The Zone of Adventure: Bonds and Balance

Goldcliff Part 2
At the Hammerhead HeadQ

In order to acquire the Hammerheads' arcane core to power Hurley's battlewagon, our heroes split up to find out more information about the Hammerheads.

Leucis looked for the seediest pub in town, and he found himself at the Rusty Hook. Inside, he found plenty of disreputable patrons, including a group of friends singing "The Orcs March Down to Neverwinter." Leucis joined in their song, encouraging them to sing with more gusto, and then leading them through the call-and response parts. He bought the table a round, and then asked them what was going on in the city.

A half-orc in the group told Leucis about the next race, which would be held in a few days. Pretending to be a gambler looking for the best bets, Leucis asked the half-orc about his favorite racers. The half-orc mentioned that the Velociraptors were his original favorites, but lately the Raven had been very impressive. Leucis asked about the other racers, and he got a list of team names: Hammerheads, Gerbils, Dolphins, Octopi, Crickets, Boars…

Leucis asked for more information about the Hammerheads and learned the location of their base. He headed out to investigate.

Meanwhile, Xander's search for a goth club led him to Sanctuary, with Bitey chained to his belt and bobbing along behind him. Xander walked up to the bar and challenged any Hammerheads in attendance to a drinking contest. One nervous Hammerhead approached, and Xander had the bartender pour them both potent portions of a smoking black brew. Unbeknownst to the Hammerhead, Xander was drinking out of a Tankard of Sobriety. Soon the Hammerhead was roaring drunk, while Xander remained stone-cold sober. Worried that the Hammerhead would pass out before he could take his new drinking buddy to his headquarters, Xander swapped tankards with him for the last drink. With the drinks finished, the thoroughly smashed Hammerhead led Xander on a wobbly path to his headquarters.

Stick asked Hurley where the Hammerhead headquarters was located. Hurley told him, and he headed out.

Xander arrived with his drinking buddy, while Leucis and Stick hid nearby in the shadows. Xander's buddy, whose name turned out to be Little Jerry, talked to the person at the gate, Smelter. Xander introduced himself as Nighthawk, a fan of the Hammerheads, and explained that Little Jerry had promised he could hang out with them. Smelter gave Little Jerry a hard time about being late to guard duty.

Xander used Prestidigitation to fake the sounds of nearby city guards preparing to invade the Hammerheads. He talked the Hammerheads into going to warn their boss, Marvy, while Xander and his friends watched the gate. The Hammerheads wanted to leave another member, Regular Jerry, with Xander, but Xander convinced them that he knew Marvy and it would be fine to leave them alone at the gate, saying, "We used to drink together when we were six." The Hammerheads believed this completely plausible story and left to get their boss.

Leucis sent Francis to scout the compound. Francis discovered three main buildings beyond the gatehouse: a barracks, a large garage/workshop, and a smaller garage with no windows.

Stick flipped the gate switch from Closed to Open, and the gate opened. He also stole a key from the desk.

Leucis created a Minor Illusion of a police paddywagon waiting outside. At Leucis's suggestion, Xander created the sound of a police officer calling inside and telling the Hammerheads to come out. Four Hammerheads emerged from one of the compound buildings: Little Jerry, Regular Jerry, Smelter, and a fourth one (whom I assume was Marvy, but I don't know if that was ever confirmed). The fourth Hammerhead had a brief back-and-forth with the illusory voice about whether the Hammerheads had broken any laws before Leucis cast Puppet on the Hammerhead and had him lead an attack toward the illusory police, while the police voiced called a charge. Four more Hammerheads appeared and joined their friends in rushing outside.

Once they were through the gate, Leucis closed the gate behind them, then destroyed the gate mechanism with an Eldritch Blast. He next cast Darkness on the gate to interfere with the Hammerheads trying to get back inside. Stick, meanwhile, cast Pass Without a Trace on the group so that they could sneak into the compound.

Stick sneaked over to the smaller garage. Finding the door padlocked, he tried the key from the gatehouse in the lock, but it did not work. Leucis used his magical slingshot Hole Thrower to create a small hole in the door. Stick, with eagerness that showed how much he had been looking for and opportunity to do this, crawled into his Bag of Holding and had Leucis push the bag through the hole in the door and pull Stick out the other side.

Francis reported back from a scouting flight that there were more Hammerheads asleep in the barracks. The remaining building had a damaged, half-disassembled battlewagon inside.

Xander, hearing about the remaining Hammerheads, summoned his Eldritch Rapier in the form of a pointy sigil.

Stick explored the windowless garage, finding it stocked with tools and storage containers. Most of the central space was taken up by a hammerhead-shaped battlewagon. The vehicle was armed with two cannons, a toothy circular sander, and a grappling hook. When Stick couldn't figure out how to pop the hood to check for an arcane core, he climbed into the driver's seat and threw the various levers and pulled the various handles. Nothing happened, so he exited via the bag/hole trick.

Leucis entered the workshop, where he dug through some paperwork and found a key. He found a locked package in a cabinet and opened it with the key. Inside were two glowing blue spheres. He returned to the smaller garage, where Stick and Xander, in a moment of confusion, had both climbed into the Bag of Holding. Leucis picked up the bag, looked through the hole, and cast Misty Step, teleporting into the garage before pulling Stick and Xander out of the bag.

Xander installed one of the cores under the hood of the shark-shaped battlewagon. Stick started pulling levers again, and this time the grappling hook started flailing while the tooth-studded sander spun one way, then the other. Xander took over in the driver seat, and Stick and Leucis manned the turrets. Xander floored it, and the battlewagon busted through the garage door.

Leucis fired a warning shot, and the Hammerheads at the gate fled just before the battlewagon smashed a hole in the fence. Xander cast an illusory hand flipping off the Hammerhead leader as they made their getaway.

Hurley was surprised to see our heroes return in a stolen battlewagon, since all they needed was a core. Leucis tossed her the other core, pointing out that they did get a core, as well as a fully powered battlewagon. Hurley agreed to overlook the Grand Theft Wagon, which Leucis declared to be his favorite game series.

Hurley's battlewagon, which stood waiting for its new core, had six tailpipes, a muscle car body, a driver seat and a passenger seat, a hole in the roof for the grappling gunner to stand, rails around the roof for someone to be tied on, and ram's horns on the front.

Hurley explained that she had hoped they would all be in her car. She had even spoken to Captain Captain Bane and had masks made to match their personalities:

Stick, being sneaky, independent, and bitey (he dropped the wrench he had been gnawing), got a cat mask.

Leucis, being bombastic, theatrical, and charismatic, got a rooster mask.

Xander, being silent, mysterious, and secretive, prone to putting those secrets to use before disappearing, got an owl mask.

They all put on their new masks while Hurley put on her ram mask and decided to prepare for the race. She handed them each letterman jackets to wear over their magical harnesses which would bubble them in the case of an accident. Hurley explained that there were pylons along the length of the racetrack, which broadcast the race to the pubs and taverns of Goldcliff while also zapping any non-registered participants who tried to enter the course.

They decided on their roles for the race: Stick would be strapped to the roof to fight off anyone trying to jump on their wagon. Xander would use a magical wrench with four gems containing Repair spells to keep the wagon repaired. Leucis would start the race in the hammerhead car, using Mage Hand to fire the weapons, before casting Misty Step if and when necessary to join his companions in Hurley's wagon.

Our heroes next had a montage of moving one of the cannons from the sharkwagon to the ramwagon: they sawed off the cannon, swung it over with a crane, dropped it, laughed, ordered pizza, ate the pizza, and finished installing the cannon.

Leucis revealed that he had only ever piloted a watercraft in Waterdeep, so he would need driving lessons. This set off a montage of Xander teaching Leucis how to drive: tentative starts in an Olive Garden parking lot, repeated acceleration and deceleration as they made their way down the street while Leucis fought with the gears, pulling into a drive-thru and ordering a huge amount of food, paying and zooming away so that the food flew all over them, then eating the food off the seats floor, and dashboard.

The next day, they drove to a pre-appointed spot in the desert, where two huge crates lay. They drove one wagon into each of the crates, which closed up. Over the next few minutes, they heard and felt the crates get moved to a new location. A horn sounded, and Hurley told them to get ready.

A second horn sounded, and the crate's gates fell open with thuds.

A third horn sounded. The race had begun!

Will our heroes bring the blue sparks?
Will Leucis remember which pedals do what, and will he care?
Will Xander give her all she's got, cap'n, but he's not a miracle worker? (Wait, maybe technically he is)
Will Stick's tongue flap from his mouth like a dog sticking its head out a car window?
And most importantly… do these battlewagons even have seatbelts?

Find out next time on… the Zone of Adventure!

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Goldcliff, Part 1

Our heroes were tasked with traveling to Goldcliff, a financial seat of power. There, a criminal known as the Raven had gotten her hands on a Grand Relic known as the Gaia Sash, which granted her powers over nature. Our heroes were told to contact Captain Bane of the Goldcliff Militia, an undercover Seeker for the Bureau of Balance.

As our heroes approached the city, they saw that it was nestled in a picturesque spot where a river branched into two before going over a cliff in two magnificent waterfalls. Nearby, a motley collection of vehicles kicked up a cloud of dust as the vehicles raced each other.

Our heroes landed in Goldcliff and were drawn to a commotion nearby, where the impressive Goldcliff Trust Headquarters building was being quickly overgrown with vines. A crowd of onlookers and militia gathered in front of the building. There, our heroes met Captain Bane, who informed them that the Raven was seen entering the building.

Leucis blasted a hole in the vines with his feathery magic, and our heroes ducked inside before the vines can closed up again. Inside, they faced an animated, talking tree growing out of an ornamental pool in the building's lobby. In the ensuing fight, Leucis impressively crashed through the barrier between the lobby and the teller's area, where, with the help of Francis, he found a magical keycard. Once the tree and some animated vines were defeated, Leucis placed a burned branch from the tree onto his creepy book and asked where the Raven is. The branch dissolved into the book, and Leucis opened it to reveal the answer written in sap: "Pretty sure she went upstairs."

The heroes used Leucis's key to access the staircase, which they climbed to the Vault above. Inside the vault, they found the Raven wearing her cool raven mask and hovering over a pile of loot. The Raven tried to convince our heroes not to interfere, insisting that she had no real interest in robbing the bank, only in testing the extent of her powers. In fact, she seemed confused as to our heroes' appearance, and earnestly entreated them to leave, almost as though she was concerned for them. Xander provoked the Raven by calling her magic weak, and she attacked with a mighty gust of wind and blue fiery magic. Our heroes fought back, including a moment where Leucis, still in action hero mode from earlier, teleported above the Raven and attacked her as he fell.

The fight ended when the room's window broke as a halfling wearing martial arts gear jumped through. She shouted to the Raven, "Sloan! You're not a killer!" The Raven turned into a gray cloud and wisped away.

The halfling introduced herself as Lt. Hurley of the Goldcliff Militia. Though she initially played coy about who 'Sloan' was, she eventually had to admit that Sloan was the Raven's real name. Our heroes each deftly pocketed a little loot on the way out.

Once outside, they walked and talk with Hurley, who told them about the races. The city's citizens were obsessed with the racers and their vehicles, sponsoring vehicles and betting on the outcome. Because the races were technically illegal, the competitors all wore masks. Hurley used to race with Sloan, and Hurley wore a ram's mask to go with Sloan's raven mask. Over time, something changed about Sloan, and she got less interested in the racing part and more into the violence. Eventually, there was an accident, and not even the magical safety harnesses worn by the racers prevented two competitors from dying. When Hurley next spoke to Sloan, Sloan seemed frightened of herself. At other times, though, Sloan was different, cruel and proud.

Hurley explained that Sloan seemed obsessed with discovering if there was anyone out there as powerful as she was. Hurley suggested that the races seemed like a good way to demonstrate that the heroes were Sloan's equal. Hurley still had her old vehicle, but it needed a new arcane core to power it. Xander asked about the core and learned that a rival gang, the Hammerheads, just received a shipment of racer parts, including an arcane core.

Leucis told Hurley that he hoped they can save Sloan. Xander added that an artifact once nearly corrupted his mind, too, before laughing maniacally.

Our heroes prepared to face the Hammerheads for their arcane core.

What challenges will the Hammerheads present?
What masks will our heroes choose for their racer-sonas?
Who among our heroes will be witnessed, and who will witness them?

Find out next time on… the Zone of Adventure!

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Thunderlock Bar Crawl, Part 3
You used to call me on my spell stone

Stick looked around the pub and saw several groups of adventurous-looking people watching Xander and Leucis preparing to face the faces. He asked around and got their names and what they were interested in.

At the first table sat Cariona Drampuk, a blue dragonborn in tattered clothing. A bit of a statistics nut, she scribbled obsessively in a notebook.

A scarred dwarf, Yarditrud Marblebasher, sat at the second table. She looked a bit worried, as she had wagered on the Outcast Trio succeeding in the dungeon.

The third table was occupied by Bartleman Cahuenga, a bald, tattooed, human ranger, and his date, Galan Miradi, an elf with medium-gray skin, dreadlocks, and facial piercings. Bartleman was a fan of the crawl, so he was explaining it to Galan. It was Galan's first time watching the crawl, but he seemed to be enjoying it.

The people at the fourth table were laughing uproariously as Stick arrived. Enorok Coilbone, a tiefling in loose-fitting exercise clothes, and Jensley Patterson, a purple-haired human in embroidered purple robes, had bet against the Outcast Trio, and they now celebrated Stick's failure.

Avi, Robbie, and Killian sat at the fifth table.

Stick spoke to Enorok and Jensley first, asking why they were laughing so heartily. When Stick learned that they had bet against the Outcast Trio, he asked about what other traps the dungeon held and learned that there were no more traps, only challenges. Stick next spoke to Cariona, the blue dragonborn statistician. Under the pretense of learning which faces were statistically the most deadly, he discovered the magical ability of each face.

Stick sat down, drinking his drink while playing on his stone. He noticed that Murploc and Famous looked nervous when Stick held his stone as though he would call someone, but they did not mind if he played around on it. While keeping an eye on Murploc and Famous, Stick sent a pair of text messages to his friends:

blue frost white sleep green hold yellow laugh brown grease ps this is stik

no more trps in dunj only chalenjes ps this still stik

Leucis wrote back:

nice dude, thanks for the rad info

The faces in the room looked like they had been carved of wood. The blue one was winking, the white face looked sleepy, the green face squinted, the yellow face was smiling, and the brown face had a furrowed brow.

Xander entered the room first. The brown face immediately barfed up a wide greasy area on the ground. Who is to say whether the two were related?

Leucis created an impromptu song/limerick for the occasion:

> Five wooden faces of yore
> The white one appears to be bored
> The blue is a trickster
> But the brown might have some blisters
> and the Green and Yellow I do simply adore

The green face, unimpressed by Leucis's rhyme scheme, tried to cast Hold Person on him, but failed. The white face then tried to put the two to sleep, and partly succeeded: Leucis nodded off, but Xander, as an elf, was immune to sleep.

Xander tried pulling the lever in the room with his Mage Hand, but failed.

Francis awakened Leucis, and the battle was joined!

The faces blasted our heroes with their various abilities. Xander summoned a mighty Thunder Wave, catching several wooden faces in its blast and damaging them badly.

Stick, meanwhile, talked to Yarditrud, the scarred dwarf who had bet on the heroes. Yarditrud told Stick about the last room the heroes would face before Yarditrud would learn whether her gold had been misplaced. Stick sent the info to his friends:

finl room ful o rats
rndm dor leedz out, got 2 find which 1

Xander's magical blade, thirsty for the splintery blood (I guess?!) of the faces, attacked them and damaged one.

Stick eavesdropped on Bartleman and Galan's date and learned that the heroes didn't have to destroy all the faces, only pull the lever. He sent his friends,

dont need 2 destroy masks 2 cntinu, just pull lever
i stil hav a key, dont kno wut it dos, snd bird 2 retreev?
pps this still stik

Leucis sent Francis back to Stick for the key before suddenly finding the strange expression on the yellow face hilarious. Xander, questioning Leucis's sense of humor, pulled the lever 1/3 of the way.

Leucis shook off the hilarity of the situation, played a little ditty on his lyre to pep himself up, and pulled the lever to the 2/3 position. The faces continued to pepper our heroes with various spells, reducing their health and complicating their efforts. Finally, Xander mage handed the lever once more, and there was a cacophony of grinding, clicking, and booming.

Francis arrived in the pub. Stick gave the key to the raven, utterly failing to be subtle about it. The nearby patrons didn't seem to mind, though, so Stick bought them a drink to thank them for being cool.

The heroes fled the room and discovered that the heavy iron door in the main room had opened! They took the stairs down, which were lit with green-flamed torches. In a flutter of feathers, Francis arrived, holding the key in his beak.

The last room held a box-like device with tubes, gears, lights, and wires all over it. While Xander and Leucis watched with fascination and/or horror, the box spat up a wad of furry goo, which wriggled and squirmed until it became several giant rats. Seven doors stood at the far end of the room, with three locks each.

As the box continued to spew more ratwads, Xander fought the rats while Leucis blasted the box with magic. Francis helped with the rats, though he occasionally got distracted by some shiny rat intestines on a rat he had already killed. Stick cheered his teammates on via messages on their stones, though his messages grew increasingly inarticulate as the lightweight goblin drank one and a half ales.

The ratbox grew increasingly unstable as Leucis hammered it with magic and blows. When Xander had breathing space from surgically slicing rats with signature skill, he aided with his own attacks on the box. The box clattered and rattled alarmingly before finally exploding.

Leucis, Xander, and Francis dispatched the remaining rats before starting to open the doors with the key. One of the doors sprayed them with foul-smelling musk, but in the end, they opened the door that led back to the tavern.

The tavern's occupants cheered for the heroes, then groaned when they caught the stench. Murploc and Famous congratulated the heroes and invited them to write their name on the list of winners. Xander did the honors, taking out his adamantine dagger and carving:

OUTCAST TRIO 4 EVER

After a night of celebration (free drinks!), our heroes rode the sphere back to the Moon Base with Robbie, Killian, and Avi. Fortunately, someone figured out a way to roll down the 'windows' to let in some air and let out some of the stink….

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Thunderlock Bar Crawl, Part 2
Electric Bar-galoo

When last we left our heroes, they were in the practice dungeon under the Thunderlock Bar, facing puzzles and traps designed to put would-be adventurers to the test. Xander and Leucis were fighting flying skulls in a skullbrary, while Stick tried opening chests in another room. Within the bar, the heroes’ companions from the Moon Base wondered why the heroes had not yet used their new weapons. After all, hadn’t they recently acquired three new items from the Fantasy Gatchapon? (At this point, we got a quick flashback of our heroes acquiring those items from the Fantasy Gatchapon.)

Xander and Leucis ignored the remaining skull and the clouds of skull-dust to focus on the lever. They both pulled on the handle got it all the way to the right, and were rewarded with a grinding noise elsewhere in the dungeon. As an added bonus, the remaining skull and skull-dust fell to the ground, lifeless.

Meanwhile, Stick got out his lockpicks and followed Xander’s advice to try picking the locks. After trying a few tools in the electrum chest’s lock, there was a satisfying click from the chest’s lid. Stick opened the chest, found a handle inside, and yanked it all the way to the right. He heard more grinding.

The heroes checked the metal-and-stone door and discovered that two of its bolts were now open.

Curious what else lay in the dungeon, Xander blasted the wooden door on the right with a spell, charring it but not destroying it

Leucis got into the spirit of things and hit the wooden door on the left with a critical blast of his own. His spell hit with such power that it not only destroyed the door, but an errant tendril of power hit Xander’s already-damaged door and split it, too.

The door on the left opened on a corridor with a new danger: a gauntlet of constant darts and arrows. Down the corridor was a closed door, with another door across the corridor from it.

The door on the right, conversely, turned out to be a fake, with a wall behind it.

Leucis shot his new slingshot ‘Hole-thrower’ at the metal and stone door. A magical hole opened through the stone, but with a diameter too small to pass through. Peering through, Leucis discerned a stairway leading down

Xander stepped into the corridor and cast Misty Step, disappearing and reappearing at the door at the end of the corridor. The door turned out to be locked, so Leucis tossed him a spoon, and he tried and failed to open the lock.

Mere moments later, Xander found himself under fire from darts and arrows. He dodged some of the darts but got hit a little, and was hit by a blunt arrow as well.

Leucis called through the hole down the corridor, insulting anyone who might be lurking down there to try to provoke them to come up

Xander tried the spoon in the lock again and successfully opened the lock.

The door opened on room with a glowing floor, with a walkway encircling the entire room. Four sets of two swords each hung on the walls, two sets pointing up and two down. On the other side of the room were two levers.

Xander took more hits from darts and blunted arrows. A sword lifted itself from the wall and attacked the walkway, damaging it but not destroying it. Another sword lifted and attacked Xander, slicing him.

Leucis came into the hallway and cast Shatter. One sword broke to pieces immediately, five more nearly broke, and the others also looked chipped and pitted from the blast.

Now that he was in the corridor outside the new room, Leucis also started taking fire, but he danced around the arrows with amazing moves. A moment later, several more swords broke to pieces.

Stick ran through the gauntlet of arrows and darts into the newly-opened room to join his companions in the fight against the swords.

Xander hurried into the room preferring enchanted swords to hails of darts and arrows. He dodged an attack by a sword, made it to the other end of the room, and yanked on one of the levers

The swords attacked, some attacking our heroes, others the walkway.

Leucis cast Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, hoping that the swords had a high enough intelligence and a sense of humor. They did not.

Stick engaged the swords with his own swords, pausing only for a moment to wonder how the sword he was trying to hit with his sword blocked his attack on itself with itself.

Xander slung more spells at the swords, further damaging them with crackling bursts of eldritch energy.

Leucis took some more hits from crossbow bolts. Though each was blunted, they were starting to pile on the bruises.

The swords attacked the walkway, managing to cut through a section between Stick and Xander. The section of walkway tumbled down and disappeared into the shimmering floor, with the ragged edges of the surviving walkway hanging precariously over the fall.

Stick destroyed the sword threatening Leucis, who took the opportunity to enter the room to get away from the crossbow bolts and give himself a healing pep talk.

Xander fired another agonizing blast at the sword that had cut through part of the walkway, destroying it.

Leucis eldritch bolted the last sword, taking a significant amount off its resale value.

Stick laid his clawed hands on Leucis, healing him further, then tried to get over the damaged walkway. He trusted in his sense of balance to get him safely across, but he stumbled and, before he could catch himself, he fell into the green floor. A moment later, Robbie, Killian, and Avi sat up in surprise as Stick appeared in bar.

Killian and Avi greeted Stick, but Robbie hesitated. Robbie had grown used to seeing Stick acting cautious around the Moon Base, and had come to think of Stick as shy. Even Stick’s occasional threats were starting to feel benign, like the goblin just had a strange and uncomfortable sense of humor. But for just a moment after Stick arrived in the pub, the goblin had been disoriented and on alert, and Robbie had seen a different side of him. Stick’s heart must have been pumping hard, sending sharp adrenaline surging through his lean form, because his eyes were wide, teeth bared, and his pose coiled to strike.

As Killian and Avi invited Stick to get a drink, Robbie felt a crawling sensation of fear along his skin. Perhaps Stick’s threats were not so humorous after all….

Stick settled down for a drink and watched his companions back in the dungeon. Xander hauled the lever on the right, managing to move it.

The remaining sword destroyed another piece of walkway before Leucis eldritch blasted it to pieces. For some reason, that sword had guts, which splattered everywhere, much to the delight of the bar patrons.

Murploc and Famous explained to Stick that it was over for him. He could watch, but would not be allowed back into the dungeon. Stick gave them a stony-faced look in response.

Xander tried to move the left lever, but it didn’t budge until Leucis used his Mage Hand. The lever finally moved, and when it did, all of the walkways disappeared simultaneously. Xander cast Fly, stopping his descent in mid-air, while Leucis managed to grab onto the broken remains of the edge of the walkway

The two heroes returned to the gauntlet corridor but moved carefully to avoid fire from some of the traps. Leucis tried to get through the remaining door but failed.

Xander blasted the door, opening it.

In the room were five shield-like faces on the other end of the room, each with exaggerated faces carved into their surfaces.


What mystery did these faces have in store?

How would Stick handle being separated from his companions?

Would Xander return the spoon Leucis had lent him to pick locks?

Find out next time on… the Zone of Aventure!

 

 

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Thunderlock Bar Crawl
Fame, loot, and free food await!

While our heroes were hanging out on the Moon Base after the eclipse, Robby brought them a pamphlet advertising the Thunderlock Tavern Crawl. The pamphlet explained that Murploc Tickler and Famous Thunderhand, two retired adventurers, had grown tired of seeing young adventurers going to battle unprepared. Murploc and Famous therefore created a less-lethal dungeon under their tavern, as a training ground and test for would-be adventurers.

Our heroes, drawn by the lure of loot, fame, and free food, convinced the Director to expense the trip. They even got to take an extra-large sphere, which allowed them to bring some friends from the Moon Base to serve as an audience.

Once they arrived at the Thunderlock Tavern, our heroes agreed to the terms and entered.
Two statues stood in the entrance holding braziers. The one on the left was lit with a magical red flame, but the one on the right was not. After Xander discovered that the flame was not hot, Stick reached inside and found a key. Xander, meanwhile, lit the other brazier with magic, and the heroes heard a sound deeper in the dungeon.

After a recording inviting them to enter played a few times, the heroes stepped through the doorway into the dungeon proper. A spiked portcullis lowered behind them.

Leucis had the fastest reflexes and took off running across some uneven ground. Stick and Xander followed, but before they could cross, the ground began to move. Stick kept his footing, but Xander fell. Meanwhile, blunted crossbow bolts began to fire from the other end of the hallways, striking our heroes several times.

Leucis found between two rune-bedecked walls, which began to spew fire at him. Stick thought about going back to help Xander, but the resourceful drow cast Fly and zoomed over the treacherous ground, past the flame runes, over a pit of acid crossed by three planks.

Leucis began to cross the planks, but Xander was struck by a crossbow bolt and fell from the sky. He hit the plank Leucis stood on, throwing Leucis into the air. The nimble tiefling managed to land on the nearby plank, but Xander fell into the calf-deep acid, ruining his new boots.

Once Stick and Leucis had crossed the planks and Xander had hauled himself from the acid, they found themselves between two stone faces. One stone face spewed spores which had Leucis and Stick wandering, dazed. The other face let out a thunderous sound that struck our heroes like a blow.

Xander escaped first. Leucis pulled himself together and got out of there. Stick, still poisoned and woozy, somehow managed to stumble in the right direction and got out of the room.
They found themselves on a walkway encircling a pit. On the other side of the room, two wooden doors flanked a stone door. On the room’s right and left walls, two gateways led to side chambers. Meanwhile, a bundle of rags and feathers in the center of the room revealed itself to be Patchy, an animatronic owlbear. As Patchy came online, a recording played a voice saying, “Rawr! I’m a monster, rawr!”

The side room on the right contained a chest with four locks: bronze, electrum, copper, and silver. A shimmery effect hung over the left side of the room, where an alcove had been recently revealed. Our heroes guessed that Xander relighting the brazier had dispelled some sort of magic blocking off the alcove. Xander investigated and discovered, among other things, an adamantine dagger which dealt extra damage to objects.

The side room on the left was somewhat more perilous: shelves lined the walls, with skulls on the shelves like some sort of skull library. A skullbrary, if you will.

On the far side of the room, a lever stuck out of the ground. Leucis tried moving it with Mage Hand, but the skulls in the room came to life and started to fly through the air and attack! The flying skulls were mostly human-sized, though some larger ogre skulls also joined the fight.

As more and more skulls took off and joined the fight, our heroes dealt with them with magic and blade. Meanwhile, Patchy continued to be a problem. Leucis blinded Patchy and some skulls with magical darkness, then stood out of Patchy’s reach and Xander dispatched it.

Leucis, growing frustrated with the annoyingly persistent skulls, withdrew his Horn of Blasting for its maiden usage, the explosive nature of the Horn and potentially lethal danger to the bearer had kept Leucis quite apprehensive about utilizing the instrument until now . With a deafening sound, the horn turned the flying skulls, and most of the skulls on the shelves, to fragments and dust. The heroes were then able to get the lever all the way to the left, though what effect this had, they still did not know.

Our heroes found keys inside the ogre skulls, which seemed to correspond to the locks in the other room: an ornate bronze key with a flame motif, an ornate electrum key with a wave motif, an ornate copper key with a lightning motif, an ornate silver key with a skull motif, and an ornate brass key with an eye motif. They also found a rusty iron key.

Leucis investigated the two wooden doors and the stone door and found that the wooden doors would probably take a long time to break down or burn. The stone door had four bolts holding it closed.

At this point, Xander suggested continuing to move the lever back and forth until something happened. Stick, however, had grown frustrated with the lever, so he headed over to the room with the chest with four locks. As he tried to open it, it disappeared, revealing a pit where the chest had been. Stick narrowly avoided falling inside. A moment later, four smaller chests shimmered into view around the room. They were made of metals matching the locks on the illusory chest and the keys in the other room: bronze, electrum, copper, and silver. Leucis cast detect magic in the room, but did not find anything magical. Stick tried the bronze key in the bronze chest, but it snapped off. Stick next tried the copper key in the copper chest, but it snapped as well. Xander recommended trying to pick the locks on the remaining chests. Stick discovered that the silver box was not quite latched, and he opened it to find a potion of fire breathing inside.

The remaining, electrum chest remains unopened.

Our heroes are left with a puzzle:
How can they open the four bolts on the stone door?
How can they get through the wooden doors?
What does the lever in the skullbrary do?
What opens the chests in the chest room, and what is inside?

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[In-between-Adventure-Anecdotes] Collecting Coin at The Lunar Lady

Scene: Leucis and Robby are chummin it up at the local MoonPub, The Lunar Lady, after gettin blitzed on some of Robby’s “Fry Juice”…


Robby: Oh man! I neeeeed to hear some tunes bro! Haha, I can like SEE the MUSIC!
Leucis: I got you my buddy, here let’s see what’s on this old Jukebox.


Leucis smacks the Fantasy-Steampunk-JukeBox with a fist and it whirs to life, he turns back to Robby with an, “Eyyyy!!!“

The other patrons turn in their seats to look back at the two and the bartender groans as the first few chords of “Through The Fire and The Flames” begins to rock the establishment on its foundations. Leucis grins ear to ear and whips out his Lute to play along and throws down his cap for donations…

Leucis’s fingers are a blur as he struggles to keep pace with the frantic song while sweat begins to build upon his horned brow. The crowd is transfixed, they’ve never seen anything like it. As the crescendo of the song reaches its fevered peak the sheer force of the performance of this epic ballad blows the audiences minds. Hats are blasted off of heads, cigars are dropped from slacked jaws, several customers faint, the chandelier on the ceiling rocks nearly hard enough to detach from the ceiling, and beverages close to the improvised stage are vaporized into steam.

Finally the song concludes and after a moment of stunned silence a terrific cheer rises from the crowd. A shower of nickels fly in from all directions and neatly deposit themselves in Leucis’ Tam o’ Shanter.

Leucis scans the crowd for Robby, realized that he’d been so focused on the song that he’d forgotten all about his drinking buddy. Finally, he finds him on his side in a booth near the Jukebox.

Robby: Oh man! I blacked out like 30 seconds in, but that was amaaaazing! Don’t worry about it dude, I black out like… pretty much all the time. The doctors said that’s maybe part of my brain stuff and why I can’t like… uh… wait, what were we talking about?

Leucis: Oh dear… Well my lad,  I’m glad you had fun and I did too but I think I had best get you back to the dorm so you can get some rest… and I think I’ve got the munchies… Did you have any of those Prings left?

..fin..

 

(Note: Leucis collected 120gp from his little performance, but was subsequently banned from performing at The Lunar Lady henceforth unless properly booked through the proper channels.)

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Murder on the Rockport Express

They rode a train, made some new friends, and successfully collected The Oculus!

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Moonlighting

Although he was tempted to recover it and equip it for himself, with some encouragement from his fellow partymembers, Xander was able to overcome the temptation and gather the Gauntlet safely. Killian addressed the party's growing confusion about the events they to which they were witness, and promised that all would be revealed, and they would be rewarded, if they went with her, and brought the Gauntlet with them. She revealed the bracer on her arm, which she used to summon a seemingly magic glass transportation sphere. They boarded the sphere, which then sprouted a balloon and lifted off the ground, carrying them high in the sky. By this time, it was getting pretty dark out, and the dark obsidian circle on the ground where the Lonesome Coach used to be was strangely beautiful, almost reflecting the stars and moons in the sky, in spite of the death and destruction it represented.

As the sphere rose higher and higher in the sky, they noticed one of the two moons getting larger much faster than they would have expected, as if it was much closer than they thought. They arrived at the moon, only to discover that it's actually a secret base in the sky! A porthole opened and allowed them to enter, where they landed in a hangar-type area and met Avi, a friendly-seeming fellow who offered them some brandy to help with the strange headache they were all experiencing.

They were escorted to an elevator, where they met a musician named Johan, who played them a great song, but seemed pretty sad that no one else would ever hear it, or most of his other music. This is because the song then got fed to the Voidfish, a strange jellyfish-like creature they encountered at the end of the elevator ride. Upon drinking some water from the Voidfish's tank, their headaches all disappeared and they received a flood of memories, including the memory of the words "Phoenix Fire Gauntlet" whenever Killian had previously spoken to them, the memory of Johan's song, which had briefly disappeared from their minds after being fed to the Voidfish, and the memory of a horrific war in the relatively recent history of their world, a war they were shocked to have forgotten about, until they later learned that the memories of everyone in the world had been manipulated.

As it turns out, the Moonbase is run by the Bureau of Balance, an organization dedicated to finding and destroying the Grand Relics, several extremely powerful magical objects created by rogue wizards, and the cause of the Great War that they had forgotten about. These relics were so powerful and so desirable that their very existence caused people to fight for them. Eventually, the woman who would become the Director of the BoB decided to do something about it, so she used the Voidfish to erase everyone's memory of the Relics, and the War, founded the Bureau, and started hunting for the Relics. The party members were convinced to hand over the Phoenix Fire Gauntlet, which was wheeled into a special chamber by the Director's personal assistant, a gnome named Wizziwigg, where the Director used her white oak staff to destroy it.

After passing a Test of Initiation during which the party used their bravery, strength, and smartness to defeat a trio of ogres, they were invited to join the Bureau of Balance as the newest Reclaimers, a position dedicated to actually retrieving and bringing in Relics, as they were the only people to have ever actually done so successfully. They were glad to accept the position, as well as the rewards that came with it. They each received sack of gold, and a token to spend in the Fantasy Gachapon machine. At the Gachapon, Stick got Boots of the Winterlands, Xander got a Wand of Smiles, and Leucis got a Horn of Blasting.

Wanting to spend some of their hard-earned gold, they proceeded over to the Fantasy Costco, where they met an strange, indescribable shadow creature that called itself Garfield the Deals Warlock. And boy did he have great deals for them! They each left with several useful and amusing magic items, including a Bag of Holding, a Ring of Pointing, an Unlimited Pasta Pass, a couple of Alchemist Rings, and several Potions of Healing.

However, arriving back at their new dorm room after shopping, they were dismayed to discover that, although the Director had told them that they'd be rooming with each other, what she failed to mention is that they will be staying in a four-person room! And thus they met their new roommate, Robby.

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The Lightwatch Tower: The Rescue and Aftermath

After spending several hours in the chapel resting, the party proceeded into the tower itself, where they found yet more skeletons and spiders. They proceeded to deal with them, hampered by all the broken beams and debris on the floor. The tower clearly had an upper story and a staircase at some point in the past, but now it just had wooden rubble. When they felt secure that all threats were dealt with, they took the time to clear the floor around a trapdoor Stick discovered. Inside the trapdoor was what appeared to be a lair for a giant spider. They dealt with this spider in the most efficient way possible – with fire! With some quick thinking, they improvised a grenade, which resulted in the spider, as well as its webbing, burning, while they fired arrows and blowgun darts at it.

After the room was clear, they discovered a hallway leading away from it. The hallway was quite cold, and seemed to pulse with cold energy every so often. Some ways down the hallway they discovered a chest with some quite gruesome food-storage jars, including a pickled torso and several dozen frozen spider eggs. At the end of the hallway, they discovered a kitchen, of sorts, with a cage containing the object of their quest – Orlin Swift. He was grateful to be freed, although he seemed somewhat indignant at how long he was in captivity before anyone came to free him. Meanwhile, Xander recovered a gem from the kitchen's oven, which he later learned was the oven's heat source, as it has a steam mephit bound to it.

Attached to the kitchen area was an unoccupied bedroom, containing a chest. While attempting to open the chest, the party was interrupted by the half-orc they had previously met, Killian, who was looking for what they later learned was the Phoenix Fire Gauntlet. While the party was distracted talking to Killian, Orlin managed to open the chest, where he found his belongings, including his lute. He also discovered the Gauntlet within the chest (it was unclear whether it previously belonged to him or not) and immediately equipped it, much to Killian's horror. He seemed overcome with the Gauntlet's power and used it to bore a hole through the hillside.

The party followed him back to the Lonesome Coach, where they attempted to talk him into unequipping the Gauntlet, but did not succeed in this task. Killian, realizing what was about to happen, encouraged them to jump into a nearby well, just as Orlin, and/or the Gauntlet, exploded, obliterating everything in sight, in a fireball the likes of which none of them had ever seen.

Upon climbing out of the well, they discovered that the entire area surrounding the Lonesome Coach (as well as the inn itself) had been completely destroyed, with nothing remaining but a large scorched obsidian glass circle where the fireball had gone off. In the center of this glass plate sat the Phoenix Fire Gauntlet.

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The Lightwatch Tower: Boss Fight!

Although the back door of the chapel was covered in a poisonous type of ivy, and the front door was barred from the inside, the group managed to find a way in through a broken window. Inside the preternaturally dark chapel, they found a few more skeletons like the ones they had previously fought, but also one more, with a large gem embedded in its forehead! After heroically slaying this group of undead creatures, as well as several spiders, Leucis claimed the skull with the gem as a trophy and put it in his bag.

At this point, the group noticed that one of the flagstones in the floor seemed newer than the rest, and could be moved. Underneath, they found a hidden space with several items inside – a belt buckle featuring the symbol of the Lonesome Coach, a red cloak with a mysterious patch, a magic pipe, a magic key, a magic tankard, and a mystery powder, which they later identified as Mystery Powder, as well as quite a bit of gold. After searching the broken and crumbled altar and finding nothing of note, they moved on to the tower.

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