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Prelude,

Beyond the Great Machine



Party Members


Brillock Stoneweaver, Male Human Fighter/Wizard/Spellsword
Darius Darkhammer, Male Dwarven Fighter/Cleric of Moradin
Dzindra (Dizzy) Daggersmith, Female Human Monk
Paks, Female Half-Elven Paladin of Yondalla
Merilath, Male Human Ranger/Ghostwalker

with

Stoney, Earth Elemental, Familiar to Brillock Stoneweaver

Dwarven Redoubt of Tix, Day 1 Twenty Seventh Game Session

The last thing each of you remember before the freezing cold and exhaustion got the better of you was ascending into a break from the constant white of snow... a brilliant dark blue sky greeting your weary eyes. Ahead you see a glittering fastness of gold and bronze, built into the side of one of the largest peaks in view. The fortress, which runs down half the mountain, is surrounded by a maze of circular and semi-circular excavations, housing countless clay and stone huts of superior construction, and protecting them all from the fiercely whistling mountain winds. As you watch a pair of adult gold dragons circle majestically around the tip of the peak, gracefully winging through flapping red and black banners each with the motif of a golden gear.

When you awake you find yourselves in a brightly lit bath chamber, 40' by 100' and curving in semicircular fashion. The entire east wall is a sheet of transparent ice, affording a spectacular view of stormy blizzard conditions on the surrounding mountains below. The ice does not seem to melt, despite the warmth generated by the steaming hot baths that occupy much of the center of the room. The back wall is draped with elaborate tapestries showing dwarven deities, and images of a dwarf you do not recognize on some kind of journey. The remainder of the chamber is well furnished with polar bear fur couches and silk pillows arranged around pits with magically heated stones.

As you regain your wits and realize your wounds have been expertly reated, you realize that Paks is missing. Your equipment is stacked on shelves near the north door, including the Anchoring Cube, which has been separated from the rest and sits on a small pedestal all of its own.

There is a knock at the door and a middle-aged dwarf with emerald jewels in his lapel enters the room. In a gruff but kind voice he informs you that the lady Paksennarion has suffered greater injury from the cold, due to her metal armor and her not being a dwarf (the speaker looks critical about both of these choices.) He reassures you that she is being treated, and should be hale in a couple of days. He indicates that new clothes have been left for each of you, and he asks that when you are ready to receive them, important dwarves would like an audience. He indicates a pull rope near the door that you can pull to indicate you are ready to receive your visitors... and with that, he steps out of the room and you hear the door lock with a complicated series of mechanical clicks.

After the party dresses and equips themselves, the pull the rope and a short time later General Cord and the Mathematician Endarion come to speak with them. The party learns that Tix was constructed to protect the surrounding lands; the prophecy says Tix will be needed when the Orc Hordes are led by the forces of Winter. They also learn that the last King Tix was Arton Wayfinder. Currently there is no king and the last regent of the city was Rope, before he was turned into a spawn by Gulthias.

The ruling body of Tix is the Metal Council and is made up of clan lords and faction heads. Cord is one of three generals of Tix, the other two being Twine and Knot, and Endarion is his chief strategist and a high ranking member of the Evenfire Ring, a society dedicated to mathematics, magic, and prophecy. Cord tells Darius that Tix has been an isolated kingdom for centuries as it has prepared for the prophecy.

General Cord asks Darius to perform a service for him and the dwarves of Tix. He tells Darius that the dwarf Hastex Wayfinder, a distant descendant of Arton Wayfinder, is a candidate to become the next King Regent. General Cord does not trust Hastex; Hastex is promoting increased trade with the outside and reducing the redoubt's military. Both are in direct conflict with the prophecy and the beliefs Tix was founded upon. Cord also tells Darius that Hastex trades with the Jerren - Halflings from the east. Hastex is backed by the Jerren Ideal, the Forge Group and the Priesthood of Gond as a candidate for the regency. The Jerren Ideal is a halfling organization dedicated to improved trade between Jerren and Tix. The Forge Group controls much of the economy of Tix, in particular the use of forges and the distribution of magic items. They also keep rosters - the lineage - of all the clans.

Cord gives Darius back his musket and tells him that it once belonged to King Arton Wayfinder. He also informs Darius of another prophecy: he who returns with the Musket of Arton Wayfinder will be King. Cord asks Darius to become a candidate for King Regent. There is no one else who can stand against Hastex.

He also informs Darius that an Orc army is camped at the border of Tix and that they have raised a fortress over night by magic.

Darius agrees to become Cord's candidate for King Regent. Cord informs him that he also has the backing of the War Field, the Evenfire Ring and the Wayfinder Cult. The War Field is the privatized military arm of Tix. He says that all of these groups believe in the old prophecies, maintaining a strong military, and maintaining their isolationist ways - all of the traditional values.

The regency is to begin in 3 days.

Endarion also speak to the party about the Anchoring Cube and what they know. After the party tells him their story, he says that eight keys were made to shape all things, eight cubes, and that the Anchoring Cube is one of the eight Cubes of Gheddon. The cube, although it appears to be smooth actually has a number of invisible switches. He also informs the party that Gheddon is a constructed world.

The party and Endarion discuss their quest and that they are searching for a way to contact the spirit of the dwarven smith Durgeddin. Endarion says contacting the planes if very difficult from Gheddon, but not impossible. He believes that it could be done. He will talk to the other members of the Evenfire Ring.

Endarion gives the party a tore of the Citadel showing them the War-keep, ramparts, Great Stair, baths and the Great Calendar. From the ramparts, Endarion points out major areas of the Tix: the Grand Market, the Arts District, the Tavern District, the theater, and the Jerren tent city. When he points out the halfling city he seems very disturbed. He mentions that many of the city's younger dwarves waste a great deal of time with the halfling; the halflings sell Scarlet Wine - the best wine in Tix.

Darius understands that Gond is the patron deity of Tix, but wants to know if there are any followers of Moradin in the city. Endarion tells him that most of Moradin's followers have joined the Wayfinder Cult. The Cult is an organization dedicated to traditional values involving the ancient prophecies of the Returned King. According to legend the Chosen of Arton Wayfinder would come to Tix in a time of great crisis, and would lead the dwarves into a great battle with the forces of darkness. Whether this battle would be won or if Tix would survive is not known. Politically, the Cult is militant and isolationist. They believe that the city should always be preparing for this future war, and having little to do with the outside world otherwise. The Cult is opposed by those who are interested in peaceful solutions (such as handing over the cube and your adventuring party to the orcs) and those involved in trade (who want to continue relations with the Jerren halflings, for instance.) They tend to feel that the prophecy is a bunch of religious hooey that has held back progress, both economic and political, for too long.

Endarion points out that the Forge Alliance has its headquarters in the Tavern district and that the city utilizes llamas in the salt trade; salt is a major export from Tix.

The party sets out from the citadel to tour the city and meet the populace. During the tour, the party meets several people and learn many things. The meet a female dwarf Belola, a weapons and armor shop owner. She tells the party that her favorite tavern is the Gold Tooth Swine; she says there is an exquisite drow bard performing there.

The party also locates the headquarters of most of the guilds. The Forge Group headquarters is a large metal building in the tavern district. The Evenfire Rings headquarters has a starry motif. There is a diplomatic building run by the Jerren halflings. And the War Field headquarters is a small military outpost within the city.

Darius and the party enter visit the Forge Group headquarters where they meet Grimstili; he is a radical Forge Group employee who thinks Tix should conquer the world. Darius and Brill learn they need to be members of the Forge Group to craft and sell Weapons and Armor within the city. They either need to be a member of a clan of the city who is already associated with the forge group or have their own forge. Darius checks with Grimstili (the Forge Group also maintains the lineage of all dwarves in Tix) to see if any distant relatives survived and made it to Tix. He doesn't expect the answer he gets. There is a Borus Darkhammer who owns and runs a warehouse within the city. Darius eagerly gets directions. Darius also learns that if they can move the party's forge from Twilight Hollow to Tix, the Forge Group will grant them membership. Grimstili suggests that the Evenfire Ring may be able to move the forge.

After leaving the Forge Group, Brill wants to visit the Evenfire Ring. Brill meets with a few members and asks to join the society. He is informed there is a test he must pass. Brill is directed to a location where the test takes place and he figures out the pattern to the red and blue jars of oil and finds the Evenfire Store. Brill is offered membership and he accepts. Merilath also solves the puzzle and locates the store.

In the Jerren tent city, Darius notices that many of the younger dwarves have a vacant glassy eyes expression. Darius suspects the dwarves are being drugged via the wine. He and the party manage to acquire a sample. The party also learns that only the halflings sell wondrous items.

After leaving the halflings, the party decides to visit the Gold Tooth Swine Inn before going to find Darius' relative. A Drow bard is giving a performance and is telling the tale of The Fall of Chael-Rekshaar; Chael-Rekshaar was a drow metropolis that was destroyed long ago. No one really knows what caused the city's destruction. After the performance Diz strikes up a conversation with the drow bard, Rizz T'thoqqua.

Darius and the party finally head to the warehouse of Borus Darkhammer. Could he really be a distant relative? The party reaches the warehouse and enters. Inside they see a strange collection of automatons and contructs. In the middle of the warehouse, were some clanking can be heard, stands a huge golem - a warforged titan - made from composite materials. One arm ends in a massive axe and the other in a maul. Next to it stands a smaller construct (although still larger than any member of the party) with six squat powerful legs supporting a thick insectoid body and four serrated blade arms, a slaughterstone eviscerator. Darius calls out, Borus Darkhammer, you have visitors. An older dwarf dressed in a padded jacket whose pockets are stuffed with wands and scrolls steps out from behind a workbench and asks, Who are you and what can I do for you? Darius steps forward and answers, I am Darius, Darius Darkhammer. Suddenly the two intact constructs begin to whir and move to attack the party. Borus snarls, Dagnabit, defend yourselves. These constructs were programmed to defend me, the last of the Darkhammers. Your proclamation has overwhelmed their limited intelligence. They have gone rogue. You must destroy them. I will do what I can to help. Brill and Diz fight the insect and chase it outside where it begins to attack the populace of Tix. Inside Darius and Merilath take on the Warforged titan with Borus' help. After a short but vicious battle, they destroy the titan and move to help the others outside. Darius teleports into the path of the slaughterstone eviscerator (to defend the citizens) and is nearly slain. The others finish off the creature and Darius moves to help the wounded civilians. No one seems overly surprised by the incident. Borus remarks that constructs occasionally go rogue; it's something you come to expect.

After the fight, Darius and the party learn that Borus is a construct, a warforged remnant of the Darkhammer Clan; he is an artificer who specializes in construct repairs. Darius and Borus spend many hours discussing what has befallen each of them. Afterwards, Darius suggests that they try to move the party's forge to Borus' shop. This will allow all of them to use it and become members of the Forge Group. Borus is extremely excited by the prospect. He has been trying to join the Forge Group, but has been unable due to no clan allegiance and no magical forge. Borus and Darius teleport to Twilight Hollow to examine the forge. Borus exclaims, This is one of the great lost forges of dwarvenkind. It's a Forge of the Weaponsmith. Mighty weapons have been forged in its fires. Borus and Darius teleport back to Tix and talk with the party. Brill will contact the Evenfire Ring in the morning and make arrangements to have the forged moved.

Borus becomes a close confidant to Darius and the party over the weeks ahead. He even helps them construct a number of enchanted items to aide in their quest.

Dwarven Redoubt of Tix, Day 2 Twenty Seventh Game Session

Brill contacts the Evenfire Ring and they organize wagons, drivers, and mages to teleport everyone (4000 gp). The Ring teleports everyone to Twilight Hollow, where they cause a great deal of commotion. No one has seen this many dwarves in a long time. It takes a good portion of the day to dissemble the forge and load it into the wagons. Once it is loaded, the Ring teleports everyone back to Tix. The wagons are driven from the Evenfire teleportation site to Borus' warehouse were the forge is reassembled.

Once the Forge of the Weaponsmith is reassembled, the Forge Group grants Clan Darkhammer membership; Borus will oversee and care for the forge and will now be able to craft and sell weapons and armor (in addition to his constructs) if he wishes.

The party moves into spare chambers within the warehouse and begin laying plans for their quest.

Dwarven Redoubt of Tix, Day 3 Twenty Seventh Game Session

The party spends most of the day relaxing and continuing to tour the city. Darius spends most of his time talking to the populace of Tix, trying to get to know them, their fears, and what they think the future holds for the city.

That night, General Cord, Endarion, Darius and the party attend a meeting of the Metal Council in the Grand Chamber. Hastex Wayfinder is there along with the halfling diplomat Lenacious Spugg, his chief strategist.

Hastex announces his intention to be King Regent.

The council asks if any other contenders, although it is clear they do not expect any.

With General Cord nearby, Darius steps forward and loudly proclaims, I Darius Darkhammer, Warrior Cleric of Moradin, Slayer of Gulthias, and Wielder of the Musket of Arton Wayfinder, which he brandishes high in the air, seek to be King Regent, to Guide and Protect Tix through the difficult time ahead. The chamber erupts into heated discussions. The musket has been found. Is this the time of the prophecy? The council quiets the chamber and withdraws to discuss the situation. Hastex stands quietly through it all.

The council returns and announces that both candidates are qualified and their petitions for the position are worthy. They have decided that a contest will be held to select the new King Regent. Both candidates, along with his companions, will travel to the ruins of Chael-Rekshaar and recover a text from that city to prove a theorem. The first to return will be proclaimed King Regent of Tix. The contest will begin in just over 2 weeks. The candidates have that long to prepare for the expedition. Darius will proceed along the Glacier Path and Hastex will go by way of the Salt Mines.

The ruins of Chael-Rekshaar await, some 90 miles beneath the surface of Gheddon!

Dwarven Redoubt of Tix, Day 4 and After Twenty Seventh Game Session

The news of the contest rapidly spreads through Tix as does the fact that Darius has recovered the Musket of Arton Wayfinder. Now that Darius has apparently arrived as the Chosen of legend (at least according to most sages' interpretation) the Wayfinder Cult rallies behind him, preparing for the great battle against the Orcish armada controlled by the Winter Mage.

The party begins preparations for the expedition to recover mathematical results from the fallen Drow city of Chael-Rekshaar. Darius is informed that he may select six specialists and four low-ranking dwarven warriors to accompany him in addition to his companions. As the party wanders around Tix, it becomes apparent that these are your choices for specialists:

The party spends several days discussing what specialists they should take and who they have met, and trust, within the city. Diz also suggests that we attempt to convince the Drow Bard Rizz T'thoqqua to join in place of one specialist.

Dzindra says to the party, At this point, I think except for Paks we've all given Darius our input, so let's let him make the final decision. This is his quest, after all. She pauses, then adds, I must confess that I am ambivalent about the coming journey. I am worried about the cube's safety, as well as the city's should the orcs attack while we are away. Moreover, I do not wish to see how drow behave in their own habitat. While there seem to be many refugees who have morals and are devoid of evil impulses, I know that's not the case for the vast majority. However, Darius, if you request my company I will gladly give it. I still owe you a life debt for the time you saved Paks and I from the mind flayer, not to mention the more recent heroics you showed in giving Gulthius the final blow which I could not deliver.

Diz, I agree that this quest is mine and it holds special significance for me; I am sworn to do everything in my power to protect all dwarven enclaves. This quest will impact the future of Tix - perhaps even Tix's survival - and that of its citizens. DO NOT DOUBT that this mission is also crucial to our overall quest. Endarion believes that recovery of this theorem will allow him to assist us in reaching the spirit of Durgeddin. And that will assist us in understanding the forces at work around us and what we need to do to safeguard the cube.

As for the Drow, consider the possibility of confronting them in their own environment a test of your character and abilities. You will show the drow the error of their ways and the truth that drow - or, in your case their children - can survive and flourish in the world above and live in peace with their neighbors - BEFORE YOU KILL THEM

"As for the life debt, I release you. You are a good companion and I would not consider holding such a debt over you. I would like you to travel with us, and believe your presence will help in the overall quest to protect the cube, but if you do not wish to travel the world below and see how your ancestors lived, I understand and accept that decision.

"If you and the others wish me to make the final decision on the specialists, I will do so.

Dzindra takes a deep sigh, then answers, Somehow, deep down I think I've always known that my path would lead to the Underdark. You're right, Darius, it will be a supreme test of my abilities. I find it extremely distasteful that I should be forced to do more killing. I was foolish when our questing began, and hoped to adventure with minimal bloodshed, but that has not turned out to be the case. Still, many of our foes up to this point have been demonic, undead, or insane and putting them down was a mercy. But the drow ... they are an advanced civilization, capable of technological advances that even the dwarves cannot reach, yet have chosen the ways of evil, or so I am told. At this time, I don't understand them. So I will go, because that is where I must go, if ever I am to comfortably wear the label, 'heroine'. Then she impulsively gives Darius a hug and says with a wink, I won't let you down, King Darius.

Diz spends time cultivating her relationship with Rizz T'thoqqua. She listens to his performance of the Fall of Chael-Rekshaar. It is full of details about various drow houses and court intrigue, but the summarizing themes seem to be that Lolth was displeased with the city's failed attempts to exterminate the various beholders, illithid and winged demons that lived nearby. The city, which of course would never fall in battle, was destroyed instead by a massive earthquake which, among other things, redirected a lava flow through the center of town. The description of the earthquake is particularly good, and Rizz makes note that it felt almost identical to the system of quakes that were felt below the ground about a month ago.

Diz spends some time with Rizz, who proves to be a quick wit and difficult to pinpoint in personality and ability. At one point, behind closed doors, he does employ an inspirational tune that imbues Diz with an amusing boost in skill. She questions him about Chael-Rekshaar and the winged demons. He says that winged demon is actually his own best guess translation from an old text that he once owned. Rizz also mentions that he doesn't think any drow remain in Chael-Rekshaar. The city has been dead for a long, long time. In fact, he came to this region partially because he knew of no drow activity anywhere nearby. Of course, he admits it wouldn't be the first time that he was catastrophically wrong about something. He then tells you a story about the time he decided it would be fun to visit with a group of wild elves outside the town of Brindinford...

When Diz first broaches the topic of the quest, and casually wonders aloud what Rizz would make of coming along, his answer is quite simple. Good grief... go to the ruins of a drow city and risk the spider queen's wrath? Whatever would I want to do that for?! Good luck to you, come back safe and all that!

Based upon the party's recommendations, Darius finally decides they should locate a Mathematician, a Climber, a Miner, a Defender, an Identifier, and a Cartographer to accompany them. Darius asks General Cord and Endarion for recommendations and after working at the forge all day, he goes out at night to interview candidates. When Darius meets the candidates he has spells on for true seeing and detect evil/blessed sight (just to be sure).

After many days, the party is certain they have found competent, non-evil dwarven specialists to accompany them:

Darius also asks Endarion about a map and general directions to the old city and if any dwarf (or other creature) currently living in the city (or nearby) has ever been to the drow city. No currently living dwarf has been to the ruins. Endarion provides a map to Chael-Rekshaar (an identical map was also provided to Hastex), but it is almost 200 years old, and recent seismological events may account for some changes in environs. The map should get you into the correct general region of underdark, however.

Merilath and Diz meet with various naturalists in town and ask about the winged demons. The naturalists shrug their shoulders at your question, saying only that many things fitting the description of winged demon dwell in the Underdark, including winged demons.

The party sold all of the unclaimed magic items and divided up the monetary treasure they had recovered. Each character received 23084 gp. Individual party members also sold equipment in order to finance other purchases.

Darius is considering creating a new magic weapon - one of his own construction or enchantment. But, he is unsure about abandoning Durgeddin's Waraxe. It has served him well and he fears that particular weapon may be needed in the future. Darius stokes the forge and prays to Moradin, Moradin, All-Father, Master of the Forge, I seek your guidance. To protect the Dwarves of Tix and complete our quest to restore the protections Durgeddin and his companions placed upon the Cube, will I need this waraxe, Durgeddin's Waraxe, or will other weapons suffice Darius receives the following response, You are the only necessary weapon, Darkhammer. You have been well-forged.

The party sold:

Darius sold:

Diz sold:

Merilath sold:

From party treasury, Darius purchases three wands of cure light wounds (one for Paks, Merilath and himself) for 2250 gp. After dividing up the treasure and purchasing the wands the party still has 2665 gp in the party treasury.

Darius purchased the following equipment and worked with Borus to enchant many of the items (72926 gp, 2368 XP):

Darius also paid Borus for enchanting a Belt of Giant Strength +4, which he will pick up the next time he returns to Tix.

Diz purchased the following:

Merilath purchased the following:

Darius approached Borus one night after working at the forge, Borus, during my travels I came across a pair of unusual - possibly unique - constructs. One of the constructs was modeled on a beholder and the eyestalks were all magic wands. The other was modeled on an umberhulk. Both were in good condition, but only the beholder seemed functional. Seeing your interest in and skill with constructs, I thought you might be interested in looking at them and possibly getting them both functional.

You have provided me and my companions a great deal of assistance since arriving in Tix and I am grateful to have found a kinsman again. My funds are now running low and I would like to equip myself better for the future. In exchange for the constructs, I was hoping you would agree to construct some additional items for me and my companions. Or that you might possibly repair the umberhulk and arrange for their sale for a percentage of the profits.

If you are interested, we could teleport to the location of the constructs to examine them. If things still look good to you, Brill could then make arrangements with the Evenfire Ring to transport the constructs to your shop. What do you think?

Borus is excited by the prospect of examining the constructs Darius describes, but is cagey about purchasing them. By Fell's Infernal Frappe, what the hell were you thinking in not telling me about these constructs right away?! All this thinking's got you as cautious as some twerp of an elf, clan brother. By Moradin's Outhouse, let me examine the impractical crap and see if I can make something good and Dwarven out of 'em! Borus then begins to search for some piece of hardware, muttering and cursing to himself and throwing wrenches around. He emerges from beneath a workbench with a few more words and some spit. I won't buy the damn doo-dads from you, but I'll fix 'em up for free, even improve 'em if the blithering idiots who put 'em together built 'em to last. You can keep ownership... maybe they'll protect those scrawny miserable companions of yours when Pazuzu hits the fan.

The party pays the Evenfire Ring, through Brill's contacts, for transporting the beholder construct (2500 gp) and Darius pays for transporting the Umberhulk (2500 gp)

On his last night in Tix, Darius informs General Cord of what he has learned about the Scarlet Wine the halflings are selling; that it is a powerful, addictive drug and Darius suspects it is intended to weaken the dwarven people and the city's defense. General Cord nods his head and says he is aware of the problem, but has not had the political backing to address it, as much wealth has flowed into the city due to halfling trade. He hopes that your appointment to King will provide opportunity to fix a few things around Tix. With that, he wishes you good rest and preparation for tomorrow's no doubt arduous journey.

Game Note: each 12th level party member is granted 1800 XP. each 13th level party member is granted 1300 XP. Paks (due to her absence) is awarded half (900) XP for the session. Darius is awarded an additional 600 XP for identifying the wine as a drug. Merilath is awarded an additional 600 XP for finding the Evenfire store.