The Art of Swordplay

Hammerfast 26-36
Session 16

The party quickly retrieves Needle from the corpse of their fallen companion, close the drawbridge and ascend to the Baron‘s floor of the tower. Nobb, leading the party, is the first to reach the landing where he is greeted by four dwarves who, visibly nervous, direct the party to Volk’s Quarters. As Nobb starts to comply, Gallahad, having differing opinions, attacks the dwarf with his new toy Needle.

The dwarves cry out and engage the party at the landing while trying to escape toward the Baron’s Quarters – only one survives. While the party engaged the Shifter Initiates in the hallway, Hybrids assail them from the doorway to the Baron’s room. Gallahad, the first to arrive in the doorway, is greeted by a quartet of arrows, as the Baron’s Shifters have set up defensive positions behind a great meeting table. Two hybrids block the doorway and Sir Stratosphere blocks their pouring into the hallway.

The party’s Shield Wall tactic proves problematic once Baron Volk makes himself known. He appears and immediately Enthalls poor Gallahad. He works his way through the party while mentioning curious phrases about a man he calls “Father” and how the prison will soon be his. Soon, nearly all of the party has at some point been Enthralled by the Baron while his archers continue to pepper those in the doorway. The Rogues (Roam and Mace) find themselves on the outside and unable to make good use of their powerful sneak attacks.

Nobb spends as much time mitigating damage as he does Blessing his companions, trying to help them overcome the Baron’s mind tricks, but not before the Baron moves in to Devour Gallahad with his own longsword. Clearly magical, this sword sucks life force from its victims and fuels the Baron’s own.

Retreat is considered, but no one can safely pull out the incapacitated victims and none want to leave them to their demise. When hope is nearly lost, Nobb uses righteous fury to strike down the Baron in a brilliant display.

With his dying words, Zhadnyy Volk sends the party to the Wizard’s Tower for more information. He explodes in a flash of light and leaves behind his longsword and a grey crystal emblazoned with a Diamond surrounded by a heart.

Upon entering the Wizard’s tower, the group finds his notes. They discuss how his twin brother’s heart was binding his thralls to his will and the only way to free them was to purify the heart in a living body. Taking this upon himself, the Baron was seduced by the heart and unable to control it. Feeling slight remorse, the party gathers the Baron’s treasure and head back to Hammerfast. They ascend to Level 6.

Where does the next crystal lead, how will they activate the new sword, and who is this “Father”?

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Hammerfast Day 26: Back to the Castle
Session 15

Assault the castle, from the rear
break in
Kidnap cook staff
lock them in the jail
all the treasure (plus monsters)
Find more upstairs
grease the steps, fire
attack in the Foyer, kill the Cowyrd
More are coming… dun dun duuuun

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Hammerfast 25 (night)
Session 14

Pandemonium breaks out in the town of Hammerfast once again, as the sun sets on our heroes. Nobb and his new companion, Mace, break for one end of the city as the rest of the party head to the other. They find Lesser Vampires, Hybrids, and other Shifters wreaking havoc. Nobb surmises that the Baron is behind the attack, as the Vampires were catatonic while the Master Vampire was incapacitated. Waves of undead assault the pair, but they are victorious nonetheless. It may be a sleepless night for the party, but they will head to the Baron’s Castle the next day.

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Hammerfast Day 15 through 25
Session 13

Chased the vampire through his Temple. Nobb felt desecration. Party fights White Wolf and two Hybrids, leaving only the wolf alive (though the party was split in the decision). As undead rise from the Unholy Ground, the party pursues the vampire until they reach the entrance of the cave. Fortunately for them, daybreak had arrived and the vampire couldn't escape. He made his last stand along with viscious vampire bats and another hybrid, who showed no sunlight sensitivity. Roam and Tathadir quickly fell under the Vampire's Enthralling Gaze and the only thing that kept them alive, ironically, the kiss of undeath they received from the Master that made them such easy targets for Enthralling. The team pushed and pulled the vampire into the sunlight, where he quickly burned. A shell fell from him and he misted back into the cave, not ready to give up. Soon, however, the party dragged him back to the light, where he quickly burned to a crisp, leaving only a cowl and shriveled, blackened heart. The party returned to the depths of the lair to rest, finding all the undead thralls catatonic. They assume it is because they are no longer receiving orders from the heart. The White Wolf (having returned to her dwarvish form) is also unresponsive but alive. After a rest, the party returns to the Baron's Manor. He is gracious for the safe return of his wife, but his mood soon sours when Sir Stratosphere requests to see his treasure room. Stratosphere doesn't press the issue, and the party returns to town. The party spends time honing their skills, certain their quest in the Shadowfell demiplane that is Hammerfell is not over yet.

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Hammerfast Day 14 and 15
Session 12

The party made it into the caves via a lava tube. The darkness below showed only cave to both sides. They chose to pursue Cowyrd deeper into the cave rather than rest and heal their wounds. Soon they came to a chasm, and with teamwork and thoughtful use of rope, made a bridge and safely crossed. Though, not without mishaps and hungry quippers taking a bite from Nobb.
They reached the vampire’s dining hall where he waited for them and called them to enter. He revealed that he is the Baron’s brother and they’ve been fighting over the town forever. The vampire is convinced he will win now that he has infected the water supply but would prefer to send the party to kill his brother. He offers gold and glory, and after the party witnesses (and misunderstands) his enthralling power over the infected, choose to spend the night rather than invoke his wrath immediately.
The next day, Roam and Tathadir decide to accept the vampire’s curse and that of the werewolves, giving in when it seemed they had no choice. The Paladins contemplate betrayal and killing the rest of the party outright, but attack the vampire! He flees into the caves, leaving behind the white wolf and two hybrids similar to Roam and Tath

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Hammerfast Day 14
Session 11

The Adventurers travel to the Baron’s castle at his request. Along the road, they are attacked by vampires and their thralls. Gallahad bravely attempts to turn the undead, but it seems to have no effect on the thralls. They are lycanthropes, werewolves who would normally have no interest in allying themselves with the likes of a vampire. After the battle, Cowyrd sees the white wolf and tries to pursue it through the forest. Nobb tags along to help him navigate the woods. Normally a skilled tracker, Cowyrd has trouble in the deep, freezing snow and gives up pursuit not long after he starts. He and Nobb return cold and exhausted.

Upon reaching Baron Volk’s castle, the party learns about the vampire’s plot to enthrall the town of Hammerfast which has been going on for many years now. He has affected the towns water supply, and most of the party have been infected with some sort of disease which will presumably make them more susceptible to the vampire’s enthralling. When the party tells Volk about the werewolves, he reveals he is their leader – a werewolf himself. The party is uneasy about working with a werewolf, but decide it’s better to eliminate the vampire than worry about Volk for now. They ask how they will be compensated, and Volk uneasily shows them a massive treasure that is theirs for the taking once he has the heart of the vampire. Without it, there is no hope for saving the townsfolk.

They continue their journey toward the Vampire’s Lair, but are ambushed by more werewolves, a lesser vampire, and the white wolf. They mortally wound the wolf and destroy the rest of the assailants. Cowyrd pursues the wolf again, with Roam at his side. A trail of blood makes this an easy task, but the rest of the party is not inclined to follow into the forest. Cowyrd, disoriented by his exhaustion, hears voices and growls in the woods ahead; Roam recognizes wolfish growls and dwarvish language. The werewolves ahead catch wind of the pair and pursue; only Roam escapes as Cowyrd relays his last thought: “why doesn’t anyone ever just want to talk?”, striking down one shifter before the others bring him down.

He reaches the rest of the party as Rita, on a mission from Kalarel, joins them as well. She is concerned for Cowyrd and races off down the blood trail, the others at her heels. Cowyrd is nowhere to be found, but drag marks in the snow tell the tale of his capture. The adventurers burst into a Werewolf camp, guarded by a pair of the monstrosities. Rita and Roam, the fated pair quickly fell one beast, and the other flees down another trail, toward the Vampire’s Lair. The group gives chase, but Tathadir shrouds the party in shadow that they may approach quietly. Reaching the mouth of the cave, they see the White Wolf, healthy as ever with, another pair of lesser vampires and the lone werewolf that fled the camp.

They send Roam’s owl to survey the land and look for another entrance to the cave as to avoid those at the mouth. For the day, they earned 1500XP. Two encounters on the road (500 each), clearing the shifter camp (250) and sneaking past the guardpost (250, 250 more if they fight their way out or find a route that means they don’t need to go through the front door). They have enough XP for level 5, and just need 10 days to train.

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Hammerfast Day 3 through Day 13
Session 10

The adventurers wasted no time preparing to clear the mines of undead hordes. Governor Gleamsilver outfitted them with warm winter clothes and warned them to stay on the path, lest they get lost in the snow and freeze. Aleeyah and Roam, feeling despair, remained at the keep while the others ventured forth.

Tathadir, a very perceptive elf, felt the hair on the back of neck stand on end as they traveled. A Winter Wolf was spying the group from a distance, eyes glowing red as though possessed by a sinister force, before retreating into the woods. Taking the Governor’s words to heart, the group ignored the wolf and made it safely to the mines.

There, they assaulted the entrance where a pair of Vryloka and their thralls stood guard. Their resources were minimally drained as they defeated the foes. They soon entered a great cavern filled with skeletal archers, thralls, and more Vryloka. Here the battle took a more significant toll on the party’s resources, though they were still victorious, due in large part to Gallahad’s valiant Turn Undead that broke the enemies’ spirits.

Finally, they reached the Fungus Garden where a Lesser Vampire was bringing forth Zombie Brutes from a portal. Cowyrd quickly spotted poisonous fungi and the group was able to safely avoid them. Gallahad charged into battle, but was soon enthralled by the vampire, whose skeletal archers were still unable to hurt. Tathadir ran to the portal to identify how to close it, but the exhaustion he was feeling made it difficult to determine how to stop it. By the time he was successful in closing the portal, he was overrun by Zombie Brutes and laid low. Soon, thanks to the party working together, he was alive, though suffering serious exhaustion and unable to effectively outrun the zombies.

Gallahad shook off the vampire’s gaze and with the help of his companions, managed to kill it. They continued to fight zombies, even though their mission was essentially complete, and found themselves all at death’s door. Nobb, feeling serious wounds from the day’s battles, picked up Tathadir and helped him to safety. They soon put down the last of the Zombies and, when there were no discs or magic items to be found (as there had been at the end of previous dungeons) returned to town.

They spent the next Ten-Day training with the guards and learning how to put their experience gained to use. Poor weather and close quarters spread illness around the town, though everyone was feeling their best when a message arrived from Baron Volk.

He requested the adventurers’ assistance when he learned of their skills and the plight of his people. Governor Gleamsilver gives them 3 vials of Holy Water, which should prove useful against the undead, and sends them on their way.

For the day, the party earned 250XP for the Assayer’s Office and Guardroom, 500XP for the great Cavern, and 525XP for the Fungus Garden encounters. They have a total of 5765XP, are officially Level 4 and at full health, HD, and Spell Slots, and are only 735 XP from achieving Level 5.

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Hammerfast Day 2 Conclusion
Session 9

The Party headed to the blacksmith, where a group of Zombies and Skeleton Archers gave them trouble. Tathadir nearly traveled the long road to the Shadowfell before being revived by his companions.

Before they could really catch their breath, Dain the Dwarf called for their help to hold the town gate. A Siege Zombie lumbered there, battering ram in hand, to break into the gates. However, the party wisely blocked the gate with a pair of wagons to slow the beast’s progress. Cowyrd, Roam, and Tath ran atop the gatehouse to rain death from above, and took down the behemoth as it finally broke the gate. A pair of Brutes scaled the wall as Galahad reached its top. Skeleton Archers rain more arrows down upon the party at the top of the wall, though they have the high ground, impeding the archers’ abilities. As party members fall left and right, brought back by the few healing reserves the group has available, they successfully repel the invaders. Too tired to liberate the granary, the party retreats to the keep.

You earned 1000XP for the day. 250 for the Blacksmith, 500 for protecting the wall, and 250 for clearing Hammerfast of the undead.

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Hammerfast Day 2
Session 8

Cowyrd tells his companions about a disturbing dream wherein needles stitch together bits of flesh while a dragon’s eyes watch on. Tath, the newest companion, suggests it’s a revelation of how to activate Sewing Needle. “Thaqab,” Cowyrd says lazily, bringing the blade to life.

Mayor Gleamsilver sent the party to clean up the town after outfitting them with new armor as was available. They decided to first ensure a safe water supply for the group. Arriving at the cistern, they see two ogre zombies milling about, as well as a group of skeletal archers. Tath executes a daring plan to lure them away from the cistern so the group can attack. A volley of arrows cuts the air toward him, but he nimbly dodges. The party wastes no time before attacking. While they engage the undead, a Half-Vampire unleashes a frost ray at Nobb before retreating back into the cistern.

The party continues to fight as more of the Half-Vampires and their undead Thralls pour out from the cistern. Before long, Nobb and Gallahad turn the undead, most of which flee before them. It doesn’t take long for the archers and Ogres to fall, but not before Roam is nearly killed by an Ogre. The party rests briefly before Roam sends his owl to check the status of the cistern. Seeing a dozen undead below, the party decides to form a shield wall and take them on two at a time. The Half-Vampires engage the party this way, and soon fall, but not before one manages a solid bite to drain some of Gallahad’s life-force away. The group pushes on down the ramp, Tath breaking ahead in folly; he is clawed brutally by the Thralls. Soon the party is victorious, and continues their journey to the smithy to secure weapons and armor for the rest of the Dwarves.

For the Session, everyone earned 500XP for securing the Cistern and 125XP for acquiring the full power of Sewing Needle. Total XP is 3465. With 10 days training, the group will gain Level 4, with only 3035 needed for 5th.

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Hammerfast Day 1 Conclusion
Session 7

The party entered the chapel where ghouls took the body of their slain companion, Mesh. A pair of ghouls, along with a Will-o’-Wisp gave the party trouble. From the shadows, an Elf lept down to help them kill the undead. He introduced himself as Tathadir, the nimble staff-wielding monk. Happy for more help, the party set off back from whence they came to continue clearing the undead from the streets.

They come across a family of dwarves trying to escape from a pack of Zombie Brutes. Tathadir cleverly hid himself among the falling snow while Gallahad rushed up to protect the family from the beasts. Gallahad then Turned more than half the pack, but was not able to prevent one of the brutes from breaking away toward the family. Nobb, however, bravely put himself in the brute’s path and gave the family time to escape. Cowyrd, sluggish under the weight of Sewing Needle’s influence, fires arrows from the back of the group and is assisted by Roam (when he’s not carving undead flesh with his Fangs). The party makes short work of the remaining brute and, at the behest of the Father Dwarf, veers of the path toward safety to clear the family’s home of undead.

A pack of ghouls await them in the family home, but Nobb’s Turning and good teamwork make short work of the horde. They find, among the rubble, a tome that may contain the information they need to truly activate Sewing Needle and continue toward the safety of the keep.

Tathadir, adept at the art of Stealth, helps the party (and dwarf family) Pass Without Trace to make their way across a Zombie-riddled marketplace to the edge of the Keep. They are nearly through when a Zombie Brute stumbles into their path. It doesn’t take long for the Shambling Hordes to encircle the party and one of the Dwarf children would have been killed were it not for Gallahad’s Protection. More Turns send zombies fleeing and breaks the lines long enough for the family to enter the Courtyard. The party fights their way into the safety of the keep, but not before the Hordes bring Nobb to the ground. Gallahad valiantly brings him back from the brink before throwing him in the courtyard and slamming shut one of the heavy doors while receiving a multitude of blows from the encroaching hordes. Roam fires arrows down on the zombies from the wall while Cowyrd fires through the opening his own volleys. Tathadir blocks the open door to hold of the rest of the creatures until the party successfully destroys the final undead.

Once inside the keep, the Mayor implores them for help to clear the town of the remaining undead and close the Portal in the Diamond Mines to finally keep the town safe. They have earned a good night’s sleep and will have the opportunity tomorrow to take back the town.

The Party earned 775 XP for the day (Surviving the Hordes 250, Haunted Chapel 25, Saving the Dwarves 250, Clearing the Dankil Home 250) . They are ready (when time allows) to hit level 4.

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