This was a one-shot adventure run by Steve (with his character acting as an NPC) so Bob could have O’Dell revisit the Goblin Stompers for a little flash-from-the-past fun.
It had been almost 2 years since our heroes escaped Yemglav’s clutches when, for mysteriously coincidental reasons, they were drawn together once more.
Raven had been searching for a more refined set of smoked glasses to help her both cope with her new found sensitivity to light and to mask her glowing green eyes from those who might be looking for her. It’s never good to stand out when you’re a member of the Harpers.
O’Dell had been fighting drow elves to retake what was rightfully his clan’s – a place he again wanted to call home. But that effort was far from complete and darkness clung to him and weighed on his shoulders, his skin turning pale. Even his mount reflected his time far from the surface and sunlight, a basilisk with 8 legs and a stare that can turn foes to stone.
Was he becoming what he so hated? His thirst for revenge seemed unquenchable. Inner peace had not been found. Perhaps it was time for a short distraction?
After some contemplation and divine guidance, he decided to take on a mission from the Lord’s Alliance. It wasn’t the best of timing, but he was uniquely qualified for the task – reestablishing ties to Bruenor Battlehammer who had retaken Gauntlgrym.
Bruenor had spent most of his time in Icewind Dale, far to the north, leading a search for Gauntlgrym, so O’Dell had only a few run-ins with Bruenor – mostly during O’Dell’s youth. It wasn’t until later in O’Dell’s life that he first learned that Bruenor had fallen and, about 10 years on, was subsequently reincarnated.
Bruenor eventually found Gauntlgrym, but he could find no one to aid him in retaking the place – it seems there was a dragon cult causing problems for many cities along the sword coast at the time, so his outreach efforts fell on deaf ears.
With the aid of his closest friends, Bruenor was able to retake Gauntlgrym and now looks disapprovingly on establishing relations with those who spurned him in his time of need.
O’Dell’s similar past of being driven from his home and subsequent attempts to reclaim it from the same foes made him uniquely qualified to reach out to Bruenor.
But it was when O’Dell learned that he would again be working with some of his old friends from the Goblin Stompers that he knew this was too good to pass up. Those in the Lord’s Alliance knew how to pull O’Dell’s strings.
The Lord’s Alliance was growing nervous that Bruenor would restart the Gantlgrym mines and the cities along the Sword Coast like Waterdeep and Neverwinter would lose out on the resulting middleman trade.
Klang, financial leader of the Goblin Stompers, had been working hard to develop relationships with leaders all along the coast, setting up connections and understandings between religions, and strengthening the Order of the Gauntlet. For this, he had come into possession of a truly rare artifact – a talisman of pure good.
Being heavily indebted to Connerad Brawnanvil of the Lord’s Alliance for having him apologize for slaying a silver dragon at a dragonmoot, Klang agreed to enlist the aid of his fellow Goblin Stompers to also aid in establishing ties to Bruenor and Gauntlgrym.
Some were willing and others not. Caesare and Rolen opted out – something about getting stuck in snow. Sounded like a weak cover for Zhentarim business, particularly since one underground entrance to Gauntlgrym was only a week’s travel from Neverwinter. Valin and Raven were in. Orik took some more convincing as his tribe was encountering some challenges, but eventually came around.
Knowing they could use a spell caster, they asked around and came up with one of the local magic item peddlars – one Paelius from Cragmaw Keep. Hmm…that sounded distantly familiar…oh yeah, he sold them magic stuff last time we had been together. They also ran into him after that swampy Medusa and were-tiger fiasco. He had teleported the Goblin Stompers to Waterdeep at the behest of the Waterdeep Council so they could be put on the trail of the dragon cultists.
While the Lord’s alliance arranged for horses, they weren’t as inclined to provide healing potions. So Klang tapped the Goblin Stomper’s coffers to ensure everyone was outfitted with 3 potions of greater healing…just in case they were separated.
Traveling by horse helped speed them along, but they still needed to stop occasionally. It was on one of these stops that O’Dell rejoined them. At first, he was a bit distant, almost dark in nature. After a few hours and good drink, he started to warm up to his old comrades. They could see the effects of his chosen path on his health and well being. It seemed he needed a break and some company, and they were willing to give it to him.
That night, O’Dell filled them in on the history of Gantlgrym, how it started as a dwarven mine and, at the urging of humans, became a city with ample trade. It was then lost to denizens of the Underdark. Only after Bruenor’s reincarnation was the place retaken.
It was the next night where they were ambushed by a drow raiding party, including a Quaggoth. O’Dell, knowing their tactics well, quickly dispatched the drow mage first. The others soon felt the sting of Goblin Stompers reunited, being sent to their demon queen in short order.
They manged to keep one alive for questioning. It seems they were on the hunt for magic items, which were aplenty among our heroes. Their plan was to amass a treasure hoarde that would facilitate brining Lolth to the prime materials plane. Why does that sound so familiar?
Their party had thus far mostly “harvested” some magical staves and axes, mostly from Gauntlgrym’s surroundings and travelers.
Searching the lone survivor, they found only 5 platinum on his person.
Paelius found a spell book on the drow mage’s body. O’Dell was insistent that it be destroyed, but Paelius promised to return it to O’Dell once he was done taking notes from it. That seemed to mollify O’Dell for the moment.
Searching the rest of the bodies turned up 700 gold, 35 platinum, and little else of note. When asked about these magical items, he said they had been taken back to their base camp, but that’s where his compliance (and life) ended.
Their drow party’s tracks led in the direction of Gauntlgrym, not a good sign. Following the tracks immediately, just in case one escaped, they followed them back to a cave entrance. Knowing better than to tread at night into a known drow hole, they erected Leomund’s hut and rested. Hunting drow during the day was a much better option than night, even if it was underground.
After their rest, they partook of a heroes feast, and Klang applied a death ward to himself. Then it was into the cave. They were immediately set upon by 5 driders – half drow, half spider. Despite using a wall of force and flame, it still took a long time to kill these vermin.
Knowing the drow to ticksters, O’Dell had them search for magic and used true seeing to survey their surroundings. They came upon a secret door and used it. A tunnel lead for a few dozen feet before opening into a room with another Quaggoth, 2 drow priestesses, and some spiders. This was less of a challenge than the ambush, yet turned up a jackpot of magical items!
- Robes of the Magi and Staff of the Magi – assigned to Paelius
- Book of Exalted Deeds (requires attunement, proficient in 1 skill, resist 1 damage type, ability score up 2 w/max of 24, 1d6 HP at start of turn, wisdom goes up 2, any spell slot expended counts as one spell slot of 1 level higher, halo on as bonus action that casts bright light for 10ft and dim for another 10ft that provides advantage on persuasion of good creatures and intimidation of evil creatures and disadvantage on attacks by fiends and undead against you) – assigned to Klang
- The Cresent Blade (of Eilistraee fame, etched with “Be your heart filled with light and your cause be true; I shall not fail you.”, protection from evil, haste, spouts crimson fire when wielded) – assigned to Raven
- Twin battle axes (require attunement, 1d6 HP at start of turn, eat 6x more, named “Might” and “Chaos” which are glory and destruction seeking respectively, constantly bicker in wielder’s mind causing disadvantage on intelligence checks, is chaotic neutral by nature, has dwarven thrower trait in that it returns magically to thrower Thor-style, and provides wielder with storm giant strength) – assigned to Orik
- Axe of the Dwarvish Lords (requires attunement, dwarves gain immunity to poison damage, darkvision increases by 60ft, proficiency with blacksmithing/brewing/stonemasonry, conjure elemental once per day, teleport by touching the axe to dwarven stonework with no risk of error if destination is underground every 3 days) – assigned to O’Dell
It seemed Steve was bulking up the party to make up for Paul’s scrooge-like rewards and/or for some future onslaught of evil. Either way, it was a little “over-the-top” fun.
After oogling the items and verifying they were no illusion, they were set upon by more drow troops. A lightning bolt, a delayed fireball, and guardian of faith spells put a damper on that incursion.
Returning their attention to the horde of magical artifacts, they each explored items that suited them…carefully stowing them away for future use. It didn’t take long and they were heading for the exit. Suddenly, the world disappeared and they stood before a deity-like being who was handsome to a fault.
“I’m Asmodeus and I have a proposition for you…”
With everyone but O’Dell having flashbacks to Yemglav, they all immediately declined, not even wanting to know what he was offering. O’Dell just followed suit, not fully understanding what was happening.
The magnificent being looked hard at those before him, his eyes slowly growing bright red as his body transformed into it’s less handsome and more natural form…which set the Goblin Stompers on their guard. With his true nature and appearance revealed, they were glad they didn’t even consider this devil’s bargain.
Brandishing his fiery weapon in their direction, he spoke again, “So be it mortals. You may live to regret it.” Then they were once again back in the drow treasure room as if nothing had happened.
Not quite sure what just happened, they quickly made their way out of the drow base camp and back into the forest, towards the road where they felt slightly less in peril, and then back to their camp site where the dead drow party still lay.
Stoking the fire, they tossed on the drow bodies, waited for them to thoroughly burn while each tried to get a handle on their fear of what just happened. Maybe the price for those magic items was a little higher than they realized?
Paelius, wanting to put some distance between this place, offered to teleport them to Cragmaw Castle, which everyone readily accepted. There they rested and ruminated over what had befallen them that night. Once they’re nerves were intact a few hours later, they returned to their camp site and continued on to Gauntlgrym. There were no further attacks or ambushes. Just the quiet of a trail and the familiar sounds of horses traveling on it.
Reaching Gauntlgrym, they were offered an opportunity to stay, but with their nerves rattled, most were non-committal in accepting it. O’Dell made his pitch to Bruenor with Klang’s support for developing relations with the nearby cities. Bruenor was a shrewed negotiator and was equally non-committal about his future plans for trade and said he would consider the offer to establish ties to the northern cities of the Sword Coast. That was about as good as they could expect.
O’Dell felt good to be surrounded by hearty dwarves again. Valin and Klang were happy to share their old friend’s company, to see the life restored to his face and the weight lifted from him, even if it was only for a short while.
The DM originally promoted the characters to 17th level, but that was subsequently retracted the following day when it was learned that was not necessary.