Neverwinter Reborn

Shards of Selune: Blacklake

Baern, a Neverwinter native and cleric of Oghma, received a summons and request of aid from a fellow cleric, Lady Jasmine of Selune. Last night, three shining meteorites fell upon Neverwinter and Lady Jasmine believes that these are actual tears shed by the moon goddess, shed over the multitude of troubles the region faces. One fell in Blacklake, another in the River District, and the third just beyond the walls of the Protector’s enclave, near the yawning Chasm. Tasked with their retrieval and promised substantial rewards, Baern sets out to round up a posse. Within a few hours, Baern has gathered three companions: Udonan, an Iliyanbruen Eladrin seeking the looters of his ancestral home, Ovid, a scion of returned Netheril in self-imposed exile, and Eldon, a disgraced Harper Agent trying to drown his recent failures in liquor, loose women, and self-loathing.

Once fully assembled, the Party heads into the rough Blacklake District to canvass for clues and rumors of the shard’s location. Eldon suggests they ask the Greycloaks, one half of the anti-Neverember resistance, at their headquarters, the Driftwood Tavern. Eldon declines to go personally on account of his current reputation with the resistance movement, sending Baern and Ovid in his stead. At the Driftwood, Madame Rosene is frosty and not particularly helpful, an impression that aligns with her reputation as someone whose trust you must to earn. However, she does mention a disturbance on the shores of the lake last night.

Meanwhile, Eldon and Udonan scout the hilltop area of Blacklake in search of a vantage point over the entire city. While traversing this half rebuilt neighborhood of noble’s mansions, Eldon is disturbed by a prominent piece of graffiti upon an abandoned building. It is the symbol of Asmodeus, a devil lord of the Nine Hells, and implies the presence of a cult within Neverwinter.

On the shores of the lake the party rebuilds the scene from last night: The shard hit the ground on the lake shore but was quickly acquired by Palas and his gang of Halfling thieves. Their hideout beneath the docks of Neverwinter is easy enough to find and the party sets out on a twilight raid. After a brief combat full of thrown daggers and mixed effectiveness on the part of our heroes, Eldon makes creative use of his bag of bardly tricks to convince Palas to surrender the shard. The party allows the halflings to live another day and take their leave.

Upon returning the first shard to the Shrine of Selune, the party witnessed an escape attempt by a ragged, screaming halfling, bound at the hands. Lady Jasmine explained that he is a wererat and they are helping him overcome his affliction. Baern expressed some concern over this practice as the party received a tidy sum of gold for their initial efforts. The party left the shrine and retired for the evening, but not without a slight discomfort over their employer’s side projects. Up next: A choice between the shard in the orc-occupied River District or the one in the plaguechanged infested ruins near the Chasm.

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Map of Neverwinter

Neverwinter map
This is the biggest map I could find.

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Shards of Selune: River and Chasm

The Party resumed their search the next morning, first traveling to the Orc-occupied River District. After grudgingly paying the toll at a checkpoint, the head to the heart of the district where Ovid has an…experience. The floating Shard of Night just happens to be thick (thick!) with Netherese magic, and after a fashion Ovid is able to summon a stairway of shadows up to the tower. The rest of the party, while their roguish companion was entranced, confirmed with the local orcs that the shard of Selune fell onto the floating tower. How convenient!

In the tower, making use of his Netheril heritage and a few bald-faced lies, Ovid is able to convince the resident shadow wraith guardians to allow him to carry the shard away for ‘repair’. Apparently the shard was being employed as an anchor for a portal between Neverwinter and a ruin within the Neverwinter Wood. Through the portal, Ovid is able to catch sight of a Netherese ruin, perhaps the location he was sent to find in the area before going AWOL.

After a short break, the party descends into the sewers of Neverwinter as a shortcut to the location of the third and final shard: Near the Chasm in the ruined quarter of the city. Through teamwork the party is able to traverse the sewers with only one minor scuffle with the plaguechanged denizens and a near fatal fall on the part of Grumbar. He was only trying to help. The third shard is recovered with little additional fanfare.

Upon returning to Baern’s home to recover, the party engages in a hearty debate over returning the shards to the Clerics of Selune. The shards contain a significant amount of magical power and could be sold at a premium or used for other purposes. Grumbar brings up the innocent idea of using them as a dirty bomb to wreck havoc on Neverember’s forces in the city. For example. However, in the end the party decides to honor their commitments and returns the shards the next morning for ample rewards from the clerics of Selune.

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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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Map of Neverwinter's Surroundings

Neverwinter region

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

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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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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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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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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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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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