Here There Be Science; Here There Be Dragons!

Chapter 2: The Alchemist of Wozington

Our heroes return to Wozington, after exploring a cave full of reptillas, a fire-breathing anklyosaurus, and an alchemy lab where they found a map that leads to a fortress out to the west. They report back to Leo the Younger Elder to give him an update.

Leo recognizes the fortress. It had been abandoned for decades and has been given a rather obvious name: the Western Fortress. Suspecting that bigger and stronger fire-breathing dinosaurs were in their near future, the players ask if the village guardians, Leo the Younger, Feyrow the Elder, and Boqqle the Smith, could accompany them to find and capture the alchemist. Leo didn’t want to leave his village entirely defenseless, so he agreed to have one guardian come along. Although Boqqle is a fierce fighter, and Feyrow is a wonderful wizard, the players asked Leo to come with them, noticing the lack of healing abilities in their party. Leo agrees to leave with the party the next morning.

The players spend the night at The Emerald Ape. In the morning, they meet a humanoid feline, a rakshasa, named Jerome. He overhears of the party’s plans to go to a fortress that day and enthusiastically volunteers his help. He joins the party with Leo towards the Western Fortress.

A six-hour trek through the woods (no random encounters) takes them to the Western Fortress. There is no obvious entrance, but BetterBorn found a secret tunnel obscured by some bushes along the wall. They explore fortress like true dungeon delvers, one room after another (Western Fortress dungeon notes here). The adventurers encounter a fair number of tiktoks (clockwork men), which surprised Leo because he hadn’t seen one operational for decades. These automated robots appeared to be enhanced with potions of strength. Some of the tiktoks present a puzzle to the players, but the rest just wind up their metal fists to fight (to wind up a punch, they literally wind up; clicking noises from internal gears and springs can be heard before a tiktok is ready to lay out a punch). There is also a room of flying apes, with one of them being emerald-colored.

The heroes find a clockwork goldfish, which led them to a secret room filled with paintings of dragons, giants, beholders, and other monsters. There is also a framed certificate, indicating that the recipient is a recently-initiated member of The Fury. Later, hey encounter an illusion of a drow who introduces himself as “”/characters/elphabon-the-war-alchemist" class=“wiki-content-link”>Elphabon, the Great and Powerful," and he reveals his tremendous pride in his creation of the fire-breathing dinosaurs. The heroes now have a face and a name to this evil alchemist. They also find dozens of different potions, and BetterBorn keeps each one in his bag to use for later.

In a large dueling room, the players find a stone triceratops, flanked with four pedestals topped with glass orbs that contain a purple potion. The players were pretty sure what the potion would do, but seeing no other way forward, they crack the glass orbs, allowing the potion to spill to the center of the room. The stone on the triceratops melts away, and the players unleash their strength and skill against it. Booth and BetterBorn were able to get very good hits on it, and everyone was able to survive the triceratops’ line of fire (literally a line of fire). In the end, Slade leaps on top of the dinosaur, and drives his sword into the back of the beast’s neck, dealing the killing blow. The clockwork goldfish then led them (through a series of loud and soft clicks) to a secret staircase. The players decide to rest here before continuing on to the next floor.

The second floor of the fortress turned out to be much smaller than the first, with large containers, vats, and basins of various alchemy ingredients brewing and boiling through a pipe system on the walls and ceiling. BetterBorn tries to ruin the alchemist’s work by urinating in a couple of the large vats. While this causes some of the potion mixtures to lose color and potency, one mixture became more potent from BetterBorn’s wee little scheme.

Among other things (such as a library with an acid trap and a storage room with a mysterious hourglass), the players enter some sort of strange shrine. A clockwork black dragon activates upon their entrance and recites these menacing stanzas:

“The ancient earth they now subdue,
With order and appliance.
All they (refuse!) declare on cue,
‘Here, there be science!’

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 heroes say nothing as BetterBorn inspects the old tome on a small pedestal. The tome appears to be an allegorical story about a female druid being tortured by a civilized man, but the woman promises vengeance against the man (civilized society). A few moments into this study, the black dragon automation says, “Who run the world?” One of the players took a stab at it: “Dragons?” Apparently, it was the wrong answer because the dragon starts to spray acid throughout the room, but the players were able to escape quickly enough to suffer minimal damage. They also find a pair of alchemy jugs, which BetterBorn takes with glee.

Finally, the adventurers find Elphabon, the evil drow alchemist, sitting at a desk. The drow had a bag around his shoulder, a potion in his hand, and a confident smirk on his face. “Well, it’s about time,” the drow began, and he threw his potion onto the desk. Magical flames spread and engulfed the walls, revealing more space in the room to battle. Two tiktoks in the room come to life and Elphabon begins to take potions out of his bag to gain the upper hand. The tiktoks proved to be hard to hit, and even many attacks on the drow kept missing. The players got worried when Elphabon used an invisibility potion. BetterBorn decided that the best option was to drink a Potion of Fire Breath and spread a wide cone of fire at one of the tiktoks, as well as the area behind it. The fire was forceful enough and the cone of attack wide enough to his Elphabon, which was evidenced when the players heard a scream of pain followed by Elphabon’s loss of invisibility, as well as consciousness. Leo takes Elphabon’s limp body, and the party returns to Wozington, where Elphabon is taken to prison to be questioned when he comes to.

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Chapter 1: Fire-Breathing Reptiles

We begin the campaign in the modest village of Wozington, which sits at the foot of Capitol Mountain and acts as the gateway town to the Capitol on the mountain’s peak. The players, our adventurers, each wander into the village and relax in the village tavern, The Emerald Ape. They each stick out in a crowd of otherwise commonly-dressed humans and halflings.

BetterBorn, a transmutation alchemist, sits at the bar. His contorted face and hunchbacked figure is the result of a powerful potion that bolstered his pride and his vigor. A genius alumnus of the Horrington Academy of Alchemy, he seeks to use his superior intellect to become a master of alchemy and metalwork.

Slade, a warforged slayer, also sits at the bar to enjoy a drink or two, not to nourish his metal construction, but to gain respite from a long day of travel. As a young human boy, his home village was destroyed by orcs. Saved and newly constructed by a group of wizards and metalworkers, Slade has made it his life’s focus to hunt and destroy the tribe of orcs that forever scarred his life.

Sitting at a table by himself is Booth, a human gunslinger with cybernetic limbs and parts all along the left side of his body. While out to earn his way in life, he has a personal vendetta against Reem, a vicious red dragon that burned his town to ashes. Booth was but a lad when Reem’s fire consumed half of his body. Though grateful for the extra power afforded to him by his cyborg half, the machinery is a constant reminder of Reem’s destructive raid.

Javert’s colorful outfit and feather-plumed hat catch the eyes of the commonly-dressed villagers. Javert is a human swashbuckler, whose style and panache is easily read in his deportment, as well as his smirk atop a smashing black goatee. Despite his demeanor, he also has a tale of revenge, in his case for the murderer of his beloved brother.

Such is the scene, which doesn’t change until a belligerent halfling storms into The Emerald Ape and demands a drink from the first person he sees. Everyone notices the ruckus, and the bartender gives a resigned sigh at this familiar sight. As the halfling yells and curses his former employers (“The teffin’ Sweetmeat Guild fired me!”), Booth and Javert approach the halfling, who introduces himself as Jawbreaker the Glossy. Jawbreaker brandishes a comically menacing lollipop mace until he sees a familiar face: BetterBorn.

BetterBorn was once hired a few villages back by a group of thugs to free some of their members from the jail in the town of Frenick. He is ashamed to have been a part of such clandestine activity with such low-minded humanoids. Jawbreaker was one of the thugs set free, and BetterBorn tried to avoid eye contact. It was to no avail when Jawbreaker noticed the hunchback and greeted him enthusiastically. BetterBorn, though embarrassed, appreciated the ego boost (“That jailbreak explosion was teffin’ sweet!”), though gets annoyed at Jawbreaker butchering his name (“All hail BornBetter!”).

The halfling’s riot subdued, everyone hears screams outside, accompanied by a loud roar. The four adventurers walk out onto the street to find several houses on fire. They rescue villagers trapped inside a printing press, and then follow the sound of the beastly roar, with Jawbreaker tagging along. They eventually find the source of the commotion: a single allosaurus. Jawbreaker brandishes his lollipop mace, but is persuaded to leave the scene to contact an authority. The adventurers easily kill the allosaurus, and discover that it was somehow able to breathe fire.

Someone notices two small figures escaping down a side street, and the heroes end up cornering and intimidating two reptillas (known in the D&D world as kobolds; for this campaign, the word “reptillas” was created to go along with the dinosaur theme, they are also known here a lizardmen). The reptillas reveal that they’re working with an alchemist, who gave the fire breath to the allosaurus, but refuse to reveal where he is. The heroes knock out one reptilla, and allow the other to escape. Jawbreaker returns, disappointed that he missed all the action, and tells the players that Leo the Younger Elder wanted to see them. Javert decides to track the reptilla to its home base while the others visit with the Younger. As the reptilla drags its unconscious partner out of Wozington, Javert makes mental note of the landmarks they pass in the nearby woods, including the Sweetmeat Factory that towers above the trees off to the south. The reptilla enters a cave some ways out of town, and Javert retraces his footsteps to tell the others.

BetterBorn, Booth, and Slade find Leo’s modest mansion near the middle of the village, and a butler lets them into the main office. Leo the Younger Elder, one of the three guardians of Wozington, expressed gratitude to the heroes for saving his village from the sudden attack. The players tell Leo what they discovered from the reptillas, and Leo suspects that the allosaurus came from Reptilla Cave, which is outside the village and past the Sweetmeat Factory. He promises a reward for bringing back the mysterious alchemist for questioning, and directs them to Boqqle the Smith to collect a monetary reward for destroying the dinosaur. Boqqle gives the players their reward in gold pieces and is especially happy to meet Slade, a fellow warforged. Boqqle sells weapons and repair kits for discounted prices.

Javert returns to the party to discover that Leo told them about Reptilla Cave. Sure enough, it was the same cave Javert found. With Slade in front, the poison dart traps set up in the cave had minimal effect. However, a short way into the dark cave, the party encounters ten reptillas. Although they were weak, the reptillas were altered with the same alchemy that had altered the allosaurus. This became clear when five of them simultaneously targeted Slade with fire breath attacks.

The cave tunnel came to two branches, one more heavily trapped than the other. The players went right first, where there were no traps. They enter a large room at the end of the tunnel and find an anklyosaurus! It was inside a cage, but the door was kept open. The creature’s natural armor was hard to penetrate, and the struggle was made more difficult when the anklyosaurus breathed fire. Eventually, another dangerous dinosaur was killed, and the adventurers decide to tread carefully to the other branch of the cave.

They were able to avoid the rest of the traps as they made their way to the room at the end of the left tunnel. The players found tables covered with alchemy instruments, cabinets of potions and ingredients, and a desk that was recently emptied except for one piece of paper. It was a map of the wilderness out to the west of Wozington, and there was a circle drawn around a fortress in the middle of the map. BetterBorn pockets the potions and the players decide that the next step is to return to Leo with their new found information.

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