Students of Strixhaven EP 24 – Schools Out Part One

Welcome to School’s Out, an eight-part story arc featuring members of the Strixhaven series on another D&D adventure. This arc includes our first ‘guest’ on the podcast, a good friend of the group: Chris! If you haven’t listened to the podcast before, not a problem. While the characters may reference some events from the school year, this arc is considered a standalone adventure, so you don’t need to have listened to the previous season to enjoy it. Consider checking out some resources on the Schools Out page on our website for more information.

The party (excluding Edolkar who is running late to the recording tavern) head to the Bow’s End tavern, celebrating the completion of their end of year exams. They try to find a table in the busy establishment, locating one near the back with a single person. The student – a young gnomish woman – carries a shortsword across her back, and wears orange attire. Trix goes to order some drinks and food, while Khorvus speaks some of the regulars like Snorge and Nihal.

The party approach and introduce themselves, discussing how they felt the school year went. As they unwind, they also discuss what everyone is planning to do over the school break. Grae mentions she is intending to travel home to Tenahmir, a lesser-known continent on Toril. Arth expresses his intent on keeping up with his studies (having doubled-up on some subjects), but the rest of the party have fairly open schedules.

Grae: A young gnome woman, with green eyes and auburn hair. She carries a shortsword in her left hand over her shoulder. She is wearing an orange outfit. Artwork by Chris, the player!

While they wait for a round of drinks to arrive, Trix asks Grae a bit more about what she is going to do back in Tenahmir. Grae indicates that part of the reason she has come to Strixhaven is to search for an artifact, and she believes that there may be a book or resource at Strixhaven to point her in the right direction. Information on the artifact is scarce, but she believes it may be in a mine somewhere back in Tenahmir. Records indicate that Lorehold scholars once visited Tenahmir to document information about the Dwarvish clans, and she believes this might be a valuable resource to help her in finding what she is looking for. Trix offers her assistance as she works at the Biblioplex part-time, and the party agree to meet tomorrow afternoon to look into it further.

As the party drink, they begin to drunkingly question some matters at the tavern, including if Rat Ratatouille (the special again this week) contains rat, or if the chef is being secretly controlled by a rat, and cheer Khorvus on as he tries to play the piano.

The next day, the party (having recovered from their collective hangover) re-group at the Biblioplex. Trix brings the party to a large index, and begins searching for keywords like “Tenahmir”. Eventually, they find the index indicates for Tenahmir to refer to “Lorehold Archives: XXXXXX”, with the last half of the line intentionally crossed off. Perplexed, they try to see if there could be a way to intrepret the words. Edolkar flips the page, and finds a way to read it ‘backwards’, comparing it to the light. Reading the words, he indicates the crossed off words are: “Gondel Wing”. Trix, hearing the phrase, expresses concern, indicating it is a source of bad luck and it is seldom spoken of amongst Lorehold students and professors. She explains that Gondel Wing was a building on Lorehold campus, installed alongside the chasm wall, and served as a large archive for ancient societies. A long time ago (seemingly out of nowhere) the entire building fell into the bottom of the chasm, and those who have investigated it since have reported it as cursed. They determine that further infomation on what they are looking for might be in this “Gondel Wing”, if they can find out where it is. They consider asking Osgir, a Lorehold professor and academic.

They organise to take a clockwork carriage from the main campus to Lorehold. On the short ride, they find time to talk a bit more. When asked, Grae mentions that her motivation for finding this book (and artifact), is to help her mentor, who suffers an unknown illness who believes this artifact can heal him and save him from death. Finding Osgir’s office, they ignore the many signs indicating it is currently ‘closed to students’. Trix, knocking anyway, greets Osgir and asks for his help. He indicates his workshop is closed while they examine the ‘dode door’, which the party helped to acquire from Vestan, a third-year student, earlier this year. When Trix asks about Gondel Wing, Osgir is distraught, warning her not to speak of such things while they are not on ‘solid ground’ (as many buildings overhang the chasm). Osgir indicates that to be able to speak of these things freely, they must help him acquire some items for a ritual. To his surprise, the party already have all the items and hand them over, and they move to ‘solid ground’.

Osgir directs them to follow his instructions while he prepares a circle, which consists of lighting candles, pouring salt, and ringing a loud bell. Once done, he indicates he can speak freely on the taboo topic of Gondel Wing. Asking where it is, Osgir points them in the general direction, but indicates they would need to find a way down (and back up), providing some suggestions. He reminds them that rumours persist that the place is cursed, so they should be cautious and plan accordingly. He shares that Pastraisers, a specific group of Lorehold academics, were known to frequently re-awaken the dead of ancient societies to question them in Gondel Wing, and their odd habits of re-awakening dead souls have only fueled the belief in curses in the fallen ruins even more. He recalls an exhibit was being held for a society called the “Aestarians”, but was never opened due to the building collapsing. They finish the ritual, and Osgir walks them along the chasm wall until they reach a point somewhat above where Gondel Wing resides. He wishes them well, and departs. The party discuss how best to go down, with Trix offering to cast Feather Fall, casting on the party. Everyone jumps off, and as they descend see a few possible entry points. They decide on a crack in a roof within the middle of the building and “gracefully” land, the magic’s power preventing them from taking any serious damage. As the magic dissipates, their collective weight breaks the roof and they fall into the interior of Gondel Wing.

Finding their bearings, they look around and find that they have landed in what appears to be a small student bar. Finding nothing of importance, they move past a door and into a large exhibit hall, which was at once point used to showcase an ancient society of some kind. Stepping into the room they hear metal scraping against stone from a pathway to the south. Searching the room, they find a large sarcophagus, with its lid left ajar, slightly open. The sides of the exterior are comprised of hieroglyph-like symbols, which they examine to try and determine what may have been inside:

Meanwhile, Trix sneakily proceeds further into the exhibit hall, making her way into a library. She sees a glimpse of a figure in metalic armour wandering about, carrying a long spear-like metal object. She informs the party of her findings, and they try to consider what information they can find on the Aestarians, as well as search for Grae’s book. They find a plaque, identifying the figure that was in the sarcophagus as Ummon. Grae goes to the library, and finds a book called Unseen Faces of the Changelings, but keeps searching for something on Tenahmir. Khorvus wanders up to a locked display case, finding a single glove inside. Edolkar inspects a cannon that appears to have been left on display, noticing a cannonball has been left inside. Arth proposes a theory on this “Ummon” being buried within the tomb, but is still puzzled about the later glyphs.

As they continue searching, Grae searches through more archives and finds: “A Study of Shared History Amongst Dwarves of the Tenahmir Mountains”, which she thinks is what they are searching for. Khorvus finds a book titled “Aarakocra: Sky Cities and their Soaring Cultures” and Edolkar finds one called “Twisted Legacy: A Re-telling of Historical Events from Lived Experiences”. The metal scraping sounds continue, and begin to come from the north. Arth thinks he spots it, and Khorvus wanders back into the room, not noticing the figure. He tries to quickly hide, but fails (with a critical failure), and draws its attention. The figure, dressed in a beak-like mask, approaches towards Khorvus and the party enter into initiative!

Round One: Arth moves into the exhibit hall and sees the figure. He shouts for everyone to get out of Gondel Wing now that they have the book. The figure, referred to as the “Gladiator”, steps forward to engage with Khorvus, throwing the spear-like object at Khorvus, which misses hitting a weapon rack at the back of the room.It steps forward again, moving to pick up the spear. Edolkar approaches and uses Ensnaring Strike to stop the gladiator, but this fails. As he is close to the figure, he realises it is wearing a belt embedded with gems and jewels. Grae uses Misty Step, teleporting across the room, and slashes with her sword, embued with Booming Blade energy. Getting a critical success (Natural 20), she deals a strong attack and applies the boom, meaning if the gladiator moves it will take thunder damage. Trix dashes into the room and makes a quick strike with her rapier which hits. Khorvus casts Shield of Faith on himself, boosting his AC. He swings with his warhammer, but fails to land a blow.

Into round two, Arth considers how best to exit the situation, and again encourages the party to flee. He works his way to the north of the room, seeking another exit. He casts Aid on Grae, Edolkar and Khorvus who receive a temporary hit point bonus. The Gladiator makes a multiattack, first striking against Khorvus, but the attack fails against his heightened AC. The second attack strikes Grae successfully, but is somewhat mitigated by the temporary hit points of Aid. Edolkar enters into a Rage and uses Reckless Attack. Casting Ensnaring Strike again he swings his greatsword, but still fails to land a hit. Grae casts Kinetic Jaunt, increasing her walking speed and preventing opportunity attacks. She slashes with her sword sword while running to the other side of the room, but still fails to land a successful strike. Trix runs in, striking, before running to a safe distance. Khorvus lines up his warhammer for another attack which fails again.

For round three, Arth casts Vortex Warp, shifting the Gladiator further south into the room towards the archives. The gladiator runs back into the room and hurls its spear at Edolkar, which hits his thigh. In retaliation, Edolkar uses Kinetic Jaunt to try and seek an exit, but finds the door directly to the north leads to a dead-end. Grae casts Scorching Ray, trying to aim directly at the belt around the Gladiator’s waist, but all three attacks fail. Trix runs in and slashes, but also fails to hit. Coming in 3 for 3, Khorvus fails his attack, too.

Round four sees Arth cast Shatter on the south side of the room. It fails its saving throw, and takes thunder damage. Without realising, the spell also effects the cannon, which now begins to prepare to launch a cannonball, due to go off in one round. The Gladiator strikes at Khorvus with an open hand, which hits. Edolkar rushes back into the room, making his way towards the cannon, and aiming at towards the Gladiator. Grae casts Ice Knife, launching it towards the belt, but misses. Trix attempts to use her Mage Hand to grab the belt. Maintaining her focus, she begins to unbuckle the belt, but would need to continue to focus on the task to fully remove it. Khorvus tries to swing his warhammer again, but continues to miss.

At round five, the cannon, aimed towards the gladiator, shoots the cannonball. The blast radius encompasses both the Gladiator and Khorvus. Khorvus saves on this saving throw, while the Gladiator fails. Both are sent flying, but are both still in the fight. Arth uses Dash to try and find an exit, seeing that the northern-most hallways lead to the outside. Arth finally casts Bardic Inspiration on Khorvus. The Gladiator makes two quick attacks against Khorvus, with both attacks successful, knocking Khorvus down. Edolkar moves to stabilise Khorvus, but fails to do so. Grae tries to physically unbuckle the belt, moving to grapple, but can’t get enough leverage. Trix strikes again with her rapier, dealing a few quick blows against it. Khorvus pasts his first death saving throw.

Into round six, Arth provides Bardic Inspiration, this time to Edolkar. As a main action, Arth casts Vicious Mockery, dealing a small amount of psychic damage. The Gladiator picks up its spear and moves to strike Edolkar. One attack lands and deals a significant hit against Edolkar, which he absorbs some of thanks to his rage resistance. Edolkar makes a Reckless Attack, which results in him landing the final ‘killing’ blow. He brings the sword around and strikes at the Gladiator’s neck, splitting the helmet and body into shattering pieces as they fall to the ground.

Now out of combat, Trix and Arth run up to Khorvus and try a Medicine check to stabilise his wounds, which is successful. They determine that he will need further medical help, magical or otherwise…