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The Coal Crushers

The events related to the Darkness in the North and the Coal Crushers

Do heroes always meet by chance or is it a chance meeting that creates heroes?

Ponderings of the wise

It was a late autumn day in a market of Cropstage that the Coal Crushers first met. They were an eclectic group, one that no one could have predicted having formed. Yet it was this gathering that was to shape the history of northern Tangearin.

Early Journeys

Rule number 9: Adventurers do their job because its fun.

From their first meeting the Coal Crushers were embroiled in the intrigues of the Cult of the Black Bones. The cult staged a goblin raid on Cropstage that the Coal Crushers and city guard repulsed. Following the clues, the Coal Crushers investigated the home of Father Goodwin a priest of Mantar who originally had been a member of the cult himself and into the hills to a temple of the Cult of the Black Bones where they defeated the temples guardians, destroying the temple in the process.

It was in these two encounters that they began to see the part they would play. It was their first glimpse of Arcalturn, a visage shown deep in a coal-gem, and where they obtained a number of pictures painted by Goodwin himself that portrayed the future of the group. They left Cropstage and set out towards Aufest, intent on discovering more on Arcalturn, coal-gems, and the toeless cult.

Into the Desert

Six vagabonds of disreputable disposition barged into the barracks today. From my first glance I could tell that they meant trouble - only those with criminal intent travel with a Goliath.

Excerpt from an entry of the
Jovan Diaries

Upon arriving in Aufest, the Coal Crushers spent time interrogating the body of a Cult of the Black Bones member and meeting with the locals. Neither activity was met with much success. It was here that they made enemies with Captain Jovan Quickarrow (due to the captains harsh remarks and opinions about Tyr Æsir) but, at the same time, gained an ally in Captain Lilly.

Captain Lilly gave them a mission to travel south from Gold Sail into the Sandswept Wastes and identify the source of unrest in the Sandpack in return for a monetary reward. The Coal Crushers accepted and travelled south into the Sandswept Wastes surviving the scorpions, roving bands of Sandpack, a group of mercenaries sent by the Cult to hunt them down, a meeting with a tarrasque, and even a Chaos Storm.

While they journeyed through the Sandswept Wastes they came upon an army of Sandpack. They, upon spying the army at a watering hole, decided to return to Gold Sail. When they arrived back at Gold Sail they found the settlement had been nearly completely destroyed by a Sandpack raiding party with the rest of the town being evacuated.

The Start of the War

And so it was, on the 21st day of Calinamoln, that the Stonebrook Dynasty felt the first hit of the wave of darkness that was to cover them. Gold Sail's fall on the 24th, followed by Tvintiir's revolt later that afternoon, the Goliath attack on Granfol to the north that evening, and the awakening of the Necropolis at the heart of the dynasty on the 25th brought such chaos down that even the hope of victory was nearly vanquished.

Excerpt from A record of the events leading to the fall of Tvintiir
by Professor Tellian Waywocket

The Coal Crushers retreated back to Aufest where, after meeting again with Captain Lilly, they were put in charge of escorting the town's refugees over the pass to Harvest Aulin. The group managed to successfully stay ahead of the Sandpack for the majority of the journey with only a few skirmishes.

Upon reaching the pass through the Sandbacked mountains though they found the path blocked and barricaded. Elnuin, a member of the Circle of Hill and Dale, had quarantined the forest to prevent a spread of undead that was emanating from the top of the pass in the old necropolis. The Coal Crushers managed to negotiate passage with Elnuin only just before the Sandpack caught up with the refugees. Together they held them off at the forests edge until they had retreated. The Coal Crushers then advanced on the necropolis to remove the blight which was destroying the forest.

In the heart of the necropolis the adventurers found another temple of the Cult of the Black Bones that was drawing the life force out of the woods and fueling the undead in the surrounding graveyards. They managed to destroy the temple, setting many of the spirits free, though the temple's guardian escaped.

With the pass safe to traverse once more, the remaining refugees made it safely to Harvest Aulin. It was here that the group met with Eniron Sharpfiddler, the master of the Stonebrook Dynasty's intelligence force. During this meeting it was revealed to them that one of their companions, Lucian Galanodel, had been kidnapped several weeks earlier by agents of the Amiro Empire and a spy had taken his form and been travelling with them ever since. The resulting fight killed the agent but a latent magic item on its person pulled the entire group south, into the Amiro Empire, and made them prisoners of the Emperor's Shadow.

Lucian in Captivity

Few have ever managed to evade the Emperor's Shadow once. Lucian has managed to evade us not once or twice, but on three separate occasions, a tribute to his skill as a spy and thief. More resources will need to be allocated to contain him.

Anonymous report in
the Emperor's Shadow archive

Lucian Galanodel was captured upon returning to Gold Sail in the Stonebrook Dynasty. He was lured away from his companions, drugged and tied up, and kept as a prisoner locked up in a wagon. A spy of some skill took on his appearance and place with the other Coal Crushers, trying to prevent them from spoiling the plans that the Amiro Empire had invested in the area.

Lucian quickly learned that he had been abducted by his former team members in the Emperor's Shadow and was tortured on numerous occasions by two of them. It was nearly a week later that Lucian managed to escape as the spies were set upon by an advance party of the Sandpack. He slipped across the plains, heading west to Tvintiir where he knew the other members of the Coal Crushers would eventually come. Once established in the city Lucian went about gathering information on the conflicts occurring there, particularly regarding those who called themselves the Awakened. It took nearly four weeks for the others to arrive.

Escape from the Amiro Empire

Rule 21: Tortles have kids when they are about to die.

The Coal Crushers managed to escape the confines of the Emperor's Shadow's prison in less then a day. With the help of a Tortle named Tolkir and a local thief they burst out of their cells, killed the guards, and fled out of the city into the surrounding jungles. The Emperor's Shadow began a search to find and exterminate them. With the help of Tolkir and a local lizardfolk named Gus the Coal Crusher's went undercover. In the process though, Tolkir was captured by the Emperor's Shadow and supposedly executed.

Gus's price for his aid though was to help him in investigating a ruined city to the north where he believed technologies from long dead civilizations still existed that could be used to overthrow the Amiro Empire. Together the group travelled south into the Roc Mountains and destroyed the technological terrors that defended the ruin. It was here that Flimp Anthane McBlarn met and freed Aerosophyronos, an elemental who had been trapped for millennia and powering the mechanisms in the city. He left quietly, leaving only a promise for aid in the future. Additionally, the Coal Crusher's found the remains on an ancient dragon's hoard and several Kobold eggs that had avoided the raiding of the technological terrors. It was determined that Tellian Waywocket had once descended from this dragon and it was these eggs, his long lost cousins and relatives, that he took with him when he finally left for Highdranus.


Home always contains a light that shines in the dark.


It was as they were leaving the ruins that the Jestyrach caught up with the Coal Crusher's. It was a creature of demonic strength that had been sent out by Arcalturn to kill the Coal Crusher's after they had destroyed the necropolis. The Coal Crushers had felt the creature's advance for several days and Remona Ferndown Wellwater had been warned about the creature's advance by the Lord of Oak yet no amount of warning could have prepared themselves for the creature. Using a vestige of the Lord of Oak's power, Remona temporarily trapped the Jestyrach in a ginormous oak tree and, with Benji's help, the group were magically carried northward to the Lord of Oak himself on his deathbed. The Lord informed them of the dire straights facing Tvintiir and how the source of the evil was within the Hall of Names, a center of the Cult of the Black Bones.

They departed at once for Tvintiir, arriving in Tvintiir only just ahead of a massive Sandpack army but being reunited with Lucian Galanodel. In their first few days in the besieged town they investigated the Awakened, met the families (with varying degrees of cooking skills) of those native to the city, and delved into the mysteries of the fungal room under the Original Library of Technological Advances.

The Battle for Tvintiir

What should have been a quick and decisive victory for the Tvintiir State was snatched from their fingers within the first few seconds of the battle. Although the city's gates held against all odds and the Coal Crusher's cleared the skies, Tvintiir's walls were overrun and the communications in such disarray that many battalions went to their deaths in confusion.

Excerpt from A record of the events leading to the fall of Tvintiir
by Professor Tellian Waywocket

In the hours leading up to the Battle for Tvintiir the Coal Crushers were frantically trying to identify how the Cult of the Black Bones had infiltrated the city. They knew that the cult had been working with the Awakened students to create a device but could not locate the device itself and were unsure what it was capable of. After several hours of running about the city, a slight delay caused them to be just a few minutes late. They were standing at the very top spire of the Library of Technological Advances when the device detonated at noon precise on the 18th day of the Feast of the Gods, draining all of the Coal-Gems in Tvintiir and causing an explosion that killed everyone within the archaeology building of the school. At the same time the Sandpack started their attack.

Tvintiir's defenses, airships, and armor was all fueled by Coal-Gems so when these were drained the entire city was nearly defenseless. The Sandpack rushed the defenses, using massive undead creatures to tear at the gates, lizards and ladders to climb the walls, and a fleet of airships to assault the skies. The Coal Crusher's joined the defense of the skies, being transported by Gerald the Brave. They managed to destroy half the fleet while two other Tvintiirian airships that had been far enough away from the city at the time that the device went off took on (and were destroyed by) the rest of the fleet.

As the Coal Crusher's gained control of their captured ship they saw, in the distance, the form of a skeletal dragon rise into the air from the Sandpack's army as their general came to reestablish control of the skies. The Coal Crushers, badly injured and on a ship that was barely limping through the skies managed to crash their ship into the dragon and board it in the confusion. They did battle with the general and his top brass. One by one they fell unconscious until, at the very last second, Tellian Waywocket released a burst of energy empowered by Craorloc herself to destroy the general. Tellian Waywocket was the only conscious person as combat ended. Throughout the fight though the dragon had maintained its forward flight and the Coal Crushers were carried away from the ruins of Tvintiir.

Reunion of the Goliaths

There is no one I am more proud of.

As the Coal Crusher's recovered from their combat, the severity of their situation was revealed to them through several visions from Orlo and Craorloc. Instead of returning to Tvintiir, they instead set out north into the Sands of Ill Dreams searching for the Hall of Names. Fighting through the magical sandstorm that had formed throughout the desert (a sandstorm that was preceding the return of the hall to the physical realm) the Coal Crusher's arrived at the hall and dealt with the mind bent gnomes that had been left to guard its door. It was here that they met Charles who had been sent by Mantar to aid them in their final encounters. However, following a premonition from Tyr Æsir, they decided to travel north and prevent the death of Vidar Æsir, Tyr's son, which he had seen in a vision.

On the 1st of Andormoln, the Coal Crusher's meet and form ranks with a small band of warriors that had joined Vidar Æsir in defecting from the tyranny of the goliath Skqll. Tyr engaged Skqll in single combat, fighting around an effigy of the Tree of Life. Throughout the battle it became apparent that Skqll had struck pacts with the Cult of the Black Bones that sustained his form and life long past the time he should have died. Despite this though, Tyr Æsir prevailed and through down Skqll's body. Skqll's remaining forces though refused to bow before Tyr and charged, doing battle with the Coal Crushers with the aid of Garlo Greenblood. However, the Coal Crushers again prevailed, throwing down the cultists and saving both Vidar Æsir and the heir to the Stonebrook Dynasty.

The Hall of Names

Some believe that the greatest of battles are between the gods, where just the sight of the raw power is enough to drive one mad. I disagree though. The greatest of battles (though generally the quickest too) occur when mere mortals decide to stand up to the gods.

Excerpt from World Commentary
by Arimel

The Coal Crusher's assault on the Hall of Names was finished by dusk on the 3rd of Andormoln. They broke in the door and passed through the time curtain into the ancient dimension housing the hall. In the fields before the Hall of Names they effortlessly defeated the armies of undead that had been gathered to delay their progress. The door to the temple was trickier and Lucian Galanodel fell (though was revived by Charles) to the necrotic trap burned into the door's frame. Once they were within the temple they defeated the guardian of the hall and came face to face with Arcalturn and Tobianethes.

A battle ensued with power of epic proportions being released by both sides. During the battle Charles was disintegrated by Arcalturn, Lucian again fell to Arcalturn's magic, and the effigy of the ancient one awoke. However, Arcalturn was finally defeated and the party barely managed to escape the collapsing temple back into the plains outside. There they squared off with the effigy of the ancient one and prevented its entry into Orlos. As the effigy made a final dash towards the portal Lucian Galanodel struck a final blow that caught the ancient one's shadow in the back and pinned it to the shadow realm. The Coal Crushers hastily exited the realm as the portal closed.

The shadow passed away from the north.


Is the victory or the steps after the victory the most important in the long term?

Supposed saying from the
Ponderings of the Wise

The Coal Crushers had a major impact on the development of northern Tangearin.

  • Re-establishing the Stonebrook Dynasty: Following the war with the goliaths and gnolls, the Stonebrook Dynasty was completely crushed. Only a single heir survived and most of its major cities had been levelled in the war. Remona Ferndown Wellwater, Flimp Anthane McBlarn, and Tyr Æsir r spent their first years following defeating Arcalturn rebuilding the dynasty and setting the heir back on the throne. This began the Second Stonebrook Dynasty.
  • Coal-Gems: Following the darkness in the north and the destruction of Original Library of Technological Advances the use of Coal-Gems fell out of fashion. They had proven themselves as untrustworthy during the battle of Tvintiir and further campaigns led by Flimp Anthane McBlarn revealed their darker side - that they contained the souls of a long dead malicious race and could still influence the land of the living. The known coal Gems were largely gathered up and locked away by the Second Stonebrook Dynasty and the Second Library of Technological Advancements.
  • Respect for Goliaths: Goliaths were brought back into the focus of social life in the wars. Previously they had been neglected and shunned from society, feared for their giant-like appearance and connected with ancient tales and stories. This view on goliaths was amplified tenfold for those who survived the wars in the north of the dynasty. However, for those connected to the capital or were in the south of the dynasty where the goliath armies did not reach, the opinion towards goliaths improved. The actions of Tyr Æsir r turned the public opinion, showing how goliaths could be more than the fearsome tales and legends. This began a slow turn towards accepting goliaths back into their society in these regions.
  • Belladora Quickarrow: The Coal Crushers became major benefactors of Bell's Dale, a large village in the Stonebrook Dynasty. They became close friends with Belladora Quickarrow (Jovan Quickarrow's mother) and were present for her knighting after her, almost singlehanded, defeat of a goliath army that had been sent to conquer her village.
  • The Leaf and Lightning Tavern: The Leaf and Lightning Tavern was set up by Flimp Anthane McBlarn and Remona Ferndown Wellwater as a place to retire. It became a popular location for caravans to stop at and the origin of many adventuring groups.
  • The City of Spores: The city of Tvintiir was leveled by the Sandpack in their attack. Tellian Waywocket was responsible for re-founding the Second Library of Technological Advancements and, with Remona Ferndown Wellwater's aid, rebuilding parts of the city to be able to support life. However, the fungal growths that had been trapped in the previous library escaped and transformed the ruins beyond recognition.
  • Bats of the Storm Surge Sea: The Bats of the Storm Surge Sea evolved from Maps, Flimp Anthane McBlarn constant companion. After Flimp's passing, Maps started a bat colony in Blue Star Cave and his descendants became well known for their magical heritage.
  • The Knives of the Dawn: Lucian Galanodel formed the Knives of the Dawn almost immediately following the war. He became instrumental in the survival of the Second Stonebrook Dynasty, preventing its absorption into the Amiro Empire. He also prevents numerous assassination attempts instigated by the empire and members of the Cult of the Black Bones. The Knives of the Dawn survives as one of the principle organizations opposing the growth of the Amiro Empire into its neighboring territories, particularly in northern Tangearin.
      The Darkness in the North
The Sandbacked Mountains and Northern Sandswept Wastes
The Sandbacked Mountains form the northwestern edges of Tangearin, backing onto the Sea of Storms in the north and the Sandswept Wastes in the south. There are two prominent civilizations inhabiting the mountains, the Stonebrook Dynasty and the Tvintiir State. Isolated by the desert expanses around them, these two societies have developed with little influence from the outside world.

Members of the Coal Crushers

Tyr Æsir
Tyr Æsir was a Goliath warrior. Once the leader of his tribe in Isspjutar, he had been defeated in combat and thrown out for dead by his successor, Skqll. Tyr joined the Coal Crushers completely lost and wondering what had happened to his wife, Freja Æsir and son Vidar Æsir.

Remona Ferndown Wellwater
Remona (Remi for short) was a lively and cheerful gnome, descendant from adventuring parents. When she was young her parents were killed by the dreaded Jestyrach. She was brought to live with her aunt Trevenna and uncle Pasco Ferndown at their tavern. Remi's closest companion was a St. Bernard, Benji. She left home following the life of her parents - looking for true adventure, heroism, and excitement.

Tellian Waywocket
Tellian Waywocket, a Kobold, grew up as an adopted child in the Original Library of Technological Advances. He was always an avid student, if a bit to curious and reckless when it came to alchemy and experimentation (rumors claim he was the root cause for the fungal outbreak creating the City of Spores. His past though was always a mystery to him. He arrived at the library as an egg and had no recollection or knowledge of his genetic parents or how he came to Tangearin. Eventually, he decided to leave home and seek his answers in the wider world.

Flimp Anthane McBlarn
Flimp McBlarn, a Gnome, was born within Tvintiir. She worked as a barmaid in the Glitterdust Inn, making friends with many of the locals. However, as she developed, she slowly discovered a magical power housed within her. The magical energy reacted in proximity to the Coal-Gems of the surrounding city and caused a lot of stress within her household (particularly as her Uncle, Chimpanee McBlarn, had been exiled from the city for similar powers). Eventually, partially fueled by a conflict with her mother, Flimp decided to leave Tvintiir in search for a new home and finding a way to dampen or hide her own power.

Lucian Galanodel
Lucian grew up a prisoner of a mad magician in the Amiro Empire. He escaped the magician and joined the Emperor's Shadow, the Amiro Empire's spy network. However, due to negligence of justice within the system, Lucian became disillusioned with the Emperor's Shadow and fled northward to the Stonebrook Dynasty where he tried to blend in with the northern travelers and escape his past.

Those who influenced the Coal Crushers

Father Goodwin
Father Goodwin grew up in a small town in the western provinces of the Amiro Empire. He was recruited by the Cult of the Black Bones when he was no more then 14, completing his right of initiation at 20. The exact events leading to his split with the cult are unknown but he turned up, bedraggled and starved, outside the temple of Mantar in Aufest when he was 36. The temple took him in and trained him in the art of healing and taking care of others. He served as a priest in Cropstage from 2322 AC until his murder by members of the cult in 2325AC. He was known to have prophetic powers, many of which were revealed through his paintings after his death. He was buried in Cropstage with his faithful.

Captain Lilly Greenleaf
Captain Lilly grew up in the forests between Aufest and Harvest Aulin. She joined the Stonebrook Dynasty's guard when she was 18 and quickly rose through the ranks until she became a captain of the guard in Aufest. She was known as a fair but kind leader and never asked others to do a task that she was not willing to take on herself. Captain Lilly went missing, presumably being killed, when acting as the rearguard for the refugees fleeing Aufest for Harvest Aulin in 2325AC.

Captain Jovan Quickarrow
Jovan grew up in his family estate in Bells Dale. From his birth he was trained to be a soldier and was tutored in strategy and warfare. Although he grasped these subjects quickly enough he lacked an empathetic side that often led to bullying and cruel treatment of those around him (particularly those of wilder races like Goliaths). This finally led to his family disinheriting him when he was 24 and being sent to the southern front of the dynasty where he eventually served as a captain of Aufest.

When Aufest was besieged in 2325AC Captain Jovan stayed to lead it's defense. It is presumed that he was killed in this capacity. After his death his family reentered his name back into their lineage.

Elnuin grew up in the village of Blackrock, just northeast of Aufest. As a youth he was often away wandering the forests and hills. It was in this capacity that he became a member of the Circle of Hill and Dale in 2289AC. He served the group for many years, eventually becoming a shepherd of the forest upon the passing of the Lord of Oak in 2325AC. In 2376AC, he became one with the forest.

Tolkir the risk taker was a Tortle travelling the Amiro Empire. He followed the dice into every situation for only through pure chance can the objective path one is called to be obtained. When he met the Coal Crushers, Tolkir was a prisoner of the Emperor's Shadow alongside them. He fell to the Emperor's Shadow shortly after escaping captivity.

Gus was an outlaw and brigand in the Amiro Empire. Living alone with his grandmother (whose breath would kill a skunk), he sought to avenge the deaths of his father and mother whom were killed early in his life. When he met the Coal Crushers, he grabbed the opportunity to use them to advance his power in the region. Using technology that the Coal Crushers helped him obtain he managed to lead a revolt that caused significant amounts of damage in the western Amiro Empire. He was killed in battle (though the rebellion carried on).

Alex Cinderwing
Alex first met the Coal Crushers in Cropstage. he aided in repelling the goblins from the village and destroying the Cult of the Black Bones' temple. However, he parted ways shortly afterwards, following the cult toward the north rather than into the Sandswept Wastes. Alex was reunited with the Coal Crushers during Tyr's duel with Skqll. He personally took on Garlo Greenblood's bodyguard, dying in the fight but ensuring victory for the Coal Crushers.

Charles the Gold
Charles, born in 2300AC, was a goblin from a small tribe nestled in the peaks of the Sandbacked mountains. From his birth he was marked as different. A glow seemed to emanate from him and he often seemed distant, like he was hearing a voice that no one else could hear. In 2310AC he dedicated himself to Mantar, creating a temple in his village and focusing on bringing unity and light into the of an often broken and damaged race.

It was in late Calinamoln 2325AC that he left his tribe. He claimed that he was the last priest of Mantar in the north, that the others had all been killed or led astray and that he was being called west to be a final light in the dark. He met with the other Coal Crushers outside the Hall of Names. He fell in battle to Arcalturn and never returned to his tribe. However, Mantar blessed his home temple, turning the entire structure to gold and making it a beacon of faith in the north of Tangearin. It is now known as the Golden Peak and, though difficult to access, can be seen for miles, even from across the entirety of the Sandswept Wastes.

Articles under The Coal Crushers

Cover image: by Dylan Hunter


Author's Notes

For those readers who have managed to survive through the entirety of this article (over 7,000 words!!!), thank you! As I am sure you have already deduced, this article is based on the activities of a DND campaign that I ran and the activities that my players got up to. It would then be amiss of me if I did not place credit where it is due. While I may have created (and very loosely created) the backdrop for a story, everything else comes back to my players. Events, places, characters, and backstories for most of the events mentioned above owe credit to their creativity. Without their involvement Orlos would be half the location it currently is.

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