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Whitestar Campaign, Episode 9
The Politics of Slaying

Early in the morning, a message arrived for the party, waking them from their slumber in Lord Blackstone’s manor. The message was from the Chief Steward of Starfall castle, and invited the adventurers to petition the Lord Whitestar in open court. They began to make plans for their trip to the castle.

As they planned, they received another guest – the Black Codex man they had rescued from the Vampire’s Lair came to pledge his services to them as thanks for saving his life. As an accomplished wizard, the party believed the gold elf would be a valuable ally. He clarified that he was indebted to them, but would not be a slave.

The party decided that the occasion called for clothes fit for the nobility. They stopped at a clothes shop run by a Half-Orc named Jeshevo, who agreed to outfit them in his finest.

Now equipped for the battles ahead, the party approached the gate to the Starfall district, the stretch of land on top of the cliff overlooking the city. As they saw a carriage pass through the portcullis, they lamented not buying one themselves. They decided to press on despite this blow to their prestige.

They presented their Writ of Passage to the guard captain at the gate, who immediately called for a dozen guards to surround them. “For your protection,” he growled. The party was just relieved that they were not being arrested, and allowed their escorts to accompany them as they passed through the gate. They began to ascend the long, narrow, winding path up the Starfall cliffs, the sounds and smells of the lower city fading away with every step. At the top of the cliff, they could see the surrounding land for miles.

Eventually they passed through another gate – a more decorative one – and found themselves staring at large manors with beautiful architecture, overgrown by vines. Everything seemed clean and orderly, and guards patrolled the streets at regular intervals. Most of the manors put Lord Blackstone’s to shame, and they began to feel that, though their lot had improved much, they might not be as rich as they thought they were.

Eventually they came to the castle, where a Castle Guard told them that weapons were not allowed in the Lord’s court unless they’ve been granted special permission. The party was thus disarmed and allowed through the door.

The party entered the imposing castle and found themselves in a long throne room, waiting for Lord Whitestar. The warlock and the cleric immediately made their way to the buffet, rejecting all niceties of the court to the embarrassment of the rest of the party. They were greeted by a woman in a white dress, who introduced herself as Birgitte Whitestar. She advised them to pass the others off as servants, as the nobility tended to draw conclusions based on appearances.

Before long, a balding man announced that Lord Whitestar would now take petitions. As he spoke, a man of average height with a neatly trimmed gray beard walked out and sat on the chair.

The lord heard three petitions before the party’s turn. The first involved a land dispute between two nobles – neither of them wanted to take responsibility for a patch of land between their estates. The second was a plea from the family of the recently slain knight, Sir Theobald Remfrey. They requested aid in rooting out the bandits who caused his death. The third petition was from the Grand Champion of the Arena, who requested that the grand prize for the upcoming Arena tournament be doubled.

The party then was allowed a turn, electing the Bard to be a spokesperson. Before she could speak, though, the warlock blurted out their request from the back of the room in decidedly undiplomatic language. With his mouth full. The assembly laughed at the lack of grace. The bard was able to keep her composure, however, and laid out the case for the party to start their own guild.

Lord Whitestar asked some probing questions, but eventually allowed them to begin within the city on a trial basis. They’d be granted a more permanent permit once they demonstrated their usefulness to the city. “Now,” he said. “Why don’t you tell me why you’re really here?” He gestured to his court mage, a woman dressed in college robes, who produced the letter they had sent with the magical hidden text. Lord Whitestar demanded to know why they presented themselves under false pretenses.

The party was on the backpedal as they tried to explain the threat of the vampires. Lord Whitestar’s Captain of War dismisses the claims, saying he believed his guards would have noticed if vampires were infiltrating the city. This drew laughter from the watching crowd. Finally, Lord Whitestar said, “These citizens tell an incredible story. Vampires are indeed a serious threat. But we must not succumb to paranoia. Our walls are strong, our city secure. Nonetheless, we will err on the side of safety, and I will increase the guard around known entrances to the Undercity. Hopefully you will sleep easier and this matter will trouble the court no longer. Petitions are closed for today.”

With that, he left, and the party started to head toward the door, feeling defeated. However, they were approached by several people first.

The first was a man who had introduced himself before their petition, a middle aged man with dark red hair named Daven Orran. He wore a green and gold tunic with a fur lined coat, and walked with a cane.

“Disturbing news about the Vampires, if indeed your story is true,” he said. “In fact, there are many disturbing things going on in the realm as of late. Why the town of Witchfield, Lord Blackstone’s estate, was overrun with Orcs recently. And I’ve heard more murmurings of Orc activity near the Bastard Wood to the South. I’d be willing to bet if someone were to investigate these things, they’d be surprised at what they find.”

The Paladin inferred immediately that Lord Orran was trying to subtly tell them something. Before they could ponder this for long, though, another man approached, this one a young man dressed in black and yellow who introduced himself as Clovis.

He said that he believed them and wanted to help, and said that the guards don’t patrol the undercity, where the suspicious activity tends to take place. He told them of a tavern called the Lusty Wench, where many shady characters congregate. “That might be a good place to start.” The paladin asked him how exactly a noble knew of a place like that, and Clovis replied that he had business dealings with some people down there. “What kind of business, if you don’t mind me asking?” the Paladin inquired. “I do!” replied Clovis cheerfully. And he took his leave.

Finally, the party was greeted by a dwarf merchant who introduced herself as Lorena. She traveled with three bodyguards. She told them to contact her if they were interested in buying or selling magical items and artifacts.

The party retired to the Blackstone estate, where they discussed their plans and hopes and fears with Aldebrande. They had been given two leads, but were unsure of what to think or who to trust. What followed was a lot of reflection on what they really wanted, and some speculation on the nature of the Orb of the Ancients. Aldebrande offered the perspective that whatever moral obligation they had had been met once they alerted the proper authorities.

The party appears to be at a crossroads. Their paths must lead them to question exactly who they are, who they want to be. What will they choose? Find out next time on Dungeons and Dragons Whitestar Campaign!

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Whitestar Campaign, Episode 8
The Enemy Within

With their rescued prisoner in tow, the party returned to the Black Codex camp. Gronn made his report to Claudia, who once again criticized his competence and intelligence. Marik and Gronn retorted that they at least accomplished what she couldn’t, to which she seemed to have no reply.

The party then traveled back to the City of Whitestar using a Teleportation Circle that had been cast on the camp. They found themselves in the basement of the Black Codex Guildhall, and climbed the stairs to the city.

As they reached the street, they noticed people lined up on the sides of the street down the Street of Stars, the main street that runs east to west through Whitestar. A funeral procession made its way slowly down the street – soldiers marching in time to a steady, solemn drum beat. A young noble on a horse, carrying a flag with the Whitestar family sigil on it, led the procession, and behind him was an open casket where an aging knight had been laid to rest with his sword grasped in his hands. His armor was covered in purple dragons.

The party learned that the knight was known as Sir Theobald Remfrey, a decorated knight born from a noble family in Whitestar. He had been off fighting a war in the south, but the war was over now, and he had been returning home. No one knew what had caused his death.

The procession proceeded down the street toward the temple, and the party decided not to pursue the mystery further, partially due to bad experiences at the temple in the past.

After that, they went their separate ways.

Gronn first confronted Garvan with the news of the potential vampire plot detailed in the letter he had found. Garvan agreed it was disturbing news, but was of the opinion that it wasn’t their concern, and that perhaps those plans had been disrupted by killing the vampire. Garvan dismissed him and promised him updates on the excavation of the Machinist Palace. Gronn left, but remained unsure of the potential threat to the city.

Marik elected to visit the fighting pits with the intention of recruiting members for a new guild. He ended up running into an acquaintance, Kung, who had just finished easily dispatching his Bronze level opponent in the arena. Marik invited Kung to join his guild and the party, giving him the set of crimson armor they had found in the vampire’s lair.

The two warriors had barely finished discussing it when Svasek, the Pit Master, declared that one of the combatants of the scheduled Silver rank fight had not shown up. The Jade Assassin was meant to fight Grim John, but was nowhere to be found. Svasek sized up Marik and asked if he’d be willing to fight in the Jade Assassin’s place, and Marik readily agreed and stepped into the ring.

The rest of the party watched from a balcony seat with Lucas, their merchant drinking buddy, and Elistine, the half-elf recruiter. As they watched the fighters enter the ring, Elistine revealed that Grim John was a brutal, ruthless fighter who had killed the last three fighters pitted against him. She covered her eyes, unable to watch.

Meanwhile, Marik strode into the ring, where he was approached by Luccio, the announcer and jester of the arena. Luccio asked him what his name was, as Silver ranked participants generally start developing personas at this level. Marik struggled for a few moments, rejecting Luccio’s proposed title of “The Horny Devil”. Marik finally declared that he would be known as “The Demon of Light”. With that, Luccio announced the beginning of the fight.

Grim John was a tall, heavily muscled fighter who wore only furs and carried a battle axe. His head was clean shaven and his body covered in tribal tattoos.

A tense battle ensued. Grim John attacked relentlessly, with Marik just barely managing to knock aside Grim John’s heavy axe blows with his shield. Marik found openings in the unarmored warrior’s defenses and his sword crackled and thundered with divine energy, sending off flashes and waves of light, becoming true to his chosen name. As the wounds began to pile up on Grim John, he flew into a vicious rage and threw Marik to the ground. Marik got up and continued his assault, eventually landing a thundering smite that sent Grim John sprawling to the ground, where he didn’t move again.

Marik was declared the winner and promoted to Silver ranked fights from that day forward. He also gained Lucas Orsmith as a patron.

After this exciting fight, Tryxie and her drow friend went shopping. Entering a herbalist’s shop, they ran into a familiar face – Vinn Rivers, the Thieves’ Guild enforcer. He pulled his sword immediately, but backed down from the confrontation. Together, they also grabbed an expensive dinner as reward for their successful mission, listening to the rumors of drunk castle guards as they enjoyed their meal.

Some of the rumors included:

“My cousin swears he saw a demon drinking in the Brass Flask the other night. Big leathery wings, horns, dark red skin. Just sat down and ordered a tankard of stout.”

“Did ya know the Town of Witchfield was ransacked by Orcs a few weeks ago? They say Lord Blackstone’s daughter is mysteriously pregnant now. Probably with an Orc Baby. Won’t that be a laugh, raising a half-orc bastard in a noble’s castle?”

“Heard about Lord Whitestar’s new mistress? Apparently he’s taken up with a young Silver Elf, not even 30 years old. She’s practically a child!”

After an exciting first day back home, the party met back at Lord Blackstone’s estate. They found that Aldebrande had broken in and taken up residence in their absence. He shared what he had discovered going through his old notebooks. It was his belief that the Orb of the Ancients and the Master Key were one and the same, and became irritated when Gronn questioned this, as Garvan had dismissed it as farfetched. He also revealed that the entrance to the dungeon that housed the Orb of the Ancients would be protected by a door that required powerful sorcery to open – sorcery that Aldebrande had access to.

After this, Aldebrande retired for the night, though it was still daylight outside.

Marik had brought Kung back to them, and in the course of explaining what had happened so far, the party got to discussing the possible vampire threat – especially the part of Tarsus’s letter that implied he had contacts inside the city. Gronn decided that they needed to get a message to Lord Whitestar – but the gate to the upper city was closed to non-nobles. They also had to deal with the possibility that the message could be intercepted and tip off Tarsus’s allies.

Gronn racked his brain for a possible magical solution to the dilemma, and through his knowledge of the arcane remembered that there were spells that could make writing invisible except to the intended recipient. He woke Aldebrande from his slumber, who knew the spell and agreed to cast it once prepared.

The party now had a plan to root out the potential enemies to Whitestar. Will it be successful? Find out the next episode of D&D – Whitestar Campaign!

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Whitestar Campaign: The Story So Far

It all started when…

The party was on their way to the city of Whitestar to look for information on the mysterious Orb of the Ancients. They stopped in Witchfield, a small town consisting of a small castle and a single street of houses and establishments leading up to it. The party was enjoying a quiet drink in the local tavern, when suddenly they heard something crash through the window and everything was on fire. Orcs were attacking the town! After they killed many and drove the rest away, the guard revealed that Lord Blackstone’s daughter had been kidnapped! The party raided the Orc stronghold, defeated the Orcs and their Orog master and saved the damsel in distress. Lord Blackstone rewarded them with a favor and treasure from his vault.

The City of Whitestar

After a brief encounter with some bandits, the party made their way to Whitestar, where a tall cliff looms over a bustling city. The party checked in the obvious places for information regarding the Orb of the Ancients – the library and the temples. A mage clad in black robes confronted them after hearing they were looking for the Orb. He introduced himself as Garvan, and offered them information on the Orb in exchange for a favor – retrieving an artifact from the ruins of the undercity. The party, joined by a Half-Orc woman who was skilled with an axe, found a secret entrance in the poor side of town and entered the Undercity. They entered a sinking temple and retrieved a magical bowl after fighting the temple’s guardians.

A run-in with the Thieves’ Guild

As they journeyed back to the above ground to finish the job, they were confronted by a group of bandits, demanding their cut of the treasure from the job they completed. The party refused, and a battle ensued on the bridge over the subterranean river. The party prevailed, but their leader, a man named Vinn Rivers, escaped. The party then made it to the surface in the early evening. A town crier announced that the Grand Champion of the Arena would be fighting, and so the party decided to celebrate their success with some entertainment. They drank and made bets and watched the Grand Champion destroy his opposition.

The Order of the Black Codex

The next day, they met with Garvan, who took the bowl and told them the name of the contact – a Wizard who had dedicated his life to studying the Orb named Aldebrande Valharad. Garvan pointed the party to the wizard’s location. However, he also said that he could help them more if the party’s Warlock would join the Black Codex – the guild of Wizards dedicated to mastering the technology of the lost Valori civilization. The Warlock was faced with a tough decision to make. In the meantime, they decided to pursue the lead they had.

The amnesic Wizard

They ventured to the poorest party of the city and found him living in a small hovel in the remains of a former prison. The wizard Aldebrande was very forgetful, constantly referencing a large tome to remember even small or recent details. He was happy to discuss the Orb and agreed to share his information if the party could retrieve his books from the Arcane University. He could not go himself since his falling out with the headmaster. The party agreed and ventured to the University. After bringing their problem to the headmaster, they discovered that Aldebrande’s former offices had been locked off several years ago after a conjuration accident that killed several students. The party convinced the headmaster to let them in, and fought off several creatures summoned from the outer realms, including a Succubus that disguised herself as a trapped student. The Paladin was briefly put under her spell, but the party was able to overcome this obstacle and retrieved the books Aldebrande needed, as well as an apparently friendly Mimic named Mimi. Aldebrande received the books and said he’d need some time to look over them.

A warning from the Guild

The party returned to the tavern, where a letter was waiting for them with the innkeeper. It requested payment for the Thieves’ Guild men they killed, and was signed “Spider”, the mysterious leader of the Whitestar Thieves’ Guild. The party laughed at the notion of paying Spider’s exorbitant price and dismissed the letter.

The Warlock’s decision

The Warlock decided in was in his best interests to join the Order of the Black Codex, trading some independence for access to the guild’s resources. He visited Garvan with this news, and Garvan said that in a few days he would be properly inducted.

Bloodsport

In the period of downtime, the Paladin decided to become an Arena Fighter. He wrote a letter to Lord Blackstone, using his favor to request a patron for equipment, housing, and arena fees. Lord Blackstone obliged, giving him and the rest of the party access to a small house in the middle residential district. The Paladin then also persuaded the merchant they had befriended to sponsor him if he won three fights. Elistine, the half-elf recruiter, also encouraged him to craft a persona so that he could build fans and gain more sponsors.

New Robes, New Masters

Garvan finally sent for the Warlock, and introduced him to the guild’s purpose – to study, discover, and use ancient Valori artifacts to drag the world out of the comparative dark ages. He gave the Warlock his own cloak and an Eyebook, an enchanted device for communicating among members of the guild. Garvan then explained why they were in the city – it was the last known location of the Master Key, a device capable of controlling every Valori construct, unlike the weaker keystones, which are bound to a specific construct. Finally, Garvan gave the Warlock his first orders – to scout out a previously unexplored section of the Undercity and prepare it for excavation.

Ambushed!

As the party set out on their new quest, they went back to the same tavern in the poor side of town they had previously visited to enter the Undercity. A group of Thieves’ Guild thugs, led once again by Vinn Rivers, confronted them. Faced with almost certain defeat from being out-numbered and outgunned, the Paladin challenged Vinn to a duel. Vinn was cocky enough to accept. But as he came close to putting the finishing blow on the Paladin, the rest of the party stepped in, turning the duel into a full-fledged brawl. With some help from a Drow and a Half-elf who were sitting in the bar, the party was able to defeat the thugs, though they once again left Vinn Rivers alive.

Into the Deep Realms

With their new companions, the group set out into the Deep Realms, the vast cavernous expanse below the surface world. They followed a ruined road past miles and miles of collapsed city, fighting off strange creatures of the dark. They finally came to their destination – a Black Codex excavation camp, deep and secluded. The party resupplied and met with the head of the camp, a Codex mage named Claudia. She took an immediate dislike to the Warlock, resenting his position in the Codex when she had to spend several years as an apprentice before she was allowed an important role. She told them that the Mages she had sent had not returned and no longer answered her messages on her Eyebook. The party resolved to investigate after a night of rest. That night, they were awakened by mournful music that echoed across the caverns. They could find no sign of it.

“Turn back, or face the consequences…”

They ventured forward, borrowing a tool to navigate the huge chasms. They soon entered a tunnel, where they encountered magic-resistant constructs who had made short work of several Codex mages. After fighting them off, the party continued out of the tunnel into a vast open cavern, where they saw several small buildings across from one that could have been a large palace. They were confronted with a disembodied voice telling them to return from where they came. They ignored it and ventured forward. They investigated the smaller buildings, finding them to be barracks or quarters of some kind, and then moved to enter the castle. The voice warned them once again, but again they ignored it.

Robots and Vampires

They entered the palace, which mostly consisted of a single open room with an open wall. A huge mechanical dragon was suspended from the ceiling, intimidating but in disrepair. They worked their way through the palace, fighting off a guardian eye creature and several constructs. They then came to a door and heard the music from the other night on the other side. They opened the door to reveal a man sitting and playing a dirge on a strange stringed instrument. The man greeted them cordially and invited them to drink some wine with him. He soon revealed that he was a vampire who had moved underground to avoid the hazards of the surface world. He again asked them to leave him in peace, and the party was nearly to agreement on this when they heard a scream of anguish echo from the stairs behind him. Though this did not affect the Warlock’s or the Paladin’s decision to go, the Bard determined that she couldn’t leave the victim to the Vampire, and they resolved to fight.

The Aftermath

After defeating the vampire, they rescued the half-insane Codex mage he held captive, claimed his sword Bloodfyre, a suit of blood red plate armor, and lots of other treasure. They also discovered an letter detailing some kind of sinister plot. With these in hand, they returned to the Black Codex camp.

Which brings us to now.

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