The Withered Fortress

Session 1

The beginning

Check out these maps of Grey Mesa and the Northlands:

Grey Mesa

The Northlands

Pre-session background:

The campaign begins in a gnome settlement called Findleburrow. Findleburrow is as close to a city as gnome settlements get. It has a majority gnome population, with minorities of elves, satyrs, some dwarves, and other fey.

It is nestled against the Troll’s Brow mountains, in a wider region known informally as “The Northlands” by its inhabitants.

Throughout the history of Findleburrow, trolls have come down from the nearby mountains to raid and cause mayhem if they can. But the town is home to many ancient and powerful users of magic, as well as elite dwarf fighters and other defenses. For these reasons the town has been able to repel the trolls easily, until now.

The attacks have begun to increase in number, and have become more organized. The cause of this is unknown. Also, a theft has occurred which has weakened some aspect of Findleburrow’s defenses. Little is publicly known of the details of the theft.

Pre-session events:

The elders of Findleburrow have devoted more and more resources to keeping the town safe from trolls, yet need to recover the item(s) stolen from them. To solve this problem, they turned to a young citizen named Falyn. They sent him with a sum of gold to a large human town to the East. There, he recruited two of the larger folk and returned with them to Findleburrow. In Findleburrow another local citizen was selected by the elders, and the party grew to four: a half-giant chaos monk, a human rogue, a gnome spellthief, and a gnome sorcerer.

The session begins:

In the chamber of the elders, the party of four was charged with journeying south through the Tanglewood via Old Woodsman’s Way, to the human farming village called Grey Mesa. They were instructed to contact the “Ranger Core” there, who would assist them further. The elders believed that the ruins near grey mesa, called “The Withered Fortress,” were home to an enemy responsible for the theft.

Added by Backpack: Morrykin wondered what could possibly be so important that we would be hired to recover it, yet not told what it was.

After giving these instructions, the elders presented the group with a gift of four magic rings. The rings varied in function, but each granted its wearer a different kind of healing ability. The group divided the rings up, though not everyone ended up wearing a ring. Falyn passed his up, allowing one member to wear two.

As an afterthought, the elders paid the party to transport some goods due to be transported to Grey Mesa. The party bundled an extra crate onto their pack mule (which was another grant from the elders) and departed immediately.

They travelled on a winding trail through the woods to the south of Findleburrow. Early in the journey through the woods, the party suddenly found themselves surrounded by twig blights. The blights attacked from the front, rear, and sides.

The sorcerer blasted one behind to splinters with a magic missile, and he and the spellthief squared off against another. The rogue and monk handled the other two. The party got its first glimpse of the grappling power of their 8-foot member as he wrapped his hands around the trunk of the blight he faced. Meanwhile, the sorcerer was envenomated twice, losing some physical strength for the day. In the end, though, the group prevailed easily with little in the way of wounds.

After defeating the twig blights the group travelled until evening. The sorcerer spotted an unknown flying animal in the sky, but made little of it. The party settled in a convenient campsite and their night passed uneventfully.

In the morning they set out again, and made good speed down the trail. After some time they could hear awful screams from further ahead. They approached cautiously, gradually coming onto the scene of a beset caravan. The caravan’s guards were fighting a losing battle against a huge dire wolf. After some initial restraint, the group joined the melee. Edvar, the monk, charged bravely into the massive beast—a clash of titans. His attempt failed to sway the dire wolf, yet seemed to hearten the others fighting. Though the caravan guards began to die, and the wolf made fearsome attacks, it was eventually beaten. The remains of the caravan (a guard, a bowman, and a healer) granted the party a reward in gold. After… inspecting… the caravan’s goods, the party (sort of) wished the caravan well, helped them free their cart, and moved on.

Again, they spied the flying animal in the sky. This time they made out wings that were batlike, with a possible maroon coloring.

That night the group settled in another campsite, and again spent the night in peace.

During their final day on the trip through the forest, the party was ambushed by a large constricting snake. It dropped onto the tasty morsel, Falyn, in an attempt to quickly subdue and swallow him. His quick reflexes allowed him to avoid this fate. The party surrounded the snake, some in dramatic fashion—Morrykin, the human rogue charged down the trail, through some vegation, and vaulted onto a rock from which he acrobatically leapt over and behind the monster. Afterward, the snake stood little chance.

The party arrived in the evening in Grey Mesa. After a brief exchange with the militia up in a watchtower, they headed to the inn. There they by turns verbally abused and charmed the innkeeper, who was also a member of the town council. He eventually directed them to Henry the Old, the proprietor of a magic shop and owner of the goods the party had been transporting. They took advantage of his senility, and demanded compensation. The sorcerer was able to obtain a potion from the shop free of charge, while the rogue delivered the somewhat lighter crate to the back of the magic shop.

At the inn the party discovered the ranger core was no longer extant. They showed little dismay at this, and maintained their plans to continue on regardless.

Afterwards, some members of the party did a little exploring while the rest retired to bed.

During the night, goblins executed a raid on the small town. The characters rushed to join the fight, saving the outmatched militiamen. At the climax of the battle, the monk pinned the hobgoblin leader and began to crush him. Jumping in, Falyn delivered a debilitating blow. However, the group saved the lives of two goblins and the hobgoblin, and dragged them back to the barracks for questioning.

Added by JimW: Edvar later wondered what happened to the hobgoblin’s confiscated longbow; for, he was thinking of learning how to use it.

At the barracks, Captain Len frustrated their desires to torture their captives. Though some heated questioning took place, it proved insufficient to yield useful information beyond the existence a “big” guard at the front entrance to the Withered Fortress. The goblinoids were finally taken outside and executed.

In the morning, the innkeeper announced the inn could serve as the party’s headquarters as he rejoiced at the thought of their continued defense of the town. He shared some more information, as well, telling the group of a back entrance to the ruins.

Added by Backpack: Too bad he didn’t have a map of the place…

The group members engaged in a little commerce in town, then headed out.

After briefly surveying the front of the ruins atop the mesa from a distance, they skirted around the front, to the lightly-guarded back. They carefully and strategically approached and dispatched the guards with hardly a sound.

Stealthily, they climbed some ruined steps to the top of the mesa.

Above in the ruins, they began to explore the crumbling walls and rubble. They detected several pit traps, falling into one but suffering no ill effects. They uncovered a metal grate set into the floor of a collapsed building, determining to return to it and find what lay below. First, though, they wanted to scout around a little more. During the course of their scouting they slew another goblin, sneaking up on him and killing him quickly (little 2-foot spellthieves are sneaky!).

The session ended near this point.

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