Tales from the Road Less Traveled

The Sign at the Road Less Traveled

The Knights of Myth Drannor, the Ladies of the Brazen Blade, The Company of the Singing Sword, The Steel Shield Band… What do these groups have in common?

They all started at the Haunted Halls of Evening Star. So this is where my brother and I will mark our names in the history of Faerun and make known the name Kimbagktuul!

Here at the Inn of the Road less traveled we sing of valor and raise a pint to the fallen. May the Morning Lord guide us in our quest.

-Baalthazar Kimbagktuul

Introducing Renny!!!

Later that night at the inn, Renny the halfling bard extraordinaire finds his new employer and the ‘terms’ of his employ.

“My good people of Eveningstar; many of you know me and we have spent these many months together as I entertained your evenings with song and story. But I have recently learned that I must leave you now as I have been sold into the employ of a Noble Knight. I, Remy Nimlick Rustkettle, will travel across Faerun to extol the great deeds of my new master. In celebration, I share with you the tale of Grumush and the Dragon…

Come listen my good gentle folk,
To a tale of some mad frothing orcs,
And a dragonborn knight,
They were destined to fight,
On quest for some wizardly dork.

The wizard who hired in blue,
Had no idea what he should do,
So he hired this braggart,
Who drank with some swagger,
And sadly his dumb brother too.

Now, Sir Baalthazar is of high noble class,
He heard ‘Orc’ and charged into the mass,
Now this self-assured dragon,
Weeps into his flagon,
Cause it ended in Rutgar’s Big Ass."

An Inauspicious Beginning

It was at the bawdy inn and tavern known as Rutgar’s Big Ass that Cerulyiann made a critical error. This was an error that almost cost him his life. It was the 18th day of Hammer, the first month of the new year, The Year of the Starfall, thirteen hundred years since The Shattering. In this age, the roll years in Faerun begins with The Shattering – the date that the great elven realm, the Vyshaantarii Imperium, under enormous internal and external pressure, permanently broke asunder into myriad realms, some elven and some those of the many invading races of sentient beings. It was on this cold and frostbitten day that Cerulyiann hired five adventurers to help him on a quest of no small importance.

Cerulyiann, a moon elf who hailed from an eastern province near the Sea of Vapors, of the remaining lands of the Vyshaantarii Imperium had travelled slightly more than two thousand miles, over the course of the last eighteen months, pursuing this quest of his. He was young, only 110 years old and of regal build. He stood two inches shy of 6 feet and weighed just over 150 lbs. He favored fine clothing of grey shades bordered in blue, which accented his silver white hair, liquid blue eyes and blue tinged alabaster skin. He had braved many dangers in his journey to this northern region of Cormyr which was one of the, unfortunately, now many human realms. This region, Cerulyiann had determined, was woefully backwards and full of ignorant, common and boorish creatures.

It was they, these aforementioned creatures, which Cerulyiann felt compelled to hire to assist him in his quest. An irony, really…..but he had little time time muse on that subject as he had recently learned that the object of his quest, an enchanted Vyshaantarii quarterstaff engraved with Cerulyiann’s noble family crest, was in the possession of Burjzak, an orc shaman known as an Eye of Gruumsh. Cerulyiann recently had discovered the location of the lair of this shaman and had, unfortunately, albeit, correctly, determined that he was going to need assistance in retrieving this staff. Therefore, he contrived, reluctantly, to spend the last of his inheritance by hiring and supplying a number of those ignorant, common and boorish creatures. The creatures he found were in the form of two beastly reptilian sentients, of obvious draconic heritage. This had slightly interested Cerulyiann, as these creatures hail from the far south, from a realm which borders the Great Raurin Desert within the landmass know as Zakhara. They were the brothers, Baalthazar and Shedinn Kimbagktuul. Baalthazar, apparently had achieved some kind of success as he was, indeed, a knighted noble of Cormyr. He seemed quite vainglorious and his brother, Shedinn, a spellcaster, was too into his cups and this, in part, would ultimately cause the demise of the quest. Cerulyiann also hired two humans and a dwarf. The dwarf went by the name of Dorm Stonebeard and he appeared as some sort of war-caster within his racial faith. Dorm seemed eager to fight and, alas, was in the end, Cerulyiann had later surmised, eager to die. One human, Maximus Thrax, was of noble standing within a semi-autonymous tribe of Cormyrian northerners – noble or not, Cerulyiann had ascertained, humans of his ilk were little more than the orcs that he needed dealt with. The other human, Filan Hogor, appeared as an equestrian with experience in mounted combat. This Filan was, generally, a quiet man, to which Cerulyiann mistakenly assumed meant that this human held a decent measure of wisdom.

In the end, the assault on Burjzak’s lair was a disaster, though Cerulyiann managed to escape with his life. The quest was a failure. The foolish adventurers were thoroughly outmatched and were, now, most certainly dead. He had found himself back at Rutgar’s Big Ass, as this was the place that he had paid for a month’s stay, in advance. Therefore, Cerulyiann found himself drinking cheap ale in the Commons and mused at now two ironies, one in which he had been forced to rely on those obviously beneath him and he had been completely incompetent in vetting those fools. This was the error in which he lost everything and the second irony was that he, Cerulyiann of Vyshantar, was indeed nothing more than a…big ass.

DM’s Commentary
Here follow my comments……yet last game session we really did do, in conversation afterwards, an oral AAR:

1. I agree. I did not do my due diligence as DM and I made the scenario too hard.

2. It is not my intent to have players work on mental gymnastics as they figure out how to successfully plan the execution of a mission, quest or situation, yet, there, perhaps should be some form of in-character planning (not saying that this did not happen – just reinforcing a thought).

3. We all need to be aware of how much we drink – if we decide to drink during the game. Last year, I think, we all got to see what happens when the GM gets wasted and last session we got the honor of seeing what it is like when a player gets smashed….. LOL

4. I am keeping this short as it is now after 3am……subsequent AARs will be more detailed and will be posted in the forum.

Each character earned 315 XP which takes all characters into 2nd level. All seemingly deceased characters, for whatever reasons…dice rolls, deific intervention, whatever, have found themselves alive, after being unconscious, lying in the cold icy sand that comprised the beach of the small lake below Burjzak’s lair. The attendants and hirelings of several characters ensure support and survival.

Therefore, the next game session will assume that each character is back in the city of Evening Star.

Please be advised that each of you will be getting a separate email from me detailing some game information relevant to your characters.

Always Dress For War.

The common room of Rutgar’s Big Ass stood empty accept for a single patron dressed in gray robes trimmed in blue. The bawdy crowd from the night before had dispersed, and the few that were staying at the inn were still asleep this late morning. The evening’s festivities surrounded the return of his employs. Broken and beaten from their fight with the orcs, the adventurers sat dejected in a corner of the bar. As if to pour lemon into their open wound, the bard that Baalthazar had requested, learned of their colossal defeat, and regaled the patrons with jokes and ballads in grand fashion. Renny had dubbed the troupe as The Blue Company. The halfling commented that this was because of their melancholy mood, but Cerulyiann surmised it was a stab at their employer. The last week’s endeavors weighed heavily on Cerulyiann’s mind. To be so close and to fail utterly was infuriating. Perhaps a different band of adventurers, he thought and dismissed the idea as quickly as it came. He had already spent too much money on this band. He would force the contract, even if it meant their death.

The tavern door flew open, letting in the cold Hammer air swirl through the common room and bringing the wizard out of his reverie. The large brute, Baalthazar strode in undaunted by his previous defeat. In truth, Cerulyiann was most impressed with this one, breathing gouts of fire and felling orcs before being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. As if on cue, Baalthazar spat his flaming breath into the fireplace and stoked the fire back to its full strength.

“I have it wizard! We will go back and slaughter the orcs down to the last… uh orc.” Baalthazar walked over to the table and slapped a page torn out of a book. The page contained a drawn picture and a short passage. “I found this Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalog.”


SHOULDER PLATES: All warriors would
prefer broader shoulders, and our
shoulder plates can provide just that.
Constructed of overlaid semicircles of
bronze (3 gp/pr), steel (5 gp/pr), silver
(20 gp/pr), or gold (40 gp/pr), these
shoulder plates will turn fierce blows
without hiding the alluring lines of
shoulder and collar bones. Some orcs
have seen these and turned to run.

“It states that orcs have been known to run from simply adding this piece to your armor.” Cerulyiann looked at the Dragonkith as if he had gone made. If a flame spitting half-dragon the size of a Cormyrean oak did not frighten the orcs, he did not see how a pair of shoulder plates would help. Mistaking his look, Baalthazar continued. “I do not need your gold for this, I can afford this purchase. Once I get these I can blacken them with my own flame and strike fear into the hearts of the Grumushites. We must make the ourselves more imposing. Within a fortnight, they will be calling us The Black Company. Tell the others, we march back in a few days.”

“Or maybe The Black and Blue Company,” Cerulyiann mused as the Dragonkith walked back out of the Inn.

Orc Tactics

“Come squire, today we learn tactics for orcs.” Baalthazar strode confidently into the hills until they found a spot that was devoid of vegetation. “You see those five large stones? They each represent two orcs, more than enough to take the two of us down in combat. But what they have in size and numbers, they lack in mind and tactics. If swing around,” Baalthazar jogged to the side, pulling Alastair when he did not immediately follow. “Stay at my side, you are my second pair of eyes, my shield when I have none. Always stay next to me or you may find yourself fighting alone.”

They finished flanking the stones and Alastair could see faces drawn onto the rocks; sneering visages of orcs drawn too well to be Baalthazar’s work. Perhaps Baalthazar employed the new halfling to draw the images onto the boulders. Swords drawn, the dragon kith advanced on the line of ‘orcs’.

“Now squire, it is no shame to use the talents that the Morning Lord has provided for us. Once there was darkness and the Lord brought us into the light.” Baalthazar turned from Alastair towards the stone-orc threat. Leaning forward and extending his neck to its maximum length, Baalthazar opened his maw and released a line of flame, hitting each face in turn.

“But I don’t have flame breath like you,” retorted Alastair.

“What is the last line of the code?” The dragonkith’s eyes narrowed on the squire.

Alastair’s eyes rolled up as he recited the line for the countless time. “His wrath undoes the wicked.” With his vision obscured, Alastair never saw the flat of Baalthazar’s blade before it struck his forehead. The squire yelped and clutched his head.

“His eyes are ever vigilant.”

“What?!? That’s not one of the lines.” Alastair could feel a goose-egg on his forehead.

“I taught you six lines, there are twenty seven. Had you been vigilant, you may have noticed this.” Baalthazar held up a tan ceramic flask with a red flame symbol. “This is your wrath.”

“Is that alchemist’s fire?” Alastair reached for the flask, but Baalthazar pulled it away.

“No, this is lamp oil. Today we are talking tactics. Use alchemist’s fire when you have no way to create your own fire. Today we do. Look how the rocks are scorched, the flame blinds the enemy, and while they are blinded by my flame, you will throw the lamp oil to create a larger flame. If they are not consumed by the fire, they will break and run.”

Baalthazar smiled at Alastair, a scary visage if you are not accustomed to a dragonkith. Alastair began to smile too, but then the goose-egg on his forehead started throbbing.

The Orcs of Gruumsh

It was cold winter day in the town of Eveningstar. The Vyshaantarii mage Cerulyiann sat in a the boisterous inn known as Rutgars Big Ass marked by a sign of a donkey’s rear end. The mage was looking for an adventuring band to retrieve a long lost family heirloom he had tracked to a small orc band a days ride north of Eveningstar. It appeared that the town had no able-bodied adventurers until the the two dragonkith brothers walked through the doors and shook off the cold. The two quickly made themselves at home, after the initial astonishment of the patrons. After a few drinks and speaking to the barkeep, Cerulyiann was approached by the larger of the two. The larger one, named Baalthazar Kimbagktuul, claimed to be a knight to the kingdom of Cormyr. This was almost laughable as there were very few dragonkith in the north. Most stayed in the warmer climate of Zakhara, the Land of Fate. The shorter of the two, by nearly a foot was still taller than most men. He claimed the title of Sorcerer and went by the name Shedinn Kimbagktuul. Soon after a dwarf cleric of Moradin named Dorm Stonebeard and a human sellsword named Falin Hogar inquired about employment. Finally a Barbarian from the northern Gimhold also sought Cerulyiann’s audience. He claimed to be a noble by the name of Maximus Thrax. By the end of the night, it appeared that Cerulyiann’s quest was finally within his reach.

Unfortunately, the quest went badly. The adventuring group, boisterous in spirit, but lacking in experience, decided to charge into the orc lair head on. The result was the orcs tossing the dying adventurer’s party out their main cave and leaving them to die in the cold winter air. Although beaten and bruised, they yet lived. And the warriors Baalthazar and Falin, drug their fallen comrades back to the town of Eveningstar.

Eventually, all of the party members which Cerulyiann had hired, actually, managed to drag themselves back the Rutgar’s Big Ass. Cerulyiann had managed a weak greeting but was surprised at the level of motivation by the others when asked about what to do now. Sir Baalthazar had clearly made it know that he wanted to go back, finish the quest and get vengeance on the orcs for his previous defeat. The other’s heartily agreed. With that Cerulyiann felt emboldened to take up the quest for the weapon which bore his family’s crest. Yet, he concluded that they would need to enlarge the Blue Company, however, Cerulyiann lacked the coin needed to modify and reissue the charter which, according to Cormyrian law, allowed adventuring company’s to operate within Crown lands. Therefore, Cerulyiann, quietly, inquired if Sir Baalthazar’s scribe would have a problem modifying the charter, which, obviously was a highly illegal act. Sir Baalthazar indicated that neither he nor his scribe would have “issues” with such an act. By the end of the evening, the Blue Company had acquired several more members; a charismatic gnome warlock who went by the moniker- The Dread Pirate Kuffuzle; and a druid who hailed from this region and introduced himself as Celadyr, the Leaf Lord. Cerulyiann was leery of the gnome who, for some reason, constantly spoke glibly of the disgraced and discredited Elder Gods and Old Ones. Cerulyiann took this as a measure of eccentricity and figured that the gnome was nothing more than a fool who should not be taken seriously…in which case, the gnome could provide handy and, at least, die before the more competent of the lizard brothers….the drunkard, still having not impressed the noble elf in the least. So it came to pass, with a newly forged charter, the Blue Company was, then, at the moment, somewhat, complete.

The next morning, on the 23rd of Hammer, the Blue Company set out to right the wrongs-so-to-speak, of its earlier failure. Half a day into its journey the Blue Company encountered the expected raining party sent out from Burjzak’s lair. After a chaotic battle where Maximus Thrax too some damage, the Blue Company slew all which comprised of Burjzak’s raiding parting- six orc raiders in all. After the encounter, the Blue Company took a short rest and then proceeded to the site of their earlier defeat. After a confused conversation of tactics, it seemed that the majority of the Blue Company had decided that Sir Baalthazar’s plan of action was least fatal. Therefore, the company assaulted the rear entrance of Burjzak’s lair. Whereas, Maximus Thrax, disagreed with the tactics, he decided to use rope and guile to effect a frontal assault. His stupidity worked as it, seemed to draw off a measure of Burjzak’s contingent and allowed the Blue Company to succeed where it should have failed. The assault upon the rear entrance was nothing short of a successful catastrophe…they had actually knocked on a newly installed iron-bound door! Yet, due to some unplanned action from the druid and some fire, the Blue Company was actually and…accidentally, able to channel the enemy orcs into a less desirable defensive posture. Cerulyiann judiciously helped out where he could and, yet, despite all odds, the Blue Company prevailed, incredulously, in the ensuing combat.

Cerulyiann, in the end, was able to reclaim, an enchanted rod embossed with his family
crest and, graciously, left- according to the agreement made beforehand, left the rest of the spoils to be divided amongst his capable yet, in Cerulyiann’s opinion, retarded compatriots.

The Newest Best Seller

“What are you reading?” the hardened bar patron staring at an exquisitely dressed young man, dared break the bonds of social normality having recognized the emblem on the book in his hands…

The Young Noble looked up from his newly printed novella, it still smelled of ammonia, as he greedily scanned it’s inner secrets. “Oh, Maximus Thrax vs. The Mummy. lt’s incredible. After the Baron’s daughter’s guards were killed defending her in the chasm, The King of Winter took it upon himself to rescue her as a favor to the king of the Sea. I’m up to the part where Max has just taken out the Necromancer’s entire scouting army of zombie Orc soldiers…”

“That’s impossible.” the Muscular Bar Patron sniffed, he’d been in the field, he knew what it was like out there… and there wasn’t anyone better than he,

still wide eyed and full of hope the young noble continued “Oh, no, it’s not, you see… Max figured out the plans of the necromancer after seeing him use the secret entrance to the chasm, and then he assaulted their lair by leaping off the sky high canyon wall. With a rope tied to himself, so he could swing into their midsts and surprise them… but the necromancer used magic to break his axe, so now he’s just beating them to death with their own shoes…”

the commoner responded as usual. “Those stories are all lies.”

the Noble insistant upon his dime store novella, “No. See? lt says right here on the back. Author Valorous the Chaste bases all the stories on firsthand accounts. She and her band of playwrights follow him around and recreate his heoric exploits after having watched them…"

The Brothers Grim

Baalthazar opens his eyes as the sun breaks the horizon. The morning rays of Lathander are of little comfort. The cold winds of Hammer, a winter month in this northern land, tear to the bone of even the dragonkith. Aptly named the Claws of Winter, Baalthazar gathers his cloak around him and breaths a small flame into his hands to warm them. Retrieving his two scimitars and the urn of Sir Lichtenstein from their ceremonial placement in front of the Morninglord, Sir Baalthazar offers a prayer before rising from his kneeling position.

“May you keep my companions in your light, uncloak my enemies before me, and enlightened me to know the difference.”

The bright, crisp morning blinds the young warrior as he walks. Snow had fallen the night before and Baalthazar is still unaccustomed to what the northerners call snow blindness. Trudging through the deep snow, he makes his way back to Rutgar’s Tavern. The tavern is empty accept for his brother, Shedinn, and Renny. Dice lay on the table, and Renny’s tone belies the drunkenness he is trying to portray.

“C’mon Sheddy, one little game of knucklebones. There’s nobody [hic] left to play. I’ll tell you what; I’ll even give you a 5 five point spread.” The Halfling wobbles in his chair as he reaches for the dice.

“Perhaps you should call it a night young herald.” Baalthazar leans his knuckles onto the table and curls his lips upward revealing his sharp teeth. Unable to tell if the dragonkith is smiling or snarling, Renny gulps and scoops up his winnings.

“Well, it’s been quite fun lord Shedinn; perhaps we can play another night.” And with a flourish his cloak, Renny the Sot, strides out of the Rutgar’s Big Ass without a sway in his step.

“Brother come drink with me, we have coin. Let us celebrate in the defeat of the orks o’ great knight brother of mine.” Holding up the small coin purse, Shedinn grins sheepishly.

“I’ll take that, the Morning Lord frowns on having dulled senses so early in the breaking sun.” Baalthazar snatches the coin purse from his brother’s grasp.

“Hey that’s my fair share…”

“You were lying in the dirt with ork about to skewer you brother. One day I will not be around and you are going to get yourself killed. And by Zashier’s ledger, you still owe the clan seventy three lions from your foolish actions the first night we arrived.”

The mention of his debts to the clan quiets the dragonkith sorcerer. Baalthazar walks to the bar where the keep, too afraid to kick the dragonkith out, is trying vainly to stay awake. Baalthazar counts ten lions and places them on the bar.

“I will leave you ten lions; that is three more than you owe, and we shall call this debt settled.”

“M’lord, I do not mean to be rude,” the barkeep looked down when Baalthazar turns his gaze to him, “b..but the lords tab is twenty seven lions.”

Counting out an additional twenty gold, Baalthazar looks at the barkeep, who refuses to return his stare. “The additional three lions are for your troubles, the clan Kimbaaktul’s debt here is clear; yes?”

The barkeep nods quickly and scoops the gold into a small lockbox.

“The Lord Wyvernspur thanks you for your loyalty. May you always have a full tavern, and may your kegs never run dry.”

“Thank you, m’lord”

“I’m heading out tomorrow to explore some ruins, three days travel. If you can pull yourself away from the spirits, perhaps we can share another adventure. Your debt to the clan is not yet paid.”

“I shall be there brother.” Sheddinn rose as steadily as possible and walked to his room to sleep.

Background of Kuffuzle

Kuffuzle hailed from Cormyr. He grew up in a small Gnome village in the cliffs near a human port town of Eaton. He was apprenticing to his father who was a master tinker of the town. Every evening Kuffuzle would look over the port town and watch the big wooden ships come in and out of port. He wondered where they went and what they did. When he came of age he decided to sneak out of town and venture to the human town. Without a second thought, he joined a ship crew as a deck hand. Little did he know he joined the crew of former merchant who went rogue. The ship was called “The Drunken Imp” and it was led by the fearless human Captain, Ignatius the Impaler. The Captain took a liking to the little gnome, and he quickly became a valuable member of the crew over the years, using his father’s teachings to improve the ship and crew’s gear. “The Drunken Imp” normally operated to off of the northwest coast of Zakhara and over time, Kuffuzle himself started gaining a reputation on the sea from the plunder in ships and Zakharan coastal towns they raided. Yarr a pirates life!

One morning a Calishite merchant ship was spotted and “The Drunken Imp” engaged. To their surprise it was a trap specifically for them and their prize ended up being one of the Sultan’s galleons in disguise. After roughly five hours of fighting “The Drunken Imp” was sunk and the crew scattered into the sea somewhere west of Al-Sartann. Kuffuzle found himself near the brink of death, clinging to some floatsam, when a giant wave engulfed him, pulling him under the water. Soon darkness took over and a strange alien voice started talking in his head. "I can help, you and you can help me……. I sleep and must be awoken…. your life for mine friend….. I save you and you save me…. " It grew darker around Kuffuzle and his last breaths were near. “Spread the word and bring my joy, we shall help this world and unite it…. promise to awaken me, and I will save you.”

“Yes, yes I will help, I promise,” replied Kuffuzle.

Kuffuzle awoke along a rocky beach on the Sorian coast with an octopus medallion clasped in his hand and a new alien knowledge that was somehow unlocked. He spent the next year wandering the lands of Soria, Allara, Merovingia and Francia before finding his way back to Cormyr, al the while learning more about who had saved him. Upon landfall back in Cormyr, he recently started spreading the good word of the Great Old One’s, specifically the god Cthulhu. Followers is want Kuffuzle had sensed the god wanted, in fact, Kuffuzle had learned,_ needed_, to help awaken the god awaken from his death like sleep. This god, this Cthulhu, had saved Kuffuzle and now, Kuffuzle knew, the debt must be paid.

Of Gods and Visions

Baalthazar kneels in the morning snow. The gray skies hide the coming of his lord as a light snow falls softly to the thick white blanket already covering the land. Through rote practice, the dragonkith opens his eyes once the sun has crested the horizon. Collecting his scimitars, the warrior notes the pockmarked surface from fighting the ankhegs. The snow swirls around him, thickening in intensity as the sky grows dark. The air smells unnatural to Baalthazar and he brandishes his blades using his arm to shield his eyes from the snow flurry. He looks towards the village of Tilverton, hidden by the gusts of snow swirling about him. A huge shadow passes overhead and lands behind.

Baalthazar can make out the distinct serpentine shape and great wings of a dragon. Snarling, Baalthazar looks from the dragon to village. Unable to tell the lineage of his brethren, Baalthazar debates whether he can make to his companions when he smells the scent of baking bread.

“My Lord! Forgive the impudence of this humble servant.” The warrior kneels, with his swords crossed before him. The scent of cinnamon fills the air.

“But I do use my breath. I used it against the kobolds in the cave.”

The breeze changes from cinnamon to that of a mountain stream in the spring.

“Frost??? My brother and I are descended from brass dragons, we use fire, as we have always been taught.”

The foreign scents permeate the air once again and Baalthazar picks out the distinct aroma of celery.

“I understand Morning Lord, I will try to use breath of the Ivory Ones.”

Sun breaks through the clouds as Baalthazar stares at the great dragon. Blinded by the light, Baalthazar shields his eyes. When he lowers his hand, the dragon is gone. The snow falls slowly to the ground once again, settling on the undisturbed snow where the dragon once stood. Baalthazar gathers his scimitars and the urn of Sir Lichtenstein and walks slowly back towards the village of Tilverton; exhaling gouts of flame the entire way.


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