The Age of Ash

Chapter 1, Session 1: The Dunes

PCs:

  • Beacon, Dragonborn Cleric
  • Pan, Eladrin Wizard
  • Le Gion, Half-Elf Warlock

NPC:

The party has been traveling for the past week and a half across the inhospitable Ash Waste seeking the fabled Imperial Arkhosian Library (Libram Draj’jin). They stumble into a sandstorm and must battle a group of undead and elemental adversaries. A swarm of Burrower larva also attack after the first turn.

Dust Devil

Dune Zombies x2

Burrower Hatchlings x5

XP total: 505

Korash makes his appearance a short way into the encounter, firing upon the mindless creatures from atop a nearby dune. After the monsters are dispatched, the storm abates and the party sizes up the Dwarf Pathfinder. Finding him to be reasonably trustworthy (if rather abrasive) they accept his offer of assistance on the journey to the Library.

Thus begins the Path to the Grave, a wilderness survival skill challenge.

Key Skills: Survival, Endurance, Perception

XP award: 500

Pan and Beacon both find unique methods of beating the heat: Pan uses Prestidigitation and his Floating Disk to stay cool and unexerted, while Beacon finds his Cold Breath (combined with meditative breathing exercises) to be useful in keeping his core body heat low. Pan uses the History skill to successfully call to mind useful legends about desert survival: his timely advice about how to efficiently stow gear gives Beacon a bonus on one of his Endurance checks. The party waits out the freezing Ash Waste night in camp then sets out again the following morning.

In the midst of the skill challenge a string of failed Endurance checks draws the interest of a common nuisance of the Wastes: blood-sucking bat-like creatures known as Stirges. Descending from the sky to feast on the drained resources of the party, the Stirges encounter more than they bargained for and are rapidly dispatched before they can flee.

Stirge x4

XP total: 400

As the party travels, conversation with Korash reveals that he had seen one of the members of the missing archeological group several weeks prior to meeting the party. This Dragonborn he mentions apparently had already witnessed the library before, and spoke of a “missing observatory” that was somehow immensely troubling to him. Korash remembers little else.

Finally drawing within sight of the Library Draconic, the party pauses a distance away to collect themselves. Seeing a recently used tent camp atop the hill near the entrance, they prepare for a hostile reception. The plan is to send Beacon and Korash across the south bridge and into the ruins there, then Pan and Le Gion will go north and attempt to flank from across the collapsed bridge. Unbeknownst to them however their movements are being observed, and while the party readies it’s attack from within the presumed safety of Pan’s Silence ritual, an ambush is being prepared.

The Sand Elves make their move once Korash and Beacon are sheltered in the southern ruins, directed by their shamanic Hexer leader. Archers from the camp rain fire upon Korash, nearly killing him but for the divine intervention of the Dragonborn Cleric. Pan and Le Gion retaliate with magical attacks from across the ravine in an attempt to draw attention away from other half of the party. Just as the situation seems almost manageable, a pair of hidden Elf Scouts attack from the edge of the ruins, trying to circle Beacon with their superior maneuverability. Le Gion crosses the ravine at the north bridge, leaping acrobatically across the gap. However, he is cut off from the rest of the party and finds himself ambushed by another Elf Scout lurking behind the pillars of the main Library causeway. The Scout’s vicious rending attack nearly overwhelms the Warlock, who manages to avoid further retaliation with the use of his Eyebite spell blinding the vicious raider. Meanwhile, Beacon has managed to escape from the death trap of the ruins by clambering over the wall and is assisted by a timely crippling shot from Korash disabling one of the Scouts. Pan’s prolonged casting of Flaming Sphere disrupts the plans of the Archers and Hexer, sending them scrambling for cover and unable to focus their attacks. Finally the party prevails, having worn down the defenses of the Raiders. A single badly wounded Archer manages to flee into the wastes to his certain death.

Elf Shaman

Elf Archers x2

Elf Scouts x3

XP total: 575

Total XP for the session: 1980

Per character: 660 xp

Having successfully survived the Sand Elf attack, the group scouts around the rest of the area. Le Gion discovers that the ravines around the library seem to be the result of major tectonic activity, and that barely visible many feet down is a winding network of stone structures that are probably supporting the weight of the Library itself. The party discovers that in spite of the shifting of the library’s foundations, the main structure is still intact and (presumably) still stable at ground level. On the monolithic sealed entrance the following cryptic inscription can be found, written in an ancient Draconic dialect which Pan and Beacon attempt to translate.

However, they will require outside assistance in order to decipher the meaning of the text. Sifting around the camp, they also discover that the tents and many of the belongings are not those of the Elves who attacked them, rather they appear to be the stolen property of some unseen previous explorers. Their total findings of the contents of the tents and equipment are:

A totemic ivory statuette (value: 250 gold pieces)

1 Potion of Healing

1 Climber’s Kit (Grappling Hook, Hammer & Pitons)

1 Lantern and ½ pint of oil

enough trail rations to replenish their stores.

The only item of value the Sand Elves had that is worth carrying is the serpentine cold iron staff of their leader. (Rod of Dark Reward +1)

As the party beds down for the night in the abandoned tent camp, a great many questions remain unanswered. How will they obtain access to the fabled Library? What could have become of the explorers who arrived here previously? How were the Sand Elves led to this place, and why did they attack so suddenly? Does Korash always snore like that when he sleeps?

Join us next time for all the startling answers, and more, in Part 2 of Knowledge‘s Grave!

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