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cawatrooper

The Adventures of the Havelock Echo- Campaign Diary

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Just started a new 5e campaign last week, and since I'll be using a ton of Reaper models I figured I'd host my campaign diary here.

 

Last March, I ran a one shot where four adventurers woke up in Waterdeep, not knowing who each other were or how they got there.  The aarakokra Robin, the half-orc H'om Ieonout, the goliath Sledge, and the strange automaton Hobble journeyed through the city, trying to solve the mystery of what happened the previous night.  They eventually encountered a goblin, Bistix, who helped them them piece some of the mystery together, as well as the eccentric shipping magnate Ulricio Peppi. 

 

Additionally, they found themselves relentlessly pursued by the Jade Razor elven criminal syndicate and its lieutenant, Felrir, for having stolen hundreds of thousands worth in chips from a local gambling establishment. The adventurers tried to earn some of the chips back through card play and sleight of hand tricks, but ultimately were unable to earn more than 25% of what they'd lost.

 

They discovered that Ulricio had given them boarding passes for one of his ships, the Havelock Echo, and eventually figured that would be the best way to escape the city. However, in an alleyway near the waterfront, the adventurers were ambushed by Felrir. Robin paid his portion and was allowed to pass to the Echo, and H'om also managed to fight her way past.  Unfortunately, both Sledge and Hobble were struck down, and Bistix was reduced to a fine red mist by Felrir's sword.

 

And that's before the true beginning...

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Last Saturday, our campaign began in full. 

 

Four new adventurers also boarded the Havelock Echo, in the misty morning just moments before the others were ambushed near the waterfront.

 

Bravura the human ranger, Maylin the elven alchemist, Akrothma the tiefling sorcerer, and Nell the half-elven druid were each assigned to work either with Jolene (the ship's halfling cook) or Triscaryn (the ship's elven navigator).

 

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Set to travel from Waterdeep (recently taken over by a Jade Razor coup) to Baldur's Gate, the four awaited the ship's departure.  From in the alleyways, they heard a commotion, and an elven lieutenant of the Jade Razor came forth.  Presenting the heads of four adventurers (curiously including H'om and Robin, who were thought to have escaped, though obviously the characters wouldn't know that... hmmmmm....), the lieutenant demanded to board the ship.  With quick thinking, the new adventurers took advantage of their anonymity to stealthily prepare the ship for boarding, and just managed to escape the Waterdeep harbor before the Great Chain was raised.

 

The group met others on the ship while at sea- notably Vilne Buvran (the ship's captain), Siegfried Urias (the first mate) and Slade (the physician's assistant).  They also met an Illithid named Salbax, a former Ullitharid who after having lost his tribe to an ambush flayed his own mind in grief and confusion.  Now, his mind seems half in a future that would never come to be and he speaks only in the future continuous conditional ("would have been" "should have seen", etc).  They also met and were very intrigued by Polly, his pet parrot intellect devourer.

 

After several days sailing, Triscaryn voiced her concern to the adventurers assigned to work with her navigation role that the trip was taking longer than expected, and that her charts seemed off...

 

On the tenth day of what should've been a roughly five-ish day trip, Bravura (in the Crow's Nest) spotted two incoming ships. Using the Havelock Echo's ballistae, the heroes quickly took control of the situation, destroying one ship's mast and slowing it.  The other, loaded for bear with canons, fired back, and the adventurers noticed something odd.  Aboard it stood a single, enormous figure (WIP photo, since I didn't get a good photo of this moment- will for future entries)...

 

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As the ship neared and the strange creature prepared to board, the heroes layed into it with their ballistae. The creature turned its ship around, retreating into the mist.

 

Afterward, Triscaryn turned to her fellow navigators (Bravura and Akrothma) with concerns that this validated her greatest fear: the captain was ignoring their data, and they were wildly off course.  She asked for their assistance should she turn to a coup.

 

Meanwhile, Vilne acknowledged that Jolene had vouched for the cooks (Maylin and Nell) loyalty, and asked that they assist her if there was an attempted mutiny.  To explain her inconsistent actions, Vilne offered a note as an explanation:

 

 

Quote


 

 

 

Captain Buvran,

 

I’m afraid I must once again ask for you to put your good name on the line and embark on another important mission. 

 

You must travel to the jungles of Chult, about half a day’s walk from  the northern tip of the Mistcliff Mountains. There, you’ll find a primordial shrine to the land’s protector. In it, you should find a complex rune. It is imperative that you get an accurate rubbing of its shape!

 

You could try sailing directly there, but given how treacherous those jagged shored are, I think you’d be better off just landing at Nyanzaru and arranging an expedition there to cross the peninsula.

 

Take a team from your crew- Chult has unparalleled dangers even in the best of times, but a darkness is waking in that land that is making unnatural even the land’s natural perils. I’ve also arranged for Sir Donovan to meet you at the shrine- I’m aware you know each other quite well.

 

When you have recorded the rune, meet me in the city of Bhalig. It’s in a craggy ravine, a bit east of the obnoxiously-named human colony of Righteousness. It’s deep enough in the jungle and the canopy is so thick that this city is technically considered part of the Underdark, so… maybe be a bit more discerning with the company you bring there.

 

Do NOT come without the rune.

 

Now, what to do about your crew… I’d suggest saying you’re sailing to some city like Baldur’s Gate or maybe even somewhere like Candle Keep. Quick job, a merchant run for Ulricio, furs or something like that. They’ll catch on eventually, but I’m sure you’ll be able to talk your way out of it.

 

By the way, I’ve arranged for Jolene to… shanghai some individuals at the Lucky Deck pub. An aarakokra, a half orc, a goliath ranger, and some sort of advanced construct. Real ragtag assortment of individuals, but I’ve forseen them playing a pivotal role in your mission. You know how I can be.  You MUST bring them to me, so they can play their roles as necessary.

 

I know this is irregular, but once they’re in a suggestive enough state from the Servant’s Spore that Jolene will slip in their drinks (yes, even the construct will be susceptible) we should be able to simply give them tickets and have them board.  Should be simple enough, outside of Seigfried’s inevitable contrariness. Ulricio mentioned some others he’d given permission to board as well, so it sounds like the Echo might be pretty cramped. Strange and generous man, that Ulricio, but we’ll have to make do.

 

Just make sure that you’re able to get out of the harbor before this business with the Razors gets out of hand. Looks like a lot of captains are already heading out now, but you may have to wait a few more days.

 

I know this is asking a lot, maybe even putting your illustrious career in jeopardy. I’m sure you don’t agree with my methods, especially the drugging of the people at the Lucky Deck.  I wouldn’t do any of this, and I wouldn’t ask for your help, if it wasn’t a literal matter of the end of the world. You know that.

 

Yours,

Xa’ligha, master of the Knights Requiem

 

 

Maylin took the note, while Nell went below deck to discover that the ship was taking on water at three different locations!

 

Aaaand... that's all for this week!  Looking forward to another session in two days! (of which I'll try and take a ton more pictures, especially of minis!)

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(our initial setup for the second session)

 

In the fallout of the fight against the giant minotaur beast, Bravura noticed a raft out in the water with two figures on it- a large one-armed tortle and a strange mystical humanoid.

 

The heroes helped get the castaways aboard, then introduced themselves to their new friends: Gahka and Ophelia (one new player and one former player of Nell).

 

Meanwhile, Maylin went down below deck to check on Nell and the battle damage to the ship, and discovered some water leaking into the ship.  There was no sign of Nell.

 

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(the captain's deck, left to right: Siegfried the quartermaster, Captain Vilne Buvran, Jolene the cook)

 

Tensions on the ship seemed to grow, as the navigator Triscaryn grew more and more frustrated that the captain seemed to be ignoring her data and sailing to some unknown location.  One day, the tiefling hero Akrothma tried to ease these tensions by singing a sea shanty on deck.  That seemed to bring a sense of camaraderie to the crew... for a while.

 

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 (Triscaryn the navigator glares at the crew)

 

About fourteen days into what should've been a five day voyage, Captain Buvran and Triscaryn Torrona erupted into a violent argument. The crew, all curious, gathered around.  In a rage, Akrothma stormed toward Captain Buvran, and the captain lashed out at her with her sword.

 

It was total chaos as the entire crew quickly chose sides in a mutiny.

 

The heroes (Akrothma, Maylin, Bravura, Gahka, and Ophelia) all fought on Triscaryn's side, with Maylin grappling the captain.  As her crew dueled all around her, Maylin urged the Captain to reveal what her true motives were, with the mysterious Xa'ligha.  If they were truly fighting for the good of the world, she reasoned, the crew would understand.

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(from left to right: Salbax the illithid physician, Slade his apprentice, Polly the Intellect Devourer, Malmir the botswain, his absolute unit of an apprentice Njordur)

 

Finally, Maylin herself revealed Buvran's lie and the loyalists aboard the ship all dropped their weapons.  The former captain was locked in the brig (along with Bravura's bounty, Johnny the Sidler) and an election was held to decide the new captain: Triscaryn, Jolene, Maylin, or Gahka.

 

Triscaryn won the election, and at Maylin's urging she considered the former captain's motivations.  Captain Triscaryn ruled that Buvran remain in the Brig, but that the heroes could carry on the mission once they made port in the nearby Nyanzaru.

 

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(Maps of Faerun, Chult, Nyanzaru, and a bounty poster the heroes found at Goldenthrone)

 

Triscaryn suggested hiring a guide to help navigate their way across the peninsula of Chult to the Mistcliff Mountains, where Xa'ligha had intended for Vilne to go.  She also said that the heroes could take on some jobs in town, to earn some extra coin.

 

The heroes first went to Goldenthrone, the seat of power in the port city of Nyanzaru.  There, they met the constable Arvel, who offered them some bounties, particularly in dealing with a local terrorist group called the Ytepka.

 

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(streets in Nyanzaru's merchant's district)

 

Later, they went to an inn.  Some of the heroes played a game of cards with a local gambler, while Maylin met a bawdy huntress named Inga who was tracking an enormous "clubtail" near the city.  Inga also suggested talking to a nearby guide named Brasmir- the heroes did so, and hired him on the spot.

 

Brasmir noted he was able to set off in a day's time.  The heroes went back to the docked Echo and partied with the crew for the rest of the night.

 

And that's it for this week!  Definitely a smoother and more successful session on my part, in my opinion.  Still, after two full sessions (and a one shot) of pretty heavy role play, I'm pretty excited for next session to feature a lot more level-appropriate combat and traditional D&D gameplay.  Will be using my friends' digital map table next time!

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Nice!  I like the intrigue aboard the ship.  And next Dinosaurs!  I have been running Tomb of Annihilation games for Adventurer's League recently and I enjoy Chult.  Great photos as well!

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On 9/19/2019 at 12:02 PM, gwangi32 said:

  I have been running Tomb of Annihilation games for Adventurer's League recently and I enjoy Chult.  Great photos as well!

 

Thanks!

 

Yeah, I've been kind of merging a lot of ToA with my own homebrew, at least for the opening chapters in Chult- if my players had ever been in that campaign before, there are probably a few things they'd recognize.

 

Didn't mention it in the Campaign diary entries, but I created a Google Doc of all my stores/inns in Nyanzaru with full menus of goods/pricing.  My players were very excited to see they could buy/race dinosaurs!

Edited by cawatrooper

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Didn't have a lot of story developments this week, but the heroes did get in some good combat encounters to familiarize themselves with their abilities on the way to the Mistcliff Rune. I did get to have some fun using my friends' digital table, though!

 

As the hereos prepared to leave Nyanzaru with their guide Brasmir, Triscaryn told them that repairs to the Havelock Echo would be done within the week and the ship would set sail to Calimport while they were gone.  Goodbyes were said, and Bravura's prisoner (Johnny the Sidler) was released since his bounty was not active in Chult nor Calimsham.

 

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(Map updated with player known locations of Chult)

 

On their second day on the trail, the heroes encountered a Zorbo (along with its song courtesy of "Gizmo's New Song" from the Gremlin's soundtrack).  They nearly approached it, stopping short only because of Brasmir's wise warning.

 

Later, they were ambushed by a group of Deinonychus, attracted by a recent kill that velociraptors were previously snacking on.  They managed to kill three of the beasts.

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(Heroes fight Deinonychus near a watering hole)

 

A few days later, they notice that some myconids strangely sprouted up near their campsite in the middle of the night.  While the wind initially carried some harmful spores their way, they managed to relocate some ways away and were otherwise unharmed.  Maylin, interested in these fungi, took notes on their behavior during her watch shift.

 

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A few days after that, the heroes tried to cross a river.  The current was stronger than usual due to heavy recent rains, and so Maylin and Akrothma tried to bring a rope across it to aid in the others' crossing.

 

Unfortunately, while crossing Mayling felt something touch her leg, and the group was attacked by a large river lizard.  They managed to defeat it, and continue their journey.

 

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Some nights later, the heroes were ambushed by a group of spiders in some jungle ruins.

 

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As they neared the Mistcliff Mountains, they had to cross a waterfall-fed gorge.

 

https://twitter.com/i/status/1180709436769423361

 

During their crossing, they were attacked by a tribe of Grung, and Maylin was very nearly slain (two death saving throws failed).

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Finally, they arrived at the Mistcliff Mountains and it wasn't long before they discovered what seemed to be their primordial shrine- six blocks in the earth, each facing this strange painting on the mountainside.image.thumb.png.f53e96162defe40e99a70f411b1dd8ee.pnge. 

 

What does it mean?  

 

Guess they'll find out next time!

Edited by cawatrooper
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This week, the guide Brasmir and the three heroes (Gahka and Ophelia stayed back at Nyanzaru) arrived at the Mistcliff Mountains.  

 

There, they pondered the meaning of the puzzle laid out before them.  What did it mean?  Six figures in various poses, a flipped image of Chultan wildlife, and six tiles on the ground.

 

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They tried several theories- following the poses to their corresponding images, conga-lining through the tiles while using different poses, doing the poses in reverse order... but nothing worked.

 

Finally, after several more theories, Brasmir pointed out that the above image of Chultan wildlife was not only flipped upsidedown, but also side to side.  The heroes, taking that information into account, tried conga-lining across the tiles again, this time flipping their poses on the y-axis.  Nothing happened on the first two tiles, but once all three heroes were on a tile they sank half an inch into the earth.  

 

They also noticed that three bluish spectral figures, also in reverse poses, were now standing on the other three sinking tiles.  After which, the cave entrance pulled open, revealing a small chamber.

 

Brasmir, more of a guide than a fighter, elected to stay at the cave entrance.  The heroes looked ahead, to see that the only way forward was a long and claustrophobic waterway, with a rowboat in the chamber they were currently in.  Preparing to set off, they approached the rowboat, but three snakes slithered out and attacked them!

 

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After fending off the snakes, the heroes took some time to lick their wounds, then prepared to cast off again.  The waterway went deep into the cave, and Maylin noticed that the water itself was teeming black with countless small serpentine figures.  Falling in would be a bad idea.

 

Finally, they reached a new landing, and disembarked from the snake-filled river.  As they prepared to venture deeper into the cave, three hooded figured approached.

 

"We will take you to the Shrine of Ub Tao", they said in unison, with a hint of magical suggestion in their voices.

 

Akrothma and Bravura both agreed, but Maylin resisted their magic.  Still, outnumbered, she played along.

 

Coming down the hallway, the three figured stopped at some living quarters and knocked.  "We are taking them to the Shrine of Ub Tao.  Follow," they called to those inside.  Three more hooded figures exited the rooms and filed in behind the heroes.

 

Up ahead, a large reptilian figure exited a room, and clumsily ran straight for the heroes.

 

"No!" the hooded figures shouted, but it was too late.  The monster and the heroes began to fight.

 

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After slaying the beast, the hooded figures turned to the heroes.  "How dare you slay the Broodguard?  It is a sacred beast," they accused, again in unison.

 

"It attacked us," Maylin protested, but there was no persuading them.  The figures attacked in anger, and were quickly slain as well.

 

Upon looting the bodies, the heroes discovered that their former escort were, in fact, serpentine humanoids, Yian-Ti purebloods. They gathered up some robes from the bodies and the living quarters (which seemed oddly non-Yuan-Ti) and donned their disguises.

 

Heading further down the path, they ran across a store room as well as a window looking outside, out to the ocean itself (confirming they'd traveled across the entire peninsula).  They stocked up on supplies and headed further into the cave.

 

They came across an ornate door, where they heard quiet scratches on the other side.  Boldly stepping through, Bravura encountered a large serpentine-like man, a Yuan-Ti malison, writing a letter.

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"Are you Ub Tao?" asked Bravura.

 

"How dare you call me by that traitor's name!" the figure hissed, and lashed out with his scimitars.  The heroes began fighting the monster, and Akrothma created a bonfire under its chair.  Unfortunately, the fire began to spread to the desk as well, and Bravura quickly acted, grabbing the letter the Malison had been writing.

 

As the fight turned against the outnumbered Malison, it fled into the darker regions of the cave, as three cultists rushed forward to protect their overseer. They were quickly dispatched of, and the heroes pursued the fleeing creature into what appeared to be a mess hall.  There, the Malison made its final stand, and was finally felled by one of Bravura's hand crossbow bolts.

 

The heroes propped up the Malison at one of the tables Weekend at Bernies-style and prepared to make their journey into the final rooms of the cave (and hopefully, to this Shrine itself).  Before ending the session, Bravura pulled out the note that the Malison had bee writing:

 

image.png.cb23dd3b4bca5e01115660161dc70713.png

 

 

The letter itself made little sense to the heroes, particularly the blue and moving (almost encrypted-seeming) word.

 

Yet, it contained some vital info for their next steps.

 

Next time we meet (in two weeks, probably) they will journey into the final rooms of this infested shrine, and hopefully finally get some answers for what is going on in Chult!

 

Those of you reading this might have some idea of what is going on by now.  While the story itself is homebrew as well as some very specific elements of characters/creatures (notice the spelling of "Ub Tao" for instance, a strictly aesthetic change I made), it's also deeply rooted in canon elements of Chultan lore, too.  Those of you familiar with it may well know exactly who Issshtti's letter is addressed to, what the Eshowow is, and even exactly what that magically encrypted word represents. Though it's a much more homebrewed element, someone reading this might even have begun to suspect how the different "interpretations" with the Waterdeep Jade Razor encounter between the One Shot and First Session come into play, though that might be more of a long shot.

 

But my players aren't at all familiar with Chult, so they get to discover this through the lens of the game- over time, it will all begin to piece itself together (probably around level 5 or 6, at which the pace of the story will change dramatically.  But for now, they live in the shadows.

 

Finally, I've noticed that the pictures taken on the digital table just come out pretty badly.  Depending on where the heroes decide to go after this dungeon, we may return to physical maps (and my own house) soon, but I'm willing to hear any suggestions on how to account for better pictures on a digital table.  Maybe it's also the darker lighting there?

 

'Till next time!

Edited by cawatrooper
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This weekend, Maylin, Bravura, and Akrothma entered the final room of Ub Tao's shrine, where they discovered a ritual taking place in a wooden chapel- eight cultists observing a malison, standing in front of a large tree to which a man was lashed.

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The heroes ambushed the Yuan-Ti, but the cultists dropped their weapons in surrender immediately.

 

"If you're here, then Issshtti is surely dead," they said.  "Let us go, and you can have the rune and the man."  The malison then threw the torch at the tree, and all fled.

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After quelling the fire, the heroes were able to only get about a quarter of the maze-like rune recorded.

 

Donovan, the man who was lashed to the tree, introduced himself as a Knight Requiem, having been ambushed by the Yuan-Ti while waiting for another Requiem agent (Vilne Buvran, the former captain of the Havelock Echo).

 

"Hold on, how did you get here?" he asked.

 

"A guide took us through the jungle," Maylin said.

 

"No," Donovan answered.  "How did you get over the river of snakes?"  

 

A look of horror crossed the heroes' faces, as they realized the Yuan-Ti were likely taking the rowboat, their only escape out of the shrine.  They sprinted for the exit, encountering several disarmed cultists who tried to slow their progress.

 

Finally, at the interior docks near the snake river tunnel, two cultists stood.  "Please," they said.  "Don't kill us- they're coming back for us."  

 

"Then they'll come back either way," Akrothma answered, sending a Thunderwave toward them, knocking them into the serpent infested waters.  Their screams were quickly cut short as they perished, and a voice from down the tunnel yelled out "Is everything okay?"  They could hear the rowboat returning.

 

"Uh yes, everything's fine" said Akrothma and Bravura, both disguised in Cult gear.  "Uhh, may we march further to victory, constricting the universe in our scaly coils," Maylin said, quoting the mantra at the bottom of Issshtti's letter.

 

"In our scaly coils indeed," said the cultist, and docked the boat to allow them to board.

Image

 

Once aboard, the group quickly dispatched of the cultist, though Maylin and Bravura both briefly fell into the infested waters, taking massive amounts of damage.

 

The group escaped the tunnels, and found their guide Brasmir with lethal wounds, having been stabbed by his own disarmed sword by the fleeing malison. Maylin used some magic to spare him, and the group made came outside the shrine that night.

 

The next day they returned to the shrine to investigate it in more peace.  They found out little, though they did all touch the so-called Lifetree that Donovan had been in.  When they touched it, they heard what appeared to be a muffled voice, quickly joined by more, until it was an utter cacophony of noise.  

 

Without the full rune, they had not succeeded on their quest for the mysterious Xa'Ligha, lord of the Knights Requiem.  Donovan said he'd return to his master, in the subterranean city of Bhalig, but suggested the heroes look into the Oracle, a figure that apparently Issshtti had sent assassins after.  With the boat from the cave, Brasmir suggested floating down the river Shoenstar back to Nyanzaru, making for a much quicker journey than walking.

 

The journey was fraught with a few chance encounters, including a large sloth in a cave the heroes had made camp in...

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As well as a carnotaurus in some river rapids

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But ultimately, the heroes managed to avoid both beasts entirely, skirting combat through more peaceful means.  In three days, they arrived at back Nyanzaru, where a whole host of new problems await them.

 

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21 hours ago, Corsair said:

Is that the Reaper Bones Carnosaurus?

It is, yep!  Apologies, they're all candid game shots in the moment, so lighting can be funky.  Next session is at our house, and the lighting tends to agree with me more there.

 

Got that one from the kickstarter late pledge and painted him up like the baddie from Disney's Dinosaur.

 

I picked up another one recently to give a different paintjob.

 

So far in our campaign, from Reaper we've had several pirates show up, lots of villagers, mushroom men, giant lizard/raptor pack/giant sloth (also all from the Lost Valley expansion), and the Dreadmere rowboat.  Much more to come!

Edited by cawatrooper
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This week was a bit of a slower one, but nonetheless important.  

 

Akrothma, Maylin, and Bravura returned to Port Nyanzaru and began searching for "The Oracle", the mysterious figure that the malison Issshtti had sent assassins after.  However, the city was big, and they had few leads.

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(quite a few Reaper townsfolk used this time!)

 

At the tavern The Land Shark, the heroes met the huntress Inga again, and she mentioned that the heroes could try some of the townhouses north of the city.  While checking these locations, they came across a kindly elderly woman named Charlene (who gave them cookies!), as well as a seemingly empty house.  While camping out near the empty house, four hooded figured tried to enter it.  The heroes attempted to distract them, and managed to keep the attention of three while a fourth slipped through the door and triggered a trap.  Combat erupted, and the heroes slew two, while the final was felled by an arrow deeper in the house- a goliath ranger who the heroes found to be vaguely familiar.  She introduced herself as the Oracle, but also went by Sledge (check the first post in this thread for relevancy).

 

Sledge said that she was once trying to escape the city of Waterdeep aboard a ship called the Havelock Echo, but was ambushed by a group known as the Jade Razor.  In her desperation, she clutched her chest and touched an amulet she'd never seen before.

 

She was instantly transported to a cave full of Yuan Ti (a reference to a moment in our previous Rise of Tiamat campaign, where we'd used Sledge previously).  In the cave, she discovered numerous paintings, all depicting potentially world-ending events- including one in particular where the Yuan-Ti themselves manage to summon a giant serpent that eats the sun.  Sledge was then transported again to the Shrine of Ub Tao in Chult, where she emerged to discover that she was 250ish years earlier than when she'd been attacked in Waterdeep.  With her newfound knowledge of apocalyptic events, she helped found an order called the Knights Requiem, with the intent on stopping these world-ending catastrophes. 

 

Working with Sledge to formulate a plan, the heroes mentioned the areas marked on their map of known locations, along with the areas marked on the floor of the Shrine of Ub Tao (represented by trees).

image.png.069f1e311834209bf4eacc37da733acd.png

(note that there are some changes/homebrewed content for this map compared to the official ToA one)

 

Sledge mentioned that she was here for the one in Nyanzaru.  Her research had led her to believe that this shrines was located beneath the Great Arena.  While the area was generally guarded and not open to the public, it would be open via guest right to friends of the finalists of competitors in the arena fights of the upcoming Port Festival.  They reasoned that both Sledge and Bravura could compete in the arena, doubling their odds of getting someone into the finals.

 

To bide their time during the 21 days until the festival begins, the heroes decided to take on jobs in town.  Though the goblin bounty seemed to be taken by a bounty hunter named Rolf Palefist, and the escorting of a rebel named Harna to an unknown location was no longer available, there was a rumor of a child named Hiram recently missing.  His father, confusingly named Uncle Jonas, offered a cash reward, but warned that the boy had gone off to explore an infamous haunted house south of the city.  Undeterred, our heroes headed off into the boggy marshes south of Nyanzaru to save the boy.

 

And on that spooky (and week late) note, we now must wait to see what happens next session (where hopefully more action happens)!

Edited by cawatrooper
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The heroes arrived at a manor south of Nyanzaru, nestled in the forest and surrounded by statues.

 

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Image

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After doing some investigating, they discovered a window that seemed to show only static on the other side.  Bravura shot a crossbow bolt at it, causing a huge boom that disentegrated plants in a small radius- in the leftover hold where the window once stood was now only a void.

 

They tried the front of the house, where Maylin tried using her thieves tools to open the door. The two smaller statues turned around, and began to attack with stony tooth and claw.  Maylin, Bravura, Akrothma, and the artificer's homonculus "Deathlord" defended themselves, but took heavy damage.

 

After the two smaller gargoyles had been crumbled into stony bits, the third, larger, four-armed one turned to them.  "Cleanse this place, and places like it, and you can remove Acererak's stain from this land," it said, handing them a key.

 

The key opened the door, and the heroes entered the manor.

 

They found twisting hallways leading to what one might expect in an old abandoned house- old beds, cobwebs, a library, etc.  There were also rooms that seemed to be almost cavelike- strange, since the ranch-style house was seemingly totally above ground.

 

In one room, they fought off a trio of flying swords.  Bravura shot one out of the air, keeping the de-animated sword for himself, while Maylin and Akrothma used fire spells to melt the others.  Maylin took the melted metal to keep as a potential armor for her homonculus, Deathlord.

 

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"Maybe we should call for Hiram," offered Akrothma.

 

"Hiram!" Shouted Maylin.  "Are you in here?"

 

"Help!" A voice shouted.

 

"Who are you?" Maylin shouted back.

 

"... Hiram!" it returned.

 

"Where are you from?" asked Akrothma.

 

No response.


"Hello?  Hiram?" tried Maylin again.

 

"Help me, I'm trapped!" answered the voice.

 

"Where are you from?"

 

Again, no answer.  
 

As the group doubled back to the main hallway, cautiously toward the voice, they realized that parts of the house seemed to have shifted and changed.  New rooms stood where old ones were, and old rooms seemed to have disappeared.  The entire architecture of the house seemed to have changed while they were gone.

 

"I... I don't think this is a real house," said Maylin.

 

From behind them they heard a voice- "help!"

 

They turned to see a hideous, spectre-like, translucent being.

 

"Who are you?" Bravura asked.

 

"Help!" it answered.

 

"Are you bad?" tried Maylin.

 

"Bad!" it shouted back, and began to float toward the heroes.

 

Maylin and Akrothma ran further into the house, where they came upon the unconscious body of a young boy.  They used Levitate on him and tethered him to Deathlord, so he could float out of the house.

 

"Bad," shouted the being, advancing toward Bravura.  He too turned to run, but when Akrothma and Maylin arrived to make a break for the exit... the main hallway had disappeared.  Nothing- not the spectral figure, not the other rooms... just a dead end.

 

"Bad!" they heard a muffled voice shout, but it was no longer in the room with them.

 

They turned around again, and say that the room they'd found Hiram in was also gone.  Nothing but another dead end now.  They were in a shrinking, exit-less, hallway.  Turning around again, Maylin saw that the other side of the hallway had also shrunk.

 

The group kept their eyes on all sides of the hallway, so as to prevent the house from shrinking any more.  Finally, Maylin tried to magically identify what the house was.  She learned a bit, that it was definitely magical and seemed to respond to being seen.

 

Bravura suggested everyone close their eyes at the same time.  They tried that, and opened them to see a door.  They opened it... back to the Jungle, finally.

 

Maylin wasn't convinced.  "I think we're still in that forsaken house" she said.

 

Nevertheless, they trekked down the road, when suddenly they were surrounded by a swirling darkness.

 

In their minds, they heard a voice say "The Eater of the Sun comes, but he will find a world already shrouded in Darkness".

 

Akrothma created a magical bonfire in the darkness, but the light it case behind her created a living shadow.  Maylin tried sending a firebolt to kill the shadow, effectively, but the light the firebolt cast created a Maylin shadow behind her. In desperation, the heroes lashed out with spells and weapons, and the shadow closed in on them.  Escape seemed impossible, until all of a sudden the darkness screamed in agony, and it retreated back to the south, like a tendril returning to its master.

 

(I used a mounted flashlight for this, shrinking its radius- didn't get a good picture, though).

 

Upon returning to Nyanzaru, the heroes returned Hiram to Uncle Jonas, getting a frightening music box and some gold for their efforts.

 

Then they headed back to the north of town where they met with Sledge, Charlene, and Inga.  Inga told Bravura that she too had signed up for the Port Festival's melee tournament. In fact, the tournament bracket had been posted.

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That night, they spoke to Sledge about what happened.  She was intrigued most by the giant shadow that attacked them on the way back.

 

"That... that sounds like it could've been the Eschodow", she said. "It's concerning it managed to spread this close to the city already, even it was in a weakened state."

 

"I also have more bad news for you," Sledge said.  "There have been reports that a hunting party of gnolls are looking for you. Which, you may be able to handle, though I'm concerned about someone putting out a hit like this on you."

 

"Could it have been the Yuan Ti?  Obviously they're probably out for us now, like they were for you," Maylin reasoned.

 

"Perhaps," Sledge answered. "Though it's strange that they're also not looking for me, if that's the case."

 

A few tendays passed, and the heroes tended to their own business.  Maylin did some research, both on the Primordials and on various alchemical things. Bravura read about Chult's history, and trained for the melee tournament.  Akrothma delved into her own sorcerous origins, and signed up for a... corn-eating contest at the port festival.

 

Bravura also received a mysterious message during this time:

 

 

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Greetings Bravura,

 

We’ve been watching you and your friends since you made port at Nyanzaru, and we hope you’d be willing to help us.

One of our most skilled agents, Harna, has been captured by the Flaming Fist mercenary legion that secretly rules the city. Recently, a group of bounty hunters from the Bundreon Syndicate has agreed to transport him out of the city in a few tendays.  We do not know his destination, but he will likely be taken off the peninsula entirely, away from any hope of rescue .

 We do, however, know his current location- he is imprisoned in a cell underneath the Great Arena. Our spies report that the Bundreon agents are waiting until the finale of the melee tournament during the Port Festival, when the city’s excitement and bacchanal, the distractions of fireworks, and the anonymity of masquerade will all aid in his “relocation”.

 But those things can be to our advantage, too.

One of our most skilled warriors, Tar Claw, has entered into the melee as well. But it wouldn’t hurt to have a ringer or two, to ensure we get someone in the finale. Would you, as well as this associate of yours Sledge, be willing to help us if you make it to the final round? All you’d need to do is to let a few of our agents in as your guests before the fight, then help ensure that Harna is able to leave the arena alive.

We can’t pay as much as the authorities at Goldenthrone, at least not now. But you’d be doing the right thing.

 We’ll be in touch,

 

The Ytepka  

 

 

At last, the festival began, and Bravura faced off against his first opponent in the Arena.

 

The announcer first presented the bounty hunter, and he got a decent amount of cheers.

 

"In the other corner, stands The Wulfhammer, fan favorite from last year's event!"

 

A woman with an enormous hammer emerged, smashing it into the ground three times and creating a small crater.  She slowly approached Bravura, who in his own panic dropped his hand crossbow.

 

He picked it up, as Maylin and Akrothma in the crowd began to try and taunt Wulfhammer.

 

As the hammer lady grew closer, Bravura ran around the perimeter of the Arena.

 

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As the Wulfhammer approached Bravura, she swung a few times, missing each time.  Maylin began to chant "Gnollhammer".  Inexplicably, the crowd loved that pejorative, and began to chant along.

 

Soon, the entire arena was teasing "Gnollhammer!  Gnollhammer!"

 

It seemed to break her concentration, making her even more frustrated and clumsy.  "Gnollhammer, Gnollhammer!" the arena continued to tease.

 

Finally, Bravura shot her in the chest with a bolt, and she yielded.

 

The Arena announcer congratulated Bravura, and announced that his next opponent would be the Saurial Tar Claw!

 

But that's not until next session.  

 

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We didn't have a session this week for the Chult campaign, but we did have a one shot that continued our old characters.  Our DM did a great job with a fun homebrew, and it was good to get the old gang back together again, as well as I having the opportunity to play as a character for a bit.

 

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The Nyanzaru port festival continued this weekend, starting off with a corn cob eating festival that Akrothma the tiefling won!

 

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That night, Bravura received a mysterious letter: 

 

 

Quote

 

Greetings Bravura,

 

We’ve been watching you and your friends since you made port at Nyanzaru, and we hope you’d be willing to help us.

One of our most skilled agents, Harna, has been captured by the Flaming Fist mercenary legion that secretly rules the city. Recently, a group of bounty hunters from the Bundreon Syndicate has agreed to transport him out of the city in a few tendays.  We do not know his destination, but he will likely be taken off the peninsula entirely, away from any hope of rescue .

 We do, however, know his current location- he is imprisoned in a cell underneath the Great Arena. Our spies report that the Bundreon agents are waiting until the finale of the melee tournament during the Port Festival, when the city’s excitement and bacchanal, the distractions of fireworks, and the anonymity of masquerade will all aid in his “relocation”.

 But those things can be to our advantage, too.

Our mighty champion, Tar Claw, has entered into the melee as well. But it wouldn’t hurt to have a ringer or two, to ensure we get someone in the finale. Would you, as well as this associate of yours Sledge, be willing to help us if you make it to the final round? All you’d need to do is to let a few of our agents in as your guests before the fight, then help ensure that Harna is able to leave the arena alive.

We can’t pay as much as the authorities at Goldenthrone, at least not now. But you’d be doing the right thing.

 We’ll be in touch,

 

The Ytepka  

 

 

Bravura revealed this information to Akrothma and Maylin, as well as Sledge.  None seemed all that sympathetic to the Ytepka (surprisingly to the DM), but did decide that they could serve as a useful distraction when infiltrating the lower levels of the arena during the final round in a search for the Nyanzaru Life Tree.

 

Knowing that Tar Claw was actually his next opponent, he prepared himself for the second round of the melee.  Secretly casting his Hunter's Mark upon seeing the Saurial before the match.

 

"Hey, I know that guy", Akrothma and Maylin heard as Bravura walked out.  Sitting in front of them was Johnny the Sidler, Bravura's old bounty that he'd released.  They briefly talked with Johnny, who was apparently "casing the joint" in a gig for the Bundreon Syndicate, after emulating Bravura and becoming a bounty hunter.

 

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(apologies again for the very bad photo quality this time around)

 

The open arena, as well as the rather in-congruent idea of an alliance between Bravura and the Ytepka made for a quick and easy fight, Bravura's bolts finding their targets hard with each shot.  As the saurial surrendered, the crowd cheered, and as that died down a single slow clapping could be heard.

 

 

 

"A noble fight, Bravura," a well dressed man called out.  Bravura correctly identified him as the governor of Nyanzaru (and greater Chult), Merril Westley.  "But this fight was all too quick.  The crowd deserves more.  Kill him, now."

 

Bravura hesitated.

 

"Do it," the mayor commanded.

 

With one swift motion, Bravura sent his rapier right through Tar Claw's heart, killing the saurial instantly.

 

Again the crowd cheered, and Bravura took a seat with his friends.  They watched the rest of the matches, including Sledge vs Inga (in which they seemed to perform an almost choreographed trick of arrows, which Sledge ultimately won) and Bravura's next potential opponents, Achilles Xenai vs The Lute.  Last year's champion The Lute, a brutish human, threw a net over his elvish opponent, they evicerated him with a trident, all without even being prompted by the gamesmaster or governor for an execution.  The crowd went wild anyway.

 

They also noticed a competitor that looked oddly familiar, Shelshi, the only Yuan-Ti to escape from the Shrine to Ub Tao.  He advanced as well, to combat Sledge in the next round.

 

There was less merrymaking this night, as everyone prepared for difficult matches.  Again, Bravura secretly cast Hunter's Mark on The Lute before entering the arena.  The crowd went wild as the brute entered the arena, but again Bravura's ranged attacks seemed to work in his favor, as the scrappy ranger attempted desperately to avoid his opponent's net.  

 

After a few rounds of cat and mouse combat, governor Westley stood up and loudly proclaimed "Let's make things a little more interesting, shall we?"  Another gate to the arena opened, and a large ankylosaurus charged into the arena.  Both Bravura and The Lute managed to jump out of the way of the initial charge, but found themselves on opposite sides of the beast.

 

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The Lute tried to cast his net over the beast's head and Bravura, but the ranger dodged the toss, and the beast was quick to shake it off.

 

"We need to stand together, brother!" called The Lute, realizing the beast's strength.  Both parties attacked the beast, but the Lute's attacks just wouldn't stick.

 

"You're uselss!" cried Maylin to The Lute.

 

"You don't have the ****s to fight this thing" Akrothma teased him.  That was enough to truly test his willpower, as The Lute turned around and cocked back his trident to throw into the crowd.  But as he charged Maylin, he turned his back to the large dinosaur, whose tail splattered him toward the arena wall.  Parts of him lay on the ground, parts went through the grating on the gate.  It was a mess.

 

With his opponent utterly obliterated, restrictions on magic or outside assistance ended, and Maylin cast out a firebolt on the dinosaur.  It turned around and charged their side of the arena.  Meanwhile, Akrothma cast Levitate on Bravura, bringing him up and out of harm's way of the beast.  From his position, Bravura began firing his crossbow bolts in safety.

 

The dinosaur ran into the arena wall, and Maylin, Charlene, and Johnny the Sidler all fell into the arena with it.  Maylin rushed to help the old woman Charlene.  She used her alchemical skills to try to create a rock that sounded like the Carnosaurus they saw in the wild, but it ended up just scaring the Ankylosaurus into charging harder into the wall they were at. 

 

As the dinosaur loomed over the three on the ground, Bravua shot a final bolt and it embedded itself perfectly into the beast's skull, killing it.  Again, the crowd applauded this mess of a fight.

 

That night, the three heroes participated in the festival competition of Slashed (basically the show Chopped, but for potionmaking).  Each was given a set of extremely rare ingredients and modifiers, and was charged with identifying various properties of them if they could, in an attempt to create the ultimate potion.

 

Long story short, Akrothma ended up making a poison that could cause double disadvantage on ability checks and saving throws, Bravura created an amnesia-causing flashpowder, and Maylin created a potion that could give its user a temporary but potentially extremely potent firebreath (2D20).

 

And after that competition, they headed off to Sledge's townhouse for a good night's rest before the final round, Sledge vs Bravura.  Likely to be more of a distraction as Maylin and Akrothma try to infiltrate the Life Tree's shrine beneath the coliseum, but I'm excited to see how their plan plays out!  (also, will try and make sure the lighting is a lot better for pictures next time)

 

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(I rolled for all of the non-played matches to make this semi random, with "favored" outcomes getting modifiers.  Interestingly, Sledge was "supposed" to lose to Shelshi or Jed, making for a more traditional finale.  Didn't expect her to face Bravura, but I'm really excited to see what happens next time!)

Edited by cawatrooper

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The night before the melee tourney's finale, Sledge received a letter via flying snake directly from Xa'ligha, stating that Sir Donovan had arrived at Bhalig.  It also stated that the gnolls seem to be sent by some Chultan folk monster known as the Tigonthi Mora, a great beast that ravages Chult once every generation, coming in a different form each time.  Apparently it was patrolling the east coast of Chult, while the gnolls were after the heroes as well as others from the Havelock  Echo, such as Salbax.

 

The heroes deduced that this "Tigonthi Mora" may be the great minotaur beast they were attacked by on the ship.

 

Another knock at the door and two beings entered Sledge's townhouse- an armored saurial and a human woman.  They introduced themselves as members of the Ytepka, and asked if the deal was still on.  With some planning, the heroes decided that Maylin and Akrothma would accompany Bravura as his guests, while the two Ytepka would accompany Sledge.

 

They all got some well deserved sleep, and woke up to another knock at the door in the morning- Charlene offering her best wishes, as well as traditional Chultan masquerade masks, a staple of the final day of the festival.

 

After a hearty breakfast in the Gladatorial entrance, the heroes noticed a strange occurrence- a human rogue, a dragonborn, and an earth elemental all escorted beneath the arena.  After a few moments, Maylin and Akrothma were likewise escorted beneath the arena, with the Ytepka assuredly also on the other side.

 

Meanwhile, the arena doors opened and the "fight" began, as Bravura and Sledge attempted to sell a performance of a fight without wounding each other too badly.

 

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As they "fought", Akrothma and Maylin followed their guard escort beneath the arena, past rows of cages of all sorts of beasts- carnotaurus, more ankylosaurus, giant sloths, and other creatures unknown to them.  This hallway let out into a subterranean round room, directly beneath the arena floor itself.

 

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In that room, they heard a clattering and a scream from the other side- the Ytepka killing their guard escort.  Maylin and Akrothma's guard said "Quick, follow me", and went to investigate, but the two instead snuck into the ruins in the center of the room, where they found a small hole.  They jumped down, further into the ruins beneath the arena, and into a small hallway.  At the end of the hallway were the people they'd seen heading down earlier, as well as an elven man in chains being dragged by the elemental.

 

Back in the arena, as Sledge and Bravura put on a show, the gladatorial entrance behind Sledge opened up and a huge behemoth charged into the arena, goring Sledge's side.

 

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Akrothma and Maylin tried to play innocent to the mercenaries in the hallway, who identified themselves as the Bundreon Syndicate (and their prisoner as the Ytepkan champion Harna).  

 

However, the Ytepka agents followed down soon afterward, and the heroes got caught in the crossfire of the fight, choosing to side with the Ytepka.

 

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Back above, the triceratops turned its attention to Bravura, trampling him and nearly knocking him out.  Sledge and he focused their fire on the beast, ultimately killing it, but not after taking a ton of damage each.

 

Below, the dragonborn casted Levitate on the elemental, and it floated back through hole and into the antechamber under the arena.  Maylin followed with her homonculus Deathlord, casting spells and acid at it.

 

"ENOUGH OF THESE GAMES," shouted governor Merril Westley in the arena.

 

"I know what you're up to.  Kill each other.  Now, or I'll release another beast".

 

Bravura and Sledge began fighting each other more ferociously, now in desperation.  Bloodied and beaten, Bravura landed some brutal shots on the goliath, but she finished him, knocking Bravura out.

 

Below, the Bundreon syndicate began a larger retreat, with the dragonborn and human also scrambling to get out of the whole.   In the antechamber, Maylin and Deathlord knocked the floating earth elemental out of the air, killing it.  The elf Harna bowed and ran out.

 

Above in the arena, Bravura remained unconscious, failing a few death saving throws.

 

Back below, Akrothma began casting bonfires on the heels of the fleeing Bundreon bounty hunters, the battle now taking place on three fronts.

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Back above, Bravura woke up, with Sledge's hand on his shoulder.  "Cause a distraction," she said.  Bravura weighed tossing his amnesia flashbang into the middle of the arena, but instead decided not to, as Sledge molded the earth under the gate behind them and pulled Bravura into the entrance.  Hitting the loose brick that he noticed earlier opens the door to the antechambers, Bravura and Sledge fled into the halls under the arena, where they found Akrothma and Maylin disposing of the bodies of the slain guards and Bundreon bounty hunters, with the remaining Ytepka leaving the scene.

 

 

The party finally headed back down deep into the under halls, where at least they found their prize- the lifetree!  Or, at least the stump of one.  Luckily, though, there was a series of paintings and etchings detailing some sort of ritual, as well as the locations on Chult for its components.  The rune of Ub Tao was etched several times into this display.

 

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As Maylin etched the rune, Bravura the gloomstalker distracted about fifteen pursuing city guards who had foolishly come to this dark area without torches, and Akrothma and Sledge found an escape into the sewers.  After buying enough time, the group escaped down the sewers and let out into the jungle near the Bay of Chult.

 

Bravura led the group to to a cave a couple miles outside of the city and the heroes planned their next move- to head to Bhalig and finally meet the mysterious Xa'ligha.

 

 

 

 

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