Dark Radiance

The Banking Conspiracy

Despite being lauded with awards, accolades and boons from the new ‘Imperator’ Sigemund von Drachenfels, the party decided to investigate the alleged banking conspiracy that Patrin insisted was behind the theft of the floatstones from his and Rina’s family farm, which also to the downfall of this once-proud family. They flew in the Princess Ark to Klantyre, to start investigating the First Bank of Glantri.

While the head of the First Bank, Lachlan McGregor, was the dwarf in Patrin’s vision, he proved a hard to pin down. Cannech attempted to go through the First Bank’s publicly available records, but was stymied by the bureaucracy. However, one of the clerks reacted suspiciously, and started to leave early. Rina threw a tantrum which distracted the bank guards long enough for Cannech to follow the clerk to a secret temple underground. After leading the party there, there was a brief fight where they learned that the temple belonged to Rad, Glanti’s incognito immortal. The conspiracy was connected to Rad; the (now dead) immortal who had convinced his own nation that he didn’t exist, and who guided the country’s progress from the shadows. The cult was at the very heart of Glantri’s society! The party started to work their way up the cult’s food chain, starting from Duncan McGregor, to the head of a prominent charity. They finished their investigation, having at last found a place to confront Lachlan McGregor, at the wine society meeting. As Cannech said, it was a very suspicious place for a dwarf to be.

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War with the Shadow Dragon

As the party worked to land the floating continent safely in the Sea of Dread, the Void Dragon appeared and attacked! The Void Dragon shifted through three different incarnations during the battle; each form requiring different tactics before it was defeated. Finally the party was victorious after a long and drawn-out battle. They also landed the continent of Alphatia in the Sea of Dread, but learned that the Alphatians would require time to recover from their spell before they could function again as a nation. It was clear that Alphatia would need protection and guidance (under Glantrian rule, of course.)

When the party landed, they found that the Princes of Glantri had met at Glantri City and had elected Sigemund von Drachenfels the ‘Imperator’ – the de factor ruler of Glantri for however long they deemed the war state would last for. Sigemund acknowledged the great deeds of the PCs. Rupert proposed to Gretchen, and she accepted. Sigemund granted them the position of Governors of new Alphatia Protectorate. Leopold was made Grand War Marshall, and Cannech was given extensive trade agreements in the territory. At hearing this, his clan arranged a marriage for him. Altani was given fine breeding stock for her herds of winged horses. Rina delayed her boon, while Patrin refused to accept it. Instead, he asked the group to sacrifice all they had been given to help him investigate the conspiracy that had dominated his life.

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The Imperial City

After eventually drilling through the Alphatian continent, the party emerged in a desolate landscape. They were greeted by a primitive tribe of Genasi – Alphatians – that treated the party like gods! After some examination, Gretchen determined that there was some sort of effect in the air draining the mentality of all citizens of the continent.

The party explored the wilderness. They found a crashed skyship covered with fungus; inside, after a battle with terrible, fungoid creatures, they found a signed peace treaty. However, it looked like the airship had been shot down before the peace documents had been delivered.

The party continued to explore, and found a degenerate society of nobles in a sealed dome-like structure. The nobles had vast, magical machines that they had forgotten how to use, but the party was able to figure out how to use them and teleported to the Imperial City.

There, the party found the city was run by a skeleton crew. They used the peace treaty to gain admittance, where they found Emperor Zandor experimenting with the Deck of Many Things, in order to gain immortality! All of the ‘mentality’ harvested from the citizens was being consumed by his ritual. After a fierce battle, they defeated Emperor Zandor, but they learned that the entire ‘invasion’ had being manipulated – by someone within Glantri!

Emperor Zandor was just a puppet – but who was pulling the strings?

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The Princess Ark

The party decided to go for the insane plan – to drill through the floating Alphatian continent with the mole machine. Leopold, a distant cousin of Gretchen’s, joined the party, allegedly sent by Prince Sigemund to supervise things. Leopold, an experienced military commander, had a disturbing history of being the only survivor in his various military engagements.

Firstly, the party visited Rupert’s castle in the Aalbanese mountains, where he had lovingly restored the great Prince Ark, the great Alphatian exploration airship.

It was bright pink.

The party found that the Ark was hostile, but they managed to defeat it in psychic combat. The Ark agreed to help the party with their plan, providing that they rescued her captain who had been thrown into a deadly Alphatian prison, the Labyrinth of Night, for protesting the war with Glantri. Her captain had been a famous explorer, namely Prince Haldemar of Haaken, Lord Admiral of the Mightiest Empire Captain of the Ever-Victorious Princess Ark and Imperial Explorer.

The party found the Princess Ark haughty and stand-offish; they were confined to crew quarters but Gretchen was able to persuade the Ark to give her a run of the officers’ cabins. Cannech was also able to finagle a copy of the Ark’s plans.

Cannech had sent a message off to Klantyre, requesting that the mole machine be transported to Rupert’s castle forthwith, but found that his cousin, Prince Fergus McCrae and the ‘Order of the Golden Dragon’ was requesting his presence. They party flew to Klantyre in the Princess Ark, and found that Goldie had taken control of Klantyre, and had freed all of the menagerie animals. She had made the dwarves swear allegiance to her and stopped them drinking and fighting in the streets, teaching them ‘civilisation’. She was angry that the party had killed her son, Malakhar, but accepted Gretchen’s reason. However, emotionally, she was still angry at the party. She tried to bind the party to her will with a blood oath, but Patrin grew wroth and counselled her with the Parable of the Vengeful Mother. Goldie’s anger broke and she relented, allowing the party to take the mole machine. She asked the party to undertake a quest for her in future; to find her a potential mate.

With both the mole machine and the airship, the party started to dig through the Alphatian continent. After a near-disaster that had them fighting elemental phase spiders, they were able to resume their drilling.

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The Floating Continent

Still rejoicing from their defeat of Malakhar, the party was shocked at the sight of the floating continent. A booming, magically-projected voice rang out across the land.

“This is the voice of Zandor, First of his Name, Emperor of Alphatia. I come in the names of the millions of murdered Alphatians that were killed when the great continent was laid waste and sunk beneath the Sea of Dawn. I come in the names of the innocents who died, and the great the city of Sundesvall that was crushed, and I come in the name of my mother, Empress Eriadna.

“Millions of these murdered voices cry out for vengeance, millions of voices cry out for Glantri to be torn apart, brick-by-brick, until nought but a speck of dirt remains…

“But I, Zandor, am merciful. Those who kneel to me, will be forgiven, and yes, exalted above all others in Glantri. Those who resist, will be less than beasts, less than dust, unforgiven and unmourned.

“I have sealed the borders of Glantri. Anyone leaving will be destroyed by my arts.

“These are my demands.

“It was the Princes of Glantri who destroyed Alphatia. Now I demand that they surrender themselves to me. Each Prince of Glantri has until dawn tomorrow to surrender their Principality to me, Zandor, First of his Name, Emperor of Alphatia. You will surrender your control over the Radiance to me. My chosen representative will meet you at your Wizard’s Conclave in Glantri City at dawn, and you will surrender all of your power to me.

“Citizens of Glantri, should your Prince not do the honourable thing and surrender, then I will have sadly no choice but to burn each Principality that does not surrender from the face of Mystara. I urge you to beg and demand that your Prince do the right thing and bend the knee.

“Only the worthy will triumph and survive as part of the new empire of Alphatia, ruled by Zandor, First of his Name.”

As the party discussed the implications of this message, they heard screams ring out from Glantri City, and saw fires start up. The capital was in a riotous uproar. Gretchen contacted Corporal Melchitt, who left in her charge of restoring law and order. After some work, the party got the city under control.

Melchitt reported that Fergus McCrae of the ‘Order of the Golden Dragon’ in Klantyre was requesting Cannech’s presence. Meanwhile, Prince Rupert in Aalban was asking for Gretchen’s help. After some discussion, the party went through a teleportation gate to Aalban, where Prince Sigemund was discussing what to do about Zandor’s demands.

Prince Sigemund was going to go to a special meeting of the Princes in Glantri City. Rupert was suggesting an insane plan involving getting hold of a restored Alphatian airship, the Princess Ark, and using that to carry a mole-machine from Klantyre into the sky, to drill through the Alphatian continent. The party was left to decide whether to accompany Prince Sigemund to Glantri City, or try Rupert’s crazy idea.

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The Confrontation with Malakhar

The Stormwardens were contacted by agents of the Raven’s Eye, Prince Morphail’s secret police. As part of a boon that the Prince had performed for the party earlier, his elite agents had tracked and wounded Malakhar to the astral plane. Aided by Morphail’s elite soldier, blackscale dragonborn Ravyn Darktalon, the party entered the astral plane and defeated the demon Mammon and its host, the baby dragon Malakhar.

Then, the party had the choice of rescuing the baby dragon host, or killing it. Thinking it was safer, the party killed the baby dragon. Just as Mammon retreated back to the hells, it croaked out the name of its employer: Zandor, Prince of Alphatia! When the party stepped back to Mystara, in the hills above Glantri City, they saw a floating continent slowly covering the sky.

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The Chaos Room

Patrin’s sister, Suri, joined the party. She had become a paladin of the Sun Dragon and had a really cool faerie horse, a colt pixie, as her steed. As a teenager, she was pretty sure that there wasn’t much more to being a paladin than having a horse and awesome powers. Suri told Patrin of a vision that she’d had, of a black dragon eating the burning sun. Then she heard the prophecy that the the enemies of Glantri would rise, and all of these enemies carried wounds and hatred from the war. She saw a deck of cards, and her father drawing a card, and then him crying out in horror, and the cards being scattered in the wind.

She saw a fire in the north. She saw a great burning chimerae, chained to the ground, but stirring and near breaking it chains.

She saw a wind in the west. She saw a small green dragon soaring above a vast pile of all the treasure in the world. There was a gold dragon flying towards him, calling out the name ‘Malakhar’ but the green dragon simply turned back to his treasure.

She saw water in the south. She saw that the water had gone bad and was making people sick when they drank it. She saw that the water was flowing into the ruins of the High Energy Magical Research Facility.

She saw earth to the east. She saw a pale elf sitting on a throne of black obsidian. Blood-stained earth fell from his fingers, endlessly.

Suri explained to her vision to Patrin. After discussing these omens with the party, they decided to head out to New Kolland, especially after Corporal Melchitt advised Gretchen that there were some difficulties with the Great Crater. The Great Crater was the location of the former High Energy Magical Research Facility, which had exploded into a dangerous mess of chaos energies, after a group of high ranking wizards had unleashed the spell which sunk the Alphatian continent, ending the war. One of these wizards was Etienne d’Ambreville, the Master of the School of Magic and Prince of Ambreville.

The Stormwardens journeyed to the New Kolland, where a group of researchers were reported odd readings at the ruins of the High Energy Magical Research Facility. When the party entered the ruins of the facility, they found that they had been transported back in time to the day of the explosion. Gretchen quickly convinced everyone at the facility that she was a legitimate observer from Aalban. Patrin met his father, and found to his shock that he was an upstanding, honest soldier, a far cry from the drunken wastrel Patrin had known.

The party spied on the experiment. They learned that the Prince of Ambreville had a plan to harness the raw chaos of the Deck of Many Things. Patrin’s father, Torrin, would draw a card, while the probabilities would be restricted in the laboratory to guarantee a favourable outcome. But when Torrin drew the card, something went wrong.

An immortal, the Great Dragon, was drawn to the centre of the experiment trying to stop it. However, the Great Dragon was ripped apart by the attempt to control the Deck, splitting into four different dragons: Star, Sun, Moon and Void. The Prince of Ambreville had lured the Great Dragon into a trap, using the resultant energies created by splitting the dragon to destroy Alphatia and protect the Radiance. He did not view this as a murder, because he was guarding the Radiance, and the Great Dragon’s essence would be divided, but preserved. However, the Prince was horrified when the Void Dragon appeared. It tore him apart.

The party learned that the Prince was actually Rad, the immortal of Glantri, who spent his existence engineering and guiding Glantri’s wizard-focused, atheistic culture. Patrin further discovered that Torrin had been cursed for drawing from the Deck, and a high level conspiracy had formed around him to keep him ‘suffering’, to channel the unlucky effects created by the flawed drawing of the Deck. This conspiracy had also been responsible for siphoning the floatstones away from Patrin and Suri’s family farm.

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The Heir of Crownguard

There was civil unrest in Klantyre, where the sovereignty of the ruling MacGregor clan was in doubt. Lachlan Stewart, Laird of Clan Stewart, had evidence that the MacGregors had the assistance of a powerful demon, called Mammon, that gave them an unfair advantage during the original dwarfmoot when the ruling clan of Klantyre was decided, after the dwarves were exiled from Rockhome for practising magic. Now Lachlan was demanding a new dwarfmoot. All of the major clans of Klantyre were arguing against each other and determining which clan should rule the Principality.

The Stormwardens met with Angus McCrae, Cannech’s father. He asked them to go to Rockhome, to retrieve an ancestral axe that would give clan McCrae an edge when the dwarfmoot happened. A previous expedition to Rockhome had been despatched, led by Fergus McCrae, Cannech’s cousin, but he had been gone for a long time.

Meanwhile, Altani was forced to sell her wyrmling black dragon to the local menagerie, as the party decided it was too dangerous to keep around. Patrin saw a baby gold dragon, also in the menagerie, who was begging to be released, but Patrin decided to ignore the creature.
The Stormwardens flew to Rockhome in the supply aiship Pegasus. They found Fergus’s missing skyship, the Griffin, tethered in the mountains near Rockhome, but did not find Fergus. Instead, they found a horrific scene where the dwarven crew had fought and killed each other over some mysterious pieces of red gold. Then, they were attacked by a mad icedrake. When they defeated the icedrake, they saw bits of red gold embedded in the monster.

Cannech read the logbook. The initial team had found the secret entrance to Rockhome. The initial team, lead by Fergus’s fiancee, Beatrice, last reported seeing a nightmare in their ancestral city: ‘dwarf had ripped dwarf apart’, signs of quakes, collapsed tunnels and poisoned gas. There was also some strange red gold that the dwarves had brought back to the Griffin as a geological sample.

The logbook detailed how the expedition team debated whether to abort the mission, but thought they could use Fergus’s map to find the Crypt of the Dwarven Kings through a side shaft. Fergus identified two routes to the Crypt – one through the ‘Chamber of the Old Masters’ and another through the ‘Hall of the Ancients’. Fergus lead this descent and promised to send regular communiques via the message ritual.

From there, the entries grew shorter again, with little to report other than cabin fever and growing aggravation among the crew. The logbook detailed how everyone was growing more paranoid and suspicious, especially around the presence of the gold. The last pages of the logbook were smeared with blood.

Cannech lead the party into Rockhome through the Chamber of the Old Masters. They were joined by a mysterious Shadow Elf assassin, called Veldin. Gretchen convinced a guardian golem that she was a shapechanged dwarf, while Cannech forged a suit of armour to prove that he was a noble dwarf. After continuing through the tunnels, rifts of poison gas and fighting off strange monstrosities, the party made their way to the Crypt of the Dwarven Kings. Cannech made a bargain with an ancient dwarven guardian spirit to cleanse Rockhome. The guardian told the party that the demon, Mammon, had come to Rockhome and led to a terrible era of dwarf fighting dwarf, corrupting the very gold that the dwarves had prized so highly. The demon Mammon had been summoned by the Alphatians during the war, and had not been banished when Alphatia had sunk beneath the ocean.

When they entered the Crypt, they found that it was guarded by a possessed golden dragon, who was infected by the cursed gold. The party killed the dragon, but brought her back to life, cleansed of evil. The dragon demanded to know where her egg, containing her child, Malakhar was! It looked as though the baby dragon was now the host for the demon Mammon. The dragon, who gave the name ‘Goldie’, turned herself into the form of a dragonborn, to assist the party with returning to Klantyre and finding her son.

Cannech found the legendary axe and returned it to his uncle. The dwarfmoot started. Goldie asked for the party’s help to liberate the trapped dragons in the menagerie, but they refused. Goldie left them, displeased at their lack of assistance.

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A Murder in Boldavia

The Stormwardens were sent to Boldavia to complete their mission for the Raven’s Eye – to find out who was funding the Resistance. A member of the Raven’s Eye, the Proctor, asked them to investigate the murder of an influential resistance member – an opera singer called Keilani. They were given identification that said that they were members of the Dark Lanterns, the local police force in Igoravich, the capital of Boldavia. Officer Carlotta was assigned to the Stormwardens to assist, although she wasn’t all that happy about the prospect.

As they examined the body, they determined that she had been killed by a golem with metallic hands. This creature was able to open a warded box, which was warded against living and undead. Just as they were finishing up examining the crime scene, a beholder attacked! After fighting of the beholder, they gave chase on a raven-winged gondola.

The beholder fled to the Bonewarrens, a nightmare zone of outcastes that surrounded the city of Igoravich. From a social planning perspective, it gave the vampire overlords a place to easily keep track of the dissidents and disenfranchised of Igoravich.

The Stormwardens trailed the beholder to a large tavern in the middle of the slums. They entered the tavern differently – Cannech snuck through the roof and observed a small green horde dragon counting coins. Walking through the main entrance, Ingrid demanded the strongest drink the house. Unfortunately, she failed her ruses and was forced to drink it, knocking her cold. Altani rescued a goblin from being cooked, who offer her his assistance. The bouncer at the door wanted money so tha Stormwardens could visit the crime lord, Malekar, but Gretched started a fight instead. To their amazement, none of the Stormwardens could defeat the bouncer, an undead, demonic ogre of some description

After fleeing the Bone Warrens, the Stormwardens continued to investigate the murder of Keilani, becoming involved in the web of corruption and intrigue between the ruling vampiric nobility.
They found that Keilani wanted the spellbook to use the ritual to peel back the cloud cover of Boldavia, and destroy the vampire’s sovereignty. To get the spell book, Keilani had an affair with Morphail’s brother, Boyar Yuri Ivanov, a powerful sorcerer. Keilani learned that her patron, Tatyana, was behind the Dark Rose resistance, and it was only a game to her. Furious, Keilani gave the book to Malakhar, the mysterious ruler of the Bonewarrens. After some investigation, the Stormwardens traced Keilani’s murder back to Tatyana.

They briefly negotiated with Malakhar, but refused to hand him the spellbook when he would not to name his mysterious client. Then, the Stormwardens reported Tatyana’s activities to Prince Morphail, who gave each of them a boon. Angharad was given assistance to defeat the shadow elves in Darokin, while Gretchen asked for assistance in redeeming Prince Rupert. Other party members asked for magical items. Ingrid asked to become a vampire, and was given the Dark Embrace. However, the Stormwardens refused to accept Ingrid’s new life style choice, and she left the party.

Morphail then co-ordinated a strike on Malakhar’s hideout, but he escaped.

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Catching up...
In which the GM recalls previous events and updates the adventure log in one furiously long post....

Soon, the pleasant time in Glantri City soured as the Stormwardens were drawn into a web of intrigue and machinations.

Patrin learned that he had inherited his father’s curse, which was to assemble the Deck of Many Things. Ingrid was contacted by the Boldavian Resistance. The Dark Rose, leader of the Resistance, had been kidnapped by vampires, and was being held in Glantri City, at the Boldavian Ambassador’s mansion.

Ingrid persuaded the PCs to help her with her cause. They infiltrated the mansion, but were unfortunately captured by the Boldavian Guard. However, Ingrid did learn that the Dark Rose’s soul had been captured in a book. Gretchen used her connections to Prince Rupert to gain bail. Cannech hid the book at the forge but gave it back in order to reduce their sentences.

In order to avoid politcal fallout, the Stormwardens agreed to do a favour for the Boldavian Court, guided by the ’Raven’s Eye’, Prince Morphail’s secret police. They were sent to Boldavia in order to infiltrate the resistance. They did so, and proved themselves by cleansing a haunted orphanage of evil, while at the same time finding three village c
but aborted their mission halfway through when Gretchen learned that Prince Rupert was a target of a mysterious assassin!

After short-cutting through a nightmare realm of puzzles and danger dedicated to Numena, the immmortal of mysteries, the Stormwards returned to Glantri City. There, they found the Gondala Festival in full-swing. Prince Rupert was showing off his gigantic golem, the Earthshaker, that had fantastic defensive capabilities.

Learning that the assassin was already inside the golem with the Prince, the Stormwardens infiltrated. There they found that the golem’s defences had been turned out – loyal Aalbanese guards had been killed by horrid traps and summoned creatures. After brute-forcing their way through the defences, the Stormwardens found Prince Rupert involved in a suspicious summoning ritual.

They disrupted the ritual, only to find themselves on trial! Prince Rupert said that he was following some plan of his father’s, and his only plan was to cleanse the Radiance, which none of the other Princes of Glantri seemed care about. In order to avoid public shame for tampering with the Radiance, Rupert resigned from the Aalbanese Princeship to the lonely Von Bek castle to pursue his researches. Gretchen read about this a letter, but could not return to be by the Prince’s side, as the the Raven’s Eye requested that the Stormwardens return to Boldavia to complete their mission.

On the way, the Stormwardens went to try and find the children that they had promised to look after. It turned out that Mad Marty, Cannech’s uncle who had been sent to fetch them, had gotten lost in a mysterious dungeon.

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