The Wrathbreakers have destroyed the deepcult leadership, killing their Demiurge and looting her laboratory. Amongst her documents they have found a set of scrolls that describe a ritual that is likely at the heart of the deepcult’s plans. These documents are a set of scrolls rolled up in an ornate scroll case, in a box with obvious magical paraphernalia – a silver knife, some jars of reagents and powders, bunches of herbs, a set of robes, and a wand of blackened bone. The scrolls appear to have been written relatively recently, by an unknown writer who is probably a scholar of magic and most likely a member of the deepcult – and definitely not a deepfolk.

The scrolls describe in detail a ritual to reopen something called “the Rift”, which can be located in the wall of a huge room called the “Chamber of Remembrance.” The ritual will take some hours, and requires seven specific artifacts of great power, listed as:

  • Fragment of a fallen moon
  • Rib of the first human
  • Eye of a dead god
  • Fragments of a dragon’s egg
  • The ghost of the first human child
  • A fragment of death’s shadow
  • The embers of the first fire

Each artifact is described in detail, along with some ideas about its possible location. It is clear from the description that the Wrathbreakers already possess the Fragment of a fallen moon, eye of a dead god, and the ghost of the first human child. It is also clear that the Rib of the first human is in the possession of the cult, in the Demiurge’s study, and that the fragment of death’s shadow is under Kyansei’s lands. The only two remaining artifacts to be gathered are the fragments of a dragon’s egg (held by the dragon that was born from that egg, in Caen) and the Embers of the First Fire, which are currently being searched for in the Valley of Gon.

The writer indicates that this ritual needs to take place at a specified time that corresponds with the millennial re-alignment of the stars known as the Seven Children of Rage. The writer believes that there is perhaps a 1-3 month time period in which their alignment will be approximately good enough for the ritual to work. The writer speculates that the ritual could be conducted at any other time but would require significantly more power than the deep cult currently has available, and to summon that power would require “a wasteful expenditure of a large portion of those who will eventually become our slaves.”

The writer also seems to hint that this ritual is a re-engineering of a ritual first conducted 1000 years earlier which attempted to fully seal “the Rift” closed, but which failed because one of the artifacts was a fake. The writer hypothesizes that the egg was a fake, and that whoever was responsible for providing the egg in the ritual had swapped it for a fake and stolen the real one. Why they did this is not known, but ascribed to ordinary human greed by the writer.

The writer describes the consequences of this treachery: the original ritual failed, unleashed a huge blast of evil magic, and did not completely seal the gate. The writer believes that this ritual was rushed, probably because the humans who conducted it were under attack from the guardians of the seals, and so had no time to abort the ritual and recover the egg – or maybe didn’t even realize the dragon egg had been swapped with a fake until the ritual was supposed to be completed. The writer postulates that when the ritual failed and unleashed its huge blast of dark magic, it killed or severely damaged the guardians of the seven seals, and scattered them across the underworld of the Archipelago. The locations where those guardians appeared probably correspond in some way with the alignment of the seven new stars, The Seven Children of Rage, which appeared in the sky at that time.

The writer does not know what the seven guardians were, but based on what they know about the first artifact they found – the rib of the first human – they postulate that the seals were stolen by humans from “the treasure chambers of their slave masters”, though how this was done the writer cannot say. Each seal had a guardian, and those guardians chased the humans to recover the seals, coming through “the Rift” and catching them during the ritual. The humans must have had to fight the guardians while continuing the ritual to seal “the Rift”. The writer notes that he/she found the Rib of the first Human in the chamber of Remembrance, and had to fight its guardian. This guardian is described as a crazed human with supernatural powers, wielding a powerful spear it calls the “spear of destiny.” The human bled from its hands and feet and could perform various feats of magic, but was ultimately too weak to be a god or a full power from the world beyond “the Rift”, so the writer assumes that the blast of magic power unleashed in the ritual, plus 1000 years trapped in the Chamber of Remembrance, both weakened the guardian and drove it crazy. It is not clear if every guardian survived this ritual.

The writer further postulates that the dragon, being originally a creature from beyond “the Rift”, must need “the Rift” to stay open in order to survive, and will die if “the Rift” is closed. The writer also speculates that fully opening “the Rift” will have significant consequences for the deepfolk, and these consequences should in no way be communicated to the deepfolk. “After all,” the document finishes, “When we are elevated to a place of status alongside our former masters from beyond the Rift, will we not need slaves of our own?”

The Wrathbreakers have destroyed the deep cult, killing its leader, a middle-aged woman with potent deep magic powers who was referred to by her followers as the Demiurge. In her study they found a very recent letter sent to her by one of her field agents, which contains important information about the Dragon of Caen and the location of one of the as yet undiscovered relics, the dragon’s egg.

I have made contact with the beast. It is old and tired, barely bothering to stir from its lair. Its size is fantastic, and it must once have been mighty, but now it were as if it were afflicted by some dementia or failure of spirit. Nonetheless, to fight it even in its senescence is beyond the capacity of our forces on the island.
It is convinced that the Rift weakens it, and that it will die if it is not closed. Based on my research here I believe the opposite to be true – if we close the Rift the beast will inevitably fade. In its delirium and weakness it misses the truth.
I believe I can convince it to allow us to take a fragment of egg, on the promise of using it to close the Rift. I await your authorization.

The Wrathbreakers have destroyed the deep cult with a final battle in its lair, and uncovered some documents that can finally tell them what the deep cult was seeking. The first of these are the elven documents that were captured from Regalt’s daughter by deepfolk raiders. The wrathbreakers first stumbled on hints of this story in session 4, when they were attacked by Regald’s daughter’s animated corpse.

The elven documents

These are clearly copies of an original set of documents, with the copies laid out on dwarven stone paper with a few elven notes. They are mad scribbles, pictures and diagrams, transcribed as carefully as possible to reflect the original, with a short foreword by an elven scholar from Asboran called Inxult, who is known to have disappeared in the Middlemarch about 400 years ago. They are written as transcriptions of a dream message, but the message is garbled and confused. It has three distinct voices, and appears to have been dreamed over many nights.

Voice 1: A group of people who are desperate and need help

Voice 2: A group of people who are happy and comfortable, living easy and satisfying lives

Voice 3: A group of people consumed with rage and hatred, who seek revenge and destruction for a reason they do not clearly understand.


I had long suspected that there was a reason the elves lost their holdings in Leminog, and was never satisfied by the explanation that the land was abandoned because it was too hard to protect our holdings during the war between deepfolk and humans. In the annals of old scholars during a routine search I noticed that one scholar, Avelst, went missing in Leminog at around the time of the concession of Leminog, but in an addendum in a particular book I found reference to a tower that he had written letters from. Such an obscure link! But I thought there might be something to it, and so I visited here with a small team of human guards and porters. The local humans, a superstitious group, warned against visiting it, telling me it was haunted by an ancient elven ghost, but I refused to believe them. Foolish me! For it is haunted by an elven ghost, and when I found him, buried in his tree, I discovered that the spirit of Avelst himself was bound up in this tree. I bonded with his spirit but could learn little, except that he had dreams of despair and ruin, and finally flung himself from this tower to die in the garden. A tree grew around him but it is corrupt and evil, and I do not understand how his soul can be so trapped within it. I am no Astrologer and so I cannot say, but this whole place makes me uneasy, and I understand why the human locals avoid it. Perhaps this is why the elves abandoned this place? But Avelst was never himself buried, so perhaps he remained after the other elves left, and killed himself? There is much mystery here in this dank, unwelcoming forest – no wonder the elves abandoned this unyielding place.

In Avelst’s chambers I found his documents, a collection of hand-scrawled documents that present a fine testimony to the depth of his madness. It is some hundreds of years since he wrote them and even fine elvish paper has begun to decay, so I conducted a careful and painstaking documentation of them, which has taken me some months. I copied them as faithfully as I could, and then reorganized them into what I think is the correct temporal organization. They are written in the register of a report of a dream message, but have none of the clarity of a dream message, and seem to come from three different voices, which I label The Desperate, The Complacent, and The Vengeful. They are not directly linked temporally, with the story of the desperate coming in between that of the Complacent and the Vengeful, I think.

No doubt serious scholars would laugh at my findings, but I cannot help feel there is some historical fact buried in these crazed visions. I aim now to travel to the elven scholars in the southern Hadun borders, to present these documents to scholars there for further analysis. Unfortunately, the work of transcription has taken longer than expected, and I have business with family in Asboran that I cannot delay. I will return overland to Asboran for the winter, and when the spring storms pass I will take ship to Estona, and from there travel through the Middlemarch to the great forest. It is a long journey, and disrupted by timing and family affairs, but Avelst’s dreams have waited nearly half a millennium to be discovered, they can wait a year longer.


Inxult, this year 531 of the Human Calendar

Voice 1: The desperate

Images of a life of slavery and torture in a dusty, furnace-hot land where they are used brutally and mistreated constantly. They are used for labour, sometimes taken as food, sometimes used for medical experiments, sometimes forced into horrible union with evil beasts that create tortured children. No one ever escapes slavery except by death, and no one ever has any hope. Their captors are never seen clearly, but envisioned by the dreamer as creatures of shadow, flame and terror.

Eventually the slaves escape, there are visions of a ragged column fleeing across hot dusty plains, pursuit and eventually escape. They find themselves in cool dark and prepare to be permanently free. There is chanting, magic, many people busy in preparation, and then a scene of a great battle. Here the number 7 appears a lot: 7 treasures they need and stole, 7 great evil monsters that they have to fight, a single betrayal, a sense of something lost, then 7 flashes of light and a sense of failure. Here there is a picture of 7 stars, very clearly placed in the sky in a perfect depiction of the 7 Children of Rage.

Voice 2: The complacent

This is shorter, visions of people living happily in darkness and luxury, mining and digging and living peacefully with all. Sometimes they go out under the stars to enjoy the open air away from the sunshine. There is a sense of distant strangers who they know and are never troubled by, just happy days in darkness and starlight.

There is a vision of a horde of desperate, hungry, dirty, tired, almost naked people, bronze-skinned and alien, emerging unexpected in a great hall underground. A sense of them coming from nowhere, of upheaval and confusion. But peaceful exchange. They help the strangers.

Then there is suddenly a great battle, an explosion of magic, a wave of pain and chaos, and they are lost.

Voice 3: The vengeful

This is the shortest. There is a vision of a sudden explosion of darkness and rage, and suddenly a horde of people who are angry, and a strong sense of self-hatred and shame at who they were. There is rage at a group of bronze-skinned strangers, and terrible scenes of hunting them through the dark halls of their home, slaying them and killing them and eating them in paroxysms of brutal joy. There is also hatred of the ground above, realization that some of them are not the same, a vision of a line where the magic explosion ended, and missions aboveground to kill those who were not touched by it. There is constant rage, a desire for revenge, and a sense of a spiritually evil place they desire to ascend/descend to.

The Wrathbreakers have survived a deepfolk ambush and returned to the bay where they left their ship, only to find it scuttled and their crew missing or dead. A ship floating at anchor in the bay suggested that the deepfolk who pursued them had come by sea, and ambushed their own ship while they fought the Spider God. Answers could be found on that ship, and revenge.

They retreated from the shore to plan, but they had little time to prepare. It was midday, and if deepfolk were on the ship at anchor they would likely have taken at least some of the crew of the Wages of Sin captive – if the Wrathbreakers did not take the ship before evening at least some of their crew would be on the breakfast menu. The Wrathbreakers were injured and exhausted but they had no choice but to quickly prepare and spring an ambush of their own.

Blood and fog

They chose a simple strategy. Itzel used her magic to repair one of the damaged longboats from the Wages of Sin, where it lay rolling in the spume of low tide. The party took some time to rest, and after a few hours Bao Tap conjured a fog that slowly filled the bay and obscured their passage. He also attempted to summon a giant squid/crab monster to aid in their attack, but failed and instead only managed to draw a swarm of small squid/crab parasite creatures. This swarm crawled over the bow of the ship as the Wrathbreakers carefully climbed up a rope ladder to the stern. The rope ladder appeared to have been left hanging over the side by whoever was in possession of the ship, probably in expectation that the Wrathbreakers had been slain and the bay was safe.

On the ship itself the Wrathbreakers began their attack. They found two deepfolk standing around a warming brazier on the forecastle, confirming that the ship was under the control of a deepfolk raiding party. Bao Tap’s swarm grabbed these two and dragged them overboard to devour before they could raise the alarm, and as they did so Xu and Bao Tap began to set up an ambush at the top of the stairs to the deck. Ella crept cautiously into the sterncastle and Itzel dropped a rolling ball of lightning into the hold. The deepfolk came swarming up the stairs to attack the intruders and were cut down en masse as they emerged from belowdecks.

There were no serious fighters left on the ship, only a few Grigg archers and some goblin skirmishers, and the Wrathbreakers slaughtered them without mercy. In the belowdecks area they found a young human deepcultist who they kept alive, and within a couple of minutes the ship had been secured. In the hold they found the crew, chained together to locking pins inside large, empty cargo containers. The ship’s party of marines, three soldiers and a captain, had been hung from the walls and cut into parts for food; one, still alive, was obviously being harvested piece by piece. Calim healed him as best he could and they cut the others down for a proper burial. They freed the crew and gathered their story.

The Rake’s Progress

With the deepfolk dead and the crew freed the Wrathbreakers were able to learn what had happened. They found two of their own crew among the humans they freed, survivors of the attack on the Wages of Sin who had been brought on board to be interrogated and devoured. They learnt that the ship had been attacked in the night, the crew captured and the ship scuttled. They had quickly told the deepfolk where the party were going, and those who had not been eaten immediately had been locked in the hull with the crew of the larger ship.

The crew of the larger ship, the Rake’s Progress, told the Wrathbreakers that they had set off from Alpon 7 days ago, carrying a cargo of large boxes that had been brokered by a human who took ship with them. On the third day out, once far from their origin, they had been swarmed by deepfolk from belowdecks – the deepfolk had been hiding in the boxes. Easily defeated in the attack, the crew had been forced to watch as their four-person marine squad was tortured and eaten in front of them. They had then been warned that the same fate awaited them if they did not sail the ship as they were told. Thus they had brought the ship to this secluded bay, and been chained in the hold to await their fate as the deepfolk went about their business.

They turned their attention to the human deep cultist they had captured. He was young and scared and very confused, and eager to tell them his story and try to escape a horrible but just death. He had joined the cult a year ago and was still a new member, who did not even realize that the cult were working with deepfolk. He was not sure why he had joined, and upon interrogation the Wrathbreakers realized he was another person who had been brainwashed into joining the cult by the subtle rituals of deep magic. He had been taking a peripheral role in cult activities, learning vague platitudes about the brighter future they planned for the world, until a week before when the cult had suddenly sprung into action. The capture of the ship had been rushed: the cult leaders had disappeared and then returned with the cargo, and had pressed him into joining them even though he was new. It was only was they were at sea and the trap was sprung that he realized what he was involved in, and by then it was too late to escape. The Wrathbreakers learnt that this was definitely a rushed mission, suddenly and hastily organized by the deep cult in Alpon and rushed into action the moment the party had set off by ship for the Spider God.

They could not interrogate the deep cult cell’s leader to find out how the cult knew about the Wrathbreakers’ mission, their possession of the artifacts, or their destination, but upon reflection they realized that one person had helped them to find the location of the Spider God and provided them with the anti-fey poison that seemed to have no effect: Kyansei’s lover, Wei[1].

They pressed the crew into service, turned the ship around, and rushed back to Alpon for a reckoning.


They did not return directly to Alpon, but to a small town to its south. From there they traveled overland to Alpon, smuggled themselves into the city, and took lodging in a rundown hostelry far from the academic part of the city. Once they were ready they forced their captive cultist to let them into his lair, on the promise that he would survive their wrath, and launched their raid.

It was easy – the cult’s leader was dead in the great forest, they had the layout of the building, and they knew what Wei looked like. They caught her on her way out and bound and gagged and paralyzed her before she could kill herself or cast any spells. Finally they had a prisoner with some degree of seniority within the cult. Better still, they discovered that she had no magical power – she really was just an archaeologist, who had joined the cult out of desire and interest. A non-magical true believer! The perfect weak link.

Under interrogation Wei told them the story they had expected. She had been working in the academies in Alpon looking for hints of ancient secrets for the cult, when one of her friends told her about Kyansei’s mission to find the cause of the blight up north. Thinking this sounded like a signature of one of the artifacts, Wei took up the job of Kyansei’s research assistant. When she heard about Kyansei’s adventures and past she realized she might have a chance to learn a lot more than just the location of an artifact, so she slowed down the drip of information about the blight, insinuated herself into Kyansei’s bed, and started learning all she could about the Wrathbreakers. Their arrival in Alpon had been an unexpected but perfect opportunity. Kyansei was about to set off on her mission to the north, and once she was gone Wei would send a team of deepfolk to ambush her and destroy all knowledge of the blight. Then she would organize a team of cultists from Leminog to go and explore the area she had researched for Kyansei, hopefully to uncover an artifact. When she discovered the Wrathbreakers were off to kill a Spider God she saw a perfect opportunity to get the rest of the artifacts – go there, wait for them to either die in the battle or come out badly injured, kill them and steal the artifacts. To help this happen she used her position of trust to prepare a poison that would make a fey god stronger, and once the Wrathbreakers set off she organized the ambush. Unfortunately she had not expected them to go by sea, and had to rush her plans to ambush them, which meant the team she sent was under-powered compared to the team that they would have met if she had a chance to ambush them overland.

Wei’s plans had failed but her pride did not. She regaled the Wrathbreakers with angry speeches about how the world would be a better place once the deepfolk achieved their purpose – that once they had the artifacts they would build a better world, with her taking a central place of power in it. She was unrepentant, arrogant, and horrific. Knowing she had planned an ambush for Kyansei, Itzel used her magic to warn Kyansei to avoid the trap, and then they turned their attention to their captive.

Did they have any other use for her, and how were they going to kill her? Should they keep her alive until they were ready to raid the cult headquarters in Leminog? Should they hand her over to the city authorities? They now believed it was time to reveal the facts of the cult and its horrible plans to the human world, and begin sending warnings to all cities about the risk of a cult of deepfolk collaborators in their midst. But then what? Leminog to kill the cult or the far north to find the artifact Wei sought? Decisions needed to be made, and soon, before the cult moved on its mission to raid the site of the Blight and find the artifact. The final showdown was near, and although they did not know exactly what rode on their decision, they sensed that some great fate rested on it. In the dark skies above them the Seven Children of Rage circled slowly towards their alignment, and Wrathbreakers prepared for their fateful decision …

fn1: Tip for newbie GMs, if you want to hide a traitor in plain sight, describe them as the slightly lust-addled and largely objectified nerdy side-piece of a major NPC, make sure they’re a young woman, and be sure to throw in a few ribaldrous jokes about how her “mouth is always full” and “we don’t really talk too much, she’s too busy”. It works a charm, no one suspects she’s a secret spy for an evil death cult! They’ll even let her brew them a “poison” for their enemies which actually makes those enemies stronger, tell her partner all their plans on the assumption that the secret will be safe, and then spend half a session wondering how they got caught out!

Who is following the Wrathbreakers? They have successfully killed the Spider God and its loathsome Redcap ally, but before they could search its lair or even rest they were ambushed by a gang of orcs, who seemed to know that they were carrying artifacts, and demanded the Wrathbreakers relinquish them in exchange for a quick death.

Of course the Wrathbreakers resisted, and though they were tired and injured after the battle with the Spider God they had no choice but to enter battle again, fighting with fury against their new assailants. The single phalanx of orcs, accompanied by a single human cultist, were soon augmented with the arrival of a Troll and an Orc champion, who came surging out of the shadows behind the deep cultist to engage Xu and Bao Tap. Two squads of Grigg scouts, carefully hidden in the forest, fired volleys of arrows into the fray.

At the beginning of the battle Bao Tap summoned a Nature’s Champion, this time a giant slug that blocked the path from the heavy fighters to the wizards, and Itzel unleashed powerful bolts of fire on everyone in the attacking group. Ella moved into the forest to hide and attempted to pick off the heavier fighters. Unfortunately this time the battle did not go well for them. Already injured and tired, unable to immediately find and kill the Grigg scouts, and facing another orc who would not stop fighting even when it was so badly damaged that it should have been in its grave, the Wrathbreakers suffered heavily. They prevailed after a brutal final few minutes of hacking and crushing, but when it was done they collapsed, exhausted and broken. Xu could barely move, Calim’s magic was exhausted, and Ella was close to succumbing to the weight of her injuries. They had used all their healing potions, and had not even managed to capture the deep cult leader alive – Ella had been forced to shoot her in the eye before she could deploy some terrible final magic.

They guessed that somehow they had been followed, and there was a deepfolk force somewhere nearby that knew who they were. They decided not to linger to rest, and after a quick scouring of the Spider God’s home and the Redcap’s cave for magic items they fled the scene of their victory, limping and weary.

Disaster in the bay

The return to the bay should have taken them only a day, but they were injured and traveling now in the evening and night, cautiously for fear of deepfolk trackers, and they only arrived at the bay by midday of the following day. Worn thin by a night of sleep though they were, they still had the good sense to scout the beach before they ran to the shore to signal to their fellows on the Wages of Sin. It was well that they did, because as they approached the shore from the cover of the thick forest at the edge of the beach they saw a terrible sight. Their ship lay broken in the water some distance offshore, only the tip of bow and stern protruding from the water, the wrecked mast lolling in the ebb and flow of the quiet waves. A line of flotsam had washed up on the shore – crates, a broken ship’s boat, food containers that had smashed open on the rocks and were being picked over by wary seabirds – and among them lay the dead bodies of a few crew members, badly mauled by scavengers.

In the bay, some distance further out than the wreck of their ship, a larger ship stood at anchor. They could see no marks or signs on it that suggested it was out of the ordinary in any way, but its presence was obviously ill-omened. Now they knew how they had been followed – they guessed that the ship had been commandeered by deepfolk and brought here to destroy their means of escape. Finding no artifacts on the Wages of Sin, they guessed that the deepfolk in command of the intruder ship had landed a scouting party and sent it after the Wrathbreakers.

That ship held the secret of who was following them, how they knew about the artifacts, and how they knew that the PCs had come here. That ship was also their own easy way out of the forest. Walking would take them weeks, with no supplies or food, and they were beaten and exhausted.

Somehow, they were going to have to get on that ship, clear it out, and use it to escape here. If they were lucky, and acted quickly, perhaps their crew would still be alive, held in some larder below decks, or maybe the ship’s original crew were still there, pressed into managing the ship for their deepfolk captors. At least, if they took the ship the Wrathbreakers could answer pressing questions and gather supplies and food before they were forced to set off on foot – or Itzel could teleport back to Alpon to organize another vessel to come to this one.

In any case, they had no choice – they needed to act fast to save whatever human crew languished aboard the distant vessel, and to kill whoever had pressed it into the service of their evil schemes. They retreated to the cover of the forest to scheme one more battle …

The Wrathbreakers have been in Alpon, researching the history of humans and deepfolk and learning where to find the Spider God they made plans to kill when they first began adventuring together. With the help of Kyansei’s girlfriend Wei, Itzel brewed a poison that would weaken powerful fey creatures to make the battle easier. Bao Tap sought out the spider-slaves the Wrathbreakers had saved from a spider’s nest the previous year, and they eagerly agreed to join him in the battle against the Spider God. Xu made contact with the leader of a mercenary band called the Wild Meercats, and hired a small group of them to join the party as cannon-fodder. Once this was done they set off.

The Spider God was rumoured to have a nest inland from the remotest stretch of the bay north east of Alpon. It would take more than two weeks to travel there on foot, but only a few days to circle around the headland in the Wages of Sin and set down in the small inlet near the lair itself. From there they could hike inland for a day, and begin the slaughter. They took some time to load the ship and set off on the 9th of Harvest, ready to kill.

They made landfall at the inlet on the 12th of Harvest and early the next day set off inland, climbing first over a wasteland of dead and dying grasses and then walking into a sinister, shadowy mire of swamp and dying trees. They slogged through this all day, crawling through stinking dead mud, cold, clammy marshland and stalking through mist-wreathed stands of denuded trees until they reached a zone of death and fey magic. Here the trees were wrapped in spindles of web, the ground was covered in rotting leaves, and no bird sang. They were near.

They knew there would be many spiders in the region, and they wanted as few of them as possible to be interfering in the final battle, so they sent the team of Wild Meercats in a different direction, to approach from the flank. As they expected, some time after the Meercats had moved away from them they began to make noise, drawing attention to themselves. While the Meercats fought bitterly against the spiders and died one by one, the Wrathbreakers crept forward, ready to ambush the spider god.

They emerged from the mist and films of spider webs into a scene of rot and death. Before them lay the blasted, dead shore of a lake of stagnant, filthy water. Just a small distance into the stinking lake was a lone island, nothing more than a hummock emerging from the slime on which an ancient, lichen-crusted statue of some kind sunk beneath the weight of slime and dead leaves, menacing despite its crumbling, eroded anonymity. There amongst the dead trees surrounding the statue stood the Redcap King, as different from the Redcap they had previously killed as a lord is from a guttersweep. It was huge, wrapped in shadows, with fiery red eyes and a helm made of scarlet chitin that glowed in the gloom of the mist-shrouded clearing. It carried a halberd made of the fangs of giant spiders, dripping venom and menace. But it did not attack; instead it waved one mailed fist, the air around the Wrathbreakers shimmered, and spiders appeared from nowhere, teleporting around them to attack.

They fought them brutally, stabbing and hacking and pouring fire on them as the beasts teleported and blinked around them. As Xu and Bao Tap cut and hacked at the beasts Ella tried to hide and shoot at the Redcap itself, hoping to kill it before it could engage, but doing little damage. The Redcap was almost impossible to hide from, and was ready for her when she fired.

Soon enough the phase spiders were defeated, but now a wave of new spider beasts fell on them. Spiders the size of small dogs floated down from the cloud-shadowed sky on parachutes of silk, while waves of spiders the size of rats swarmed on them from the ground and larger, hound-sized spiders ran from the shadows of the denuded trees to spit acid at them. From behind this swarm shambled malnourished, envenomed human slaves, still shedding parasitic baby spiders that had been feeding inside their skin as the helpless enslaved humans rushed into battle. Only their eyes betrayed their lost humanity, showing first fear and then relief as they fell onto the Wrathbreakers’ weapons and were finally released from their misery.

Finally it was done, and the Wrathbreakers stood victorious on a shoreline covered in broken chitin, ichor and steaming pools of acid. Across from them on the small island the Redcap King screamed in rage – and the ancient statue began to move. With a cracking, creaking tremor the thing they had thought was an ancient icon of some time stirred from its slumber, extended its legs, and rose to tower above the Redcap King – the Spider God itself, a horrific arachnid monstrosity the size of a house, its legs splayed across the entire width of the island, huge fangs dripping venom beneath a battery of massive, inky black eyes, a thorax twitching with hairs the length and thickness of javelins.

It began the battle with those hairs, flinging a barrage of them at Itzel and Bao Tap where they stood on the shore. Itzel called forth her brick of missile warding, which projected a field of magical force that rendered those behind it completely immune to missile fire. It stopped the hail of javelin-sized hairs, but they destroyed it and the magical backlash injured both Itzel and Bao Tap. The Redcap King fired a bolt of fey energy across the clearing and Xu charged to engage it, as Ella fired her crossbow, tipped with Wei’s poison, at the Spider God.

The battle was ferocious. The Spider God summoned giant spiders to aid it, beasts the size of horses that scuttled out from the forest to attack Bao Tap but were engaged by the spider-slaves who had come with the Wrathbreakers. The Spider God captured Xu in a flung web and dragged him toward it to consume, but Bao Tap freed him and charged in to fight the Redcap King, which struck out viciously with its halberd. The Spider God fired salvoes of its javelin-sized hairs at Ella, knocking her unconscious, while Itzel tried to destroy it with acid, fire and light. Finally the Redcap King, injured, teleported from the island to a nearby stretch of web, where it conjured a strange white spider that began healing it. Itzel caught both of them in a vicious blast of fire that consumed them with such intensity that it almost destroyed the Redcap King’s magic items completely. The Spider God continued fighting, doing massive damage on Xu, who could not be healed because soon after Calim healed Ella from her near-fatal wound he miscast a spell and lost his powers. Finally, though, the damage piled up, the beast was weakened, and Ella shot it through one eye and straight into its brain, killing it. With a scream of rage and a final lash of fey energy the beast fell into the mud at the edge of the pond, vanquished.

They had killed a god.

They did not have much time to enjoy their victory, though. They paused briefly to rest, recover their breath, and drink healing potions, and were just beginning to relax when a group of four Orcs emerged from the shadows on the edge of the clearing. They were huge, heavily-muscled, scarred, their pale skin glimmering with threat in the half light, falchions drawn and ready. With them stood a thin, bald human man. Itzel took one look at them and fled in terror, her discipline finally broken.

“Tell us where the artifacts are,” the thin man hissed at them, “And you will have the relief of a fast death.”

They looked to one another, sighed, and prepared for another battle. Even god-slayers can win no rest in these darkling days …

The Wrathbreakers have explored a deserted deepfolk Observatory, and learnt disturbing things about the time when humans first emerged in the Archipelago from the diary of a deepfolk astronomer who died on the island. Now they must continue in their mission, first to Alpon and then to kill a spider god. They explored the remainder of the island a little, identified the collapsed tunnel leading from the observatory into the deepfolk caverns, and then set off for Alpon.

The city of scholars

Alpon is a city built in two stages around a pair of small rises. The first stage, called Dwarfhelm, was built 500 – 800 years ago when Alpon first formed, with much help from dwarves. It consists of wide, paved roads with sturdy apartment buildings set around inner courtyards, 3-4 stories high, made of bluestone and with wide, clear windows. The central two rises are topped by a fortress (called Dwarfhold) and Parliament House, which is actually built into the hill called Parliament Hill. Between these two rises is a small lake called Firstwell, which is fed by a stream from the south west that flows through Alpon to the river to its north, and also by an underground stream in the hill of Dwarfhold.

Dwarfhelm is surrounded by a low stone wall, suitable for defense, with four main gates leading out to the outer stage, called Newstead, which is a chaotic sprawl of wooden tenements, bluestone warehouses, parks and squares that forms the outer living quarters of most of the population.

Alpon is famous for its many large libraries and multiple small Academies, each connected to a library. It holds many historical texts dating back to the earliest times after the Harrowing, and scholars and scientists from all across the Archipelago come here in search of ancient secrets, genealogies and historical notes. The Wrathbreakers arrived in the City of Scholars after five days sailing along the eastern coast of Ariaka, and took a suite of rooms in a tavern near the scholarly section of Dwarfhelm called Stormsholm. Here they rested, arranged for an agent to introduce them to necessary libraries and academies, and prepared to explore the town. They were here on three separate purposes, which they hoped to explore over the following days:

  1. To investigate the ancient history of the Harrowing, in order to learn more about the connection between the ancient deepfolk, the Seven Children of Rage, the mysterious artifacts and why deepfolk and humans were at war
  2. Any information about the history of the deepfolk, that could help them to understand the secrets they were slowly trying to unravel, or any links to the deep cult
  3. The whereabouts of the Spider God, which they aimed to kill for no particularly good reason except that it was there, and horrid

The day after they arrived their agent took them to a library called the Academy Of Dust, a kind of college and reliquarium devoted to ancient history and archaeology. Here they learnt of a collection of works called the Dwarven Codex, a large collection of books and scrolls that had been gathered by the dwarves during the construction of Alpon. At that time there were many humans who still remembered clearly the days of wandering during the Harrowing, or who had heard stories from parents and grandparents of those days. Dwarven scholars, still learning to understand their newfound human charges, had attempted to record some of these oral histories in a long and detailed set of documents that came to be known as the Dwarven Codex. Unfortunately a deepfolk raid on Alpon in the early years of settlement had razed much of the town and the dwarven scholars had fled, taking much of the Codex with them. The ship carrying the Codex back to the Isles of Tesseran had been hit by a terrible storm and sank, taking some of the Codex with it and damaging other parts. The dwarves had attempted to reconstruct some parts from memory and the damaged text, but much of it had been lost, and only those parts that had been left behind in Alpon, and a few fragments later returned there by a rebellious dwarven scholar, remained of the collection. Nonetheless, it was one of the few documents that memorialized that time, and so the Wrathbreakers sought to meet the scholar who led this Academy of Dust, a man named Siu, and gain access to the documents.

An old friend

As they were moving around town they noticed they were being followed by someone, and set a trap for their pursuer. Ella, of course, was the one who sprung the trap, and she almost killed a scruffy boy who screamed in shock and scrabbled desperately to get away from her iron grip. The boy told them he had been sent by a “giant woman” to determine if they were truly “her old friends” and to confirm they weren’t “up to mischief”, and they realized he must have been hired to check on them by their old comrade Kyansei. Kyansei, the giant barbarian Wildling woman, had left them from Estona and traveled to Alpon to do research on the blight affecting her Wildling lands, and so of course they guessed she must still be here. Perhaps she had even learnt to read! So, they sent the boy back to Kyansei and organized a meeting.

The meeting took place at Alpon’s only Wildling restaurant, a collection of open tent pavilions in a park on the northern side of Dwarfhelm. They arrived as the sun set and were met by Kyansei herself, big and sleek but dressed for once in civilized, non-combatant clothes, accompanied by a small, thin and busty Ariakan girl wearing figure-hugging black clothes and spectacles. Kyansei greeted them all warmly with hugs and lifting-up and back-slapping and laughter, and then introduced them to “my girlfriend Wei” with a ribaldrous arse slap of the small girl. They greeted her in a more appropriate fashion and retired to the Wildling restaurant, which Wei excused herself from with vague excuses of an urgent task, and set about a repast of stone-grilled lamb, roasted bugs, horse’s blood and bear sashimi.

Over dinner Kyansei told them of the success of her research mission here. She had begun her research months ago and had proceeded through three different scholars:

  • Luo, who studied her reports of the blight affecting her land and concluded it was not natural; recommended an expert on dark magic
  • Jin, an expert on the history of dark magic, who said it did seem like it might be deep magic but was confused because the wildlands are not said to have deepfolk
  • Jing, an expert on ancient history, who contacted Kyansei on Jin’s recommendation and began studying records of first contact between humans and wildlings, and believes that there is evidence of an ancient and abandoned deepfolk complex in the area, based on some very dubious ancient poems

Kyansei told them that Wei had also helped her; Wei was a scholar “into books and all that”. When they asked her more about Wei’s interests, Kyansei was classically unforthcoming. She told them Wei studied something “about game theory and mathematics and the ancient history of Gon” in order to “find out how Gon ended up in such a mess”, but could not tell them more. She explained to them “She doesn’t talk much, her mouth is mostly full when she’s around me” and shared a few other ribaldries. When they told her they were investigating the location of the Spider god she offered them Wei’s help because “She’s really good at finding precious things in thick bush”. So, in the interest of everyone’s digestion they agreed to the offer of Wei’s help and moved on to other topics.

They told Kyansei a little of their mission but not all. They did not tell her about the deep cult of humans working with deepfolk, or their findings on the Observatory Isle, but did tell her that they were seeking seven artifacts that seemed of value to the deepfolk, and that they already had several. Kyansei told them that she was preparing a mission to her homeland to attack the ancient deepfolk caverns there, leaving in about two weeks, and suggested they join her – if they were busy killing a spider god they could catch up with her at Rokun, where she planned to stop (possibly for the whole winter).

The wrathbreakers, thinking that her finding of deepfolk caverns under blighted land hinted strongly at one of the lost 7 artifacts, said they might join her. They all got very drunk, and headed home.


The next day they visited the Academy of Dust, and Siu gave them access to the archives. They secured help from Jing, the scholar who had helped Kyansei, and Kyansei’s shy girlfriend Wei, and began their research. After 10 days their research was complete and they emerged from the academy with the knowledge they needed: the location of the Spider God, and with Wei’s help a recipe for a substance that would be poison to its fey constitution. They also had learnt some of the secrets of human history, which they would organize and compare when their most pressing task was done: It was time to kill a god.

The Wrathbreakers have completed their work in the Outriders, killing the gangster Krotos and all his allies and recovering the Eye of the Dead God. Now that their business here was done, it was time for them to return to their investigations. First, they wanted to find the Observatory alluded to in The Gull’s notes, before they traveled to Alpon.

Searching the Wild Cape

They rested in the Bones for a week while minor repairs were done on their ship The Wages of Sin, and then set off for the Cape of Darepo, where the Observatory was rumoured to be built. They sailed across smooth, shining seas to the Cape, which separates the main island of Hadun from the jungle tracts of the Archipelago of Kadora, and also separates the Igano sea from the Sahakan Ocean. Although their journey to the cape was relatively calm, the line of small islands where Igano and Sahakan met was infamous for its storms and mercurial weather, so they decided to begin their exploration on the Sahakan side, hoping to find the Observatory without having to cross the line where the seas met.

The Cape of Darepo is at the very south-westernmost tip of the island of Hadun and although nominally part of the country of Ariaka, it has strong separatist and independent streak, and is renowned for both its poverty and its pirates. The Wrathbreakers decided that they needed to be careful investigating the small ports of the area, lest they draw criminal attention to themselves, and decided to conduct their search using a mixture of scouting – sailing the seas investigating small islands – and charm – visiting small towns and dispensing alcohol and coin liberally as they asked about lost towers. At first their strategy was successful, with the discovery of a hidden (or abandoned) pirate cache on a small deserted island. However the next three days were spent fruitlessly questioning ignorant villagers in small, poor towns on the barren, windswept coast. Eventually they hit on a rumour of islands on the inner curve of the bay, and crossed over the storm line into the shelter of its leeward side to continue searching.

Poor weather here hindered their search so they put into a small pirate town, and here they learnt from a local “fisherman” of an island in the middle of the bay which was said to be haunted. Strange lights shone from it on clear nights, and it was rumoured to be haunted by the bodies of dead sailors who had been stranded there. Since the Wrathbreakers associated the walking dead only with deepfolk, they decided to investigate, and soon found themselves floating offshore of a small, heavily-forested island with a crumbling tower in the centre.

The Deepfolk Observatory

As soon as they set foot on the gravel beach of the island they were attacked by zombies, animated corpses which shambled out of the forests and attempted to flail at them with crumbling, skeletal fists. These creatures were so old that they were barely recognizable as corpses, just parchment-thin skin stretched over crumbling bones. A single blow from any of the Wrathbreakers’ weapons put paid to a brace of the pallid, dusty creatures, but they continued to attack until the Wrathbreakers counted more than a dozen shattered bodies on the shore. Finally the wave of dessicated corpses ceased, and they could venture inland.

The tower was a narrow, round building of five stories, perhaps 30m in diameter, with small windows on all levels of the building and a domed roof. It was built on a small rise in the middle of the small island, and thick forest marched up to the walls of the tower, which were covered in ivy. They could see, however, that some of the windows on the higher levels had lights inside them.

While Xu and Bao Tap worked on freeing plant growth from around the ground floor entrance and Ella kept watch for more zombies, Itzel levitated to the second floor and began looking in through windows. She found a series of empty rooms, each with a single bed and a small desk, in many cases long-since decayed to almost nothing. In some rooms there was still a magical light, similar to the marshstone lights the Wrathbreakers had encountered in the Peninsula of Moran Kei.

Itzel entered through an open window of one of these rooms as the rest of the group broke through the door of the first floor. They explored the rooms simultaneously, determining that the first floor held long-since abandoned dining rooms, kitchens and a gallery that would once have held views over the bay, while the second floor held only sleeping chambers. They also discovered that the centre of the first floor was a hollow shaft that descended into a basement chamber. They opted to explore up rather than down and, after gathering in the 2nd floor, headed up to the third. Here they found an ancient library full f crumbling books, and a laboratory with many well-made glass objects. Between the two rooms was a round, windowless chamber which they could seal shut, and with some care and a little magic they were able to bring one of the crumbling tomes from the library into this room and open it long enough to identify that the books were written in deepfolk script.

They continued upward to the 4th floor, where they found a gallery with views over the bay and two residential suites. One was empty but the other was sealed shut. They slipped quickly into this room, trying to avoid introducing new air, and Bao Tap used his magic to establish a seal around the door. In this room they found a deepfolk body lying on a crumbling bed, its features dessicated with age in the dry air of the room. On the table near the bed they found a journal and a beautiful quill pen which radiated with its own light when picked up. Itzel and Bao Tap identified that the magic in the quill, the lights on the walls, and some objects in the laboratory was all fey magic, not deep magic.

The diary was open at a final entry, which they read where it sat open on the desk. It read as follows:

Day 39, 7129

There is no point in continuing. The food is exhausted, as am I, exhausted and alone. My fellow scientists and all the people who worked here are gone, something terrible has happened in the caverns of our homeland, and there is no hope now that I can return to them. We have done all we can to find a way to survive here, but without communication from below we have no food and no way to know what catastrophe has caused this terrible isolation. I have a last draught of a sleeping drug. I will take it, and see no more lonely frozen mornings on this outpost.

I fear no one will ever read this, the last entry of the southern Observatory, but I hope that if you do you will find the answers I could not, and save my people from whatever horrors have befallen them.

Farewell from Velor, chief scientist and last survivor of the Southern Observatory.

They could not read the rest of the journal until they had secured the building, so they climbed the last stairs to the fifth floor, where they found a decaying, long-abandoned observatory. In the centre of the observatory was a partially broken telescope, of unusual design and obviously of beautiful style and workmanship. The observatory also glowed with a dim red light from more of the strange fey stones set in the wall. The room was filled with delicate constructions of glass and small objects carefully crafted in testimony to minds committed to beauty and science.

Everything in this observatory, made by deepfolk, spoke of a culture with no connection to the deepfolk that the Wrathbreakers had ever met. They needed to know more. So, they picked up Velor’s journal, carried it to the windowless room in the third floor, established a sealed room safe for opening ancient books, and devoured its contents in a single sitting.

What had happened to the deepfolk – who were they, what had they become? And had humans been the cause?

Image credit: the first picture is from the DeviantArt page of Juhani Jokinen.

The Wrathbreakers have visited the Lambent Cays and met the Gull, from whom they received some further clues about the secret activities of the Deep Cult. They had considered traveling from Pearl Reach to Jasper at the Southernmost tip of the Lambent Cays, but something happened to change their plans. Itzel had placed a folded letter in the crate that contained the Eye of the Dead God, which they had left back at the Bones under Krotos’s care. This letter was written with the magical ink the party had obtained in Estona, intended to find the Rock Spider’s hidden base. This ink would immediately alert her to the opening of the letter, and tell her the location at which the letter had been opened. By sliding the letter into the gap between the crate and its lid Itzel had set it to open if anyone opened the crate itself, immediately alerting her that someone had interfered with their artifact. On the 26th of Raining, just as they were exploring the labyrinth beneath the Pearl Monastery, Itzel received an alert that the crate had been opened – someone on the Bones had interfered with their artifact. The next morning they set off for the Bones.

Raiding Krotos’s Lair

They arrived at the Bones three days later, Bao Tap exerting his maximum magical power to push the Stirge as fast as possible. With them came Leneus and his crew, with Leneus primed to help them infiltrate Krotos’s lair. Leneus, of course, did not know that they planned to kill him – and probably his crew – as soon as the deed was done, and happily helped them to develop a plan to infiltrate the lair.

They came by two methods, with Itzel and Ella creeping in through a smuggling tunnel while Xu and Bao Tap used Leneus’s help to come through the main door. Here Xu and Bao Tap were able to easily kill the guards, since they were not expecting trouble from Leneus, and secured the entrance while Itzel and Ella moved further into the building. They found some keys in a cabinet, and used them to lock doors to prevent guards from moving freely to the battle zone. Most of the guards died in the sleeping area, burnt alive in their beds by Itzel, but they locked the entrances to make sure any survivors could not stumble through to help Krotos. Then they moved to the command section of the lair, and ambushed Krotos and his lieutenant in a training room in the depths of the lair.

The outsider

The fight did not start well. Although they had the advantage of surprise, Krotos and his gang were quick-witted and resourceful. Krotos was able to fire a shot from his bow before the Wrathbreakers could close distance, and they were not able to properly contain the single squad of bandits in the room, who were able to fire off more shots before they could be engaged. Someone noticed that there was a woman lurking behind their crate, which was on the far side of the room with the lid off, but at first no one paid her any mind, busy as they were with Krotos. Krotos fought like a dervish, rushing straight to engage Xu and attacking him with a greatsword that sang of magic. Every blow from that sword was like a strike by Anyara’s golem, and Xu was immediately pressed. Krotos also shrugged off damage from missile weapons and melee strikes, so that Ella’s normally pinpoint strikes did little damage, and he was able to beat Xu back with destructive swings of that sword. Meanwhile his lieutenant engaged Bao Tap and his gang of thugs sniped from the back of the training room.

After a short time the woman behind the crate stood up and reached into the crate, touching the eye and whispering strange words. Itzel felt the sudden swell of the strange magic that imbued the scrolls they had found in Anyara’s room – magic none of them recognized – and the crate began to give off a sickly glow. Ella fired her crossbow at the woman, hitting her with a powerful and crushing blow to the hip, but the blow was so terrible that blood spurted into the crate and the woman sagged forward, immobilized, leaning over the Eye of the Dead God. Itzel tried to levitate her but for some reason her magic failed. Meanwhile Xu and Bao Tap were trapped in battle with the indomitable Krotos and his loyal deputy, and could not rush to separate the woman from whatever ritual she was performing. After another brief and intense attempt to stop her, the woman cut her wrist and raised her voice in song, dripping blood on the eye. The wall behind her – a wall made of the ancient Bones of the behemoth that the lair had been carved into – began to warp and twist, shimmering before their eyes and radiating intense waves of the strange, alien magic.

Then the wall split open, revealing a kind of window into another world. The window was misty and clouded, but in the distance they could see a wide landscape of cracked, parched desert, marked with the dark lines of canyons or dry creek beds, shadowed with dust storms and punctuated with columns of smoke rising from what looked like giant funeral pyres. A heavy sky of thick grey clouds loomed low over this landscape, flickering with the lurid light of blood-red lightning flashing and writhing in the clouds. They heard the distant sound of voices raised alternately in wails of agony and chorals of exaltation, and a horrible smell of rotting bodies, blood and smoke overwhelmed them.

Then a huge beast reached through the rent in the wall, tore it opened, and stepped through. The beast was over four metres tall, humanoid with dark leathery skin and huge, bat-like wings sprouting from a spined back. Its head was half-human and half-lizard, festooned with goats horns and open in a scream of rage. In one taloned hand it held a long, coiled whip of fire and in the other a massive sword. As it stepped through the gap behind it snapped shut, returning to the blank line of wall, and the woman died in ecstasy.

They quailed before it. It turned to Xu and in the human language roared, “Come back to me, slave!” He was overwhelmed with a numbing tide of exhaustion and nearly collapsed, but somehow resist the beast’s will to dominate. Bao Tap attempted to call forth a giant beast of nature to fight it, but failed. Itzel fired a bolt of pure brilliant light at it, and did some damage, which simply incensed it – it struck her with its whip. Xu had finally killed Krotos, but had to take a moment to drinking a healing potion and recover his breath. Bao Tap called forth an earthquake, which rendered the ground beneath the demon so unstable that it fell over, caught its sword in a crack in the earth and could not remove it. Then a wave of fear rolled out from it, and Bao Tap panicked and ran[2]. His earthquake had done its job, however – the rest of the Wrathbreakers stood back and poured missiles and spells into the body of the creature until, with a final scream of rage, it died. At the moment of its death it crumbled to dust and in a cacophony of screams and cries and a rolling cloud of stinking mist its body disappeared.

They stood victorious – but over what? What had been unleashed by the Eye of the Dead God, how had it taught Krotos’s Astrologer the power to do so, and what realm had they just seen? What was this Outsider? And what forces moved outside their world, clawing at the fabric of reality? Why did the Deep Cult want this magic? Dark forces were moving in the world, hurtling towards a confrontation as the stars moved peacefully in the sky towards some dark alignment. The Wrathbreakers needed to discover the secrets of the deepfolk’s past, the stars and the artifacts the Deep Cult sought, before the walls between the worlds were torn asunder and the Archipelago became the hunting ground of more of these beasts.

They needed to head to Dalepo, and find the ancient Deepfolk observatory. Perhaps there they would find answers…

Technical notes on the lair raid

Because my PCs are now extremely powerful, minor battles with minions and low-tier rivals have basically a pre-determined outcome, and are of little purpose except to deliver a minor critical and a few points of strain to one or two of the characters [1]. These parts of adventures have become a bit of a drag, actually, and mean we spend an hour rolling dice when we all know what is going to happen at the end. So instead I gave the players a choice of two rolls to determine how they got into the lair and disabled, distracted or enlisted the minions and lower level rivals of the lair. They could choose melee, deception, charm, stealth or coercion, and each option would have a (secret) hidden difficulty, with (secret) payoffs and risks, and the level of success determining how many minion squads they eliminated. Then we made a kind of shared story about how they got to the final battle, and only actually handled the final battle round by round. Because the PCs had enlisted Leneus’s help they guessed that the deception skill check would be easiest, so they went with deception and stealth. They actually didn’t roll so well, which meant that when they go to the final battle they got the chance at surprise (vigilance checks for initiative) but no free round of attacks (had they failed both rolls they would have been met with an absolutely withering hail of missile fire when they entered the location of the final battle).

For other GMs who are struggling to balance the nitty gritty of Genesys combat with time and fun for high-powered characters, I recommend playing around with this method (and/or mixing it with progress trackers) to build stories from these raids. I actually thought of trying to do it Blades in the Dark style (like a series of flashbacks) but I haven’t actually GM’d BitD yet, and don’t want to risk an entirely new system mixing in for even one session.

Also for this adventure I used a space station map for the lair, which is a network of tunnels in the docks section of the Bones, so mostly underwater. That was a little jarring for the players but they are used to my inability to do anything artistic and rolled with it nicely – one player annotated the map live on roll20, while everyone else chuckled amiably. I really wish I could do art.

A note on criticals, strain and monster abilities

There are some effects and criticals which prevent monsters from using their free manoeuvre, or immobilize them (meaning they can’t use manoeuvres), or prevent them from voluntarily incurring strain to activate abilities. These criticals absolutely wreck powerful adversaries, because they stop them using the full suite of abilities at their disposal. The beast, on the ground and unable to move (according to the rules) could not use manoeuvres, so could not summon allies or teleport. In the past I have had enemy wizards take criticals that prevent them taking strain to activate abilities – this kills wizards, basically[3]. So when designing powerful enemies I recommend you give them a free action that can do something, a powerful ability that does not require strain, and a powerful ability that does not require a manoeuvre. That way they only become completely useless if they are staggered, immobilized <em>and</em> unable to take strain, and should still at least have one free action they can use for something.

Also I backed myself into a corner here by giving the adversaries a type of magic which cannot heal, so they can’t cure any of these crits and neither can their friends. Sucks to be evil!

fn1: This would not be the case were we playing Coriolis, which has much simpler rules for minions, has fast and furious fights, and is always deadly. Were we playing Coriolis even players who had gained XP continuously for 48 sessions would still be cautious of minions.

fn2: I always forget to do the fear first. This battle would have been a disaster if I had remembered to do fear as soon as the thing arrived. But I try not to take back my mistakes.

fn3: This also happened to Itzel once but she’s an elf so she deserved it

The Wrathbreakers have encountered parasites on the open seas on the western edge of the Archipelago, and also some monsters. Having killed the monsters, they decided to also kill the bandits who they are working with, but first they must travel to the Lambent Cays to meet the Gull, and find out what this mysterious dwarf knew about the Ashentide and the activities of deepfolk in the southern Spine Mountains. Can they hold their wrath under control until their work in the Lambent Cays is done?

A serendipitous offer

With 12 crew from the Stirge, two survivors from the Wages of Sin and the four Wrathbreakers themselves, captain Leneus realized that he could scratch together enough crew to sail both ships to the Lambent Cays provided the weather remained fine and he could put Bao Tap on one of the ships and himself on the other. He called the Wrathbreakers to his cabin and put this suggestion to them, followed by another, grimmer idea: if they would stick with him back to the Bones after their task in Lambent Cays was complete, he proposed that they help him destroy his boss Krotos and take over Krotos’s criminal enterprise. In exchange he offered to let them keep the Wages of Sin. “I’ll throw in a crew to get you as far as Hadun, and you can even keep the boy,” he added, “Provided you return him relatively intact when his family have paid their debts. Don’t worry, you’ll be bored of him by the time they do, it’ll be no skin off your back.”

Given that the Wrathbreakers had already agreed quietly together that they would murder Krotos and break up his criminal enterprise when they returned to the Bones, and had been planning to murder Leneus on their way to the Lambent Cays as the first instalment of their plan, his suggestion seemed ideal. He and his little crew of flotsam could help them to surprise Krotos and kill him, and hopefully during the battle a few of them would be killed by Krotos’s men. Then they just needed to clean up Leneus with the same treacherous moves he had shown himself willing to deploy on his own boss. For once, they really did have an effective plan! They agreed to his scheme, and the following morning Bao Tap and Ella joined seven crew on the Wages of Sin, to help sail it to the Cays.

Pearl Reach

The Lambent Cays are a string of small islands to the west west north of the Bones, which are situated on a wide shelf that forms a shallow sea surrounded by deeper ocean. The islands are all between 10 and 30km apart from each other in a chain, and each island is about 1-5km across. Most of them are uninhabited, but five of have small monasteries on them.

The islands are surrounded by sprawling coral reefs, which can extend up to several kilometres offshore and which glow during the night with phosphorescent light. This means that the islands are only approached at night, because the gaps between the reefs are clearly visible as pathways of shadow between the phosphorescent light of the reefs. The coral glows with a different colour depending on the position of the island in the chain. The waters of the northernmost islands glow a rich, dark bluish-purple, while the seas around the southernmost islands are flooded with a vivid red.

The five inhabited islands are called:

  • Indigo Haven
  • Cerulean Gardens
  • Pearl Reach
  • Amber Inlet
  • Jasper

The Gull lived in the central island, Pearl Reach. The reefs around Pearl Reach extend several kms from the island itself, and are a brilliant flickering mixture of silver white and green. The channel to the harbour is an arc of darkness that spirals through this cloud of light, twice circling the island before finally opening to a small bay on its eastern side.

The island itself has a small port inside this natural bay, surrounded by cliffs. There is a small town here, called Pearl, which is a little back from the sea by the side of a small stream. Boats anchor in the bay and ferry in passengers and goods in small ship’s boats. The bay is lined with a smooth, clean beach of white sand. The town has a population of about 200, all support workers for the monastery.

The rest of the island is formed from the slope of the hill that hulks around the bay. The hill is about 100m high at the top of the cliffs overlooking the bay, but then sweeps back up to about 500m high, an old volcanic peak. It then reaches in a smooth slope down to the sea, falling over a distance of about 4km. The rear half of the island has two other small towns, of 200-300 people each, which support rice farms, sheep herding and fishing. The Wrathbreakers did not see these settlements as they sailed into the island, because they had to circle the island at night, sailing carefully through the wide, dark channel that cut between the reefs in a steady spiral towards the bay, Bao Tap and Leneus concentrating on the wind to ensure the ship stayed steady, the sailors rowing carefully and concentrating on the steering. All about them the sea glowed a deep, rich mixture of whites and greens so that they felt they were sailing through star-glowing clouds rather than water.

Finally they reached the bay, and the crew visibly relaxed as they broke free of the channel between the reefs, leaving the silvery water behind them and sailing into the secluded, lapping shallows in front of the town. Ahead of them they could hear the gentle susurration of waves on the beach, and see a line of lights where the town sat a little back from the shore.

The Gull’s Secrets

They found a hostel near the shore and collapsed into the first decent sleep in 10 days, freed of sailing responsibilities, the noise of the bandit crew fussing on deck, or the constant unsettling swaying of the ship. In the morning they headed up the cliff face to the monastery, to find the Gull.

The monastery, they learned, is a complex of caves set into the top of the cliff, with visitors rooms, chapels, galleries and accommodation in the airy, open network of rooms with windows overlooking the sea and laboratories, libraries and workshops buried in the depths of the mountain. Somewhere above this, slightly inland and higher up the hillside beyond the cliffs, they were told there was an ancient forest called the Sacred Grove, which acted as a kind of seed bank and repository of all the ancient herbal and natural resources the dwarves used in their seasteads. Although the origin of the dwarves was a secret kept from humans (or perhaps a mystery to even the dwarves themselves) one rumour held that they had sailed to the Archipelago from the west, beyond the maps, and the Lambent Cays had been their first stopping point. Here, before they spread out to settle seasteads all across the western and southern oceans, millenia before they formed their first settlements on the Isle of Teseran, they laid in a stock of their most precious magical and medical plants, and left a devoted priesthood to husband the grove in perpetuity. Now thousands of years old, the grove was a seedstock for the entire dwarven realm. If a seastead on the Sahakan Ocean suffered some catastrophe and lost some of its most precious herbals, it could send word to Pearl Reach. The guardians of the Grove would procure a cutting, bulb, spore or seed or shoot from the Grove and send it with all due care to the supplicant, restoring their ability to grow all the most important things they needed. It was also said that these guardians regularly harvested the magical and medicinal plants of the grove and worked to make potions and potent magic items which would be distributed to seasteads and ship’s captains as they were needed. Particularly on the Sahakan and Dorato Oceans, these magical items and the full range of apothecary goods and trinkets were essential for dwarven stormcallers to protect their seasteads from storms, leviathans, pirates and all the mysteries of the ancient seas.

And, upon retiring from adventuring, the Gull had joined the guardians, to spend the rest of her days in quiet gardening and arcanery.

They met her in a pleasantly furnished and comfortable viewing gallery with fine views over the bay and the flickering reefs, and she led them to her personal study. This was a smaller, cozy room with a balcony protruding from the cliff face, notes scattered around, some plant cuttings on a bench and pencil sketches on the walls. They sat down to talk in comfortable chairs around a coffee table, taking coffee and sweets. She was a lean woman tending to middle age, with scars of dark magic on her neck and cheek and a calm, detached manner. They told her about the deaths of her fellow Ashentide members Gerald and Verbere, and a little about how they had helped Siladan in Estona.

In return she told them again the story of the final adventure of the Ashentide, of how they had to abandon Ash’s body and did not know if she had been brought back as undead by the deepfolk. She remembered that they had stumbled on a small squad of deepfolk carrying the box of elven documents, and they had fought hard to defend them. She remembered that after they retreated from the deepfolk camp they had checked the documents but it had all been gibberish to her. Many of the pages, she recalled, looked like the diary of a madman, with strangely chaotic writing in many different sizes and styles, lists and diagrams and doodles that made no sense. She tried copying them but could not easily capture the sense of the writing, and gave up quickly. After that the group retreated to Estona and broke up there. When they parted they left the documents with Siladan, who seemed most interested in them.

The Gull told them she still had a box of mementoes from her time with the Ashentide, and they were welcome to take the afternoon to go through it while she worked. They searched the box and found little of interest, but between two sheets of paper with attempted sketches of the elven documents they found a note, written in deepfolk. The sketches had stuck together with damp or some light glue, perhaps an accident of the work environment at the time, and the Gull guessed the note had been between them. Looking at it now, many years later, she guessed it had been amongst the elven documents, and had fallen amongst her sketches at some point. She could not read it, of course, but the Wrathbreakers could. It read as follows.


These notes are old, and make no sense. You curse me with their interpretation. This language is filthy when spoken by the sane from amongst the Tree Scum, but this is madness, one crazy man’s notes on his dreams.

They raise a question for me though. You say these writings are old. The mad fool who penned this dross implies that the Seven Children of Rage did not exist until the beasts who walk beneath the sun (may they all be reaved from this land) arrived.

We cannot know. But I have heard rumours of an ancient observatory from before The Awakening, somewhere in the region the beasts call Darepo (may the seas around that peninsula swallow them whole). Of course it is lost to us. If its records survive, they will have the truth of it.

Bid me not journey there, I would never again walk under the sun. There must once have been a road there under the earth, but it is lost to memory.

Who would journey all that way for simple rumours? Unlike you, I care not for the stars we abandoned, but only for the beauty of the still darkness beneath the earth, and the consolations of rage.


So, the Wrathbreakers surmised, the deepfolk had once long ago had an observatory on the Cape of Darepo, and had abandoned it at about the time that humans arrived on earth – which is what they suspected The Awakening referred to. Why would people who live under the ground have an observatory? Simple curiosity? Furthermore, the Seven Children of Rage was a reference to the seven stars that must align soon, at which point the Deep Cult’s secret goals might be realized. Yet this letter – taken from amongst the elven documents – suggested that these stars had not existed before humans arrived. How was this possible? And how could this information be in elven documents, which were apparently the raging of a madman? What mad elf had written these documents and how had they been lost to the elves and recovered by deepfolk?

The Wrathbreakers would find out. They planned to return to the island of Hadun through Alpon, and to get there they had to pass through the Cape of Darepo. They would find this observatory and loot its ancient books, learn why the Deepfolk had an observatory there and why they had abandoned it, and uncover whatever secrets it held – no matter what the cost.

But first they had to slaughter Krotos the dwarven gangster, break up his evil gang, and take back the Eye of a Dead God, which currently slept in the darkness of a cellar in the millenium-aged bones of an ancient leviathan. They bid the Gull good day, and turned their faces to the sea…