The Forgotten City

Tomb With a View
The Bards stumble across a long sealed tomb, but what awaits them within?

The tunnel led the Bards to an ancient and sturdy stone wall, which seemed to have been blasted through. Upon entering, they found themselves in a large, and well constructed, tomb (the grouting was very fine). Having entered, they spotted a man garbed in fine black robes through the door to their left. Before they could react though, he cast some kind of spell, sending the door crashing down, and blocking him off from them. The wall opposite them featured an entrance that remained open though. Now very much on their guard, the Bards ventured deeper into the tomb.

The room they entered was mostly bare, but a raised podium with a plaque greeted them.

“The sun is born in the east and gives its life in the west. Yet the shadow that is born below glares up at the heavens in defiance of its end.”

Pondering this cryptic message, the Bards ventured further within. The next room held five statues, each depicting a cleric, priest, or paladin. They each bore a name; Brother White, Brother Red, Brother Green, Brother Brown and Brother Blue. Another plaque in the room read as follows;

The dead want nothing more than the appropriate deference from the living. From greatest to least, pay thy respects.

Upon approaching the statues, each glowed, and greeted them with a cryptic message regarding their respect for the others teachings. The Bards listened closely, and soon were able to discern the order of importance based on this. They then paid their respects to the statues in the proper order. As a result, the wall at the back of the room slid away, revealing passage deeper into the tomb, and leading to the realisation that this was a tomb of the oldest design, replete with traps, riddles and more, in order to turn away all but the wisest and most skilful of intruders. The designers of these ancient tombs felt only the deserving should be admitted within.

The next area housed yet another plaque, with yet another message;

Two steps forward, one step back is the rule of a world turned black. Once with success, advance within, with persistance you shall win.

Upon entering the next room, the door slammed shut, and they found themselves on a narrow platform, with a lever on either side. Pulling one lever caused darts to fire out, injuring some of the party, though Eredhion avoided them in a remarkable display of acrobatics. The other lever opened the doors, allowing them to exit.

The next room seemed empty at first, but small holes in the ceiling soon changed that, as three strange grey hued slime creatures dropped into the room. After the party dispatched the odd ooze-like monsters, they continued deeper into the tomb. To their surprise though, they found themselves back in the room with the two levers. Some discussion ensued, and they recalled the earlier plaque. With the insight from that, they deduced that to advance, they had to move two rooms forward, then go back one room, then once again advance forward. Doing so led them to a new room, one with a large metal pillar in the centre. The pillar shot off electrical energy at random, and the room’s exit lay above them. It took all of their skill and not a little luck, but they made their way up to the top of the room, while avoiding the majority, though not all, of the electricity.

The next room contained four purple orbs, spread out through the room. Upon striking them, they began to glow, but only, it seemed if struck in the correct order. Striking them in the wrong order, as Belgevain found out to his discomfort, resulted in the person striking them being zapped with a strange energy. Some discussion and arguing ensued, with the Bards finally realising that this room must be what the earlier plaque referred to;

“The sun is born in the east and gives its life in the west. Yet the shadow that is born below glares up at the heavens in defiance of its end.”

Using this as a guide, they struck the orbs in the correct order of East, West, Lower then Upper, unsealing the room’s exit for them to advance.

The next room in this tomb contained an array of undead. Skeletal archers on platforms above, and bare-skulled zombies on the ground level. During the battle, the party also discovered two false floors concealed pits. The battle was fierce, and not without peril, but the Bards triumphed in the end, and were able to move on to the next part of the tomb.

This turned out to be the main chamber of the tomb, where the remains of the interred lay. Also within the chamber was the black robed man, who took some time to talk to them. They discovered this tomb was that of the revered cleric Tehlu, for which the town was named. It had been sealed for a thousand years, but he had broken his way in with the help of the goblins. He was hoping to raise Tehlu to serve him. Annoyed at the interruption, he disappeared, but not before summoning a familiar face to attack the Bards; the recently deceased Ironjaw!

The jaw they had been carrying flew out of their bag and reattached itself, and Ironjaw attacked. Empowered by necromancy, and wielding a new chain-like flail, he was even more of a threat. But the Bards once again prevailed.

Their celebration was cut short though, as a veritable horde of zombies began to come at them from the further reaches of the tomb. Seeing they would be overwhelmed quickly, they beat a retreat through the tomb, but as they reached the way they had come in, they saw the zombies destroyed by a pure white light of immense power and radiance. Looking upon their saviour, they found it to be none other than the long dead Tehlu! But was this revenant cleric friend or foe…?

Behind the Scenes

The puzzles in the tomb were all adapted from the level ‘Lars’ Tomb’ in the Playstation game “The Adventures of Alundra”. Most of the plaque text is taken verbatim, or with only very small changes from the game. The execution was adapted to more suit a tabletop game though. The music the GM played during this session was the background music from this level.
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The necromancer in this quest was originally intended to be spotted at the mayor’s gathering, and then confronted soon after. He was then to have no further part in the plot. He was given a larger part to play due to the player’s developing such a dislike of him, going on to become the focal villain of the campaign.
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The attack Tehlu uses is in fact an actual attack usable by clerics; Sacred Word. It’s a level 25 daily power. However, it is only a close burst 2, so the actual attack would likely not have hit as many zombies as it did.
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Dn d tomb map
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This is the (highly detailed) sketch of the tomb that was used when planning this section

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Subterranean Adventures
The Bards face a goblin champion, and discover that Glittershard Mine runs deeper than expected

Grundbar had recently won a contract to operate a silver mine in the nearby hills. He has one problem, though: A tribe of primitive goblins was already mining his claim. Locals knew the goblins as the Glintblades because they used the silver from the mine to make the points of their arrows and spears. Grundbar’s contract stipulated that he had to find a way to parlay with the goblins or remove them from the mine. As Grundbar couldn’t imagine working with the “filthy savages,” he instead decided to hire adventurers to clear it out.

The short journey to the mine outside of Tehlu’s Crossing was uneventful, and the mine seemed curiously devoid of activity, even once the Bards got inside. A little way into the mine, their keen observational skills spotted a hidden doorway, leading them to a small room with a man dead from starvation, and his bag of everlasting provisions. A small journal beside him revealed that the delirium of a fever had led to him arguing with the patently unliving bag of provisions, and refusing to use it, he died a few days later. The party decided that it would serve them better, and hoped to maintain a more cordial relationship with it.

A little further into the mine, they encountered the first signs of goblin occupation, followed shortly by a trio of goblins, guarding the entrance to some larger cavern. After dispatching the guards, they entered the cavern to find a larger group of goblins, and their leader. The leader sneered at them, correctly assuming they had come there to remove the goblins. He taunted them, saying that even the three of them together could not beat the tribe’s champion; Ironjaw. The three accepted the challenge, unafraid of any goblin the tribe might muster. They were somewhat shocked to see Ironjaw when he came out though. Easily the size of four goblins, with a muscled frame and the frightful metal jaw that gave him his name, Ironjaw was not a foe to be taken lightly.

The goblins formed a circle around the combatants, jeering and pushing the Bards if they should come too close to them. The three used teamwork, tactics, and skilful fighting, and eventually they were able to fell the intimidating brute. Upon seeing this, most of the goblins fled, terror clear in their glittering black eyes. The chieftain however charged them, hoping to capitulate on their tired state. He ws unable to however, and was instead rather spectacularly cleaved in twain. The Bards took his now bisected head-dress as a trophy of sorts, as well as the iron jaw of Ironjaw.

Grundbar came out from the entranceway to the cavern, revealing he had followed the bards, and was suitably impressed at their prowess. Upon looking around the remainder of the mine however, some troubling news came to light. The goblins had done some heavy excavation, and not in a direction that held any minerals worth the effort. In fact, the tunnel seemed to be headed straight for Tehlu’s Crossing! They took a short rest, before setting out along the tunnel, on their guard, to see what awaited them at the other end…

Behind the Scenes

The dead body with the provisions and the journal was something of a tribute to the Elder Scrolls games, which have a habit of putting dead bodies with journals lying nearby.
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Ironjaw is named after Irontooth; a goblin who serves as a significant encounter in the Keep on the Shadowfell adventure module for 4e D&D. Ironjaw is somewhat bigger than Irontooth though. Irontooth is the stronger of the two though, as he is intended as an adversary for higher level players than Ironjaw was.
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The chieftain was originally supposed to attack with a few other goblins, and pose more of a threat. However, after the battle with Ironjaw, the PCs were fairly weakened. At this point, the GM hadn’t yet run enough sessions to be able to accurately judge such things. As a result, some encounters were scaled up or down accordingly in the earlier stages of the campaign.
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The GM still regrets not putting a mine-cart section in. Everybody knows mine based levels should have a mine-cart ride in them.

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Making a Name for Themselves
Tehlu's Crossing is introduced to The Flaming Bards

It wasn’t long before the three started on making an impression in the town. Upon seeing some drunken sailors harassing a young barmaid, the ever noble trio gave them a six fisted reminder of just why ‘no’ means ‘no’. After leaving the unruly seamen on the floor of the bar, they turned their attention to the young girl, making sure she was okay. The girl; Becky, was Totsie’s niece, and in thanks for their timely intervention, the trio were treated to some free drinks, and a few weeks free lodging. Totsie turned out to be particularly fond of Becky, and thus very thankful. Rumours that she was seen giving the sailors a few heavy whacks with an iron skillet before tossing them into the river to bring them back round remain unconfirmed.

It was at this point that the legend was born, as the group were, at Totsie’s urging, tasked with coming up with a name for their adventurer-for-hire group. While much of the group’s early exploits are shrouded in mystery and misinformation, with wild rumours of everything from Belgevain having killed his own parents, to Eredhion having used to be a man, one thing remains the same, and that’s the name they chose that day. A name that would one day strike fear and confusion into people everywhere; The Flaming Bards. Why did they choose that name? While fire has been their calling card more than once, musical talent, sadly, has not. We may never know why, but this is the name history holds for them nonetheless.

The newly named Bards were not slow in finding more work for themselves, and a man named Kevin Rogers was the one to provide it. His father had recently died in a milling accident, leaving him saddled with his father’s debts to a rather unsavoury group of characters. He hired the Bards to go get the gang off his back, one way or another.

After making their way to the gang’s backstreet headquarters, the Bards decided that making a grand entrance would be to their advantage. Belgevain used his arcane powers to great effect, setting the door on fire, before blowing it backwards into the room. The fight that followed was short, bloody, and one-sided. As a result, the gang no longer operates. Most of the members no longer operate either.

This was probably the first time the Bards became a blip on the radar of the people of Tehlu’s Crossing, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last. The Bards were about to make quite a splash, and it would all come about thanks to Grundbar Longwhiskers, and his seemingly simple request…

Behind the Scenes

Kevin and Kenneth Rogers are named after Kenny Rogers, who sang “The Gambler” among other songs. The quest itself revolves around gambling debts.
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The gang was named The Red Coin Gang, and worked for the Crimson Knuckle organisations. This connection didn’t become known until later, and the gang’s name was never mentioned in-game.

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Entering Tehlu's Crossing
From humble beginnings...

Travelling mercenaries Eredhion and Belgevain had been on the road for some time. A little down on their luck, they were hoping to find a cleric willing to travel with them. A journeyman cleric would do much to enhance their survivability. They entered the town of Tehlu’s Crossing during a busy market day. A quick look around the stalls turned up nothing of note, but their attention was drawn by a nearby vendor running a game of chance. It was a simple game, consisting of finding a coin under one of several cups after she had finished moving them. The sharp eyed pair spotted that she was in fact cheating with some clever sleight of hand, and exposed her to the crowd and guards, leading to her arrest.

They decided to head straight to the Temple, hoping to conclude their business of finding a new adventuring companion quickly. They reached the temple quickly enough, and headed over to the entrance, where they were greeted by the friendly young cleric Brian. He told them that Masters Jaden and Hind were in charge of this temple, and he would go fetch one of them, as only a Master could authorise a cleric’s services.

They talked with Master Jaden, and after she ascertained their intentions, were told that there was in fact a journeyman cleric in the temple for whom she felt this would be good experience. Thus they were introduced to the newest member of their group; Skirn Eirgrunnr. After some introductions, and some farewells, the three headed off to find themselves some lodgings within the city.

Before they could get very far though, they were beset upon by five brutish men, who demanded the group’s money and valuables. This proved to be a mistake. The party demonstrated their prowess in combat, and made short work of the men. Before continuing on their way, they noticed that the men each bore a small tattoo of a red fist on their necks, though none of the three knew what significance, if any, this had.

Returning to the market square, a few inquiries led them to consider a couple of inns in the area; The Eagle and Child and The Moon Under Water. Further questioning revealed The Moon Under Water to have a better reputation, and so the three headed there.

Upon arriving at the inn, they found the owner to be a genial, but hardy, woman named Totsy. A little bargaining later, and they had found themselves lodging for the time being. They also found that the men who attacked them were likely members of a local gang called the Crimson Knuckles that had been stirring up trouble. All that remained now was to start looking for work…

Behind the Scenes

The town of Tehlu’s Crossing is named after a revered cleric within the game’s universe. He himself though is named after a religous figure in the book series “The Kingkiller Chronicles” by Patrick Rothfuss.
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The woman running the scam was in fact part of the gang the Bards took out later on behalf of Kevin Rogers. This never came up in-game though, nor did her name; Ella Drisk.
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As the first combat of the campaign, each of the thugs was graced with a name, some of which were mentioned during the battle;
The brothers; Lars and Tweed
The bald one; Sorkvild (named after a necromancer in Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind)
The red-head; Bump
The leader; Charlie
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The red fist tattoo marked them as members of the Crimson Knuckles, a gang which would come up again later. The gang was named the Crimson Fists originally, but it was changed to make it sound less generic. The players, and even sometimes the DM, proceeded to get the name wrong all the time anyway.
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The inn’s name “The Moon Under Water” is named after a fictitious ‘perfect pub’ described by George Orwell in an essay. “The Eagle and Child” is the name of a pub in Oxford where writers such as Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to meet.

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