DnD: The Dark Mage

As three members of our Laundry RPG campaign were unable to attend today’s session, the two remaining players decided on a one-shot Dungeons and Dragons session.

The Holy City of Honour was a city where dozens of peoples from dozens of faiths come to visit. It grew to be its own city state. A thick wall protected it from the outbreak of wild magic that had ravaged the lands to its south. The Tempest Bay protected it from the north. Ships from all over the realm arrive in Honour through the sea gates of the bay.

To the south-west of the city in a forest along the beach was a small cottage. The occupants of the cottage were the human paladin Jyn and the elf ranger Jolle. They explored the wild magic infested lands and defended the weak from dangers that roamed outside the city walls.

The Dark Mage

The Dark Mage

Dramatis Personae

  • Jyn, Human Paladin (Farah)
  • Jolle, Elf ranger (Yuzi)

Chapter 1

The Bearer of Tidings

It has been a week since Jolle and Jyn – known to most as The Doublejays – returned from their last adventure.

They were enjoying a quiet afternoon at their cottage in the Western Woods overlooking the sea when Jolle suddenly froze. The elf’s keen ears heard something coming through the woods. While Jyn waited in ambush near their cottage, Jolle leapt up to the high branch of one of the tall greatwood trees that made up most of the Western Woods.

She then hopped nimbly from branch to branch towards the sound that she heard. She (successfully rolled a Stealth check and) discovered three riders slowly trotting under the tree on the path to their cottage. They wore garments of ornate white and gold embroidery. Each man had a longsword on his side. One of the men carried with him a finely-carved wooden box.

Jolle (successfully rolled her Acrobatics and) branch-hopped back to Jyn. The elf described what she saw. Jyn hid in the bushes with her longsword drawn while Jolle leapt back onto a branch. The ranger prepared an arrow on her longbow.

After several minutes the riders arrived. They looked around, searching. The lead rider yelled, “Lady Jyn!”

Jyn realised that these were familiar faces. She signalled Jolle to stand down. The paladin revealed herself and announced, “I am here.”

The leader told Jyn grimly, “Lady Jyn, we have some bad news. Your sister Jyl has been captured by the dark mage Jan Sunreaver.”

Jyl was the eldest of their siblings, and Jyn considered Jyl her closest sister. Jyl travelled the realm and was a merchant of rare magical stones. What would this Jan Sunreaver want with Jyl, wondered Jyn.

The rider continued, “Lady Jyl, we believe, has been taken to her lair at the abandoned city of Diamond Beach.”

Jolle asked, “What’s in the box?”

The rider with the box opened the wooden box. Within is a map and a dagger. Strange runes had been carved into its black blade. Precious jewels were inlaid into its hilt and guard. The rider told them that the black dagger’s steel had the ability to negate any magic.

Jyn nodded to her elf friend and told the riders, “We’ll do it.”

Before the riders left, Jolle grinned and asked the last rider, “Can we borrow your horses?”

The rider at the back replied with a incredulous look, “No!”

Jyn and Jolle

Jyn and Jolle

Chapter 2

A Night Ambush

The Doublejays set out almost immediately on foot. They headed south-east through the Western Woods towards Diamond Beach. Abandoned over three hundred years ago, Diamond Beach was a city of knowledge until there was an explosion of uncontrollable wild magic which killed dozens of its inhabitants before everyone was safely evacuated.

No one returned there since, except for the odd treasure hunter or brigand, but most do not come back from Diamond Beach alive.

The duo had left the woods behind them and were travelling across the Indomitable Plains. The sun had dropped beneath the horizon. They decided to set up camp for the night. After dinner, Jyn took first watch while Jolle slept.

(Jyn failed her Passive Perception check.)

An hour before midnight, a muscular, hulking form of a half-ogre lumbered out of the dark. Catching Jyn off-guard, the half-ogre’s thick javelin lanced out and struck the paladin on the shoulder. Her shoulder armour deflected the strike some, but she felt blood streaming down the gash there. She yelled, “Jolle! Wake up!”

Jolle was on her feet, drawing her longbow. But half-ogre succeeded in putting his javelin through Jyn’s left side. It missed major organs and arteries, but the paladin fell down, dying. (I rolled a Critical Success. The double javelin damage left Jyn with only 1 hit points. Another injury might kill her.)

As a paladin, Jyn was able to turn her longsword into a sacred weapon and injure the half-ogre, but not enough to incapacitate him. That was when an arrow from Jolle’s longbow struck him on his right shoulder blade. The half-ogre pulled the javelin from Jyn and flung it at the elf behind him. Jolle twisted out of the way of the weapon.

Twice a quarter-ogre

Twice a quarter-ogre

The half-ogre drew a greataxe from his back and was about to eviscerate Jyn when Jyn drew on her paladin powers and imbue her trusty longsword with Divine Smite. The blade which was already glowing blue after being turned into a sacred weapon suddenly flared into a bright fiery sword. She swung her blade.

There was a burst of flickering light, smoke, ashes and sparks. The half-ogre bellowed in agony, holding his own eviscerated belly. He immediately backed off and retreated into the darkness.

Jolle sprinted to help the dying Jyn, but Jyn was prepared. She drew upon her paladin training to Lay on Hands upon herself. Her body glowed as holy magic flowed through her body. (She dumped her entire Lay on Hands pool of 15 points back into her hit points, raising it to 16 hit points.) After a minute of agony as her body stitched itself together, she was no longer injured.

Jolle wryly said, “I should have taken the first watch.”

No other incidents occurred for the rest of the night.

Chapter 3

The Merchant in Need… of a New Horse

The next day the duo reached the Silverwind Desert. It was a large expanse of land of hard rocky plateau of white and yellow. Only the hardiest plants grow where soil collected in the desert.

“Help me!” a distant voice called out. Jyn and Jolle looked at each other and crept towards the panicking voice. It was a man, struggling waist deep in quicksand. Jolle noticed (from a successful +5 Perception check) that it appeared that the man’s mount had bucked on the far side of the quicksand pit and thrown him into it.

“Should we help him?” asked Jolle. Jyn replied, “Maybe it’s a trap. Or an ambush.” The man was now up to his chest in quicksand.

“Yeah, we should help him. But we don’t have any ropes,” Jyn said. Jolle looked around (rolling a successful +2 Nature check) and found enough underground roots to quickly turn into a makeshift rope. The man was now up to his neck in quicksand.

“Hold on, man,” Jolle yelled, “Help is coming!” The elf threw the makeshift rope at the man (rolling a successful +3 Athletics check). The whimpering man grabbed the end of the rope as his head was slowly being eaten by the sand.

Jyn interrogated the man, “Tell us who you are before we pull you!” The man answered, “I am…” – and then his head disappeared into the sand.

“We should pull,” said Jolle. They heaved to a few times and soon the man was on safe ground. He was a portly man, with a large backpack full of wares that only merchants would carry on their backs.

Geography lesson

Geography lesson

“Thank you! Thank you!” the man told them excitedly. “You saved my life! I owe you! Here! Here! Look in my backpack! There are some things here. I would like to give you these. A vial of magical healing potion, one each for the both of you! But here is something rare which only adventurers like you would really appreciate: an enchanted whistle that could call and calm any animals that you can ride on.”

He said that his name was Dreece. He was a merchant from New Sandstone City, far to the south. He was on his way to Honour to sell his merchandise when his horse was spooked and he almost died. Now he was without horse.

The three of them kept walking east. Jolle continued to blow on the enchanted whistle as they travelled. Soon, a herd of wild horses came galloping towards them from the hot, dry horizon. These were desert steeds, strong and sturdy.

As the horses approached them, they slowed down allowing Jolle to jump onto the back of one. The horse tried to throw Jolle off its back, but she still blew on her whistle and spoke calm words into the horse’s ear (while rolling a +2 Nature check with an Advantage, thanks to the whistle). The horse immediately stood still and whinnied at the elf in a friendly manner.

“Umm…,” said Dreece. “Can I have a horse too?”

Using the whistle again, Jolle jumped up on a horse (this time rolling a Critical Success for her +2 Nature check). The horse immediately halted and took a liking to her. This horse she gifted to the merchant who immediately mounted the animal. He said, “Thank you! Thank you again for saving my life. If you’re ever in New Sandstone City, look me up! I will give you special rates on all my wares! Goodbye, dear friends!”

With that, Dreece disappeared into the distance upon his horse leaving a trail of dust.

“My turn,” said Jyn. She rushed for a third wild horse, blowing on the enchanted whistle. (However she failed her Nature roll even with the Advantage.) Jyn must have been too enthusiastic about it, because the entire herd were spooked by her and scattered into the desert.

Jolle told her, “We can share my horse.”

Chapter 4

The Eastguard Monastery Has a Portal

Even with two upon its back, the desert steeds galloped at great speed. It was late afternoon when they arrived at the Greypeak Mountains. The abandoned city was built between the mountains and the Eastern Sea.

The road through the mountains was treacherous, but (with a success of her +5 Survival checks) Jolle was able to navigate her horse safely and swiftly. Not long after, they came upon an extraordinary sight.

Where the abandoned city should be, it was as if something gigantic had dug the city out of the ground and left a colossal hole in its place. Then they looked up and saw it.

The entire city was floating at least two hundred feet in the air above them. It was partially enclosed by thick low clouds. They had no way of reaching it.

“What are we going to do?” asked Jolle.

Jyn recalled her studies to be a paladin and remembered something (thanks to a successful +3 History check). Somewhere in the southern end of the Greypeak Mountains was the Paladin Monastery of Eastguard. It was also abandoned during the wild magic outbreak three hundred years ago. It was said that the Eastguard monastery had a magical portal that connected it directly to a location within Diamond Beach.

With Jyn’s knowledge and Jolle riding skills they headed south through the perilous mountains. Just before sundown, the black and grey stone walls of the Eastguard monastery welcomed their arrival to its silent and forsaken halls.

The porticullis that should have prevented them from entering had been peeled away by some unknown, presumably magical force. Leaving their new horse in a protected barbican, the duo began exploring. Jyn was eager to rescue her sister so she led the way through the maze-like hallways and corridors. Using her Divine Sense, she was compelled to travel higher. They climbed up a tall tower where they found a large, intricately-carved doors. Beyond the doors, Jyn sensed great evil.

They explored more of the building without opening the door. Among the strangeness they encountered was a set of three human corpses who had somehow grown into each other. Later, at a large dinner hall, Jyn opened a door and a giant vine lashed out and grasped her like a tentacle. The paladin imbued her holy power of Divine Smite upon her longsword and shredded the monstrous vine. The creature retreated quickly back into the dark corridor from where it emerged.

They rested for a bit, had some food and then returned to the closed portal door in the tower.

They opened the door…

Chapter 5

The Cold (and Hot) Fury of the Dark Mage

… and a snowstorm out of nowhere slammed into them.

They walked through the portal and found themselves being savagely blown with a bone-chilling wind. Thick flurries of snow spiralled from the thick, black clouds above.

They were no longer indoors, nor in Eastguard. They were in a courtyard in a bailey of a rich person’s abandoned house in Diamond Beach. The yard was enclosed by walls fifteen feet tall, except for the right side. The right side of the yard was the wall of an even taller keep. In the middle of the courtyard was a snow-covered tree trunk which fell hundreds of years ago.

There were two arches in the yard. The arch they had just walked through was behind them. Another arch with closed doors were 50 feet in front of them. There was a balcony on the keep wall. Beside the balcony was a huge window. A cage hung from the balcony. There was someone in the cage.

“Jyl!” cried Jyn and ran forward with her longsword raised. Jolle retreated behind their arch and nocked an arrow.

Jyn threw her longsword at the chain that held the cage aloft. The cage fell. Within, Jyn saw, was her sister wrapped up in animal fur to shield her from the freezing cold.

Suddenly a ball of fire streaked down from above and struck the ground beside Jyn. There was an explosion and flames swirled around her, leaving vortices of a thousand embers. Jolle loosed her arrow which flew to the window, but missed the figure in black leather and cape standing there.

The sorcerous whiteboard

The sorcerous whiteboard (click on expand image)

It was Jan Sunreaver!

The dark mage spread her arms and cast a cloak of flames around her. She stepped off the window and levitated to the courtyard, landing between Jyn and Jolle. Snow melted where she stood. Jan screamed over the wind, “You will not take her! I want the Stone she has been keeping all these years!” (Here, all Jyl, Jolle and Jan successfully rolled their Constitution Saves against the freezing winds. Not Jyl though. She was wearing weather-appropriate garment.)

The battle is met. Another of Jolle’s arrows flew towards the Jan Sunreaver but the cocoon of flames incinerated it. The projectile only scratched the dark mage. The mage was totally focused on killing Jyn, however. She threw balls of flames at the paladin who deftly evaded the magical attacks. Jyn was deathly aware that she was not at her physical best. The injury caused by the half-ogre slowed her down.

They lunged and dodged and slashed and threw fireballs at each other.

At one point, one of Jan’s projectiles collided with the arch at the far end of the yard. They noticed that for only a second, the flames were somehow absorbed by the arch. Blue light flashed from under the arch and then they could see through it blue skies, a green meadow and trees. The sight lingered until the flames dissipated then the arch was just an arch again.

Ultimately, Jyn drew the black dagger given by their three visitors, endured the fiery armour and nicked Jan’s forearm with it. The wounded mage’s magical abilities faded. The armour of flames she wore flickered and died.

Jolle buried one last arrow into Jan’s back, severely injuring her. That was when Jyn called upon her divine energy. Her longsword flared brightly, diffused by the falling snow. She lunged at the dark mage with it. The flaming sword pierced through Jan Sunreaver’s chest. (It delivered a 3d8+3 damage!)

The mage wore an indescribable expression on her face as she died.

With the danger now gone, Jyn rushed to free her sister from the cage. Then Jolle led them through the open portal back to Eastguard monastery dozens of leagues away, and shut the doors tight behind them.

Jyl said, “You came for me, Jyn. Thanks for rescuing me.”

They descended down the tower and returned to their horse who still waited at the barbican. Then they all headed north back to the Holy City of Honour.

THE END… for now.

Notes:

  • I thought they would burn some logs at the second arch and escape through the portal there.
  • Jyn was named after Jyn Erso of Rogue One. Jolle was a truncated from “Angelina Jolie”.
  • The second episode of our The Laundry (Malaysia) campaign will continue in a fortnight.

 

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, RPG Actual Play, RPG One Shots, RPG Teaching Plays and tagged , , , .

Khairul Hisham J. is a tabletop RPG artist, writer, proofreader, translator, teacher, grad student and learner-in-general.

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