The Podcast

Jahnas’ Journal Day 19 – Kythorn 30 1497 DR/139 PR – Full Moon

After resting Magda removed her stone barrier and we moved further into the stronghold. I truly did not know how deep the dwarves really delve. With a little creative spell casting we were able to more easily defeat the duergar here, and found that the interior was what would have been nicely furnished living spaces for the dwarves who called Glitterhame their home. Unfortunately, time and the presence of evil magic seems to have corrupted many of the things in their old quarters. We were attacked by animated furniture and carpets, among other things. Magda swiftly dealt with some of the undead ghosts and wights which wisped out of the woodwork.

In one room we found a strangely attractive woman who called herself Idalla. My memories of her are foggy, but I do remember that she was very nice. She had been unfortunately imprisoned here through magic, and I freed her from the imprisonment. Her laugh once she was freed still echoes in my head. Unfortunately, she used some magic to whisk herself away as soon as she was freed. The others think I may have made a mistake in freeing her so readily, but I know that I did the right thing.

All of our paths lead to a chain ladder extending down even further into the depths. Again, a glance around and we steeled our resolve to see this through to the end, one way or another. It was almost another. At the end of the ladder we found perhaps where the lake entrance led underground. Perhaps not, but certainly Glitterhame and the Stone Tooth are situated in a place with a lot of water. A young black dragon had made its lair down here and began attacking us out of the water. We found the wherewithal to defeat the dragon, and I did find a thrill in that victory. This travel into Glitterhame seems to have changed something between Dask, Magda, Fox, and myself. I do not know what, but the triumph over that black dragon has bonded us into an even tighter group. I feel like we could take on anything now. The dragon’s hoard, though not immense because it was young, will certainly be a boon to Armbard’s Pass and the entire community.

Almost as an afterthought on our way out we saw a side passage to a sinkhole area that we had left alone. A lone roper lived there. Getting rid of it took some ingenuity, but it was worth it. The find of this travel for me was a ring which let me significantly expand the number of spells I can cast each day. A truly exceptional find!

Our way out of Glitterhame and back to the surface was mostly uneventful after that. We tried to convince Magda that we needed to climb back out of the chimney to go out the way we came in, but she didn’t buy it. We begin the journey back to Armbard’s Pass in the morning. It will be nice to return to town as champions.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 18 – Kythorn 29 1497 DR/139 PR

I feel a great deal better after the others let me get a full night’s sleep. My spells restored, my body nearly restored, and a little mending on my robes has gone a long way. Again we head towards the way deeper into this stronghold. We were ready for the stirges this time and took care of them with ease. We managed to steal some nice looking equipment from a caustic mold, and we have come across a wand of light which will be very helpful.

This was clearly a dwarven stronghold, given all of the dwarven architecture, but if that wasn’t enough, we also stumbled across a dwarven tomb. We opened it, I think more to determine if there was danger than anything else. Inside was an old dwarven warrior, interred with a dragon-shaped ring and a warhammer. We left them in the tomb out of respect. Further down we found an iron door which Fox unlocked. Over the door was written, “Durgeddin’s Foundry.” We don’t know what that means, if it means anything other than the literal. Before going through this iron portal, we again decided to continue exploring this level. Unfortunately, it was large and seemed split because of the water running through. A large white lizard was across a stream and guarded some potions which aid physical abilities like jumping and swimming.

Our biggest challenge came after meeting up with some koa-toa at the bottom of a descent near a pool of water. Initially, they ran from our long range fire. They were just luring us further into their lair where their large chieftain resided. We prevailed, but it was an extremely difficult fight. We almost added all four of our skeletons to this increasingly awful place. We discussed turning back after this fight, considering that we had successfully dealt with the upper levels where the goblin raids were initiating. However, once the suggestion was voiced aloud, we all looked at each other and knew that we had to continue. It wasn’t over until we could say for certain that no danger would be found in this place. It wouldn’t be finished until we could tell the nearby settlements to try and reclaim this stronghold and keep it from falling into the wrong hands again.

It does seem that there must be some connection to the Underdark here as well, with the drow, a koa-toa tribe, and now this duergar problem. As I write this we are resting behind a barrier of stone that Magda has magically erected in front of the iron door. After the koa-toa fight, we returned to the iron door and opened it, thinking it may be a simple forge room. Instead we were greeted with a large area with huge dwarven statues holding up the ceiling. A harsh voice warned us to go back and we were attacked invisible. Dask scored an incredibly lucky, or maybe it’s skill now, hit and decapitated one. That sent them reeling, but with their invisibility, we were stymied. When they started to cast spells at us, we retreated and Magda barred the way. We will rest as we think of a plan to deal with them tomorrow.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 17 – Kythorn 28 1497 DR/139 PR

Today proved to be a bit more exciting than I may have anticipated. As I weakly patted some still smoldering patches on my scorched robes and applied a poultice to some rather large mosquito bites, I read over my entry from yesterday and reminded myself to always be thankful for the quiet times.

It all started off quietly enough today. Early on we reached the imposing Sword Mountains and found a hidden but heavily trafficked path indicated on our map. We were wary, but fortunately encountered no other creatures on the path this day. The path emerged from the mountains into a completely sheltered valley. In the middle of the valley is what I can only assume is the Stone Tooth; the tall peak which we think holds the dwarven stronghold of Glitterhame. We scout the area and manage to find three separate entrances.

The first is obvious: the front door. We are still on guard, as we assume this is the source of the increased goblin raids in the area, and decide that walking up to the front entrance might be a bad idea. There is also an entrance across a dark, mirrored lake. Unfortunately, we would have to swim or wade. I’m not the best swimmer, and we decide we don’t particularly like the look of the lake itself. I actually spotted a thin wisp of smoke from what looked like a chimney on a fairly easy to reach portion of the peak. We made our way over to the chimney and saw that we could probably lower ourselves down on a rope and sneak into the stronghold without attracting too much attention. All went as planned, save for a small mishap when Magda fell near the end of her climb. Fortunately she only ended up a little sooty and embarrassed, and not seriously injured. We thought that the clatter of her falling armor would likely wake the dead, but it seemed, at the time, that we were fortunate in this as well.

Almost immediately we had success and managed to rescue to prisoners from Blasingdell: Geradil and Lourana. We sent them up the rope with some help and had them head back to where our horses waited. They were instructed to wait a while, but then head back without us if too much time passed.

As we explored the area, we encountered some hobgoblins which we dispatched. There is a considerable amount of storage and basic supplies here. It is not hard to make the connection to this being the staging ground for some raiding forces. There seems to be something much more sinister at work than simple goblins, however, as we also encountered and dispatched a group of drow. Nothing good can come of their involvement.

As we reached a large hall with a rift leading down, we were set upon by some large, almost mosquito looking creatures. One of them bit me and sapped my strength, but after getting rid of them we chose to continue at least exploring this level of the stronghold to ensure that no enemies were behind us. Almost immediately upon deciding to continue, I was lit on fire by a trap. It would be nice if I could learn to stay behind Dask and just let Fox do his disarming work, but the mechanisms are almost always laced with magic and it is tempting to see how they work.

We headed back to the rear of the front door of this place and our strategy paid off. Hobgoblins, more hobgoblins, a bugbear, and even an ogre fell to us as we surprised them from the rear. They were all anticipating an assault from the front. Two wolves which were with the ogre ran away, but they seemed running in fear rather than anything else. We found what wealth we could, and then returned to the way down. Almost immediately more of the mosquito creatures emerged and bit me again. After consultation, we believe they are called stirges. I am now weak enough that I had to ask the others to hold back from pressing on and rest here on the level we have cleared. The only thing remaining here was a sad looking bear in a holding pen that I believe the hobgoblins were using for sport. We carefully freed it and it went on its way out of the stronghold. We found a defensible spot for a rest and have hunkered down to allow me to regain some strength. I should put this book away and actually take advantage of this time.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 16 – Kythorn 27 1497 DR/139 PR

Sometimes journeying is not as exciting as books would make it seem. I can hardly keep my journal dry tonight, and there is no chance at a reasonable fire. It hardly even seems worth it to light a magical one. The damp and foggy weather even prevented me from observing any of the local flora as we traveled. I’m closing the book on today.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 15 – Kythorn 26 1497 DR/139 PR

I write this in the midst of packing for another journey into the unknown. Do I take my field notebook in case we come across samples? Do I pack extra parchment for maps? I suppose I must even make room for rations! But I get ahead of myself. The council has decided to send Magda, Dask, Fox, and me to the Sword Mountains to the so-called Stone Tooth to search for Glitterhame.

Again, I seem to be jumping ahead. There is so much to plan, I am continually distracted. Overnight last night, Fox slept outside. Now, in of itself this is nothing unusual. Indeed, Fox’s propensity for the night air is likely what helped him develop his most unique talents. It also ensures that I have a ready supply of Starblossom petals. However, last night was notable in that Fox had, unbeknownst to me, “borrowed” the dwarven riddle scroll from me, thinking he may have better luck solving the riddle. Well, I must grudgingly admit that he certainly had better luck than I, for in the light of the moon Fox observed that the back of the scroll was actually a map to this Stone Tooth in a sheltered area of the Sword Mountains.

Today Fox reported his find. To be honest, it was the very early hours of the morning when I awoke to find Fox excitedly gesturing at me with the very brittle scroll. We waited until a more reasonable hour and took the findings to Magda and Dask first, and at Magda’s urging, the town council. After seeing this evidence, Homar and the rest of the council urged us, of all people, to pursue this track, thinking that perhaps this fallen dwarven stronghold of Glitterhame is serving as a way for the goblins to keep a firm toehold in the region and expand their raids even more.

We agreed to the council’s request, and here I am, trying to prepare for a journey.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 14 – Kythorn 25 1497 DR/139 PR

The caravan arrived today.  The big news was that a note arrived from Padir.  So, not wayward and not lost either.  Though he will likely never read this, Padir, I am sorry, I was hasty in my judgment of you, both times.  The note said this,

“Dear Council,

I have searched the whole of Waterdeep over seeking someone who might know the answer to our problem.  I now have a theory.  I believe our people were exposed to the disease during the last goblin raid.  It is possible that the goblinoids were using some sort of slow-acting poison.  I will keep looking for a cure, but in the meantime, if you can trace back the goblinoids that attacked us to their home base you might be able to find out what they were using.

 

May Chauntea bless you,

Padir”

 

We will have to try and find Padir to let him know of the events that played out in his absence.  I am sure Magda will be eager to do this, though leaving the village with no cleric at all might be a problem.  I was able to sell goods to the caravan for seven gold, and also sold the everburning torches as well.  Fox is busy tallying up the split for our profit from the castle excursion, and it seems Dask and Magda are feeling better after all.  I made a few more Mage Armor scrolls today, not for sale, but just for our own use.

Also, I sat down and talked with Magda, Dask, and Fox about the possibility of going back to the castle in order to recover the remains of the adventurer’s from Oakhurst, and possibly further investigate the dragon tomb, now that we are not pressed for time in getting back.  We also might attempt to block off the passage to the underdark, as something like that so close to Armbard’s Pass is not a good thing.  They did not want to commit to anything right away, but have promised me they will consider it.  I think Magda is more distracted by the note from Padir and her want to find him than anything else.  As the town council has called a meeting for tomorrow to determine our next course of action, this conversation may have been moot.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 13 – Kythorn 24 1497 DR/139 PR

I have gathered together the usual things to sell or trade when the caravan comes tomorrow.  I think I can make a decent sale, though the gold will have to be saved in preparation for recording the scrolls we found into my spellbook.  Fox has not completely finished dividing up the gold and gems we have found, and I am sure that will not be complete until we can get an accurate value on the sale of some things tomorrow.  Hopefully there will be enough to allow me to buy a spell or two.

I lost myself in creating a few scrolls at Fox’s request.  Two of Mage Armor and one Endure Elements.  It is an excellent idea, and the scrolls are not even that difficult to make.  I will make a few more tomorrow before the caravan arrives.  I also cast Continual Flame on a dagger of Fox’s, again at his request.  He provided the funds, and seems excited about the prospect of having a somewhat magical dagger of his own.  I would have created a couple more torches to sell, but the cost for casting is just too high and I do not have the funds right now.  Hopefully the torches will fetch a fair price.  More studies towards Knock and Spider Climb, and more sympathy for the still ill Magda and Dask.  They are hoping to be over the illness by the time the caravan arrives, or else they will not be able to barter with everyone else.  Magda, as usual, has a positive outlook on it.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 12 – Kythorn 23 1497 DR/139 PR

Today was relatively calm by my new standards.  There is a lot to do before the caravan comes, and people are scrambling to get crops and goods together for trade and sale.  And yet it seems quite minor compared to the excitement of Belak’s visit.  That story will be told for a long time around here.  I began today where I left off last night, by making an additional copy of the map in order to provide one for the town’s own records.  With the castle so close, it is only right.  I also finished reading the Tome of Dragon Lore, which is just an old treatise on various specific dragons.  Unfortunately, the part labeled “Ashardalon” which would have been the most relevant for learning more about this particular ruin was ripped out.  I will perhaps see if the caravan would like to purchase it, as the information seems somewhat outdated.

I have cast Comprehend Languages on three items we brought back with us.  The first is a strange whistle which appears to be glass, but seems harder than glass somehow.  It is of dwarven make, and has a dwarven inscription on it.  The second is a bone scroll case, also of dwarven make.  The case itself says “Glitterhame” on the exterior and contains a very old scroll with these words:

“The Glitterhame, our grandest hall.

Home to Dwarf, one and all.

Hidden from the likes of elves

Our history kept to ourselves

The Orcs and Goblins came and sacked

Overwhelmed, yet we fought back.

Alas their numbers were too great

The Hall deserves a better fate.

So, reclaim our hall and birthright too!

And on our throne shall sit you.

Answer the riddle to show where

Our hidden hall lies in despair

 

What’s round, but not always around?

What gives light but has none of its own?

Where do the gods leave their footprints?”

 

The first portion of the scroll refers to a lost dwarven hall, and the last three lines are obviously the riddle. It was not very hard for me to figure out the answer to the riddle was the moon, but it did not seem to help.  Barring the dwarves actually finding a way to reach the moon herself, there are many places in Faerun which bear the name moon.  Moonshae Isles, Silverymoon and the Moonwood near there, the Moonsea, just to name a few.  I’ll have to remember to show it to the others and see what they think of it.  I also attempted to read some of the other tome I found in Belak’s study, which is written in some Druidic language, but did not get very far.

After that the day was very similar to a normal day.  I researched some more spells to push the limits of my arcane knowledge.  I am currently working on Knock, which I was able to successfully cast once before, regretfully, but have not been able to make work again.  Something about the way in which Tarn betrayed me with that scroll is blocking my efforts.  I have also endeavored to learn Invisibility.  Becoming unseen would have been very useful at multiple points in our exploration of the castle.  A few people came by for herbs and tinctures, but it was nothing major.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 11 – Kythorn 22 1497 DR/139 PR

So much has happened in the past few days, I can hardly believe it.  All four of us were able to get some much needed rest last night; I slept in the house proper just for the chance at a real bed.  The cot in my lab certainly would not have been very comfortable last night.  Even so I am still quite sore from our adventure.  In the morning the four of us were summoned before the council to relate the entirety of our tale for them, and explain more about the fate of Belak and the Gulthias tree.  Magda and I both spoke about our continued desire for the village to grow its own tree from the seeds of the red apple, but the council is leery about continuing anything to do with Belak’s experiments, despite the possible good.  Thankfully, they also repaid my fifty gold from purchasing the apple in the first place.  In the afternoon I undertook to sort through much of the plant samples I found in the castle.  The glowing fungus died as soon as it was hit by sunlight, and most everything else is simply a more sickly version of an above-ground plant.  I have discarded the vast majority of them as useless.  One thing of note was a small bag of potent fertilizer that I believe will greatly increase the growing speed of a single plant.  I have given it to Magda to give to a farming family she knows of who has maybe had a rough year so far.  Additionally, Magda detected evil on a bark sample I managed to save from the Gulthias tree, and I now think it may be a bad idea to attempt to grow our own.  If the tree itself radiates that much evil, even in the bark, perhaps the red apples are not worth the whole cost.  I have told the council of this development, and it seemed to simply reinforce what they already believed.

Unfortunately, Magda and Dask have now both fallen ill themselves.  Magda thinks it has something to do with the close contact they both had with the rats in the castle, though it is hard to know where her cleric professionalism ends and her bias against the rats begins.  It is not life threatening, but they are both miserable, and Magda does not yet have the ability to simply cleanse away the disease.  Though I am sure she has probably converted her family’s outhouse to a shrine to Chauntea by now, for all the praying that goes on out there.

It was quite a busy day otherwise as well.  I read both the knock and spider climb scrolls we found, and read part of the draconic Tome of Dragon Lore as well.  I created two everburning torches to sell when the caravan arrives here in a few days, and spent a good portion of the gold we found in the castle in order to identify the wand we found with Belak, the greataxe from the bugbear, and the longsword from Sir Braeford, which were all detected as being magical.  I tried to get Dask to drink the goblin alcohol from the silver flask we found, but I am not sure he is going to go for it yet.  I will have to give him a few days to work up his courage.  For some reason he does not believe me when I say it will likely increase his strength.  Finished up the night by drawing up a simple map of the castle’s interior halls and underground.  We may want to return, and I would like to be prepared.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 10 – Kythorn 21 1497 DR/139 PR

Thankfully, I write this portion of my journal from the relative comfort of my lab’s desk.  Let me start by saying that old, underground, decaying castles are not ideal places to take one’s rest.  I awoke this morning more stiff than I have felt, well, ever.  I was wishing I had not left my staff with Gloam.  We have somewhat successfully healed the children, though I am not quite sure how.  I imagine it was the destruction of the Gulthias tree that did it, but the magic involved is beyond my ken.  But again I jump ahead.

Waking underground was an experience I would prefer to forget.  Fortunately, the only thing that snuck up on us during the night was the damp.  We were all of us chilled, with the only choice of getting up and hoping walking with a purpose would warm us.  We were warmed more thoroughly by more skirmishes with goblins as we moved through the halls of the castle.  They are filthy creatures, detritus was everywhere foul and rotting, and I cannot say I am regretful of the slaughter we visited upon them whether they were aware of us or not.  We did eventually find the kobold’s lost dragon Kalkrix, which turned out to be a small white dragon.  Evidently the goblins could not handle that which they had coveted, and the dragon had a fine, if slightly disheveled, chamber all to itself.  While we debated at how to get the thing back to the kobolds, Dask simply ran in, grappled with it, and heroically ran it back.  Yet another creature better off dead, in my book, but the children again trump everything.  Yusdrayl of the kobolds was thankful, as was Meepo who regained some of his status, and she rewarded us with a heavy dragon key which fits the lock we found earlier.  However, we were still not perceptively closer to finding Belak.

A return to the goblin area led us to a room with many female and young goblins in it.  We threatened them, and they revealed the direction of Belak.  I think we simply should have eliminated the despicable creatures and considered it a favor to the area, but we had more pressing concerns.  Following their directions led us to something like a throne room.  A chest contained a great deal of gold and some gems.  However, no sign of Belak.  The only place left to go was a shaft down through the floor of this throne room.  The shaft was lined with vines, and again lit by a violet-colored glowing fungus.  With no alternatives, we began to climb down.

After a minor skirmish at the bottom, we were attacked by a large bugbear carrying a greataxe and wearing a crown of antlers.  We defeated it, and its pet rats, but that was again, only the beginning of our fights on this level.  We found a crude passage to the underdark which we hastily backed away from, hoping that Belak would not retreat to such a place.  More evidence that this castle was somehow dedicated to dragons or maybe simply a dragon, in the form of statues, carvings, and inscriptions.  Also much to suggest that Belak has been doing some kind of experiments on plant life underground.  I collected samples of some various plants to take back with me and see if anything can be learned from them.  We did come across, and kill, a creature called a thoqqua.  Fiery and hot in appearance, it was tunneling through some rock.  When it was killed, it was split open to reveal some gems.  The air at this level was very humid, heavy and even misty with fog in some places.  It made seeing clearly quite difficult.  Magda’s elven-heritage helped a good deal with finding our way.  All the adventuring has paid off for us all I think.  At some point we all realized we were much more confident in our abilities.  The spells I have working on suddenly made sense to me.  Evidently need helps as well.  Eventually we came to a point which could have been very dangerous, and once again was my fault.

A large marble dragon statue was fronted with a circle of red-stone tiles on the floor, which bore an inscription.  In my haste to learn something, anything about this place, I rushed forward to read the tiles.  A shadow, the malevolent kind, came at us from behind the statue and immediately attacked Fox.  It did not seem to wound him, precisely, but it sapped his strength severely.  I sent a scorching ray at it as it fled, and I believe I may have wounded it.  The tiles said, “Let the sorcerous power illuminate my mind.”  Taking the cue from earlier in the castle, I read it aloud while standing in the circle, and a heatless fiery aura bathed over me.  It seems to have temporarily boosted my confidence and looks.  No one else was willing to try it, but I wonder now if it may have been useful more than that single time.  Of course, that slight positive obscured the negative in that room, and I did not learn my lesson.

Not too long after that, we came to what must have been Belak’s personal study.  Among the many documents, we did not find too much of use, but of course I erred in judgment.  One of the tomes we did find was called “Treasures of the Fire Lords” in Draconic, and I failed to exercise caution when dealing with unknown materials, something that was drilled into me by Varick!  None of his trapped scrolls or items did anything close to as much damage as the exploding book did when I opened it to read.  I hurt myself a good deal, but not only that, Magda was also hurt, and Fox barely escaped with just a singed shirt.  Thankfully Dask and Urky were not in the room when I opened the book.  I endangered my friends, and endangered our efforts to help the children, all for an empty book!  Finally we came to a large cavern, stretching high above us, and filled with brambles and thorny plants.

Some goblins and bush-creatures lurked amongst the plants, but we dealt with them and moved farther on, feeling that this must be where we would finally find Belak and the solution to the children’s illness.  We found Belak, but we were not prepared for the enormous, sickly looking apple tree that emerged in a clearing.  Unnaturally growing underground, the tree had the white apples hanging from it, and black, twisted branches.  Belak stood under it, as if waiting for us, with two other figures, a man and a woman, both dead in the eye and with skin like bark.  We confronted Belak and asked him to come back with us peacefully, to help the children.  If we were not sure of his motives before, he made them clear with what he told us.  The two figures with him were formerly Sharwin and Sir Braeford, of the Oakhurst party.  Belak gave them to the tree, he called it the Gulthias tree, and it transformed them in death somehow.  He urged us to surrender to him and offer ourselves to the tree as they were!  I tried to bargain with him in order to find some way to save the children, but Magda showed us a side of herself that I doubt any have seen before.  In exchange for helping the children, Magda offered Belak his life.  She was deadly serious. I was proud of her for her stand for the children and surprised in the same moment.  Surely that could not be our happy Magda?  It was just as well she did, because the walking remains of Sharwin and Sir Braeford advanced upon us, and it was clear Belak had no intention of helping us.

He cast an Entangle spell at us, which trapped both Magda and Dask.  I immediately cast my last spell, Magic Missile, at the tree itself, thinking that to damage it might break some hold Belak had on Sharwin and Sir Braeford, but I was counterspelled by Sharwin.  I had worked on that with Varick, but it was a shock to have my spell suddenly dissolve before me.  Fox was free and rushed towards Belak with his rapier out.  Magda managed to turn and destroy both Sharwin and Sir Braeford, which shook Belak a good deal I think.  Out of spells, I took our torch and circled around, still trying to get near the tree itself.  Urky and Fox both went after Belak, but he eventually charmed both of them.  Magda summoned a celestial badger to attack Belak, even as Dask struggled to break free of Belak’s entanglement.  I stumbled in close enough to the tree to light it afire.  Urky, confused, attacked me, and I fled before him.  Soon the tree was completely ablaze, the cavern was filling with smoke, and some magic seemed to be weakening.  Bush-creatures appeared out of nowhere and Belak fled for the door.  Magda turned the tables by casting entangle on him.  He was slowed enough that the tree-creatures caught him, and they seemed none too pleased.  Belak’s death broke the hold he had on both Fox and Urky, thankfully, since Urky was bearing down on me.  With this evil tree destroyed, we searched for the tree that might bear the red apples, but without success.  We returned to Yusdrayl, the kobold leader, and asked her about a tree with red apples that heal.  She told us that the black tree we destroyed was, in fact, the source of both the white apples and the red apples.

It is hard to describe how I felt at that moment, knowing that I was responsible for destroying the very thing we had been looking for.  That the red apples would not be growing until winter, and the children were worsening by the hour, was unimportant.  I had destroyed a source of great healing and hope for our village.  No more would there be miraculous cures through the apples’ power.  Because of me.  We despaired of finding anything else that might help the children, and with Belak dead it was impossible to find out the specific magical properties of what had been the Gulthias tree.  We decided that investigating the keyed dragon door was our last hope for stumbling into something that would help.

Immediately inside the dragon door was a chamber with globes, one of which glowed and gave off horrific debilitating noises when we approached it.  Dask crushed it with the greataxe we claimed from the bugbear, and we moved on.  Another chamber held a riddle in the form of a coiled dragon statue that spoke these words to us.  “We come at night without being fetched, we disappear by day without being stolen.”  The answer is clearly stars, and with that word uttered, a secret door opened to us.  Through the door was a chamber containing statues in the form of elven warriors, and a green light trickled into the room through an arch at the far end.  The arch was blocked by a large spiked pit.  I do not think I could have jumped it, but Dask was able to, only to be immediately pushed back into the pit by a Quasit.  We attacked the Quasit at range, and Dask climbed out of the pit to dispatch it finally.  The other side of the room was some sort of burial chamber, with an enormous dragon-shaped sarcophagus in the middle.  We decided to leave it alone.  Nothing indicated it would contain anything to help us, and disturbing it might be more harmful than helpful.  We left the way we came, and sealed the dragon door behind.

Urky left us to continue on his way, and on his journey promised to stop by Oakhurst for us in order to carry the news of what befell their party.  We climbed out of the gorge; I retrieved Gloam and we plodded back to Armbard’s Pass in heavy silence.  I cannot speak for the others, but I do think our thoughts all centered on our failure to find some way to help the children.  The proven evil of Belak was dead, yes, but this was only a small victory compared to saving children of the village, and particularly Daisy Telox.  Imagine how surprised we were at returning to a hearty and joyous welcome!

It seems that just a pair of hours before our arrival, the children unexpectedly recovered!  I suspect that the simple destruction of the Gulthias tree was enough to reverse the magic hold the apples had on them.  In that case, I was lucky in my actions, but not much more justified.

Fox again proved invaluable today, finding hidden traps, treasure and any manner of odd things, not to mention that he actually seems to have some ability with that rapier.  Dask showed his bravery with the dragon, and countless other times standing toe-to-toe with goblins and their ilk.  Magda was essential with her healing, and ability to turn many of the creatures infesting that place.  Even Urky’s healing spells and combat abilities have helped greatly.  I fear it was only I who did not contribute to this mission, even hurt the task by stumbling into danger multiple times, and I am thankful we ended up returning to well children.  It could easily have been otherwise, and my fault at that.  All I can do is hope to learn from the experience and do better in the future.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 9 – Kythorn 20 1497 DR/139 PR – Summer Solstice

Today was more eventful than I ever thought it could be.  Imagine, I was nervous simply about dealing with Belak!  Today was the Summer Solstice.  A good thing too, as we needed every drop of that daylight, and even then it was not enough.  If this keeps on like it is going, I will soon run out of pages.  As I write this passage in my journal, we, Dask, Magda, Fox and I, along with a gnome cleric named Urky Timbers, are resting in an underground castle that sits in a ravine in the Kryptgarden forest, and we are surrounded by goblins.  But I get ahead of myself.  The morning was very tense, with everyone waiting for Belak to come.  We did hear a lot of grumbling from the elders that leads me to believe that there is something more going on with Belak than is commonly told to us younger ones.

Belak waited until late in the afternoon to even show up, which definitely put the council on edge.  Magda and I went out to meet him; apparently he will not come closer than the edge of the village.  Fox came as well, I think he was mostly curious.  Immediately Magda and I both inquired after the apple, and thankfully Belak had one for sale.  Unfortunately, he put the price at one hundred fifty gold pieces when we only had one hundred from the council!  We tried talking him down, explaining to him that people in the village were sick, and we had been given all that the village could afford, but Belak would not budge from his price.  Finally, I simply gave in and contributed fifty of my own gold to help with the purchase of the apple.  The village needs it, and I am sure I will be paid back eventually by the council.  Magda took the apple, and I continued to look over what Belak had in his cart.  I spent another couple gold just on some various herbs that would be harder for me to get on my own.  Interestingly, Belak also had a white apple in his cart.  We asked about it, but he said we did not want that one.  It was sickly looking, and we did not press him about the matter.  Belak told us he needed to leave; that he would be heading to Oakhurst, and wanted to leave to get there before too long.  I tried casting detect magic on the apple, and also while Belak was in range, but did not find anything.  I am curious about the properties of this apple, and the strange white one he had.  Fox sensed Magda’s and my suspiciousness, and ended up trailing Belak a ways down the road to Oakhurst.

While he was away, we took the red apple back to the council, where First Council Homer spoke about how to divide the apple.  The consensus was reached that despite not knowing how the apple works, we will try splitting it six ways to give a piece to each of those who are ill.  We will also attempt to save seed to plant our own tree.  With Belak’s prices going so much higher, we must attempt to break this hold he has on us.  The six diseased were brought in, given the piece of apple, and almost immediately they looked better.  Not completely well, but certainly much better than they had.  It was just at this moment when I heard shrieking coming from outside.  We rushed out to find four children, among them Fox’s sister Daisy, all collapsed with strange boils on their hands and mouths.  Finding Belak’s strange white apple with them, half-eaten, meant we needed to chase down Belak and see if he could do anything for them.  The decision was made to send myself, Magda, Fox and Dask.  Magda and I had just finished dealing with Belak, and Fox and Dask could hopefully protect us if the worst happened while we were out.  The council also told us to be wary, as Belak was exiled from Armbard’s Pass long ago, and so had particular reason to wish us ill.  We all scrambled to fetch our gear and meet back as soon as possible.  I rode Gloam, my horse, of course, since I would not be able to keep up otherwise, but the rest simply walked.  Fox lead us, trying to make sure Belak did go to Oakhurst after all.

We arrived in Oakhurst after dark, and Fox had not seen any sign of Belak for some time.  When we inquired with Oakhurst’s council, we found out that Belak actually had not been to Oakhurst in some time.  They sent a group of four into Kryptgarden Forest to try to find him.  Sharwin, a wizard like me, Sir Braeford, an outside Paladin, Caracus, a Ranger, and Talgen, a fighter.  The mayor of Oakhurst described to us where the path into Kryptgarden Forest left the road we had arrived on, so we immediately backtracked, found the trail, and plunged into the wood.

We lit some torches with the dark of the forest pressing in on us, and followed the trail to a sudden drop.  No sooner had we peered into the ravine than these odd bush-like ambulatory creatures approached us and attacked.  Thankfully, I did not need to take much action, as everyone else took care of the situation handily.  Magda was impressive with her ability to command the plant creatures.  With the bush creatures gone, we saw that after a short drop into the ravine, a switch-back stair led further down.  I had to dismount and leave Gloam at the top of the ravine; I left her a feed-bag, and she should be fine.  As long as we are not overlong in our finding of Belak.  Fox lowered a rope, and Magda went down to the small platform first.  Unfortunately, she disturbed some large rats.  I could only watch as she fought them off, somewhat unsuccessfully, but Dask half-climbed, half-lept down, crushing rats in the process.  And down the stair we went.

The path from the steps led to the entrance door of a semi-submerged castle.  Strange that something like this could be so close to Armbard’s Pass this whole time, and yet I am certain none of the villagers know it is here.  I was able to read the name of a dragon, “Ashardalon,” inscribed in Draconic on the wall.  We entered cautiously, seeing no other place for Belak’s trail to lead.  Fox is proving invaluable, as we hardly go a step in this place without his searching for hidden dangers left behind, waiting for unwary explorers.  It feels as though we can hardly go a few steps without finding a fight as well.  Almost immediately we had to fight off three undead skeletons.  Likely this place is the source of the rumor of the dead walking in Kryptgarden.  We also fought a water creature, and only defeated it by cutting off the source of water from which it was drawing strength.  Plenty of rats, Magda is not very happy about that.  She keeps dropping that old scythe of River’s and nearly losing it as well.  I do not understand why she thought she needed it, but it is becoming a nuisance.  We passed by an impressive stone door with a keyhole in the shape of a dragon’s maw.  No telling what is behind that, but in any event we are unable to open it.

We thought we started to make progress after coming on the sleeping form of a kobold named Meepo.  He is terrified of us, and continuously talks about the dragon, “Kalkrix” that he and his community have lost.  It seems to be some sort of pet or mascot by the way he talks.  He was the dragon-keeper, but is now not getting on well with the rest of his clan after the dragon was stolen by some goblins.  Evidently the kobolds and goblins fight amongst themselves quite often.  He knows nothing of Belak, but he will guide us to the leader of his group, Yusdrayl, who may know more.

Yusdrayl is impressive, as far as a kobold can be impressive, which is not very far.  She does seem to command a goodly number of kobolds in the area, however, and may be of some help in getting us to Belak.  Belak is supposedly with the goblins, and we have agreed to aid the kobolds in getting their dragon back, in exchange for having Meepo guide us, and them not trying to harm Belak when we bring him out with us.  I do not like the idea of allying ourselves with a pack of kobolds, but right now the children are the most important thing, and finding Belak quickly could mean life over death for them.

Meepo leads us on a merry chase down to the goblin section of these buried ruins.  I found a few draconic references, and after reading the word for fire, “Narinya”, at a fountain, I was able to fill a spare waterskin with what I think is a potion of fire breath.  Unfortunately, it gave me quite the wrong idea, and in a different room, the next word I read was death.  That released a noxious cloud of vapors.  Fortunately none of us was hurt.  We did find the decomposing body of the ranger from Oakhurst, Caracus, in the den of a huge rat.  We took his signet ring, unable to easily move his whole body, and will return it to Oakhurst.  After many skirmishes with goblins, we freed an imprisoned gnome named Urky Timbers.  He says he just had the misfortune of being caught by some goblin bandits, and has only managed to keep himself alive through his healing spells.  He thinks Belak is somewhere below, with more goblins.  And so we have decided to fortify ourselves and rest here long enough for us all to regain some strength.  We will not be able to find Belak if we are too weak to make it past the goblins infesting this place.  I have already spent far too much time writing tonight, and not enough time resting.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 8 – Kythorn 19 1497 DR/139 PR

I spoke with Magda today.  She seemed to think it was a decent idea to send word to Varick.  I did warn her that we are not likely to have any more luck reaching Varick than we have had reaching Padir, but at least it is another option.  She is as nervous as I am about dealing with Belak tomorrow.  There is something not quite right about this situation.  I do not understand why they would give the two of us, young as we are, this important task.  I know that we both have positions of, if not authority, then responsibility within the village, but even so.  This seems far too important an issue to really be left to the two of us.  Even if it were a test of us in some fashion, I would hope the council would have better judgment than to ride the health of six individuals on a test for the new cleric and apothecary.  Unless there is something between Belak and the council itself, and they simply do not want to or can not deal with him themselves.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 7 – Kythorn 18 1497 DR/139 PR

Today I gave Brunila, the baker, an herbal tea mixture she can make for when she gets her headaches.  In thanks she gave me some fresh strawberry honeycakes.  They were delicious.  Of course Fox came by and filched one.  I’m not sure how he figures out every time I have a sweet, but I might as well set one aside for him every time I get some.  Someday I am going to have to learn how to scry just so I can keep track of him.  That reminds me that I was also thinking today that there might be some way for me to get word to Varick, if he is still in Waterdeep, and ask him if he has heard anything regarding Padir.  I will talk to Magda about it and see what she says.  I would offer the same to Dask about Leda, but, well, I am unsure how he would react.  Leda going after my brother Tarn can be a sore spot with him.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 6 – Kythorn 17 1497 DR/139 PR

This day was terrible.  We found out another person has taken to bed with the disease.  That makes six now.  If Belak does not come, or if we cannot buy an apple, or if the apple does not work, I do not know what we will do.  There are too many ifs in this plan for me to feel at ease about it, but I do not think we have much recourse otherwise.  Magda told me she wishes Padir were back.  I can understand that.  I wish he were back as well.  Magda knows as much as he does, but the two of them together might come up with something she cannot on her own.  For that matter, I know she was missing River as well.  He knew much more than either of them.  A few days ago I thought perhaps Padir was just shirking responsibility and had deserted Armbard’s Pass after seeing Waterdeep.  I think I may have been hasty in my judgment of him.  Now I wonder if he is all right, and hope he has not been hurt or misled by some tricksters or bandits or worse.  Magda did not seem to appreciate me bringing this up, even though she must have thought the same thing herself, and she slammed the door so hard I had to get Dask to fix the hinge for me.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 5 – Kythorn 16 1497 DR/139 PR

It is a new moon tonight, and the council met in preparation for the druid Belak’s annual visit on the twentieth.  Magda and I were included in the council meeting, and they have entrusted us with procuring the apple from Belak.  It is a good deal of responsibility, especially this year given the unknown disease that slowly spreads among us.  The council, and in fact the entire town, is putting a lot of hope in Belak’s visit and the promise of a cure with his red apple.  I only hope it is not a shaky promise.  Some of the older council members seemed nervous about Belak himself, but when I asked, none of them would elaborate further.  Magda and I have one hundred gold that belonging to the town.  I only hope we can get the apple for less than that.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 4 – Kythorn 15 1497 DR/139 PR

Fox came into the lab today to help out.  I think he needed some time away from his family’s farm.  A few of the children came to me with some minor scrapes they earned while playing.  I suppose Magda is out among the farms again, and this was minor enough not to need to call her.  She never stops.  Fox took care of them all, and had them laughing at his antics.  By the time they left, none were crying.  It helped that his younger sister Daisy Telox was one of those with a scraped knee.  I think he has actually surpassed me in his skill at applying healing poultices and salves.  He is not a bad hand at making them either, but still needs some practice.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 3 – Kythorn 14 1497 DR/139 PR

Today I spent most of the day just trying to learn two new spells.  I made some progress on learning Mage Armor but still cannot quite make it work.  At least once I figure it out this should be something quite useful.  I can make scrolls for the village to have on hand not only for goblin raids, but also for when the caravan comes.  I am also quite close to being able to cast Identify on my own.  The problem is the expense of the spell preventing me from doing any real tests.  This, too, should help with the caravan visits.  We will no longer have to be completely trusting when the traders try to pass off wares for more than they actually are.  I know Dask in particular will appreciate me learning it.  I am certain he spent three whole days out in the clearing with those so-called ‘dancing shoes’ last month.  I think I saw them being used for a squirrel nest on our walk.  If I did not know any better, I would have said that dervish woman had cast an actual spell on Dask.  He did not seem to take it to well when I suggested we could give her the dancing shoes.

Jahnas’ Journal Day 2 – Kythorn 13 1497 DR/139 PR

My leg was stiff this morning when I woke up, so I decided it was as good a day as any to get in a hike with Dask in the forest.  I enjoy getting away from the village like this, even though walking with this damnable staff and at such a slow pace is not like it used to be.  I agree with Magda when she says the only way to get rid of the limp is to walk it out and strengthen the leg again, but I fear the staff may become a permanent part of my daily life.  I know people lost much more from that raid than I did, but I cannot help feeling as though part of me is gone.  I was never going to be one of the town’s frontline defenders like Dask, but at least I was not stumbling over nothing like one of the elders.  We go slowly, but Dask is patient with me.  In fact, Dask was more observant than usual.  He found me two good samples of the rare Leonotis leonurus, or ‘Griffon’s Tail’, before we headed home.  Dask was needed at his father’s forge.  It is impressive how much muscle that work will put on your frame.  I think he looks less like Leda every day…

Jahnas’ Journal Day 1 – Kythorn 12 1497 DR/139 PR

Once again it is time to begin a new journal and place the old volume on the shelf.  Starting a new journal gives me a good feeling of change and thoughts of new beginnings.  Though, I am sure that if I were to look back, I would find much the same sentiment reflected in the beginning of each previous journal.  Looking back can be useful at times, but I do not think this is one.  A strange disease is among us, and it is surely dampening any enthusiasm I might feel for this new journal.  Five members of our community here in Armbard’s Pass are ill, and neither Magda, our local cleric of Chauntea, nor I, as the town’s makeshift apothecary, can make any progress in treating them.  Magda’s parents are both ill, and she spreads herself too thin trying to take care of them and the town both.  Padir running off has not helped matters at all, and even Magda does not have the energy to keep herself going like this much longer.  I liked Padir well enough, but it has surely been long enough by now to get to Waterdeep and back.  Fox’s father is also one of those taken with disease.  While I appreciate the fact that his pranks have slightly let up, I cannot fully enjoy the respite knowing the cause.  Fortunately neither Dask’s family nor mine have been afflicted with the illness.  Yet, that is.  If we cannot find a way to cure those who are ill, I am sure it is only a matter of time before we all succumb.

#091 The Crushing Depths Episode 50 – Season 1 Epilogue

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week our d20 Modern game, The Crushing Depths, comes to its season 1 close with an epilogue. We briefly reflect on the season of play and talk about various issues related to the campaign. This game analysis was done right after finishing during the last session we played; we do not have the benefit of years of hindsight on our reflections. We’ll be back after the first of the new year with more gaming. We hope you enjoy!

#090 The Crushing Depths Episode 49 – The Price We Pay

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, we have reached the game-play finale of season one. I won’t give too much away; just listen. Next week we will hear a shorter episode (this one is a bit longer) from the same session as an epilogue to this season of The Crushing Depths, in which the GM, Paul, and players, Matt, Steve, and TJ, discuss the season and their thoughts about the future of this Modern campaign. We hope you enjoy!

#089 The Crushing Depths Episode 48 – We’re On a Boat

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, we’re counting down to the end. This is the second-to-last episode and it features a skill challenge the characters engage in to find Sal’s daughter without giving everything away to a possessed Vanessa. We hope you enjoy!

#088 The Crushing Depths Episode 47 – The Ritual is Begun

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, our first season begins to wrap up. Our heroes come out of the Boleskine manor into a world changed during their absence. Always remember to check your voicemail. You might have a message about the end of the world.

#087 The Crushing Depths Episode 46 – Divinity for Dummies

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, when someone asks you if you’d like to be a god, you say yes! Our heroes finally reach the bottom of the rabbit hole that is Boleskine Manor. Off with their heads!

#086 The Crushing Depths Episode 45 – Waylink Complete

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, having just had their heads thoroughly warped by the upper floor of Boleskine Manor, our heroes eventually descend to the depths of the manor in search of an exit and the lost piece of Gungnir.

#085 The Crushing Depths Episode 44 – Involuntary Pinging

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, we start a new session with a level-up. TJ makes some inexplicable choices. Then our heroes continue their trippy adventure through Boleskine Manor. What treasure and depravity awaits?

#084 The Crushing Depths Episode 43 – What?

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, the players have come to realize that they are seemingly trapped inside the bizarre Boleskine Manor. Now not only are they searching for any clues which may help them in their conflict, but also for the way out. Hopefully they find it before Sal is reduced to a gibbering idiot. Oh wait, too late.

#083 The Crushing Depths Episode 42 – Illusory Jello

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, our players decide on a course of action and get a little aid from the Balor-folk, through Elias Bowman. Nothing like help from friends in low places.

#082 The Crushing Depths Episode 41 – Artisanal Scarecrow

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, we see the depressing aftermath of the battle between the heroes and some ilithids. Having lost Courtney, the heroes struggle with what to do for their next step. Thankfully, Lydia provides some much needed good news.

#081 The Crushing Depths Episode 40 – Mouthpiece of the Gods

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, it’s a flashback to our very first session using roll20! LTM Gaming absolutely endorses Roll20 as a great platform for online gaming, and they don’t pay us anything. Our group is scattered geographically, and roll20 allows us to play with a virtual tabletop in a way we never had before. The previous episode left us hanging as Sal prepared to meet with the ulitharid, Choronzon, and Vanessa and Russ looked on. Now we see the first season of The Crushing Depths campaign begin to spiral downward to its inevitable end.

#080 The Crushing Depths Episode 39 – Crunchy Filled With Teeth

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, it’s a race to save Sal’s family from the dangers of alcohol and dementia! I look forward to that moment when you learn what the episode title is all about. We hope you enjoy.

#079 The Crushing Depths Episode 38 – Tale of Woe

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, we start to learn more about the other side of the conflict our heroes are embroiled in. Also, first hand knowledge of Sal’s techniques on how to win friends and influence people. We hope you enjoy.

#078 The Crushing Depths Episode 37 – Dad-a-chum?

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, the party fights some lobstrosities. Our resident gunslinger, Russ, is hoping to make it out with all of his fingers intact. We hope you enjoy.

#077 The Crushing Depths Episode 36 – Wish List

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, we continue with a bit of a meta- cast to the game. The aftermath of the raven encounter and our players giving a bit of information about their character wish list. Then their exploration of Watkins Glen continues. We hope you enjoy.

#076 The Crushing Depths Episode 35 – Corn! Corn!

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, the party encounters some ravens. To put it mildly. We hope you enjoy!

#075 The Crushing Depths Episode 34 – Steve’s Campaign

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, the party continues its exploration of the walled city of Watkins Glen. Most notably, their exploration has been a bit curtailed at the moment by a bear-sized, three-eyed toad…thing. We hope you enjoy.

#074 The Crushing Depths Episode 33 – Montour Falls

Whoops, sorry for the late episode! Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, a visit to Montour Falls for collecting information on the walled town of Watkins Glen. We hope you enjoy!

#073 The Crushing Depths Episode 32 – Booty Traps

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, our heroes try to wrap their puny minds around what has been transpiring. Also, they attempt to set some booty traps. We hope you enjoy!

#072 The Crushing Depths Episode 31 – Redecorating

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, the conclusion to the battle of the Giangaleazzo farm. We hope you enjoy!

#071 The Crushing Depths Episode 30 – My Petunias!

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, it’s the start of a new session! That generally, and in this case, means that the players will give a recap of the previous entire session. We also get to learn exactly what the players chose for their recent level up. We also get to see a bit more of Enzo and Carmela in action. We hope you enjoy!

#070 The Crushing Depths Episode 29 – Visions

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, we see many hints of things to come. The party sees visions and clues pointing to their future and tries to get a handle on what to do next. We hope you enjoy!

#069 The Crushing Depths Episode 28 – Lockdown

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, we pick up, yet again, right after TJ has rolled a one. How can one person have so much bad luck?  Never go to the casino with TJ. In any event, Courtney is currently trying to convince the party that they need to get out of the Order’s underground facility as fast as they can, before the facility goes on lockdown.

#068 The Crushing Depths Episode 27 – The Flayed Man

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, we return to our regularly scheduled campaign. All the players are present and we move back Steve playing Vanessa, Matt playing Russ, and TJ playing as Sal. The players do a recap to start this episode, so that will get you back up to speed on where we left off before the prequel story. We hope you enjoy!

#067 The Crushing Depths Episode 26 – Pourquoi Story

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, we have reached the conclusion of our prequel adventure with Sal’s parents, Enzo (played by Steve) and Carmela (played by TJ). Will they find the cause of these mysterious attackers? Will they safely rescue Marilyn and her son? No, no they won’t. But we’ll have fun finding out what’s behind it all anyway! We hope you enjoy.

#066 The Crushing Depths Episode 25 – Origins

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, we continue in the second act of our prequel series. If you haven’t listened to episode 65, go back and listen to that before starting here. TJ is playing as Carmela, and Steve is playing as Enzo. Enzo and Carmela are the parents of Sal, TJ’s normal character. This series is set during a massive blizzard which took place in 2026. Enzo and Carmela have arrived in Black Rock, PA, and are trying to find shelter for the night. We hope you enjoy!

#065 The Crushing Depths Episode 24 – Bad Day at Black Rock

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, Matt is absent! Oh nooooo! Whatever will we do? The answer is, of course, that we soldier on without him. This episode and the next two are all part of a session which served as a kind of prequel to the game. It was very similar to the session I ran with the players staying in Sal’s family house during a blizzard, which we recapped during the first episodes of this season of The Crushing Depths. In this episode we get to join Enzo and Carmela, Sal’s parents, and see what they were doing, elsewhere, during that same blizzard of ’26. We hope you enjoy!

#064 The Crushing Depths Episode 23 – Are You Pointing At Me?

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, the exciting conclusion to the car chase! Our heroes, minus Russ, are in a hummer traveling back to the city with Xallitharid and his “experiments.” Russ trails them on his crotch-rocket, and is witness to the aftermath as they are rammed by a large black truck at high speed. What can Sal possibly do to make the situation worse? We hope you enjoy!

#063 The Crushing Depths Episode 22 – In His Head

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, our heroes continue their debate about the next course of action after realizing they may have been deceived by their tenuous allies, the ilithid-kin. We hope you enjoy!

#062 The Crushing Depths Episode 21 – We’re Best Friends

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, the heroes have triumphed over an animated tree, weird tentacle cat things, and have found Xallitharid. Who is weird. Also, surprise! Russ is now sushi. We’ll see how our heroes react. This is the first of three episodes from the same session where the players (and Paul, badly) tried to insert references to ’90s pop culture into the game. It frequently led us off track, but we had fun doing it, and that’s what gaming is all about, right? Are you not entertained? We hope you enjoy.

#061 The Crushing Depths Episode 20 – Little One, Awake

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, our heroes have successfully overcome the first obstacle in front of them: assassin vines. TJ can be especially proud that he didn’t die this time. What else will they encounter as they cautiously move in to find Xallitharid? Abject horror, no doubt! We hope you enjoy.

#060 The Crushing Depths Episode 19 – Don’t Taze Me, Bro!

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, the players are just being dropped on Montauk to begin their search for the rogue ilithid, Xallitharid. Asked to choose, TJ cannot keep his mind blank, and so their destruction takes the form of a modified skill challenge, the beast that they most fear. We hope you enjoy!

#059 The Crushing Depths Episode 18 – Where the Sidewalk Ends

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, Paul does an extended recap of the story so far, and the players must give updated descriptions of their characters. The players also get some loot from their ilithid allies, and begin the journey to Montauk to find the rogue ilithid, Xallitharid.

#058 The Crushing Depths Episode 17 – Jablonski’s Theorem

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, Van tries to convince the heroes to do a job for the ilithid community. They are on their way to saving the world! Or something like that.

#057 The Crushing Depths Episode 16 – We’re Kind of Responsible

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, our heroes have a bit of a palaver to figure out where they stand before they again meet with Van to discuss what he wants from Sal. We hope you enjoy!

#056 The Crushing Depths Episode 15 – Crawling in the Muck

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, Sal has a long discussion with his new friend, Van! Many things are danced around and avoided. Firm commitments are soundly avoided. We hope you enjoy!

#055 The Crushing Depths Episode 14 – The Role of a Lifetime

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, the heroes try to make sense of their new digs. Terrible deja vu, body snatching, and of course finding a sandwich.

#054 The Crushing Depths Episode 13 – Illusion Is The Ultimate Weapon

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, the heroes struggle to recover after a taxing battle. Vanessa works to save Russ and Sal and still rescue both Lydia and the injured Eric before the helicopters arrive. Also, skill challenge!

#053 The Crushing Depths Episode 12 – Cashiers to Women’s

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, we will hear the exciting conclusion to the battle between our heroes and the beholder-kin team up of a gauth and weakened overseer tree.

#052 The Crushing Depths Episode 11 – Underfeeler

After handily winning the skill challenge, and then easily dispatching Dell, the players are feeling pretty good about themselves. That is, until they start engaging with the gauth and overseer in the next room.

#051 The Crushing Depths Episode 10 – Bras Are Hard

In this episode of The Crushing Depths, the party devises a plan to explore the rest of the facility they have discovered on North Brother Island.

#050 The Crushing Depths Episode 9 – Lies and Chicanery

Their progress having been completely stalled by a simple locked door, the party is back in action and solves the problem the only way they know how: violence!

#049 The Crushing Depths Episode 8 – Sponsored By

Time for some earth-shattering realizations. What do you when you finish your quest, and nothing ends the way it is supposed to?

The product placements finally dry up a little after this episode, but we did have fun with it. We hope you found it at least somewhat amusing.

#048 The Crushing Depths Episode 7 – Consume Mass Quantities

Our unwilling adventurers get pulled over by… a squid? The party starts a nose-dive into the world of the weird this episode. I’m not sure they ever recover from this moment. Enjoy!

#047 The Crushing Depths Episode 6 – Old Man Steve

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern campaign, the party cools down from their encounter at the garage and the ensuing Matt-induced Zombie/Blues Brothers mayhem and decides on their next move. As always when the party is trying to figure out what to do next, it is a painful process, but not without its laughs. Enjoy.

#046 The Crushing Depths Episode 5 – Even Zombies Get the Blues

Thanks for listening to the LTM Gaming Podcast! This week on The Crushing Depths, our real-play d20 Modern game, we get a reiteration of Matt’s brilliant diversionary tactic. After the explanation, the characters put the plan into action and try their hand at a little subterfuge.

#045 The Crushing Depths Episode 4 – Segue To Nowhere

In this episode, we will start with a few minutes of reminder of the conversation which causes Lydia to join up with our intrepid heroes. Vanessa does some important research based on something she has found. There are links below which lead to some of the details we reference in game but which do not translate very well to the audio. Be warned, they will spoil some things if you link before listening. We’ll also hear the first iteration of Matt’s brilliant plan to avoid detection in the next phase of their quest to find Leo.

Enjoy!

 

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

Rosy Cross

Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley wearing his fantastic hat. This was the picture heading the Wikipedia article when we were playing.

#044 The Crushing Depths Episode 3 – Whistle While You Walk

I bet you thought we forgot about posting this week’s episode. If you thought that, you’d be right. It’s the holidays here, and we apologize for being late this week. But never fear! There is still a new episode of the LTM Gaming Podcast. The third episode of The Crushing Depths has our heroes leveling up after their encounter in the Blockhouse of Central Park. Of course, the fictional version in our game was a bit different from that Wikipedia article. They also have an important conversation with Lydia, the woman they previously saved who is currently staying in Vanessa’s apartment.

We hope you enjoy!

#043 The Crushing Depths Episode 2 – For All You Viewers Listening

Week two of The Crushing Depths is an extended recap of the six sessions we had prior to starting recording. The players, with Paul’s help, detail the events of the previous sessions. Kidnappings, Agents, Ninja Hobos (not really), Vampires, Explosions, Gunfights, and more!

#042 The Crushing Depths Episode 1 – Who’s my character again?

This week kicks off a new season of LTM Gaming! Join us as we reach back in to our memories to try and set the stage for the d20 Modern campaign run by Paul, The Crushing Depths. This campaign actually started before Entropy Rising, but we didn’t start recording until session 7 for us. These first two episodes will be our attempt to reintroduce the campaign and characters, as well as detail the events of the missing recordings.

This episode in particular you hear the introduction Paul gave the players before starting, detailing the history of this alternate future world. Then you meet the characters:

Matt plays a Fast hero named Russet Barrow.
Steve plays a Smart hero named Vanessa Fairaday.
TJ plays a Strong hero named Salvestro Giangaleazzo.
In addition to running the game, Paul plays a Fast hero named Leonid Rybkin. Sort of. You’ll see.

Hope you enjoy!

#041 LTM Plays Episode 2 – Gloom Part 2

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This week on the LTM Gaming Podcast, we finish our game of Gloom! The concluding episode turned out a little shy of our normal length, but we hope you enjoy.

Gloom is a tabletop card game in which you control a set of characters. You play modifier cards on those characters with the aim of getting them to the lowest possible negative value and then killing them off, ending play. Any player may play modifier cards on any character, not just their own.

While Gloom could be played as a simple card placement game, our group prefers to play it as a collective storytelling game. We base our descriptions on the cards played, but the story grows from there. The descriptions and story are the best part of Gloom! We always have a good time playing it.

Click here for a link to the complete instructions from the publisher’s website.

Click here (link from publisher, Atlas Games) or here (Amazon) to buy the base game. (Full disclosure: we get nothing from this!)

#040 LTM Plays Episode 1 – Gloom Part 1

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This week on the LTM Gaming Podcast, we play Gloom! Gloom is a tabletop card game in which you control a set of characters. You play modifier cards on those characters with the aim of getting them to the lowest possible negative value and then killing them off, ending play. Any player may play modifier cards on any character, not just their own.

While Gloom could be played as a simple card placement game, our group prefers to play it as a collective storytelling game. We base our descriptions on the cards played, but the story grows from there. The descriptions and story are the best part of Gloom! We always have a good time playing it.

Click here for a link to the complete instructions from the publisher’s website.

Click here (link from publisher, Atlas Games) or here (Amazon) to buy the base game. (Full disclosure: we get nothing from this!)

Entropy Rising Episode 39 – The Reckoning Star

This episode wraps up the final session of this season of Entropy Rising. Though a slightly shorter episode, much is revealed about the players, both past and future. Many questions will hound the players until we return to this campaign.

Entropy Rising Episode 38 – Barthus

Rudely distracted from their breakfast in the Ashkent temple to the Raven Queen, our heroes must rally the clerical staff to defend against an agent of Orcus and his skeletal minions. This episode comes from the final session of this chapter of Entropy Rising and is a double long two hour episode without any breaks in the battle.

No new episode next week since this is a double.

Entropy Rising Episode 33 – Big Trouble in Little Dry Barrel

The reference for this week’s title goes by really quickly. Did you catch it? In any event, the murder mystery is resolved… sort of. Have a listen.

Entropy Rising Episode 32 – Two Halflings in a Dragonborn Suit

The mystery deepens when we expand our suspect list to include treacherous costumed halflings. Beware the zipper!

Entropy Rising Episode 31 – Curb Their Enthusiasm With Violence

A village on the horizon! Could it be we are reaching our goal and the conclusion of our mission? Oh, skill challenge. Guess not.

Entropy Rising Episode 30 – The Merciless Shifters of Quetzalzacatenango

Ambushed! Our journey is interrupted briefly on account of violence. It could happen to anyone.

Entropy Rising Episode 29 – Worst Session Ever

This is a non-episode episode. This session was plagued by connection issues. Listen to the disclaimer at the beginning of the episode and decide for yourself if you want to listen.

Entropy Rising Episode 28 – Back of My Folk’s Wagon

Finally, the party leaves Buthol behind and embarks on a new mission in their service to The Raven Queen. The road may not be the safest of places in this world, however.

Entropy Rising Episode 27 – Let’s Get Dangerous

Buthol finally shows some worth as he gives the party loot. Some other stuff might happen too. But the most important thing is the loot.

Entropy Rising Episode 26 – My So-Called Unlife

The party continues exploring the chambers to discover the true cause of the undead fouling the area. They must attempt to vanquish their greatest foe yet: a slippery patch of ice.

This episode being another double episode, there will be no new episode next week. This way you don’t have any breaks in the action.

Entropy Rising Episode 24 – Special Guy

For this episode we are joined by a special guest star: Brian! Brian is usually a silent partner in the endeavors of LTM Gaming. For the next few episodes, he plays a character helping the party as they explore some of Buthol’s past.

Entropy Rising Episode 21 – A Real Gem

Recent developments in Firemount leave Buthol reeling and the rest of the party feeling awkward about all of those “your mother” jokes they told Buthol on the way here.

Entropy Rising Episode 20 – Cowardly Cactus Conflict

The party is finally on land once again, transporting the prisoner along with Buthol to the Firemount Clan home. Their mountain path is not without dangers, however.

Entropy Rising Episode 18 – TJ’s Not Right

The party must assist the crew in defending the ship from a pack (pod? school? shiver?) of water mephits. Cadfan wins the ensuing wet t-shirt contest.

Entropy Rising Episode 17 – Jauntyrama

Tensions are rising aboard the ship. The surprise guest causes some friction. However, that must wait when the ship comes under fire from an external threat.

Entropy Rising Episode 16 – And MY War-Kazoo

The voyage begins. Buthol earns the “worst dwarf ever” achievement. The rest of the group tries to find their sea-legs and suss out the situation aboard.

Entropy Rising Episode 15 – Cruel Summer

If there’s anything that says hardcore gaming more than a dinner party, I don’t know what it would be. The group finds a faster way to travel.

Entropy Rising Episode 14 – Taffy and Spice and Everything Nice

The party seeks help from the temple to The Raven Queen in the Keep of Oran to start the next leg of their journey to the Dusty Mountains.

Entropy Rising Episode 13 – Maiming Builds Character

Having found themselves in the wild, the party opts for the safest route to finish the distance to the nearby Keep of Oran.

Entropy Rising Episode 12 – Follow the Brown Dusty Road

The party decides how best to traverse the entire continent in order to transport Buthol safely back to his home. Skill challenge!

Entropy Rising Episode 10 – Whoopsiedoodle

Our adventurers continue on without Buthol and encounter a very dangerous new foe. Double episode this week also means no episode next week.

Entropy Rising Episode 9 – For Whom the Ball Rolls

The kobolds just won’t quit with the traps. Listen to how our adventurers fare against a classic Indiana Jones villain.

Entropy Rising Episode 7 – Meet the Firemounts

With Matt unable to play for a session, TJ reaches into Paul’s bag of tricks and pulls out a one-shot flashback adventure. Think of it as Buthol’s origin story. In this episode, young Buthol’s friends are Kunthol, played by Paul, and Dichol, played by Steve. Apparently dwarves never learn they can delve too deep.

Entropy Rising Episode 6 – Why Couldn’t It Be Snakes?

Despite a reluctant Buthol, the party is determined to plumb the depths of this endless kobold dungeon. However, they have more to contend with than kobolds in this episode. Their investigations bring up more questions than answers.

Entropy Rising Episode 5 – Skull Skittles

In this episode of Entropy Rising, our fearless adventurers take on the prestigious Kobold Home Guard. This elite group of kobolds is highly trained, their skills having been honed over the generations. Parents brought up their children to the ways of defending their home, and the post is never left abandoned. Either that or some kobolds have a rock they throw.

Entropy Rising Episode 4 – Crossfire!

The dungeon exploration continues as a suspiciously behaving Buthol leads the party further down, where they face off against more kobolds and encounter traps.

Also, jaunty dwarven hats.

Entropy Rising Episode 3 – Goodbye Muddah Goodbye Faddah

Welcome back! In this episode Gwen decides how she will bid farewell to her loving family and the party begins to explore their first dungeon as they attempt to find information about who is responsible for the undead attack.

More information about this podcast is available at ltmgaming.com

Entropy Rising Episode 2 – Raven Queen Knows Best

Welcome back! In this, the second episode of Entropy Rising, our characters engage in their first battle. The party fights to rescue Gwen from the clutches of ex-boyfriend Bil and his undead companions. Join us and see how zombies fare against this party of divine characters.

For more information about the campaign and its characters, check out ltmgaming.com

Entropy Rising Episode 1 – Welcome to Entropy Rising

Welcome to Entropy Rising!

In this, the very first episode of the LTM Gaming Podcast, TJ begins as dungeon master of a 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons campaign. You will meet the main characters as they meet each other and choose a path. They are:

Cadfan, a deva avenger played by Paul.

Eryth, a revenant invoker played by Steve.

Gwen, a half-elf half-dwarf paladin played by Matt.

and

Buthol, a dwarven cleric NPC.

The characters are thrust together because of their service to The Raven Queen.

More information about the world they live in can be found at ltmgaming.com