Mesiterra: Birth of the Daemons

Prelude
Krushis is basically Colebrook

Life in the sleepy crossroads town of Krushis has gone on more or less unchanged for the past age. Despite its relative proximity to Ostia, the town managed to stay out of Ouranos’ sights, and it was never an appealing place for refugees to settle down. The couple dozen houses, small general store, and busy yet quaint inn—The Saucy Sylph—have stood here on the edge of the Forest of Lethe for generations.

Krushis’ sleepy tranquility remained largely unbroken through the first ten years of King Bearcharger’s reign, but only a few months ago a strange girl wandered out of the woods. She resembled a driver, with the lower body of a spider, complete with eight legs and brilliant yellow and black orb, but from the waist up, instead of a sinister drow, the girl was a fair-skinned elf. She claimed to have amnesia, and after being briefly questioned by the innkeeper, it was apparent that she didn’t remember much of anything. The innkeeper gave the girl a name—Aria—and an apron, and put her to work in the inn.

Now the innkeeper keeps an eye out for travelers passing through the Sylph, seeking any clue as to where Aria may have come from, eager to return Krushis to the type of sleepy backwater town where nothing exciting ever happens, and nothing exciting ever will. Today, a group of adventurers at a table in the corner catches his eye…

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Into the Woods
skitter skitter

4th day of the 9th Umbral Cycle, 1402 ( 9/4/1402 )

The sun sets quietly in the west and two adventurers walk into a small inn at the crossroads town of Krushis called the Saucy Sylph. The first man is a rarity in this village, a little kitsunekin—a foxlike race of monsterkin. He quietly pads over to an empty table and takes a seat. A friendly driderkin is working in the tavern and she happily skitters over to him and takes his order. She is very happy to see another monsterkin.

The second man who walks into the inn is also something of a curiosity in this town. He slumps onto a barstool and dejectedly pulls his wig off. The barkeep, a kind man with bulging biceps and a friendly smile named Roland pours the stranger a drink.

The man with the wig tells Roland that he’s had the worst day of his life and claims that the copper pieces he handed over for the drink are the last three he has to his name. The kitsunekin overhears this and doesn’t even hesitate. After eating a small portion of his underhill bread, he beckons to the driderkin waitress and tells her to bring the remainder of the meal over to the stranger.

The man at the bar wolfs down the calzone-like dish and gives the kitsunekin a smile, before taking a big chug from his ale and heading over to the kitsunekin’s table, sliding his immense pack along the floor with his foot. After a gruff greeting he sits down and tells the kitsunekin why this is the worst week ever:

According to the man with the wig, he is from Ostia, and at the beginning of the week, life went on as it always had, just peachy. Then his father and uncle both committed robberies and they are wanted by the authorities in Ostia. The man pulls out a wanted poster to illustrate. The poster shows two men side by side, both of whom look remarkably like the man sitting here. He explains that he looks just like his father so he fled to be safe.

The kitsunekin, already a bit tipsy from the local ale, doesn’t trust the man unequivocally, but he doesn’t really have any reason to believe he’s lying so he goes with it. He explains that he is from a monsterkin village near the coast named Exsilium, and that it was time for him to head out and find some answers about his childhood, which he can’t remember due to a strange amnesia.

The kitsunekin buys rooms for both of them so they can spend the night in the inn, and the man with the wig trudges off to his room. The kitsunekin, who is named Cypress, stays for a while in the tavern and chats with Aria, the pretty driderkin. She’s never met any other monsterkin and has only hazy memories of anything past about ten weeks ago. Aria is quite excited to meet another monsterkin. Eventually the two call it a night and Cypress heads off to his room, saying a prayer to Saha before bed.

5th day of the 9th Umbral Cycle, 1402 ( 9/5/1402 )

Both of our adventurers awake to the faint smell of smoke, which becomes stronger when they open their windows to investigate. They see a plume of smoke rising over the forest to the east. Despite the fact that the rogue is nursing a hangover, the two prepare to leave right away after having a short conversation while hanging out of their windows. Aria looks a little downtrodden when they rush downstairs and it’s apparent that they’re going to leave without breakfast. The human man takes the two breakfast plates from her hands and dumps them in his pack, tipping her generously, and the two adventurers set out.

Cypress realizes that his companion was lying about being broke and begins to more seriously doubt his claims. He reacts be charging ahead through the woods, offering minimal assistance to his hungover partner. After climbing a tree to get their bearings, eventually the two arrive at the source of the fire: the remnants of a small village.

After a quick search of the smoldering ruins, it becomes apparent that this was a monsterkin village. The party finds two dead monsterkin: a female centaurkin and a male dragonkin. Both look like they were wickedly tortured before they were killed, and their corpses are bloodied and broken. Cypress insists on giving them a proper burial, while the other man dons his armor and keeps watch, scanning the perimeter with his bow at the ready.

The two find many tracks heading down a path to the east of the village, and they decide to follow them, as Cypress is determined to aid these people, and even Locust the Lurker seems moved by a faint sense of injustice. Hoisting their packs, the two travel deeper into the woods…

Persistent Effects

Locust: Hungover (-2 penalty to STR and DEX, cannot run or charge.)

Cypress: fit as a fox!

XP Rewards

Locust: 0 Combat XP; 300 RP XP

Cypress: 0 Combat XP; 300 RP XP

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Adventures in Trapfinding
Also featuring Groph the hobgoblin

5th day of the 9th Umbral Cycle, 1402 ( 9/5/1402 )

We join our talky rogue and kind cleric as they head east-southeast on a path deeper into the Forest of Lethe, following many monsterkin tracks from the village. The rogue stumbles along the road, while the kitsunekin cleric sticks to the underbrush, staying quiet and out of sight. The two have barely even gotten underway when they hear a muffled yelp from a couple hundred yards behind them in the forest, followed by a crash in the bushes. The two double back to investigate.

They find Aria, the driderkin from Krushis, picking spiderwebs off of herself and looking thoroughly disgusted. The cleric asks if she is okay, and she says she’s fine but she walked into some spiderwebs and spiders gross her out. She is outfitted for adventure, with a hooded cloak over her leather armor and a well-crafted longbow. She says she got the feeling the party wasn’t returning to Krushis and decided that this was the group she needed to be with, and she says she can handle a bow and knows how to track.

At this point everyone introduces themselves and I can start using actual names in these damn adventure logs.

The party, now made up of Thrask, Cypress, and Aria, heads back to the path and follows it into the forest. As they walk they begin to question Thrask’s motivations and sincerity. As Thrask is telling his monsterkin companions about how he doesn’t know how to handle a weapon, an arrow comes whistling out of the woods, narrowly missing him. Then a second arrow. The party holds the previous thought and focuses on fighting a couple of hobgoblins.

While Aria climbs a tree and snipes at the hobgoblins, Thrask and Cypress both get walloped to within an inch of their lives, but in the end the party emerges victorious! (Thank Saha for clerics…) Cypress intends to tie up the hobs and question them, but Thrask has other ideas. He impales one, and is getting ready to do the same to the second when Aria and Cypress stop him. They tie up the hobgoblin and wake him up.

Unsurprisingly, he only speaks Goblin.

Cypress instructs Thrask to knock out the hobgoblin instead of killing him. But in a poorly aimed display of intimidation, Thrask chops the creature across the face with its own longsword, leaving it permanently disfigured and once again dying. Cypress stabilizes the hobgoblin and the party is on their way.

By now Cypress and Aria have seen through “Thrask’s” lies, and they begin demanding the truth. Eventually this leads to Aria tackling the talky rogue as Cypress searches through his belongings. Thrask comes clean—to a degree—but he acts like the whole thing is a big joke, which further enrages Aria and Cypress. Nonetheless, they let him repack his bag and continue on as their companion, though they are keeping a close eye on him.

Level 1: Cave of the Ancients

The party follows the monsterkin tracks to a cave, which—after a bit of an argument about making torches—they enter. Thrask leads the way, checking for traps. Sure enough, after a couple hundred meters, they come upon a pit trap. Dropping Thrask’s bag onto the trap triggers it, leaving the pit. Aria recovers the pack and climbs to the other side, while Cypress simply jumps. Thrask doesn’t have enough overhead clearance to jump so he stays put while the other two try to find a way across the pit.

While they search for something to bridge the gap with, the hobgoblin from before shows up in the cave entrance. Thrask drops his torch down the pit and turns to face the invader. Then Aria and Cypress show up with a couple of planks. They place the planks across the pit and Thrask crosses. Then he waits until the hobgoblin has made its way onto the plank before kicking it out from under him, sending him tumbling into the pit. They continue onward.

The second trap fires an arrow. Thrask blindly dodges it, and instead it buries itself just below Cypress’ collarbone. Aria stabilizes him and they continue. They reach a vertical shaft that they must climb down. Cypress succeeds without trouble, and climbing is trivial for Aria. Thrask falls though, requiring another stabilization from Aria and a heal from Cypress.

Finally Thrask picks the lock on a large stone door, the party descends a spiraling stone stair, and they come face to face with two dozen terrified monsterkin.


Party XP

Talky Rogue Man: 600

Ninetails: 600

Moe Spider Girl: 600

Public Drunkenness Level

12

Average number of legs per character

4

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My Heart Will Go On
Locust said, rather racistly.

5th day of the 9th Umbral Cycle, 1402 ( 9/5/1402 )

The party reaches a group of about 30 terrified monsterkin hiding deep in this cave, in a large cavern dimly lit by lanterns. A wounded centaurkin, who appears to be a leader, approaches them and tells them he wasn’t expecting to see their kind here, as the members of the two villages who are sheltering here were being pursued by a doomsaying seer and her disciples. The centaurkin’s name is Davin and he barely needs to ask for the party’s help before they jump to give it. Cypress heals Davin, then goes to help a lamiakin named Sybil tend the injured. Aria helps in the makeshift kitchen. Locust, or Kolima as he’s calling himself, mills around until Davin calls him over, tells him they don’t trust him, and asks him to stay near his companions. He ends up doing dishes under the overbearing supervision of a burly dragonkin. Locust never asks for his name.

After working around the shelter for a few hours, the party decides to spend the night here.

6th day of the 9th Umbral Cycle, 1402 ( 9/6/1402 )

Davin shows the party out in the morning, after they barter for rope and Sybil gives Cypress a couple of potions. Locust falls trying to climb out of the cave. At the cave entrance, Aria notices a trail of blood leading off into the woods. It seems Groph escaped. (And so a recurring enemy is born.)

The party heads back to the path and heads east towards Lake Aletheia, where they heard there is another monsterkin village that may be targeted. A group of dragons sails overhead, heading south-southwest.

As they are following the path eastward, they are approached by a woman wearing white robes, who walks gracefully and silently through the woods. The party takes a threat stance, assuming her to be the seer that Davin warned them about. At first, the things she says seem to confirm this suspicion.

The world is changing, she explains. She says the existing gods are dying out. And she says an ancient corruption is seeping into the world. Much to Aria and Cypress’ confusion, she calls their talky rogue “Locust,” which is apparently his actual name, and introduces herself by saying “Themis is what they will call me.” Then she turns her attention to the monsterkin, whom she calls her children. She says they are here one thousand years too early, and she says they were not awoken by her as they should have been. She fears they are the result of the corruption that even now threatens to overtake Mesiterra. When asked to elaborate she says only that “speaking its name would summon it here,” and explains that she is forbidden from interfering directly in the matters of this world. Eventually she says simply, “we will not meet in this manner again,” and walks off into the forest, disappearing as soon as the party looks away.

Battle at the Little Bridge

As the sun is getting low in the sky, the party reaches the lake, and and a spot where a small stream feeds into the lake through a narrow gorge spanned by a rope bridge. On a small peninsula across the stream from them, the party spots the seer and two of her disciples. Unfortunately for Locust, the party is also spotted. The seer casts obscuring mist on the peninsula and combat begins.

Not willing to use the bridge, Locust and Cypress attempt to jump the stream. Both fail, landing in the water and taking varying degrees of fall damage. The seer emerges from the mist reading a scroll, which causes Locust to run away, frightened. Aria climbs a tree and lets arrows fly when she has open shots. The seer descends on Cypress. Not content to simply wound him, she grabs one of his tails and slices it off with her sickle. Aria shoots her in the back for this.

Soon Locust returns. An acolyte also emerges from the mist. Locust notices the other acolyte running away to the east. The one acolyte that attempts to engage the party has little luck with either spear or sorcery. Aria drops the seer with another arrow in the back and she begins to drift out into the lake. Locust shoots the acolyte in the throat and then recovers the seers body and loots it, before letting her die.

Cypress attempts to stabilize the acolyte for questioning, but botches the attempt and the acolyte bleeds out as well.

The party then sets about searching this camp as the sun sets over the distant, western sea at their backs…


Party XP

400 points for everyone because everyone wins and the points don’t matter.

Arrows fired:

4

Human/Non-human ratio

0.12

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It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's riiiight
I hope you have the tiiime of your liife.

6th day of the 9th Umbral Cycle, 1402 ( 9/7/1402 ) Late Night.

The party camps in the woods nearby, and midway through the night they are ambushed by a couple bugbears. Safely in the trees, Cypress and Aria observe as Locust hides in a bush. When the bugbears detect Locust and attempt to capture him, Aria and Cypress attack from range and eventually the simple-minded creatures are defeated.

7th day of the 9th Umbral Cycle, 1402 ( 9/8/1402 )

The next morning the party starts tracking the acolyte who escaped from the previous day’s battle, but they soon lose the tracks and have to decide what to do. At Locust’s urging, they decide to climb the mountains and travel to Musea.

8th day of the 9th Umbral Cycle, 1402 ( 9/8/1402 )

The party climbs the mountains to arrive at Musea late in the day. They encounter the Archmage Caeliel Ishtari Mardun Isiliel (Caeliel for short) and she helps them get a room in the dormitories. They see smoke rising over the forest to the west where their map shows one of the monsterkin villages is. They go back to the dormitory and sleep through the night.

9th day of the 9th Umbral Cycle, 1402 ( 9/9/1402 )

The next day the party spends exploring the town of Musea. Locust visits the library while Aria and Cypress hit the markets. They note the desert stretching away to the east and the forest to the west. The fire that was burning yesterday is gone.

Midday, Locust steals Caeliel’s grimoire since it’s the most valuable thing he’s ever seen. He runs back to the room, dumps out Cypress’ pack, and puts the book inside. Then he attempts to throw the pack onto the roof. When he fails and the rest of the party finds the pack, he bolts, heading north. He arrives at the Temple of Death in the late afternoon and hides out in the entrance to the Necropolis.

Aria and Cypress catch up to Locust in the temple as the sun is setting. After a heated exchange, they hear a moaning sound from in the necropolis and they run away. It takes the party much of the night to retrace their steps back to Musea, and then they sleep well into the next day.

10th day of the 9th Umbral Cycle, 1402 ( 9/10/1402 )

The party stocks up on supplies, Locust sells a bunch of his stuff, and they check in with Caeliel. She tells them the temple to the north is called the “Pyramid of the Death God” and it may be connected to a deity from outside the current pantheon, known as Artemis, Hine-Nui, or Themis, among other things. The party heads north towards the temple.

They arrive in the late afternoon. Locust screws up big time while searching a room for switches and ends up losing his foot. After some healing they head into the temple anyways, even though Locust slows the party down considerably.

After solving a simple puzzle and descending a spiral staircase, the party finds a portal. They drop a candle in, and a couple minutes later the candle pops back. After a bit more experimenting with candles, Locust hops into the portal. He comes back a couple minutes later after drifting through the Astral Plane, and he takes Cypress and ferries him across. The next time he pops through he sees Aria fighting something and he tells her to jump into the portal. She cannonballs in and the two hurtle towards the Spectral Plane aka the Umbral Moon.

Once in the Spectral Plane, the party investigates 3 pavilions. One has a chest with a set of 4, extremely magical, ivory 6-sided dice. Locust carefully places them in a pouch in his pack. The next pavilion the party visits has a statue of the goddess Mnemosyne. Locust finds a button on the statue, which he pushes. The button triggers a spell which causes Locust to slip part-way into the ethereal plane.

Everyone jaunts over to the final pavilion, where there is a statue of Lethe. The statue is wearing a robe, which when worn brings Locust back to the material plane.

Then Locust gets an idea, there is another button on this statue, which he presses. However, he loses focus during the shift to the ethereal, and Lethe—the goddess of forgetfulness—gently erases all of his memories. The mindless shell of Locust wanders away aimlessly onto the Plains of the Dead….

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Excerpts from the Recollections of Aria the Runespoken
Aria spent a lot of time writing while she lived in Exsilium

Finding the Tower of Aletheia Written on the 16th day of the 7th Umbral Cycle, 1405. May the blessings of Mnemosyne lend verity to my memory and credence to my account. May the spirit of Lethe grant life to my retelling.

We awoke in a field outside Ostia. Even without his memory, Locust had figured out a way to bring us near to his home. As night fell and we prepared to travel northwest, dragons began attacking the city, and the fortress of General Kaisa, visible on the horizon south of the city. With these opening notes of the Ostian War in the background, we traveled to the halfling town of Hillsborough.

From there we traveled north, soon arriving at a mysterious, mirage-like tower in the Strom foothills. After we were tested by the sphinx guarding the entrance, we began to ascend the tower.

The tower was named Aletheia, and each floor tested our memory and problem solving. Challenged by sandmen, a cockatrice, and unforgiving traps, we eventually reached the top of the tower. The harpy that awaited us proved to be our toughest opponent, and Cypress fell to his death. Swallowing our fear and grief, Locust and I continued to the Chamber of Memory.


Concerning the Pilgrim’s Astrolabe Written on the 29th day of the 8th Umbral Cycle, 1405.

Since the discovery of the Tower of Aletheia, its location has become of paramount importance for the monsterkin. It is a site of pilgrimage for all monsterkin who wish to regain their memories. However, it has long been apparent that the tower moves frequently, and moves to many locations throughout the world.

The Pilgrim’s Astrolabe is a great achievement of magical scholarship. Combining astrological data with measurements of the world’s mana currents, the Astrolabe is able to predict the locations of the tower far into the future. Using the astrolabe, a pilgrim can predict when the tower will be nearby and for how long.

A note to pilgrims: the Tower of Aletheia is a great challenge and many have failed when confronting its challenges. Any pilgrim should be well-trained in combat and exploration…

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