Arachnophobia Chapter 2 Complete!

It took us more than a year and 20 games to complete Chapter 1 of JADE's Arachnophobia Campaign. But for the group to complete Chapter 2 it took them only a handful months and 5 games! So a much shorter chapter with a quarter of the games, but boy were they full of action, betrayals, and decisions that would change the course of the adventure forever!

In the last chapter, after discovering a forgotten temple buried underground, the party found themselves wrapped up in a prophecy to save the world from the hordes of giant spiders soon to befall the land. Feeling they were in over their heads, the party decided it was best to head to the City of Darfield and present the problem to their liege Lord Kilgour. The only problem was that Darfield was hundreds of miles from there forest bound Hamlet of Barleydale: affectionately know to the players as the Dale.

After a months journey in game and several detours, the party finally reached the city of Darfield. But they were a  much different group then the party that had left the Dale. The journey had taken it's toll on them and those that had survived the trip were more than anxious to speak with the Lord and be done with the task once and for all; though they knew that the spiders had likely overrun their home and they now had no where to go.

After entering the city, the group found themselves overwhelmed by the sheer size of the place. While some party members like Shan, and Tana had seen cities this large or larger, for the simple folk of the Dale it was completely overwhelming. John the Greenwood Ranger was particularly disturbed by the amount of stone, and mortal made architecture dominating the landscape.

Excited to explore the marvelous town that lay before them, John had to reign the party in and find a place for them to stay the night. From there they would plan how exactly a group of peasants and mercenaries would get an audience with Lord Kilgour. But for now a bed and a good meal would suffice.

Exploring Darfield

The party quickly realized that with the Gates to Darfield firmly sealed against the spider hordes and fleeing refugees alike, that supplies in the town had grown limited: with liquor become a prized commodity. In the first tavern they entered, they we greeted by a gruff Dwarven bartender who immediately informed them that they were out of booze.

The mood in the bar was grim to say the least as the few remaining Dwarven patrons looked sadly into their empty cups and dreamed of a good stiff drink. It was here that the party learned more about of one of the political influencers in town: the Dwarven League. Needing to deliver a letter to the organization about the death of their Dwarven blacksmith Paeter Son of Grayble from the Dale, the party eagerly listened as the bartender explained how it works.

In Darfield the Dwarven League was comprised of nine Dwarven Trade Guilds. The League was a governing body, reporting back to the Dwarven Highland and Lowland Kingdoms, and dealing with all matters of politic. The Guilds were just that: Trade Guilds. There are the Coppersmiths, the Ironsmiths, the Weaponmsiths, the Armoursmiths, The Meat Cutters, The Leather Workers, the Brewsters, The Dock Workers, and the Sailing Guild. Each guild controls its own tavern, which operates as a headquarters, and are the only taverns available to stay at in Darfield.

Despite these organizations existing to help smooth relationships between the Dwarven Craftsmen and the state, in reality the guilds function more like gangs; each with alliances, and enemies among all guild members. The fighting between guilds has gotten so bad that no one may carry a weapon after dark, and Dwarves found doing so will be arrested and charged with disturbing the peace.

So without knowing it the party had already thrown their hat in with a guild in the middle of guild war just by staying at the Coppersmith's tavern. Despite some hopes that the Dwarven League might be able to help them in their quest, the instability and infighting in the league meant working with them was just too high risk for the party.

Meeting with Nobility

Since the group did not have much of a plan other than to wander the streets of Darfield and hope they came across something, the Gnomish Cleric Ceryl Figgis decided to take matters into his own hands. With an unwavering determination, Ceryl Figgis, managed to get a meeting with the St. Cuthbert's Bishop of Darfield through sheer determination. Patiently he waited outside of the Darfield Cathedral until a bemused Bishop agreed to see him and the rest of the party.

Using a Detect Lies Spell, the Bishop listened to the party's story and found them to be telling the truth.: the spiders had overrun the North, and they truly believed they had discovered a prophecy predicting how Toby Ryder, could save the world. Using his influence the Bishop was able to secure the party an audience with Lord Kilgour. It finally seemed everything was going to work out. They would meet with the Lord and certainly he would know what to do next. But things never work out that easily do they?

Upon entering Lord Kilgour's chamber they over heard a conversation between a human man in his 40's sitting on a throne, and a cold and evil sounding elf who spoke before him... It was none other than Count Oppelthor himself: The nobleman who had sent his cruel and sadistic guards to capture the party. It was his men who had captured them at the Wolf's head Inn all those weeks ago, and his men who were responsible for the dark event known to the group as the Penkurth Massacre. 

It seemed that Count Oppelthor was in fact a servant of Lord Kilgour, but the two were not alike. Kilgour did not threaten the party or demand their surrender, but rather invited them stay in his castle as guests and even went so far as to invite them to dinner. He praised the party for their bravery and claimed he was anxious to learn more about them. Gritting his teeth, Count Oppelthor accepted his liege's verdicts, and left the chamber at the jeering of the Baron Montague: a drunken Dwarven nobleman standing in behind Lord Kilgour's thronw. Comfortable that they had found an ally, the party agreed, and left to gather their possessions from the nearby Inn.

Along the way back they encountered a group of four people that they never thought they would see again. The first was Sarah Harper the priest from the Dale, the others were a group of three survivors who had managed to escape. Out of the proud village of 56 residents, only four (plus the four from the party) had survived the trip to Darfield. Not able to extend the Lord's invitation to the survivors who were staying in a nearby Inn, John gave them some more money for room and board and agreed they would meet outside the castle the next day.

After gathering their things, the party returned to the castle, and joined Lord Kilgour for dinner. They were hoping to be guests of honour, and have the floor with at least the Lord and potentially any of the other nobleman Lord Kilgour Invited. However, this was not to be. Lord Kilgour was more interested in his own political gains then in saving the world. He toted to the other Lords and Ladies at the table how he controlled the key to defeat the spiders, and how they should support him.

With glances cast sideways, the party realized that they would find no help here and to get involved with Lord Kilgour would mean getting thrust into the heart of Grayland politics: something no one in the party was willing to do. So the group sat politely through the dinner, never fully addressed but expected to nod when referred to. It was uncomfortable, and felt more like a business presentation than a function honouring guests.

After dinner the party returned to their quarters confused, and unsure of what to do next. It was then that they were introduced to a young man named Vif Minaz, who claimed to be the apprentice of the Wizard of Darfield. Vif claimed that the wizard had gotten him trapped at the top of his tower in Darfield, and this is what he said:

"During an experiment of an unknown nature the Wizard of Darfield trapped himself at the top of his tower. The 12 story tower sealed with powerful and ancient magics not even fully under the Wizard's control have sealed the tower. He needs outsiders to help him, as no one can know the wizard is trapped. He has enemies in the capital: Black ridge that would certainly use this opportunity to seize power. He knows that the tower is sealed with magic traps and even monsters, but knows nothing of the specifics."

Shan the Sha'ir used a Candle of Truth Spell to verify his tale, and found him to be truthful. The apprentice assured them that the Wizard would be grateful and would certainly know how to help them better than any quibbling lord would. Unsure of what to do next, the party decided to rest for the evening, and make their plans the next day.

The Wizard's Tower

Vif had presented the party with a much needed third option and the party had a brief debate about what to do next. It was agreed that getting involved with Lord Kilgour, Count Oppelthor and the Baron Montague was a bad idea. There were simply too many powerful players involved, and experience had taught them that these people would just as easily cast them aside if it suited them. Ceryl thought that the the safest course of action would be to join with one of the guilds and become part of the Dwarven League. They would then arrange to have themselves smuggled out of town. The only problem was that after getting out of the sealed city of Darfield they had no direction. The Dwarves knew nothing of the spiders and the ancient prophecy. It left the group with only one choice: They must go with Vif and attempt to rescue the Wizard of Darfield from whatever had befallen him atop his tower.

Entering the tower was no problem, but during the 12 story climb the party encountered a number of traps, and magical beasts that the tower had activated - somehow seeming to sense the wizard's distress. Some of the challenges they faced, included a Stone Golem, a room the had to cross where they were shrunk down to being only 6" high, a library infested by sprites convinced that they were defending the mighty "Forest of Darfield", a room with a powerful sleeping aura that only their Elven comrade Lethoras was able to withstand, among many more.

After facing a problem at each level, the group finally reached the top floor of the tower and found the Wizard suspended in time. Thomas the Chronomancer was able to figure out how to disable the spell, releasing the wizard and returning the tower to normal. It turned out that the Wizard of Darfield had been experimenting with Time-Magic and it had back fired. Grateful for saving him, the Wizard of Darfield agreed to help and this is what he learned and suggested the party do:

"Every few thousand years our lands fall with in the migratory paths of a horde of giant spiders beyond measure. I have found records dating back centuries. From the discovery of ancient remains and references to spiders destroying the native land of the Orcs; rendering them extinct, before suddenly stopping their advance. I have also found some further references to an ancient council of wizards who was working to stop these hordes. Perhaps they succeeded. This is all I can decipher from my oldest texts, but clearly we are missing something. There is only person I know of that we can trust and who would have access to records older than mine. You must seek Erapledes of Delphi. He will know what to do. There is no time to argue. You will leave this evening. I will signal my ship."

The Wizard had suggested that the party flee South across the sea  to the Hellenisitc Isles. Only the philosopher Erapledes of Delphi could be trusted and would have access to histories old enough to tell them what to do. With their plan set, the party prepared to leave the tower and recover their possessions. From there they would simply enter the TARDIS and blink out of Darfield, arriving within 1d10 miles of their target - easily outside the city walls if all went well.

John grabbed this map of the Hellenistic Isles - by chance- in the map room of the Wizard of Darfield's Tower

Leaving Darfield

When the party left the tower, they realized something strange had happened: it was not the afternoon as they expected, but he morning of the next day. The Wizard of Darfield's experiments in time had caused some warping of the timeline and they had been missing for 24 hours. After exiting the tower they were immediately approached by the Elven Thief Klaus. He explained to them what had happen during the full day they had been gone. First, Lord Kilgour's army sent North to fight the spider hordes had been defeated. This had sent the city into a panic and riots consumed the market. In response, Lord Kilgour declared marshal law and flooded the streets with Count Oppelthor's men, who now seem to be the only soldiers in town.

Count Oppelthor had also accused the party of kidnapping Toby Ryder and they would be arrested on sight. It seems that the nobility in Darfield had decided to take Toby whether he wanted to go or not. Distressed by this news the party questioned Klaus some more to ensure that he was what he claimed to be. He explained that he was a disgraced member of the Darfield Thief's Guild looking to escape the city, and though this was not true, the group focused more on ascertaining if he was associated with Count Oppelthor... He was not, but he also wasn't a Thief either. Klaus was in fact a Spy from Nikovaria, sent to find some way of stopping the spiders. Toby was the perfect target for Klaus' investigation. So until he could learn exactly how Toby's gemmed hand could fend off the spiders, the party's interests were his interests. Satisfied that he was not working with Oppelthor, the party accepted his aid.

Using the information Klaus had gathered around the city, the party planned how they would recover the TARDIS from the castle stables. Everyone agreed that they would sneak in through the sewers, except Thomas who planned to disguise himself as a priest and walk in.

Surprisingly Thomas' plan worked pefectly, however the party that entered the sewer suffered several causalities. Tana Lohs the Half-Elf Fighter fell to her death through a glass floor floor above a chasm, and Ceryl Figgis was turned to stone by a Cockatrice. Despite these trails the survivors managed to reach the TARDIS, bringing the now statuesque Ceryl Figgis with them. With everyone safely inside the magical box, Thomas cast Timeslip and left Darfield behind.

Back to the Beginning 

Inside the temporal prime, Thomas had an idea: rather then blinking in and out of time, why not return to the Dale, and try to save them? Only four people had made it out alive, certainly they could improve those odds. It was no difficult task to convince those from the Dale and once the others saw that they would not persuaded they also agreed.

Their trip through the prime was remarkably uneventful, though many party members got the distinct feeling they were being watched while riding up front with Thomas. It took them a total of 14 hours to reach their destination, and Thomas cast Timeslip returning them 32 days into the past.

The party arrived in the middle of Game 2, some 400 miles away from where their time travel trip began.The plan was to simply warn the village to leave earlier then they had, and then everyone expected that Thomas would return the party to the future. This however was not the case. The following morning, after resting and recovering his spells, Thomas grabbed his peacocks that he had left behind in the Dale, and Timeslipped out... Taking the TARDIS, the Statue of Ceryl Figgis and much of the parties supplies and equipment with him.

Confused, the party later learned from a farmer in the Dale that Thomas had left the Dale arrived about 3 hours before they had arrived yesterday. With this confusing bit of knowledge the party learned that Thomas had effectively abandoned them in the past. They would have to make the journey to Darfield again, and find a ship heading to the Hellenistic isles as they had originally planned...

Where Are They Now?

All the players were informed before hand that this major game changing event was happening and they all role played accordingly to make sure that it worked out smoothly. They have decided that they are going head back towards Darfield, but this time take a more direct route with their only detour being to defeat the Wizard of Chester once again to stop him from destroying the Waystones in Kings Forest, though this time they simply intend to kill him rather then awaken the sleep colossus.

A classic character from the start of the campaign that died in game 11 has also been resurrected due to this time travel event along with dozen of NPCs and other player characters as yet encountered. Butters is alive once again, and has rejoined the party replacing the now petrified Ceryl Figgis as Chris' new character.

After being abandoned the party blitzed through days of adventuring ignoring plot hooks, and getting on with their quest as quickly as possible In one game they cut through 4 games worth of material and really got back on track. With luck they should be back at Darfield within 2-4 more games, rather than the original 20 it took in the first place.

Starting Chapter 3

Going into chapter three we are not crossing the Mortal Sea to the South as I had planned just yet, and are doing a bit of a re-do. However we have some unique circumstances to work with: never before have I ran a campaign where the players and characters know what is going to happen next. Their knowledge of events is not just players having run through this part of the campaign before, but is in fact character knowledge, as they are using the same characters who have traveled back in time.

Since Thomas the Chronomancer has left the party to star in his own campaign, Dave will be introducing a new character in game 26, which is the official start of chapter three. He has chosen to play a Bard using a Jester Kit and he will join the party soon.

The plan going into the chapter three is to avoid as much conflict as possible. Since the Old Forgotten Gods of the Forest have tasked John to defeat the Wizard of Chester once again, that task is seen as unavoidable, but from there the plan is to head straight to Harbour Town and arrange passage on a ship heading to the Hellenistic Isles. Already having the name of their contact: Erapledes of Delphi, they have decided that they are not even going to enter Darfield this time around, and will leave the Wizard trapped at the top of his tower. Hopefully this will let them avoid the dangers of the tower, and the meddling of Count Oppelthor. This plan should expedite their journey South though this time they will lose the opportunity for a potential alliance with the Wizard of Darfield.

How they will fair in this adventure the party will get without Thomas and the ability to re-write their mistakes, only time will tell! But one thing is for sure: The spiders are coming, and they will need to hurry if they want to escape, and learn how to stop them.

I would like to give a special thanks @addiedoesart for the amazing art in the post. Be sure to check out her Instagram pages for more wonderful sketches and paintings

Written by: Andrew Gregory

Arachnophobia Chapter 2 Complete! Arachnophobia Chapter 2 Complete! Reviewed by JADE Gaming on 5/04/2018 01:45:00 pm Rating: 5

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