The most tragic thing to ever befall your people was the downfall of mine. Without a proper hand to guide you, your miserable, short lives, are wasted on the petty drudgeries of this ruined world. You need not worry any longer, i'm here to relieve you of the burdens of freedom that have plagued you for so long.
The Sky Vault is meant to be an introductory adventure that opens up a larger setting and plot lines for new characters to follow and for their Game Master to use as the foundation for a larger campaign. The goal of the adventures laid out here is to present several important NPCs, lay out the regional conflicts and establish Seagriva Ghelf as a truly imposing major villain.
The threat she represents as well as the dangers posed by several of her minions are not meant to be resolved or at least resolved easily by low-level starting adventurers. Instead, They are presented as obstacles that should be avoided by stealth, clever roleplaying and planning. It is important for the Game Master to manage combat situations appropriately so as not to wipe out their party. Rather, the Game Master should go to great length to acknowledge their antagonists have important goals, none of which are served by going out of their way to engage with petty adventurers to the death.
This four-part module is ideal for adventurers of level one to two. It is also highly suggested that the Game Master require backgrounds from their players and ask that their players come up with a reason for their characters to both be adventuring together and to have generally positive dispositions toward each other to begin with.
Game Masters should also be aware that the setting this module was based in is one where magic is scarce and the only a few scant fragments of greater civilization exist. Outside the safety offered by the last few large cities there is only a vast untamed wilderness dotted with the ruins of the old world. Game Masters are encouraged to place this module where it fits in their setting or can refer to The Tairos Setting on World Anvil
for more information on the author's setting.
At the core of this module is the premise of building up allies, bringing people into the party's inner circle and deciding who to take a stand against. The Game Master is encouraged to make these choices have lasting impact for campaigns to come.
Adventure One- The Inheritance
Part One- The Arrival
The sounds of a soft rain and the groaning creak of the covered-carriage's old wheels has become too intertwined to separate over the last few long hours on the old roads. Through the windows of the wagon is nothing but grey sky, muddy earth and the ragged ruins of another abandoned village or fort. You've lost track of how many withered old settlements you've passed on your way to the city of Frial, one of the world's last remaining pockets of civilization and home to your friend's deceased relative and the estate they're about to inherit.
Finally, cresting over the rain-soaked hills is the city of Frial. First, its tall stone walls splotchy with age, then her fortified towers and the impenetrable redoubt now home to the Grand Order of the Lion. The carriage rolls through the streets of the city but the chill in the air and the relentless rain keeps most of the roadways empty and storefronts shuttered closed. The warm glow of the hearth from several taverns you pass by becomes the only sign of life in the otherwise quiet city. The rain only seems to worsen as the coach comes to a halt in front of the manor house that once belonged to (Relative/friend). The home is yours now, in all of sprawling and elegant glory. Waiting beneath the cover of the front porch is a man dressed in professional attire that he seems to have long since outgrown. Every button and seam strains against his bulk. He strokes his bushy mustache and reads over a piece of paper while eyeing each of you that exit the coach.
The man on the stoop in front of the manor house is the personal barrister of the departed relative/friend and he's here to oversee the execution of his will. His name is Frolo Klimp, a tall and very portly human in his late sixty's who always wears fine clothing but refuses to wear anything that didn't fit him better in his more youthful days. He has silvery hair and a thick mustache. He's also very fond of large, foppish and impractical hats. He'll introduce himself and look noticeabley unhappy with anyone that doesn't call him Mister Klimp. He appreciates decorum and formal behavior very much. He'll welcome them to the house and quickly hand over the deeds to the property, keys and offer his condolences before offering to show them around the property.
His tour is brief as there aren't many highlights to show off. Just bedrooms, dining halls, a study, kitchen, solarium and a few other odds and ends. It has a great view of the forest at the edge of Frial which the estate butts up against. However; he takes great care when he unlocks one of the doors at the end of the main wing's hall and ushers them into (relative/friend's) art collection. They will walk past pedestals with unusual sculptures and trinkets, displays of exotic jewelry, and ancient looking tomes written in long forgotten tongues. Portraits of figures both regal and humble adorn the wall as well. Mister Klimp directs the inheritor and his companions to the back wall where one particular piece hangs prominently.
It's a painting that depicts a castle falling out of the sky and hurtling toward a lush, forested region, somewhere. The piece is called The Shattered Sky and is by an unknown artist. There is also a small jewel built into the frame of the portrait that seems to flicker weakly with a shimmering blue light. (those with the means or knowledge will know it is a magical enchantment, a non-detection spell who's duration was extended on a daily basis over and over. The stone powered the recasting of the spell and stone seems to need some kind of maintenance that it hasn't received in a while and now the recasting no longer functions or functions sporadically. An Arcana check of DC12 will reveal the above information). Mister Klimp will explain that this was the previous owner's favorite piece. He also tells them this collection is worth a small fortune to the right buyers should they wish to sell though their relative/friend could never bear to part with a single piece. He also says there's a full index in the study of all of the collected works here should they need). Mister Klimp will then quickly depart, giving them his calling card and leaving them to the otherwise empty home.
Players are welcome to explore the estate, rummage about or interact with each other. It's already late by the time they finished their tour and the the travel here was particularly tiring. Players may forgo sleep if they want but should make a DC 13 Constitution Check to do so. Failing causes a level of exhaustion. Things they can do/discover- 1). The kitchen is recently stocked with fine quality goods to eat, 2). the index to the art collection is very through and details their relative's history with each piece. An investigation check with a DC of 12 will reveal the page for The Shattered Sky piece is missing and where it would be it was very carefully removed to conceal if it ever existed. 3). The wine cellar door is open and currently a brown bear from the nearby forest is rummaging about down here. Players can try to get it out, lock it down there or kill it. In combat the Brown Bear has disadvantage on its first two rounds of combat as it shakes off all the wine it has been drinking.
Part Two-Unwanted Company
The storm outside has subsided leaving only a cold fog in its wake. Late into the night is when their home is quietly invaded by unwelcome guests in the form of men and women wearing heavy cloaks the color of moonbeams with hoods and cowls concealing their identities. They carry long curved daggers in hand, ready to use, and skulk quietly about the estate. They're led by a lanky, tall member of their organization in a similar robe that also has star-like designs all over its flanks. He's older than the others by far but no less capable than them. This old man is a low-level sorcerer with the Storm Sorcery bloodline. His name is Aryasul Jedlan and he uses the stats for Provost Zealot. His minions are Lady Ghelf's Zealots and use those stat blocks. Jedlan has eight Zealots with him and three more outside on lookout.
The cultists are looking for the art collection room and to kill the current owners of the estate so no one is left to talk about their work here. Jedlan will send three cultists to the bedrooms to kill the new owners, the rest are following him to the art collection. Players should all make DC 13 Perception Checks to hear the cultists entering and wake up. If anyone stayed awake they can make a DC 10 Check to hear them come in and coming towards the bedrooms.
Players will need to incapacitate or kill the cultists and confront Jedlan in the art collection. The zealots are prone to whispering hushed prayers or capping off their sentences with a quote of divine importance. The GM is welcome to design their own appropriate sayings or use these: Till Wintermore Rises!, In the Lady's Name!, May HER wrath take them!, Long may SHE reign
Inside you can hear the grating sound of metal on stone. One of the robed figures, a more seasoned and older looking human, pries out the blue stone from the Shattered Sky's frame and lets it hit the floor unceremoniously. "how tragic that such a small little thing should have stood between our goddess and the glory of her divine plan." He kicks it aside as he moves toward the painting with his knife in hand, letting the stone skitter into the dark. He slips his blade into the canvas and seems to peel away a layer, revealing something beneath that earns a gasp and hushed veneration from him and the others.
The enemies here will fight to the death, fueled by a religious fervor to claim the portrait or die trying. If any are taken alive and questioned players will find that when the stone's energy ran out the cult was directed by their goddess to contact Frolo Klimp and ask him to bring them information about a piece in the collection. Their goddess could feel the presence of the piece and wanted all information about it erased. He also informed them when the new owners would be moving in so they would easily be eliminated as well. They will refuse to give away much more even if tortured, only that Klimp was paid well for his loyalty and is probably packing to leave town now... not that the goddess intends for him to get far. He's already played his part in her divine plan. All that remains now is for him to die for her cause.
Beneath the scrap of canvas the cultist's knife chipped away is some writing (An investigation or history check of 14 will reveal the writing to be in giantish) Only a few runic letters are revealed and very long, painstaking work would need to be done to reveal the rest of it.
Words with the Lawyer
Players will find Klimp packing his belonging up quickly in his small home nearby to their estate. He's worried and in a hurry. Players will also find three more Zealots slowly sneaking up on Klimp's home to kill him as well to prevent his loose end from becoming a problem.
If the players manage to save Klimp from his attackers he'll be more than willing to talk in exchange for his life.
"I... I had no choice you have to understand. It was my life on the line. They'd of killed me if I didn't destroy the page... if I didn't tell them when you'd be there. Who you were. All I know is what they told me, I swear it! They're part of something called the cult of Wintermoore and they worship... someone, I don't really know. Some goddess, probably named Wintermoore, I didn't ask many questions. They came to me a few days ago and said they knew that painting was there and they wanted it. They insisted anyone connected to it had to die and all evidence of it was to be erased. But... but, maybe I can make it up to you. The page might be missing from the book but your (relative/friend), shared his index with the city record keeper years ago. They worked together closely on a number of art collection endeavors. Maybe they can tell you about the missing page? Please, just please, let me go. I'll leave as quickly as I can before those fanatics realize I'm still alive.
Mister Klimp will leave quickly if allowed but will give them the address of the city's record keeper to follow up with in the morning.
Session one ends here. Inform players that the next game will begin in the Record Keeper's office and they can do anything they want till then. A long rest is encouraged otherwise, players will need to note their current HP, Conditions
Adventure Two- Secrets Better Left Buried
Part One- Hall of Records
You watch the young halfling woman scurry about her small office with a pile of old scrolls and books held in her hands very precariously. She's organizing them very meticulously, each back to a cherished spot on the book case or scroll slot along the wall. The tiny little name plaque on her desk read Dennla Whistle but she was quick to tell you just to call her Denny like the rest of the office does. She continues organizing items one by one while listening to your questions and doing her best to handle both tasks with equal attention and failing. "Uhuh, yes, go on?" She'll eventually sit down, pushing aside a few old cups and a dirty plate clearly from yesterday's dinner.
The records' keeper will listen to the while they explain whatever it is they wish to share about the evening prior. During their questioning questioning she'll move to pull a pen and a ledger from desk to review some records and will be startled when she finds a dead mouse in her drawer and just sighs heavily before disposing of it in her waste bin, which seems to be overflowing with garbage already and a few other dead mice.She will find several more in her office during their conversation and she'll have the same defeated reaction to each one. If asked, she'll mention that one of the damn forest pixie's has been lurking around in the office for weeks now and it's constantly leaving rat corpses all over her office. She says she's growing tired of it and has hired a Kobold named Meepo to root out the pest and kill it but he's failed to catch the nuisance for the last week. The Pixie has been doing this for almost a year now. She'd be so thankful if they could help get rid of the Pixie. She'd pay them 10 gold to take care of it if they're willing
Regarding their questions about index copy and information about the painting she'll not no much. She says that she's only been the official record keeper for about a year or so, having took over the previous retiring records keeper Mr. Wennik Sols. Sols she knows was a close associate of (dead relative/ally) and if anyone has the copy it would be him. It's not in her records anywhere. She doesn't know where Wennik Sols lives though, he's become something of a hermit who comes to town only once a month or so to buy supplies and his last trip was two weeks ago.
Outside of the Record Keepers' Offices they may see a darting shape in the dark of the alleyway beside the building (Perception DC of 13). If they succeed they'll see the small, hunched over little shape in a heavy tattered cloak and hood. A long red scaly tail whipping on the back and rusty little trident in its hands. This is the hired exterminator, Meepo and he's out hunting for the Pixie again. If they fail they won't spot Meepo but they will spot a flickering rainbow light briefly glimmer from the stable connected to the office. An Insight check with a DC of 11 will give them the notion that this light wasn't seen my them by accident, but it was more of a signal. It is possible and probably likely that the party will see both. (some of them catching the darting movement in the alleyway while the rest, paying no attention to that are instead alerted to the flickering light in the stable.
Anyone going to the alley will spot Meepo on top of an empty crate pouring light green liquid into a puddle of fresh rain water in the window planter beside him while he snickers. He turns to see the party enter and will hiss. "Meepo see traveler-thingsss come and try to sssteal my job! Meepo has has feasted on fairy meat hisss whole life! I'll get this one too! You won't have my job or my coinsss!". However, Meepo the Kobold will try to bargain with them. "I heard the halfling-thing and you ssspeak, I know what you ssseek. The hermit, yesss? I take you to him if you catch pixie-meat and give it to Meepo! Keep my reputation intact, get my coinsss and I take you to Hermit house, mossst fair... yesss? Meepo think this mossst fair.
Anyone venturing into the stable will see nothing of interest at first, just a few horses feeding. They can search about using a Perception Check with a difficulty of 15. If they succeed they'll see some movement in a pile of hay in the corner, if not they'll see no sign of where the light came from. Either way, after some searching they'll hear a voice echoing about the stable without a clear source. It's volume is meek but the tone this female voice takes is forceful and angry "I heard you! I heard what she said in their! Of course I'm leaving the mice! They're Denny's fault! She leaves her food out and never empties her garbage out! Wennik never did that, he was kind and considerate! Denny is a mess and I'm going to bury every office mouse in her drawers till she starts cleaning up!". The voice belongs to the Pixie. Her name is Olive and she wants Denny to be a better "house mate" as she considers her. Olive lives on the grounds and Wennik was always kind to her, shared food and kept things tidy. She'd of left with him but so many of her friends and family are living in the buildings nearby but the old man said she could come visit him any time. Olive will be happy to take them to Wennik's cabin if they get Denny to fire Meepo and start keeping things more orderly.
Players will have to decide which guide to use and complete the request their guide has made before they will agree to take them to Wennik's cabin. Helping Meepo will put the Record Keeper in their good graces. She'll even reward them with some of the office's ink and a quill pen as well as some fancy seals, paper and other calligraphy supplies. All of these together count as a forgery kit for anyone with the knowledge and desire to use them as such. Otherwise it is a valuable writing set certainly worth 5 gold. However, if they take Olive's side Denny will be insulted/embarrassed by their revelation. With a proper social check of some kind at a DC of 12 she can be convinced to let Meepo go as well but certainly will not be warm to the players after this. Siding with Olive and bringing her with will offer them certain rolls with advantage on the way to Wennik's cabin
Part Two- Through the Woods to Wennik's House
Either guide will tell them the journey takes about three days to complete and will take them through the woods and into a boggy area near Lake Bask. While the weather is warming up it will still be a wet, cold and unpleasant three day journey.
The first day of travel is uneventful as the travel along the main road that brings them nearest to the forest (GM is free to use a random encounter if they like. Bandits, wolves, worgs, a single giant elk or giant boar would be ideal choices for the level and environment. If the players chose Meepo as their guide he will also give them a tip about a hive of giant wasps that are building a nest inside the body of a dead owl bear. It's a very gristly scene with the bear corpse fused into the wasp hive. There are 6 giant wasps here and with the weather still cold they'll have disadvantage on their action order and skill check rolls. Meepo tells them that owl bear has gold in his belly, he was trying to poison it for days before taking the job with Denny and he'll split the coins with them if they help. Inside the owlbear body is 12 gold, 15 silver and 40 copper pieces as well as one fancy ring worth 10 gold and the skeletal remains of the merchant he ate. If they do not have Meepo it's up to the game master if they are still able to find this on their own. It should be difficult and require survival or perception checks of 16 or more.
The second day of travel brings them through the denser areas of the forest and roads that haven't been traveled or maintained in centuries. The path is overgrown, clogged with vegetation and incredibly isolated. Players will have to make survival checks with a DC of 13 to navigate through the region without suffering two levels of exhaustion over the course of the trek. If the players brought Olive with as the guide she knows the area much better and the wildlife seems to avoid making travel difficult for her. She will grant advantage to the players when rolling this check and reduce the check's DC to 12 instead. If two or more players fail this check they also will stumble across one of the following random encounters: Random encounter roll D6 or choose one of the following: 1-2[ 6 bandits who are well-armed and fresh from a recent roadside robbery.] 3-4 [ 1 manticore stalking a wounded owlbear cub that it's trying to eat] 5-6 [ 1 wounded owlbear mother with a few manticore barbs in her. She is frenzied and looking for her missing cub. Nearby is her second cub. Wounded and hiding as well.
The third day of travel sees the players leaving some of the denser brush for the murky, muddy and water-logged mires around the Lake Bask. The day starts with a return of the storms and cold rain forcing players to again require a DC 13 Survival Check otherwise they begin travel with one level of exhaustion. If Olive is the guide she will again reduce the DC to 12 and grant them advantage on the roll.
Early on in their day they'll come across two recently slain goblins. Investigation checks with a DC of 12 will reveal that these goblins were killed just hours ago and by a heavy slashing weapon like a large sword or likely an axe. Nothing was taken from them though. They still have a handful of dirty copper coins, their daggers and some spoiled rations on them. In one of their bags will be a sealed letter. If opened and read it reads: "Dear Baxton, If you're reading this than surely you know i've done it! They're safe, domesticated and ready for all the farms. We can make a fortune, just like we always talked about. Get here as quickly as you're able and we can work out the finer points. Your wagons to deliver, my lot to sow and harvest. I'll see you shortly. Your friend, Wennik Sols."
Investigating the area will reveal an additional goblin, this one unconscious and bleeding out. If given medical aid with a healer's kit and a Medicine Check of DC 12 she'll awaken. This goblin however is in a state of fugue, very docile, harmless and extremely willing to accept commands and ask for instructions. If the roll on the medicine check was a 15 or higher they'll be able to tell that she has been drugged by some kind of magical elixir. She'll not know what her name is, where she's from or anything else about her life. She just knows that she's called Goblin Number Nine. Everything else is too blurred and lost in her haze.
Further ahead on their trip they'll find another group of brutally diced up goblins, these killed only minutes ago. They'll hear the sounds of distant combat ahead, just off the old road. Wood splintering, metal clattering against metal and a guttural howl. They can use Stealth to creep up on the scene. If they took Meepo as the guide he is an expert at sneaking and will grant them all advantage on the roll. The difficulty is a DC of 13. This is further reduced if Meepo is with them to a DC of 12.
If players choose to investigate they'll come upon an old, wrecked and rusted little shack made of wood and metal. It looks to anyone with proficiency in Survival to be an old Fur Trapper's shelter. Now it's become the site of small yet bloody battle between a dozen or so goblins wielding nothing but sticks, stones, and simple daggers and their attacker. A rugged, aging old dwarf in worn battle armor and helm. The axe he clutches in his hands is covered in goblin blood and several corpses already dot the grounds. The dwarf hacks into the face of another screeching goblin and bellows to the others "Where is Sols! Tell me! If I have to cleave through every one of you squealing wretches all the better!"
The dwarf is an old soldier turned bounty hunter named Ghalrum Grannis. He's a hunter of magic users and is currently seeking Wennik Sols. The Record Keeper was secretly an enchanter and alchemist and Ghalrum's employer is paying him well to bring Sols in alive. Ghalrum is working for Seagriva Ghelf and plans on turning over the old Record Keeper to her servants. His contact was the Zealot Leader that attacked the players earlier and he's to bring Sols to an abandoned mill a few miles south and hold him there till his employer's people arrive two days from now to collect. Grannis is equally fanatical in his desire to catch Sols and to see that magic users get what he believes they deserve, death. Convincing him to give up on this hunt would be very very difficult. Part of his evidence that this must be done is the goblins. They're deeply drugged and under the sway of Sols. He believes that this shows how reckless and dangerous the old Record Keeper can be. He's a slaver and its only a matter of time before he turns his attention toward people other than goblins.
Players can try to reason with him if they like or fight. If any of the players reveal themselves as magic users Grannis will be increasingly difficult to speak to and more likely to attack them. If they offer to give over Sols than Grannis is very likely to no attack them.
Part Three- Forgotten Lore
Wennik's Cabin is only a few miles from here. Their guide will push them forward through swampier land, tall grass and cold, flooded, mud. The cabin is on stilts sitting above the soft earth and stagnant water with a rickety old staircase that leads to the home's front door. Yet, this lonely home is not quiet, a flurry of activity surrounds it. Goblins. Yet these goblins do not scamper, skitter and destroy. They're orderly and docile, commanded by some unseen taskmaster to toil with repairs to the home or planting simple crops. They take no notice of you, their only concern is to serve the lord of this fetid hovel.
Optional: If players did not investigate the sounds of battle that lead to Ghalrum Grannis than the dwarf will have backtracked the goblin servants to here and he will be beyond reasoning with. He will assume they are servants of Sols or just simply in his way.
Wennik Sols will welcome them into his home if they knock and are polite. The interior of this cabin looks like equal parts library and labratory. Beakers simmer atop open flames, cauldrons bubble and fire light dances over shelf upon shelf of scrolls, books and odd trinkets. Sols himself is as strange and eccentric as his home. He's a tall man with lanky limbs and a long face with well-kept hair and trimmed beard. Despite the isolation here in the woods he keeps himself as presentable as any noble in Frial.
If they explain why they're here Sols will be happy enough to help them. The deceased relative was his friend and helping his inheritor with this would be an honor for him. He'll lead them to the back of his cottage past a number of cages filled with goblins, all of them drugged and in a stupor. A few look dead. Sols truly doesn't seem them as sentient creatures and he's all too willing to treat them like puppets and slaves. He uses an elixir he had been working on for years while at the Records Office. He used his access to all the old teachings within the town records to merge several arcane sciences into a chemical that overwhelms the willpower of creatures and with enough doses it can completely break their minds, leaving them permanently docile and susceptable to commands.
Sols will go to a cabinet and take out a large, precious tome, that makes him smile deeply when he takes it out and rests it on the table. He sighs and says he misses his old friend (deceased relative). He then flips to the page in question and presents it to the players. The entry contains several key points of information:
1). The Shattered Sky was originally an ancient scroll written in Giantish but by the human hands. It was penned by the housecarl of the Ghelf's a royal clan of Cloud Giants who once ruled a vast empire in the frozen north many hundreds of years ago.
2). An alliance of humans and dwarves toppled the giants' rule and forced them back to their last bastion, their ancestral home. Castle Wintermoore.
3). There is a prophecy or scripture of some kind that translation notes on the interpret as: Down fell wintermoore. Down fell the lords and ladies of that ancient line. Yet, one seed lingers, frozen and bitter, waiting to be sown. Once bloomed; this flower shall make the vermin remember. She will make whole what was shattered. She will reforge the old chains.
The notes then reference a name Seagriva Ghelf
4). The translation notes go on to explain that Castle Wintermoore was not bound to the earth but lived in the clouds and it's there that the mortals invaded, looking to finish what they started. It says that champions of dwarf and man led forces into the sacred castle and killed the last of the Ghelf line but not before Krastos Ghelf, the last lord of Wintermoore, ended the spell that kept the castle airborne. He willed it so that the might redoubt would slam into the mountain home of the dwarves and the avalanche it caused would wideout their human allies in the valley below. The castle would be a blade of vengeance that would settle the scorn permanently.
5). The heroes that slew the last of the Ghelfs stayed behind to wrestle control back over the plummeting castle and force its fall into the wilderness far from any civilization. They gave their lives for it.
6). The human servants of the Ghelf's were able to evacuate the castle before the end and they took with them several important relics but none so precious as Krastos' infant daughter, magically frozen in impenetrable ice. They also took with them a special compass built with a piece of piece of ice in the heart of the mechanism that never melts. That ice is a fragment of Wintermoore castle and will always point to home. Krastos wanted them to give it to his daughter when she was old enough so that she could find the remains of Wintermoore Castle and take back everything that belonged to her, including all the lost wonders and magical weapons within the Sky Vault. The Vault is said to hold all of the powerful artifacts the Ghelf's collected over their many centuries of rule and used in their effort to maintain their reign. The writing on the scroll also contains the spell that, if spoken before the doors of the Sky Vault, will command it to open. Otherwise, it will remain forever sealed.
7). The contents of the scroll end there but the notes by (dead relative) go on to explain that the Wintermoore Compass was taken when these last zealous survivors were ambushed by the dwarven and human alliance. Many of the zealots were slain but they managed to escape with the frozen seed that contained Seagriva Ghelf. However, they lost the compass and many of the relics to their enemies who took them all to one of their holy bastions known as Fort Luminvale where he believes they still are today.
Wennik Sols will tell them that Luminvale belonged to the old Balmoran Kingdom, a vast human nation that fell almost three hundred years ago. It was the Balmorans that supported the dwarves in that war against the Ghelfs. Luminvale became a sacred tomb for many of that nation's most revered heroes before it fell into decay with the rest of their lands. He doesn't know what, if anything became of the place but he knows where it is and will share it with them (4 days west along the coast of Lake Bask).
Heroes should be rewarded with an addition 300XP each for getting this information. Sols will also gift them with two potions of greater healing and two of his Mind Control potions (so long as they don't object to his questionable uses of the elixir against the goblins
Battle for Luminvale
*players have four days of travel ahead of them. They can keep their guide if they like who will continue to grant certain bonuses. If they took Meepo he will agree to stay with them for three gold coins a day. If they took Olive she'll agree to stay if she can become an equal member of their adventuring party.*
Part One- Cinders Along the Shore
Two days of travel along the lake have already come and gone. Thanks to your guide you've managed to avoid most of the treacherous terrain and make good time (If they do not have their guide anymore they will need a Survival Check at DC 15 or suffer two levels of exhaustion tearing through the thick swamp). It's early on the third day that a charred smell starts to permeate the morning air along with a brief but violent howling of winds. A column of thick smoke rises above the tall grass and tangle. Once you cut through some of the reeds and vines you're able to get a clear look at Lake Bask glistening in the dawn sun yet a grey smear in the sky demands your attention. Out on the water a small scow (flat bottomed boats designed for more shallow water) is burning. It's no more than 400 feet out and from this distance you can see flames burning on the deck and crew scurrying about in panic. Bobbing in the water are at least two bodies, laying face down and still.
(A Survival Check of DC 11 will reveal that the cold water and distance to shore could be dangerous but not impossible to make)
Just off to your left and maybe 40 feet off shore is a small rowboat manned by three sailors, all battered, bruised and bloodied but pushing themselves for every once of strength they can muster to reach shore. Tracing along their path you can see where they came from on the ship and the two other boats that are there yet the other sailors are cut off from them by fire.
Some of the sailors on the scow clearly see you as they begin shouting for help and waving. You also notice the winds seem to pick up fiercely and the small ship rocks violently. A Perception Check of 14 will allow them to notice something terrible even from this distance and through the smoke. One of the sailors seems to rise up as if gripped by an unseen force, his hair and clothes blowing wildly in a fierce wind. Those winds pick up faster and faster like a cyclone that eventually turns red as it strips the man of his flesh and rips limbs from his body. Flames are sucked up into this invisible body briefly revealing a horror shaped like an ogre sized tornado with arms and a leering grin all made of wind and fire. (An air elemental is attacking the burning boat and spreading the fire quickly).
The sailors that are reaching shore are deeply shaken and in a panic as well. They say their part of the crew of a fishing scow named the Leta and they were trying a new area along the lake where they thought the fishing would be good because of how isolated it was. One of the survivor sailors is a halfling named Hobblan Oprei, the other two are humans, brothers named Cass and Florin Drekelo. They'll explain that they found good fishing but they also saw something they probably weren't meant to see.
While traveling nearer to the coast than other ships are able they spotted a large group of travelers moving west as well and far from the main roads so as not to be seen. They saw men in pale blue robes surrounding a a giant armored elk. And upon the elk they saw a titan riding it, even from a distance they could tell this pale blue skinned woman was both hauntingly beautiful and wickedly imperious. When the crew of the Leta spotted they quickly raised sail and fled but before they did they saw this regal giant call forth a living wind she set upon them. The wind quickly caught up and began savaging the crew and the ship. They don't know why they were attacked or what could possibly be in that direction that's so precious it's worth killing over. There's nothing there but open land and abandoned old Balmoran ruins.
Heroes can take the survivors' boat and reach the burning Leta to help the crew. If they're able to save the ship and put out the fire they can patch up the ship and use it to cut off the Cult of Wintermoore and reach Luminvale ahead of them. Without it they'll be behind them. DM's can have the players make an Investigations Check with a DC of 12 to realize that. On the boat players will have to make Constitution saves at DC 12 every turn the fires are raging or suffer D4 damage from the heat and smoke. If they save the ship they'll be able speak with Hobblan Oprei about using the ship. The previous captain is one of the dead floating in the water, a human named Conner Deet. Hobblan will be happy to help them in exchange for what they did.
Part Two- Luminvale
The old Balmoran roads here are almost completely consumed by nature aside the odd piece of cobblestone and road marker there but it's enough to find your way from the ancient remains of the fort's old docks and to the dilapidated walls of the once magnificent redoubt. A shiver runs up your spines as you see smoke rising from inside the walls but it's not the smell of destruction you sense this time. Its baking bread and cooked meat. You can hear noises inside the old walls as well, wagons moving about, hammering and even... singing. Looking through the cracks in the old fort walls you can see a small community having taken root inside. They look like the typical migrants and wanderers you've seen throughout the land. And what they built inside is nothing special, just a simple shanty town nestled within the carcass of this ruin. It's no more than thirty or so and they have no idea the doom that is barreling down upon them.
Inside the walls is a small band of migrant travelers from the western forests of Rylan have taken up residence inside the old fortress. They know very little about the place they're currently staying and have only been here about two months. They're trying to wait out the weather till warmer winds blow in. They don't know the language of the old balmorans and haven't been able to open the old tomb/reliquary. In fact, much of the fortress is sealed by ancient magic. They live only in the open courtyard and what remains of one of the cathedral to the balmoran sun god, Sandor.
The community is led a former logging team leader from the Rylan saw mills. His name is Ashan Krenko. He's a survivor of a great deal of trouble back west and that's turned him into a stubborn, resilient man who's very protective of the people he leads. Many of them have been part of his traveling group for years now, including his pregnant wife Tallie. The rest of the community including his wife are very welcoming and open but also will have a hard time believing the truth about whats coming their way.
They have with them travelers from all over the west including two rather unusual individuals. A former knight commander from the famous mercenary company known as the Grand Order of the Lion. His name is Claudius Xavier Bastion. Commander Bastion had been hunting down rogue members of his organization for the last two years, several of them were his own subordinates and friends. One of them had been a threat to Krenko and his band. After dealing that errant member of the Lions he agreed to travel with Krenko to protect them till they reached their next destination. He's now been with them ever since gathering intelligence on where the other rogues may be. He refuses to return to the Order until he's brought his former companions to justice. The second individual has been traveling with Commander Bastion for some time. Her name is Ecras, the last member of a tribe from the depths of the wild jungles on Tairuk Island. Her people lived simply with stone-age tools and in harmony with the violent jungles around them. However, her people were wiped by a demon that one of Bastion's rogue Lions made a pact with. She now hunts that Lion and the demon he treated with. She and Bastion met while both were pursuing one of the rogue Lions and the two formed a bond that soon turned into an unshakable friendship. Both also have a love for mounted combat, Bastion for his horse, Dale. And Ecras for her war rhino, Gharm.
Players will have a day to prepare for the coming of the Cult of Wintermoore. Convincing the migrants will be extremely difficult but both Ecras and Bastion can be swayed. They've seen more of the horror the world has to offer and both have heard rumors of the cult. Players will learn they are both extremely seasoned warriors in their own right and if they can be convinced the GM is encouraged to just hand over their stats to his players to run them how they see fit during combat.
Things Players can do Before the Arrival of the Cult of Wintermoore
. This group has a good deal of basic supplies, weapon and armor that they'd be willing to sell.
2). Visit the ruined cathedral
. Inside they'll find most of the people belonging to the migrant group including one traveler named Reshen Typanor, a human woman from the far western reaches of the continent that claims to be able to hear the voices of the gods still. She's young, very naive and a bit delusional but that has not stopped her from staying with Krenko's group and providing aid in the form of very minor healing magic and blessings. If players speak with her she may ask them about their beliefs in the gods and as long as they are not hostile to her she'll offer up her minor talents. Any player character may go to her to receive healing equal to 4D4+2. Also, whomever is the most faithful person in the party will be granted advantage as she blesses that person. This is the extent of her abilities but she does inform them that the gods are watching, even now at this humble little ruin, and they all must strive to be the hand in this world that the gods can no longer offer.
3). Rally soldiers
. While the community here in general is largely not accepting of the idea of the Cult Of Wintermoore coming here to rip apart this ruin there is a chance that players might rally some open-minded defenders to their cause. They can try to speak to some of the able-bodied here and sway them. The DM may require a persuasion or intimidation check with a DC of 14. If they succeed the will have 2D4+2(If they scored an 18 or higher on their roll increase this number by an additional D4. If any player gave a particularly rousing speech the DM is encouraged to give the speaker advantage which they can use for the troop numbers roll) battle capable allies at their side. The DM can use the stats for Guards from the Monstrous Manual and is encouraged to give the stats to the players to control during combat.
4). Talking with Krenko, Ecras and Commander Bastion.
As mentioned above they would be very valuable assets to have and convincing them the threat is coming is a more manageable task than it would be with Krenko. This is a good opportunity for players to earn advantage by using compelling role playing to bring these NPCs on their side.
5). Deal with the Civilians.
Most of the travelers here are not up to the task of defending themselves. If suitable evidence or argument was presented to Krenko he'll be willing to get his people to safety but the options are slim. Without time to pack up essentials abandoning the fortress would also be a death sentence for many thank to the ill weather and scarcity of shelter. The most viable option is building a defense around the cathedral ruins which is far enough from the reliquary tomb that they might be safe. While some of the castle's walls still stand not enough of them remain to act as a true barrier in keeping the enemy out. They are a defensible bit of high ground for any one wishing to take it though. This includes one fully intact tower with an old but functional ballista. This device can be refurbished for combat with an Intelligence (or some kind of craftsmenship if any player has such a custom skill) with a DC of 14. Any player that helps with these defenses will gain advantage thanks to getting to know the people and investing in their safety. At the DM's discretion they can also gain a bonus +6HP to represent their determination in helping these people survive. (At the DM's discretion the heroes may also stumble upon the foundation tunnel that connects the cathedral to the lower levels of the entire fortress. For more information on this location see The Reliquary's Secrets and Final Battle notes section below)
6). Investigate the Reliquary and Knights' Tomb.
This particular structure seems to be the sturdiest and the one most free from the decay that has eaten up the rest of this fortress. It's a single large, rectangular structure adorned with chipping statues to old saints and writing in the dead language of Balmoral. Two massive doors act as the entrance to the building but they do not budge, they seem sealed from within. A powerful spell holds these doors shut and it was meant that only one of their priesthood should be able to unseal them. However, that spell is waning with age and a powerful physical force or explosion might be able to breech them and end the protection. Forcing it open this way will damage much of the front structure, sending fissures and cracks all across the face of the building. If anyone spends time exploring the outside of the building and opts to climb up to the top they'll see some broken masonry there that has created a hole in the roof big enough for someone with climbing equipment to descend through if they desire. They'd need 60 feet of rope to reach the ground floor safely. (See The Reliquary's Secrets and Final Battle notes section for more info on this location)
Part Three- The Lady of Wintermoore
Very early the following morning, while the sun is little more than an orange ember that has yet to crest the horizon, the Cult of Wintermoore will arrive through along the northern side of the ruined fortress. A disorganized clutter of figures in their pale cyan robes and hoods. What they lack in orderly battle lines they make up for in numbers. They look to be at least sixty strong and dedicated to shedding blood for their goddess. Moving among the cult is something of an outlier, a hulking blackish shape that sticks out among the other smaller figures. Taller than an ogre and with fur the color of soot, this bull-like monstrosity walks on two cloven feet and drags the head of its heavy morning star behind it. Upon its back a screeching, snarling goblin in black cowl and hood. It barks out orders in its shrill way that the minotaur seems to obey without question. And keeping pace beside them a thoroughly tattooed orc daubed in war paints and bearing two ugly hand axes into battle. Yet, above it all is the great elk the sailors spoke of yet seeing it in person defies all imagination. It struts in the most regal fashion, the wide horns upon the creature's head cast honey colored shadows thanks to the slowly rising sun behind it. And, upon this majestic beast's back is the Lady of Wintermoore, the living goddess to this deranged cult... Seagriva Ghelf. The giant is everything the sailors described and so much more. Her skin is the palest shade of byzantium. Her hair is soft shining lengths of cloud-colored silver that blows gently in the morning wind. The gown she wears is a very dark green that stands out starkly against the pure white fur cape hanging from her shoulders. With a wave of her gold scepter the hoard surrounding her stalls to a halt.
She speaks though her voice is eloquent, musical and exotic it is equally booming and full of authority. "I want you to listen to me very closely for I will not repeat myself nor will I make this offer a second time. I've come for what is mine, not for your lives. Cast down your weapons and stand aside. When i'm down with this hovel you are welcome to have it back and carry on with your blissful and brief little lives. If you refuse, all I can offer than is the promise that this will be mercifully brief. I expect your answer shortly."
Her cultists erupt in cheers, prayers and the recitation of lines from their holy texts. The Lady of Wintermoore just rolls her eyes at their foolish display and impatiently waits for your answer. Players will only have a few short moments before Seagriva's patience wears thin and she orders the attack.
"Gatecrashers! Open this way." Seagriva will direct the goblin, minotaur and orc to lead the way. The minotaur charging into one of the numerous openings in the wall with the goblin on his back and the orc trailing behind. One combat round after they enter the cult, along with Seagriva will begin rushing in. Every combat round 10 cultists will be able to climb in through the openings. Every fifth round one of the ten cultists will be a provost. In total Seagriva has one provost and forty cultists at her disposal.
During combat Seagriva's goal will be to reach the tomb and breech the front doors with her overwhelming physical might. She'll have little interest in the combat itself unless directly attacked. It will take her two combat rounds to batter open the doors and wall. She will be looking to get her hands on the compass as quickly as possible and at least 6-10 of her cultists will always try to stay within 20 feet of her and ignore the combat as well unless they or their goddess are attacked. The players' goals should be to keep hold of the compass or to retrieve it if possible. They should also try to protect the people in the ruined cathedral. While Seagriva has no interest in them her zealous cult would love to punish them for the lack of faith. And, the Gatecrashers all have an irresistible urge brutalize those people and take what little wealth they possess. Unlike the cult, the three Gatecrashers are not fearless or fanatic. When a member drops to 1/3 health or less they will try to flee the combat scene or rescue one of their injured members who has fallen in combat.
The Reliquary's Secrets and Final Battle Notes
This information is for any point when the reliquary is explored. During combat with the cult or earlier if they enter through the break in the roof.
The interior of reliquary is a dusty old place that smells both of dried flowers, perfume and other funerary scents as well as stagnant water, decay and death. The hole in the ceiling is the only source of light and while it allows in a pillar of pure luminescence the rest of the place is murky twilight and dancing dust particles. The debris that fell from above so long ago seems to have crashed through the floor leaving a hole there as well. In that cratered depth is another dark hallway that leads into shadows. On the ground floor are the weathered tombs of dozens of Balmoral's greatest heroes. A few were crushed by the roof collapse but the rest remain, their stone structures enduring all these years stubbornly. At the far back of the ground floor is a gilded, golden cage-like chamber and behind it's decorative protections are locked chests, sheathed blades, books, scrolls and other strange items. (in one of the locked boxes is the Wintermoore Compass)
Opening the cage to the relics is very difficult. While not magical in nature the cage is very well built and would require an athletics check with a DC of 20 to pull open. Otherwise, it can be broken open as well. The cage has an AC of 20 and 25 HP. If reduced to zero HP they've managed to rend it open. The lock can be picked as well. This would require a Dexterity check with a DC of 16.
When the chest containing the compass is opened it will breath a cold gust of icy air. The item itself looks like a nautical compass yet its bronze case is frigid to the touch and coated in a light sheen of freezing fog. Frost creeps over the glass but beneath it the compass hand can be seen. That hand is more of a needle sharp piece of ice and it points fiercely toward the north west .
A doorway at the end of the storage area leads into a lightless chamber with tall ceilings and thick support columns. There are stone slabs everywhere where bodies were prepared. Many of them have old, withered bodies on them, battle brothers that could not be entombed in time before the fortress had to be abandoned. At the far end of the room (80 feet from where the players enter) is a stone archway with a path that slants downward to presumably the foundation tunnels for the tomb and the rest of the fortress. This passage is wide, tall and well built to have accommodated incoming material and gnomish machinery. This chamber has many ancient oils, balms and elixirs used on the dead corpses. There are surgical implements here as well that were used to repair the fatal wounds that brought the dead here. There are lanterns on all the columns that can be used for light. Players may also find a large treasure chest that holds some of the vestments of the old priesthood, ancient holy books to the god Sandor 2 potions of heroism, 1 potion of greater healing, an amulet to the goddess Tatayne that functions as a periapt of wound closure and a ring of protection +1 with the lion symbol of old balmoral on it.
Seagriva will follow them down if they take the battle here or manage to get the compass and flee through here. She'll her strength to batter a hole in the floor and slip through into this chamber, falling from above more gracefully than anyone could believe something of her size capable of. Players may be able to hide in the shadows and behind the mortuary slabs. "I can smell you in here! You stink of fear and mortal filth. I didn't want it to come to this. You living or dying was of no concern to me at all. I just wanted my HOME BACK! Give me the compass and you can live out your miserable little lives in peace. Though, I swear to you, if you make this any more difficult than it's already been I will find you and I will peel you apart one strip of skin at a time."
At some point, if the gm chooses, me may allow for Ecras and Bastion to make a reappearance. With Ecras directing her rhino through the hole in the ceiling and crashing into Seagriva sending her sprawling but quickly to her feet. Bastion would beg them to flee into foundation tunnels with the compass stone. Otherwise, the GM can let them handle the situation on their own. Once they make it to the archway, Seagrivia will send the Gatecrashers after them as the tunnel is still very tight for her though manageable. She will follow slowly but only after her minions have made it through to chase the heroes.
This passage lets out in a truly massive and wide chamber. They'll hear the sound of rushing water before they actually see it. The man-made channel that funnels flood water and underground water flows away from the foundation of Fort Luminvale. There are other tunnels to various different areas of the foundation, including the ruined cathedral but along the channel they'll be able to see a distant light, the exit. This area is filled with support columns and a large dam-like structure that diverts water from elsewhere into the channel and out. Without maintenance this area looks weathered, damaged and is filled with puddles and pools of stagnant water that have broken through cracks in the dam and erosion in the channel.
An investigation check would let players know then can breech part of the flood water dam and fill the lower level of the tomb with water preventing chase and buying them time to reach the ruined cathedral and rescue Krenko's people. If this area was discovered prior to Seagriva arriving they can try to funnel people out through here. However, Seagriva will arrive midway through their evacuation, requiring the heroes and their allies to buy time for the escapees.
The ruins of Luminvale quake with the anger of spurned heiress. Members of her cult offer prayer and penance but based on the screams that echo from the fortress it's doubtful she's accepting either in exchange for today's failure. With the compass in hand, the only question now is whether to follow the path it points to or to find a new burial site far beyond Seagriva's reach. In either case, a great enemy has been made today, one that will spare no effort in finding her lost home and destroying those that stood in her way.
Players should receive and extra 500 XP each for keeping the compass out of Seagriva's hands. They should also get a bonus 200XP if they saved Krenko and his people.
Continuing the Skyvault Campaign: Players and Dungeon Masters who wish to continue with the Skyvault plotline have several options for doing so. Seagriva has an extensive network of allies in the region and she knows where the heroes live. While her the number of her cult members has surely dwindled thanks to the heroes she has many other nefarious contacts, like the Gatecrashers, whom she can deploy in an effort to capture the players and retrieve her compass. The players may decide they want to find the Skyvault themselves and claim the treasures inside. They can begin the long and perilous journey north west to try and do so. Seagriva's spies will be on the lookout for them, eager to inform their mistress of any rumors they hear on the old roads. The heroes may also find that Seagriva is not the only threat looking for the Skyvault. Others may now be aware of its existence and eager to have the old relics and treasure for themselves.
Claudius Xavier Bastion