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Into the Nentir Vale: Part 9

Logo courtesy Wizards of the Coast

The Nentir Vale is a campaign setting provided to new players of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. It’s present in the Red Box and most of the starting materials. For a party almost all completely new to D&D and a DM re-familiarizing himself with the latest edition, it’s a great place to start a campaign. This will be an ongoing recollection of what happens to the party as they make their way through the Nentir Vale. Enjoy.

Previously: Caravans & Standing Stones

The disorienting teleportation effect faded from the foursome and they found themselves in a dark, underground room lit by sconces and populated with goblins. A half-dozen, to be exact, with a couple vicious drakes in cages. Before any of them could move, however, Melanie was already preparing a spell to doom the diminutive greenskins.

“She does critical damage to TIME and SPACE!” – Eric, on Melanie’s initiative roll of 30.

The goblin in charge was Snilvor, an emissary from Irontooth, and he did his utmost to hex the party into submission. As they tore into his minions, however, he ordered the drakes released. The beasts were far more dangerous than their goblin handlers, but were poorly trained and hungry, snapping at anything with meat on it that wandered too close. Lyria alighted onto one of the cages and stabbed one before it could grab hold of a teammate rather than a goblin. Snilvor’s attempts to dominate members of the party failed, with Andrasian taking the brunt of the damage in the form of a skull-splitting headache.

While the minions were easily dispatched, Snilvor turned out to be something of an annoyance, avoiding close range with the adventurers while flinging his spells. An area on the raised dias in the room caused damage to all who entered it, pushing Andrasian to his limits. However, there was only so much room for Snilvor to use in his attempts to escape, and Lyria’s knives finally silenced the emissary.

“We live to suck another day!” – Mike, having nearly dropped to 0 HP during the fight.

Beyond the doors from that room was the workshop proper, a converted reflection hall in which the undead mage Yisarn had laid out the bones of a dragon. A glimmerweb spider crouched in the corner, and skeletal minions turned towards the interlopers. Upon stepping into the room, however, a trap was triggered and Krillorien fell into a pit, barely avoiding getting impaled by the spikes waiting for him. As Lyria ran along the wall to reach the other side, Andrasian took a running leap while Melanie slipped into the pit after the cleric of Pelor.

“Crap, one of these deflated. I’m using Ghost Hand to hold it up!” – Eric, on the damage done to Melanie’s ‘girls’

Despite their weakened state, the foursome put up a valiant fight against the undead. Krillorien’s divine light tore through the defenses of Yisarn’s minions, and Andrasian’s axe did the rest. Yisarn himself proved a difficult foe, lightning leaping from his skeletal hand and ice blasting across the room in focused shards. The good news was that in the confusion, the spider was unable to ensnare anyone with its bright, blinding webs. Without the stealth upon which it usually relied, it was a marginalized threat.

The party focused on Yisarn, taking down the undead mage before it could either kill them or awaken its dark experiment. After the unlife had left the bones wrapped in robes, they turned to the spider and chased it around the room in a scene reminiscent of their fight with Snilvor. While dangerous, it was still only a beast at the mercy of the four seasoned adventurers. After it was over, they gathered up what items of interest they could find.

Krillorien found a half-burnt holy symbol of Pelor. It looked familiar, but he was unable to place where he’d seen it before. Perhaps Marla of Fallcrest would know. Meanwhile, Melanie found a sack of gold, Andrasian uncovered a small handful of gems, and Lyria plucked a ring from the finger of Yisarn. It was a platinum ring with an obsidian inlay of a lightning bolt, but neither Melanie the wizard nor Krillorien the eladrin were able to determine its purpose. Weighing it in her hand, Lyria estimated it was worth over three hundred gold.

“Wait! How does she know what it’s worth but we don’t know what it does?”
“I’m a fence! … I mean…” – Ben and Danielle on the failed Arcana rolls and Lyria’s ability to appraise

The party took time to rest. They needed to return to the Woodsingers to report on their success, and pray that they would not be too late to save the Harkenwold from the Iron Circle…

Next: The Battle of Albridge

All locations, NPCs, spells and equipment copyright Wizards of the Coast unless otherwise noted.

Into the Nentir Vale, Part 8

Logo courtesy Wizards of the Coast

The Nentir Vale is a campaign setting provided to new players of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. It’s present in the Red Box and most of the starting materials. For a party almost all completely new to D&D and a DM re-familiarizing himself with the latest edition, it’s a great place to start a campaign. This will be an ongoing recollection of what happens to the party as they make their way through the Nentir Vale. Enjoy.

Previously: The Resistance Grows

In the wake of the brawl, the four adventurers are directed to the livery in the northern part of Albridge. There they finally meet Dar Gramath, the de facto leader of the resistance against the Iron Circle. Faced with needing to organize his people into an armed resistance, Dar Gramath suggested to the heroes that interdicting some of the supply runs taking place across the Harkenwold would disrupt Iron Circle operations and distract them from what were, essentially, troop movements. The party was in favor of this plan, especially Lyria.

“I come from a long line of…”
“… grizzlies!”
– Danielle, Mike & Ben on Lyria’s lineage

The supply routes used by the Iron Circle are known to Dar Gramath, but nobody has undertaken operations against the mercenaries due to fear of reprisal against their families. The foursome of outsiders, on the other hand, have no such concerns and plan an ambush. The chosen area has some standing stones by the side of the road, making for excellent cover. As Lyria and Andrasian adeptly get into position on top of the stones, Krillorien gives Melanie a boost, only to have her slip and fall on top of him.

“I like this plan.”
“Try again.”
“wait, no, give me a second down here…”
– Mike and Ben after Ben fails his roll and gets a face full of Melanie’s good melons

After surviving his vision of marshmallow hell, Krillorien gets Melanie in position and gets into a hiding place himself.

Ben was a little confused on skill rolls, Danielle tried to explain:
“Say you have to roll dungeoneering for something.”
“‘You have to roll dungeoneering for something.'”
“Say you have to do that.”
“‘You have to do that.'”

The caravan came into sight after a short wait. It was a single horse-drawn cart flanked by Iron Circle soldiers and lead by a hound-like construct. It did not catch the scent of the party, and they set upon the caravan before the dark adept sitting beside the cart’s driver knew what was happening. The horse was freed from its restraints and bolted down the path a bit as the fighting ensued. Melanie needed a moment to gather her wits for spellcasting after taking a bad step off of the ledge she’d been hiding on.

“You must have popped a lung when you landed on your boobs.” – Ben

It wasn’t long before Melanie’s spells took their toll upon the Iron Circle.

“My bosoms emit a phantasmal energy!” – Eric

With the guardians of the cargo dead, the party claimed it for themselves. They also took ownership of the horse, debating whether to cede it to Dar Gramath or keep it as well.

“You can ride it back,” Krillorien told Melanie, “as long as you don’t ride side-saddle.”

“No problem!” Melanie favored the men with a smile as Lyria rolled her eyes.

“I don’t think you’re talking about the same thing anymore.”

They returned to Albridge to discover that, thanks to their distraction, Dar Gramath had contacted Tor’s Hold to begin organizing those willing to fight the Iron Circle. However, to ensure that all of the Harkenwold would rise up against the oppressors, they would need the allgiance of the Woodsinger elves living deep in the forest. Andrasian did not like this turn of events; it’s possible he and his family do not get along for some reason.

The Woodsingers are a cagey, xenophobic tribe, and were unwilling to join up with the others within the Harkenwold facing Iron Circle rule without proof that their sacrifice was warranted. To prove their good faith, the adventurers were charged with destroying an ancient evil within the forest. A travelling cleric from elsewhere in the Nentir Vale, who matched the description of Malareth, had been seen in the wood near ancient standing stones serving as the entry to a forgotten elven city. The only way in involved a vial of green dragon’s blood and the name of the city.

With this information, the party made their way to the standing stones. Goblin minions bearing the mark of Irontooth slept nearby in a broken-down cart as large spiders roamed the canopies of the trees. Sneaking through the underbrush, Andrasian poured the blood onto the plinth and spoke the name of the city, and the party found themselves whisked away by ancient, arcane means…

Next: Dal Nystiere

All locations, NPCs, spells and equipment copyright Wizards of the Coast unless otherwise noted.

Into the Nentir Vale: Part 7

Logo courtesy Wizards of the Coast

The Nentir Vale is a campaign setting provided to new players of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. It’s present in the Red Box and most of the starting materials. For a party almost all completely new to D&D and a DM re-familiarizing himself with the latest edition, it’s a great place to start a campaign. This will be an ongoing recollection of what happens to the party as they make their way through the Nentir Vale. Enjoy.

Previously: Damn Dirty Croakers

As the party took stock of themselves and made sure none of them were badly wounded, a loud croak was heard from outside the caverns. Recognizing it as the call of bullywugs not unlike those they’d just slain, the party readied itself.

“I draw my axe!” “I draw my sword.” “I draw my… boobs?” – Mike, Ben and Eric preparing for battle

The bullywugs outside were accompanied by a pair of giant frogs and a halfling bow at the end of the rope. The bullywug champion Uggloor had captured the boy when his friends had fled and he’d unfortunately slipped and fallen in the mud. As the party moved to take on the raiders, Lyria tumbled down the ledge behind Uggloor and her daggers found their mark. His minions tried to skewer the party with their javelins, and the frogs attempted to grab hold of one of the intruders with their sticky tongues.

“It tries to tongue you, and misses.” At this description, Ben died of laughter.

At the first sign of trouble, the halfing boy fled. Lyria kept Uggloor occupied to prevent him from giving chase. Be it from this focus or the notion of the abuse of a kinsman, she didn’t stop until the champion had croaked his last.

“She hit him so hard he leapt off the board!” – Ben

Meanwhile, the rest of the party resolved to deal with the remaining pair of bullywugs and their pet frogs. The tendency of their foes to leap about made bringing them down somewhat difficult. Keeping the bullywugs rooted to one location and dealing enough damage to prevent them leaping away became a top priority.

“I’m moving off the map.” “You can move off the map?” “Why do we even have a map?” – Danielle, Eric and Mike discussion spatial positioning in combat.

Eventually, one of the frogs grabbed hold of Andrasian and drew him into its gullet. The party laid into the frog, moving quickly to cut their friend free. The remaining frog didn’t stay around long enough to get carved up.

The halfling youth, a member of the Reedfoot clan, was very grateful for the rescue. He told the party that his uncle ran one of the many flatboats that traversed up and down the White River through the Harkenwold, trading with towns like Albridge and the farms in between. Before taking him home, the party returned to Tor’s Hold to report their success.

Bran Torsson was very happy with the news, and agreed to send warriors from Tor’s Hold in the fight to come. he also asked Krillorien, on the sly, to bless his house in which many of the soldiers were training, dining and sleeping. He felt Pelor’s blessing would inspire the troops, and it’d also piss off his shrill wife. Krillorien happily agreed.

From there, the party traveled towards the river. They found several halfling flatboats heading towards Albridge. One of them was captained by the youth’s uncle, Willet. He gently chastised the lad for losing his footing, and recognized Lyria as a Thorngauge, knowing her uncle Bobbin very well. The Thorngauges ran a caravan similar to the Reedfoot’s flatboats, only on wagons between Stormwatch and Erathgate to the south. Puffing on his pipe and concealing a brace of knives under his waistcoat, he had no trouble sneaking the party into Albridge.

On their way to the livery where Dar Gramath was organizing the resistance to the Iron Circle, the party stopped at a tavern. Inside, members of the selfsame Iron Circle were carousing and carrying on, drinking their fill without paying and harassing the staff and locals. Andrasian admonished them to stop. The head brigand responded by saying that the newcomwers needed to surrender their weapons, as only Iron Circle members could carry arms. Andrasian chellenged the mercenaries to take their arms.

“Now now, boys,” Melanie said as she swept into the tavern. “There’s no need to fight.”

There was a pause.

“Kill the elf-men and the shortstack,” the Iron Circle brigand replied. “Leave the woman for me.”

“Oh, balls. CHEESE IT!” – Eric’s reaction to the Brigand’s orders.

A tavern brawl naturally ensued…

Next: Caravans & Standing Stones

All locations, NPCs, spells and equipment copyright Wizards of the Coast unless otherwise noted.

Into The Nentir Vale: Part 6

Logo courtesy Wizards of the Coast

The Nentir Vale is a campaign setting provided to new players of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. It’s present in the Red Box and most of the starting materials. For a party almost all completely new to D&D and a DM re-familiarizing himself with the latest edition, it’s a great place to start a campaign. This will be an ongoing recollection of what happens to the party as they make their way through the Nentir Vale. Enjoy.

Previously: Your cultist is in another castle

Ben: *makes Wayne’s World flashback noises*

On the road to the druid’s grove, Krillorien recalled a conversation he’d had with Bensun Stonecarver, the dwarven majordomo of the house his father had given him. Despite having won the manse in a game of Three Dragon Ante with a compatriot, Krillorien’s father had never lived there, opting instead to remain with his people in Meloravia. Now that the manse was repaired and the threat of kobold or goblin invasion ended, Krillorien asked Bensun if he’d be willing to shut up the house and take his dwarves north past Winterhaven, to work on restoring the Keep on the Shadowfell. Bensun agreed, then told Krillorien to think up a new name for the place while he and his friends were out adventuring.

Krillorien and his friends were soon in the grove of the druid. The Iron Circle had, so far, left the grove of ancient trees untouched. A small cottage sat near the grove’s central menhir, tended to by a halfling woman and a young male human. Emerging from the cottage was Reithann, spry and bright-eyed despite her advanced human years. She told the adventurers that many potential warriors could come from Tor’s Hold to uproot the Iron Circle from the Harkenwold, if they could be freed from protecting their hamlet from bullywug attacks. Frog-like humanoids, the druid called them unnatural and said that by harassing the people of western Harkenwold, they were preventing Tor’s Hold from joining Albridge in open resistance. The party elected to deal with them first.

“Go, but be careful,” Reithann advised them. “On a cloudy day, the mouse does not see the hawk’s shadow.”

The party went to head west down the road, but Lyria stopped. “Wait… what?”

“Is it going to be an indoor or outdoor encounter?” – Mike
“Both.” – me
“I’m so excited I rolled!” – Mike

They moved down the road at speed. Without mounts, they kept to a brisk jog.

“She’s going to end up with two black eyes if we jog at 10 miles an hour.” – Ben, referring to Eric’s character

The elder of Tor’s Hold, Bran Torsson, was happy to see help arrive in dealing with the “damn croakers.” His wife, however, was feeling less than hospitable, especially when Krillorien offered to help with the wounded. A few jabs and insults later, Bran explained that she had run afoul of a priest peddling the blessings of Pelor for coin. He apologized for her behavior and for the fact that he could not send help with them to deal with the bullywugs.

The hideout known as the Toadwallow Caverns was a thoroughly unpleasant hole in a hillside overlooking the White River. A small waterfall spilled from the cavern entrance, feeding a stream that flowed south to the river. Lyria climbed up the 10-foot ledge first, on the lookout for patrols or traps.

“So if there are any traps there, you want to do them?” – Eric
“Maybe I like traps.” – Danielle

There was a small guard posted just within the cavern, but once the party was up on the rocks they took the bullywugs by surprise. Amongst the colorful mushrooms they did battle with the humanoid toads. As they fought, stirges swept in from above a nearby pool to assault the intruders. Even with the large insects seeking blood, the party managed to make short work of the guard.

Walking deeper into the cavern, they found a large central chamber dominated by a dragon skull. Beady eyes watched their approach and a croak carried a command. Minions emerged from the shadows to fall upon the party… …and were quickly dispatched. Oozes slid towards the newcomers, and Andrasian occupied them for the most part as the others tried to draw the bullywug chieftain out of his hiding place. Out of the protection of the ancient skull, he did not last long.

The party checked over their loot, took a moment to rest, and then gathered their belongings to leave the cavern…

Next: The Resistance Grows

All locations, NPCs, spells and equipment copyright Wizards of the Coast unless otherwise noted.

Beyond the Nentir Vale

Courtesy Wizards of the Coast

No D&D this week, but I took the opportunity to expand a bit on the geography and current events beyond the Nentir Vale (pictured above). The map I’ve sketched is on graph paper in pencil, and I don’t have access to a scanner yet.

North of the Vale

The orcs that brought the Bloodspear War into the Nentir Vale continue to thrive between, under and on the Stonemarch, in their vast warrens called the Fanged Jaws of Kulkoszar. Cheif Urfeng Bloodspear eyes the Nentir Vale, and Fallcrest in particular, as irritants that must be stricken from the memory of his people. The Keep on the Shadowfell stands in his way.

West of Kulkoszar and leading north out of the Winterbole Forest is the Glacial Pass, a wind-swept and narrow plain emptying into a wide taiga. Above this frozen stretch of land rise the Frostjaw Peaks, a cluster of jagged mountains dominated by the Titan’s Vigil. It is said that a structure of some sort exists above the clouds that always conceal the top of the Vigil in darkness and the occasional flash of lightning. None who have dared to test the Vigil have returned.

South of the Vale

The King’s Road leads south out of the Nentir Vale to two very different cities, each about the size of Fallcrest. To the west along the coast is the stoic walled port of Stormwatch. Its lighthouse is one of the largest in the world. Princess Tavia Stillwater maintains control of the city, though threats of the Iron Circle and a possible blockade coupled with increased tariffs seem poised to choke her and her city into submission.

On the other side of the King’s Road through the Vale is the city formerly known as Adamantine. When Emperor Lysander seized power, King Alphonse Markelhay of Adamantine was among those who refused to kneel to the new potentate. He was returning to Adamant Keep to prepare for war when he disappeared. It is rumored he was slain by highwaymen of the Iron Circle. Indeed, the mercenary force moved into the city backed by the Emperor’s sorcerers and vicious beasts, putting down resistance and claiming it for their own. The Emperor declared the city be renamed Sarthel, in honor of his late father.

Resistance remains in Erathgate, the coastal city south of Stormwatch. Baron Silas Shandra pays homage to the Emperor but does all he can to keep commerce flowing to Stormwatch and his own ports rather than the Imperial-controlled Junction or the free city of Daggerport. He is a prudent and cautious man, and does not wish to call undue attention to his sympathy towards the anti-Imperial forces.

The Second Nerathan Empire

South of Erathgate, the King’s Road becomes known as the Imperial Highway. It leads to Junction, the largest city outside of Nerath itself and a crucial part of the Emperor’s strategy of securing his rule. Duke Karl Calebros, the Emperor’s finest warrior outside of the Executioner, has ensured that all commerce worth having comes into Junction, having raised tariffs on shipping to and from Stormwatch and exaggerating the dangers of Daggerport.

Along the Highway to the east is Nerath itself. Easily twice the size of Fallcrest and seated where the Nentir River splits in three, it maintains control of most of the commerce flowing through the region. Until recently, it was a city administered by a duke and every five years played host to the Games of Ascension. If the current king could be defeated in an honorable tournament, he would be come Duke of Nerath while his opponent became King, at least until the next Games. King Perrin II had been king for twenty years before Prince Lysander Nerath arrived with his Iron Circle mercenaries, dark sorcerers, priests of Bane and tamed beasts to seize the city and declare himself Emperor.

South of Nerath along the Imperial Highway, which follows the Scintil River, Shoredale rests near Lake Iris. It is a quiet and peaceful town, a bit smaller than Fallcrest, where the farmers of the southern plains gather to trade goods and barter for new equipment as caravans travel between Nerath and Fortune’s Harbor to the south. Baron Gabor Zoltus capitulated to the Emperor without contest.

Fortune’s Harbor serves as the gateway to both the Eladrin leading north to the elven lands and the mysterious Caliphate of Seven Stars to the south. Earl Carlson Everdawn ascended to ruling the city after his mother, a favorite to become Queen, was poisoned by her chancellor, who now advises the Earl not to contend with the will of the Emperor.


The only openly free city in the Nerathan Empire lies along the Low Road, across the long stone bridge called The Hilt. The delta of the Nentir Vale, The Knives, frames the city to the west. The natural defences of the coast allow the shipping to and from Daggerport to avoid some of the Imperial patrols, just as they did the Royal Coast Guard before it.

Daggerport is not ruled by a noble or even a particular group of individuals. However, anybody living or trading in Daggerport knows they had better not cross Szcathia, the drow reportedly in control of Daggerport’s network of thieves and assassins. To engage in commerce in Daggerport is to engage in crime, and Szcathia is Daggerport’s criminal mastermind.

Dwarves & Elves

East of the Nerathan Empire are two of the most extant threats to the new potentate. As soon as he seized control of Nerath, Emperor Lysander sent emissaries to the Dawnforge Dwarves. The messages spoke of a pact of non-agression between the dwarves and the Nerathan Empire. The dwarves agreed, but not before allowing some of the elite forces of Adamantine to flee into their holds. Before Lysander could protest, the mighty stone doors in the shadow of Adamant Hold rolled shut, leaving Hammerfast the only open road into dwarf territory in the region.

South of Sarthel is the Moonwood, seperated by the greater Feywood by the city of Sehavia. While the city boasts some idyllic mountain retreats, natural hot spring baths and all the wonders of the Feywild available for sale or trade, it is also a place for the exchange of secrets. Eladrin and tieflings are common sights in the city, far moreso here than in any other city in the region.

The Feystride takes travellers south from Sehavia to the other sylvan city in the region, Meloravia. A port city far from Fortune’s Harbor, Meloravia rests at the apex of the Eladrin Bay. Intrepid explorers can seek adventurous crews to take them around the Black Marsh towards the Bay of Bahamut, rumored to be a gateway to a realm of metallic dragons and untold hoards of treature. However, the waters in the bays are treacherous, and more than a few crews have washed up in the turgid, stinking waters of the Black Marsh to make their sticky way home, while others are never seen again.

The Feystride then leads east into the Feywood. Little is known of this place. It is said the elves (not eladrin) hail from this realm, and that it is a shard of the Feywild itself, just as ways to the Shadowfell lay concealed beneath the Stonemarch.

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