Encroaching Shadows

The Setting

The Kingdom of Iora is renowed as a glorious bastion of civilization in a dangerous world. Although the nation is young, it has already proven itself a staunch defender of law when it created the new Western Council with its neighboring nations. Iora was formed 75 years ago from a combination of an elven kingdom, a human kingdom, and a gnomish theocracy.

You will be serving some role in the military of Iora, either as a soldier, an advisor, a mercenary, or anything else you wish. You can be of any rank you desire, just be aware of the ramifications of your responsibilities.

Characters

The Story So Far

Session 1

The heroes were summoned to a meeting with Admiral Anders in Tolwed, who tasked them with investigating the island of Haven near Freedom Point. There was an ancient crystal spire potentially created by the Founders uncovered on the island, but shortly after Saren, an agent of the queen, was sent to investigate all contact with the island was lost. The heroes boarded the galleon Valiant and traveled to the island, briefly fighting off some pirates on the way there. On arriving they found several Kytons on the island who attacked the heroes, but they were easily defeated, though one of the Kytons called out to his "lord" with a warning. The heroes found some survivors in a church, and brought them back to the Valiant, before continuing on to the crystal spire. There they found a Kyton who asked the heroes to join him and become Kytons themselves, but they refused and killed him and his allies. 40% experience gained, level 15.40.

Session 2

The heroes removed an explosive gem from the crystal spire, and after doing so the spire transmitted a memory from the Founders showing three cities with buildings made of crystal being attacked by giant squid like creatures and their many minions, as well as Founders fighting back against the monsters, and a vision of them watching over a destroyed city from a distance. The heroes identified one city as being from western Iora, and one being from northern Pyreaz, and were unsure of the third location. After receiving the memory they decided to clear the island of the remaining Kytons, so they went to the large metal tower with impaled bodies on it they had seen from the ship. There a Kyton woman activated some of the bodies as living husks, a type of construct after the people's souls had been sent to the Shadow Plane. They defeated the kytons and husks except one which escaped. They searched the ships of the navy who had arrived some time before them, and found a cabin boy who claimed to have seen many more kytons than what the heroes found, though they were unsure of the truthfulness of his statement. The heroes returned to the Valiant and captain Vethris aided them in tracking down and killing the Kyton that escaped earlier, and then they sailed back to the Ioran mainland. There Admiral Anders was curious about the Founders' memories they had received, and recommended they seek out a scholar who was in the Draconic Lands. 43% experience gained, level 15.83.

Session 3

The Valiant took the heroes to Gopier in the Eastern Sea, where they headed off to the Draconic Lands. Traveling overland using Verina's teleportation magic they made it to the Draconic Lands where a party of orcs chased them down. The orcs were easily dealt with, but their leader escaped and promised to tell his lord. They were then magically contacted and scryed upon by a green dragon named Miasmathus, who attempted to convince the heroes to meet with him or die, but they refused. The heroes continued on to the Founders' ruins, where they found the elven scholar Leona trapped in a magical barrier; Verina attempted to free her but became trapped as well. The heroes went below ground to activate some crystals to free their trapped companions, but alerted some kobolds in the process. 42% experience gained, level 16.25.

Session 4

The heroes negotiated a peace with the kobolds and their leader by creating for them a great feast. Their leader informed the heroes of how to free their friends, and so they did, but warned them not to use the other control crystals. In defiance of the kobold's warning, the heroes went back down and messed with the other crystals, which caused the underground city to begin to collapse, they teleported to the surface where they encountered the green dragon Miasmathus. The dragon attacked the heroes, but they blinded and debilitated him; as he tried to flee they finished him off. They then left the Draconic Lands with Leona and made it back to the Valiant. On the return journey Captain Vethris informed them of a servant girl named Taliana who had overheard a conversation between Saren and an Archmage that was potentially treasonous, then she went into hiding. The heroes headed to Natiney, and using some divination and detective work, tracked down where the girl was hiding, but before they could get to her the man she was with turned up dead and the girl disappeared. 52% experience gained, level 16.77.

Session 5

The heroes met up with a lizardfolk soldier who was investigating Taliana's disappearance, and together they determined she had been taken to the shadow plane, so they travelled there themselves. There they found an Eremite Kyton performing surgery on Taliana to convert her into a Kyton, along with two Apostles. They defeated the Eremite, but Marthanax was slain, and one of the Apostles escaped. The heroes returned to the material plane and after some healing and resurrection they returned to the Valiant. There captain Vethris informed them that a royal meeting had been arranged to hear Taliana's evidence against Saren. Not long after, while trying to rest, the heroes spotted the Apostle sneaking about on the ship. They determined a Kyton attack was imminent, and soon a group shifted over to the material plane. The Apostle tried repeatedly to take Taliana, but was thwarted and the Kytons were slain. 48% experience gained, level 17.25.

Session 6

The King and Queen of Iora had an audience with the heroes, where Taliana explained that Saren had been working with Zad, an enemy country, and had sent an archmage Benezia to the Founders' ruins in Pyreaz to find something called the Conduit. The Queen had Saren imprisoned pending a trial, and sent one of her knights with the heroes to investigate the ruins. Before leaving, they did some divinations and research and found that a powerful construct was guarding the ruins in Pyreaz. Seeking a way to bypass it, they met with Saren, but he revealed little information. They also searched his house, where they found a crystal urn with many spell glyphs on it. After some work to disable the glyphs, they opened the urn, finding a piece of a tentacle in there that quickly grew to huge size and attacked the heroes. After defeating it, they decided to head out to Pyreaz. 37% experience gained, level 17.62.

Session 7

The heroes used Shadow Walk to travel to northern Pyreaz with Leona; along the way they encountered some shady elves and halflings in the forests of Imlarien at night. After some questioning that led nowhere, the heroes attacked them, but they teleported away. The heroes then made it to northern Pyreaz where they found the location of the Founders' ruins of Hashushino. They spotted the Crystal Colossus they expected guarding the ruins, as well as an elf attempting to hide. They teleported on top of the elf, but this activated the Colossus and both parties were forced to flee. Then Leona and Skivven snuck in alone attempting to find a way into the underground ruins, and sent the rest of the party to distract the elf. Unfortunately the distraction worked too well and the elf tore into the heroes with a fury, nearly killing three of them before he was taken down. Leona and Skivven then opened the entrance to the tunnel leading underground, saw a diminutive construct down there, then joined the others as they all teleported below ground. 30% experienced gained, level 17.92.

Session 8

The heroes traveled through the underground tunnels of the Founder ruin, sticking to the main path they encountered several crystal constructs that attacked them. After defeating them, they heard some people speaking in Elven up ahead. Verina disguised herself as Velspeth, the elf they killed above ground, and almost fooled Benezia and the other elves. The heroes were losing the battle, but had killed all the elves except Benezia, when Leona revealed herself to be Benezia's daughter, and implored her to stop. Benezia then grabbed Leona and planeshifted away. 28% experience gained, level 18.20.

Session 9

After recovering from their injuries and resting, the heroes set to exploring the underground tunnels. In the main room they found a giant Founder statue made of gold holding a crystal orb, but guarded by two crystal colossi, which they could not figure out how to bypass. In another room they found what was a library with four memory stones in it, they spent some time exploring the memories, finding some information about the Founder's war with the strange shadow creatures, including identifying some of them as alternate versions of Kytons they were familiar with. After teleporting back to Natiney, they were contacted by Captain Vethris who told them that forces from Zad had attacked a city in Pyreaz, and that the queen wanted the heroes to go there and aid Pyreaz. Before doing so, they decided to track down Leona, finding she was being kept hostage in Shadow Natiney by her mother, they went to investigate, and attacked some Kyton guards of the city. 41% experience gained, level 18.61.

Session 10

The heroes pushed their way into the Kyton city. Intitially encounterting only minimal resistance, Samuel the "cat" led the way towards Leona. Eventually several more Kytons showed up as an alarm was sounded, the heroes dealt with them and continued to move forward. Another Eremite Kyton showed up and attempted to dismember Kazu, but he dodged all its attacks and beat it into submission. The heroes made it to the house where Leona was kept prisoner, killing the guard outside and blasting open the door, they found Leona and another creature. The creature introduced himself as Genai, and said he had an important warning for the heroes, but they just wanted to escape. The heroes agreed to talk to him if he brought them Leona's backpack, then Shadow Walked away, except Skivven who stayed behind to loot. 35% experience gained, level 18.96.

Session 11

Genai and Skivven had a small adventure, while the rest of the heroes met with the Queen, she tasked them with heading to Pyreaz. Once leaving the palace, Genai showed up with Leona's backpack, and the heroes agreed to listen to him. He explained that he comes from a place where time flows differently, and having seen the future many people die if the heroes don't take certain actions. He also warned them that someone was manipulating time and shutting off certain timelines, but that he could not determine who. So the heroes boarded the Valiant and headed to Pyreaz, where Captain Vethris was concerned about a second attack; also where Genai said they would speak with a giant plant. Before arriving, Vethris lost contact with the ships and soldiers defending Linnocheing in Pyreaz, and after scrying saw one of the giant octopus creatures the heroes had seen in their visions over the city. The heroes went on foot to the city, but the creature soon withdrew, and after a wait the heroes and the Valiant assaulted the Zad forces in Linnocheing successfully. 38% experience gained, level 19.34.

Session 12

The marines secured the town while the heroes questioned the locals on where to find what Genai wanted them to. After finding out the location, Captain Vethris went with them to the ruined crystal tower. There they found a force from Zad attacking a giant mass of vines, and the heroes killed them and spoke with the Kitsune that was speaking as the plant, which explained that it had been around since before the Founders disappeared, and offered to teach them the Founders' language, which some of the heroes agreed to receive. Afterwards Admiral Anders sent word to the captain that the marines were to destroy the plant, because it was mind controlling locals and because its information was dangerous. Skivven was in opposition to this, but it was carried out anyway. Then the heroes met with Genai again in Linnocheing, who explained that they had two routes with equal success before them, they chose one of the routes which was to head for the Forbidden Lands. 51% experience gained, level 19.85.

Session 13

The heroes headed to the Forbidden Lands, learning some from contact with the scholars in Iora on the way there. On arriving they headed through the swampy terrain, running into two nasty Bandersnatches, which tore through some of the party before being defeated. After a couple days of travel they spotted some flying humanoids and after some communication they agreed to meet. The heroes were surprised to find they were Illithids, but to an even greater surprise they proved friendly, and so the heroes went to their city to do some trading and information gathering, greatly narrowing down the location of the ruins they were looking for. 30% experience gained, level 20.15.

Session 14

The heroes found the ruins they were looking for, on the outside they spotted several zombie giants. Enganging them from a distance, they started to pick off the giants, but several demons teleported on top of them. They were dealt with rather easily, and the heroes found an entrance in the ruins to the inside, similar to the one in Pyreaz. Inside they found a large intact crystal building, as well as Saren. He engaged them in battle, and proved very strong, but when he cast Time Stop, Genai appeared and did severe damage to him and Saren teleported away. Shortly thereafter Benezia and a bugbear servant appeared and also attacked the heroes; there was some difficulty but they were defeated too. 37% experience gained, level 20.52.

Session 15

The heroes ventured deeper into the ruins, where they found a living Founder, he informed them that Saren is trying to bring back the Old Ones, powerful entities from deep in the Shadow plane who destroyed their society. He also informed them that the Old Ones had been culling civilizations for a very long time, each time allowing them to grow before returning to wipe them out at their peak. The first Old One to arrive is called the Harbinger, who uses an artifact called the Conduit to create a portal through which the other Old Ones arrive, without this it could take them several years or even decades to return. The Conduit was hidden by the Founders, but Saren now has it and is going to activate it somewhere with a lot of magical power. The heroes teleported back to Natiney, and rested, but early in the morning the Harbinger arrived in Natiney and sent hordes of Kytons to attack the city. The heroes moved through the city fighting Kytons, and saw that the palace was under attack, so they went to help. There they resuced the Queen from an almost certain death. 63% experience gained, level 21.15.

Session 16

After a brief conversation with the Queen, the heroes headed to the Royal Academy, where the Harbinger was. After one false start, they made their way into the correct tower, avoided some golems, and made it to the top floor. There they found Saren, the Conduit, and another elf. The elf was quickly dispatched, but Saren proved difficult, he killed Leona and Kazu, though they were soon raised, but eventually Kazu got him in an antimagic field and he could do nothing. After dying, Saren's skeleton ripped its way out of his body and it was revealed to be a fragment of the Harbinger. The fragment was a rough fight, due to darkness and a snowstorm it summoned, but it was brought down. However, its death caused the Harbinger to crush the tower, and the heroes were trapped inside the rubble. 56% experience gained, level 21.71.

Session 17

After escaping the rubble, the heroes helped clean up the city of Kytons while the navy bombarded the weakened Harbinger, and it crashed to the ground dead. Afterwards there was an award ceremony by the Queen, who rewarded the heroes. Then a year and a half passed fairly uneventfully, though Skivven left the group, and Leona and Verina got married. After the downtime, the heroes were summoned to a meeting, where they were informed of several disappearances of entire town's populations in Imladrien, so they were tasked to investigate. Arriving in a town that had been divined to be under attack, the heroes found a group of insectile creatures herding the elves into a portal to the Shadow Plane. The heroes engaged the insects, and killed most, but were unable to stop them from taking the elves through the portal. 28% experience gained, level 21.99.

Session 18

In the town in Imladrien they found Genai, who gave them a warning for a potential future, then left. Afterwards, they found a young elven boy who gave them some information on the D'ziriaks that had raided the town. The heroes returned to the Valiant, where they had a new mission, to investigate similar disappearances in Drauhel. After traveling there, they met with a contact named Kasumi, who had been working on the investigation. They went to a house where some of the victims had been taken, finding several cultists inside, one of which escaped. They interrogated a cultist, finding that their leader, the Speaker, had supposedly been trying to bring back a dead god named the Soverign using sacrificed souls. They went to the main cultist hideout, and inside found more cultists, the Speaker, and several powerful Oni. As they engaged in battle, they found a shadowy creature shackled in the back of the cave, who controlled Kazu into attempting to break its chains. 37% experience gained, level 22.36.

Session 19

The battle raged on for a short while, before Kazu broke through the shadow creature's chains, and it killed the remaning cultists. It offered to reward the heroes, but they chose to flee instead, not trusting it. The heroes spoke with some of the prisoners they had freed from the cultists, before heading back down into the hideout, with no sign of the shadow creature. After looting, they returned to the Valiant to perform divinations. They tried to contact Leona and failed, and became concerned after some conflicting divinations. They eventually came to the conclusion that something was interfering, but that Leona was ok. They decided to hunt down the shadow creature, and knowing that it consumed souls, used that to try to track it to a small town on the eastern part of Drauhel. After it showed up a few days later, they attacked it, and damaged it badly, but it escaped. 38% experience gained, level 22.74.

Session 20

The heroes attempted to determine the next location of the shadowy creature, but came to no definitive conclusions. They determined that some of the elves kidnapped in Imlarien were still alive, and scryed upon them to find them in a D'ziriak hive, with many D'ziriaks inside. Shortly thereafter Captain Vethris was contacted by a General Arcadus who said there had been a similar disapperance in Iora to the ones in Imlarien, and so the heroes joined her to investigate. On arriving in Iora and attempting to Shadowalk, they were pulled into the Abbey of Nevers, the home of the Kyton demagogue Aroggus. Aroggus told them there was something very important in a D'ziriak hive that might help them defeat the Old Ones, but that his oath to the Old Ones prevented him from interfering. The heroes agreed to undertake the mission, but headed to Grinuzan first where the people had disappeared. After determining where the next attack would be, they decided to deploy the military there and headed towards the hive Aroggus had told them about. Finding it after a week's journey, they began investigating the massive structure floating in the Shadow Plane, and found it seemingly abandoned. After a thorough search of most of the hive, finding little, they discovered a strange black orb with a heartbeat. Before they could investigate it more, Vethris spotted some D'ziriak's approaching. 48% experience gained, level 23.22.

Session 21

The heroes were assaulted by waves of D'ziriaks, with little time between waves. Finding no easy way to escape, they decided to blast through the walls of the hive, and after doing so escaped by diving out the hole into falling outside the anti-teleportation area surrounding the hive, taking the black orb with them. Back in Natiney the heroes examined the orb with Leona, and learned that it was an egg of an Old One, and it could be fed souls to grow and progress in stages to become more powerful. They also learned how to destroy it, and debated whether it was worth destroying, studying, or using to fight the Old Ones. 41% experience gained, level 23.63.

Session 22

The heroes had a meeting with the queen to determine what to do with the egg, and it was decided to give Leona time to study it, while contacting the shadowy creature they had found in Drauhel, which they determined was a more progressed version of the egg, a nascent Old One. They offered to feed the Old One a great deal of souls from the Hells in exchange for its service against the other Old Ones, which it agreed to. Before they were able to meet with the Old One, they were contacted by general Arcadus, that the city of Awondo was under heavy assault by D'ziriaks, and they desperately needed their help. The heroes headed to Awondo quickly, arriving to find the fight was mostly lost. They attacked the D'ziriaks, finding many powerful ones they had not seen before, and struggled to defeat them, but eventually brought several down before one they identified as a Hive Master opened a rift and all the D'ziriaks escaped. They spoke with general Arcadus, and he and Captain Vethris were proponents of assaulting the D'ziriak hive. They then met with Aroggus again, who in exchange for destroying the Old One they had planned to meet with, offered them the location of the hive. 45% experience gained, level 24.08.

Session 23

The heroes left Aroggus, and after a couple days wait went to their meeting place with the Old One. Although it was intitially reluctant, they lured it out and went into battle. The creature had summoned some shadows preemptively, but otherwise struggled to affect the heroes and fled to the shadow plane. They gave chase and after splitting up, managed to track it down. Although it did a little damage, the heroes quickly overwhelmed it and it was destroyed. It left behind some Umbral Essence, that they took to Aroggus as proof of their deed. He gave each of the heroes a powerful reward, but Harrek's reward was to become a Kyton, and he decided to stay with Aroggus. Afterwards, the remaining heroes returned to Natiney. There, Leona informed them that the Old Ones had a powerful telepathic field that allowed them to control nearby susecptible creatures, and that by destroying the Old One in the D'ziriak hive, they could release its control. They did some preparations, and then moved towards setting off to the hive. 33% experience gianed, level 24.41.