Adventure log: Aperture
The adventure picks off where “Gauntlet” left off, with the party, and their guide Bendron, finding themselves under Pallmoor Gates in a large, ancient hall containing two small squadrons of terra cotta soldiers, squared off in eternal battle, each led by a mounted commander. The party proceeds to a small 5′ high tunnel, which is blocked by strong iron criss-crossed bars. Above the tunnel is a large carving of a bearded human, looking down at the room. A young woman appears behind the bars, wearing the outfit of a Night Ranger recruit- with a porcelain mask covering half of her face.
As the girl queries the party about who they are the eyes of the stone face begin to glow an eerie blue, skeletons burst forth from the terra cotta soldiers, smashing through the layer that has kept them hidden for centuries. Not long after, a giant skeleton bursts forth from the wall, it’s skeletal face having been hidden behind the carved stone mask.
A fierce battle ensues, during which Pat and one of the skeletal riders alternate between turning the skeletons and removing the effects of the turn. The other rider activates a brooch which covers him in unfolding copper-colored plate. The giant deals great damage with a giant maul. The party summons creatures which fight the skeletons to a stand-still for a while- and porkins manages to glue the giant skeleton’s foot in place with sovereign glue. However, the giant smashes at porkins, which is hiding in the recess created by the skeleton having burst forth from the wall, and the force of the maul smashes a hole in the wall, sending porkins falling into the next room, where the Night Ranger Dugan and the young girl, Arden awaits.
The battle continues, with Pat being killed shortly after being knocked unconcious. The party manages to escape through the hole in the wall created by the giant’s maul, but are seriously wounded. The Night Rangers lead the party towards their surface, where their stringhold resides under the city, when Arden reveals herself as Renda and kills Clinton with a powerful sneak attack, attempting to steal the Gate Crystal in the process- but she is killed by Lancelot and Radcliffe.
In the headquarters of the Night Rangers, the party discovers that heroes from the north have snuck into Pallmoor Gates, including the Red Knight, Father Hubbins, Maximillian, and Lord Eddington. Hubbins produces a soul diamond which he uses to raise Clinton, but the party must sell some of their treasure to trade with the Thieves Guild in order to acquire another to raise Pat. Night Ranger clerics heal the party and in two days everyone is at full health and rested.
In the Nexus, the central hall of the Night Rangers, the leadership council reveals a plan to retake the city. The Arrow Vault has been destroyed by resistance forces, and a barracks poisoned with bad bread. This has forced the Vermese to send their armies outside the city to defend the bridge to Verma from Basil’s surprise attack from RedRiver. The leadership introduces a Sage who was recently rescued, who knows much lore of the Lightning Gate. With skeleton crew of Vermese soldiers left guarding the city, the leaders plan to attack Dessicatia Rottli’s palace while the Night Rangers secure the granaries, and the party attempts to activate the Gate to summon more soldiers from Tyn.
However, no sooner is this plan explained than bad news reaches the Nexus: Dessicatia Rottli has constructed a giant effigy in the Royal Square and is planning to burn citizens alive inside of it. A throng of civilians has started rioting near the effigy.
The Red Knight calls an audible and states that the leaders will attack Dessicatia Rottli and attempt to save the citizens while the party activates the gate. The crew, invisible or in disguise, goes to the Royal Mall just as Rottli burns the wicker man. However, this triggers a spell which brings the burning, huge wicker contruct to life, which proceeds to stomp on villagers. The leadership team attacks the wicker man and Dessicatia, while the party proceeds to the Temple of Light, which is believed to be built over the Gate.
The party pushes their way through the crowd to the once holy temple of light, which has been desecrated and closed down, fighting off Vermese crossbowmen on the roofs of the surrounding buildings. Clinton turns a section of the outer wall to mud and they enter the temple, avoiding the Wicker Man and an Ogre that guard the temple.
Inside, all is dark as the template is filled with rubble and huge piles of dirt. Two Barghests- strange large goblin-like creatures that can shape shift into foul wolf-like beasts, attack the party, using a pet basilisk to turn Brother Darkness to stone. The party kills the basilisk and the barghests, and the sage informs the crew that Brother Darkness can be saved by dousing him in the blood of the slain basilisk.
The party finds a large opening, once hidden by the holy altar, and proceeds down an old, wide set of stairs down below the temple, where half of a huge black orb has been excavated recently. The orb has a 10′ opening which the party enters. Now inside an 80′ diameter sphere, with a walk way traversing both axis, the party realizes that a platform has a receptacle for the Gate Crystal. Radcliffe inserts the crystal which energizes the surface of the sphere, and a ghostly image of the inside of a strange palace with Vermese guards is projected on the interior of the sphere. A mysterious dark man with pointed teeth (The Baron himself?) can be seen on a throne ahead of them. Before Radcliffe can retrieve the crystal, an ogre-sized creature in strange layered armor and a double-ended tetsubu appears through the gate. The party realizes they are cut off when the monk Hazel enters through the entrance with a mysterious robed wizard and bugbear muscle. Hazel pushes the sage off of the platform into the energy field, and he is seemingly disintegrated.
As Pat defends the party from Hazel and the creatures entering the sphere, the armoured Oni grabs the crystal from Radcliffe and attempts to throw him off. The party determines how to adjust the gate to connect to Tyn instead of Verminopoli using controls at either side of the sphere. The battle is a back and forth as both sides attempt to stay on the platforms, maintain control of the crystal, and the controls. Radcliffe is able to knock Hazel off of the platform and she too is consumed by the energy. Eventually Porkins is able to reset the crystal while the sphere is pointed at Tyn, and more heros, including Sir Kyle, join the fight. However, the Oni makes one last lunge for the crystal by knocking Porkins off of the platform, who is consumed by the energy before Kyle slashed the Oni himself, knocking the ogre-mage into the field.
The good guys victories, soldiers from Tyn pour through the gate. The remainin party attends to their wounded, but tremors grow very strong and the sphere itself shakes violently. Eventually the sphere stops working, as if knocked out of alignment, and everyone is forced to abandon the sphere. Earl Hillibrands men proceed to take the inner gate tower, getting control of the main gates and artillery defending the inner city, and- other heros having beaten Dessicatia Rottli and the Wicker Man at great cost, the city is liberated.
Elsewhere, Porkins awakes atop a hard stone surface in a very warm location. Through heavy foliage, he can see the sun start to rise. Porkins walks through a jungle like forest, and spies a dark figure riding a giant two-legged lizard on a beach, which darts into the dark jungle as the sun rises. In the distance, Porkins spies a large ship with huge white sails, sailing into the horizon to the west.