Borderlands Campaign part X
The Dwarves' Back Door

Borderlands Campaign, Part X: The Dwarves’ Back Door

A party of dwarves came to Grayhollow looking for the heroes who vanquished the goblin cult. Hrothgar Standingstone, their chieftain; Lister Redbeard, their mage/priest; and Grog (played by Darrell), their fiercest warrior. They asked if you would help take back their home, Marblehearth, from the trolls who captured it. After some travel (and once being attacked in the night by mountain lions), you came to a cliff that you needed to scale to reach the hidden entrance. Despite being shot at by goblins, and harrassed by a giant bird who tried to throw you from the precipice, you made it to the entrance.

Inside the winding cave tunnels wait many traps and monsters. Grog fell down a trap door to caves far below, leaving the others to try meet up with him through the winding tunnels. Other traps had been triggered by previous intruders, and the dwarves’ knowledge of these defenses helped you bypass them without further danger.

Borderlands Campaign, Part IX
The Mad Witch of the Bog

Borderlands Campaign, Part IX: The Mad Witch of the Bog

Back in Grayhollow, things are still not as well as they could be. Although your vanquishing of the demon Naarash and ridding the countryside of ravenous bugs has made it safe for peasants to return to their lands, Lord Garen has done little to help his people. You arranged for an audience with the lord, but it was mostly fruitless beyond an exchange of pleasantries. By asking around town, however, you were able to piece together a tale that Garen had made a pact with the mad witch of the bog in exchange for a son. When his son was born, but his wife died in childbirth, he reneged on his payment, and the witch cursed him.

To clear up this mess, you journeyed into the damp, dark bog and confronted the mad witch Helda who lived there, in the hollow bole of a tree. She offered to remove the curse if you brought her the lord’s son. When you refused, her giant frogs attacked you. You fought desperately through the muck, insects, and slime while she called down lightning upon you, and summoned forth a monster made of vines in the shape of a huge man from the swamp. After you defeated the monster and drove her away, you ransacked her home for spells and components, then burnt it to cinders.

She caught up with you again as you wandered through the bog, trying to find your way out. this time you killed her, and she cursed you with her dying breath. You let her body sink beneath the brackish water, and eventually made it out of the swamp. When you presented Lord Garen with evidence of your deed, he rewarded you (Alethea, Lorun, Lucien) with knighthoods.
Borderlands Campaign, part VIII
Bug Trouble

Borderlands Campaign, Part VIII: Bug Trouble

As you have more time to examine the temple’s ancient carvings, scrolls, and tablets, and ponder what you have witnessed in the past few days, you piece together clues to the temple’s history. The giants who built this place discovered a magic crystal, the Eye of Naarash. They used its power to overpower their enemies and uncover arcane secrets, learning too late that the demon Naarash was imprisoned within – corrupting their plans and nourishing himself upon their hate and violence. The giants closed the temple and sealed it’s gate with magic, abandoning the town around it. Only a few years ago, some goblin adventurers breached the magical defenses and made their way into the temple. Learning of its power, they reactivated the Eye of Naarash and reawakened the demon. From there, they formed the Hand of Naarash cult, which grew with every village they raided. Naarash permitted only the strongest to lead the cult, so five times since its founding, the reigning leader was vanquished, and his killer became the new Voice of Naarash. This cycle ended with Jaryn defeating Larkazh, and you defeating Jaryn. The temple is still tainted by evil, and many goblins survived, though they were scattered and demoralized by the ruin of their cult.

Among the survivors of the cult, you find Harold, a skilled spearman, Josun, an experienced woodsman, and Donovan, a mysterious half-elf warlock (played by Davis). They help organize some of the other survivors, and accompany you as the dwarf Glasur takes you back downriver to the Adamant Falls citadel. There, Kaegon the dragonborn centurion, and Sir Pikeford celebrate the news of your victory over the demon, and the collapse of the cult. They tell you how they and the few remaining fighters were able to hold off a great siege by the goblin army and their human thralls, until the army broke as Naarash was slain.

Some of the refugees tell you that they tried to return to their farms, but found it infested with vicious bugs that attack them and destroy their crops. You went to investigate and were attacked by swarms of ravenous ankheg larva. Some well-placed blasts of magical fire took care of most of them, but your extermination work was interrupted as a ferocious bug nearly as big as a house burst from the ground and attacked. Despite being bitten and poisoned repeatedly, you were able to fight off all the horrible insects before the big one was able to drag Lorun back to its lair to be devoured. You finished off the main nesting mound, and earned the gratitude of the farmers (plus an old mule and an offer of betrothal to a farmer’s teenage daughter).

Satisfied with your good deed, you made your way back to Grayhollow. With Josun as a guide, some familiar landmarks, and helpful villagers, you travel through the borderlands and reach your destination. The villages you pass are still in poor shape from being raided, but the peasants are starting to return. Red autumn leaves fall from the trees, signaling that the first days of winter are not far off.

The refugees who choked the streets of Grayhollow when you left (just over one moon ago) are now gone. Life is beginning to return to normal in this small town. You break the news of Jaryn’s death to Sister Emesha, leaving out his turn to the dark side. She welcomes news of the cult’s downfall, but is too heartbroken to celebrate. She also relates that Lord Galan of Grayhollow has done little to help his subjects as they suffer under the raiders. He hordes food and protects himself within his keep while the peasants go hungry.

Lucien and Alethea research the arcane writings they recovered to learn secrets never intended for mortal man, including how to summon a familiar spirit and bind it to a skull .
Borderlands Campaign, Part VII
Temple Aftermath

Borderlands Campaign, Part VII: Temple Aftermath

You are all completely exhausted after your epic battle with the paladin and the demon lord. With help from the fountain’s rejuvenating waters, Lucien’s medical attention, and several hours of rest, you feel ready to face the world again. After resting, you gather up what treasures you can carry from the temple. Besides Jaryn’s magical scale armor (immunizing drakescale +2), you find jewelry, coins, and objects d’art worth a total of 500 gp. In addition, you can each choose one magic item that you directly used in the final fights, and raise it by one level (in accordance with the house rule) That is in addition to any item improvements from leveling your characters.

Taking the passage you found hidden beneath the now-destroyed crystal, you make your way along a dark, twisting tunnel that emerges on the back side of the temple mound after you push aside a large facing-stone. After your eyes adjust to the dazzling sunlight, you see a panorama of utter chaos.

Bodies of cultists and goblins lay strewn about the ground. Others sit wailing in despair or wander around in confusion. The once-orderly encampment is now looted & ravaged, and a broken trail of groups of men, women, & children make their way down the Black March, carrying whatever they can manage. Walking through the giants’ ruins and overturned tents, you piece together that cultists wearing a talisman when you destroyed the Eye of Naarash died on the spot. With the demon’s influence removed, fights broke out between captured cultists and goblin overlords, and amongst themselves.

You have completed your quest to find the paladin (though not in the manner you had hoped) and put an end to the cult’s raiding. Now what will you do? Do you return to Grayhollow and break the news to Sister Emesha? Do you help the former cultists return to their villages to build their lives again? Do you go back to the fortress at Adamant Falls to help Kaegon & Sir Pikeford push back the frontier? Do you take your loot and head off for some other adventure? Where shall you go?

What are your ultimate plans? Do you seek great power? Exciting adventures worthy of songs? To uncover the mysteries of a forgotten world? To right some wrong? How do you plan to make these dreams come true?

Borderlands Campaign, Part VI
The Pillars of Night

Borderlands Campaign, Part VI: The Pillars of Night

After leaving the burning village, our heroes felt uneasy despite the natural serenity of the river. Before stopping for the night to let the giant pikes rest, Alethea invoked a magical ward. Immediately, this revealed the presence of a tiefling lurking invisibly at the stern. He said he knew of your mission to the Pillars of Night, and that you were too late to save Jaryn. It became clear that this was Dajani, the paladin’s last companion, for he wore ragged vestments similar to Sister Sister Emesha’s. It was equally clear that he was up to no good, for he answered your questions by attempting to slit Lucien’s throat. The return blow met empty air, as Dajani used his infernal powers and magic cloak to disappear from that spot, and reappear by his next victim to attack without warning. In this manner he carried on, while the heroes lurched across the pitching deck of Glasur’s moonboat, to assail him, first in one spot, then another. He evaded the icy grasp of Alethea’s summoned ice hand, and was knocked into the swift current by Lorun’s ferocious charge, only to rematerialize back on deck moments later. Finally, a shot hit true, piercing the half-daemon’s wicked heart.

Dajani wore a tunic of the Bane-worshippers under his old, Pelor-blessed vestments. His journal told of the journey with Jaryn as they left Grayhollow full of confidence; how they lost their other companions fighting goblin raiders; Jaryn’s obsession with destroying the cult turning to mad determination; and finally, enigmatic talk of “setting aside his old life for the power of the new age”. He was buried under a small cairn after the heroes put ashore at the closest point to the temple before they would be spotted. Lucien performed the rites befitting a lay member of the order, in hopes that there may have been some good left in him.

Glasur promised to return to that spot every second day at noon, to bring them back to Adamant falls should they survive. From atop a hill, they could survey the temple. True to its name, twisted obsidian pillars rise from a central mound, surrounded by ancient ruins interspersed with a newer camp. Hundreds of cultists in the now-familiar tunics busy themselves with daily chores, worshipping their dark god, and military exercises. It would be nearly impossible to storm the compound by force, so the heroes decided to infiltrate wearing the cultist tunics they’d captured, and try to sneak in.

Blending in among the cultists, the heroes learn bit by bit that Jaryn was brought to the temple as a captive, but defeated the cult leader, Larkazh, and assumed command as the new “Voice of Naarash”. Under his leadership, the cult transformed from undisciplined raiders to a professional military force, and was preparing to lay siege to Adamant Falls before continuing its campaign to purge the lands of the weak and unworthy. Unable to bluff their way into the inner circles, the heroes opted to hide in the ruins, which had been left from the time of the giants, and sneak their way to the temple gate at night.

Stealth and magic got them up the temple mound to one of the eponymous pillars, but the massive door and grand stairway leading up to it were well-guarded by well-armed, night-eyed goblins. With no way to sneak everyone in unnoticed, the heroes made a bold frontal assault at the gate, starting with a huge explosion of fire summoned by Alethea. Desperately, Lorun and the others fended off goblin soldiers until everyone could get inside, and held back wave after wave until the giant’s door mechanism could be operated. When the fat goblin cult priest and his minions attacked from inside the temple, the heroes found themselves assailed on all sides. As the huge doors swung slowly shut, crushing one goblin between them, a circle of arcane wards glowed upon their face.

Quickly they dispatched the remaining goblins from the foyer, and stormed in to the grandiose temple itself. Before them, in flickering torchlight too weak to illuminate the high vaulted ceiling, was an enormous idol of orange stone, with grinning mouth of dagger-like teeth, and empty socket eyes despoiled by looters. It holds a blood-soaked sacrificial basin before a bloated stone belly where the remains of some unfortunate captives can still be seen. A side room contained the priest’s quarters, containing among his effects a pair of ritual scrolls. Through the barred window in another door could be seen blood-splattered cells where ravenous, ghoulish creatures fed on more remains.

Past a series of traps, hidden doors, and a wide stone hallway carved with bas relief of ancient giant nobles & warriors, the heroes were once again attacked by a group of cultist warriors and priests. This time, they saw a blonde, proud human warrior calmly watch the fight from across the room – Jaryn at last! Strangely, he helped them slay the last of his minions, and then offered them rest and refreshment before he would face them in single combat. Besides a makeshift living space, crumbling walls, and a fountain, the room housed a large, blood-red crystal in a raised alcove.

In response to the heroes’ questioning, Jaryn confided that by defeating Larkazh, he had become the new champion and leader of the Hand of Naarash, now they have a chance to face him and try claim that position for themselves. His adopted religion held that only the strongest and most capable are worthy to inherit the coming age – the weak and unable must be swept away. To him, this would be the pinnacle of mercy, to remove the unworthy from their suffering on this world. Once rested, the heroes took up his challenge, and threw everything they had at him. He fought well and honorably, wielding his greatsword to impressive effect. But in the end, was not a match for their combined strength. As he died, he lamented his own unworthiness.

Exhausted from this hard-fought battle, the heroes were horrified to see the torches dim, the paladin’s body spontaneously burn to ash, and a huge demonic form appear before the red stone in a fountain of flames. It’s hideous body was apelike and heavily muscled, covered in dark red fur, with bat-like wings sprouting from its back. It’s eyes were pure malice, and it wielded a vicious Morningstar. Announcing himself as Naarash, servant of Bane, it offered command of the cult army to whichever victor would claim it, with power and glory beyond their most ambitious dreams. The heroes would not give in to such temptation, and attacked the daemon instead.

The brute was incredibly tough and strong, fighting with savage fury. The heroes, already battered and worn out from their previous encounters, looked like they would never survive his hellish onslaught. Perceiving a link between Naarash and the crystal from which he drew his power, the heroes turned their attacks upon the latter, while trying to evade the hulking daemon as best they could. Its hard stone surface barely yielded to their weapons, but each chip that fell was reflected as a wound in the creature. Fighting with every last bit of strength to keep the daemon away from his companions, Lorun fell before its ferocious onslaught. Lucien dashed to his fallen comrade as Alethea and Darius carried on the battle – harassing Naarash with a steady hail of arrows and clouds of summoned daggers. Tending his wound and reinvigorating him with a divine infusion, Lucien brought back Lorun to the fight, as they all looked for a weakness in the daemon’s power. Taking the blessed altar-piece of the Grayhollow temple from Alethea, Lucien blasted the crystal with divine radiance, causing it to crack and splinter. Corresponding gashes appeared on the daemon’s apelike body and membranous wings, dealing a final blow to bring him to his knees. Naarash’s demonic corpse burst into flames, nearly immolating them all, then vanished in whiffs of brimstone and ash.

Borderlands Campaign, Part V
Adamant Falls

Borderlands Campaign, Part V: Adamant Falls

Our heroes, having arrived at the besieged fort of Adamant Falls, took time to restock supplies and look around while they waited for the riverboat. At the barracks common room, Lorun met a fellow bard, Bartelby, who won Lorun’s magic cloak in a spirited (yet rather lopsided) musical contest. Suspicions rose, however, as Lucien spied the bard making a secretive late night rendezvous with someone unknown. The next day, the team engaged him in conversation, goading him to let slip his affiliation with the Hand of Naarash. In the raucous brawl that ensued, our heroes dodged flying daggers, parried axes, and withstood harmonic chords to shake the soul from Bartleby & his thugs; while they hacked, pounded, and grasped their tricky enemies with sword, Morningstar, and conjured claws of ice. Sir Pikeford and company were alerted to the spy, who took his own life by removing his Naarash talisman. Lorun recovered his cloak, and picked up the bard’s fine golden harp to replace his own homemade 2-string mandolin.

Lucien’s and Alethea’s research into old journals and tomes revealed that the talismans worn by cultists they’d encountered likely contained chips of a massive infernal stone called the Eye of Naarash. It forms a mystical bond between the cultist and the stone, fortifying his fanaticism and feeding off his evil deeds, possibly alerting the temple of the cultists’ actions & condition as well.

When the riverboat arrived, Kaegon decided to stay and defend the fortress, where his military skills would be most needed. Alethea, Lorun, and Darious, now joined by the priest, Lucien, climbed the dozen or so flights of stairs to the upper levels of Adamant Falls, where a tunnel led to a small grotto that serves as an underground boat dock, protected from the torrential river. There they met Glasur, the dwarven helmsman, unloading what few supplies he could find for the fort. To their surprise, the riverboat, used neither sail nor oar for propulsion, relying instead on a pair of magnificent giant pike harnessed to the prow.

They made their way upriver from the falls, great fish pulling steadily through the canyon against a mighty current. There they came upon a village being put to the torch by human and goblin cultists. With volleys of arrows from either side, and a bold amphibious assault prepared by an explosion of fire summoned by the wizard, our heroes vanquished their fanatic enemies, and saved the last few villagers from a burning hovel. With little more that could be done there, and with the Pillars of Night temple just days away, our heroes embarked once again up the river, but could not shake the eerie feeling of being watched.

Borderlands Campaign, part IV
The Black March

Borderlands Campaign, Part IV: The Black March

Following the Black March up into the mountains, our intrepid adventurers intercepted a band of goblin slavers marching their captives back to the temple of Bane. After defeating the goblins with the help of the priest, Lucien of Barrowmede (played by Brian), who was among the prisoners, the party and their newly freed allies headed forth to find a fortress they heard of that still stands against the goblin onslaught.

While taking a shortcut, they came upon a pair of monstrous spiders, draining the last juices from a hapless goblin caught in their enormous web. In the battle that ensued, the spiders were smashed, burned, and hewed as they tried to envenom the bold heroes. The fighting attracted swarms of spiderlings, who devoured one of the freed villagers before being eventually immolated by burning oil and magic.

They found the citadel of Adamant Falls standing astride a roaring waterfall, across a well-defended stone bridge from the main road. Bodies of defeated cultists hung from the dwarven-crafted battlements as a warning to others, but the garrison has dwindled to just 10 knights and what levies they could arm from the peasant refugees. They were welcomed in by Sir Pikeford, who recently assumed the role of captain since Lord Ferridac died of an infected wound.

As Lorun “entertained” the folks in the common room with attempts at song, Alethea paid a visit to the alchemist. She traded her staff for some potions, alchemist fire, and a pair of enchanted goggles. Meanwhile, Brother Lucien filled in for the late chaplain of the citadel, performing rites on the remains of departed garrison members and other duties.

Borderlands Campaign, Part III
Shapeshifter Ambush

Borderlands Campaign, Part III: Shapeshifter Ambush

The shape-shifters who attacked you now lay dead amongst the grass and the rubble. Their bodies & clothing turned smooth and gray, like wet clay figurines waiting to be sculpted. They carried 500gp of coins & stolen loot, along with their short swords and 2 potions that Alethea identifies as a potion of poison resistance (lvl 4) and an elixir of reflexes (lvl 8). They also wore the same Naarash talismans you found on other dead cultists, also with the gems exhausted.

After an uneasy night’s rest, you make your way North toward Skullcraig mountain, where the Temple of the Pillars of Night should be located. The rolling hills that distinguished your journey to this point have now become foothills, and the scattered forests become denser and choked with brambles. Darious easily follows the tracks of goblins and humanoids that converge from many directions toward the Black March. True to its name, this road cuts like a black scar back & forth up the steep climb. Thick branches, their leaves yellow and red with the changing season, cast a gloom over the trail broken only briefly by the midday sun.

This desolate trail marks the only easy path into the mountains. Any other way would likely take weeks longer and be most unpleasant. Fortunately, the dense trees and thickets should provide ample hiding places, should you encounter anyone else on the road you don’t want to meet. You’ve stocked up with adequate provisions from the last village to make it through the Black March without need to forage. Crude signs in common and goblin mark the trailhead, proclaiming it the territory of the Hand of Naarash, visitors unwelcome. Symbols of Bane and numerous heads on pikes underscore the message.

Borderlands Campaign, part II
On the Trail of the Paladin

Borderlands Campaign, Part II: On the Trail of the Paladin

The 4 companions pushed through the wilderness, fighting off dangerous wolf packs and crocodiles as they went. Guided by Darious’ keen elven senses and nature-lore, they found their way to one small settlement after another, each more besieged than the last. At these tiny villages, they picked up rumors of the paladin Jaryn and his troupe to guide them further. But as they went along, the tales grew more desperate. Though the paladin started out vanquishing the cultist raiders and pursuing their hobgoblin chieftain, Larkazh, he eventually became wild and possibly mad. Meanwhile, stories of cultist raids evolved from haphazard forays to organized military operations. Increasingly burned out or destroyed villages backed up those tales.

Along the journey, our adventurers came upon a glen with signs of a month-old battle and 3 cairns marked by symbols of Pelor. Combined with the rumors they’d heard, it was evident that only Jaryn and his tiefling companion, Dajani, survived. Darious, Alethea, Lorun, and Kaegon knew they must make it to the Black March, which would lead them through the mountains to the temple of the Pillars of Night, where the cultists of Bane made their headquarters.

Following what directions they could find from woodsmen and refugees, the companions came upon the village of Erstlin, which unlike most others in the region, hadn’t been razed by goblins. Though the village headman tried to placate them and urge them away, our heroes soon discovered (after a harrowing fight) that Erstlin was used as a staging point to supply the goblin cultists, who had terrorized the villagers into cooperation.

With the information they gleaned after the fight, the adventurers were able to make their way to the hidden trail known as the Black March. But as they set up camp for the night by an old ruin, a bedraggled, unkempt man matching Jaryn’s description staggered up to them, seeking help. When they gathered around to assist him, he tried to sneak attack. 3 more identical “Jaryns” emerged from the woods to attack the group. During the melee, these strange attackers would change form, imitating different members of the party and causing great confusion. Three were defeated, but one escaped, but the whole quest had become a bit more mysterious.

Borderlands Campaign, part I
Trouble in Grayhollow

Borderlands Campaign, Part I: the Adventure Begins

It was a rainy, dreary autumn when four travelers came to Grayhollow. Content Not Found: Lorun, the mighty swordsman and aspiring minstrel; Alethea, who’s arcane studies bend the very elements to her will; the elven ranger Darius, quick & silent as a shadow; and Kaegon, the dragonborn ex-centurion from the Empire of the East. These battle-hardened veterans drove the goblin invaders from Brindol and returned their captive townsfolk. But there was scant time to celebrate their victory, as a greater goblin horde continued to press from the wild borderlands to the West. There, the King’s hand barely reaches. Knights and mercenaries skirmish with bandits, goblins, and other fell creatures, but the onslaught of evil seems to gain ground each year.

Grayhollow lay on the fringes of Pentir, far from important trade roads and near the foothills of the Iron Mountains and the Skullcraig. It is a small town, protected by a stone keep on the hillside. By the time our hearty adventurers arrive, the one-room inn and even the market square are choked with refugees fleeing the destruction of their homes, and the ravages of human & goblin raiders. The Cleric Emesha and her order, the sisterhood of the Benevolent Sun, run a simple temple in Grayhollow. They strive to care for the refugees, but local supplies have become overburdened. Meanwhile, Lord Galan fortifies his keep and hoards provisions, hunkering down while his subjects suffer. The town’s former champion, a holy Paladin, was previously able to stem the tide of evil from Grayhollow and the surrounding villages, but he has been missing for months.

It was in there our heroes interrupted a gang of bandits harrowing the refugees. With skill and bravery, they dispatched the ruffians – who fought with fanatic determination, and included a magic wielder among their number. A closer examination of their bodies revealed that they all bore the symbol of Bane, malevolent god of conquest, on tunics or armor beneath their travel-stained cloaks.

Emesha confided that the bandits must belong to the “Hand of Naarash”, a cult of goblins and humans that prey on isolated frontier settlements for converts and plunder, killing or destroying what they cannot take. The paladin JarynJaryn set out on a quest last spring to strike a mortal blow at the heart of the cult and stop their marauding. With four faithful companions, the clerics Andressa & Annika, the fighter Kelma, and Dajani (a tiefling sworn to Pelor’s cause), he headed West to find the cult’s grand temple, “the Pillars of Night”. Rumors placed Jaryn and his band deep in the Borderlands, near a hidden trail called the “Black March”, but none of that expedition has been heard from in over a month. Emesha begged Darius, Alethea, Lorun, and Kaegon to mount a search for Jaryn, and help bring an end to the cult’s power.

The companions agreed to undertake this quest. So the next day, she provisioned them as best she could, (even providing them the holy symbol from the temple’s altar as payment) and provided a description of Jaryn: a tall blond human, handsome, but bearing a noticeable scar on his left cheek from fighting a hobgoblin chief. She directs them Westward, to the frontier settlement of Stone Ford, where Jaryn’s party traveled through.


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