Thursday, February 23, 2023

Company of the White Oak Campaign - Sessions 63-64

 [This was the first of three sessions guest-DMed by Kevin Barrett, who also wrote the write-up for session 63 (the only session of the entire campaign I had no involvement in).]

On this day something felt amiss in the region of Greyhawk, as the company gathered in their meeting room at the Sword & Spear Inn to find a note at the table place that was used by Reed Underbough. As the note was picked up and read aloud it said, “Fellow members of The Company of the White Oak. I need to take a temporary leave from adventuring and being a leading member of the company. I have serious wounds from the Apes in Gaxmoor and in addition have become the temporary head of my guild. Between that and the inn I cannot adventure right now. My hirelings are also taking on larger roles in their guilds as well and are not available. I wish you all safe journeys and you are always welcome to use the Inn as a base of gathering for the Company. While you consider what to do, I am offering an open tab at the pub for the Company this evening. Yours, Reed”

The company members moved to the pub portion of the Inn and enjoyed Reed’s hospitality that evening. Songs were sung, ale and wine were consumed, there was evening a challenge of strength between Leif, Niall and Old Man Herv. The next morning as Percy was praying and tending to his morning duties at the church Prospero appeared to him. 

“Lawful Percy, I come to you this morning with some important and disturbing news. The dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, the Temple of the Latter-Day Elder Gods, Temple of Elemental Evil, Standing Stones in the Menhir Hills, in fact, all the dungeons the Company have explored are sealed and I do not yet know if it is the work of the Adversary or some other evil. I implore you to continue leading the company in the absence of the half-ling Reed. As you know you must be prepared as the Company of the White Oak is the key to defeating the Adversary when that day comes.”

There was no discussion to be as Prospero vanished once he finished talking, leaving Percy to consider the impact of the news he was given.

Later that day Percy arrived at the Sword & Spear and saw some strangers from other lands. Old Man Herv approached him and said, “Percy, this stranger arrived at the Inn today and all he has been asking me is where they can find the Company of the White Oak. When I brought it to Reed’s attention, he said all company business is going to you in his absence”. The stranger approached Percy and asked for a moment to speak. Percy led him to a small dining and the two men sat at the table. 

“I am Bishop Bendix Moontrack of the city Libemen in the Kingdom of Ferrond. I have arrived in Greyhawk from Libemen as word has spread through the Kingdom of Ferrond about the tales of the Company of the White Oak”. My high Priest needs adventures of your skill and experience as we have an urgent matter that cannot be handled by the law. I request an audience with your membership, if possible, to present our case for why the Company should come to Libemen to help us. After which please discuss it amongst yourselves, and we will honor your decision”.

That evening the members of the Company of the White Oak gathered in their meeting room at the Inn. In attendance were Niall Brightflame, Runeflinger & Leif Thunderbeard with his henchman Gremlar Blackstone. Percy relayed to the group that there was a visitor from a neighboring country there to present the Company with an offer. "I will bring him in one to present their offer if there nothing further."

Into the room waleds an average height human male in religious apparel that was unfamiliar to anyone in the room. “As I mentioned to Percy earlier today my name is Bishop Bendix Moontrack of the Church of Heironeous in Libeman in the Kingdom of Ferrond. His Holiness Bardle Shanksworth the High Priest & Patriarch of our Church has sent me as there is a task that only can be accomplished by The Company of the White Oak. One week ago, one of our most sacred texts, the Book of Pentinence, disappeared from our Church. That day, alarms sounded when orcs began to move against the city. As we moved to defend the church a hobgoblin snuck in and killed Vicar Ferrante who was guarding the library’s sacred texts, with what we believe to be a magical blade, based on the wound to the Vicar. We know the orcs left the city in a northeast direction, however our country’s leadership and military does not want to risk open war with the land now controlled by the Horned Society there, outside our borders.  This is a text we must get back. His Holiness has tasked me recovering it and I am bringing this to your Company and the offer of 2000 gold pieces -- half if the job is accepted and the other half should the Book be returned unharmed.” 

After digesting the bishop’s words Niall added that this seemed a noble cause, while Runeflinger and Leif were somewhat sold hearing the hiring fee of 1000 gold. When Percy informed them of Prospero’s message the Company accepted the bishop’s offer.

On the following day as the Company gathered at the Inn, each with their new mount to make the trip faster, to meet the bishop and begin the trek to Libemen. There was Percy with an elf they had not met seated on a light horse. Percy turned to him and said please introduce yourself to the Company. Speaking in Elvish he said, “Greetings Company of the White Oak, my name is Zardoz. My acquaintance, Muelara Wynna, has said you may be looking for an elf to take her place in the company for the time being. Percy has told me you are heading on a quest, and I would very much like to accompany you.” Runeflinger and Niall were not going to argue adding another Elf to their ranks as Leif and Gremlar grumbled about being outnumbered by the Elves. Percy was to stay behind to tend to Church matters but knows where to meet the company or send other company members if needed.

The company ascended their new mounts and departed Greyhawk City on the Menhir Road heading for Libemen. With riding the horses it would shorten the trip to three days. The company took the route previous members travelled when they journeyed to Verbobonc and soon found themselves at the Zagyg’s bridge. As each member crossed the bridge only Runeflinger and the dwarves encountered anything on the other side. Runeflinger enjoyed some of the best fruit and wine he could ever remember tasting. Leif and Gremlar found two mugs of ale which they did not hesitate to drink. After consumption they felt a rumbling in their stomachs followed by the loudest farts the Elves and Bishop have ever heard. Leif and Gremlar had a roaring laugh about it.

That night the Company set up camp between the village of Harrowstone and Zagyg’s Bridge. As they looked for a suitable campsite, they saw the edge of the Gnarly Forest to the southwest and hills with caves in a wooded area to the northeast. Niall advised the party to move to the southwest as he did not get a good feeling about the caves in the distance. Later that night, during Niall’s watch he noticed a campfire in the distance which was a campsite for a party of brigands. Two of the brigands began stumbling toward the Company’s campsite prompting Niall to attempt distracting them by throwing a stick into the distance. When they signaled to the rest of their party that there was something out here Niall woke Runeflinger. As the brigands gathered closer to the Elves they were dropped with a sleep spell from Runeflinger. Niall advanced to their campsite to find 90GP as Runeflinger was tying the brigands to a tree and binding their hands. In the morning they woke to find themselves 90GP poorer and asking the company to be set free. Once they convinced the Company they were of no harm Niall let them loose and they quickly moved in the opposite direction of the Company.

Over the next two days travel proceeded without incident when the destination of the City of Libemen was reached. As the Bishop guided them to the Church grounds they encountered a figure with his back turned. The Bishop proclaimed, “Brother, I have succeeded and present the Company of the White Oak”. The brother turned and said, “I don’t recognize any of these as the Company of the White Oak. Who are they?” The brother revealed himself as Brother Ulrich the Maimed, former member of the White Oak. Niall was able to explain that the members he knew had either stepped away for a time, Percy, Niv & Reed or had perished at the hand of a Necromancer, John, Langdon, & Vask. Hearing how the company was able to subdue the wraths of the most powerful members on the company during Ulrich’s time made him change his opinion quickly. Brother Ulrich took the opportunity to provide the company with intelligence about where the Book was being kept, how to get there and what their scouts had noticed. The dwarves just wanted to be pointed in the direction of the fight and Zardoz while quiet was very observant of his new surroundings, always wanting to learn as much as he can.

The course was set for Fort Bogmuck with Runeflinger, who was ecstatic that everyone in the party could understand his Elvish, suggesting an approach at daytime as Orcs would not be above ground at that time. As the party reached the Fort, Runeflinger cast invisibility while the other four members hid in a nearby tree line. The invisible elf then scouted around the perimeter of the Fort looking for entrances or weaknesses in the wall. As he came around the southeast corner, he began getting a sensation there was a secret door nearby. Runeflinger could not find the exact location, so he marked the general area with oil and returned to the party. Once he revealed his findings the entire party moved to the marked area but even three Elves could not locate the secret door. They marked a tree in the area and proceeded back to the gate. They were able to enter the fort without alerting anyone and Runeflinger scouted the guard towers on either side of the gate. In the east tower he found two sleeping bandit guards.

Runeflinger signaled to Niall and took the guards weapons. Niall was able to gain surprise and easily dispatch of the guards.

As the company moved clockwise around the path of the fort they noticed three statues in the middle of the Fort, an Orc, Bandit and Hobgoblin. They arrived at the first building and Leif had no issue opening the door. Nothing of consequence was in this building except for an opening in the floor that led to a sloping passageway under the Fort. The company followed this passage, with Runeflinger still scouting ahead, to find an Underground Pub. The pub was occupied by three bandits and four orcs but as they drank their respective drinks Zardoz cast a sleep spell from just outside the room and all seven adversaries were asleep. Niall checked the door on the other side of the room as Leif took the coins from the box on the bar. After the enemies were dispatched, the company arrived at an octagon shaped room with an octagon shaped pit in the center. As Runeflinger scouted counterclockwise to the eastern side of the room he triggered a trap door that dropped him into the pit. Niall dove in after him and Lief joined him while Gremlar spiked the trap door open. As Runeflinger entered the pit two gates began to open and nine giant rats entered from one gate and four giant snakes from the other.

Runeflinger cast sleep losing his invisibility but dropping most of the giant animals. At that point it was no issue for Niall and Leif to do away with the remaining snakes.

The company then moved to the east door finding another hallway that they began to explore. As they proceeded down the hallway Zardoz sensed a secret door nearby and was able to find it by pushing a discolored stone revealing a north-south hallway with three levers on the east wall. Zardoz and Leif worked together to find a secret door that was at the north end of the hallway opened by one of the levers, but which one? The rest of the company proceeded back into the main hall while Leif pulled the leftmost lever triggering a beam that swung down from the ceiling. Good thing Leif is a dwarf as the beam swung right over his head bringing him no harm. He then pulled the middle lever and the secret door opened onto a room with an ornately carved wooden casket in the center and nothing else. The Elves seemed cautious as they thought any number of different undead could be resting in it, but Zardoz disagreed. He had noticed it looked very similar, if not the same, as a casket he observed at the church before they left. Niall and the Dwarves backed up with silver arrows at the ready while Runeflinger began to cautiously open the casket. When he did, he found…nothing. Just satin lining and a satin pillow were inside the casket, no undead to combat this time. Thinking there was value in the casket but not wanting to carry it around they moved it back to the entrance of the tunnel and proceeded back into the stronghold.

Niall was skeptical of the direction they were taking and suggested trying the south door of the arena instead of continuing east. Once again Leif had no issue opening the doors of the arena and south hallway leading to a foyer. After checking the two other doors in the foyer they had Leif open the west door to find a study occupied by the Orc Commander and Bandit Chief, coincidently matching two of the statues in the courtyard above. Gremlar fired an arrow striking the Bandit Chief and Leif stabbed him with his spear before he could even attack. The Bandit Chief barely swung his axe before Gremlar landed the fatal blow with his gifted Magic Battle-axe from Leif. Niall was holding his own with the Orc Commander before Runeflinger was seriously wounded from the Orcs flaming sword. With that Niall struck again with his sickle when Leif saw an opening and caved in the Orc Commanders side with a rather vicious punch causing him to drop like jelly. As the company searched the room Leif noticed something odd about the swords mounted on the south wall of the study. He was able to deduce one was the mechanism to open a door leading to a secret room of the study. In this room was the very book the company had been hired to return, the Book of Penitence. Considering the health of Runeflinger and no cleric in the party to heal him, the company left with their treasure and returned to Libemen.

Once they arrived at the church Brother Ulrich was impressed with the “new” company members and shocked to see they retrieved one of the Caskets of Ferrond. Ulrich explained how a recently deceased body could be put in the casket and Blessed by a cleric and then brought back to life if a resurrection spell was cast within 9 days of death. The company accepted the church’s offer of 10,000GP for return of the casket. Niall was able to see the Orc Commander’s sword had no ill effect to him and claimed it. The party rested knowing there was still the matter of the Hobgoblin thief/assassin to deal with.

Sunnsebb 4, 612 CY
The Kingdom of Ferrond
The City of Libeman

The others were content to enjoy the spoils from their last expedition in the cities of Ferrond, but Niall Brightflame and Runeflinger wanted the rewards promised for the prisoners supposedly held in Fort Bogmuck. Two elves alone did not stand much of a chance…but three? Eirenden arrived in Libeman, having heard of the company’s mission there, and wanted in.

They were going to try something new; stealth instead of brute force. They would not need a cleric if they avoided combat. But there was one thing they were lacking: a thief. Reed Underbough had taught them that thieves were lucky. But where to find a thief, without returning to Greyhawk? 

The opportunity presented itself when a grubby-looking thief tried to pick Niall’s pocket. The thief was dragged off for an interrogation. The thief was named Muggby and, while he acted strangely, this was surely a trick to make the elves underestimate him. When Mugby learned of their interest in Fort Bogmuck he claimed to have useful information about the place, which clinched his membership. 

The elves already knew of the entrance to the tunnel under the fort from last time, so Mugby was not needed much as they followed the sloping tunnel north and then northeast. They came to a door, and behind it was a small room that served as a sentry outpost with four orc guards. This was no challenge; Niall or Eirenden alone could have dispatched them. One orc was left alive and interrogated, from whom they learned that the prisoners they sought were to the north. 

Luckily, a corridor ran north from that room. There were side doors to the west that Niall wanted to explore, but Mugby said his flea, Aloysius, told him they should keep going north, and the others agreed. There were two side corridors to the west after that, and the second was lined with doors, as if it held cells. But because they had been told to go north they decided to keep going and see how far north led. It seemed like the corridor soon after the last side passage, but they found a secret door and could continue north even more!

They ignored another side door to the west, but when the corridor finally turned west they took the first door to the north. Here was a torture chamber with a human and an orc waiting for victims. What they got instead was, in the orc’s case, dead, and in the human’s case, charmed. Their new best friend told them that the duke’s son had been moved to Shugub’s Lair, somewhere to the north, but they were on the right track to find any remaining prisoners to the west. Only, there were a lot of hobgoblins between them and the prisoners. The torturer was not kidding - the very next room was wall-to-wall hobgoblins! Sleep spells evened the odds to the point where the fighting elves could easily mop up the rest, and both the charmed torturer joined in the fight to protect his new friend, and Mugby jumped in to help just as the last hobgoblins, including their cutpurse leader that had tried to backstab one of them, were making their final stand. The leader had a pouch of gold and a very nice-looking dagger, either valuable or magical..

The four companions (and their charmed slave) continued west, coming to a T-intersection where they had to choose north or south. Heading north, they found an empty room, and then a chamber with a single statue in it. They spent a lot of time examining the statue, but could find nothing valuable - or dangerous - about it. 

Continuing west from there, they inexplicably skipped a door to the north and continued on to a hexagonal chamber with a pit at its center. A dead end passage headed north from it, and to the south were offices, where they found gems, and a map showing the route to Shugub's lair and the duke’s son!

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