellfire ignites Fierna, and she starts to suck power from Giilos. Rather than hold onto all his power he willingly let’s her pull hellfire from him. Rekindled Fierna now practically blazes with power, she cries out to the darkened skies and another force of devils descends to join everyone, this force led by Glasya. A scandalous scene involving Fierna and Glasya ensues, during which she rekindles Glasya’s hellfire reserves and everyone realizes that they are closer to each other than people had previously thought.

Conversation with the two devilish forces reveals a number of things.

1. The devils are losing, badly.
2. The fallen battle-line was defending the last infernal stronghold, held by Grazzt. With it’s fall control of the sole portal from Hell has now fallen to demonic forces.
3. Glasya and Fierna have been on the run, behind the demon lines, and are pretty much destroyed as battle-field forces. (their armies are broken, all that remain are basically the command troops)
4. Three portals lead into the Cage from the Abyss. Orcus controls one, Demogorgon and Baphomet control the other two.
5. With the three demonic generals victorious, and the three infernal generals on the run (and in Grazzt’s case probably out of hellfire as well), control of the Cage will Very Soon Now be Abyssal. (so if Sioned wants to own the Cage, she’d best move on that soonest)

Thus endeth the session.

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