Hidden in the ice of the highest mountains in the Duchy Of Peaks, lurks the Cryomancer. In a land filled with lonely towers lost between monsters and icy death, wizards thrive. But the Cryomancer is different. The Cryomancer is an ill wind set to blow down from the mountains and freeze The Great Lake. But it is not yet time. The minions of the Cryomancer are searching for something. Their search is becoming violent.
The good people of The Duchy have been attacked and killed. Duke Torc of Cleaveberg has sent good men to their deaths to battle this threat. But with little success. Something must be done.
Five adventurers are hired by The Duke’s master at arms Zaccariah Gythinbarian to investigate rumours of disturbances along the Misneach’s Cleave river. He also tasks them with finding out what has happened to the Duke’s patrols.
They arrive by boat, at a small hamlet called Nestle, late at night and rest at The Iron Shield Inn. They discover from conversation over a few ales with the proprietor Leecher, that several of the Duke’s patrols have been through the hamlet of Nestle recently, but that none have come back. The latest patrol was expected back last night but they never turned up.
The following resources can tell you more about the Cryomancer Campaign:
The Great Lake Region lies in the north of The Kingdom of Bigany. On its southwest shores lies The Duchy Of Peaks and by following Misneach’s Cleave you will come to a small hamlet called Nestle. Here our story opens in an inn called The Iron Shield.
The adventurers eat a hearty breakfast before preparing to continue on their way upriver to the lake. It has been snowing lightly for hours. Ravenhack decides that he has not had enough to drink. Despite the fact that it is early morning and they have a long dangerous journey ahead of them he orders another round of ales. His companions all enthusiastically agree to this. This might be a ploy by Ravenhack to loosen their tongues. They have been travelling for many days together and only he has revealed his name. They are all equally tight lipped about their past, their reasons for adventuring and what they hope to gain from this adventure. Not to mention that their fifth companion, a half elven bard has not bothered to get out of bed yet.
Ordering the beer doesn’t help. As soon as Leecher arrives at their table and cheerfully announces “There you go, four ales! That’ll be four silver pieces” they all become instantly suspicious and start to haggle aggressively over the price. Leecher picks absently at the bloated leech that is busy sucking blood from his large purple veined nose. Ravenhack considers robbing the contents of the coin box behind the bar and thoughts rapidly escalate to murder, before sense prevails. The calm voice of the dwarven cleric (who they later find out is called Mason), persuades Leecher that he should give them the ales on the house. He looks unconvinced until she reveals that they are in the employ of the duke and that they are going to sort out the problems with the duke’s patrols going missing. Leecher is impressed and agrees. He is also a bit intimidated by them as they appear to be ready to commit any manner of crimes.
Once they have finished their ales, they notice a well dressed man sitting alone at a table by the window. They are immediately curious and start staring at him. The high elf wizard who has yet to reveal her name manifests staggering powers of deduction and observation. She notices that the man’s fine clothes are carefully patched and worn, that he is nursing a cheap bowl of cold soup, that he has a particular demeanour and facial features that mark him as a noble. She searches through her prodigious memory and pulls an obscure fact from the recesses of her mind. This must be Jebediah Sinthrop she announces, he’s the seventh son of an obscure noble family related to the Torcs. They are suitably impressed.
They then crowd around his table and sit down beside him. He is a bit taken aback but rallies and tries to persuade them to buy him some food and drink. “I am Jebediah Sinthrop, a noble as you can probably tell, my valet seems to have forgotten my purse which is terribly inconvenient. Would you be so kind as to buy me a roast chicken and a glass of wine. I will reward you handsomely later today once my valet returns.” They are not taken in for even a moment. Mason looks fit to punch him but Ravenhack, quick as a flash, grabs him by the collar and starts to threaten him. Jebediah is terrified at this point. “What do you want!?” he screams. They realise they are not entirely sure.
A wild eyed woman bursts in through the tavern door in a flurry of snow. She is in shock, breathing deeply, shivering, bleeding from a head wound and covered in blood. The high elf wizard scans her from head to toe with her unerring eye. The woman is clearly shocked, her clothing is of common make and she is wet, some of her clothing is coated in ice and has been ripped. There are three different kinds of blood on her, most of which is her own, flowing from a gash in her head. There is blood from another person on her, as well as black blood. Judging from the rumours that the Duke and Leecher have heard and the predilection for certain humanoid tribes to be active in the area she deduces that this is goblin blood. The wizard completes her deductive pontification by concluding that the woman was attacked by goblins and a larger ally, several hours ago and that she lay in the snow until now. She has been unconscious since then. She ripped her clothing which had frozen to the ice when she got up. Her companions are dead or abducted. The rest of the group just stare at her with their mouths open in astonishment.
The woman stands there shivering babbling incoherently about her husband and her little girl. Speck pats her on the shoulder, and Ravenhack creeps around behind her as stealthily as he can. Then he puts a warm jacket around her and the warmth of the fabric and the gesture begins to calm her down. Then Ravenhack casually asks his new friends if he should hit her in the face. They look at him puzzled. He explains that it won’t be hard enough to kill her. They are not sure that this is how you go about calming someone who has been attacked.
Leecher takes over and guides the woman to a table and gives her a warm drink. Jebediah begins to talk soothingly to her, reassuring her that all will be well. His softly spoken words begin to calm her down. Her name is Almudena Gancho De Trama. She reveals that her husband Cosimo has been murdered by a group of evil little creatures and her eight year old daughter Paloma has been taken. They manage to get a little more information from her after further questioning; one of the attackers was huge and one of them had red skin and was using ice magic. Despite being quite afraid of the group, particularly the burly human fighter, Jebediah suggests that they leave Almudena alone and go down the street to her house. Leecher reminds them that they claimed they were here to help on behalf of the duke. Reluctantly they leave the warm inn to travel through the snow to the site of the attack.
Thirty seconds later they arrive. There is blood everywhere, the door is smashed and a body lies on the snowy ground. They all look to the wizard again as if she was the most amazing detective that ever lived. It turns out that she just might be. She observes the colours of the blood, the rate of clotting in the cold, the level of snowfall, the damage to the door, the head wound of the man, the many foot prints of various sizes and directions and many other details, then she announces her findings. A large creature, and several goblins attacked this house, Cosimo ran out to defend himself and managed to stab a goblin with a dagger before he had his head smashed in with a blunt instrument wielded by the large creature. The creature then demolished the door and Almudena tried to stand in its way. She was knocked unconscious by a goblin and the creature grabbed Paloma from the house and they all left with her. Again the group are very impressed. Yet again she appears to be right on the money.
Mason examines the body. She confirms that the head wound was indeed from a morning star. Based on this and her knowledge of goblin kind she deduces that the large creature must be a bugbear. She also examines the muscular man, who has been lying in a pool of frozen blood all night, and her medical opinion is that he is very dead. Speck points out that there are many footprints and a trail of blood that leads to a path up into the mountains. This must be where the attackers went. Even though drinking ale and harassing the locals in a warm tavern seems like much more fun, they decide to follow the trail. There is some marginal interest in rescuing Paloma and returning her to her mother.
Near the base of the trail they find a dead goblin. His knee is torn open and bleeding badly. Cosimo’s dagger is clutched in his hand. He must have fallen from a switchback in the trail above and been left to die by the bugbear and the other goblins. They take everything off the goblin stripping him down to his underwear before thinking better of it and dumping pretty much everything on the side of the trail. They do keep a few coins and a letter. The letter reads “We need an innocent for a sacrifice to The Entity. He will tell us how to gain access to the treasure.”
They begin to clamber up the icy mountain trail through the lightly falling snow. Ravenhack urges them to make haste as the falling snow will eventually hide the goblins path. Despite being a hill dwarf, Mason is very clumsy and soon slips on the ice and falls off the side of the trail. The others all start to laugh at her clumsy fall, but then spring into action. The elf wizard reacts by opening her spell book and leafing through it. Ravenhack tries to catch her. But, cool as the ice on which he stands, Speck causally reaches out, grabs Mason’s arm and lifts her back onto the trail.
They decide that maybe they should be a little more careful. Ravenhack has wilderness survival experience and he suggests that they use mountaineering techniques to stay safe. A good suggestion they agree. He produces a 10 foot length of light string and suggests that everyone tie themselves together with it. Not such a good suggestion claims Speck, who then produces a fifty foot long thick hemp rope. Speck is very well equipped having visited Sally Dullmonger the night before and bought loads of useful items. This of course explains why he had no money to buy the ale. The wizard then suggests that she blast the trail with fire bolts, which seems to make a lot of sense as it will melt away the ice. So they complete the long journey to the top, tied together, the dwarf noisily clanging along in her armour and the wizard merrily blasting away with her fire bolts.
They reach the top of the trail and crouch down behind a rocky ridge to survey the area. At this point they decide to reveal their names to each other. They already know Ravenhack the rogue, the dwarf cleric is also a skilled mason and she tells them her name is Mason. They accept this at face value, because why not. The fighter has a simple unassuming name, Speck. Perhaps it is an army nickname related to his favourite kind of meat. The the elf wizard reveals that her name is in fact John and that she is in fact a male elf. Mason bursts out laughing and almost falls off the mountainside again, “I though you were a woman!” John also finds this hilarious and laughs along deeply with his dwarven friend.
Meanwhile Ravenhack is all business, surveying the scene and wondering how best to kill the goblins. There are two sentries playing dice outside of a dwarven tomb. They are paying little attention to their surroundings and are more focused on the dice game they are playing. The doors to the tomb have been smashed open by powerful creature, they assume this to be the work of the bugbear. John and Ravenhack want to kill one and capture the other for interrogation, all without raising the alarm. John wants to set the trees on fire as a distraction.
They decide to move forward as quietly as possible to launch a surprise attack from as close as possible. Great plan. Unfortunately Mason is as stealthy as a bull in a china shop. Mason falls over yet again, in a loud clatter of shield, hammer and armour plate, letting out a yell that rings through the mountainside. John starts laughing at this and gives away his position as well. The goblins look up and see that they are under attack.
Any possibility of a surprise attack ruined, they advance on the goblins. Ravenhack moves forward like a shadow and hides behind some boulders within striking distance. Speck looses and arrow with his longbow. It misses. Mason looses a bolt from her crossbow. It misses. John evokes magical fire and hurls a bolt. It misses. The goblins are lulled into a false sense of superiorty by this show of incompetence and they advance. They loose arrows from the shortbows. They both miss. Who’s incompetent now! They all move forward and continue to miss. Then John rustles through his spell book, searching for the right spell and casts sleep. The goblins are instantly knocked out.
Speck, Mason and Ravenhack are a little deflated by this, but Ravenhack is a practical kind of rogue and uses this opportunity to smash the goblin’s head in with his claw hammer. He then decides to tie up the goblin with yet another 10 foot section of light string. Speck is having none of this and produces his thick rope. He starts to tie up the goblin but manages to tie himself to the goblin, in a tangle of loose rope. The goblin starts to wake up, but Ravenhack gives him a quick hammer tap to he head and he is knocked out cold, properly this time. Ravenhack carefully ties up the goblin, redoing the knots several times to make sure they are secure. Then Mason uses her smelling salts to wake him.
The goblin, terrified for her life is ready to talk and all she wants is to be set free. Mason and Ravenhack both speak goblin and have no interest in letting her go. Mason tries to deceive the goblin telling her that they will of course free her. Her lie is as flimsy as Ravenhack’s string and the goblin doesn’t buy it. Speck tells the goblin to talk or she will die slowly. Ravenhack gets tired of all this gentle banter and decides to convince the goblin the old fashioned way. He stabs the goblin’s palm with his dagger. The goblin lets out blood curdling scream of pain, that echoes across the valley. “Help I’m being tortured to death!” she screams. It is a few moments before they can silence her.
They search the sentries bodies and find some coins, some dice and some rubbish of interest to only goblins. John finds a brass orb covered in strange runes and becomes fascinated by it. He wracks his vast brain trying to determine what it is and how it works, but his keen deduction skills and his knowledge of history and the arcane all reveal nothing. He is very frustrated by this and resolves to use whatever means necessary to find out what the orb is. He considers using his detect magic ritual spell but they don’t have time for that.
Suddenly, black arrows whistle past them and slam into the frozen ground. Goblins from inside the tomb have heard the commotion and have taken up positions behind the smashed tomb doors. Ravenhack races over to them and breathes fire, setting both goblins and the doors on fire. Speck charges after him and runs one though with his longsword. Mason follows and stoves the other’s head in with her warhammer.
They are well experienced at ransacking goblin corpses at this stage, so they ignore the junk and look for coins and valuables. John insists on looking for notes, which is according to Mason, a bit optimistic. It’s coins only in this kingdom. They find a glass orb, a deed to a ruined torc tower, some coins and assorted goblin rubbish, including a shattered sword, which understandably no one bothers to pick up. Ravenhack notices that there are goblin tracks outside. John deduces that there are more goblins in the woods. There are probably one or more patrols in the area.
They descend into the tomb for a few feet and then have a long debate about light. The elf and dwarf can see in the dark but the others can’t. They stroll casually into the tomb’s entrance chamber, where a five foot wide brazier is blazing. This illuminates the room and the carvings on the walls. John casts a light spell but then puts it out because it is too bright. The room is littered with goblin sleeping mats and goblin filth and it stinks. Mason reads The oath of The Paladins Of Misneach and Durin Ironshield is carved on the wall under a bas relief that shows the god Misneach and the hero Durin Ironshield fighting to the death against the demonic hordes of The Fallen.
No one seems particularly interested that this is Durin Ironshield’s tomb or that it is over a thousand years old. So they return to a more pressing topic, light. John casts a light spell but then puts it out. Speck continues to prove his planning powers, this time he produces ten torches. For some reason no one in interested in these. Ravenhack has oil but no lantern, so he makes a torch using the oil, a goblin’s club and some rags. Then he doesn’t use it. No one seems to like torches.
The debate then shifts to who should go first. Speck volunteers as he believes that he is best equipped for combat. The rest enthusiastically agree and then immediately disagree. The penultimate suggestion is that Ravenhack and Mason lead the way together, Mason can see in darkness and Ravenhack is very stealthy. This turns out to be unworkable. Ultimately they decide the let the rogue scout ahead by himself. He carefully inches forward not making a sound. Ravenhack is very stealthy. He hears a faint click. He curses softly and instinctively leaps backwards as a scythe sweeps out of the ceiling and slashes at him. The collar of his leather jacket in neatly snipped off by the razor sharp blade. It swings back into the ceiling and the trap clicks back into place.
His eyes are wide with surprise. He has managed to find a trap the hard way. A pressure plate in the floor, cunningly disguised as a set of flagstones, triggers the scythe. Luckily Ravenhack has had years of training in the art of lethal mechanisms and he has his trusty thieves tools with him. Cautiously he moves to disable the trap. The unhelpful words of his late master Filius Fibonacci echo in his mind: “If you get this wrong, it will probably kill you. So… you know… no pressure”. The rest of the adventurers stand well back, in the amber light of the brazier, watching him and offering advice. John suggests that they could just jump over it but he is mostly ignored. Speck agrees, he is particularly good at jumping. But they don’t feel happy with the idea of leaping into the unknown when enemies are around, so they shelve the plan. John returns to studying the brass orb.
Ravenhack has a large bag containing a thousand ballbearings and attempts to use these to jam the mechanism. This attempt triggers the scythe again. Once more his catlike reflexes save him from the scythe blade. He leaps back and narrowly avoids it, loosing the other lapel of his jacket. A different approach is needed, so he takes out his hammer and pitons. This hammer worked wonders on the goblins earlier. He jams the pressure plate with a piton, the scythe swings again and this time it slams into him as he tries to leap away. A jolt of pain rips through his chest and the blade slices through his armor. He moves back to bandage his wound, assisted by Mason. John strains his ears to hear the chanting from beyond the end of the dark corridor. His knowledge of the arcane tells him that the ritual is imploring a dark entity for a boon. John realises that the ritual will be over in less than a minute, so time is of the essence. If they don’t stop the goblin soon, Paloma will be sacrificed to the goblin warlocks fiendish patron.
To speed up progress, Speck and John discuss the merits of grabbing several goblin bodies and throwing them onto the pressure plate. This would spring the trap and keep the pressure plate down, allowing them to move past it safely. This is a solid plan and would probably work well. However, travelling back for over 120 feet seems like a real hassle. It is much more entertaining watching Ravenhack risk his life over and over again. Meanwhile, realising his mistake, Ravenhack switches to his thieves tools. He tries a Fibonacci sequence but fumbles the last lever and once again he has to leap away from the blade. Ravenhack has decided he will disable this trap or die trying. The others whisper words of encouragement. He makes several more attempts and he succeeds! His brass dragon maw bends into a satisfied smile.
They all crowd around congratulate him and then they move to the end of the no longer trapper corridor towards the sounds of ritual chanting.
Following Ravenhack’s thievery based advice, they use the loud ritual screaming and the flickering shadows of the distant brazier, to mask their approach. They crouch at a bend in the corridor and survey the room beyond. It is lit by the silvery glow of an imposing dwarf statue. This is Durin Ironshield, the hero who rests in the tomb. Their attention is drawn to the centre of the room. Paloma is tied to a circular stone dais, gagged, terrified and crying. Her skin is covered in arcane runes written in dark blue ink. A red skinned goblin with a glowing frozen hand, is bellowing an arcane ritual in a raspy voice. A bugbear is sitting wedged into a dwarven throne looking bored and hungry. He absently drums his fingers on a massive morningstar lying against the throne. Another goblin jabs at Paloma with a rusty filth covered dagger at regular intervals so that her screams are in time with the ritual chanting.
The party pay little attention to her, as they are busy planing their attack. They are beginning to work together well and form a sound strategy. Speck will lead the charge at the bugbear and the others will support with spells and sneak attacks. John holds them at the corner for a little longer so that he can leaf through his spell book for a while. He wants to pick the perfect spell. Paloma is momentarily forgotten as he flicks the pages and finds the very thing.
John casts a sleep spell that knocks out both the goblins. The chanting stops and ritual is ruined. Even Paloma’s sobbing has stopped and she sleeps soundly. The bugbear leaps to his feet, grabbing his morningstar and shield. He sniffs the air and growls. Mason calls on her god to create a magical Shield of Faith to protect Speck and then she charges in to attack the bugbear. He barely manages to deflect her attack with his shield. Speck charges after her and slashes at the bugbear with his longsword. Again the bugbear deflects the attack. Ravenhack positions himself near the fight, he pulls back his hood to reveal his brass dragon mouth is filled with dragon fire. He breathes a jet of dragon fire at the bugbear, setting his fur aflame. The bugbear roars in pain and fury.
Speck harasses the bugbear keeping his attention focused on him. The bugbear fights defensively, using his armor, shield and agility to deflect and avoid their attacks. He lashes out at Speck occasionally but Mason’s Shield of Faith Mason protects him. The fight continues, many attacks are exchanged but neither side lands a decisive blow. Then Mason blasts him with a Guiding Bolt spell searing him with radiant magic. Speck distracts him again with ineffective sword blows to keep him from retaliating against her. John takes pity on Paloma and momentarily puts away his spell book to cut her loose.
Speck grows impatient with the pace of the battle and decides to increase his aggression. He throws caution to the wind and drops his shield. He draws two hand axes and starts chopping madly at the bugbear. Finally he draws blood. This is a rash move against so powerful an enemy, but the Shield of Faith protects him from the brutal morningstar blows that slam into the glowing blue barrier. The battle rages for what feels like an hour, but it is over in a moment. Mason’s warhammer swings upward, connecting hard with his jaw, smashing it into bloody flinders, driving bone into brain and snapping his neck. He falls nosily to the ground like a dwarf on an icy trail.
The sleeping goblins are woken by the clatter. The red skinned warlock blasts Mason with a white ray, covering her in deathly frost. The pain is severe but she is tough enough to keep going. The other goblin is not so brave and flees the room. John casually flicks his longsword as he runs past and the nonchalant attack nicks the goblin. John clearly doesn’t rate conventional weapons. Ravenhack runs the warlock through with his rapier. Speck easily kills the other with his hand axes. It turns out, he notes, that two attacks are better than one.
They search the room. The bugbear has fifty gold pieces, a heavy dwarven key and a cube of a strange material. It is reddish metal with black streaks. John identifies as Kellum, a highly magical substance used in the creation of powerful ancient artifacts. They give the warlock’s ring to the wizard. Although any of them could use it, they feel he would be the best suited to it. Ravenhack quickly pockets the gold. The warlock also has a map of a nearby Torc family castle. The other goblin has a vial of quicksilver.
As they search Mason notices that the stonework behind the statue is unusual. She is a trained mason, as her name suggests and her hill dwarf heritage means that she has a deep affinity to stone. She believes that it must be a dwarven secret door and that it can only be opened with a password and a key. Ravenhack is not a believer in either passwords or keys. He decides that he should be able to open it and sets to work with his thieves tools.
Speck notices that there is a phrase carved into the base of the statue of Durin. Mason translates it for the group: “To keep this you must first give it.” Mason’s knowledge of dwarven religions tells her that this must be a riddle to allow visitors entry to the room beyond by demonstrating that they are members of the faithful. They spend ages guessing the riddle but to no effect. John and Mason wrack their brains trying to remember something. John is frankly astonished that his powerful mind does not contain the answer. How vexing. Speck also wracks his brains, this phrase sounds familiar to him. He casts his mind back, remembering a tale told to him by a drill sergeant while he was training with the Torc army at Fort Crucible. The tale featured this very riddle and it was meant to re-enforce the concept of loyalty among the ranks. The answer to the riddle is: “Your word”.
Speck announces the answer and a panel opens in the base of the statue of Durin. This reveals two spherical indentations either side of a small square one. Given John’s obsession with the brass orb, it takes him little time to conclude that the orb must be placed here. They place the brass and glass orbs as wells the kellum cube in their indentations. A keyhole appears in the wall behind the statue. And the faint magical outline of a door appears. Ravenhack starts to examine the keyhole to see if he can open it with his thieves tools. Despite the obvious use for the orb, John is convinced that there is more to this ancient rune covered sphere than simply being part of a tomb key and he resolves to study it in his library and alchemical lab as soon as he gets one.
They put the strange dwarven key in the lock and it opens easily. Behind the door is a dark room filled with sarcophagi. Mason’s eyes are adjusting to the gloom when they hear noises behind them near the entrance to the tomb. The goblin patrol they ignored earlier has returned!