Gustavus and Friends

S20 - To Claim a Throne
Blood, Guts, and Glory

[Last adventure the heroes had just resurrected Gronk. This session they ventured back to Sharn, where Gustavus was ushered into a mysterious operation. He came out, and so did Harun… separately. Gustavus called a big meeting back at the Compound where the party decided to undertake as their personal mission the quest to uncover the secret of the Mourning.

Shortly thereafter Harun showed up again, seeking to hire the party for one last big mission: crush the Kech Sharaat army marching on Rhukan Draal and seat him on his father’s throne!]

This is Glindy here, and my oh my, my dear readers do I have a story to tell you. As many of you know I was promoted last week to reporter at large, and given Darguun as my beat. In the future this column will appear on page seven instead of two, but will be a full two inches longer! Luckily for you my first week was incredible.

No sooner had I arrived at Rhukan Draal than none other than the original Pantzers arrived! Gustavus, Glint, Gronk… all those wonderful guys. Seems they were recruited by the long-lost heir to Lhesh Haruuc to do a spot of fighting. There I was, a gnome in a city of goblins, with a massive Horde descending on us from the West, and the bravest heroes this side of Sharn to defend me! We only had three days to prepare the city for battle.

As quick as that the heroes were off, each doing his part to defend the reign of the closest thing to a peaceful hobgoblin anyone has ever met. The first day Glint rounded up his tribe, Imperio hired a whole troop of Deneith contracted-gobbos, Konrad secured a huge mess of healing supplies from Jorasco, Gronk negotiated mercenaries from Droaam, and Gustavus brokered a treaty bringing the Wordbearer tribe under the umbrella of the Shara’kor dynasty.

Gee, that was mighty impressive for day one, all but doubling the defenses of Rhukan Draal! On day two Glint had a little chat with the enemy officers (left them smiling from ear to ear), Imperio scouted the enemy’s strength, [Konrad spread rumors that the Emerald Claw was in cahoots with the Kech Sharaat], Gronk harried the enemy supply lines, [and Gustavus secretly arranged a little moral boosting flyer-delivery by the Trust.] Gee goly, everyone was all fired up and ready to stomp them rebels!

The final day arrived, but the Pantzers weren’t done preparing a warm welcome. Working themselves to the bone they cleared the local forests to deny their enemy supplies, laid magical landmines to the rear, organized a flaming pig brigade, and freed the enemy’s captives. Reliable reports from the enemy camp sure put those no-good rebels in a state of shock. The rank-and-file were certain they were doomed, while the remaining officers laid about with their whips, in crazed fear of a revolt.

Well I wasn’t about to be left out. No sir. I hoped aboard the Pantzer’s war-balloon with Imperio (someone had to watch his back!) Gave me an un-matched view of the whole battle.

Somehow, I sure don’t know how, the Kech Sharat slave-drivers managed to force their poor draftees towards Rhukan Draal where to meet their warm welcome. They came at the walls in three masses with siege-towers, catapults, rams, and a crazed battle-lust only those doomed to die rely on. Or perhaps an overdeveloped fear of lashings. Crazy either way. Three groups assembled and made for the three Westernmost gates of the city.

In the North the battle was over before it had started. Poor planning and equipping left this group without archers, while that area of wall was plentifully defended by the like. As the army attempted to circle towards the gate while staying away from the deadly hail of arrows it was slowly chewed apart, until Gustavus arrived leading a detachment of goblin wolf-riders and smashed it to smithereens in concert with a well-timed sally of war-machine defenders. My, what a sight. Dhakaani style goblin cavalry; deadly, gorgeous, and thank-the-gods rare.

The Southern attack fared almost as poorly. While they did have some ranged support, the Southern defenders were resolute. The enemy no sooner latched their siege-tower to the walls than Glint poured the troops on ’em. Hand-to-hand, no quarter given nor asked, the fighting ranged about the wall until there was a bare handful of the enemy left. Seizing the opportunity, Glint rode in with his tribemates and made quick and final work of the enemy commander. A devious and fierce marsh-hag, she was still no match for a hero like Glint.

But the best, the grandest, the bravest sight was at the central prong of attack. Here the Kech Sharat stationed their finest troops, siege-weapons, and even their general with his fancy ancient sword. Even with the stout defenders ranked along the walls things looked poorly. At the very last moment before fear set in horn sounded, drums rolled, and a fierce and terrible sight rode out of the gates to meet the Swordbearers head-on. An apparition of death, flame, and fury burst from the city gates and charged headlong into the enemy. Attacking only with a brave handful of hobgoblins and a few dozen flaming pigs at his side, Gronk carved a bloody path straight through the enemy formation, buying enough time for reinforcements to move up and engage.

It was here that the real battle was fought. Scores of men died on each side, the fields littered with the honorable dead, the sound of so many weapons pounding on armor making a continuous buzz. Phalanxes ground, archers loosed, mechanical warbeasts tore, and spears jabbed. For the enemy none of it was enough, for despite their martial valor, the enemy was missing the most important quality: a righteous and true cause. Gronk had no such weakness, and pushing himself to super-human exhaustion, he managed to sweep his warblade in a terrible blow against the enemy general. The ring of his sword as it clove the gorget of the Kech Sharat General rang out across the battlefield, demoralizing the remaining rebels and winning the day decisively.

That evening a grand celebration was ordered. A more splendid martial sight has not been seen since the Last War ended. Terrible warbeasts, triumphant heroes, and the spoils of war lined the thoroughfare as the victorious defenders marched to the Red Keep to be recognized by Lesh Haruuc and the new Lesh Harun. The laurels of victory, hard-won, were placed upon weary but proud brows, and the champions of the battle recognized and rewarded as befit their heroic efforts.

For his role in bringing honor and glory to his people, Glint was nominated and appointed as Lord of Zarrthek, responsible evermore for the well-being of its inhabitants and his people.

Cunning Imperio received a boon unheard of in the annals of history, access to the fabled and fantastical Vaults of the Kech Volar, the Wordbearers. You can be certain I’ll be talking to him more often.

Cautious careful Konrad received the mark of royal favor in the form of a request by Lesh Harun that he be instated as Royal Ambassador to Darguun, representing Karrnath in a grand embassy to be built by his grateful ally.

For Gustavus, Lesh Harun presented a mighty blade of worthy name, to protect him in all the dark and wondrous places he may visit. The wonders of the world yet untouched are guarded by fell darkness, and Lesh Harun would have his friend well equipped to delve ever deeper.

Finally, and with great solemnity, Gronk was granted the title of Master Adherent, and the right to be inducted into the secret mysteries of the ancient and honorable Dhakhaani fighting traditions.

Oh my readers. What events! This grand victory forever breaks the rebel elements fighting Lesh Haruuc for mastery of Darguun. I am sure that prosperity and peace-at-home will help Darguun blossom, and you can read all about it here, on page seven, with your intrepid reporter Glindy.

“Dear Glindy,

I heard you’ve been promoted to reporter-at-large. Congratulations! I was wondering if before you went you heard about Deena’s date! It seems that she’s finally given in to one of her suitor’s requests for an evening out. I bet you can’t guess who it was!

—Mindy Maxclerk"

Well Mindy, I certainly had heard that juicy piece of news. It seems that Deena, the Empress of the Sharn Aerial Ballet has set her sights on our very own Gustavus, dashing founder of the Pantzer Guild. Keep me informed while I’m away!

From the Notes of Gustavus

A strange interaction occurred between our mechanical friend’s command circlet and the ritual that returned him to the living. It seems the telepathy of the circlet allowed us a glimpse of Gronk’s mind during the re-animation process. Unfortunately what was going through his mind was in the form of deep speech so I had to copy it down phonetically and have it translated as best I could afterwards. The translation has been improved as I have learned more about the Xoriat methods of construction. Here is a transcript of what was heard:

(Note: This does not correspond with any known Xoriat campaigns into Eberron)





















And that is all that was gleaned before Gronk awoke. After I had this translated I questioned Gronk on what his objectives were, he claimed to not remember. I am inclined to believe him because if Gronk doesn’t want someone to have information he will withhold it rather than put on a ruse to hide the information. That being said I feel it is in the best interest of all citizens of Eberron that any chance at repair or recovery of Gronk’s memory should be thwarted. I also need to investigate how these components and equipment were acquired during the re-animation process, perhaps he has some way of connecting with the planes controlled by Xoriat.

A chat with dead kings

Here are some of the things the ghosts of kings said in the tomb beneath the Warforged research facility:

You hold your offering up to the mirror. You can see the image of the hobgoblin take the item from your reflection’s hands, and the item vanishes.
“I am emperor Farak Char. I led the Dhakaani empire to its height of prosperity. Those that ruled after me grew complacent and squandered that wealth. Our people had forgotten their strength of production when the foulspawn invaded.”

The armored king appears once again in the bronze mirror. “I am warlord Gutaak Sharaatkor. I led the armies of Dhakaan to victory against the elven invaders. Despite my strength in battle, it was a lover’s betrayal that ended my reign.”

(Upon being convinced by the party that they should be given the treasure to help the modern goblin kingdom):
“I am Emperor Haavul Dioraak I, Uniter of Clans. I negotiated a lasting truce between the warring goblin clans and grew that truce an empire. My empire stood until the people of Dhakaan forsook our bonds of unity and sought only personal preservation.”

(Upon hearing the party’s answer to how Dhakaan should have handled the Dael’kyr invasion):
“Such was the question put to the last emperors of Dhakaan. Their answer was to attack the enemy as one would put down a petty uprising. Their forces were unprepared for the madness spread by the Dael’kyr. I am Emperor Bashaan Volaaruun, the Voice of the Past. May my people’s history bring you wisdom.”

(After the orb has been activated and one of the party sacrificed):
The hobgoblin in black nods when you return. “It is done. I am emperor Haakart Keshur, the Silencer of Opposition. By doing what was necessary, my family line maintained the strength of the empire even while beset by foes from within and without.”

S18 - The Big Payoff

Mission Notes of Agent TP:

[An extended rest is taken in the barracks]

The warforged kobolds had sealed their exit during their previous escape, and the party was forced to burn through the door. This gave their opponents ample time to prepare for the party’s entrance by interring themselves in large dragon-shaped constructs. Each construct was powered by a different form of energy. Despite the care in which the trap had been laid, the party was easily able to subdue the creatures and their war-machines, knocking two dead and forcing the rest to surrender. Konrad was particularly fierce during the fight, jumping from a 30 foot tall walkway down onto one of the dragon-constructs and ending its tirade.

[Party salvaged a poison dragon shard. 1200gp]

Hostages in hand, the party interrogated them, discovering that they had a ‘mother’ in the next room. Moving on, the next room turned out to be a massive workshop dominated by a working creation forge. Within the room the eladrin woman Jelia was found and interrogated. Halfway through the questioning a massive warforged dragon appears, calling itself Calmachia. The party then negotiate this creature down, convincing it to treat with Darguun and Cannith.

A treaty is swiftly negotiated by shuttling down to Rhukan Draal and returning with representatives of Lesh Haruuc, Bombadurg, and Merrix d’Cannith, Julia d’Cannith. [The details of the treaty are in the forum].

The party is richly rewarded by Cannith [2700gp], and while returning briefly to Sharn to restock and resupply finds that Amberthorn has earned a further sum for them [210gp] while doing business from the Pantzer Compound. The party then returns to Calmachia’s lair to investigate the hobgoblin tomb that was their original destination.

[Calmachia agreed to upgrade the parties’ airship for speed and combat capability while they explore as part of the treaty.]

The tomb of Jorungal is largely plundered, but a mysterious and water filled shaft is emptied by the party, revealing further tunnels leading deeper and deeper. The party utilizes Gustavus’ skills and the bag of holding to explore far enough to find an underground cave, apparently an untouched portion of the tomb.

S17 - Hastus Away

Mission Notes of Agent TP:

[level 11 item from previous session allows non-warforged to use embedded items]

[Glint shows up with a new weapon, may have killed someone as assassination contract?]

Examination of the Brain in a Jar continues. Within the top of the casing is found a hidden compartment. The compartment holds a ring which seems to grant the wielder the ability to commune with the spirit connection to the preserved brain.

[Ring of Necromancer’s Mind, grants protection from necrotic damage, bonus to necrotic knowledge, and psychic link to Oskin Tricelath]

Konrad puts on the ring, and through it communicates with a being now of another existence, who once went by the name of Oskin Tricelath. The being claims to once have been an elf necromancer during the Dhakaani period who studied foulspawn. A hobgoblin hero named Durangal put an end to these studies, and the remains of the elf were preserved in the hero’s tomb… located not-coincidentally within the Cannith installation. The being claims that its spirit was bannished to Dolurrh using some sort of septer. In life he helped design flesh-golems, such as those found in the laboratory with the brain.

[Here we check the laboratory and find a notebook on making flesh-golems. Also the Crown is put into contact with the Ring, and they merilly discuss history with each other.]

Continuing exploration of facility, a barracks is found filled with off-duty hobgoblin troops and their lieutenant. A ruse is attempted, but fails, leading to the troops arming and redying themselves, only to be massacred when their assault is stymied in the close confines of a corridor.

Searching the barracks reveals a trap door leading further into the facility. Below the trap door is a tunnel the floor of which turns to a form of grating, while a rumbling and a glow can be seen at the end of the tunnel

[The barracks contains little of specific value, 1200gp and heaps of mundane equipment]

The party returns to Marus, advising him to flee. He declines, noting that if we fail he will not get far before being recaptured and punished.

Party concludes that most unexpected entrance to floor below is through previously trapped ramp. The ramp leads to a trapped room consisting of gratings suspended over lava. Warforged kobolds and the spirit of Hastus attack. Warforged prove ineffective, while Hastus does significant damage to party before being permanently dfeated. The warforged retreat and seal the door behind them.

[Find Hastus’ House Cannith Signet Ring]

S16 - Spin Golem Spin

Mission Notes of Agent TP:

Party explores Southern corrider, finds goblin & bugbear corpses that have been burned and blackened by magical fire. Apparently triggered old traps. A storeroom off the corridor is looted for spare warforged parts and sundry valuables.

[1300gp, level 11 item]

Corridor ends in original entrance to facility, enormous Cannith emblem worked into floor. The spirit of a Cannith forgemaster, Hastus d’Cannith, stalks the entryway and divulges that this was once a research facility; destroyed in some sort of pyroclastic attack. It states that there is a ‘Living Forge’ running in the facility, that it has allied himself with a goblin female named “Valsath,” and that it is a powerful Forge-Wraith. The spirit proved insane, trying to establish dominance over party by sacrificing a small party of undead. The party pries up the Cannith seal in retribution, pocketing it.

[41 glazed tiles in size, gave a bonus to dragonmarked characters when we found it]

Just beyond the entryway a further corridor contains a locked bedroom suite, within which resides a red-haired adventurer calling himself “Marus.” He claims that he was exploring the site with his lady friend Jellea (apparently an eladrin according to Hastus’ earlier conversation). He claimed that their intent was to reactivate the forge in secret support of Breland. The forge is capable of producing draconic homunculi in large numbers, and whatever or whoever restarted the facility is in control of quite a number of the war-machines.

The man was clearly hiding something but seemed peaceable. He also possesses a magically locked journal. The party told him to stay put in the now opened bedroom until all threats had been neutralized. Marus agreed.

A third corridor split off into a down-ward ramp filled with deadly traps, quickly disarmed by most of the party stopping the traps up with their nubby appendages, and Gustavus’ quick-thinking and deft touch. The party then looted the traps for useful components for the compound.

[Giant sickle, giant crossbow, giant spring killer top-thing, 4x pressure panels]

Past the ramp was another large chamber, this with an enormous engraved dragon-mark. Four Kech Sharaat guarded a door on the north side of the chamber. The lookouts were eliminated before they had the chance to raise an alarm, and a wire-mesh net was appropriated from the ramp traps and placed over the door that was so poorly guarded. The party then falsely called out for ‘relief from duty,’ and a goblin artificer walked out of the door, dodged the clumsily built net-trap, and then was efficiently slaughtered. His handiwork, a flesh golem and one of the dragon homunculi quickly followed.

Past the door the party found a large workshop, seemingly dedicated to the construction of flesh golems. The party secured all movable valuables and an ancient brain in a jar labeled ‘Oskin Trisaleth.’ The brain was then installed in Gronk’s chest.

[+1100gp 1 rare level 10]

S15 - Travel is Broadening

Mission Notes of Agent TP:

Neighbors upstairs question disturbance. Gustavus tells them abbreviated story, recruits them into Pantzers. Party identifies attackers as Kech Sharaat recruits led by a Bugbear sergeant. Attack pattern consistent with Kech Sharaat tactics, but poorly implemented.

Party returns to Citadel, negotiates with Capt. Kalaes. Mission is accepted to return Ashen Crown to Kech Volar. The captain notes that the Sharaat have increased military activities and are pressing clans into their service.

Party confers with Grovaan, who is convinced to lead them to Kech Volar contact in Rhukan Draal identified in Yerra’s journal. Party flies to Rhukan Draal, makes contact with one Seer Huugan. It is revealed that the Kech Sharaat possess the Sword of Kings, which in addition to the Crown, and the lost Rod, are ancient symbols of Dhakaani power. Seer reports that Sharaat are working in concert with “Metal Dragons,” some sort of automata.

The party reassembles the Crown to question it regarding its sibling artifacts. It suggests canvassing tombs of certain eras. A course is set for a tomb near Zartek where the Crown’s ability to Speak with the Dead may be utilized.

Zartek is a tiny, but it seems that Kech Sharaat forces regularly visit it for resupply. A Kech Sharaat team left from here three weeks ago to the local tomb and has not been seen since. Glint showed initiative in attaining this information through seduction.

Party continues to tomb, entering cavern system above it. Within the entryway a large Kech Sharaat force of mercenaries is surprised and dispatched. Underground waterfall reveals Kech Volar corpse, killer unknown. Further into the tomb is an ancient Warforged research lab, possibly Cannith. Prototype warforged attack and are dispatched. Prototypes lack internal power units, were connected to central unit. Retrieval and study is advised. Gustavus reveals Haruun persona during this battle, claims to be enraged by treatment of Kech Volar corpse.

S14 - Pay Delay

[Glindy’s Notes]

Pantzers return to Sharn, and are summoned to meet with Captain Kalaes.

The good Captain pays out the bounty on Demise’s head, but points out that their original mission is far from done: the Kech Sharaat have only grown stronger relative to the Kech Volaar, and the Crown, despite its wishes, is still in the hands of the party and not the Wordbearers. Paint Capt K as a faithless task-master, or as a straight-laced penny-pinching drill sergeant?

The Pantzers spend two months getting their compound in order, expanding and filling it. A new neighbor moves in downstairs, a strange purple skinned gnome with glowing blue eyes. He introduces himself and is promptly recruited by Gustavus. No sooner is the ink dry on his membership form than a Kech Sharaat strike team appears by balloon and through the adjoining buildings by the compound.

The Pantzers knock nearly all the goblins off the complex and down several stories, and then finish off those foolish enough to return to the fight. This scene needs embellishment, perhaps double the reported number of enemies and say it was raining.

[In between the PCs also do a bit of shopping, and level to 7.]

Prince for a day

The following happens immediately after the crown is reassembled:

Grovaan passes the crown each person in the party, ending with Gustavus. As Gustavus talks with the crown he begins to turn pale. He looks a little sick and wisps of steam begin to rise from his skin. He trembles, and falls against the statue of four hobgoblins to support himself. The steam starts to form a cloud of mist about his slumped form as his skin begins to flush with color. Gustavus yells in pain, and the yell deepens into a throaty roar. A moment later the mist clears. Gustavus’ roguish good looks have been replaced with the body of a red-skinned hobgoblin!


Grovaan tries help the hobgoblin into a sitting position. “Gustavus! What has happened to you?”

The hobgoblin gingerly seats himself on the floor. He takes several deep breaths before replying in a rough voice. “Gustavus? No, I am Harun Shaarat, son of Lhesh Haruuk Shaarat’kor.”

Grovaan frowns at this. “Now is not the time for jokes Gustavus. Prince Harun was killed in Cyre during The Mourning. You dishonor his memory with such foolishness.”

Gustavus coughs out a final puff of mist before replying. “Attacked. Cursed. But not killed. I am Harun Shaarat. Here, upon my brow, I bear the marks of the razor crown tribe.” And indeed, there is a line of scars upon the hobgoblin’s forehead. This seems to impress Grovaan somewhat.

“But how did you get here? And what happened to Gustavus?”

Harun shakes his head. “I have dreamed of a man called Gustavus. It feels like I’ve been dreaming ever since that cloud attacked us in Cyre.” He looks at Grovaan and the rest of the party. “You. I’ve seen your faces in my dreams as well. And other goblins in tombs. Everything is hazy, hard to remember, but I’ve seen you. And I remember this room. I hate this room. Let’s get out of here.”

The party helps Harun to his feet, collects the corpse of Demise, and makes their way back to their apartment in Greyhome Tower. Glint and Grovaan grill Harun with questions, but he has few answers. He remembers a life before The Mourning. He claims to be the son of the king of Darguun. Harun remembers growing up in the palace of Khaar Mbar’ost (the Red House) in Rhukaan Draal, the capital of Darguun. He claims to have been sent with a raiding party into Cyre to capture supplies from a town across the border. He has no memories about events after The Mourning except vague images. He knows almost nothing about Gustavus. Since it’s been a rough day, and seeing that conversation isn’t providing much new information, the group decides to table the topic until the next day.

Gustavus wakes up his normal, human self. He has no idea who Harun Sharaat is and is rather insulted when the party calls him a hobgoblin. He insists that he only fainted from the excitement of holding the legendary Ashen Crown. Eventually he gets angry and leaves to go collect money for all the articles he’s been writing.

Ashen Crown Completed!

The party has slain Demise and recovered all the pieces of the Ashen Crown. Congratulations! However, you had left the treacherous Tikulti unattended long enough for him to use his Dark Lantern escape skills to loose his bonds and slip away. Perhaps he will live long enough to realize his dream of becoming immortal after all.

The priest Olaakki and the inhabitants of the Cogs thank you for helping them rid their city of a dangerous group of necromancers. Olaakki says he will perform the necessary rites to ensure the souls of the zombified Morgrave students will be at peace.

Since Demise so kindly prepared everything needed to perform the rite of Arkantaash and restore the crown, Lantash completes the ritual. Grovaan assists by chanting a history of the great deeds performed by the heroes of Dhakaan. Lantash combines Lurtaan’s Cord, Ashurta’s Blade, Zaarani’s Solitaire and Murkoorak’s Orb with Karruuk’s Circlet to form Arkantaash, the legendary Ashen Crown!

Grovaan reverently picks up the crown from its place within the circle. He admires it with an expression of awe and surprise. “Listen,” he says, “Arkantaash speaks! Can you not hear? … I see. You must be in contact with the crown to hear its voice. It wishes to know who has sought the pieces and reassembled the crown. I am Grovaan Guzuurtor, a seeker, of the Kech Volaar tribe. My companions and I have searched far and faced many dangers to recover this lost artifact of Dhakaan. The others from my tribe that accompanied me on my quest were deceived and betrayed by a shape-changing necromancer. We were forced to fight them after the necromancer transformed them into foul zombies.”
Grovaan passes the crown to each of you in turn so you can introduce yourself and tell your own tale of heroism.

The crown is an artifact that was created to chronicle the history of its owners. It was used first by the ancient elves, then the Dhakaani goblins. Kings consulted with the crown when they were in need of advice, and used its power over the dead to gain knowledge that was lost to time. You can check out it’s stats in the Items section of the wiki.

Grovaan is anxious to return the crown to his superiors in Darguun. However, the crown is presently concerned with learning about the heroes who reassembled it and what has happened to the Empire of Dhakaan. Grovaan is willing to let the crown remain with the party for a time until it has chronicled your stories.


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