Neverwinter Reborn

Castle Never - Room Full of Undead

Picking up where we left off last week, the party proceeds into the large basement room full of undead. Baern, after kicking open the door, disappears in some weird quantum rift and is replaced for this week only by Faern, a pacifist dwarven healer. Faern activates the scroll of protection against undead which creates an Aura 2 around him for the rest of the encounter, making it significantly easier than it would have been otherwise. The undead consist of an undead knight, two burly zombies, a wight and half a dozen skeletons. In the far corner of the room is a portal – it was described in the notes found last week in a side room off the main undead room. The wight almost makes it into the portal to alert Valindra (evidently the Thay rival mentioned by Chernanog) but is pulled back and cruelly kicked repeatedly into a pit by various members of the party. The zombies are killed a couple of times but keep getting back up, until Faern announces that only fire or radiant damage will end them. A few attacks along these lines finish the fight.

The undead knight is wearing a helmet with glowing green gems in it. Grumbar pulls it off the knight’s head and is happy to learn it is a Helm of Seven Deaths, which gives him some useful powers and allows him to trap souls of living enemies.

Because it’s been a long day, the party decides to head up to the top of the library tower and take an extended rest.

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Castle Never - Ghouls and Zombies

Baern finds some interesting tomes on the shelves and takes them with him. The party goes back downstairs to check out the area around the treasury. We encounter some eddercaps; they seem nonaggressive but not smart enough to be helpful. We come to a door barricaded with furniture. After removing the barricade, we enter and see a ghoul sitting in a chair reciting poetry. He attacks us and tries to eat us, as do several other ghouls who pop up from behind a bookshelf. We kill all of them. There’s a door in this room that looks very much like the treasury door. Ovid tries to pick the lock but gets an electric shock. Udonnan doesn’t want to teleport in case there’s something bad inside. The door definitely has two locks though.

The party goes to check out undead activity around castle graveyard, likely related to Thay lady. After ineptly trying to sneak past undead sentries, we go into a tomb in the back of the graveyard. This tomb leads into a cave system, which we wander around in. One branch of the cave leads up to a trapdoor with heavy weight on it. Udonnan teleports up with Grumbar (While teleporting, he notices a strange distortion of local field, possibly caused by anti-teleport spells on treasury). The trapdoor is the one in the atrium with the statue on it. Udonnan and Grumbar move the statue and rejoin the party.

The party continues on and finds a door ajar. Ovid peers through and sees two zombies. As the party fights them, they hear shouts coming from a nearby room. Ovid ties the doors to this room shut, so they can deal with one group of enemies at a time. Once the first fight is over, the party opens the doors and sees a room with a portal and several different types of undead, one of which looks quite burly. Join us next week for the next exciting installment!

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Castle Never

The party considers all the pressing issues to be dealt with – the Ashmodai cult, Lord Neverember, the Netherese, finding an heir to the throne – and decides that the best way to proceed is to search Castle Never. Potentially they can find the Crown of Alagondar to place on the “heir”, and if nothing else there should be some fat loot.

They go to Castle Never. The castle is in disrepair; the two front towers have fallen, blocking the gates from the rest of the castle yard. In the accessible section of the yard is a Drow encampment. Their leader comes up and introduces himself as Jarlax. He tells us of a fabulous Treasury in the castle. This treasury requires two keys to open, but he offers to sell us one for 1000 gold. We decline until we can check out the treasury door ourselves.

Baern wants to visit the library to see what he can learn about Gauntlgrym. Drow adventurer-in-training Frank offers to guide us as far towards the library as he can. We go into the main hall and through several other large rooms. Frank leads us to a door that’s blocked off, then leaves us to our own devices. We open the door and go through to atrium overgrown with plants. Mushroom people pop up and attack; we kill them. The atrium has a statue and a trap door in the floor. In case other enemies come up, we pull the statue over the trapdoor to block them. We also open the windows in the atrium to dry it out and discourage the mushroom people from returning.

The party proceeds up the tower. According to Frank, this is not the library tower, but there is a rooftop bridge crossing over to it. The bridge is in disrepair, with crumbling masonry and a big gap in the middle. We can see some movement down in the castle graveyard. Several harpies are circling overhead. We start to cross, when a beholder wearing a crown pops out of the library tower and introduces himself as King Chernanog of Castle Neverwinter. Both gems are missing from crown – this is probably why he hasn’t been killed by it yet. Chernanog tells us that if we find both gems in the castle and bring them to him, he’ll make us knights. He gives us free run of the castle, but tells us to watch out for his Thay rival. There are Eddercaps (spider people) in lower castle but they’re charmed by him, so they shouldn’t attack us now. If they do, he won’t get angry if we kill a few.

We finish crossing to the library tower, climb it and find the library at top. It’s filled with an uncanny inky blackness, and even our lights cast a much smaller glow than they should. We get attacked by ghosts, but kill them and return light to the library. We decide to rest there for a little while so that Baern can look around.

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Electric Mistress

Grumbar runs into a few Mintarn mercenaries. They tell him they have information on some of the mages that are collaborating with Lord Neverember. One of them, Zarla, is skilled in electricity-based magic and quite loyal to Neverember – she’ll probably have to be killed. Another one, Giovanni the Artificer, is more amenable to negotiations and can probably be bought. Grumbar convinces the rest of the party to join him, except Baern, who is still deeply absorbed in researching the dodecahedron. Udonan takes some convincing, but the rest of the party offers to help him achieve his quests in exchange for his aid.

The mercs have information on the building where the mages are working, and this allows the party to reach the magical research chamber effortlessly. They peer around the doors and see a female mage in the middle of an octagonal room, performing incantations on a large crystal which is giving off arcs and sparks. At each corner of the room, a spherical gem is mounted in the masonry. The party enters and immediately starts attacking the gems and the mage. After a shocking combat experience, the mage is dead, the crystal has been scooped up into the bag of holding, and one of the deactivated gems has been pried loose from its socket for further study and/or profit.

Entering a room beyond the research chamber, the party meets Giovanni. He has several guard homunculi in his office, and seems to be highly skilled in fields the party may find useful. Rather than killing him, they offer to give him part of the House of Knowledge to use as a new base. He won’t work for free, however – a lot of his abilities require money for his time and supplies. Nevertheless, he can be called upon in future if a highly skilled Artificer is needed.

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Various plot developments

Udonan Moonshadow is on a multi-day trek back to the Eladrin encampment, carrying the body of the dead Eladrin. He is unable to help the party in achieving their various goals this week.

Grumbar stirs up more support and now has about 15 disciples. Arlon Bladeshaper is starting to see him as a real threat to his own faction of the Sons of Alagondar.

Eldon is summoned to a visit with the leader of the Harpers. Although he’s in disgrace due to his part in the death of Cymril, they offer him a chance to regain his standing – he must observe Grumbar and report his activities to the Harpers. They’ve heard that Grumbar is becoming a strong political figure and they want to make sure they’re aware of any developments.

Baern does a little research and finds the bronze dodecahedron has been owned and studied by many scholars. The most recent document he can find was written just before the cataclysm, and mentions a scholar living in the Crags. Her house may or may not have been destroyed by the cataclysm – a field trip will be necessary to determine her fate.

Ovid is working on rousing up some rabble to go and attack the Netherese at Xinlenal. Since the orcs are a large, untapped resource, he decides to try and make an alliance with them. The party enters the orc part of town and asks directions to the orc leader. They are told that the leader, Varsi, uses the Cloaktower as her base, so they make their way there.

Baern remembers from his history lessons that this tower was once owned by a mage society named the Many-Starred Cloak, who disappeared during the Spellplague. Only their cloaks remained, but they occasionally came to life and strangled anyone who tried to inhabit the tower. The orcs seem to be getting along with no trouble, though, so perhaps the magic has worn off the cloaks.

Varsi and the other orcs are obviously trying hard to act civilized – the orc encampments are neatly organized, and Varsi visibly quiets her irritation while talking to the party. She tells them that she cannot respect them as allies until they prove their prowess, possibly by killing some monsters from the chasm. The party obliges by bringing her the head of a large worm-thing, and they make a shaky alliance with the orcs that might be useful later.

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Pissing off librarians

Baern is still working on his quest to locate Gauntlgrym, his lost dwarven homeland. To help him, the party decides to visit the House of Knowledge, the temple to Oghma where Baern used to study.

As they walk up the front steps, they see a group of Mintarn mercenaries leaving the hall. Once inside, they encounter the band of about a dozen refugees living in the front hall. The refugees have taken it upon themselves to ring the House of Knowledge’s bell, to warn the surrounding city of orc attacks. According to Alac, their leader, the building is in a state of disrepair – the west wing has been completely destroyed by the cataclysm, while the east wing is relatively unscathed but still disorganized.

Baern recalls that an acolyte was in charge of the basement hall, which held many of the library’s more important works. The party finds the basement hall closed by a locked door with a peephole. When they knock, an eye appears at the peephole and introduces itself as Atlavast, keeper of the archives. He has lived alone in the basement hall for the past 27 years, occasionally venturing out for food and other supplies. Atlavast has spent most of his time organizing the basement, and is now very familiar with the library’s collection. He claims to have at least one source of information about the location of Gauntlgrym, which interests Baern deeply. However, he won’t hand it over until he gets what he wants – namely, the eviction of the noisy refugees upstairs. The party decides to cooperate and heads back up.

The party scouts around the east wing first to see what they can learn, despite Alac’s discouragement. The layout consists of a couple of halls leading towards the former solar of the temple’s leader. In a reading room off one of the halls, they find a book in Abyssal open on a table. Although none of the party can read it, they are all fairly sure it’s associated with Asmodeus. They proceed through another hall towards the solar and see a fire elemental and another guy (I forget what) at the far end, standing around a fire. Once the party attacks them, a warlock comes out of the solar and joins the fight. The enemies call for cultists, and half of the refugees come storming towards the party form the front hall. Eldon seals the hall door against them by tying the handles together with rope, allowing the party to finish the battle and eventually mop up the remaining Asmodeists.

One other object in the room is the corpse of another Eladrin. He must have come in here seeking knowledge and been murdered by the Asmodeists. Udonan pledges to return his body to his people, but not before stealing his boots.

Baern claims the object that Atlavast promised him. It turns out to be a bronze dodecahedron with pictures on each face. it will take some research to decipher any information contained in the pictures.

The party decides to alert the leader of the Mintarn mercenaries to the fact that the Asmodeus cult is trying to recruit them. They head to the headquarters of the group, the Moonstone Mask Inn. Baern gains admission to the office of their leader, General Sabine, and explains their suspicions. The general seems quite interested in this information.

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Ruins of Xinlenal

The party continues into the forest, following the directions of the bird that spoke to Eldon. As they are preparing to break camp, they hear a party passing through the woods nearby. Eldon creeps nearer and sees a Dark One (a Shadowfell equivalent to gnomes) leading a couple of werewolves. Eldon pulls his hood close over his face and manages to pass himself off as another Dark One; the actual Dark One asks how his artifact-gathering is going and invites Eldon to join the party. It becomes clear that the Netherese are sending out groups of enslaved Dark Ones to scour the area for magic artifacts and bring them back to the Netherese base. The rest of the party follows along behind at a safe, stealthy distance, except for Baern whose armor is too noisy.

The Dark One leads the group to an Eladrin tomb sunken into the forest. Eldon, the Dark one and one of the werewolves go inside and begin looting; the other werewolf stays outside. The party attacks the werewolf, drawing the rest of the Dark One’s group out of the tomb and into the battle. Eldon plays his part as long as possible, pretending to be completely inept at attacking his own party. Eventually the werewolves are killed, the Dark One is captured, and Eldon becomes very unpopular with the Dark One.

The party uses their captive to learn how to reach the Netherese base they saw through the portal. It is the ruins of a fallen enclave named Xinlenal, currently populated by several hundred Netherese and their various servants. Rather than riding straight in, they decide to scout around the periphery. However, Ovid’s communicator gem starts to activate; Shen asks him why he has come to Xinlenal but hasn’t checked in at the center of town. Ovid realizes that the gem gives away his position, and that he must go into town to meet with Shen. He does so, after learning as much as he can about the layout of the central parts of the city. After meeting with Shen and assuaging his suspicions, he slips the communicator gem into the pocket of a Dark One.

Eldon is again mistaken for a Dark One, and is herded into the areas used for housing Dark Ones. After reporting that he has no artifacts to deliver, he is whipped by a Netherese slavemistress. He escapes back to the party.

Baern, Udonan and Grumbar scout out the largely-unoccupied outskirts of the city. They make a map of their findings, which makes a fairly detailed, complete map when combined with the notes taken by Eldon and Ovid. The party knows that they cannot attack the encampment directly with so few people, so they leave with the intention of coming back with a much larger force in the future. They head back directly through the forest, since they are now going downstream and can raft much of the way. They still have the Dark One with them – they cannot release him, since he would give away Ovid’s identity as a non-Enclave-supporter immediately.

Halfway through the forest, Udonan heads north to the Eladrin encampment that serves as his home base. He brings the Dark One and tells his superiors about the looting of magic artefacts, possibly from Sharandar. They intend to milk the Dark One for as much information as possible.

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Cloak and Dagger and also Barbarian Werewolves

Ovid has managed to come up with a story to throw Shen off his scent. He’s decided to try to convince Shen that he’s a member of the Heirs of Karsus, a group interested in succeeding where Karsus failed. Ovid intends to claim that he is only using the Temple of Selune as a catspaw, and that he will reclaim the Shards of Selune once his plan comes to fruition.

To make this more convincing, he borrows a Shard from Lady Jasmine, to make it look like he still has complete control of them. He summons Shen to Baern’s house, with the rest of the party hiding a few rooms over in case reinforcements are needed, and tells Shen this story. Somehow Shen buys it, and a showdown with Lady Jasmine over the Shards of Selune is averted.

While the party still has the shard, they decide to put it to good use. They return to the portal in the River District, bypassing the orc tollbooth by making their way through the sewers. They reactivate it with the shard – it seems to have more stabilizing power now than it did when they first took it.

As before, the portal opens on a forest scene. The area is scattered with ruins, and Ovid recognizes them as ancient Netherese. Since none of them can identify the location, Eldon uses Talk to Animals on a bird and learns that the nearest human place is “13 miles away, into the rising sun and a little away”. (i.e., 13 miles east-southeast or east-northeast). The only town that could meet this description is Conyberry, on the far side of the forest. The party consults Horsefax, obtains travelling horses and stocks up for a multi-day ride.

They reach the town uneventfully, but the town itself seems a little strange. It’s a small farming village with a few dozen houses, but the inhabitants look much more like barbarians than farmers. The party seeks shelter in the basement of one of the many abandoned houses, finding signs of werewolves there. They move to another house and find the same thing. They realize that the villagers are in fact werewolf barbarians and decide to enter the forest as soon as possible to get away from them.

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Map of Neverwinter's Surroundings

Neverwinter region

Wait…Xinlenal was the name of one of the Netherese enclaves. Uh oh.

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Spooky Stuff

Shen, another agent of Netheril in the Neverwinter region, paid a visit to Ovid the night after the Shards were returned. He questioned Ovid’s judgement in letting the shards fall out of their grasp, as the empire of Netheril is quite interested in collecting any and all items of magic power. He said that he’ll return in 4 days with a ‘posse’ and expects Ovid to participate in the raid of the Shrine of Selune. Additionally, he gives Ovid a communication gem (made from an Eladrin artifact) to maintain contact.

Ovid runs to tell Baern and Odonan what’s up, before tipping off at the Selune shrine. Lady Jasmine seems unconcerned with the impending raid, repeatedly assuring Ovid that they can “handle a few shadows”.

Meanwhile, Grumbar tips off the Sons of Alagondar to the presence of powerful magic artifacts ripe for the taking in the Shrine of Selune. Arlon Bladeshaper the leader of the Nasher faction of the Sons, makes a similar promise to take possession of the Shards, with a similar timeframe. How exciting.

The next day the Halloween episode happens. The party raids a devil infested house, ends up in a pocket plane of some kind, and kills a bunch of devils. Eldon refuses the advances and temptations of Asmodeus’s cult, and the party returns to Neverwinter no worse for wear.

Inside the house, however, they did find a pair of singed dog tags belonging to a Mintarn Mercenary as well as a key with the emblem of the House of Knowledge. Possible clues related to the presence of the Asmodeus cult within Neverwinter?! (Yes)

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