(This game was dedicated to the memory of Gary Gygax)
The Black Talon offered an ultimatum, backed up by a huge, flying black dragon. But the party would not back down, and prepared for battle. The Drowfather granted the party a favor, healing them back up to full strength before the big battle, and allowing them two rounds to prepare.
The party blinked back into existence, and got the drop on the Talon and the Dragon. Ceridan De’Arunsel knocked several arrows, and struck true into the Talon, inflicting some critical damage. They try to take out the Talon before he has a chance to strike, but he manages to slip into the shadows to recover. Then, the dragon swoops down and surprised the party by bombarding them with a cone of acid. The damage is minimal, but it’s enough to terrify several party members, who run off in fear…. leaving the party at less than half strength, alone against a huge dragon.
Dulin stands her ground, equipped with all manner of anti-dragon equipment. Unfortunately, she is squished below as the dragon lands, pinned under its enormous girth.
Fred Fade comes down from his perch to help, and asks his riding dog to sniff out where the Talon was hiding. The bloodhound’s keen sense of smell lead them to the shadows, where Fade starts firing off using his patented double crossbow skills.
Dulin, Zorgin’Skeet Rahban, and Knolan Alvaar Altimus continue to hold against the dragon as it bites, rends, and tail-whips. The rest of the party shakes off the dragon fear and charges back to the fight, crashing into the newly revealed Talon. Soon, revenge is had against another one of the evil talons.
The full force of the party is able to focus their attentions on the black dragon. Using the staff gained a long time ago, Dulin continues to use anti-dragon spells on the black dragon, as the rest just concentrate on dealing as much damage as they can. The dragon manages to take down a few party members, but they’re saved just in the nick of time by Rathgar managing to cast a scroll of Mass Heal.
Healed again, attacking en masse, the dragon weakened by spells… the party is victorious! The dragon is dead!
The Scales grab the Talon’s body and head back to the Bronze Order. (Conveniently, they hadn’t moved the monastery very far.) Entering the hall, the monks give the party a respectful ovation for finally stopping the scourge of the Black Talon.
Sister Helena “Handbasket” and the Abbot fill in a few details about Ceridan. He was captain of the White Wind, hired by the Order to deliver a piece of the Dragongate from an order of Dwarves in the Veil of Winter. But during the voyage, there was mutiny by the crew, lead by the Black Talon (then known as Shard), his first mate. The ship crashed, and Ceridan died… but was brought back by Xen, the Brass Dragon, as a scale. The two washed ashore at the Order, where they were both trained, unaware of Shard’s nature, and Ceridan missing all of his memories.
Shard tried to kill Ceridan again, but was stopped by the order. He escaped, and eventually came to be the Black Talon in the employ of the Pirate King (secretly the dragon Munwirthiax.) He made it a mission to destroy the Order and Ceridan.
Ceridan was trained in the ways of the Order, and was not told of his past for fear he would try to take on the Talon.
The tale clued the party in on one important piece of being a Scale: they can only be brought back in proximity to the dragons. Ergo, Xen must be near where the White Wind wrecked. A quick trip by Fred Fade to Freeport later, he returns with their old friend Captain Captain Cloudreaver and his vessel.
The site of the wreck is a strange outcropping of rocks, with a powerful whirlpool underneath. Knolan is overjoyed that he finally has a use for the anchor Quaal’s Feather Token. After some consternation, the party plunges into the whirlpool one by one.
They land in a mysterious underground chamber, immediately set upon by frog men (of various occupations) and an (underwater) land shark.
A single door leads out from the chamber, as they explore the underwater lair. They soon discover that many of the passageways contain deadly traps, including a sliding corridor into acid, a reverse gravity pit trap, and much more.
Some of the party fall back, but others press on. Splitting up to explore some of the more interesting rooms, Ceridan, Colin, and Haladorr encounter some dominating mind flayers…
..while Rathgar and Zorgin discover a research chamber, and are ambushed by an intellect devourer (who had been cleverly hiding in a jar.)
The mind flayers manage to influence Haladorr into walking into a crushing trap in preparation for eating his delicious brains. But a combination of Colin’s energy attacks and Ceridan’s arrows puts a stop to them, so they can run across to the other chamber and help against the big brain.
They are triumphant, and find a variety of potions of energy protection and grenades of different energy types. Exhausted and beat up, they rest.
(This is where we stopped for the night, to be picked up three weeks later.)
The party barricades themselves in the ex-mind flayer room to rest for the night. Then venturing out again, Knolan takes point to look for traps, with Ceridan doing the actual opening… leading him to be zapped time and time again. Then while trying to avoid a lightning trap, he falls into the clutches of a Gelatinous Cube!
After making a pin cushion out of the cube, the party investigates… only to be ambushed by a Carrion Crawler from the ceiling.
A secret door leads to another passage and another door… behind which is the distinctive sound of Owlbear snoring (wwhoooo….grrr….whoooo…grrrr….). The door slides open slowly, and the party spot what appears to be the back of a sleeping beholder.
Ceridan charges in and strikes the helpless beholder… which then EXPLODES! It was a gas spore! (Ah, I love those things, though I was apparently the only person that remembered them from previous editions.)
The explosion awakes the owlbears, who attack!
Another short fight later, their incessant hooting is laid to rest. They search the room, finding some illusory fires, below which is some pitch black. Knolan investigates, and thinks about jumping in. He decides instead to lower a rope down, then brings back up the rope… to find it eaten. Yes, the statue contained a sphere of annihilation. The bard once again narrowly escapes certain doom.
(the whole dungeon- click on the picture for all the details)
The exploration continues, including encountering a particularly devious magic trap. The trap makes those who step onto it succumb to overwhelming greed, leading to a big scuffle (and spells being thrown) between Ceridan, Knolan, and Zorgin, as the rest amusedly look on. The next room is open to reveal… treasure chests! The greedy party members dive in to grab the money all for themselves, only to find that the chests are, in fact, disguised Umber Hulks.
Greed and Confusion intersects, and there is a hard fought battle with lots of mental derangements against three umber hulks. In time, all is shaken off, and there are no hard feelings (yeah, right.)
The dungeon explored, the party returns to a blue glowing door, which proceeds to test each party member’s knowledge. No one completely passes, but some do better than others. Regardless, they make it through, and descend the staircase to the next floor.
A strange shrine greets the party one floor down. Five statues in different colors stand in the corners, with a big statue to Tiamat looming over the room.
The naturally inquisitive members investigate the statues, which then begin to spring to life, one at a time. Energy attacks appear to have no effect, but enough damage turns them back into statues.
After all five statues of dragons have come to life, the shrine to Tiamat lurches forth, and begins to attack, belching out different breath weapons every time. Though the party has been damaged and trashed by the dungeon before, their anti-dragon arsenal once again comes in handy, and the Aspect of Tiamat is returned to statue form.
Two spouts form, one to return to the surface, the other goes downward. Of course, they head downward to more adventure!
Underneath, they discover the slumbering Xen, bronze dragon, in a massive chamber filling with water. Knolan’s last 0 level spell, Message, is used once again to wake a dragon. He comes awake with a massive yawn, and is quickly filled in by the party. They promptly forgot to ask him about many things.
The up-spout goes to the surface, back on to Cloudreaver’s ship… which is being watched by the Pirate King and his massive, heavily armed ship. The Pirate King demands the Dragongate immediately, shifting into his full gargantuan black dragon form to threaten the party with extended death (as opposed to immediate death.)
The party tries to stall and weighs its options. Toss the dragongate overboard? Try to alert Xen? But the plan ultimately is for Knolan to pull out the Dragongate and try to use it. He focuses all his arcane knowledge. Soon, his head is filled with various whispers, at first nonsense, but then stating “Tiamat calls you home.” Knolan, hesitantly and inquisitively, says “Tiamat calls you home?”
Clouds form above, and energy streaks across the sky. A rift forms, leading to a dimension of madness and despair. Winds pick up, but seem to only grab a hold of the Dragon and some of his draconic crew. Even in the face of terror, the black dragon does not cry out and he is sucked away.
The portal begins to close… but not before something can escape. Virivis, “The Creator”, has left his prison. A quick “Power Word Stun” incapacitates most of the party, and a Telekinesis retrieves the Dragongate from Knolan’s frozen hand. The Creator informs the party that now that he has returned, he has the tools to conquer the world. He begins to cast a spell to eliminate the party… but is interrupted by a cannonball off his port bow. The Creator teleports away as the party is rescued by a pirate fleet.
The explanations come quick: The Pirate King is dead, and he was a big dragon. The Pirate Council holds an emergency meeting to find a successor. A new Pirate King has never been chosen before, but according to the lore, the honor goes to the registered pirate with the biggest fleet. At first, it is thought that this would be Captain Ishae Vorlas, but in fact it turns out to be Cloudreaver who commands the mercenary merchant fleet in Krogland.
Cloudreaver is quick to offer some proclamations during his new rule. Peace is declared with the Bronze Order, to finally unify Pirates and Ninjas. The party is to be given the Pirate King’s old vessel, the Skullripper. Captain Vorlas will captain it and escort the party where they need to go. And on the way out, they recover a treasure map that contained much of the King’s treasure.
Another dragon freed, treasure and a boat gained, the Scales of Justice set sail for the Elven Kingdoms, to find a clue for the whereabouts of the penultimate dragon…