I document every session played in the Manadus setting. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be reposting these session reports.
Session 1: 8th of Browning, 1300i/March 06 2016
A man named Jonah arrived at the Otoñesta Inn, located in the village of the same name, in the Kingdom of Kryza. He was a rambling fortune-seeker, and asked the bartender there if any work was available in Otoñesta. The bartender offered Jonah a job at the inn, as one of his own co-workers had recently been murdered by the goblins who had been terrorizing the nearby countryside. Incidentally, it turned out that a bounty had been posted for the goblin leader, King Karl.
Jonah accepted the job at the inn, and was tending bar when Jack, a foreign bounty hunter, arrived. When Jack learned of the bounty, he immediately decided to go after it. Jonah and Jack decided to work together to defeat Karl.
They went to the town hall to find out more about the bounty posting. The mayor’s secretary, a young man named Aarón, told them that anyone who could bring in the head of King Karl would be granted 100 gold coins. The head of each goblin who followed Karl was worth 10 gold coins.
Just outside of town hall, Jack and Jonah encountered a half-orc named Garreck. He was standing in the village square holding up a sign that said “Will fight for food.” Jack offered him food, and Garreck joined them in the hunt for Karl.
The party tracked the goblins to a cave south of Otoñesta. They did battle with the goblin tribe there, and in process met a man calling himself Don Sildare, Knight of Kryzantine. Sildare claimed to be a great warrior, and rushed headlong into combat against Karl. Karl’s pet wolf killed Sildare.
Nevertheless Jack, Jonah, and Garreck defeated Karl and his forces. In total, they collected the heads of 18 goblins, counting Karl. The cave was filled with the stolen belongings of the farmers who lived nearby. The goblins had also chained up three tamed wolves. The adventurers built a makeshift sled out of the crates the goods were stored in, and loaded all the goods onto it. They tied up the wolves to this sled, and mushed them back to Otoñesta.
When the party returned to Otoñesta, night had already fallen. They decided to wait until morning, and then turn in their bounty.
Session 2: 9th-10th of Browning, 1300i/March 10th 2016
Garreck, Jack, and Jonah presented the mayor of Ortoñesta with the heads of Karl and his goblin tribe. They were rewarded with a bounty of gold. Jack and Jonah split the gold 50/50 between them, and gave a great deal of rations to Garreck. Garreck went on his way to find more work. Jonah returned to the Ortoñesta Inn.
Jack kept the stolen supplies for himself and began selling them off in the village center. After finishing with that, he was about to leave when he spotted Harley.
Harley was a changling, although she was in disguise as an elderly elf at the time and Jack had no way of knowing that. She was also a warlock with an archfae patron. Jack watched as she cast a charm spell on a shopkeeper and swindled him out of all his money.
Jack stealthily picked the money off of Harley and returned it to the shopkeeper. Then, he pulled her into an alley and admonished her thievery skills. He offered to take her under his tutelage and asked for her help with a heist.
The two of them took Sildare’s corpse to the Cordoña Vinyard, a palatial estate past the edge of the village. Here lived the Don and Donna Cordoña, Sildare’s parents. As the pair approached, they witnessed a kobold named Wickseeker trying to convince the estate’s guard to let him in to talk business with Don Cordoña. The guard sent Wickseeker packing.
Jack returned Sildare’s corpse and informed the family about his fate. As thanks, Don Cordoña invited Jack and Harley in for wine.
While Harley chatted up Don Cordoña, Jack excused himself to use the toilet. Instead of relieving himself, he successfully snuck around the estate pilfering valuables from the first and second floors.
When he returned to his hosts, a servant came running in and declared that the entire wine cellar had been emptied by a thief. Jack had not even gone into the cellar, though.
Harley and Jack helped the house staff investigate the break-in, and determined that the hundreds of wine bottles had been transported by way of a teleportation ritual. Don Cordoña implored the pair to ask the local wizard, Ozo, for advice.
Harley and Jack traveled to Ozo’s tower and asked if he knew who could have stolen the wine. Ozo revealed that he had recently taught the teleportation ritual to Wickseeker.
Harley and Jack tracked Wickseeker to a ruined castle in the wilderness. They went inside and were ambushed by Wickseeker’s kobold tribesmen. The mercenary and the warlock fought their way through the castle’s underground, and ultimately killed Wickseeker.
On Wickseeker’s body, they found a +1 staff of the war mage and a note describing the location of a secret door inside the castle dungeon. They went through this door and down through a long tunnel into a natural cavern. In the cavern was a frozen lake with all the stolen wine inside of it.
Out of the darkness, a white dragon attacked! He was the master of this kobold tribe. The dragon’s breath weapon froze the intruders solid.
Harley and Jack awoke several hours later and found themselves attached to the cavern walls by cocoons of ice. The dragon had fallen asleep, content to wait and eat them later when it was more hungry.
Harley used her magic to melt the ice cocoons. She and Jack snuck out of the cavern without waking the dragon up, and took a good-sized treasure chest with them.
As they fled the dungeon, they heard the dragon wake up and spout curses at them.
They made it back to the Ortoñesta Inn and rested. Inside the chest was a pile of treasure along with a lifedrinker longsword.
Session 3: 10th-11th of Browning, 1300i/March 20th 2016
Jack and Harley were recovering from their dragon ordeal at the Ortoñesta Inn when they overheard the mayor talking to an agent of the Kryzano army. The mayor and the agent were discussing a recent theft.
The adventurers butted in on their conversation out of curiosity. The mayor explained to them that a secret shipment of gunpowder and firearms was supposed to pass through Ortoñesta on its way to supply the Kryzano military in the capital. The shipment had been intercepted by the Black Cloaks, a gang of ruffians infesting Ortoñesta. Remembering Jack’s valor against the evil King Karl, the mayor recommended that the army agent hire the adventurers to find and infiltrate the Black Cloak’s hideout.
The agent agreed, and so Jack and Harley went about investigating. Jack used his underworld connections to learn more about the Black Cloaks: specifically, that they were based out of the ruins of Castle Gray and that they were led by a mysterious newcomer named Andres.
The pair entered Castle Gray and managed to secure an audience with Andres. They discovered that the Black Cloaks had indeed stolen the weaponry, and that Andres himself was a wizard.
They lied to Andres, saying that they knew of a second shipment of weapons which would arrive by nightfall. They convinced him that they wanted to join the Black Cloaks, so he took them with him to rob the supposed caravan. Unbeknownst to Andres, this caravan carried no real goods and was guarded by the village’s twenty best fighters.
The Black Cloaks were ambushed when they attacked the caravan and, completely outmatched, surrendered after a brief fight. The entire gang, including Andres, was taken into military custody.
Jack and Harley rested that night at the Ortoñesta Inn. In the morning, Jack returned to the now-uninhabited Castle Gray. He located the stolen armaments. Most of it he returned to the agent; some of the gunpowder barrels he hid outside the village, claiming he had not found them.
Back at the the inn, the adventurers met Martim Urano, a young shaman of the Bullywug, or toad-folk. Martim had been exiled by his people and now sought to become a great adventurer.
Jack and Harley set out for Cordoña Manor. Martim followed them. At the manor, they told Don Cordoña that a white dragon was responsible for the theft of his wine. They asked for a wagon and some good-sized chests to help defeat the dragon.
Annoyed by Martim, Jack gave him a gold coin and told him to deliver it to the wizard Ozo. He hoped this would get rid of him until she and Jack completed their plan.
Jack and Harley filled the bottom halves of the chests with their stolen gunpowder and lots of nails. They put boards over the gunpowder and nails, then filled the chests up the rest of the way with coins.
Meanwhile, Martim arrived at Ozo’s tower without incident. The wizard accepted the coin graciously, and invited Martim in to have pie with him. After a pleasant meal, he teleported Martim back to Jack and Harley – much to their bemusement.
The three of them, along with two of Don Cordoña’s household guard, traveled to the ruins where the dragon laired. The dragon was outside waiting for them.
They managed to convince the dragon that they were sorry of angering her, and sought to stay her wrath by bringing chestfulls of coin and offering themselves as slaves. Flattered and amused, the dragon took them into her lair along with the chests.
When the dragon went to hold one of the chests, the group stood back as Harley used her magic to ignite the gunpowder inside. The resultant explosion of fire and nails nearly killed the dragon. After that, the party was able to quickly slay her.
Session 4: 11th-12th of Browning, 1300i
That evening Harley, Jack, and Martim were at the
Command Center Ortoñesta Inn. Harley retired to her room early. Jack and Martim met a small band of Dwarves in the dining area. The group consisted of three elders and an adolescent who introduced himself as Rangrim, Prince of the Ironwall Mountains. The Dwarves were refugees from the town of Stonefang Pass in the Ironwall Mountains, which had been sacked a few days earlier by Orcs from up north. They were stopping at Ortoñesta on their way to the eastern Dwarven kingdom of Dwei to gather reinforcements and retake the pass.
When the Dwarf tribe retreated from the pass, their king was not with them. Having heard from the locals Jack’s reputation as a monster-fighter, Prince Rangrim implored his help finding the lost king.
Jack negotiated a deal with the Dwarves – sort of. He wrote a contract stating that in exchange for rescuing the king, Rangrim would grant him lordship over the Ironwall Mountains. Martim cast a minor illusion on the contract to make it appear that Rangrim would merely owe them 50 gold coins. Rangrim fell for this ruse.
Jack and Martim recruited two strangers to help on their quest – Dorn Thunderhelm, a Dwarven cleric from Dwei; and Winterfell, a half-elf possessing exotic magic.
Dorn, Jack and Martim set out the next morning west across the barren Redrock Wastes and past the ruined city of Sarthan. Winterfell quickly lagged behind to explore the region, but promised to catch up later. Martim collected some of the toxic soil of the wasteland and used it to make a large amount of poison for his darts.
After two days’ journey by carriage, they arrived at the village of Stonehaven, at the base of the Ironwalls. They learned from the locals that the Dwarven refugees had passed through Stonehaven, but most did not survive their journey through the hostile wasteland. The locals seemed to have no optimism that the Orcs might be driven from the region and Stonefang Pass reopened. One Stonehaven farmer asked the party to take him with them on their return trip back to Ortoñesta. They agreed, but insisted on completing their quest first.
At Stonehaven’s inn, they met a Dwarf girl named Flicka. Flicka had been separated from the rest of the refugees and feared to cross the Redrock Wastes alone. During the attack, she had lost contact with her sister Adrianna. Flicka and Adrianna each carried a sending stone – two enchanted rocks that could be used to communicate with one another. Flicka entrusted the adventurers with her sending stone and pleaded with them to bring her any information they found about the whereabouts of Adrianna.
That afternoon, the adventurers arrived at the entrance to the great underground road that led to Stonefang Pass….
As you can see, Manadus was not a very distinctive setting back then. Really, nothing much happened in March 2016 that could not have happened in Eberron, Greyhawk, or any other of other settings. It certainly was not The Grand Machine yet. As I have said, the setting developed its unique identity gradually over time. At this point, I was just lifting elements from adventure modules and sticking them together; King Karl’s lair was the Cragmaw Hideout from Lost Mines of Phandelver, Castle Gray was the Redbrand Hideout from Lost Mines of Phandelver, and Session 4 represents the first part of my conversion of HS2: Orcs of Stonefang Pass.
Technically, these was not the first Manadus adventures. I had run another adventure for a different group of players a few months earlier. However, I did not write down what transpired there, and much of that adventure’s events ended up being erased by a time warp anyway.