At the Shrine of Othrys – Stormriders, Tricksters, & Fishmen (D&D 5E Campaign Report)

Michael O. Varhola

This report follows the ongoing adventures of planetouched bard and priestess Angelia (Carter Valentine), Cynocephalian sorcerer Lyco (Oliver Knorr), Myrmidon fighter Myrmex (Andrew Knorr), and Human rogue Teris (Paul Knorr) as they explore and brave the hazards of an ancient shrine at the base of ominous Mount Othrys. This adventure designed and run by Michael O. Varhola takes place in Skirmisher Publishing's bestselling Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting, a Dark Ages swords-and-sorcery version of the Aegean and the lands surrounding it. 

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After spending the night in the somewhat sheltered base of a ruined tower on the slopes of Mount Othrys, the adventurers hiked about a half mile southwestward back to the hill containing the shrine and straight to the entrance on its northern side. There they crossed the chasm blocking the approaches to the cave mouth and ascended the short passageway leading up to what they have been referring to as the “Air Door.” This portal consisted of two large wooden double doors, each five feet wide and 10 feet tall, mounted in a heavy stone frame with side pillars that look like two winged giants — one male and one female — with the 20-foot-wide lintel resting on their outstretched wings. Lyco used his prestidigitation to magically invoke a puff of wind, which caused the great doors to swing open.

The middle level of the great egg-shaped room beyond the doors appeared to be abandoned and the party moved carefully onto the landing so that they could look down into the lower level and see if the evil peltasts they encountered here previously were still occupying the place. None of them were in the area below and, as he reached the silver door on the eastern wall, Teris glanced upward and saw all three of the men hanging in the air some 20 feet above them. A creature they came to know as a “Lightning Mephit Stormrider” had apparently levitated them and held them suspended, like puppets, with tethers of electricity emanating from its body.

Battle ensued with the Stormrider breathing lightning at the rogue and the peltasts hurling javelins at the party, all to good effect. The party counterattacked with missiles and spells and, after just a few exchanges, slew the Mephit, causing the three cultists to plummet to the lower level 40 feet below them. One hit Lyco as he fell and knocked the dog-headed man off the ledge and onto the level below, badly injuring him and knocking him unconscious. He quite possibly would have died had not Angelia and Myrmex climbed down to him to render aid, and while there they very pragmatically searched the mangled peltasts and collected a small horde of electrum and silver coins from them.

After healing their most grievous wounds, the party continued through the door to the east and up the stairs leading to the smoke-filled cavern they had been apprehensive about exploring previously. There, obscured by smoke, they could see four glowing, spectral humanoid forms standing between them and the passageway leading from the other end of the room. Angelia cast Gust of Wind from a scroll they found earlier and cleared a path through the room, revealing four “Smoke Mephits” that, hidden by the smoldering, were lying in ambush; three retreated to obscured corners of the room and one was blown down the opposite passageway. This also exposed a section of crumbly floor through which smoke emanated from some subterranean fire and the companions realized that they otherwise might have stepped through this patch of friable rock and into the cinders beneath it.

In the battle that followed, Teris inflicted what should have been a telling wound on one of the glowing, featureless humanoids but neither appeared to affect it nor was attacked in return by it. Attacking from within the smoke beyond the area kept clear by the magical wind, the Mephits inflicted some damage on the characters but did not last overly long against them. And, as each was destroyed and exploded in a burst of opaque smoke, one of the humanoids disappeared, leading the party to conclude they were some sort of magical ruse intended to draw them into the area of the smoke vent.

After determining there was nothing of value in the room, Teris scouted the passageway beyond the smoky cavern and verified that it led to the area of the “Fire Door” that they had partially explored previously. Deciding not to explore it further, however, they instead exited the “Air Door” and worked their way south and westward around the hill to the small lake near the “Water Door.” There, with the assistance of the other party members, Teris drew upon his skills as a sailor and constructed a small but stable raft from some driftwood collected from the banks of the river. Straddling this raft, their feet in the water, the party then used makeshift paddles to sail across the pond and into the cave mouth leading to the “Water Door.”

This portal consisted of two massive bronze double doors, green with age and exposure to moisture, each five feet wide and 10 feet tall and mounted in a stone frame with side pillars that look like muscular, giant people with fish tails instead of legs — one male and one female — with the 20-foot-wide lintel resting on their heads. Lyco used prestidigitation to magically cause a small wave of water to break against the doors, prompting them to swing open.

In the shadows beyond the Dragon Turtle statue in the middle of the room the party could make out four people of some sort — unsavory in appearance and with bulging eyes, puffy lips, and slightly scaly flesh — and battle was quickly joined. Three of the men launched crossbow bolts at the companions, even as Angelia and Myrmex waded into the shin-deep water toward the fourth, who was armored in scale mail and armed with a net and trident. Two more crossbowmen appeared on the stairway at the far and of the room and loosed bolts, while someone on the steps below them could be heard casting a spell of some sort.

Quick Myrmex and Angelia made very short work of the armored warrior; Lyco boldly weaved his way between crossbowmen in a rush to the head of the stairs, where he engulfed the three fish-men there with his Burning Hands; Teris launched arrows from the cover of the doorway; and in very short order the party defeated the Dagonite cultists.

While Teris looted the bodies of the cultists and availed himself of the net and trident, arms he had learned to use in his early life as a pirate, Angelia and Lyco went to examine the Dragon Turtle statue, which they had previously determined to be hollow. Neglecting to search it for traps, they narrowly avoided being caught in the burst of poison gas that was released when they opened the shell/lid. Items within it included a set of vestments, a Potion of Water Breathing, and a large, slightly-green pearl.

Out of spells, low on resources, and bearing the wounds of their battles — and reflecting that this fifth day in the shrine was their most violent and harrowing — the party determined they needed to rest and recuperate before continuing onward. So, going through the door on the south side of the room and into the passageway leading toward the “Earth Door,” the party made camp and prepared for the day to come.

By the end of this session the party had acquired enough experience that Lyco, Myrmex, and Teris were able to advance to 3rd level in their respective classes (Angelia having already achieved this distinction).