Last night our D&D group began a new campaign using Goodman Games’s Into the Borderlands, their excellent reprint of the classic module. One of the players will be contributing posts after each session in the form of missives to the leadership of his faction.
The 2nd day of Summertide, The Keep on the Borderlands
Salutations Genrok of Silverwood, Autumnreaver of the Emerald Enclave and protector of the Iron Yew, may Nature’s blessing be upon you.
I, Spleodrach, Springwarden of the Emerald Enclave, traveled to the Keep on the Borderlands in the foothills of the Nether Mountains north of Everlund as directed and humbly submit this missive that I may add another leaf to the Tree of Knowledge.
The Rauvin Road was treacherous and bereft of succor and I would certainly have perished and returned to nature as wolf meat had I not met three traveling companions. Urxikas, a tiefling paladin, declared that he was traveling to the Keep to combat the encroaching forces of chaos. Torbrek, a half-elf monk, shares Urxikas’s purpose and possesses a martial bearing as sharp as the paladin’s. Risrin is a sickly drow warlock exiled from his homeland. Between Torbrek and Urxikas, both virtuous and naive (as shown by their hopefulness), and Risrin, tormented inwardly and outwardly cynical, it was I, Spleodrach, the last survivor of a firbolg tribe, who brought balance to the group.
We arrived at the keep and I met my contact Borin Locklinshield in the Stretching Goat tavern. He confirmed our fears: the forces of evil and chaos are in unnatural balance in the area–driven forward by who knows what foul power.
After renting a room in the keep’s inn we set out to a homestead to the north. My intention was to discern if the keep’s presence was encouraging farmers to expand at the expense of the neighboring forests–could it be the keep’s presence that had provoked the forces of chaos? The farm was but a short walk from the keep and I can confirm that the homestead, Dreml’s Farm, is in harmony with nature. The care with which they work the land honors the highest ideals of Chauntea. However, the human womenfolk who run the farm asked us to help locate their daughter who “got lost in the forest.” “Or rather the forest has found her” I corrected them. Nevertheless, given the solicitude they show the land my companions and I agreed to look for the girl. As we searched the woods an owlbear attacked. Blessing be to Silvanus, we defeated the creature and I planted a yew seedling next to the corpse so that death may bring forth life. A short while later we discovered the missing girl’s body in an abandoned wizard’s hideout. The young human’s curiosity got the better of her it seems. Urixkas committed to return the body to her mothers, but before we could make plans for this we discovered an arcane circle. My master Thref often counseled me about caution when in a dungeon–“Spleodrach, have you not noticed it is the slowest growing trees that are also the tallest?”–yet his words escaped me and I foolishly entered the circle. This was in fact a portal to the cursed plane of Avernus and I do not possess enough vellum to describe the horrors we encountered in this chthonic wasteland. We escaped at great expense and I fear that I may have incurred the wrath of a powerful fiend as well as a hag. I have included a map with the location of the entrance and exit portals to be forwarded to the Emerald Enclave Fiendish Threats Section.
This dread encounter solidified my opinion that the force behind the encroaching evil hordes is a malevolent fiendish presence. After a rest in the keep my companions and I decided to investigate the so-called Caves of Chaos. Indeed, nature’s balance is twisted here for from the safety of our hunter’s blind (and fortified by goodberries during the three day silent vigil we sat) we observed kobolds, gnolls, goblins, and giant spiders among the caves and trees–sometimes fighting each other, other times apparently ignoring each other. Surely something powerful must bind or draw them to these caves.
Our careful watch–which it must be said chafed Risrin’s mercurial nature–allowed us to discern the guard schedule of the kobolds and we planned an assault to correspond to the end of a watch. Our initial attack culled over a dozen of the kobolds and six of their giant rat minions. We retired to our hide and fortified ourselves. Sensing weakness, the goblins launched a raid against their kobold rivals and we dispatched the exhausted goblin raiding party as they returned to their lair. After a brief war council we decided to immediately attack the kobolds while they were reeling from the goblin raid. As a result of our attack I can confirm that the kobolds have been eliminated from the Caves of Chaos. No mercy was shown–does a gardener spare a sprouting weed so that she must pull it when it is fully grown and has killed her tomato vines? As goats that escape from ships flourish at the expense of the plants on the Korinn Archipelago so do these evil humanoids flourish within a day’s travel of the keep. Risrin did not seem troubled but I worry that Urxikas and Torbrek are possessed of a sentimentality that may prevent them from doing what is necessary to restore nature’s balance.
I am writing from the Stretched Goat as we recover from our fight and continue to investigate rumours in the keep. I have heard rumors of a “wasting curse” afflicting homesteads. My inclination is to discount these rumors–to a human peasant the natural course of aging can easily be mistaken for a curse, such is the fleeting, painful, and miserable nature of their lives before dying to serve nature in a different (and likely more useful) guise. Nevertheless, I will consult with my companions whose knowledge of dark rituals and sorcerous powers may reveal something nefarious.
Please send messages to Borin and he will deliver them to me. My mission here would benefit from additional spell components, healing potions, and whatever supplemental funds the Emerald Enclave is in a position to provide. I will write again when I have news.
I remain your faithful servant,
Spleodrach, Springwarden of the Emerald Enclave