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The Lurking Nightmare

This is the landing page for the campaign I started 9 December 2019. Details are for local players only,  but hey, if you're interested and not local, feel free to lurk!

 

The Player Characters

This campaign is a high-level, character-driven story. It’s also heavily influenced by horror troupes.

Combat will happen and at least some of you will need to be able to handle yourselves in a fight, but fast thinking and creative solutions may get you even farther. The rules of magic, gravity, and common sense can be bent on the planes, so don’t be surprised if you suddenly can’t access abilities or items for a short time.

All that aside, you don’t specifically need to build a back-up character. The goal here is atmosphere and storytelling more than killing off your characters, so I don’t plan to run you through a roster of different characters unless you’re making exceptionally stupid decisions.

 

Planar Brochures

Each player may choose up to five planes to receive relevant information on from any TinTin location. The following brochures have been chosen:

  • Elmore: Celebration, Defense, Diligence, Forest, Storm

  • Macavity: Shadow, Spring

  • Morthos: Air, Chaos, Chastity, Earth, Fire, Imagination, Luck, Void, Water

  • Nuralel: Bloom, Ice, Negative Energy, Smoke, The Devil's Playground

Next Time

The party is currently trapped in another nightmare. Assuming they can make it out alive, they're planning to head to Luck or Imagination to get weapons that might be able to damage the creature that's hunting them.

 
 

The Story So Far...

This section will be updated with a recap of the events for players' reference.

The Caterwaul

The story begins at a tavern known as the Caterwaul in Chimeri’s main city, Riemultinaenia. The Caterwaul caters primarily to otherworlders, and while it observes the local laws, the general customs of the island are relaxed here. Most travelers never leave the tavern during their stay, preferring instead to arrive and leave via the planar portal on the pub’s upper balcony.

The characters meet Huff, Baz, the Barkeep, Leila, and Sakutian. Nuralel has a drink with Sakutian and finds out Sakutian is headed to Bloom, where he's hoping to find a cure for his ill cousin.

Abruptly, a huge, shadowed creature appears beside the bar. It moves in jerky flashes, as though it isn't quite balanced—it has five legs, like a perversion of an asymmetrical spider. Most of its height comes from those long, thin legs, and Nuralel is almost face-to-face with it on the second-floor balcony.

Before anyone can react, the creature spears Huff through her center.

During the ensuing fight, the following occurs:

  • Morthos takes to the air and attacks the creature.

  • The barkeep vaults the bar with his gigantic sword and confronts the creature.

  • Huff dies.

  • Nuralel shields Sakutian, saving his life.

  • Baz finally notices he's in mortal danger.

  • Macavity blasts the creature with spells.

  • Elmore helps where he can.

  • After gathering up the stories at his table, Tier transforms into a gold dragon and joins the fight.

After taking quite a bit of damage, the creature unhinges its jaw and hisses, then releases a nightmare wave through the Caterwaul. Morthos dodges out the door and down the street while the rest of the survivors fight for their lives.

With a few more blows, the creature finally phases out of sight with the sound of a house settling in the night.

Tier offers the lot of them free lodging—including Morthos, who returns some time later, once he hears the Caterwaul is still standing and the creature is gone.

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The Alternate Caterwaul

That night, everyone retires to their rooms. Elmore stays in the common room, where Baz and Sakutian also spend the night (though Elmore can't actually sleep). A few hours into the night, an odd sound wakes those who can sleep: something like a wet rock being... crushed.

In his room, Nuralel wakes to see his room has changed. Broken glass is shattered across the floor, and the potted plant now seems to be missing any foliage. As he sits up, the empty pot shudders, as though something were rocking it from within.

A moment later, a small, doll-like hand comes from within the pot and clasps the edge, climbing out.

Nuralel darts over the glass and out of the room.

He connects with the others shortly thereafter in the hallway. Everything has changed—he learns from Elmore that Sakutian is missing and possibly dead. In exploring the rest of the alternate Caterwaul, Nuralel finds another patron hiding beneath a bed, terrified. He manages to coax the patron out and finds out he's a gnomish man named Rattlebarrel. Rattlebarrel wants to stay and hide in his room, but Nuralel convinces him to come with the party instead.

Meanwhile, Macavity and Morthos explore several other rooms and find what was once the proprietor's room has been turned into some kind of twisted bathroom with exposed pipes, an old tub filled with brackish liquid, and what appears to be a bottomless hole in one corner. Morthos lowers himself into the hole using his wings, and Macavity—despite not being able to see where Morthos ended up—follows after.

The room beneath the alternate Caterwaul is a seething, pulsing mass of flesh. The smell of rotting meat fills the room, and a river of an undefined substance bisects the floor. A mirror is mounted onto one of the flesh walls.

Morthos promptly breaks the mirror and disappears without a sound. Macavity tries smashing the remains of the mirror, but nothing happens. Instead, she's forced to find a way out of the room once more.

After fighting several nightmarish dolls—and destroying a mannequin, which somehow summoned the terrifying shadow creature again—the party manages to find a painting of Sakutian and his cousin. The painting fits neatly into a hole in the stone wall where the doorway to the main floor of the Caterwaul once was. When they fit the painting into the slot, the doorway turns to light.

When they enter the light, they all wake up back in the normal Caterwaul.

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The Plane of Bloom

On waking, Elmore finds the shredded and mangled body of Sakutian in the inn's common room. The others gather together with Baz and Rattlebarrel and tell Tier about what happened.

Tier says he's never heard of anything similar, but offers to let them use his planar portal free of charge. Sakutian was headed to the plane of Bloom in search of a famous healer, and so they decide to seek out the healer in hopes they can be helped. Nuralel mentions he's interested in the healer for his friends, too, who are ill.

Baz decides to make a run for it, and get as far away from the nightmare creature as possible. Rattlebarrel opts to come with the party.

On arriving on the plane of Bloom, they find a map with the nearby landmarks. Morthos knows Sylvan, and is able to translate the map. The healer is supposed to be up north, near Ranunculus.

On the way to Ranunculus, Morthos raises the soul of a mage they kill in battle, and manages to discover a power word that can be activated for a blessing at the Many Feet camp west of their location. Morthos also wants to see the planar gate even further west, and so the party detours toward the Many Feet camp.

Many Feet camp turns out to be a raised plateau taken captive by a small army of slaadi. The party (minus Rattlebarrel, who stays on Nuralel's flying carpet) explore the camp, slaughter the slaadi (including their general, a death slaad), and free the slaves the slaadi took. The general, Senrab, was trying to gain a foothold in Bloom by reproducing enough slaadi native to the plane that they could expand. The party finds numerous maps and scribbled plans in Slaad, which seem to be reports from slaadi scouts and weaknesses in the surrounding areas. The location of a forward slaadi camp is marked.

The altar where Morthos is to speak the power word ("meat" in Sylvan") is hidden behind a false wall by a hot spring. Each of the party members says the power word and gains a Blessing of Wound Closure. Morthos then seals up the altar once more.

The four rescued slaves are G'Darei, who are branch people native to Bloom. Nuralel cures Vll, who was incredibly ill, and prevents him from becoming a slaad. They take Vll and the other three G'Darei (Rhsh, Yrly, and Prrn) with them to the forward slaadi camp.

The party dispatches the remaining slaadi, including a slaad who had polymorphed into a goose. Elmore frees the flock of ducks from the camp, and the ducks quack away into the distance. Once the camp is fully defeated, Morthos receives a Blessing of Protection for assisting the deity of the plane in cleansing Bloom.

The G'Darei return to their village while the party heads to the planar gate, which is represented by a stone cave on the map. At the planar gate, they meet an impish satyr named TinTin, who evidently mans the gate. He offers them several deals on informational brochures about the planes, and all four of them opt for the S-Class Brochure Package, which includes all relevant information about five planes of their choice. (Relevant information, in this case, being gravity, environment, major landmarks, languages spoken, time flow, and similar information.) Nuralel asks for and receives a listing of all TinTin locations across the planes.

Nuralel receives a brochure on Bloom and Macavity gets brochures on Shadow and Spring. Morthos and Elmore reserve their brochure choices for later.

 

After finishing their visit with TinTin, the party decides to delay heading to Ranunculus and the healer in favor of taking on another challenge of Bloom: a legendary creature known only as the Pollen Eater, which is marked on the map as a black hole cracked into the ground.

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The Pollen Eater

The party flies towards the crater where the Pollen Eater is said to live. On their way, they fly over the village atop the hill, which is wholly organic and seems to be mostly populated by G'Darei and some strange, tri-pedal beasts. However, rather than stopping, they continue on towards the crater.

Some miles out from the crater, the effects of the Pollen Eater begin to show in the land: thick overgrowth is matted over pockets of marsh, and the ground seems alive with swarms of insects. When the party gets approximately two hundred feet from the craterwhich, as it turns out, actually is a giant crater—they pause and work out a battle plan.

Macavity summons an air elemental, then sends it into the crater to attempt to draw out the Pollen Eater. After several minutes of waiting, Macavity's connection with the elemental is broken by its death. Soon after, the ponderous form of the Pollen Eater rises out of the crater.

The Pollen Eater quickly dispatches the swarms of rocks summoned by Morthos and the giant wasps under Elmore's control, then focuses its attention on Nuralel and Macavity. After a short but brutal battle, the party manages to destroy the gargantuan monstrosity—at which point it collapses into swarms of bees. Morthos deals with the remaining swarms, then the party retires to the nearby village atop the hill.

Nuralel begins to tell the villagers of their epic conquest, but the villagers mistake their announcement for a joyous declaration of the death of something called the "Crop Stealer." Once Nuralel is able to explain their actual conquest and promises the party will look into this "Crop Stealer," the villagers throw them a lush feast.

During the feast, Macavity questions the validity of the tri-pedal beasts' existence (to their faces, as they're sentient) while Morthos sleeps with nearly two-thirds of the village. Nuralel gathers stories from the villagers and entertains them with his own. Elmore is considered incredibly funny, and the villagers seem to enjoy looking at him.

After the feast, the party goes to the nearby fields to investigate the Crop Stealer. They easily spot the Crop Stealer at the far end of the next field, and discover the creature is actually a fiend. The fiend tells them to find their own crops—there are plenty for everyone!—but the party decides parleying with a fiend isn't necessary, and dispatches it.

The party returns to the village in the wee hours of the morning and the villagers immediately throw them another feast. Afterwards, they travel north, towards Ranunculus.

Before they can get there, however, they find themselves falling...

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Cowan Fell

They land on a smoke-filled beach. In investigating a nearby shack on the beach, they find they're in a town named Cowan Fell, which both Macavity and Morthos recognize. According to Macavity, Cowan Fell was a town in Sakani that burned to the ground in 1503. There were no survivors.

The party takes the map they find in the shack and head for the manor house. They have to hurry, as being outside for long in the thick smoke makes breathing difficult—especially for Elmore, who is allergic to smoke.

The party runs for the manor house. Just before they burst inside, they find the smoke curls up around the house in a circle, but does not touch the house itself. Morthos and Nuralel consider that a bad sign, but nonetheless enter the house.

Inside, they meet Mayor Stetler, whom Macavity instantly distrusts. Mayor Stetler is a beautiful human woman who explains that the town is cursed, and has been stuck out of time since 1503. She claims a man named Maddiah Goldmen is in league with a demon and is trying to sacrifice the town in its name.

The manor house, she says, is protected by her faith and the faith of those with her, who stand against the demon. The town resets each fiveday, and the townspeople do not remember what happened before or know that they've been cursed. Mayor Stetler says she needs Goldmen's spell books to break the curse.

Seeing that perhaps the party does not fully trust her word, she tells them to investigate the butcher's house. She says the butcher was a friend of Goldmen's, and should prove her story.

Should they decide to help her, she asks if they'll go to the schoolhouse and help her to free the souls of the orphaned children there. She gives them a gem to place at the schoolhouse, if they're willing to help. (Macavity immediately detects magic on the gem and finds it has divination magic on it.)

 

She tells them more survivors of Goldmen's curse are hold up in the hospital, which is run by Dr. Isiah Connor.

Still suspicious, the party takes the gem and resolves to look into the curse. They plan to go to the butcher's house, then the hospital. Before going to the schoolhouse or using the gem, they want to know more about what it might do.

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The Hospital

Now on a fact-finding mission, the party decides to head for the hospital. They adopt a house-jumping approach, and when they leave the Manor House, they stop first at the barrister's. They find a number of files and parchments recorded by Perrin Charwick, the town's scribe. Upon looking closer, they find a hidden basement room with survival gear. Morthos promptly declares it a sex dungeon.

In stopping at the dormitory and then Hollybriar Market, they find all the doors have been nailed shut from the outside. They break down the door of the smaller room of the market to find the corpses of a small family: a large man is melted to the door frame, and the skeletal remains of a woman and two children lie dead on the bed, apparently expired from smoke inhalation.

Between each building, Elmore jumps into a magical Bag of Holding to help avoid breathing in too much smoke. The others hurry between buildings.

The party makes their way over the cemetery fence, stopping for a breath at the gatehouse. Then they burst into the unlocked hospital. The entryway was once a reception area, and still holds the old patient log. The stairways down and upstairs have been blockaded. They head deeper into the hospital and find what appears to now be the main triage room.

Inside the triage room they find Dr. Connor and several survivors. Many of the beds have townspeople's possessions stashed under them. The bed in the far corner is covered in papers, with the bedding shoved to one side. Dr. Connor greets them, and explains the bed covered in papers belongs to the scribe, Perrin Charwick. Charwick, he says, spends his days attempting to recover the records and papers of Cowan Fell.

Dr. Connor says the basement and second story of the hospital have been blocked off against creatures from the smoke. They hear sounds from above and below, occasionally, but do not dare venture beyond the main floor.

As brave adventurers, the party naturally decides to dismantle the blockade to the basement and see what they can find. They uncover the stairway in the hospital's storage room and head downstairs.

Beyond a small wooden-floored entryway, the basement accessible from the storage room appears to be a trash disposal area. Stacks of debris and old medical supplies have been gathered into loose piles. Nearly every time someone disturbs a pile, one or more ash-and-smoke-filled rat creatures burst from the debris and attack.

After fighting off the ratlike creatures, the party searches the area using Mage Hand. To their surprise, they find what seems to be one of the two spellbooks belonging to Maddiah Goldmen! They take the book and Morthos examines it; though he can understand the language, the book seems to be written in some kind of cipher.

With the book in hand, the party returns upstairs and determines they need to find out more about Goldmen. They decide to go to the butcher's house, as Mayor Stetler suggested, and see if they can find anything further about the town's curse or Goldmen.

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The Gatehouse and the Crier's Bell

As the butcher's house is south of the Manor House, the party stops back through the hospital's gatehouse. This time, however, it's not empty—at least to Macavity's eyes. While Elmore is stuck in the Bag of Holding, Macavity finds a young man huddled in the corner of the gatehouse. Both Morthos and Nuralel say they cannot see him, and do not see anything moving when he interacts with physical objects.

Macavity questions the young man and finds out his name is Hal. He says he was the Betrand stablehand, but since the fire he's been staying outside, where it's safe. He says Dr. Connor lets him sleep in the gatehouse, sometimes.

When asked about Mayor Stetler, he adamantly says he doesn't like her. She has black eyes and talks to the darkness, he says. He likes Goldmen. Goldmen has green eyes.

Macavity, annoyed with Morthos and Nuralel looking at her like she's talking to a ghost, empties Elmore out of the Bag of Holding. Elmore confirms that he, too, can see and hear Hal. Elmore asks Hal about Goldmen, and Hal says Goldmen is nice. Goldmen gave him a horse he made. The only horse that survived, Hal says, sadly.

Macavity asks Hal to show them his horse token, but Hal says it's in the bell, where he sleeps. He agrees to take them to see it.

Hal leads the party out of the gatehouse and down the Mainway to a small bell tower. The bell's clapper has been replaced with an old silver soup ladle. In one corner is a makeshift bed made of rags and some scattered charcoal drawings. One of them is of Jenny Bertrand (whom Hal says he likes, but it's a shame how she's cursed), but the rest are of horses and the stable. He lets Macavity look at his horse token, which seems to be made of straw and ribbons. Hal repeats that Goldmen made it for him.

After a few more questions, Hal says he has to go and runs off into the smoke.

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The Butcher's

In crossing the Mainway, Macavity sees movement around the buildings. Nuralel see movement from the other side, but neither see the movement well enough to determine what it is. The party stops by Hollybriar Market on the way again, then breaks into the butcher's place from South Road.

Inside the small room with a loft is a butcher's counter and a single door. As soon as Macavity lets Elmore out of her Bag of Holding, both Elmore and Nuralel see one of the butcher knives hung on the wall lift up to attack.

With a quick series of spells and attacks, the party defeats two invisible stalkers and move on to search the rest of the shop. They find Aly the Butcher's accounting books (which indicate Goldmen ordered large quantities of meat) and her ice room, which is enchanted with freezing magic. (Upon entering the freezer, Nuralel hears a terrified woman's scream. No one else hears it.) In her work room, they find a trapdoor to the basement.

The notes and books scattered about on the desk in the basement show Aly was doing research into a demon called Anemvak. Her notes indicate the demon is known for having entire towns sacrificed in its name, and call it out as the Gatherer of Souls, the Beautiful Liar, and the Twisted Heart. Nothing indicates the research was being used to either summon or banish the demon.

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Slim House

Having heard about the widow Oakfriar from Mayor Stetler, the party decides to stop by Slim House on their way to their next destination: Goldmen's house. The north side of Slim House is covered in the black tar that completely coats Goldmen's house, and all the windows of Slim House stand open. The house's yard is filled with empty bird cages.

Upon searching Slim House, Nuralel and Macavity notice that the painted portraits in the widow's study seem to flicker and change, with her usually happy husband sometimes appearing to be screaming in agony. They determine part of the husband's soul must somehow be trapped inside the painting. Macavity argues against destroying the paintings, guessing that the demon might be able to claim the soul if it's released.

Notes in the house and the widow's study provide the party with the history of the town and Mayor Stetler. According to her notes, she and the mayor were friendly and would ocasionally have tea.

Macavity puts the paintings (and Elmore) in her Bag of Holding, and the party heads to Goldmen house.

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Goldmen House

Goldmen house is covered entirely in black, smoking tar. The tar clings to the outer walls, letting off wisps of pungent smoke. Morthos reduces the door to get inside, and they see that the place is filled with smoke elementals.

Morthos convinces the smoke elementals to let him and the others pass and the smoke elementals agree under one condition: that the party burn down Goldmen's house when they finish. Morthos agrees. Macavity uses Nuralel's mystical paints to create air bladders for them all to breath through and the party searches the house. Although the second floor is almost entirely burned and filled with ash and smoke, Macavity finds a small lock box with a book inside. She stashes the book in her Bag of Holding and the party finishes the search, then leaves.

Once at a safe distance from the house, all four of them take out Decanters of Endless Water and drench the house with geysers. Understandably, the smoke elementals do not take well to being drenched, and a dozen of them fly from the house in a rage.

In a flurry of ice storms, earthquakes, force, and literally every element other than fire, the party defends themselves from the horde of smoke elementals. Though the fight looks grim, they are soon joined by one of the survivors from the town—a spellcaster and rather severe-looking nobleman. Between the party and the nobleman, the elementals are defeated.

After the battle, Macavity asks the nobleman if he is Goldmen. He concurs and introduces himself, advising them to get out of Cowan Fell as soon as they can. When asked how, he replies, "However it is you got here." With a brief exchange in front of the remains of Goldmen's house, they find he's a hard man to read. He does not appear to believe anything of value was in his house, but readily tells them where his spellbooks are hidden. He says he has been unable to reclaim them before now, as the monsters in the town seem drawn to him.

Goldmen returns with them to the antechamber of the hospital and answers a few more questions before taking his leave. While he is reserved when speaking of Mayor Stetler, he does say she summoned the demon Aly the Butcher was researching and that the mayor wishes to sacrifice the town in its name. He says he doesn't know the demon's name—that's what Aly was looking into for him, but she was killed before she could tell him. He reveals that while he sometimes stays in the hospital, he usually stays "here and there" in the town. Most of his answers are evasive and curt at best.

After Goldmen leaves, the party decides to rest at the hospital overnight.

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The Doctor and His Doppleganger

During the night, Elmore and Morthos hear sounds on the second floor of the hospital. Dr. Connor is out, but they decide to investigate with the party in the morning. With all of them flying to avoid the unstable flooring (Nuralel using his magic carpet), they comb through the second floor and come upon a creature that says he's the real Dr. Connor. He appears to be a ghost, but no body is in the cell. He says Goldmen locked him there before the fires, and that he needs to get out to help the townsfolk.

Nuralel questions the ghostly Dr. Connor and he knows some details about recent patients in the clinic. Uncertain which Dr. Connor is the real one, they return downstairs and find the living Dr. Connor. He says he has no knowledge of a ghost upstairs, but agrees to come with them and meet it.

As soon as the living Dr. Connor gets close to the barred cell door of the ghostly Dr. Connor's room, the ghostly version turns into a demon with flesh dripping from its body. Its features melt away, but a huge, gaping grin bisects its face; it laughs as it tries to shred Dr. Connor. Nuralel pulls Dr. Connor away and sends his magic carpet down the hall, then teleports into the cell with the demon.

Seeing its time on this plane is limited, the demon destroys the floor of the room and falls through to the main room of the hospital. It tears into Perrin Charwick, who was sleeping in his cot. Moments later, Morthos, Elmore, Macavity, and Nuralel follow the demon down and dispatch it. They heal Perrin and apologize to Dr. Connor for putting him and the survivors in danger, but the survivors are simply grateful someone was able to save them from the demon.

Morthos asks Dr. Connor to gather as many of the survivors as he can into the main room. Dr. Connor calls Lainey (the young girl Macavity gave a mended teddy bear to) into the main room and gathers everyone together. Morthos casts a spell to determine if any of them (or anyone nearby) is a demon or evil creature. None of them are, though Morthos can still sense the swarming aberrations in the basement area. He finds out the elderly priest who died in the fires is buried outside on consecrated ground. The altar and celestial statues in the chapel are also consecrated.

When the spell is complete, Nuralel and Morthos mend as flooring as possible on the second floor. Macavity and Elmore speak with Perrin, who explains he's been gathering all the written papers from the town that he can. Macavity returns his notes to him and he's confused, but thankful.

Morthos wants to raise the dead priest and question him, but the party decides to first retrieve the second of Goldmen's spellbooks, since Goldmen told them it was in the old silo.

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The Spellbooks

Goldmen was, in fact, telling the truth about the second's spellbook's location. The party searches the old silo and finds the second spellbook in the silo's thatched roof. Once they secure the book, they retreat to Charwick's cottage to look over what they've found and plan their next moves.

Morthos and Macavity study the two spellbooks for several hours. Between them, they find out the pair of books contain a complicated ritual. The two books are filled with metaphors and exceptionally difficult to read, but they determine the spell is very likely for returning the town to its own time, which Goldmen said he was trying to do. However, it mentions demons and souls on several occasions, so Morthos and Macavity cannot be completely certain what the ritual will do, if anything.

On comparing the two spellbooks to the one she found in Goldmen's house, Macavity finds that the ritual spellbooks are much newer, and perhaps were written by Goldmen himself, as the ritual is meant to be performed by a cleric. The spellbook from Goldmen's house belonged to one of his ancestors, and is filled with wizardly magic.

Satisfied they've learned all they can from the books for now, the party discusses their next move. They do not trust either Goldmen or Stetler, and want to perform the ritual themselves, but aren't sure how to go about doing so. They decide they need more information before casting the spell. Morthos and Elmore say they'll go to the hospital's cemetery and question the expired priest. Meanwhile, Macavity and Nuralel will head to the Manor House and investigate Stetler's books. They'll meet at the Manor House once everyone is done with their tasks.

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Stetler's Room and the Dead Priest

Nuralel and Macavity head back to the Manor House, where Stetler greets them and asks if they've been able to find the spellbooks. Macavity gives a noncomittal, strictly true answer without reavealing that they've found both books already, then excuses herself. Nuralel does what he can to distract Stetler while Macavity sneaks upstairs.

Stetler's room is locked, and in opening it, Macavity sets off some kind of magical alarm that causes Stetler's amulet to glow. Stetler rushes past Nuralel, despite his protestations, and arrives upstairs just as Macavity manages to break into the room. The two make eye contact. Then Macavity shuts the door to the room straight in Stetler's face.

Macavity conducts a speedy search of the mayor's room, which awakens some kind of invisible trap or creature. The invisible force attempts to slam Macavity into walls, but she deftly avoids most of the blows. Still, with her harried search, she's unable to find anything indicating the mayor is either telling the truth or lying. (Though the potentially demonic force trying to squash her doesn't win Stetler any points.) Macavity does find some information on Anevak, the demon Goldmen seemed to be researching, but nothing indicates whom the demon serves.

Once Macavity opens the door again, the invisible force stops. Stetler says it's a magical trap meant to stop Goldmen from breaking into her things, as he's tried before. Unconvinced, Macavity and Nuralel wait to meet up with the others.

Meanwhile, Elmore and Morthos raise the corpse of the old priest and question him about the town. They find out he died before the fires, and that Dr. Connor and Stetler used to be an item, but had some kind of falling out. The priest considered Goldmen a stern and arrogant man, but essentially a good man.

After the party meets up once more, they discuss their options. They still trust no one, and are fairly certain both Goldmen and Stetler have some hand in the curse. Since they have both spellbooks, they decide to try casting the spell to release the town themselves. Morthos, as the only one in the party with any clerical powers, will have to cast the spell.

They determine they'll cast the spell from the County Jail, which at least has lockable cells. Morthos and Macavity agree that casting the spell will likely draw the attention of the townsfolk, and possibly the demon Anemvak. They ready themselves for a fight, and Morthos readies the spell.

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The Curse of Cowan Fell

As expected, casting the spell from Goldmen's spellbooks draws no small amount of unwanted attention. Though Morthos deftly makes it through the first several minutes without anything  happening, the others soon begin to see glowing eyes converging on their locations.

The ghosts of Cowan Fell emerge from the trees around the County Jail. Elmore and Nuralel cover the front of the jail while Macavity watches the back. Goldmen appears and asks what he can do to assist, and Macavity shouts at him to keep the perimeter clear. During the fight, Nuralel is possessed by one of the ghosts, which then tries to kill Macavity. Macavity puts down her ghosts, then knocks Nuralel unconscious with Elmore's assistance.

Once the ghosts are dispatched, Elmore revives Nuralel just as a wave of demonic Hezrou and Vrock appear to join the fight.

Macavity banishes the Hezrou as Goldmen goes to confront them. Nuralel and Elmore take out the Vrock with relative ease, at least compared with the ghosts.

As the final demon is destroyed, Stetler steps into the open.

Stetler says, "I beg of you, reconsider. Stop Goldmen while you still can, and join us." The party demurs. In response, she says, "Pity. I should have liked to let you live."

All doubts as to her intentions vanish as her amulet begins to glow and her shadow lines with turquoise light. The shadow flows up into the shape of a featureless humanoid. The shadow's arms grow spikes and pinpoints of turquoise light form into eyes before a toothy smile splits across its face.

The distinct smell of rotting flesh wafts through the wind.

The fight recommences with Morthos still chanting the spell in the cell. The demon does a remarkable impression of the "trap" in Stetler's room, smashing anything and anyone he can. With Goldmen's help, the party manages to defeat Stetler and Anemvak just as Morthos completes the spell.

Stetler and the demon's screams meld with a sudden tornado of smoke and debris. Before the smoke sweeps away all light, Macavity sees Goldmen smile grimly, then nod to her. Then his face vanishes into the maelstrom.

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The Plane of Smoke

When the winds settle, the smoke does not clear. Through the haze, the ground seems to be ashen and featureless. Still, the party can make out the darker outline of some kind of castle past what seems to be a small village nearby.

Within the village, the people seem to bear a striking resemblance to the demon Anemvak. They seem to be frightened of the party, but Nuralel manages to work out that there's some kind of planar gate in the lord's castle. They say visitors to the castle do not seem to ever leave.

Nuralel is unable to get any other helpful information except that the lord's name is Vespertilio. They're in somewhat of a hurry, as Elmore's allergy to smoke is making it impossible to breathe except inside a Bag of Holding.

They approach the castle to find gates slightly open. Inside the courtyard are a pair of living ash trees—and a TinTin location. The TinTin in charge of the booth seems to know all of them, but bears no resemblance to the imp they met at the first location.

Morthos claims all of his planar brochures and adds a couple more, getting brochures on the planes of  Chaos, Imagination, Void, Luck, Chastity, Fire, Air, Earth, and Water. Nuralel gets brochures on Smoke (with complimentary ash tree seeds), the Devil's Playground, Negative Energy, and Ice. Elmore gets brocures on Storm, Forest, Defense, Celebration, and Diligence. Macavity doesn't get any further brochures, as she figures the party has most of the major planes covered.

Though TinTin confirms the lord's name is Vespertilio and that there's a planar gate in the castle, he doesn't know anything further. Nuralel reads about the lord in his brochure and finds out Vespertilio once dated Inculta, the goddess of fire and offensive magic. He's immortal and native to the plane of Smoke.

Once they finish their purchases, Macavity uses mage hand  to knock the castle's impressive knocker, which depicts a skull twisted in agony. The lower jaw is the knocker.

When no one answers the knocker, they carefully go inside, finding the door unlocked. The dark entryway is thick with ash and dust. Macavity announces their presence loudly, along with their purpose. No one answers.

Once the party gets perhaps thirty feet inside the hall, a loud, booming voice  echoes: "Who dares enter the abode of the great and powerful Vespertilio?"

Macavity repeats their names and purpose.

A moment later, the lord appears in front of them with a swirl of smoke. He's perhaps two feet tall, and resembles a cross of a bat and a kangaroo rat, with huge ears, bat wings, and a long tail tipped with fluff.

All sense of pretense vanishes, and he introduces himself as Vesper. He asks if they're just visiting, and they keep their answers brief. He says it'll take him a little time to get the lady from the next town over to come by and activate the gate, but in the meantime he'll have a feast prepared for them and they can rest in his eyrie.

Morthos, much to the distaste of the others, asks  if Vesper knows of any odd happenings in the nearby surroundings. Vesper thinks, then tells them of a town a few hours north that's been worshipping a hundred chickens for some time, as their hero was apparently turned into a chicken... but they don't know which one. Rather than resting for the evening, Morthos gets the others to come with him and resolve the town's issue by promising them to be back by supper.

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One Hundred Chickens

The party flies to the location given to them by Vesper, using from filter masks Vesper lets them borrow. The location is a small hamlet, centered almost entirely around the comfort of the chickens kept in various spacious pens.

Macavity casts detect magic and determines three of the chickens have magic upon them. None of them, however, have transutation magic, so it's clear that a simple polymorph isn't at play. While Nuralel uses charades and his Helm of Comprehend Languages (passed back and forth) to assure the villagers they mean the chickens no harm, Morthos casts speak with animals and interrogates the chickens.

Morthos determines which chicken is most likely the hero through his questioning, and Macavity casts dispel magic. At once, the chicken turns into a slightly more feathered version of the villagers. He thanks them profusely, then offers each of them a boon.

Morthos gains the Gift of the Sharp-Dressed Man: Stains slide off his clothes like water off of stone, and any wrinkled clothes he puts on immediately become pressed, ironed, and immaculate. Physical damage to clothes will remain and cannot be repaired in this way, but while they are being worn, none of his clothes will fray.

Nuralel gains the Gift of the Smith: Any sword or bladed weapon he holds will remain sharp no matter how many times he swings it, and the blade itself will not chip. This effect is permanent.

Elmore gains the Gift of the Falcon: He permanently gains a +2 on any attack rolls he makes while jumping or falling on top of an enemy from a greater height than where they are standing. This increases to a +4 and then a +6 with each additional rank of this boon, to a maximum of three.

Macavity gains the Gift of the Sandman: She never oversleeps or undersleeps, always wakes up feeling refreshed after a long rest, and has advantage on saving throws against all sleep, dream, or nightmare-based spells. However, she can no longer remember any of her dreams or nightmares upon waking.

Having solved the question of the heroic chicken and received their rewards, the party returns to Vesper's eyrie.

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A Very Surprising Nightmare

On their return, Vesper treats them all to a somewhat questionable array of foods he thinks they might like, given his relative unfamiliarity with the digestive systems of those from the Prime Material. Tentacles and odd sauces aside, no one takes ill from the food, and they all try their best to be polite during dinner. Vesper asks them more about why their on the plane of Smoke, and Macavity eventually gives him a brief overview of their being attacked by the giant creature in the Caterwaul.

Vesper informs them that no healer will be able to help them—they're better off gathering weapons on the plane of Chaos, Imagination, or Luck, then going to kill the creature directly. The fastest way to any of those planes is likely through the plane of Autumn, he says. He'll fetch the lady who can activate the planar gate during the evening and she can take them to whichever plane they'd like in the morning. In the meantime, he recommends they rest in his eyrie.

They retire to the eyrie and rest, and are not at all surprised to find the eyrie shifts into a nightmare only moments later.

The room they suddenly find themselves in is the same size and shape as the eyrie, but is decorated with shelves upon shelves of books. Morthos spots one of the tomes he stole from his father on the floor as Macavity picks it up.

While holding the tome, Macavity discovers she can see a trapdoor in the floor. The others cannot see it, even after she opens the door and looks down. The trapdoor conceals a ladder, which goes down into a room without any bookshelves. Three doors are in the concealed room: one red, one green, and one blue.

Macavity quickly determines that only the holder of the tome can see the ladder or go down it, so she climbs down, then tosses the tome back up so the others can come down. While she's waiting for them, she realizes Leila is propped up against the wall near the doors. Her eyes are open, but she doesn't seem to see them.

Macavity tries to revive Leila with a shake, and after a moment, Gus (her little catepillar) comes out onto her shoulder and she jerks awake. She asks what's going on, but the end of her words is drowned out by a loud, rumbling snarl.

Morthos recognizes the sound as the one his father makes when he's furious. Everyone agrees they should leave to avoid the possibility of Morthos's father finding them.

While the party quickly discusses which door to head through, Morthos throws caution to the wind and throws open the red door. He strides inside.

After a beat, the rest of the party (including Rattlebarrel and Leila) go through the blue door.

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The Red Maze

The red door leads into a fleshy maze similar to the room in the Caterwaul. Ropes of what seem to be congealed blood hang from the ceiling. Morthos flies through the corridors at speed, clearing the entire maze in a matter of minutes.

In his exploration, he finds an odd stained glass window in front of a elegant white tablecloth-bedecked place setting. He glances out the window and sees the nightmarish creature from the Caterwaul looking in.

Next he finds an out-of-place velvet curtain veiling a doorway. The room beyond smells faintly of cinnamon. In the far back corner, a floor-length mirror has been mounted with nails. Blood scabs around the nails on the wall.

As soon as Morthos looks into the mirror, the nightmarish creature from the Caterwaul begins to come through, one leg at a time. Quickly deciding the nightmarish creature can't be in two places at once, Morthos rushes back to the stained glass window and shatters it.

This does not have the effect he expects: blood begins to pour in through the broken window at a high rate.

Morthos flies for a small hole he found in one of the deadend hallways, determined to check if he can enlargen the hole and escape that way, but the hole is too small and quickly seems to narrow to a point beyond the wall. He checks the next hallway, but agonized screams from the hole he just visited stop him. When he returns, he finds a very confused Bazletheim. He helps Baz out of the blood flow, and Baz says the last thing he remembers was doing shots on the plane of Celebration.

Thinking over the rest of the rooms he explored in the maze, Morthos rememebers seeing a strange discoloration on the floor of a hall with a painting hanging on one wall. He hauls Baz along and the two brush past the velvet curtain, but don't see the nightmarish creature. Baz finds the location in the floor by feeling along, and Morthos rips the fleshy ground open with a piecce of broken glass he found elsewhere in the maze.

Baz and Morthos tumble through the hole and land atop a bookcase in the green maze.

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The Blue Maze

The others, including Rattlebarrel and Leila, enter the blue maze. The room is dark except for a few flowers on the ceiling, which faintly glow. Near one corner is a section of broken boards. They head for the hall and take the first right, which leads to a room with a large fountain in the eastern corner.

Macavity nears the fountain and immediately feels thirsty. Recognizing a magical complusion, she tells the others to stay away from it... and then stops Rattelbarrel from drinking the water.

Around the next corners, Nuralel hears whisperings coming from the wall. The bend of the hallway is covered in thick moss. Nuralel warns the others and everyone covers their ears while passing by the wall.

The next hallway ends in a tall neon sign. A ring of mushrooms grows in the light beneath the sign. Nuralel examines the sign and sees a small keyhole at the top of the sign, almost hidden.

Three passageways branch off from the room. Down the first, the hall opens almost immediately into a small alcove with a large hole in its center. The hole is lined with faintly glowing plants of every kind imaginable; Nuralel recognizes several as being native to different planes. Macavity glances down the central hole and drops a nail into it. When they don't hear it hit the bottom within fifteen seconds, she recommends they don't try going down the hole.

The passage ends in another room, and they enter to find a man nailed to the wall. Flowers from the ceililng have grown vines around his arms and seem to be feeding from the blood seeping from his wrists, which are fastened to the wall with barbed wire. A huge nail is jammed through the man's lower leg, which Rattelbarrel helpfully identifies as a railway nail. Leila recognizes his race as being elementari, a race native to the plane of Imagination.

The man himself is still breathing, but barely. He opens silvered eyes with no pupils, then begs them to kill him before the beast returns. His words appear faintly in front of him and no sound comes out when he speaks. They question him and find out he's afraid of the same nightmarish creature that's hunting them. They say they'll try to save him, but before they do, he tells them of a rod he hid inside a mannequin elsewhere in the maze. He says it will help them.

They manage to get him down, and though the trauma doesn't kill him, he's barely conscious. Nuralel and Elmore help him along and they resume trying to find a way out. They check down the next passageway and find a small mound of mushrooms growing from a pile of debris in one corner. Every so often, the mound seems to breathe. Upon closer inspection,  Nuralel realizes the corpse of a child-sized creature is in the debris; both Nuralel and Macavity reconize the corpse as a childer, the monstrous creature created by the phage during the recent planar war. Since the creature is not alive, they leave it be.

Down the last of the passageways near the neon sign, they find a room housing thicker greenery than the others. Drips of green streak down the wall, ending in a trail of ferns growing from between the floorboards. In the center of the ferns, Macavity spots a monocle.

As magic continues to not work in these nightmare realms, Macavity leans forward and quickly snatches up the monocle. As soon as her fingers brush the leaves, a cloud of pollen bursts into the air. While most of the group manages to avoid inhaling the pollen, Elmore and Rattelbarrel aren't quite fast enough and inhale a dose.

Everything in Elmore and Rattelbarrel's vision begins to melt. Rattelbarrel falls over.

Macavity and Nuralel haul them out of the room and try another passageway. Behind them, the pollen begins to spread.

Macavity tries examining the fountain again, but cannot see a way out. She goes ahead of the others and tries to explore the rest of the maze quickly, searching for a way out, but can't find anything except the mossy way that whispers, which seems to be thinner than the other walls.

Out of options and with the cloud of pollen closing in, Macavity decides to risk it. She plunges into the moss, telling the others to follow her.

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The Green Maze

Atop the bookcase, Morthos and Baz extricate themselves and climb down to find they're in a fairly ordinary room with somewhat aristocratic wallpaper. The mannequin beside the bookcase is dressed in a fancy gown.

Baz mentions that he recognizes the scent in the air—it's jasmine. His mother used to wear that scent.

Morthos takes a moment to clean himself off, then rips some of the fabric from the gown to make his shard of glass into a makeshift shiv. When he's finished, he tests the glass shiv on the mannequin, which begins to bleed profusely. The glass blade clinks off of something in the mannequin, and he cuts deeper to figure out what's inside. He pulls free a long forked rod, which—unbeknownst to him—is the very rod the elementari was talking about.

Baz and Morthos look outside of the room and find the rest of the party, who have just emerged from the blue maze and are examining a painting on the wall. They're in a long hallway lined with old books and papers. The painting seems to be of Vesper's eyrie on the plane of Smoke. In the painting it's pre-dawn, and Vesper is guiding a tall, gaunt figure in a cloak toward the entry.

After establishing that Morthos is still Morthos, Nuralel catches him up on what they found in the blue maze. After hearing about the elementari, Morthos shows them the row he found in the mannequin. The elementari, however, is no longer with them, having passed away from the stress of traveling to the new maze.

 

Non-Player Characters

This section will be updated with the campaign's NPCs and their relevant details.