Here There Be Science; Here There Be Dragons!

Chapter 12: Epilogue

In our last session, a few of the players confided in me that, as much as they’ve been enjoying this campaign, they felt that it had run its course. All the material that I had prepared back in March had been used, and we’ve come to the point where I am barely coming up with reasons for the party to continue their adventures. The new party members still have goals, but the original ones are either gone or have done what they set out to do. Besides, we were excited for other campaigns that we had just started or would soon start (I had started as a DM for a “Curse of Strahd” adventure, and another friend had an Asian campaign that he was planning).

For these reasons, the players behind BetterBorn and Jerome decided to turn against the other players in the hopes of making an epic ending for this campaign. It was crazy and unexpected, but we all achieved an ending that we felt was epic enough to lay this steampunk campaign to rest. I mean, two powerful traitors, the return of Booth, and an explosion that sent almost everyone into the planes they deserved? That was epic.

However, there are several loose ends that I, as the DM, would like to tie up. I felt an epilogue was needed for the sake of finishing the story, for revealing the fates of the other characters, and for providing enough material to end the previous story while keeping the possibility of future adventures open. I have really enjoyed creating and running this campaign, and from March to the middle of May it has been a great two-and-a-half month run, especially as a first-time DM. The rest of the story, as I envision it, is as follows.

Rahm, the only adventurer to survive the tremendous skirmish in the Western Fortress, travels back to Wozington to find his traveling companion, Bran, who is appalled when told about BetterBorn’s and Jerome’s treachery. The two of them still have a reason to continue their adventures: they both desire the demise of Asmodeus. They continue with that singular goal in mind. Sometimes they have to separate for a time in order to build their individual skills and strengths, but they both resolve that when the time comes, they will confront Asmodeus together.

Because of BetterBorn’s amazing generosity (250,000 gold pieces!), Leo and the other two guardians in Wozington were able to take the lead in expanding and fortifying the village to the point that it could no longer be called a village. All the citizens who escaped from the Capitol flocked to growing village, the closest civilized settlement that remained. Wozington soon became the new Capitol. Adventurers (including Rahm, Bran, Javert, Slade, and Areosona) traveled all across the nation, seeking out the monsters and killing many of them. Leo, Boqqle, and Feyrow, though they remained the primary guardians of Wozington, created a parliament system for the growing city. This allowed them to travel with other adventurers in the grand quest to undo the work attempted upon the Material Plane by Asmodeus and his followers (Arkan, Argon, Aryan, Borack, Jay-Lo, Elphabon, and others). Eventually, the eradication of the monsters led to a period of prosperity and peace.

Slade did eventually find the clan of mountain orcs that razed his home village. He discovered that Borack, the clan leader, had never returned to the clan. With his giant sword and his sentient vorpal blade, Wing, Slade was able to overtake the orc village single-handedly. Afterwards, he joined other adventurers in slaying the dragons. giants, beholders, and other monsters that had begun to establish their domains in the world. As Slade left the mountains, a young half-orc, a son of Borack, stood alone in the decimated remains of his clan. He picked up a discarded axe and swore to avenge his village by slaying every sentient robot in the realm.

Javert’s quest to find his brother’s murderer took him to the town of Sonasea, a trading port on the eastern shore. In his investigation, he discovered that the man who killed his brother was, in fact, a knowledge- and power-hungry wizard with a reputation of killing off aristocrats and stealing their wealth and their libraries. Javert met a harpy, Areosona, who also had a vendetta against this wizard, as he had stolen her most prized possession (her ship, Black Wing). The two of them commandeered a smaller ship, with the help of a half-orc barbarian named Dench (who began his pirating career under Areosona’s banner). They eventually found the ship and killed the wizard. Areosona got her ship back, and named Dench her new first mate, while Javert decided to retire in Sonasea. Less than a year later, news spread of numerous monster attacks in the southwest, near the Capitol. Javert briefly went out of retirement to help eradicate the numerous threats.

Areosona and Dench remained on the Black Wing with their crew, but they did manage to wipe out a kraken, an dragon turtle, and an aboleth horde, as well as the occasional flying dragon or two whenever they were in the neighborhood.

Arjan and Sporck settled in Wozington, switching between the thrill of monster-slaying and the reestablishment of Yarjerit’s library. Feyrow was able to help them travel to the Astral plane, where the Capitol remained, in order to collect as much of the original library collection as they could. The two of them were inseparable throughout the rest of their adventures. Though they would never see Yarjerit again in person, their dreams would occasionally include a memory or a word of advice from their old master.

The Sweetmeat Factory and the Sweetmeat Guild continued to prosper under their new management: Jawbreaker the Glossy. Much to the initial chagrin of the Sweetmeat Guild, Jawbreaker was able to ride off of the esteemed reputation of his cousin, Pith, to gain the influence he needed to secure the ownership of the factory. However, Jawbreaker proved to be too unpredictable as a leader, so Pith became the acting executive officer as Jawbreaker thrived in a rich thug life. Though he doesn’t see much in the way of actual combat anymore, he did start his own side business to keep himself busy. Inspired by the tavern tales of Jay-Lo’s musical genius (tales passed down from our heroes to the tavern-goers who overheard), he founded SweetBeats (an idea stolen from Pith, who initially heard about the prospect from our heroes), a recording company and subsidiary of the Sweetmeat Factory. Jawbreaker truly broke records, trends, and traditions to establish a steampunk-rap style of music that had profound effects on popular culture in Wozington City. Jawbreaker was, at last, rich and famous. Jawbreaker became, in his own words, “a teffin’ beastly boss of beats!”

Mr. Suur never moved out of the Capitol Checkpoint. Though terribly disappointed in the fate of the Capitol, he was able to reestablish the Checkpoint as a tourist attraction, retaining its inn, tavern, greenhouse, and art gallery, for hikers, sightseers, and vacationers who wanted to visit Capitol mountain. Mr. Suur never shed his distrust towards “uncommoners,” but for the sake of business, he always allowed anyone and everyone to pass to the peak.

The Judiciary was reestablished in Wozington, which allowed Ilde and Soveliss (the pleasant drow treasurer) to retain their original jobs as Judiciary clerk and treasurer, respectively. They and all other government officials continued to conduct business, shape policy, and enjoy life as before.

When Yarjerit Tinntinabulaar realized that he had no advantage over Borack or his superiors alone, he transported himself to the Seven Heavens of Mount Celestia. This plane is home to all who are lawful and good. He believed that the best way for him to improve upon his vast knowledge and skill would be to visit with the celestial and divine characters who live in Mount Celestia. He met Moradin and other deities, and learned to become a much greater force for good. He had been kept aware of what was happening in the Material Plane, but chose to associate himself with the celestials and join with them against Asmodeus and other forces and sources of evil in the multiverse. Yarjerit soon became close to a god himself, but never desired his own following. He did, however, take special care to watch over his esteemed apprentices, Arjan and Sporck, occasionally visiting them in their dreams, acting as a sort of guardian angel as they continued the work he started.

Asmodeus and Aryan are still at large, and they work together to try to create dissonance and discord, especially in the vulnerable Material Plane. There also remain numerous lands and worlds unexplored and unknown to any adventurer, as knowledge, science, and civilization continue in the constant struggle against the malicious, untamed forces of monsters and dragons.

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Chapter 11: Madness Incarcerated

Throughout this adventure in space, time, and scientific fantasy, one player character has retained a constant presence from start to finish: our prideful and intellectual alchemist, BetterBorn. Imagine a superior mind, emboldened with perpetual pride and vigor, that initially set out to be the best and brightest metalworker in the nation. Imagine such a mind taking part in the slaying of dragons, giants, and confronting other intellectual foes—such as the dethroned god of tyranny himself—all in the midst of the tremendous psychic strain that can accompany travel through the many planes of existence.

Sometime between the party’s victory over the giants in Reptilla Cave and the time they arrived in Leo‘s mansion to report, something snapped in BetterBorn’s mind. As Leo expressed his gratitude to the players for once again saving his village, BetterBorn spoke up.

“Leo,” he said, a grave expression on his face, “I want to give you something, something to help you protect this village.” BetterBorn took out a piece of black cloth, a portable hole, in which he has been storing the quarter of a million gold pieces he pilfered from Reem’s cave. He transferred his wealth onto Leo’s desk. As if in reaction to Leo’s (and the other party members’) expressions of shock, BetterBorn said, “Take this. Protect Wozington. Build it up to greatness. I no longer have any need for it.” After he said these words, BetterBorn took off his hat, made by Pith especially for him, and placed it on Leo’s desk as well. With a low bow, BetterBorn takes his leave of Leo. The rest of the party, still confused, left shortly afterwards.

The players, encouraged by their victory in Reptilla Cave, decide to explore the Western Fortress, believing that some other monster has taken residence there. They all leave for the fortress except for Bran, who decides to stay with Leo, a fellow paladin, to help around the village and to learn more about what Leo might know about deities such as Moradin and Asmodeus. The rest of the party, Nobu, Rahm, Jerome, and BetterBorn, arrive six hours later at the Western Fortress.

BetterBorn and Jerome still remember the last time they explored this area, and the party set out to search every room like before. Overall, the fortress had been left just the way it was when Elphabon was dragged out nearly two years ago (even though it only felt like a few short weeks ago for BetterBorn and Jerome). A few tiktoks and other objects were moved around a bit, however, hinting to the possibility of a new inhabitant.

The party arrives on the second floor, in the same room where Elphabon was found the first time. In the drow’s absence, a new foe has taken residence: Aryan. The black dragonborn was sincerely surprised to see the familiar adventurers, remembering that he had banished them to Mechanus. Aryan did not divulge exactly what he planned to do in the fortress, but he did make it clear that after the death of Arkan the Black Dragon, he has come to serve Asmodeus. With that, the players begin their attack.

This is where BetterBorn’s burgeoning madness becomes truly manifest. As Nobu and Rahm begin to make melee and magical attacks against Aryan, BetterBorn begins to attack them! Using his bind, spike, and other spells, he deliberately gets in the way of the other players.

Unbeknownst to any of the other characters, Jerome’s mind has suffered in similar ways to BetterBorn, but only because he came from a background of evil. Now, in this chaos of hero against hero, he chooses to succumb to his chaotic and evil nature. With his shotel and his cursed claws, he turns against Nobu and Rahm as well. As Aryan fights and sees this chaos, he becomes legitimately confused. He is not accustomed to the sight of good heroes and adventurers turning against their own.

Even so, Aryan feels that he is in danger. He soon snaps a finger to summon a beholder (a large, floating, spherical creature with one eye, a toothy maw, and a dozen tentacles that end in more eyeballs) which comes crashing through the stone walls of the fortress a few seconds later. The beholder’s large eye dispels any magic in the room, and sends eye rays that can shock, disintegrate, and confuse.

As the chaos unfolds, BetterBorn and Jerome turn to Aryan, each giving a small bow before BetterBorn says, "Surely we have proved ourselves worthy to join you in the service of Asmodeus. Aryan is taken quite aback. He pauses for several moments to try to discern the players’ true intentions. Finding to his surprise that they seem sincere, Aryan decides to say nothing, just to see what happens. If these would-be villains truly believe they are worthy servants of fallen tyranny, Aryan thinks, they can prove themselves one more time by dealing with their own party. He steps away from the battle, snaps two fingers, and disappears along with the beholder.

Nobu and Rahm are left alone in the room with the two traitors.

Rahm, weak from battle and knowing he can easily be overpowered, dashes through the hole in the wall (caused by the beholder’s arrival) and jumps out onto the plains below. He continues to run, towards Wozington, to get away from the chaos. BetterBorn and Jerome turn towards Nobu and quickly slay him.

Just days before these events transpired, Booth noticed what happened to the Capitol and witnessed dozens of monsters enter the world through a portal in the sky. He decided to briefly come out of retirement to help the village of Wozington once more. When he arrived at the village, Leo informed him about the players’ trip to the Western Fortress. By the time Booth arrived at the fortress, he could hear the sounds of battle upstairs. He decided to sneak up on the battle and wait to strike until he could see what was going on. He saw the altercation between the players, Aryan, and the beholder. He saw his friends turn against two unfamiliar adventurers, and he saw Rahm’s flight, as well as Nobu’s death. Booth is shocked, but soon becomes determined to rid the world of BetterBorn and Jerome’s treachery.

Booth appears and begins to shoot his former friends. BetterBorn and Jerome respond gladly to the sound of continued combat. The sight of their friend does not deter them from their traitorous designs. Eventually, BetterBorn takes out his powerful Staff of the Magi and snaps it in half over his knee. This causes a magical explosion which kills Nobu and Jerome. BetterBorn is teleported by the staff’s erupted magic to a random plane of existence, and it turns out to be the existence that he deserves by his recent actions.

BetterBorn finds himself in the Tarterian Depths of Carceri. It is a plane meant for those who have lived a life, or committed acts, of chaotic evil. It is “a plane of desolation and despair,” “a model for all other planes in existence.” (DMG, 63) There are six layers in Carceri, and BetterBorn finds himself imprisoned in a realm of jagged mountains. There are secret portals that allow an escape from Carceri, but they are heavily guarded. There, BetterBorn continues to thrive in his chaotic madness.

When a person dies, their spirit is sent to the plane that is most aligned with their character and nature. Jerome is also sent to Carceri, but in a layer of vast bogs. Nobu’s neutral character becomes a resident of Mechanus. Booth’s chaotic yet good spirit is sent to the Heroic Domains of Ysgard, where he can continue to prove his goodness and valor in “a rugged realm of soaring mountains, deep fjords, and windswept battlefields.” (DMG, 61)

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Chapter 10: Giants in Reptilla Cave

Once the heroes returned to the Material Plane, they headed straight for Wozington, preparing to defend the village against a barrage of dragons, giants, beholders, and whatever else escaped through that portal. When they arrive at the village, they see nothing out of the ordinary. No monster attack, no property damage, nothing. They visit Leo to see if he knows anything about the monsters.

Leo wasn’t very helpful. He, along with the rest of the village, was very aware of what happened to the Capitol, and the village is getting ready for a major attack, even though nothing attacked yet. All the monsters just flew straight overhead and split into seperate directions. They were starting to shelter the villagers into the Sweetmeat Factory, but BetterBorn and Jerome wouldn’t allow it. They wanted to keep making profit from it. Leo becomes annoyed at this, but the tension is dispelled when BetterBorn gives Leo 10,000 gold pieces to help in building a stone shelter. Though Leo didn’t agree with the factory owners’ views, he is grateful for their help. He also suggested talking to Feyrow, who has more knowledge of magic and monsters.

The party approach Feyrow, who expresses a theory that all these hostile creatures didn’t attack because they were each looking for a lair. It is common for dragons, beholders, and giants, to stake a claim to a cave, a fortress, or other location, and expand their borders from there. BetterBorn remembers that the nearest cave to Wozington is Reptilla Cave, so the party decides to explore the cave and wipe out any hostile inhabitants.

They slowly approach the cave and inside they find four cloud giants, who begin to attack them immediately. With BetterBorn’s firewalls, Jerome’s earth tremors, and psychic attacks from Nobu and Rahm, the party was on their way to finishing the giants. Then, one cloud giant turns behind him and calls out for help. Two storm giants, bigger, taller, stronger, join the fight for the cave. These newcomers prove to be much more difficult, especially when their magical lightning bolts knocked Rahm out and their boulders came just shy of killing BetterBorn. However, the players used their magic to wear down the storm giants.

Rahm created an illusion of himself to distract one of the giants.BetterBorn cast another firewall, and Jerome cast another earth tremor, which created a tremendous amount of difficult terrain across the wide cave tunnel. What really got things going was BetterBorn’s tesla coil, which cast a sphere of darkness the first time he used it, and covered most of the cave floor with grass the second time. An active firewall set the grass on fire, which dealt continuous the fire damage that eventually wiped out both giants.

With the giants’ bodies lying in smoking grass, and half the party unconscious or nearly so, the players return to Wozington for a long, deserved rest.

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Chapter 9: God of Tyranny

Our heroes determine that the first thing they want to take care of is the Sweetmeat Factory. They want to know who took their factory and why they aren’t getting any more profits from it. The party travels to Wozington once again, and they visit Leo for information. He didn’t have much to say, besides that he was happy to see the party after a year-and-a-half absence. He also didn’t know very much about the Sweetmeat Factory’s leadership, but it’s running as usual, so he’s not concerned.

It is worth saying here that Booth decided to retire from adventuring. He had set out to make a living and to kill Reem. Now that Reem is gone, Booth can take his tremendous fortune and make a good living for himself. So, today he has separated from the party (the player who played Booth is still in the game, and he created a new character, Nobu, who will appear later in this chapter). Slade has also left the party, having received a lead to the exact whereabouts of the mountain orc clan that destroyed his village. With vorpal blade in one hand, giant longsword in another, and the destruction of a giant and two dragons under his belt, Slade leaves the party to complete his life’s mission. Slade may retire afterwards as well, with his quarter of a million gold from Reem’s cave.

While in Wozington, the players meet two new adventurers, a gold dragonborn paladin named Norixius Brangar, and a blind magical samurai named Rahm. The dragonborn, often called Bran, was raised with a hatred for orcs and any other evil of injustice in the world. Rahm made a deal with a devil for his magical abilities, and hopes to win back his soul by destroying the fiend with the very power he received. These two adventurers decide to join the party to the Sweetmeat Factory.

The factory is running smoothly and normally. Jawbreaker is once again situated at the front doors as a guard with his lollipop mace. When the party arrives at the top floor, they find Elphabon in charge. Was anyone surprised? Not entirely. Elphabon greets them with a warm smile, almost like it’s been way too long since they’ve tried to kill or incarcerate him. BetterBorn and Jerome, now sick and tired of dealing with this thorn of a drow, unleash all of their power on him. BetterBorn subdues him with a mighty spike attack, and Jerome slashes at Elphabon as BetterBorn pours acid onto the drow’s face. Elphabon, down to his last painful breaths, chokes out, “why?” BetterBorn and Jerome didn’t feel any explanation was necessary. One final shotel slash from Jerome, and Elphabon life came to an end. The players decide to take the drow’s body to the Judiciary to collect one final reward for their bounty.

The party goes up the mountain to get to the Capitol. This time, however, they have a dragonborn with them. Rahm was human, so he would get through with no problem, but Mr. Suur wouldn’t let Bran through. BetterBorn had a rather clever idea. Before reaching the checkpoint, he had Bran drink a potion of gaseous form. Bran’s misty form was compressed into BetterBorn’s metal hat, concealing him from Mr. Suur. As always, Jerome disguised himself as an old man. Mr. Suur gave them no problems.

At the Judiciary, the players slam Elphabon’s body onto the dwarf clerk‘s desk. Ilde (she didn’t have a name until one of the players asked for it today) is shocked and distraught at the mess the adventurers have made. But, business was business, and she had the players collect their reward (again, 20.000 gold). She then summoned some guards to take the criminal’s body off her desk. As a few guards undertook this task, with others looking on, BetterBorn’s potion of gaseous form expired. Bran’s full physical form emerged from the hat and slammed BetterBorn to the ground. Everyone is shocked, and four guards surrounded the “filthy lizard man” in armor, ready to take him to prison. Through Jerome and Rahm’s magic, as well as BetterBorn’s Tesla coil, the players were able to cause enough distraction (indoor rain combined with a stink cloud) to get everyone, Bran included, safely away.

The party takes refuge in Yarjerit’s abandoned library. They suspect that Yarjerit, Arjan, and Sporck have been kept in the Capitol prison inside the Judiciary. They decide to go on a mission to rescue them. Jerome, disguised as a Judiciary guard on his first day of work, takes Rahm with him, under the premise of taking a troublesome blind beggar to jail. BetterBorn comes under a cloak of invisibility. Ilde lets them through, directing them downstairs to the jail cells (“Go down the second staircase to your right, then two lefts, a right, middle fork, the next two rights, and its’ the fourth hallway to your left.”). Jerome and Rahm easily make it down there, and Jerome strikes a conversation with one of the guards by the jail cells. The guard is easily fooled and unlocks a jail cell with one empty cot. The other cot is occupied by Arjan. In the next cell over, Sporck is having a friendly chat with an oni named Nobu. As Jerome distracts the guard, Rahm and BetterBorn rescue Arjan, Sporck, and Nobu from jail. Soon, all seven characters are safe inside Yarjerit’s library.

Arjan explains that Yarjerit is no where to be found. A number of months ago, Yarjerit (taking Arjan and Sporck with him) visited the government court to try to reason with the officials and perhaps put a stop to the all-out racism that Borack is causing to spread throughout the Capitol. This came to a head when Yarjerit attempted to call a swarm of meteors down upon Borack and the other corrupt officials. According to Arjan’s eyewitness account, nothing happened. The spell didn’t work at all. At that moment, Yarjerit disappeared, and no one has any idea where he went.

Jerome leaves to gather information about the seat of Capitol government, including the whereabouts of Borack’s chambers, as the other party members wait for him. During this time, the players notice that the entire city is preparing for Springfest, which is an annual holiday with decorations, parades, discounts in the marketplace, and usually a speech from the head of government to celebrate the beginning of the spring season. BetterBorn and Jerome remember the ominous stanza spoken by the clockwork black dragons they’ve encountered in the Western Fortress and in the Sweetmeat Factory:

“Yet soon the vernal sun shall fail,
We’ll fill the bitter flagons,
When all the world will weep and wail:
‘Here, there be dragons!’”

The party anticipates an impending arrival and destruction of dragons upon the Capitol.

The next day, the day of Springfest, is a jovial an joyous day in the Capitol. A few of the players decide to visit Pith for a couple more weapon upgrades, especially since Arjan, Sporck, and Nobu each lost their weapons when they were taken to prison. Pith fashions whips, a lance, and a halberd from superior metal. Before the party leaves, BetterBorn turns to Pith and asks him to take care of himself today, since something bad might happen. Pith wasn’t worried about himself, and didn’t think anything bad would happen.

Famous last words, right?

The party comes upon a crowded public square overlooked by a balcony from the Capitol Government building. Borack the Great enters the balcony, causing an eruption of cheers. The players have often been curious how Borack could have so much influence in causing the civilized people to despise members of uncommon races, especially when he was half-orc himself. Also, what is Borack’s motive?

It turns out that Borack looks very much like a common human, though his orc side has made him larger and his features more brutal and rugged. But his skin is very pale, with tiniest tint of orcish green. The crowd is silent as Borack speaks. He speaks of springtime, and the glorious privilege it is to be alive in the Capitol. He speaks of the accomplishments made by him and the people of the Capitol to “banish the uncommon filth among us.” Loud cheers follow. Borack continues, but this time with a grave expression:

“Yes, this is a blessed time of peace. But it is also a time of war, war against the unnatural and uncommon, war against the unclean.” More cheers, but much more subdued as the audience is transfixed to every word Borack says. He continues,

“There is no better place nor time to begin this war than right at this place, on this very day. Today, the war has begun.” As he speaks, the players notice a slight tremor in the air around them. The tremor becomes more intense, and some party members realize that the tremor is magical. Whatever was going to happen, is going to happen now.

In the sky, directly above the crowded square, a dark hole opens in the sky. The portal grows wider and wider, blocking the light of the sun above it. In the shadow, everyone in the Capitol sees the portal, its growing size like the yawn of some destructive beast. Out of the portal, dozens of monsters, dragons, giants, and beholders burst through, flying over the Capitol and dispersing in many directions throughout the Material Plane. Borack looks up at the sky, arms outstretched, and grins.

Acting quickly, Jerome uses his magic to try to close the portal. He succeeds, but as the portal slowly recedes, a powerful force draws the entire city towards it, as if a giant cosmic vacuum were trying to take the Capitol itself. Indeed, the city is uprooted from its mountain peak and hurdles upwards through the closing portal into the sea of misty space on the other side.

The players realize that the Capitol, and all of its inhabitants, are stuck in the Astral Plane. This plane is filled with mist, pools of color, and empty space. The color pools are portals to other planes, other worlds, and only one of them could lead them back to their home world. The players attack Borack with projectiles and firebolts. Borack does nothing, but takes all the damage and the blasts carry his motionless body through a silver portal.

The people in the Capitol are in a panic. Some, including the players, realize that they can fly around in this plane at will. Gravity is reduced in this place as well. The players decide to go into the government building to find Borack’s quarters for clues about these recent events. Jerome leads the party to the right room, and they don’t find much, only a few ambiguous letters and an ornate treasure chest. Naturally, they open the chest and find it bottomless inside. They realize this could be a portal to whoever Borack might be working for. They all jump in (Bran was reluctant, but didn’t have any better ideas), falling down, down, down, then up, up, up into another room in a castle. The party leaves the room and finds the entire castle deserted, so they go outside to figure out where they are.

Outside, the party sees hundreds of enormous iron cubes floating in space. Every so often, two of them would collide, the deafening sound echoing through the space to join the echos of past collisions and conflicts. They can also see armies of skeletons in endless battle with orcs. On a far-off cube in the distance, the party sees a tall iron tower. Those who went to Mechanus are reminded of the Spire of Primus and the party decides to go to the tower.

They jump, even float, from cube to cube to get to the tower, which is just as devoid of life as the castle they were in. The party does run into a few skeletons, but they are of no help since all they care about is war, endless battle against the Orcs of Grummsh. At the very top of the tower, the adventurers find a large set of iron double doors. On the left door is engraved three triangles in a tight formation, all pointed down. On the other door is engraved a five-pointed star with curved points. Bran recognizes the two symbols: the one on the left is the symbol of Asmodeus, the God of Tyranny. On the right is the symbol of Tiamat, the evil five-headed dragon queen, a god of war and trickery. The party opens the door.

They enter a large chamber dominated by a huge iron golem at the wall opposite the door. Two smaller stone guardian golems stand motionless on either side. In front of the iron golem is a man with wavy black hair, a goatee, and a mustache, wearing an elegant robe decorated with triangular patterns. He seemed a little surprised at the intrusion, but he smiles and welcomes the party to the Infernal Battlefield of Archeron. The players continue to talk with this commanding figure and learn several new things.

The man’s name is Asmodeus, the God of Tyranny. Bran recognizes the name, having heard of it in his religious studies (Bran studied at a monastery that worshiped Moradin, God of Knowledge, and revered Bahamut, the good dragon god), and he has a hard time holding back his desire to attack. Asmodeus is clearly behind the organization of The Fury (his “little side project,” as he affectionately called it), but he refused to give away his evil plans so easily. He also turned to Rahm and realizes that he remembers meeting the blind man before. Asmodeus was the very devil who gave Rahm his powers, and now Rahm has joined Bran in hatred for Asmodeus and silently vows to destroy the evil god, now that he has a voice associated with his notorious benefactor.

Eventually, Bran could hold his rage no longer. He takes his sword out to swing at Asmodeus, who stops the blade calmly with one hand. The God of Tyranny then snaps his fingers and the iron golem comes to life, raising its fist to crush our heroes. Reacting quickly, BetterBorn gets the party to join hands and he takes them away from Archeron and back to the Astral Plane where the Capitol is still floating in misty space, just seconds before the giant iron fist would have annihilated them.

Now the party is resolved to put an end to Asmodeus’ evil plans, along with Asmodeus himself. But, unsure of what to do, they try to find a way to deal with the monsters that escaped into their home world. They try to go through the silver portal, the same portal that Borack’s body drifted through. When they realize this portal leads back to the Material Plane, seeing Borack’s broken body on the ground in a forest, the players convince the citizens of the Capitol to go through the portal as well.

The portal was situated in the sky above a forest just north of Capitol mountain (which now has an empty peak in the absence of the Capitol itself). They actually hoped that many citizens of the Capitol, who they regard as racist against uncommoners, would fall through the portal to their deaths (I was surprised that the players had such animosity towards the ordinary citizens, most of whom were not nearly as racist as they thought). However, the portal was such that anyone who entered the portal fell gently and slowly from the sky to the ground. Borack’s broken body was the result of the projectiles and firebolts aimed at him earlier.

So our (at least slightly chaotic) group of heroes return to the Material Plane, with the hopes that they can wipe out the monsters that now populate the plane and eventually confront Asmodeus again to destroy him and the evil he represents.

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Chapter 8: New Primus

The members of the party best acquainted with strange lands are BetterBorn and Jerome, and they recognize that they have ended up in the Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanus, an entirely new plane of existence. Since they had just seem Reem make a dragon-line for the tall central spire, they take their journey in that direction. Along the way, they meet the modrons, small robots shaped like spheres, cubes, and other geometrical solids. They have a very clear heirarchy, and many of them speak some little logic-based language that the players can’t understand. Luckily, the cubes can speak Common, so they learn that the spire belongs to the Primus, the supreme ruler of Mechanus.

In a nearby alley, a harpy in pirate garb dreams that she is back on her favorite ship, the Black Wing, fighting alongside unfamiliar crew members (a hunchback, a cyborg, a rakshasa, and a robot) to fend off an aboleth, a fearsome, tentacled, psychic sea monster. The monster is killed just before she wakes up, finding herself surrounded by the crew from her dream. The other players offer her waffles as the harpy takes in all the strange sights around her. He introduces herself as Areosona. She got on the bad side of a hot-tempered wizard and was banished to Mechanus. Her ears perked up when she heard the others were off to fight a dragon, and she knows that dragons have huge piles of money. Areosona joins the cause against Reem.

The players walk a little farther before they hear a tremendous explosion and see the Spire of Primus erupt in a pillar of flame. All the modrons have a glazed look over their robot eyes and begin to repeat two words. In Common, they translated to be “New Primus. New Primus.” The players could easily guess what happened at the Spire. The robots then start to march past the players in one direction. BetterBorn remembers that once every 289 years is an event called the Great Modron March, in which all the modrons in Mechanus walk through every plane, including the Material Plane where the players came from, and the few that survive report everything they saw to the Primus. But, the previous Modron March was about 100 years ago. The players pick up a few words from the modrons: “Arkan. Material Plane. Destroy.” The players rush to the charred Spire.

They find Reem, the Ancient Red Dragon, at the Spire, surrounded by swirling multicolor energy. On his right claw is a rainbow-colored cloud of opaque mist, and on his left a cloud of blackness. Reem revels in his new power and regards the pitifully tiny group of adventurers. Reem’s roaring voice echos over the turning and the clanking of the gears and cogs that make up the unfathomable machine that he now controls. The players charge into combat. Before they do, four humanoid figured emerge from the four corners of the potential arena space. They are the four Secundi, each Secundus rules a quadrant of Mechanus under supervision of the Primus. One of the four speaks, “Here in Mechanus, the order is law, and the law is order. Therefore, the order of battle must be kept in order, according to law.” This battle would be different in two ways: 1. Turn order is determined by dexterity (with wisdom and then strength as tiebreakers), 2. All damage is relegated to average damage. Though players and characters made attack rolls and saving throws, no damage dice were rolled, taking the average damage that would be dealt.

The battle is fierce. The adventurers may have slain a fire giant and a black dragon, but Reem was a new force to be reckoned with. Indeed, most of the players come very close to their own day of reckoning. With one gigantic fire breath, BetterBorn and Areosona both nearly died, and would have if Slade had not blocked another fire breath with his shield. Booth, finally close to revenge, becomes incredibly weak after Reem’s bite, wing, and fire attacks. BetterBorn tries his Tesla coil once and becomes stunned when he believes that he sees his deceased father, who was lawful neutral. BetterBorn hugs the illusion of his father, and he hears his father say “I know you can do it, son. I am so proud of you.” As the illusion ends, BetterBorn is inspired with new hope, believing that he may get to see his real father again someday.

Meanwhile, Jerome jumps onto Reem’s back, slashing at his eyes and face with his shotels. Reem reacts by trying to claw Jerome off his face. In the process, Jerome is subjected to the rainbow and black clouds on Reem’s claws. The clouds turn out to be portals to other planes. Jerome’s brain becomes extremely disoriented after seeing alternating images of perfect, geometrically-shaped natural landscapes and layers of huge iron cubes in endless collisions. Jerome continues to hold on, interjecting another insult against Booth (this time reducing Booth’s HP from 4 to 2). Jerome deals the finishing blow on Reem, slashing the dragon’s eyes and neck. Reem collapses, and Booth’s homeland is avenged at last.

Jerome stands proudly, expecting to receive the title of Primus, since Reem claimed the title by force. The Secundi come forward and ask for Jerome’s alignment, which is chaotic. The Secundi shutter to think of a chaotic Primus, so one of them is promoted to Primus, and a Trius is promoted to Secundus, and a Quatranus to a Trius, and so on until a small spherical modron is created to complete the vacancy created by promotions. When asked how Reem claimed Primus status, the new Primus explained that Mechanus itself couldn’t contain Reem’s chaotic ambition, but now everything will be set back in its perfect order, with the premature Modron March called off. The players ask to be taken back to their home in the Material Plane, and the Primus gladly send them off by creating a portal with both of his hands. The players return to the cave of treasure that once belonged to Reem/Arkan.

Areosona is thrilled to find such an enormous treasure horde, and decides to come back later after she reclaims her ship from the wizard that banished her. With no reason to stay with the party, the bomb-throwing pirate harpy takes flight to pursue her path.

The rest of the players decide to return to the Capitol, after failing to find the black dragonborn, Aryan. When they arrive at the Capitol Checkpoint, they see Mr. Suur again, but this time the more perceptive heroes notice a few new grey hairs on his head. The official is surprised to see the party, since they have been gone a long time. The players didn’t think they were gone that long, but Mr. Suur confirms that the last time they came through was over a year ago. The time spent in Mechanus, only a couple of hours, was equivalent to about a year and a half in the Material Plane. The players are surprised further when Mr. Suur says that uncommon races are not allowed at all in the Capitol anymore. Jerome disguises himself again, fooling Mr. Suur effectively for the second time.

The party discovers that Borack the Great has taken the highest position of power in the Capitol in such a short time. Not only that, but the players aren’t collecting any profit from the Sweetmeat Factory. Someone else has taken charge of the establishment. The players decide that it would be good to speak with Yarjerit to find more information about the political and social climate of the Capitol. They arrive at Yarjerit’s library to find it barred. When they crash through, the heroes discover an abandoned library. They approach a commoner on the streets about Yarjerit. The human commoner expresses disgust, and suspected that “the lizard filth” is kept in jail, where all uncommoners belong.

After all the experience these heroes have in saving villagers, exploring caverns, and slaying dragons, one might wonder how they will handle the mysterious intrigue and plot that has been festering in the Capitol the whole time.

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Chapter 7: The Black Dragon

With Argon vanquished, and Elphabon in tow, the adventurers make their way back to the Capitol. However, they must again deal with the Capitol Checkpoint…and Mr. Suur. BetterBorn, Booth, Slade, and Elphabon are free to move on through to the Capitol, but according to Mr. Suur, Jerome, Arjan, and Sporck need to stay at the checkpoint for two extra days (longer than last time). The players are annoyed with this, and notice that the Capitol is becoming more prejudiced against “uncommoners.” Jerome briefly leaves, and returns successfully disguised as a crotchety, senile old man. Arjan and Sporck still have to stay behind, and Booth decides to stay with them to make some more ammunition using Arjan’s fire breath.

BetterBorn, Slade, and the disguised Jerome move into the Capitol with Elphabon, taking him once again to the Judiciary. On the way, the group encounters a thick crowd on the street, centered on two scholars about to face off in a duel. One is from Horrington Academy, where BetterBorn attended. The other hails from the Battlement Academy of Alchemy, where Elphabon attended. The representative from Horrington spoke plainly against the Battlement scholar in government court, refuting the claims that combat alchemy is the answer to cleansing the Capitol of the “filth” of the uncommon races. A half-orc named Borack has been exerting his influence in the court, which has led to the increasing prejudice against “uncommoners.” The Horrington scholar also disapproves of Borack’s ideals and influences. This disagreement led to the holding of this duel. BetterBorn bets Elphabon 50 gold that the Horrington scholar will win. Guns are drawn and raised, and they both fire. The Horrington scholar remained standing. Some of the citizens cheer, others walk away. BetterBorn gains 50 gold form Elphabon.

Before entering the Judiciary, Jerome disguises himself as Booth and tries to flirt with the female dwarf clerk. Though quite flattered, the clerk discretely exposes her left hand and Jerome/Booth sees a wedding ring there. Elphabon is turned in to be taken to jail again, and the dwarf directs the players to the treasury to collect their reward (“Go down that hallway, take the second right, then left, right, right, middle fork, then the next three lefts, and then it’s the fifth door on your right). The players have no trouble finding the room and they greet ”/characters/soveliss-the-judiciary-treasurer" class=“wiki-content-link”>a pleasant drow in the treasury office who gives them their 20,000 gold.

With this substantial new capital, BetterBorn and Jerome decide to visit several businesses in the Capitol to find some investors for their factory. They find a few, which increases their profits. They try to get Yarjerit to invest, but he is not interested. The players ask Yarjerit about the best smith in the city, as well as the best place to buy magic items. Yarjerit directs them to Pith’s smith shop and Jimgimno’s magic shop. Once Booth rejoins them in the city, the players visit Pith first.

Pith the Glossy, a halfling and a relative to Jawbreaker, proves to be quite a character, and the most skilled blacksmith anywhere. Each player asks for Pith’s finest work in crafting custom weapons and armor, telling him that money is not an object (they have collected some serious loot up to this point). Booth spends all of his gold for Pith to modify his cybernetic arm such that it can hold three different guns that he can switch at will. Jerome didn’t need much but asks for improved shotels (his primary weapons). BetterBorn asks for a razor-sharp metal top hat to replace his current one, with a way to shoot potions from the hat. Slade asks for darkvision eyes, as well as a retractable shield and a waffle maker. All players ask for improved armor.

The next day, the players returned to Pith for their new equipment. Pith was able to give them just about everything they asked for, though it did cost them most of their gold. BetterBorn gets a metal hat that flings potion bottles. Jerome gets shotels dipped in an oil of sharpness, making them more deadly. For Booth and Slade, who asked for mechanical implants and modifications, Pith had all the pieces ready to assemble. The players noticed Pith’s unorthodox way of welding and soldering metal, using his own saliva as an essential adhesive or lubricant. Booth was a bit surprised to have the halfling’s tongue touching a few of the metal joints, and Slade was a bit unnerved when Pith took out his metal eyes and licked them to implant the darkvision modifications. But he is especially grateful to have a waffle maker built into his abdomen. Everything works wonderfully and is worth every gold piece they spent. Pith, though odd, is good at his job.

Jimgimno is a middle-aged dwarf with white and a small, trim beard. His shop is impressively well stocked, and the players use the rest of their money to buy items like a cloak of displacement, a cloak of invisibility, and a bronze horn of Valhalla. Thus stocked, the players feel ready to venture to Reem‘s cave, hoping to claim the treasure trove there, but suspecting that they’ll have a black dragon in their way. Arjan and Sporck decide to remain with Yarjerit to analyze their new library acquisitions.

It is a seven days’ journey west of the Capitol to Reem’s cave, as shown on Yarjerit’s maps. The adventurers enter the large cave and soon they run into a black dragonborn. The dragonborn introduces himself as Aryan (it seems the similarities in the names of a fire giant, a black dragon, a black dragonborn, and a red dragonborn, are merely coincidences), and he graciously guides the party to the main treasure chamber where Arkan sits. Jerome, always the funny one, gives a few snarky insults to Aryan, which successfully deals psychic damage. This angers the dragonborn, and he sprays acid over the players (Booth is reminded that he is vulnerable to acid). When they arrive before Arkan, the players claim that “[they] are Argon,” explaining what happened to the Lord of the Fire Giants. Arkan is impressed, but doesn’t trust a group of adventurers that come to his ill-gotten gains. The party, weary from their travel, somehow convinces the dragon to allow them to rest before they fight, promising an epic and entertaining battle. Arkan directs Aryan to take the party to a small side chamber in the cave to rest.

Eight hours later, the players are ready to engage with the ancient black dragon. Aryan stands to the side, watching. Arkan refuses Aryan’s help as he claws and bites the dragonslayer-hopefuls. Jerome loses his sentient trident, Wave. Booth, BetterBorn, and Slade all get really good hits on the dragon. Slade calls six warriors for aid with his horn of Valhalla, and BetterBorn is able to summon three elementals (water, earth, and fire). However, Arkan’s acid breath is brutal, wiping out half of the party’s minions. Eventually, Jerome deals the final blows and Arkan falls down dead.

Aryan stares in utter amazement at the scene, and says in bewildered whisper, “You are Argon. You are Arkan!” The players turn their attention toward the immense treasure hoard. They find several useful rage items, including a portable hole and a well of many worlds. Each player collects the value of a quarter of a million gold pieces. More than making up for all the gold they spent.

However, as our heroes are distracted by the treasure and the plans they begin to make for their return to the Capitol, Aryan sneaks up behind them and creates a large portal, flinging the players to an unfamiliar place. The players end up near the edge of a huge gear the size of a city. This gear is very slowly turning with many other enormous gears in tandem with a consistent tick-tock sound that echos across the grey sky. The players notice a large red beast fly over them toward a tall spire at the center of their gear. Booth recognizes the airborne form: Reem is here.

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Chapter 6: Lord of the Fire Giants

Our heroes have bested yet another member of The Fury, a mysterious faction that seems to be bent on the destruction of modern civilization. Not only that, but our heroes have also become the new owners of the Sweetmeat Factory, and will collect daily profits accordingly. While taking a brief respite in the village, Juan decides to separate from the party. Though he has enjoyed exploring the factory with the other players, circumstances prevented him from going on adventures for the time being. He needed to rest his old frame.

Arjan and Sporck explain that Yarjerit sent them to go to a large cave south of Wozington in search of some ancient tomes of dragon lore, and the players decide to come along. Perhaps their path will take them closer to Reem.

It is a three-day journey to the cave. On the way, the party fights an owl bear (Jerome collects a necklace made of teeth that can help him identify magic items) and later finds a large, ancient, ivy-covered statue. The statue is one of a drow, appearing to point toward their destination. The party soon reaches the cave and finds another ancient statue of an elegantly-dressed drow. Hidden in a hollow inside the statue’s pedestal was a bag and a clay container, each holding shiny red dust. The dust in the bag looks a little different than the dust in the container, but not by much.

Deeper into the cave, the party comes across a throne room, with Elphabon sitting at the throne. The players inform him of a large reward for his return to custody, and Elphabon doesn’t mind the idea of going to jail, knowing that he can escape again. The players reason with him that if he can escape, then they can just deliver him to the Judiciary to collect the reward and leave him to his own devices. Elphabon refuses to go with the party, however, saying they’d have to get permission from the “Big Boss” behind him. The party agrees to talk to this “boss.”

The party enters a much larger chamber behind Elphabon’s fancy chair, with a gigantic throne situated before a wall of falling lava. Seated on this throne is a fire giant who proclaims himself to be Argon, Lord of the Fire Giants. Booth remembers Yarjerit telling him that Argon and Reem have a vicious rivalry, and Argon would likely relish any opportunity to vanquish Reem entirely. Argon eyes the newcomers suspiciously, sharpening his enormous longsword on a boulder-sized whetstone. The adventurers spend some time talking with Argon, hoping to convince him to join them against Reem. Argon simply laughs at them, exclaiming that Reem is no longer his concern because he is no longer in this world. Another dragon has taken Reem’s place: Arkan the Black Dragon. The giant further explains that he and Arkan are the joint rulers of The Fury. The players take some time to discuss a few possibilities among themselves, most notably the idea of joining The Fury to eventually usurp power and become the faction’s leaders (apparently, it is not enough for them to be simply factory owners). Naturally, Argon is suspicious of these adventurers, and the banter soon bores him. A battle ensues.

Although Argon is a fire giant, he seemed to have the strength and stamina of an adult red dragon. BetterBorn begins by using a bind spell on Argon, but only manages to tie his legs and waist. Argon retained full use of his arms. The party continues to wail on him as he swings with his longsword and tosses gargantuan boulders. The battle wears on, and the players wear Argon down until Slade takes his sentient vorpal sword, Wing, and beheads the giant. Slade then takes Argon’s huge longsword (the warforged had the strength to wield it). The heroes return to Elphabon and show him Argon’s head. This causes the players to see an expression they’ve never seen on Elphabon’s face: shock and awe. The players, especially Jerome, claim the title of joint leader of The Fury. In their own words, “We are Argon.” Elphabon sees the party’s spoils and says in a shocked whisper, “You are Argon!” The party takes Elphabon with them back to the Capitol. Elphabon assures them that he won’t escape, because he has no where to go except to Arkan, and he would rather not deal directly with the fearsome black dragon.

Over these past few days, the players see their first Sweetmeat Factory profits in the form of dozens of gold pieces.

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Chapter 5: Jay-Lo Wischa and the Sweetmeat Factory

The players retreat to the assembly line room as the t-rex charges them. The room is littered with machinery and inactive tiktoks, causing a lot of difficult terrain in a small room. In all the commotion, only Jerome notices that Elphabon has disappeared, even though the immovable rod can still be seen. The battle with the t-rex (yes, it breathes fire, multiple times) is brutal, and Arjan and Sporck have a hard time hitting with their whips and lance. Just as the players make some progress on the dinosaur, twenty fire-brethin reptillas join the fray. The players make short work of them, especially when BetterBorn drinks a Potion of Fire Breathing and roasts half of the reptillas in one blow. Several seconds later, four Knights of The Fury (they wear black armor with symbols of black dragon heads) join the battle. Although quite worn out, the adventurers emerge victorious, and are free to explore the rest of the second floor of the factory, with Pop and Lolly (aka Crapper and Dummy) as their guides.

The players don’t find much else on this floor, except for some gold, treasure, and a candy laboratory. In the lab, they discover that the candy being produced by the tiktoks have been enhanced with Elphabon’s potions and are being prepared for distribution. They wonder how this would fit into Elphabon’s plans, or those of The Fury. They find another set of stairs that lead up to a third floor.

The first thing they see on the third floor is a set of pedestals. On each pedestal is an item that is valuable to a specific member of the party. The first pedestal has a bowl of milk for Jerome, another pedestal holds a gold potion that catches BetterBorn’s attention, the third a shiny pistol for Booth, a fourth holds a repair kit that Slade could use, another has a book of dragon lore that Arjan has been looking for, another holds pan pipes that Sporck loves, and the last pedestal displays a picture of Juan’s village.

BetterBorn, Slade, and Jerome approach their respective pedestals and each one is trapped in a box that lifts them up like a glass elevator and smashes against the walls, dealing damage to them. Luckily, the glass is weak enough to break through with some effort, and the players are released from the boxes. The other players and characters are cautious and retrieve their items from afar (such as with Arjan’s whips). All of the items are real, except for Juan’s, which was just an illusion (in retrospect, I realize this was a mean thing to do to Juan, but he got inspiration for the tears he shed for his village and his family).

After dealing with the pedestal traps, the players move on to explore the rooms. One room has the same furnishings as shrine to the Fury found in the Western Fortress, black clockwork dragon and all. the dragon begins to recite the familiar lines as BetterBorn quickly grabs the book inside the room and runs out. In six small storage closets they find tiny bells (two play an E, three play a G, and one plays an A). They also come across a conference room, but when they enter the room a huge boulder comes crashing on them, dealing more damage than the glass elevators did. On closer inspection, they realize the boulder is a huge jawbreaker. When it cracks, the players try to break it open. Inside, they find many multicolored layers surrounding a giant bright pink pearl worth 5,000 gold pieces!

There are four storage rooms, each holding machinery and candy that seems to match a certain element of nature (fire, water, earth, and air). Some candies are helpful while others harm them when eaten.

The players continue and the find a locked door with a tiny keyboard. They couldn’t determine the musical password, even when trying a few combinations of the tones given by the tiny bells. Arjan and Sporck are able to remember a tune that works: the first six notes of “The Candy Man” (from the 1971 Willy Wonka movie).

On the other side of the door is a hall that leads to large double doors. On the walls are more paintings of monsters, similar to the paintings found in the Western Fortress. There is another certificate on the wall, welcoming the recipient into The Fury, but this one has an older date them Elphabon’s.

The party walks through the double doors into a large hall, where they find Elphabon sitting at a desk on a dais. Two larger tiktoks (also known as engine golems) stand inactive in the middle of the room. As Elphabon smiles and greets the players, he sees Jerome and adopts a different tone.

“Hey yo yo Jerome! What up, my rakshasaaa? How you, how, ho-, how you, how you, how you doin’?” Jerome recognizes that voice and how much he hated it. The enemy they thought was Elphabon changes his shape, revealing himself to be Jay-Lo, a rakshasa from Jerome’s early and brutal gladiator days. When the players ask about Elphabon, Jay-Lo says he has no idea where the real Elphabon is. The party starts to attack. The engine golems come to life, whirring, clanking, and stomping their feet in a steady rhythm. Jay-Lo pushes a button and a gelatinous cube comes down on each engine golem, muffling their sounds in such a way that the effect is similar to large boom boxes. As the golems stomp and the cubes vibrate, Jay-Lo starts to rap:

“Ay-o, ay-o, ay-, ay-o, yo,
Welcome to this funkytown show!
As you’re tryin’ to rock and shock a rakshasa,
How can we get this party to move along fasta?

Hey yo, say hello to the Vibe Squad.
Like a dope cantelope, it should be outlawed!
Now Jerome, back at home, with his crazy cat, Jay-Lo,
We can vibe, side by side, like the old times. Ay-o!"

As some of the players deal with the huge metal/gelatinous boom boxes, BetterBorn uses his alchemy magic to bind Jay-Lo and strike him with a dozen spikes. Although a powerful gladiator and expert in magic, Jay-Lo is soon wiped out, with his boom boxes to follow suit soon after. As Jerome looks into Jay-Lo’s limp body, he has mixed feelings. Jay-Lo used to be his best friend, until the gladiator lifestyle became too much for him and he decided to try to align himself to good.

Before leaving the factory, the heroes turn to the two halflings and declare themselves as the new owners of the Sweetmeat Factory. They send Crapper and Dummy to find the rest of the Sweetmeat Guild so they can get the factory operating again as soon as possible. The players decide that there is good profit to be made from the factory, and they look forward to the additional income to subsidize their adventuring costs.

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Chapter 4: Sweet Halflings, Sour Dinosaurs

Our heroes trained with Arjan and Sporck in the Capitol for a month, and they noticed a few things. First, there are wanted posters for Elphabon. They appeared after the party delivered him to the Judiciary. Suspecting that Elphabon had escaped the incredibly secure Capitol prisons, the party returned to the Judiciary to inquire of the dwarf clerk about this. The clerk sighed as she explained that Elphabon had indeed escaped. No one knows how he did it, but the jail cell in which he was held had some of its door bars corroded by some sort of liquid. There is now a significant bounty (20,000 gp) for Elphabon’s capture, and the players take it upon themselves to find him and capture him…again.

The second thing they notice is that the Sweetmeat shops in the city are closing down. They find a halfling who complains about the closure of the Sweetmeat Factory by Wozington. He didn’t know what was happening with the factory, but nothing was being produced, and this had been going on for several weeks. The players decide to return to Wozington to investigate.

Before they return to the village, the party runs into a samurai named Juan at the Warring Waffle. Juan is looking for a black dragon of The Fury that destroyed his entire family, including his wife Juanita, and he joins the party when he hears that they are pursuing a dragon and are aware of The Fury.

While in Wozington, the party visits Leo to ask if he knows anything. While he had become aware of the Sweetmeat Factory‘s mysterious closure, he didn’t have any new information and didn’t suspect any immediate threat to the village. The players have their own ideas. They suspect Elphabon is behind it, and that he will create more fire-breathing dinosaurs that would certainly threaten the village. Leo agrees to reward the players with gold if they return from the factory with evidence of a legitimate threat. When the adventurers approach the factory, they find Jawbreaker, mace and all, standing guard at the front doors. He is happy to see the party (though the players, especially BetterBorn, consider him a funny little nuisance), and is convinced to let them into the factory. When asked what happened, Jawbreaker can only say that a dark-skinned elf came to the factory and placed him there as a guard.

The players explore every room of the ground floor of the factory, running into twenty flying maces, a pair of tough sugar cube golems, and a couple of closets stuffed with gelatinous cubes. In the process, they find lots of valuable treasure, including a ball of iron bands, an immovable rod, a tesla coil (basically a wand of wonder; DMG, 212), but with more steampunk style), and a set of three sentient weapons (Wing, a sword; Wave, a trident; and Whelm, a hammer). They also find half a dozen cells with halflings, (factory workers, all members of the Sweetmeat Guild) locked inside. Once free, the halfings exclaim,

“Opah lopah, skippity gee!
Thanks to you guys, I’m finally free!
Looky, looky, hidden door!
Before you get in, count your keys four!”

Most of the halflings flee from the factory, but two of them are convinced to stay with the party to help them find the aforementioned four keys. The two eager halflings are named Pop and Lolly, but the players, especially Jerome, decide to call them Crapper and Dummy (don’t ask me why). The halflings lead the party to a hallway with four doors numbered, quite conveniently, one through four. The party explored each door in order, finding a key in each. First in the bottom of a chocolate pond, then lodged inside some grey ooze made from used gum, then in a pile of acorns after dealing with a swarm of squirrels. The last key was in a room with a shrink ray and four glass boxes, each with a tiny dinosaur inside. The players guessed that the shrink ray would send them into the boxes, but decide to just break the glass and smash the tiny dinosaurs, which shocked the two halflings. They find the fourth key in pieces, one in each box, and assemble it. Soon after, they find and unlock a secret door that leads to a set of stairs going up.

On the second floor they find an operating assembly line, with eight tiktoks hard at work. They players, remembering how tough the tiktoks were in the Western Fortress, try to find a way to shut them down and perhaps even reprogram them to fight for them. They ask the halflings for help, and one of them (I can’t remember if it was Crapper or Dummy) pushed a big red button by the assembly line entrance. The entire line, as well as the tiktoks, shut down. There seemed to be no way to reprogram the tiktoks, however.

Having avoided a potential conflict with tiktoks, the players move on to another room and find Elphabon leaning against a back wall, with a purple potion in hand (similar to the kind that was found near the triceratops in the Western Fortress). Elphabon grins and says, “Did you miss me?” The players react quickly, with BetterBorn using the ball of iron bands to bind Elphabon, and then shoving the immovable rod into his mouth. As he does this, Elphabon drops his potion, and the purple liquid seeps into the back wall, corroding it in seconds. As the back wall melts away, the players hear a loud, monstrous roar, and a tyrannosaurus rex begins to charge at them.

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Chapter 3: Escorts to the Capitol

Leo the Younger and our heroes return triumphantly to Wozington with the evil alchemist, Elphabon, in tow. Leo takes the unconscious Elphabon to prison as the players decide to spend a few days to rest, resupply, and—in Booth’s case—create more guns and ammunition. Javert found a lead on his brother’s murderer, so he regrettably had to leave the party to follow it. The other players finally get to meet Feyrow the Elder when they visited his shop for supplies. They are a little surprised to find that the Elder is a sentient scarecrow, but they’ve already encountered stranger, more dangerous things.

After about a week, the players visit Leo to see how things are going with Elphabon. Once the prisoner came to, Leo began to interrogate him to figure out why someone would enhance local dinosaurs to attack the village. Leo doesn’t get a lot of information except that Elphabon is indeed a recent initiate of The Fury, and that his activities with the dinosaurs were connected with the ultimate goals and plans of the secret association. The players had already been rewarded with gold for assisting in finding and capturing the evil alchemist, but Leo asks the party for one final favor, for which he pays in advance. Now that Elphabon is in custody, he must now be taken to the Judiciary to be tried and punished for his crimes. As Leo drafts an official letter of escort for the party, he explains that the Judiciary holds the general prison and court system, and can be found in the Capitol, which rests at the top of the nearby mountain. The heroes agree to take Elphabon to the Capitol and are able to buy a few horses for the journey. They make sure to bind Elphabon’s hands, feet, and mouth, and have him slung over the back of one of the horses.

The road to the Capitol is well traveled but it is a hard trek, beginning in Wozington at the foot of the mountain and ending in the large metropolis at the peak. A little more than halfway up the mountain is a checkpoint, which is used to monitor newcomers and allow travelers to rest before continuing up the slope. When the players arrive at the checkpoint on horseback, they meet an official named Mr. Suur (pronounced “soor”), who checks their paperwork and tells them about the marketplace, the art gallery, and the tavern/inn (which is called The Lawful Commoner, they make great waffles). He also vaguely mentions some policy changes and power shifts in the government that require members of uncommon races, or “uncommoners,” to remain at the checkpoint for an extra day before he can let them through. Humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings are considered “common” races, so any other race is “uncommon.” This means that Jerome, the rakshasa, would be held back, and possibly Slade, though he used to be human and is built to look like one made of metal. Jerome begins to argue, but Booth decides to be diplomatic and accept the terms for now, convincing the rest of the party that they can revisit the issue with Mr. Suur in the morning.

Capitol_Checkpoint_D_D_Wiki_Homebrew.jpg

(Note: Source for this map; Capitol Checkpoint includes a greenhouse, a watchtower, a marketplace, a wine celler, a tavern/inn, and an art gallery)

As BetterBorn, Jerome, and Booth make their way to The Lawful Commoner, Slade decides to guard Elphabon in a celler. Slade, as a warforged, is still aware of his surroundings even when in a state of rest, making him the ideal sentinel. During the night, as Elphabon was lying on the celler floor, he bites a capsule lodged in his teeth to swallow a small dose of a Potion of Gaseous Form. As Elphabon’s body slowly forms into mist, Slade notices the change and quickly stuffed pieces of cloth into the crack under the door, blocking Elphabon’s misty escape. He then takes his shield and uses it to fan Elphabon’s gaseous form into a corner until the potion wears off.

Foiled, Elphabon tries to play with Slade’s mind by implying that a half-orc is staying at the inn upstairs tonight. Perhaps this creature knows about the orc that destroyed Slade’s village? Slade was certainly interested, but didn’t entirely trust his prisoner, so he tied him back up, hands and feet and all. Elphabon wasn’t gagged, though, so he tried one more trick: slipping the red jewel on his ring into his mouth. Slade notices this and forces Elphabon to cough it out. The jewel was a capsule of a Potion of Reduction, so Elphabon only shrinks a foot or two instead of becoming miniscule. Slad was successful in preventing Elphabon’s multiple escape attempts, and Elphabon was really mad about it.

While all of this was going on, BetterBorn and Jerome were having a great time at The Lawful Commoner, while Booth was up on a balcony, looking over the crowd while polishing a gun. He noticed an uncommon pair: a red dragonborn (two whips are strapped to his belt) going over a few old tomes with a half-orc (equipped with a lance and bagpipes). Booth immediately distrusts the dragonborn because he is the same color as Reem, the red dragon he has sworn to kill. Booth watches them as BetterBorn and Jerome, slightly inebriated, also notice this strange pair and approach them. The half-orc, Sporck, is always happy to make new friends, especially over a few drinks, or a few dozen. The dragonborn, Arjan, is reticent as the others become more involved in their friendly revelry.

Booth decides to join them, mostly because he wondered if the dragonborn would know anything about Reem’s whereabouts. Arjan explains that he and Sporck work for an old silver dragonborn named Yarjerit Tinntinabulaar (often called Yarjerit for short), and he sent them to find a few rare tomes to add to his extensive library of dragon lore and history. When Booth asked about Reem, Arjan says that he has heard of Reem, and though he may not know where Reem would be, Yarjerit would. Arjan is also frustrated that he and Sporck had to stay at the checkpoint an extra day for being an “uncommoner.” Booth decides to have the party join Arjan and Sporck to go meet Yarjerit in the Capitol.

The next morning, Slade drags Elphabon upstairs to join the party, and to meet Arjan and Sporck. Slade asks Sporck about the orcs of the mountains that destroyed his village. Sporck is incredibly friendly, but is able to give very little information other than the fact that he (Sporck) doesn’t approve of the mountain orcs (“Sporck not like mountain orcs, they mean. But Sporck like metal man!”) When the adventurers approach the gate that goes out to the capitol, Mr. Suur stops them, saying that “commoners” can continue, but not the “uncommoners.” Booth plays the diplomat, in spite of Jerome’s snarky sarcasm on the side (“Ignore him,” Booth says, “he’s an idiot.”), and is able to convince Mr. Suur to let everyone through with a bribe, but just barely. Everyone gets to the Capitol, and the players arrange to meet up with Sporck and Arjan at Yarjerit’s library after they drop off Elphabon at the Judiciary.

When the players arrive at the large Judiciary, they are greeted by a female dwarf clerk. She inspects their paperwork through her half-moon spectacles and sends a guard over to take Elphabon to the prison cells downstairs. The players, knowing of Elphabon’s multiple escape attempts the night before, question the clerk and the guard regarding the level of security of the prison. The Judiciary officials were a little offended that anyone would think that the Capitol prison and guards were anything less than very secure. There hadn’t been a prison break in over a decade. With Elphabon at last off their hands, the party goes to Yarherit’s library, passing a few taverns on the way, including The Warring Waffle and The Pitiful Pancake.

The players meet Yarjerit Tinntinabulaar in his modest-sized library of dragon lore. Arjan and Sporck are there as well. Booth approaches the old silver dragonborn with questions about Reem. He learns of the location of Reem’s treasure horde, and that he has a long fierce rivalry with Argon, the Lord of the Fire Giants. The players decide to stay in the Capitol for the next month and join Arjan and Sporck in their training exercises to gain some more experience. By the end of the month, Yarjerit will have another adventure for Arjan and Sporck, and the players look forward to working with them, hoping that they can get closer to Reem and his treasure trove.

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