The Prairie Village Campaign: 4e

Episode 2-7: The Darkness Behind the Light
Foul secrets of the labyrinth-builders

Regrouping following the battle with the strange statues, the party moves carefully across the chamber. On the far side, they find a pair wooden double doors bound in iron, closed by a bolt, and bearing an iron frieze in the shape of a minotaur’s head. It looks menacing and evil.

Gloria listens carefully at the door, and thinks she can hear the low murmuring of voices beyond.

Cordivae, feeling tired, sick and clammy after the combat with the statues (and a recent bite from a diseased rat) slowly pulls back the bolt and opens the double-doors.

The room beyond is composed of the darker stone the adventurers also found in the current chamber. A large statue of a minotaur in an iron crown towers over the space within. The adventurers are struck by a disturbing sensation of malevolence emanating from the vicinity of the statue, and a rough-hewn stone alter across from it. Nuriel, in particular, is overcome by a feeling of nausea in the presence of such wickedness. The alter bears two blood-red candles. To the right, in the corner of the room, the statue of a female minotaur wearing robes looks upon them with a cruel smile.

Four human guards standing within the room look up as Cordivae opens the door. Three of them are armed with halberds, and the fourth with a short sword. They immediately move to attack, meeting the adventurers at the door of the chamber.

The guard with the short sword engages Cordivae, and it becomes obvious that something is different about this particular opponent. He moves and shifts in a way that Cordivae cannot quite follow, but—more often than not—seems to put the dwarf at a disadvantage in the fight…

All four guards fight fiercely. The three who wield halberds threaten the adventurers from a short distance—but this is not the most disturbing development. As the battle begins in earnest, the explorers are horrified to see a yellow, oozing mass seep from cracks between the stone blocks forming the walls in far corner of the room. This living blob of slime moves directly into the fray. It seems to know who its friends are, and only appears interested in using the party for dinner.

A back-and-forth scrum commences. As the ooze is targeted by Amarth‘s arcane mark, it retreats further into the room. When Amarth’s attention moves elsewhere, it returns to the battle. At one point during this cycle, the blob slams Kep with a slimy pseudopod. The halfling staggers from the blow, and his skin burns with acidic fire where the putrid tentacle touched his flesh.

The adventurers rain blows, arrows and fell magic upon their enemies. Two of the guards fall, and the others are gravely wounded. These retreat beyond the statue of the crowned minotaur, and let the ooze take most of the punishment. This has an unexpected affect. As the attacks of the party slash and hammer the slime, it suddenly divides into two separate blobs. Kep maneuvers to the steps of the small platform bearing the statue of the robed minotaur, where he can attack either creature, but cannot be flanked by them.

While the explorers are taking in this development, the remaining guard with a halberd drops this larger weapon, unslings a crossbow, and begins targeting the party with pot-shots.

Using grit, determination and clever tactics, the group eventually strikes down the crossbowman, and reduces one of the two ooze creatures to an inanimate pool of stinking puss.

As they turn their attention to the remaining blob, the party encounters another surprise. The one remaining guard (the one with the short sword,) moves up to assist them in dispatching the vile creature. When it finally succumbs, the guard drops his sword and raises his hands in the air. Then, his form changes into that of a kindly-looking young woman.

“Shifter?,” asks Gloria. The woman just stares at her, then says to the party in a whispery voice:

" Mareleth pays me well, but not well enough to sacrifice my life.1"

The group pauses for a moment to take this in, then asks who Maraleth is…

“You will find out soon enough,” she answers, “if you continue penetrating this ancient minotaur temple. I know some things that can be useful, if you will spare my life and let me go.”

Kep, in a curious manner, says “I thought you were a man…”

The form of the young woman alters again, to that of a handsome young man. “We don’t make those distinctions,” he answers.

“Well, in that case,” replies Kep, “I liked you better as a woman.” The young man transforms back into the shape of a young woman.

Following this short exchange, the group agrees to let the woman go if she tells them what she knows about Mareleth.

“I don’t know where he comes from,” she tells them, "but I do know that he had some business dealings with a merchant from Fallcrest named Traevus. They had a bitter falling-out many years ago, and Maraleth still holds a grudge. I know he recently sent goblin raiders to steal something from Traevus’ trade caravan.2"

The party inquires as to what this was. The young woman only knows that it is a box or a chest of some sort. She does not know what was in it.

“Mareleth is a necromancer of some skill,” she tells them. If you proceed farther, you should be prepared to battle the living dead.

“Well,” says Amarth “as long as he is just a necomancer of some skill, not of great skill…”

“How much did Mareleth pay you?” asks Kep.

“I don’t really keep track of these things,” answers the woman. “I just make money and spend it. I like shoes.”

The group asks where Mareleth is at right now. The woman tells them that his laboratory is through the other set of double doors exiting the chamber containing the statue and the alter.

“He hasn’t come out yet, because he pays us to take care of disturbances. If he doesn’t hear something from us, however, you may meet him sooner than you would prefer…”

“Well, why don’t you go in there and tell him everything is all right?,” asks Kep.

“Oh, I don’t think that would be a good idea,” says the woman. “He’s in the middle of an experiment, and doesn’t like to be disturbed.”

“In fact,” she says, while edging toward the door, “I really need to go. I appreciate you sparing my life.” As she skirts past Gloria she says “I like your shoes,” then maneuvers across the floor of the room with the light and dark squares, and disappears.

Considering their options, the party decides to exit the temple to rest and recuperate. They make their way out of the tunnels, and set up camp on the backside of the hill from the cave mouths which serve as the entrance to the complex. Kep sings a soothing melody that boosts the spirits of the adventurers, and fills their bodies with an arcane power to help them heal.

The first watch passes without incident, but during the second watch, Nuriel and Kep hear rustling in the prairie grass beyond the light of their camp fire. Within her eladrin trance, Gloria sees shadowy figures approaching their position. Galanthal comes wide awake out of a sound slumber.

Nuriel reaches into his backpack to place his hand upon the party’s one remaining sunrod. His other hand tightly grips his mace. Both he and Kep are on their feet.

Suddenly, with a savage battle cry, three goblin warriors charge into the circle of firelight. They stop a few paces from Nuriel, and all three hurl daggers at him.

‘A massive, hairy creature resembling a giant goblin2’ strides into the light, and then charges Nuriel, striking at him with a great axe.

Kep shouts, “You’re mine!,” and moves to assist Nuriel against this intimidating opponent. He is startled, however, to see another goblin enter the fray. The newcomer bears a battle axe and wears a skull for a helmet. He fixes his eyes on Kep and growls “No, you’re mine, bitch…”

Two more, smaller goblins emerge from the darkness, and close in on Nuriel and Kep from opposite sides.

Gloria steps up, and strikes down one of the smaller goblins with a fatal thought. The three warriors who arrived at the start throw another salvo of daggers and draw their short swords. The party springs into action, and begins to reduce the enemy force piece-by-piece.

Kep, however, stands facing the two largest opponents. The young halfling fights valiantly, but he cannot dodge every blow. Even as the bard’s companions rush to his aid, the goblin wearing the skull hauls back his battle axe, fixes his eye upon the courageous adventurer, and brings the vicious weapon around in an arc that strikes Kep down in blood and steel.

His friends stare in dismay. Then as one, they rally, bringing deadly violence to their enemies. In short order all the goblins, large and small, lie unmoving on the quiet earth—but it is too late. Kep is dead.

1 Dungeons & Dragons Starter Kit Dungeon Master’s Book, 4th Edition, p.32.

2 Dungeons & Dragons Starter Kit Dungeon Master’s Book, 4th Edition, p.32.

2 Dungeons & Dragons Starter Kit Dungeon Master’s Book, 4th Edition, p.34.

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Episode 2-6: A Deadly Game
Knight to Queen's Bishop--ACK!!

With the last filthy rodent dead, Galanthal walks to the edge of the area in the floor that seemed so wrong to him during the battle. He presses his foot carefully upon the rat-bitten rug. A section of the floor ten feet square collapses into a pit in the middle of the room.

Avoiding the exposed trap, the party moves to examine two sets of double doors at the end of the chamber. The doors on the east wall lead to a smaller room dominated by the statue of a minotaur warrior in full armor, bearing a sword. Carefully examining the sculpture, Amarth can sense no trace of the arcane about it.

Galanthal finds that he can squeeze behind the sculpture. While this might make an effective hiding place in a dimly-lit room, there is nothing of interest to see at this time.

Meanwhile, Cordivae presents himself before the statue, and urinates on its base.

Through the doors to the north, the adventurers find a much more interesting situation. The walls and ceiling of the next chamber are composed of a darker stone than the rooms and corridors the party has traversed so far, and the floor is divided into alternating light and dark squares. At the far end of the room, seven statues stand ready to greet the explorers.

The front rank consists of four mintoaur men-at-arms, each in an identical pose and carrying a spear held at an identical angle. Behind, a regal minotaur queen, with a long robe and a crown upon her head, is flanked on one side by a minotaur warrior in full armor (similar to the statue Cordivae just defiled) and on the other by a bull standing on all four hooves (evidently this bull is not depicted to scale—it carries a siege tower upon its back.)

Kep and Cordivae both step into the room. Cordivae, however, goes further. Hammer at the ready, he strides out onto the alternating pattern of light and dark squares, advancing on the statues. As soon as he steps off of the first light square, Cordivae is struck with a searing pain in his head. A disembodied force drags him back to the light square. He tries to move again, and again the pain hammers through his brain, and he is dragged back to the starting square. He attempts to move in a different direction, with the same result. He tries standing still, but is still pounded with agony. Finally, Cordivae attempts to drink a beer, but collapses in one final torturous spasm. The mug slips from his limp fingers and rolls across the light and dark squares of the floor.

As soon as the dwarf falls, the statues come to life and begin to move. First, the four minotaur men-at-arms advance two squares in unison. One-by-one, the other sculptures also close with the party—following very defined movement patterns. The warrior always moves one square diagonally and one square orthogonally. The bull with the siege tower upon its back only moves in a straight line. The queen seems to have more freedom of movement—but still only moves either diagonally or orthogonally—never in combination like the warrior.

A strange battle ensues. Unwilling to risk the dangers of maneuvering onto the floor, the adventurers pull Cordivae to safety, and then combat the advancing constructs from the doorway. Haltingly and indirectly, the statues close with their opponents. While the party is able to reduce some of them to rubble with arrows and eldritch might, eventually the remainder are crowded around Kep and Amarth, where the two stand in the entranceway. At the last minute, Cordivae—responding to the ministrations of Galanthal—regains consciousness and charges back into the fray. As he steps onto the floor once again, Kep shouts advice to only move like the statues move—based on the first light or dark square Cordivae enters.

This proves to be the solution to the puzzle. Cordivae is able to close with the remaining statues, and dispatch them in a cloud of dust and debris.

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Episode 2-5: The Temple of Four
A shrine to goodness and law

Notable Events:

  • Battled goblins, and heard the sounds of a mass exodus from nearby rooms
  • Discovered alters to Bahamut, Mardin, Erathis and Pelor
  • Released Relashak and his trained drakes from captivity
  • Determined the nearby rooms had been used as a living space by many goblins
  • Battled goblins, and rats on the walls
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Episode 2-4: Among the Twisting Halls
Remnants of empire

Notable Events:

  • Noticed a man on a black horse, who was apparently watching the battle, ride away in the direction taken by the fleeing goblins
  • Galanthal tracked the goblins to a cross-road near a ruined watchtower and two caves on a hillside
  • Battled goblins and wolves
  • Entered the right-hand cave
  • Battled goblins and a guard drake
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Episode 2-3: The Caravan Job
Here's how it works. First I do the job. Then I get paid.

Notable Events:

  • Amarth recruited the group to guard Traveus’ caravan on the journey to Fallcrest
  • Received a hero’s farewell on the way out of Harken Village
  • Discovered a totem-pole on the way out of town, indicating that the village is guarded by Sarc “for the Lady Gloria”
  • Had to pay a toll to pass over the bridge in Millerville
  • Attached by goblins once the caravan entered the Moon Hills; a chest was stolen from one of the wagons
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Episode 2-2: The Heroes of Harken Village
Returning in triumph

Notable Events:

  • Burned the bodies of the bandit king and his minions
  • Battled stirges in the ruins of the toll fort
  • Returned to Harken Village
  • Old Kellar was overjoyed to hear how his son Cordivae comported himself during the adventure
  • Erick departs the group
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Episode 2-1: Beyond the Brass Door
Ancient and deadly mysteries lie farther in...

The party proceeds through the brass doors to an antechamber, which is decorated in tattered and mostly undecipherable tapestries. The skeletons of four men-at-arms, all of whom were apparently killed violently long ago, lie at various places on the floor.

At the far end are a pair of formerly ornate mahogany doors, which were chopped, burnt and pitted by arrows in whatever battle took place here.

The next chamber is obviously a library or workshop of some sort. A couple of small book cases are located on the wall to the left, near a small round table and two chairs. A raised level runs along the back and right-hand side of the room. directly ahead, a set of steps lead up to to the raised level. Midway up the steps is a narrow platform on which a bier has been placed. The bier is the resting place of a dust-covered human form. Further up the steps, on the raised part of the room, is an alter bearing a brass chalice and a large book. To the right, the raised level contains several bookshelves, much larger than the two on the lower level.

An dried and emaciated corpse has been pinned to one of these bookshelves with a spear.

When the party examines the book, they find that it is open to a ritual for reanimating the dead. Suddenly, the door of the room slams shut, the temperature drops, and a malevolent force manifests itself, affecting the adventurers in different ways. Gloria hears, in her mind, the words “Fools, you shall do my bidding…” Kep and Galanthal are compelled to spill the goblet upon the alter. As Kep does so, the corpse on the bier bestirs itself.

Notable Events:

  • Battled the Bandit King and his minions
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Episode 1-7: Blades of the Bloodreavers, Part 2
Enemies without. Enemies within?

The group completes the interrogation of Strink. Gloria threatens him with the “twisted bones” spell, if he does not protect the village of Harken. Strink agrees out of terror at what might happen to him if he does not…

Kep begins to sing, and the party hears the howl of a great wolf from farther within the complex.

The companions move on down the corridors, where they are ambushed by four hobgoblin warriors and two grey wolves. They slay their assailants, and then proceed to the next room, where they battle Krax, the hobgoblin warcaster, and a dire wolf. Krax attempts to push the adventurers into a pit in front of the statue of an unidentified demon with the head and right arm broken off.

The room contains a brass double door in the south wall. On each door is the bass-relief of a skull with eye sockets that glow pale blue. Engraved in the stone above the door are several lines written in Common, but spelled with the Abyssal script. Gloria translates the words:

We pay the price
Count not the cost
For he who rules
In Everlost

Put One Archfiend

When Nuriel attempts to open the door, lightning springs from the eye sockets of both skulls, flinging him across the room. Kep attempts to disarm the trap, ultimately failing, and barely avoids electrocution on two of occasions.

The party discerns that the last line of the engraving may be an anagram, and is eventually able to decipher it as:

“Prince of Undeath”

When Nuriel speaks these words, the blue glow in the eyes of the skulls fades, and the bolt securing the portal audibly slides aside.

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Episode 1-6: Blades of the Bloodreavers, Part 1
Elements of discord...

While Cordivae cleans his soiled breeches in the river cave, the other members of the party attempt to interrogate the goblin prisoner, who has thrown himself upon the mercy of Kep, yammering at the bard fearfully in Goblin. The hapless creature reveals that he is a member of the Dark Claw Clan.

As Kep, Galanthal and Erick try to decide what to do with the captured enemy, the angel of fire—who still stands blocking the goblin’s retreat—turns to Nuriel and proclaims “My time here is done, Invoker of Bahamut. Call upon me, if ever you require my assistance in the future.” He vanishes from the chamber in a burst of flame.

Kep immediately looks to the goblin, who is now frightened nearly out of his wits. The creature shows no sign of attempting escape, even though the path to the door is now open.

As the rest of the party stares at the spot where the angel disappeared, Cordivae returns from the river at a dead run, charging the prisoner, with his warhammer held ready to strike.

Realizing Cordivae intends to slay the captive—who is still on his knees before Kep, pleading for mercy—Galanthal deftly fires an arrow between the legs of the dwarf, causing him to stumble over the flying shaft. This disrupts Cordivae’s aim, and he misses the flinching goblin.

Nuriel, taken aback that a member of his party would attempt to murder a helpless prisoner, strikes the warrior down with an orb of light, crying out “No. We shall do justice to our captives!.”

Cordivae falls, gravely wounded and unconscious, at the feet of Kep and the goblin.

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Episode 1-5: The Goblin Raiders of Harken
The chambers of the Bandit King hold more than just shadows of history...

The party searches the bodies of their goblin assailants—finding nothing but weapons, armor and clothing. Meanwhile, Gloria ties a rope to one of the dead lizard creatures, and trolls through the wide pool formed by the river, as it flows into the cave and back out again. If there is anything lurking in the water, it does not rise to her improvised bait.

Nuriel lights a torch, the group forms up, and they proceed down the corridor leading from the river cave into the vaults of the Bandit King. As they cannot see beyond the edge of the torchlight, Gloria tosses stones ahead, listening to them skitter down the dark hallway.

Soon, the group hears one of the stones strike a wall, and as they edge forward carefully, the flickering of the torch eventually reveals a turn in the corridor. Easing cautiously around the corner, ahead they see a chamber illuminated by firelight.

Moving down the new hallway and into the empty room, they find a table with a couple of rickety wooden chairs, a single lantern, and the remains of an interrupted card game.

As Gloria is picking up the playing cards, she notices Erick trying to furtively pocket an old, cracked leather pouch hanging on the back of one of the chairs. She confronts him about it, forcing him to open the pouch and reveal 40 Nerathi gold crowns. When Gloria tells him he should share the coins, Erick responds that she should share the cards. Although Cordivae suggests they all head back to town and hire Poxy Reita for a party, Gloria and Erick strike a deal, giving each member of the band eight playing cards and six pieces of gold. In addition, Erick is allowed to keep the four extra coins, bringing his total to 10 crowns.

Nuriel douses the lantern and attaches it to his pack. Gloria examines the walls of the room for markings, but finds nothing other than rough-cut stone blocks. The group decides to move on, with Gloria still throwing stones ahead of the party.

A corridor leads from the room, and deeper into the vaults. Some distance down this passage, the group encounters another turn, with light coming from beyond. Cordivae leans around the corner, and looks into a chamber filled with piles of debris, and lit by a free-standing, flaming, metal brazier on the other side of the room. Near the brazier stands a goblin in robes, bearing a staff, along with a pair of goblin thugs armed with short swords. The creatures stare back at Cordivae, somewhat perplexed to see the head of a dwarf poking around the corner.

Cordivae lets out a battle cry and—without consulting the rest of the group—charges directly into the center of the chamber, between two piles of debris. As he does so, other sword-bearing goblins, whom he did not see, move in from both sides of the doorway, and close on his position. In addition, a rustling from the trash piles lets Cordivae know that he has more company. Large, vicious-looking rats emerge from the pile on his left, while three or four huge, reddish brown beetles crawl out of the heap on his right. In no time, Cordivae is completely surrounded, cut off from his companions.

The goblin in the robes, at the back of the room, raises his staff and chants several esoteric-sounding phrases. A cloud of yellowish, foul-smelling smoke boils forth from the staff and almost completely obscures the room.

Cordivae is fighting for his life. The goblins attempt to cut him down with their swords, as the rats and beetles try to bite him from below. A small part of his mind—the part that is not completely absorbed with trying to stay alive—realizes the goblins must have trained both the rats and the beetles. The vermin only seem to be interested in biting him, not his assailants—which is most inconvenient.

As the dwarf’s companions move in to help, they find that the goblin spellcaster can guide the obscuring cloud at will, and he does so to envelope the new arrivals. Realizing his situation is untenable, Cordivae falls back, and forms-up with the rest of the party.

The beetles have a nasty surprise up their exoskeletons, however, and some of them immediately turn and cover the leading members of the group in gouts of flaming body fluid.

Nuriel strikes directly at the enemy spellcaster, flinging forth radiant orbs of energy that never-the-less fail to take him out of the fight.

Kep enters the fray, also attempting to engage the robed goblin. The spellcaster, recognizing him as the bard who earlier sang the battlesong of the Red Blade Clan, calls down curses upon him for being in league with the mortal enemies of his own tribe.

There ensues what can only be called a scrum, with the advantage shifting back-and-forth several times. Much to his surprise and consternation, Cordivae comes close to death on more than one occasion. The party is in real danger of being wiped out, when Galanthal rallies his companions with a prayer to Pelor. The adventurers feel fresh vigor flow into their limbs, and the resolve to prevail springs up anew in their hearts.

The tide of battle turns when Nuriel calls forth the benevolent protection of Bahamut, and there appears in the midst of the party an angel of fire, who does battle at Nuriel’s side.

Soon the rats, the beetles, the spellcaster, and all but two of the goblin swordsmen are dead. Both attempt to flee out the exit on the other side of the room. One makes it through the doors and into the hallway, pursued by the angel of fire, but is cut down by a well-placed arrow from Galanthal. The other, seeing the fate of his comrade, and blocked from the exit by the returning angel, falls upon his knees and throws his hands around the legs of Kep, offering his surrender and pleading for mercy.

Upon the resolution of the battle, Cordivae runs from the room, all the way back to the river cave, to clean his soiled breeches.

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