You know those kids books like “If You Give a Mouse a Muffin” and so on? I feel the sudden need to write an equivalent called “If You Give an Adventurer a Bag of Devouring”. And also possibly “If You Tell an Adventuring Party the Campaign is Ending in 5-6 Weeks and We Gotta Wrap This Up to Get a Good Ending In” (being forced to end my campaigns on a deadline is one of the drawbacks of AL play here, but so far I’ve always managed to jury-rig a decent conclusion I think). Of course, being put under a time constraint seems to bring out the best and worst in my players…
Ironslag, the home of the fire giants
The Sword Coast of Faerun
The Story So Far:
Having captured Chief Kartha of the yakfolk village (now being kept in Ulmo’s “custody”), the group made their way into the giant-sized elevator that descended into the depths of the mountainside itself. The enormous wooden platform was suspended on chains and was operated by a heavy iron lever that clunked into place and began to slowly drop them down the elevator shaft. Along the way, they passed countless mines and tunnels, where slaves labored to dig out the ore the giants needed for their grand works – no doubt, for the dragon slayer that they had come here to investigate.
Finally, the platform stopped, giving them a level footing with two platforms leading out ahead and behind them. Ulmo and Heskan sent their familiars out to scout before they made a decision – one of the tressyms returned reporting a group of ogres working to clear impurities out of mined ore, to refine it for use. The other returned with images of a balcony overlooking an enormous workshop. Suspended from a crane on the balcony was a huge adamantine arm. This was where the group decided to go, figuring their best odds of seeing Duke Zalto were there. Peeking out over the balcony, they did indeed see the Duke, playing with his two favorite hellhounds. To provide a distraction while the group figured out how to work the controls of the crane, Ulmo and Hugheorn forced Chief Kartha to call down to the giant lord, waving and shouting.
Zalto, irritable at being interrupted, began to ascend the stairs up to the balcony, inconveniently not stepping under where the giant arm was hanging (he is a professional, after all). Nearly as soon as he reached the top of the steps, Ulmo reached out and Polymorphed him. And turned him into a tressym, cementing the weirdest modus operandi this group has had yet. Of course, then the dextrous monk Roshi leapt out to catch the tressym and shove it into his Bag of Devouring. And thus Duke Zalto was no more. His deeply confused hellhounds decided to return to playing, their toy being a 4-ft hollow iron ball with a dead gnome inside. The group was better able to examine his colossus from here.
Once complete, the metal monster would stand over 80 ft tall, but for now all that was present was a head, torso, and a lone arm. The adamantine alone would fetch them a fortune, but the eye of the head was a tremendous ruby, which Roshi managed to lever out with a sword blade. It fell to the ground with an enormous thump, shattering into millions of pieces (Hugheorn reasoned that it would be easier and more profitable to sell a lot of small shards than one impossibly large gem). Their next step was to try and locate the rest of the Duke’s family to see if any of them were a little more friendly to smallfolk than Zalto himself.
They soon found the kitchen, where Duchess Brimskarda was overseeing the clean-up from a grand feast. Rather than risk her own neck at the hands of these adventurers (one does not get to be the wife of a giant lord without a sense of self-preservation), she informed them that her son, Zaltember, was next in line for the leadership of the fire giants. She pointed them in the direction of the foundry and his bedroom, the two most likely places he would be. His bedroom, as it happened, was shared with his older sister, Cinderhild, who was lying facedown on the bed and weeping inconsolably. The party quickly left before they were noticed.
In the foundry, they found Zaltember dangling a dwarf by his ankles over a pit of molten iron. Hugheorn Suggested that he gently set down the dwarf on the ground, and he did so, begrudgingly. They spoke to him briefly – long enough to discover that he was lazy, sulky, and callously cruel, much like any other 15-year-old boy. They soon determined that he was not their ideal candidate for leadership of the fire giants, and he was soon be-tressymed as well. And, even more hapless than his father, he too found himself staring down the gaping maw of a Bag of Devouring.
They returned to the bedroom to talk to the 18-year-old Cinderhild, who seemed to have calmed down at least a tiny bit since the last time they’d intruded in here. Cinderhild, as it happened, felt stifled by her family, like none of them understood her. Promising. She elaborated that she wanted to go out and explore the surface world, but her father would never let her, and none of them understood her. So, the party got to be the bearers of good news, and they figured that she’d be good enough for their purposes. And so it was that Cinderhild became a Duchess, and they left her planning the best coronation anyone would ever live to see.
On the way out, the group freed as many slaves as they could get to, most of them dwarves, goblins, and ogres. They helped the freed slaves make their way to Citadel Adbar, or any other nearby settlements that they wanted to get to. They also split some of the proceeds from selling the enormous adamantine chunks that they stole on their way out. They didn’t think Cinderhild was going to continue building the dragon slayer, but better safe than sorry. And now, all filthy, filthy rich, the group made their way to Mirabar, the biggest city near Klauthen Vale, where they wanted to go to claim their reward from the red dragon Klauth, who had sent his cultists to them.
In Mirabar, they exchanged their money, bought some sweet new digs (including full plate barding for Relaris’ bear, Rodan), and let themselves enjoy a day or two of real luxury. But then it was time to make plans surrounding Klauth. They figured the odds were pretty good that he was going to betray them – red dragons weren’t exactly known for their kindness and generosity. But they figured that maybe they could take him! After all, they’d taken down two adult white dragons before and they’d certainly held their own. They flew almost all the way to Klauthen Vale while formulating plans.
And then Hugheorn cast Augury and the answer was an immediate, resounding, and loud “WOE”. It was then that the group remembered that this was an ancient dragon they were dealing with, and one who was quite proficient with a large cache of magic items, based on their scrying. Adult dragons may be formidable, but ancient dragons were in a different category entirely. Deciding that today was not the day they wanted to die, they chose instead to blow the conch that would take them directly to Maelstrom.