The PCs awakened in a cavern around a crackling campfire, dressed in their adventuring gear and completely unaware of how they had arrived there. After everyone spent a bit of time backed against the wall and cautiously determining that their fellows in the chamber weren’t planning on killing them, attention turned to the strange itching sensation that each person in the room was experiencing. An examination of their backs determined that each resident of the cavern had the same series of tattoos etched upon their skin in blue ink.
Starting at the base of the spine and going clockwise, the tattoos were as follows:
1) A swirling vortex with a toothy maw at its center.
2) A laughing skull dangling smashed vertebrae.
3) A stylized scarab with a crescent moon upon its back.
4) A book lying open engulfed in flames with magical runes across its pages.
5) A dragon with wings spread, framing the lines of tattoos on either shoulderblade.
6) A windowless tower with an eye at its apex
7) A serene featureless feminine face, eyes closed
8) An indeterminate blob, still apparently forming.
The residents of the cavern were determined to be:
1) Zefram, a Mul Battlemind hailing from Athas
2) Valen of Threshold, a Human Monk hailing from Mystara
3) Belfour, a Human Warlord hailing from Hyperborea
4) Percy Spinereaver, a Half-Orc Fighter hailing from Azeroth
5) Lanathel, a Drow Sorceress hailing from Parts Unknown
6) Teleh, a Half-Elven Invoker hailing from Ravenloft (NPC)
7) Corrigan D’Urgann, a Human Ardent hailing from Kolum (NPC)
The group resolved to discover what powers had brought them here, with Teleh noting that this seemed very similar to what the lords of her realm did. Many of the residents of the room recognized the sigils on their backs to belong to a nemesis who had plagued them in their home realm. The ululations and chittering of the nearby ratmen lurking in the next chamber brought an end to the initial pleasantries and the group began to prepare for combat when they found themselves approached by a light which, as it drew near, revealed itself to be a disembodied floating skull with many of its teeth replaced with sparkling multi-colored gemstones. The creature in question named itself Guide.
After some discussion of the basics of their kidnapping here, Guide escorted the heroes to the Cove of the Forgotten, the location from which their bodies had apparently been harvested. The Elder of the Rat-People explained to the heroes, via Guide’s translation, that their remnants had been fished from the Astral Sea, an inlet of which rushed into this cavern, and fed to the gelatinous masses which reconstituted heroes in preparation for the Final Battle with the denizens of the Far Realm who even now strained against the Gate at the Edge of Eternity. The Elder revealed that the heroes normally slept, awaiting this duty, unable to regain their souls until their time had come but that slavers had come from the nearby city of Sarnath with strange magicks which had allowed them to awaken and enslave these heroes while driving off the Rat-People who guarded them. He implied heavily that this group of heroes was not the first to have been raised here, but that his people had snuck back into the cavern, freed Guide (who was left here as a watcher of sorts and who bore the Dragon tattoo upon his pate), and awakened the heroes from their gelatinous prisons ahead of schedule, but that an attack from the slavers was almost certainly imminent.
This prescience was dramatically followed immediately by a slaver attack. The heroes defeated the slavers and the Harvester who had been sent to lead them, killing all but the Harvester and then leaping through the portal which it created when bloodied in order to return to its lair, a place believed to be the lighthouse overlooking the sea and cove and almost certainly held by Corrigan’s nemesis, a creature called The Ravener, believed to be in service to the Silver Mask of Kolum. So ended the first game.
Encounter Level: Hard — Level +2 (5900 xp)
1x Abyssal Basilisk (Level 13 Artillery)
2x Githyanki Warriors (Level 12 Soldier)
1x Displacer Beast Pack Lord aka The Harvester (Level 13 Elite Skirmisher)
4x Moldering Mummy aka Partially-Formed Gelatinous Hero (Level 10 Minion Brute)
1x Demonic Savage Minotaur (Level 11 Brute)
Two levels, one a bridge over the cove’s water with rampways down either side, a pool of water for the inlet below and then flat terrain leading to the various caves of the Rat-People. No special effects or hindrances beyond the pool being difficult terrain.
A very “sticky” encounter (with marks and grabs, as opposed to status effects), with the soldiers and the minotaur pinning the party on the bridge and rampways while the abyssal basilisk fired away from below, with a dominate-lite effect on failed saves. The Harvester was held in reserve until Turn 3 for multiple reasons —
1) keeping players from being overwhelmed by opposing forces in a Nova Round 1
2) encouraging players to expend their resources on the lower threats prior to the Harvester showing up.
3) Drama, baby.
PCs spent a few dailies (after being warned that they would need to conserve resources for the lighthouse in the next game) and were bloodied with some frequency, but no PCs (or NPCs) dropped to dying and all monsters destroyed aside from the Harvester (which portaled home and was killed off-camera once Bloodied).