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Initial Brief

The Foresters Guild is looking for intrepid individuals to accompany Torch paladin and scholar Sorin Luminova on an expedition into the Forest of Loss, to examine a site currently designated under Category E (mysterious ruins, apparently ancient) - which may offer us a singular tactical advantage in our efforts against the Forest. While a small garrison has been established at the site, applicants will be expected to accompany Luminova on any excursions they deem necessary during their time there, ultimately ensuring that they return to Rastaban unharmed.

The Guild will be grateful for services rendered in this manner.



Into the Woods

The party meets with Sorin Luminova, Devout of the Torch, a fiery and uncompromising preacher with a strong (stronger than usual) hatred of anything connected to the Forest of Loss. Luminova is not at all comfortable about the prospect of travelling with a couple of Forest Touched, but grudgingly recognises their utility in this endeavour.

It turns out that the ruins Luminova and their escorts are to explore only appeared recently, although… well, they’re clearly old, really old; what’s more, they are said to have some ability to hold back the forest. Luminova expresses skepticism - only the Muses have the power to defend us against the Forest. Still, the Foresters Guild have established a garrison there, headed by Isolde Rotheld, a much-respected soldier - the plan is to liaise with Rotheld and establish the rationale behind the claims of sanctuary.

A little way outside the city walls, the party receives its first demonstration of the dangers posed by the Forest - here, a number of Moss Poppets and Crooked Men are assailing a group of farmers. Our heroes manage to drive back the forest creatures and ask the terrified farmers why they continue to live in the shadow of the forest. The farmers deal with the adventurers' naivety with good grace (given that they did just rescue them) - this is just what life is like, out here beyond the city walls. It is the fate of those who lack sufficient privilege or street-smarts to thrive in Rastaban to instead eke out a poor existence on this frontier, with little control over their lives and the constant threat of incursions from the Forest.

Passing under the eaves and into the embrace of the Forest, the party soon comes upon a wounded wolf on the path ahead of them. Eli tries to heal the creature - and they are immediately beset by wolves on all sides. After a difficult fight, they kill the beasts - and Luminova, letting rage overcome their self-control, turns on Eli, accusing her of showing undue sympathy for the forest creatures. This was a coordinated ambush - the 'wounded' wolf was used to bait the trap they had walked into - and Luminova is concerned that Eli and Gemini are no different. Everything touched by the Forest is under the control of the Forest, Luminova emphasises.

As they progress deeper into the Forest, our heroes notice that the trees are streaked with a slimy residue. Eli tastes a little of this substance - it seems to be fungal, and leaves Eli feeling strangely light-headed and disinclined to take the threat of their predicament seriously. Jeremiah is appalled, and fears that Eli has exposed herself to the Forest's malign influence. He takes a sap sample from Eli, noting that it seems more viscous than he might have anticipated… but then, he doesn't have much to compare it to. He takes a second sample from Gemini, noting that the two are of near-identical viscosity. Unbeknownst to Jeremiah and the rest of the party, Gemini has secretly sampled the slime as well… and is now feeling increasingly paranoid.

Luminova provides an explanation for the slime on the trees: they've reached the edge of a fungal swamp, a particularly dangerous part of the forest. The direction they've been given is to wait at the edge of this swamp for Rotheld's scouts to meet them and provide them with safe passage to the garrison. Seeing no sign of these scouts, the party makes camp for the night, keeping watch in shifts. A little after midnight, they are assailed by unseen horrors that strike in darkness. The torches carried by Jeremiah and Luminova provide some protection against these creatures - but Gemini runs away from the circle of torchlight a number of times. At sunrise, the shadows retreat and Luminova once again expresses their distrust of the two Forest Touched, citing Gemini's actions during the night. Can Gemini and Eli truly be trusted, or should they be treated as traitors? A vote is taken, and although Elias shares Luminova's misgivings, the majority rules in favour of leniency.

The Fungal Grove

Our heroes are, however, now faced with another dilemma: Rotheld's scouts still haven't materialised, raising concerns about the status of the garrison. Luminova makes the decision to press on through the swamp without outside aid, in the hope of locating the ruins and discovering the fate of Rotheld's team. Somewhat uneasily, the party makes its way into the fungal groves.

Here, the vegetation begins to give way to the fruiting bodies of fungi - clumps of mushrooms cover every inch of the few trees that persist here, while enormous puffballs stand interspersed around the swamp. The party knows to avoid touching anything of this sort, but are unprepared for the flies they encounter here. These insects have clearly learnt that they can bring down large animals by bursting the puffballs in order to release the toxins within. Before our heroes can escape, they all inhale some of this poison, and - in spite of concerted efforts to cure themselves - all end the encounter with heightened emotions.

What follows is somewhat bizarre: they encounter another adventuring party, seemingly on a quest to locate Eli and bring her home. In addition to Eli's parents, Jasine's estranged mother (who is trying to convince Eli's parents to give up the search - it's so much healthier just to forget about any wayward kids) and Jeremiah's rebellious Erosion Weaver sibling are present. Gemini recognises one of the friendlier members of the Foresters Guild, who seems have developed a soon-to-be fatal affliction during the course of their adventure - they plead with Lyra to trust them and join forces for the common good. This person is not alone in their affliction, however - Elias has discovered strands of mycelium sprouting from his ear - a splitting headache would seem to indicate that the fungal is burrowing into his brain. Kaeris, meanwhile, is hearing voices - the Forest itself is mocking her inside her head, threatening to take everything away from her. Luminova loses control upon being accosted by a particularly blasphemous member of the other party.

As several of our heroes begin to find themselves overcome with emotion of one sort or another, the other party takes the opportunity to attack. The more that each person allows themselves to lose control of their emotions, the stronger the other opposing party becomes. It is clear that these people are not Forest constructs, so our heroes exhibit a degree of reticence to fight back - Jeremiah, for one, refuses to strike back… in direct conflict with Luminova's instructions. It is only when Warden Orderic appears and spontaneously bursts into flame that the young Torch Paladin finds himself willing to accept that his opponents are not real people. Eli spends a little time attempting to ascertain what exactly they are… and discovers something unexpected: they seem to have strayed into the plane of Dream - somehow, the Forest here has extruded itself into this plane and is using it to deceive them.

At last, the party finds its way out of the dream bubble into which they have strayed; Elias's and Kaeris's bodily afflictions dissipate, and there are no further visions of old acquaintances. Better still, they soon catch sight of a complex of ruins in the distance, constructed atop an area of higher ground in the middle of the swamp. They hasten towards the ruins, where they are greeted by Rotheld and one of her guards, the irritatingly chipper Feeney.

The garrison has clearly seen better days – Rotheld's people have taken something of a beating over the past week - while the forest doesn't seem to be capable of attacking the ruins themselves, an attack suffered during a recent excursion into the swamp has left several of the guards with severe injuries - indeed, one of their number, Butterwort, never made it back. Rotheld apologises for having been unable to meet the adventuring party – to have sent out scouts now, when their numbers are so depleted, would have rendered the garrison indefensible.

As anticipated, security is tight here. As a special precaution aimed at catching any changelings, Rotheld has a guard make a cut on each person’s right arm, to ensure that they bleed blood instead of sap. Their blood samples are retained for analysis by the garrison's medic, Doctor Pooter, an expert on Forest corruption, who claims to be on the brink of curing contamination by fungal spores. The good doctor gladly cures our heroes of their remaining afflictions in defiance of the broken arm he himself has suffered.


Over dinner, the adventurers find themselves with an opportunity to converse with Rotheld's team. Jasine strikes up a conversation with Chelidon Slide, the resident Wheel Paladin; Elias, meanwhile, takes a little time to examine the architecture of the ruins, discerning the intent of those who constructed them: this was a place of worship.

Over the course of their discussions, the player party learns a little more about Butterwort, the scout who never made it back to the garrison the previous week. While some of the guards are skeptical of Butterwort's chances of survival, a young forest touched named Simondi retains a modicum of hope - after all, Butterwort had been carrying an item that some of the guards believe may convey protection from the forest itself: a cup found in the ruins when the garrison was first established. Rotheld has until now been unwilling to risk her people on a rescue mission, but welcomes the adventuring party's interest in retrieving Butterwort - after all, the cup may be of relevance to Luminova's investigations.

The following morning, our heroes set out into the swamp once again, accompanied by Feeney (who knows the lie of the land and remembers where Butterwort was last seen). They make it through the maze of puffballs without too much difficulty, but things get more intense as they progress deeper into the fungal groves. Drawing near to Butterwort's anticipated location, they are greeted by a grim sight ahead. A sticky mycelium hangs from the trees like a spider’s web; suspended from the strands are the half-digested corpses of various animals. Feeney explains that this species of fungus responds to motion, especially that of anything caught in its sticky snares. Upon sensing prey, it discharges further sticky mucus to cover the unfortunate animal, rendering it immobile and digesting it slowly.

Luckily, Feeney has devised a crude method for exerting some control over the mycelium’s response system in order to make it through safely. He proudly shows the party a couple of what he calls 'wobble balls' - an observer from our world might observe an uncanny similarity between these and hamster balls (in spite of the opacity of the former) - complete with the muffled squeaks coming form within. Elias having trivially crafted a rather better designed wobble ball of his own, the party manages to advance through the mycelial trap unscathed, throwing the balls to trigger the fungus's attacks away from themselves.

At the heart of the fungal infestation, the party encounters a man who is almost entirely overcome with mycelium, to the extent that he has huge mushrooms growing out of his neck and back - Butterwort. He seems barely coherent, but retains enough of himself to remember his own name and to implore them to stay back - he can't control himself for much longer - the best that he can hope for now is to keep the danger away from anyone else. Jeremiah approaches cautiously - Doctor Pooter has furnished him with a vial of experimental medicine that may help purge the forest from a person's body before it takes them over entirely. He administers the potion to Butterwort… who immediately goes into convulsions as though his internal struggle has suddenly intensified. In spite of our heroes' best efforts, he swiftly succumbs to the forest, viciously attacking the party as he surrenders control of his body.

Having at last put Butterwort out of his misery, the adventurers retrieve his personal effects, including the goblet he was carrying. Examining the goblet, Elias discovers something quite unexpected - it doesn't feel like a shaped item; moreover, the paladins in the party are detecting a strong sense of devotion emanating from it. Elias makes a renewed attempt to understand it… and at last, something happens. He sees a vision - one that he shares only with Luminova. Luminova agrees with Elias's assessment - this cup is nothing but an idol, an icon of a false muse.

The Chalice

Back at the garrison, the party explains what they found. Rotheld bears the death of Butterwort with stoic detachment, but is clearly impressed that Luminova's team has managed to retrieve the goblet. She reveals that the ruins are more extensive than what our heroes have seen so far - now that they have demonstrated their competence, she believes it's time for them to venture below the main structure. If this place truly is a temple, she suspects that the inner sanctum is located at the centre of the web of passages below them, beyond a door that her team has so far been unable to open.

The reason for this quickly becomes apparent: reaching the antechamber to the inner sanctum, Kaeris and Lyra immediately detect planar interference… and then a curious-looking character materialises before their eyes. It identifies itself as a trickster from the plane of Connection and explains that it came upon this chamber some time before the garrison appeared. There used to be a riddle linked to the door mechanism - by solvng the riddle, a person could learn the password to open the door. Sadly, the riddle was rubbish - at least, in the opinion of the Connection Trickster. In response, it had chosen to vandalise the antechamber to remove the original text, and has now devised a riddle of its own. If the party can outsmart it, it will tell them the password; if not, they're likely to die to poison - oh, did it mention that the riddle involves drinking poison.

It's a stupid, cruel game - one that nearly results in Jeremiah's near death to the poison. Still, by consulting the Torch, he is able to work out how to trick the Connection denizen into drinking poison itself. Impressed (and in no small amount of pain) the trickster reluctantly reveals the password - our heroes are at last able to progress into the inner sanctum.

Actually, it appears to be some kind of sacrificial chamber. Rotheld's manner changes - she was right, she proclaims triumphantly, and requests the cup from Elias in order to prove it to them. Elias, concerned at Rotheld's sudden fervour, consults Luminova for guidance; Luminova nods grimly - they want to hear what Rotheld has to say, if only in order to expose whatever heresy has taken hold within the garrison. Somewhat reluctantly, Elias hands the goblet over.

The Chalice is a Muse, Rotheld explains, a forgotten Muse… and moreover, a Muse that provides protection and control. She wishes only to persuade Luminova to return to Rastaban with the good news, and to persuade the people that the Chalice should be considered one of the Imperial Muses – with the powers afforded to its faithful, the forest will at last be defeated!

Luminova has heard enough - this is blasphemy. They express their intention to alert Rastaban to the appearance of this Chalice Cult, and to ensure that its nonsense is silenced before it can spread beyond Rotheld’s team. Rotheld is enraged… but has a plan to prevent such a thing. Pouring something into the goblet and drinking from it, she orders the party to stand still while she monologues. Horrified, our heroes find themselves unable to disobey the order… but, on closer inspection, they realise what Rotheld has poured into the cup: their own blood samples, the ones Rotheld collected when they first entered the garrison!

Rotheld continues explaining her plans: if Luminova and their protectors never make it back to Rastaban, she can pretend they never made it to the temple. It will be assumed they were taken by the forest, and a different scholar will be sent to assess the Chalice’s merits – surely that person won’t be as foolish as Luminova was! Can't they see the power of the Chalice? Purely through the ritual consumption of blood from an icon of the Muse, a devotee of the Chalice can exert control over them. Butterwort knew this but was too cowardly to see the Chalice’s potential – that’s why he tried to escape with the goblet!

Luckily for our heroes, Rotheld currently has more to say than she has blood samples. They break free from her control, and attack her and her guards… while she drains the last drops from the cup in order to periodically compel them to obey her. It's a desperate battle, and in the confusion, someone manages to seize the goblet from Rotheld's grasp. Eli catches sight of the lone figure making a dash for the door - it's Gemini! While the others struggle with the last of Rotheld's guards, Eli and Luminova go after Gemini.


Gemini makes it to the surface, still clutching the goblet. It looks like all Rotheld's people have joined the fight in the sacrificial chamber, so Gemini has a clear path out of the garrison… but no. Blocking the gate is the distinctive figure of Doctor Pooter, who asks Gemini what exactly is going on. The Forest Touched tries to persuade Pooter to move aside, suggesting that Pooter's skills might be needed below ground… but realises that something is not quite right about the doctor. Pooter's broken arm is hanging out of its sling ever so slightly - at the shoulder. It seems to have detached itself from his body….

Taking a moment to consult Glory, Gemini pushes past Pooter, knocking the severed arm to the ground as he does so. Pooter shrieks, and the forest seems to stir behind him. As Gemini makes a dash for safety through the wakening trees, Eli and Luminova emerge from the ruins, followed at last by the rest of the party. Eli tries to follow Gemini, but is unable to catch up with him. The others are forced to fight their way through Pooter and the forest monstrosities that are now openly invading the garrison.

Pooter explains that he’s a Changeling who has cleverly managed to evade detection by Rotheld's team, and that the ruins never had any real control over the forest – they were just the remains of some old temple that the forest had moved here as a trap for anyone willing to take the bait. It is clear, however, that the forest now considers it necessary to eliminate the party to prevent Rastaban from gaining any knowledge of the Chalice. As the forest continues to encroach, our heroes make a desperate stand against Pooter. It's another hard-fought battle, but they at last emerge victorious - the changeling is dead.

Exhausted, our heroes retreat to the ruins. Luminova lectures Jeremiah - they told him Gemini was going to betray the party, but he just wouldn't listen! Jeremiah accepts that he was wrong. The party makes its way back underground in order to rescue as many of Rotheld's unconscious guards as possible… but they find the inner sanctum choked with roots - the forest is at last laying claim to the ruins. There are no survivors, but Elias manages to make off with a number of artefacts scavenged from the ruins.

Jeremiah examines Pooter's lab, finding bundles of notes taken, presumably, by the real Doctor Pooter. He also finds a crematorium and a couple of corpses that have yet to be burnt - each of them is missing an arm. It doesn't take much to work out what has been going on here: while out exploring a little over a week prior, it seems that Doctor Pooter was taken by the forest, presumably losing an arm in his final struggle. His changeling, therefore, also lacked its right arm, but was able to use the severed arm of another dead guard as a substitute – by cutting this arm during the gate checks, it was able to ‘bleed’ and gain entry to the garrison. Owing to the tendency of dead things to, well, go off, it frequently needed to acquire a new arm in order to maintain this deception - and was therefore quarantining and killing people in order to harvest their limbs.

Having seen everything they care to see here, our heroes depart on the long road back to Rastaban.


It's a close thing, but Gemini somehow manages to find his way home through the Forest of Loss. He still has the cup - indeed, he's already taken the opportunity to drink from it - and it has in turn provided him with a series of visions. I am the Chalice. I am a forgotten Muse. I need to be remembered. I need followers. Bring me followers. Do this and I will lend you my power. Carefully hiding the cup, he makes his way back to the Foresters Guild to provide his report.

By the time Jeremiah makes it to the Guild, however, Luminova and the rest of the party have already made their report. Most of those present have been fully willing to testify to Gemini's treachery; Eli's report, however, allows Gemini the benefit of the doubt - according to Eli, Gemini simply went mad when he touched the Chalice. Luminova, by contrast, is determined to see the treacherous, heretical Gemini brought to justice.

Gemini has a lot of explaining to do. He doesn't help his case by fabricating a story about having bumped into a Torch Paladin called Do Not Hide The Light, who he says confiscated and pledged to destroy the Chalice, and who promised to go and save the others when Gemini - weak from running from the blasphemers - pleaded for them to do so. It does not take long for the Guild to establish that there are no records of a Torch Paladin by the name Do Not Hide The Light. Gemini is subjected to enhanced interrogation using methods that all concerned find, ah, rather unpleasant. When an explanation of his flight is demanded, he pleads that when he ran, everyone else was on the floor and he considered that protecting the Sanctity of the Muses should be a priority. He didn't wait up top because Doctor Pooter was advancing on him and he knew he couldn't take the Doctor and the approaching Forest, but COULD outrun them… he explains, between various loud expostulations.

In the end, the Guild finds itself unable to prove Gemini's guilt. He is put on probation - he will be watched closely, and must prove himself a model citizen. Should he bring the Guild into disrepute ever again, its protection Will Be Withdrawn. It is perfectly clear what the loss of the Guild's favour would mean for Gemini - an immediate end to any privileges he currently enjoys, including life.

Lyra, meanwhile, makes a brief foray back into the fungal part of the forest and bursts a puffball, being careful to hold her breath and minimise skin contact with the spores. She has brought a large jar, which she uses to collect as many spores as possible. Upon sealing it securely (and after washing herself thoroughly), she takes a look at her acquisition. It's quite pretty, up close - like an extremely deadly snow globe.

Eli wanders the Foresters Guild, looking for an older Forest Touched, one who doesn't need to sleep, who might be willing to talk to her about the Plane of Dreams. She develops a rapport with such a person, and through extended discussions is able to establish quite definitely that the Plane of Dreams is where a person's mind goes when they sleep, although most people are oblivious to this fact. It seems that broadcasting this discovery might prove unwise….

Elias spends a constructive few days studying the various items he hauled out of the inner sanctum - such things much be of academic interest, surely? His investigations allow him to illuminate a little more of the nature of the Cult of the Chalice. It would seem that the cult originated somewhere far from Rastaban; it was divided into a rigid hierarchy and seems to have been based around the ritual consumption of blood. Aware that the possession of such items might be frowned upon by the city authorities, Elias considers fencing them… but settles on hiding them securely until he has more understanding of the black market.

In very, very carefully sterile lab conditions, Jeremiah investigates the four blood samples he took: from Pooter's changeling; from Butterwort right before he was executed; and from the two Forest Touched. His aim is to look for any differences between the blood from Butterworth, someone just having been seized by the Forest, to the blood from the doctor, someone who had succumbed about a week prior - with a view towards gaining some understanding of the physical change a body undergoes during Forest possession. He looks at the Forest Touched blood to see if there is any noticeable difference between this and the other samples. He also checks the residue from the bottle of supposed sedative that Pooter gave him. Having realised that this only served to accelerate the possession process, rendering poor Butterwort entirely unable to fight the forest.

He notes certain similarities in the composition of all of these samples - that is, they all contain something absent from normal human blood samples, something he can only really describe as forest contamination. Of the samples at his disposal, the 'sedative' contains the highest concentration of this contamination, followed by the changeling blood, then Butterwort's blood, and then that of the two forest touched. In Jeremiah's estimation, forest 'possession' seems to work in the following way: the forest infects a person, kills them, and then corrupts their body. It would seem that it is only at the point of death that someone is definitively and completely beyond redemption.

Gemini, meanwhile, makes his way back to the clever little hiding place he has found for the goblet. With no small satisfaction at his unlikely reprieve from death, he folds his hands around his prize and prepares to commune with the Chalice….


Eli Jin

  • Gains 1 Favour;
  • Understands that the Plane of Dream is where minds go when someone sleeps, though most people aren't aware of this. Shouting this to the rooftops would be unwise.

Elias of Estaban

  • Gains 2 Favour;
  • Gains various trinkets from the temple (these can't be fenced until Find a Buyer is acquired, but can be stored secretly without fear of incrimination);
  • Understands that these items belonged to a cult which was divided into a rigid hierarchy and based around the ritual consumption of blood.

Gemini Doubt

  • No Favour for the bad forest monstrosity;
  • Gains a cup through which Gemini can communicate with an entity describing itself as The Chalice. The Chalice offers control, but wants followers;
  • On strict probation with the Foresters Guild following 'enhanced interrogation' - if he brings the Guild into disrepute again, they will withdraw their protection (this almost certainly means death).


  • Gains 1 Favour.

Jeremiah Stingelhelm of Telemere

  • Gains 1 Favour;
  • Gains five samples: sap from Gemini, Eli, Pooter and Butterwort, plus traces of a 'sedative' that is actually pure forest corruption;
  • Understands that the sedative is the purest forest nastiness, followed by the changeling blood, Butterwort's blood, and then that of the two forest touched. Forest 'possession' seems to work in the following way: the forest infects you, kills you, and then corrupts your body. It is only at the point of death that someone is definitively and completely beyond redemption.

Kaeris Oriole

  • Gains 1 Favour.

Lyra Averick

resources/adventure/sanctuary.txt · Last modified: 2019/10/19 21:37 by sallyo