The campaign begins with the adventurers’ arrival in the city of Telder, a city of commerce and culture in the center of the human province of Teluvia. They arrive separately, for as of yet, the adventurers know nothing of each other or the imminent crossing of their fates. Despite arriving on the holiday of Autumn’s Birth, the adventurers find the town empty and quiet, devoid of the celebration one would expect. The players use their skills to deduce what might be the source of this strange absence of celebration. They learn a little, but because they are foreigners to Teluvia, they cannot pinpoint an explanation.
They hear the clamor of voices near the center of the city and, following the sound, they discover of a crowd of peasants circled around a statue. They exchange minor acknowledgments to each other, for they have apparently all arrived fortuitously into a situation of which they know nothing. With caution, they approach the crowd and soon observe the source of the crowd’s fervor.
A woman, clad in little more than rags, stands chained upon the statue of a dragon, sticks piled below her. A priest incites the crowd with zealous words and looks beseechingly at a group of people sitting high above the city square. The PCs take a quick moment to appraise each of the people who are part of this obviously dramatic situation. There is little to distinguish the woman besides her long auburn locks and pale skin. She is obviously a foreigner, and, the PCs reason, must be of some importance, for she bears a seal upon one fingers. What the seal indicates, the adventurers fail to discern. Men, nobles by appearance, comprise the group that is perched high above the city square. Two wear crowns, the others are more difficult to distinguish.
Appraising these people, the players use a combination of skills and logic to try and deduce what the situation is. Gerhart, with his knowledge of this land, manages to reason that this is not the work of a mob but instead a lawful execution. Similarly, Mal manages to observe something of the exchange between the priest and nobles—he discerns a questioning look upon the priest, one that seeks approval from the nobles. Although he is distant from the group, he moves closer and succeeds in reading the expression of the two crowned men; one bears a hardened, grim expression, the other, watches stoically except for a hint of sorrow in his eyes.
The PCs have not yet communicated with each other besides an exchange of serious, questioning glances. They position themselves amidst the crowd, watching as the priest gives the sign to ignite the wood beneath the woman. The adventurers train their eyes upon the woman, who carries no fear in her eyes—only a fire as fierce and angry as the flames that begin to lick her flesh.
As the conflagration consumes her, she gives a curdling scream with an otherworldly quality to it. The strident scream is short, and despite the obvious pain, she speaks out: “I lay a prophecy before you—you who act from fear, beware. Before Spring’s Birth, the middlelands shall look into the eye of change and shall see an end to all nations. The Hellstone shall be unleashed, and blood will soak the grounds of these lands.”
The PCs strain to see amidst the crowd; both Kriv and Wilbur have moved to the middle ranks of the mob. Gerhart and Mal stand back further. None of them succeed in perceiving exactly what happens next, besides to say that Kriv notices the woman give a flick of her wrist and from there explodes a force that washes through peasants and adventurers alike.
The force appears like a swirling opalescent fog. Tendrils of the force snake outward from the woman, splitting into the composite colors of the opalescence, ranging the whole spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. The tide of gray knocks all but Mal and Kriv from their feet. As the currents of what can only be magic wash over the common folk, some begin to twist and writhe.
The PCs make a quick appraisal of the situation around them. The woman, consumed in flames, seems wrapped in a fog of the opalescent gray smoke. He flesh bulges and twists. Beside her, tendrils of darkness wrap about the guards; under the effect, their flesh sloughs from their bodies like dough. Near the PCs, a cord of putrid green light strikes a pair of peasants, whose bodies seem immediately to rot away, becoming like living corpses. Last among these hideous transformations are several villagers whose bodies contort, becoming gnarly and sinewy, their skin taking a deep umber color.
The PCs have before them 4 skeleton, 2 zombies, and 2 aberrant monstrosities.
Gerhart makes a quick check on his knowledge of such arcane transformations, but despite scoring an excellent roll, finds that this is unlike anything he’s ever encountered. None of the PCs have ever seen anything like this. Gerhart can only speculate that the chaotic energies of magic have warped these people into monsters.
One player makes the quip, “I always wondered where goblins came from.”
Time for Initiative! Battle begins and the players all score better initiative than the monsters. For both monsters and players, the first round is spent mostly standing up. A few that are close enough are able to stand up and attack. The players that succeeded in maintaining their balance against the magical force immediately engage the creatures.
Despite the complexity of the battle, events move quickly. In the midst of combat though, these chaotic magical energies begin warping the terrain as well. Using several suggestions from the playtest document, including some interesting and exciting new terrain features, the battlefield becomes dreamscape-like, with the ground shifting and changing color, spontaneous fogs of poison appearing, and the like. Incidentally, a fog of poisonous gas appeared on a pair of horses who, having already succeeded against fear, also managed to fend off the poison. Go horses.
The PCs manage well, despite a critical hit from a zombie and goblin. They focus on the weaker undead first before launching after the goblin who, in the mean time, slay several fleeing peasants. The nobles rush to aid the adventurers, but several swift and skillful blows manage to eliminate the threats before the nobles can reach them.
Success is bittersweet, however, for several townsfolk die amidst the violence of battle, and the woman strapped to the statue escapes. However, before escaping, she undergoes a hideous transformation, sprouting wings from her hands and arms, and taking on the mutated form of some half-beast. Mal makes a valiant effort to stop her, but the result is a release of the chaotic energies pulsating inside her. After seeing the violent effect this magic has on the terrain around, he turns his attention to helping his new allies and saving the townspeople.