Tomes in Amber

Foundations
That upon which we will build

In the beginning comes an invitation. Three souls come from across the continent, working together to build a library; their histories soon to merge.

Vagn, a self-exiled warrior from the wave battered Stormcrown Principalities, labours in the stones of the new library wing to earn enough coin to pursue his further travels. Hot headed, a drunkard and a doubter of the new, peaceful direction his people have taken, Vagn seeks to grow his war skills and prove that the dwarves of the northern reaches have not all become soft traders and gadget obsessed navel gazers. As his coin purse fills, so does his wanderlust.

Heimir, veteran of the War on Talon, now cast out of the Lustrator ranks for showing too much promise. His powers a threat to the high ranks, he was deemed a danger and now must work what jobs he can find to earn his living. Haunted by visions and voices, he is seeking the source of his abilities. His blood is a gift to others, his gaze terrible to behold. How long can this aging ex-loyalist continue to toil before his back breaks? How close will he come to madness before he finds the answers he seeks?

Spivak, uncommon amongst his breed. Rugman, servant, janitor, master of keys, cleaner of books, all these titles does he hold. What cunning plots does this simple-acting goblin harbour in his ruggy green mind? Cantrips of light and helpful hands are his to command but what other darker magics does this marshman hide? If he would but look you in the eye long enough, you might glean some truth, but no-he is your servant and keeps his gaze on the floor.

All three find themselves invited to enter the mysterious foundation below the library. A midnight sojourn into the depths of the unknown sitting below all that is known. What awaits them there? Vagn, Heimir, Spivak-the foundation is revealed and it is stones-stones in the darkness.

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Whispers by the Well
The Foundation runs deeper than first thought.

Bluffing their past a burly guard to gain entrance into the under-library, our heroes mustered their courage and descended through the recently unearthed great doors. There they found themselves transported to a space once removed from ordinary reality, for when they turned back to gaze through the doorway behind them, they found the dig-site and Thronian night air replaced by caverns and emptiness. Trapped suddenly in the un-reality, they pressed forward into the darkness.

Whispers rose around them but like swiftly moving clouds, they changed their shape before being fully apprehended. In the dark they came across a houndie by a dry-well who mistook the heroes for interlopers bent on stealing his imaginary well waters. Fired upon by arrow and bow, the heroes scattered to defend themselves from the rugman’s ill-conceived aggression.

Vagn closed the gap on the villain quickly and menaced the creature’s life with his preposterously dangerous craghammer. Through subtle mind tricks did the dwarf keep the enemy’s attention upon himself, allowing the keymaster to retreat into the shadows and granting Heimir the time required to work his strange blood magic.

From his cover, the goblin transformed the essence of nightmare into energy and hurled the crackling missiles of shadow with unerring accuracy into the furfiend’s heart.

Keeping his distance from the keen edge of the beast’s battle axe was Heimir, who offered crimson fire to his enemies and the gift of his own lifeblood to his wounded companion.

In the end Vagn’s hammer transformed the gnoll’s skull into a strange geometry which surely was unfit to sustain the creature’s life.

Victorious they pressed on and found a small room of books, whose topics, like the whispers all around them, were obscured by the strangeness of the place.

Another doorway lay ahead. They rallied. They prepared.

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Horrors, Wraiths and Portals
What are the Nightmares of Nightmares?

The three pressed on, driven by their curiosity and fear and the nagging sensation that too much time spent in the unreality of the foundation might have lasting effects on their own corporeality.

They edged their way into a new chamber and found themselves assaulted by crawling, floating, half dreamed abominations who scrambled from behind bookshelves to caress the heroes with their sickening tendrils.

Spivak retreated down the hall while Vagn went to work drawing their eyestalks towards him. Heimir stood the line, as his Lustrator training took hold, keeping the oozing cretins from rushing the keymaster.

Their attempts to control the battlefield were thwarted however when it was revealed that among the horrors was one rooty nightmare able to fly and float over their well-intentioned position.

A crawling brain seemed the likely leader of the pack of evil and so the party focused their energy in bringing it down. The cleaner fussed with his keys and launched a cloud of nightmare upon the throng and they curled in terror like leeches met with salt. Heimir wondered what then, might the nightmares of nightmares be? Some died on the spot, others were slowed in their movement.

Crimson fire, brute blows and the cackling of the Keymaster eventually felled all but the avian breed of translucent wall walking malevolance. Floating high above them, the aberration taunted them, lashing out with psychic energies beyond the reach of the fuming Stormcrowner who made several attempts at scaling a mighty table before hurling a hapless chair at the creature, knocking it senseless for a moment.

Heimir stepped forward and faced it, calling upon his un-revealed powers, the blood-soaked veteran made known his ill-intent and caused the creature to flee in terror down the hall.

After several more minutes of battle, Heimir eventually lit the monstrosity on fire and it burned wholly, submitting its strange husk to the ash and the ether.

The fallen remains of their enemies disappeared shortly afterwards which further strengthened the hero’s concerns that the foundation was not rooted well in any known plane.

After a brief rest they pressed on, watching as the ectoplasm left behind by the vanquished other-worlder’s disappeared before their eyes. The time had come to inspect their point of entry into the strange place and so they returned to the stairs that had changed into a doorway.

As they returned to the mutable entry, they wondered aloud a little at the riddles they were given by the enigmatic instigator. The discussion was interesting and the details of it will be recorded here at some point in time.

The stairs that had led them into the foundation had now become a doorway leading to short hallway. Beyond the hallway, Vagn went to inspect a new chamber which featured three magical portals, some glowing with arcane energy and some not. A haunting of spectres had convened moth-like at the portals, but the heroes had not the time to contemplate the sad stories of the lost souls because though the portals were as candles to the flickering horde, the life-essence of the heroes themselves was as the full moon.

The undead flocked. Amongst them was one powerful apparition who brought with it an aura of biting cold that made everyday movement slow and difficult. The heroes had learned much of one another’s powers in the few hours spent plumbing the dark halls together and they moved into a defensible position quickly.

Vagn showed his impressive war skill by taunting several of the floating menaces at once, keeping them occupied and away from the other two.

Spivak fumbled through his keys and cackled maniacally as he offered up a great bronze key with a grim death’s head as it’s thumbturn. He blasted the spirits with an explosion of malevolence that far out-did the spirit’s own evil, evaporating several of the ghost mass.

Heimir slashed at his arms and like a sculptor of blood did he carve a vision of the Crimson Spire itself before him. Exploding, the vision left behind a barbed shard which Heimir controled as if it were his own hand. Placing the biting remnant behind his enemies, they found themselves caught between Vagn’s raging blows and the piercing slivers of the shard.

They remaining wraiths fell quickly and the heroes slumped. Though they had been in the foundation less than a quarter day, they had seen much battle and decided to rest before continuing their exploration.

Retreating to safer chambers, the heroes blockaded the doors and sat themselves upon the cold stone floor. Did the portals offer an escape from this place where madness grew like mushrooms and each soul they met offered nothing but hate.

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Adventure Log Reborn! Session 6
100% more useful

Borts,
The adventure log is undergoing a format change. It’s here that I will record any notes I take during the play session that seem relevant and important. Please feel free to add things as we go.

DM Note: This is awesome. See below for my additions.

Highlights from this session include:
1-Fire Baddies climb up and get done in.

2-Encounter an old scholar from (before?) the Zithin Empire. Name is-Estrecan (is that right?)
Actually his title is Estracan.

3-Long conversation with Estrecan highlights include:

  • Estrecan has been wandering this place for a very long time. He no longer requires water. The Zithin were rumoured to have conquered death.
  • The room we met him in was new and because of our actions in the room, it will remain permanent.
  • Lastalans are divine warriors from an age ago. Heimir is a Lastalan according to Estrecan
  • He referred to us as seekers, but he pointed out we weren’t sure what we were seeking.
  • He spoke of two rival factions in the foundation: The Keepers and The Redeemers.
  • The Keepers: The Keepers believe that the Archive is a place where the gods keep those items and secrets that not everyone should have access to. Their leader, the Arbiter, is the final judge of who is given access to what.
  • The Redeemers: Driven by hatred of gods. He mentioned they were dangerous to Heimir.
  • There are seekers, jailers, shapers, hidden sages. These are names he has given to the different people visiting the foundation.
  • The 99 is a pantheon-he mentioned; this fragment of a list of their titles or names was found in a book: -* The Smiling Hawk * Agony’s Crusader * The Mark of Ages * Cold Comfort * The Bone Gods * Wisp * Sunder * Oath * Iron Hand * The Watcher * The Silent Cold * Gasper * The Maiden’s Sorrow * The Benevolent Tide * Broken * The Hanged Man * Omen of Ice *
  • He said there were 3 keys-3 boxes-3gems. The one who possesses those controls the foundation.
  • He said the foundation was turning to madness and that this was bad.
  • He said we were as likely to pass a god as a rogue on the stairs. He said the Keepers were upstairs. see below

4-Iron fist became iron miss.

5-We concluded that we were meant to restore order and balance to the foundation. We are not sure how to do this.

6-Sweet level 2.

DM Notes

On the Origins of Creatures
You’ve seen bright fierce spiders from the Feywild, hungry ghosts from the Shadowfell, a gnoll, a fen-rider and some treasure hunters from the World. You’ve also met creatures born of the Elemental Chaos and twice now, creatures from a place far less sane, a realm of aberrations, a realm far from mortal ken.

What is that Noise?
Squeak, squeak. Squeak, squeak. Like an old door swinging in a fetid breeze sweet with the smell of decay, like the axle of a heavily-laden corpse cart rolling over rutted earth, like the winch and pulley that lifts caged criminals to die of thirst or exposure hanging from the city walls, it comes when unwarranted and leaves before it explains itself. Squeak, squeak. Squeak, squeak.

Estracan
It is a title, half remembered from Spivak’s vast book-hoard of lore, a title for any powerful and respected scribe of the Zithin Empire. You did not actually see him write “And the three rested safely,” in a book, though he acted as though he had.

The Archivist
It was, in fact, a note from the Archivist which read, “You are as likely to pass a god as a rogue on the stairs.”

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Session 7

So a few interesting developments this time around.
1-A skill challenge to convince a group of Keepers with crossbows not to shoot us through the jaw is semi-successful.
2-The leader of the unit was crazy.
3-Spivak walked calmly up the stairs killing the Keepers whether fleeing or fighting.
4-Vagn continues to have difficulties rolling over 10.
5-Orders found on the dead leader’s corpse read-“A new node has opened. Go to the Library in the Chaos Shard to repel looters.” This leads to the conclusion that there are various “shards”. We have been in the library shard.
6-Heard the last of the Keepers being killed and then an evil cackle.
7-Met Shale, a fen-rider who committed some very serious crimes to get imprisoned in the foundation. He said he wanted to get sent here. He said he found something very old a long time ago and he learned something from it and his learning led him to the foundation. He said there was an object here he wants. Shale is clearly amoral and likely evil. He has surrounded himself with thralls and somehow commands them to do his bidding.
8-Convinced we weren’t after his precious object, Shale allows us to journey with him deeper into the foundation.
9-Session ends at a locked door with 9 other doors surrounding it.

Loot found this sessions:
1-4 waterskins
2-100 gp worth of Key Carving Powder.
3-Heimir and Vagn each took a crossbow and some bolts.

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Gate of Session 8
"This place is huge!"

In which is introduced the Gate of Eight, a feature of the Foundation used to travel the distances between the Four Pillars, being the Silver Spire, the Ancient Tree, the Twilight Tower and the Chaos Shard.

The first Gate of Eight is assailed and Vagn manages to pass it alone, leaving Spivak and Heimir alone with Shale and his glassy-eyed crew of Fen-Riders.

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Session 9

Some highlight from session 9 include:
1-Abandoning the evil Shale without so much as a goodbye in the gate of 8 room.
2-Battling more shimmering aberrations and their nefarious whispering at the point of entry in the Silver Spire.
3-Our weapons crackle with the foundation’s energy. Power-ups for all.
4-A meeting with some keepers and their leader Castanoake yields some interesting information:

  • Most keepers feels they are called to their work in the foundation.
  • The Arbiter sends the keepers out to find artifacts he/she considers in danger from being looted.
  • He refered to some people as The Thieves of the Gods.
  • He sent us merrily on our way, telling us to avoid Black Bridges and go east, using the stones on the floor to guide us…
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Session 10

Some very interesting developments this sessions.

1-Travelling through the Bright Sanctuary we came accross piles of debris. The debris slowly took on a strange narrative, seemingly illustrating important part on the Stormcrown history. The piles went from deep in the past towards more current events.

2-More squeaking from nearby; surely we are being stalked a little.

3-Attacked by a strange hawk which met its end and is now fated to sit rotting on Spivak’s belt…

4-Hit a wall. We travelled along it, passing a set of stairs that ascended onto the level above.

5-Choosing to head north we came upon a web shrouded bridge where our lights faded in effect. Upon the bridge we were assaulted by giant spiders and worse: a strange humanoid spider who attempted to cut us into pieces with an axe. Vagn’s bullish shoving ended the lives of the spiders, sending them spiraling into the shadows beside the bridge. Eventually the abomination succumed to our combined attacks. We continued along the bridge until stopped by the a malevolent

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11: The Triumverate Revealed

After an unsettling encounter with Agony’s Crusader the party enters the Space Between, a demesne that exists between the gates that can be used to travel the Foundation. There they meet the Shining Hawk who explains that it is she who called Vagn to the Foundation. She also passes along the names of the Arbiter as Heimir’s patron, and says that Spivak was called by the Faded Artificer. The Shining Hawk then sends the group to a great battle she has arranged where they triumph over hordes of skeletons. A barrel of water and a glimpse of the Inviolate Enclave is the reward for victory.

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12: The Inviolate Enclave
  • You Gain entrance to the Arbiter’s stronghold in the Inviolate Enclave.
  • Garen the Guard, Tarq the Fen-Rider, Valedi the Seneschal and Drenn the Traveler are a few of the Keepers whose acquaintance is made.
  • A terrifying Call grinds through the stone. Garen claims it happens often now, every few days, though it used to be far less. Sometimes people are “called away” in a burst of fire and blood. Their bodies always return to the same place, minutes or hours later, always slain in some horrible manner.
  • You hear the story of Terendas the Traitor.
  • The Arbiter will see you after you submit to a binding ritual.
  • Drenn provides a lesson in Geography.
  • The Seneschal suggests some alternatives to binding that may gain the Arbiter’s favour and allow you to see him:
    • Some Keepers went missing recently in the Ivory Hall and news of them would be appreciated.
    • The Arbiter is seeking a source of arcane Thunder power.
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