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The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (in Toronto)

The posting below is partially for my own personal use - mostly for the purposes of record keeping.


This morning I googled the following words:

haunted halls of eveningstar toronto

Small surprise my campaign postings on Meetup.com came up. (Now that doesn't mean that my campaign is the most popular version of The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar in Toronto - far from it. That honour will always be held by Ed Greenwood (who also lives in Toronto), who created the Forgotten Realms and wrote the original THHoE module. But my campaign is hopefully in the top ten*.)

* I am operating sort of a "drop in" style game which is open to everyone, allowing people to drop in to the game, pick up a character sheet or make their own, and just play. I have the regulars who are there every session (or nearly every session) and others who are less frequent. Each player gets added to a mailing list and invited to future sessions. Thus, by sheer numbers, you could argue my game has the most players Toronto has ever seen playing The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar - with the exception of Ed Greenwood's game itself.

I find the drop in method of running a game is well suited to THHoE because the PCs can return to Eveningstar at the end of each session (unless it ended on cliffhanger), rest, and then return to the dungeon the next session.

While the module I am using is from 2nd edition, I have converted everything to 5th edition for my "Monday Night Modules" game which I run roughly every 3 weeks.

SESSION POSTINGS ON MEETUP.COM

June 27th Session - The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (Session I)

July 18th Session - The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (Session II)

August 8th Session - The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (Session III)

August 29th Session - The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (Session IV)

September 19th Session - The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (Session V)

October 3rd Session - The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (Session VI)

October 24th Session - The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (Session VII)

November 14th Session - The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (Session VIII)

November 28th Session - The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (Session IX)

December 12th Session - The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (Session X)

And then there is next week's session... Which is now 1 week away. I am excited to return to the game after an almost 1 month hiatus for xmas holidays. (The game is full, but to those people interested in joining future games you can message me via Meetup and ask to be put on my Mailing List.)

January 9th 2017 Session - The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (Session XI)


SYNOPSIS OF THE FIRST TEN SESSIONS

Synopsis of Session I
  • Individual PCs encounter Purple Dragon Knights on the outskirts of Eveningstar looking for a wanted man with mustaches and a hooked nose. They don't say the nature of his crimes, but do say he is very dangerous. They offer a reward for information leading to his location and capture.
  • The PCs gather in the tavern where they meet Wrathgar, a human ranger, who has previously gone to THHoE and lost his entire party to a room filled with green slime. He says he is looking for people to join him so that they can finish exploring THHoE. Plus he has an Adventuring Charter (which is expensive), so if they want a job in this line of work, they really need his charter.
  • Party kills a dire bear in a cave south of the entrance to THHoE.
  • Party enters the foyer, explores.
  • Party finds a privy, encounter a strange creature inside a hole behind the privy, and find 3 potions. End of session.
Synopsis of Session II
  • Party explored the dungeon towards the NE and ended up yanking on Ed Greenwood's chain. (People who know the joke will understand this.)
  • They encounter wolves kept in kennels and zombies kept in the last kennel. End of session.
Synopsis of Session III
  • Party continues exploring the NE of the dungeon.
  • They meet an old blind man making chili (a seer working for necromancers evidently).
  • They also find a key hidden in a secret cubby hole inside a privy.
  • Party was attacked by undead coming out of columns in a room with a pool. Found a footman's mace in the pool. End of session.
Synopsis of Session IV
  • Party explored towards the west end of the dungeon, towards the throne room.
  • Party managed to get past the lightning statues, eventually figuring out that BEW ~ means BEWARE of lightning.
  • Killed an undead bear.
  • Chipped a painting out of a wall.
  • Returned to Eveningstar. One party member nearly drowned during a random encounter en route. End of session.
Synopsis of Session V
  • Party sold the painting for 20 gold bars (worth 500 gp per bar), divided up the bars and then made some purchases.
  • On the way back towards the Haunted Halls, they stopped to investigate some old ruins hidden behind trees and ended up being waylaid by a huge spider in the woods. Injured, they went back to Eveningstar to recover.
  • Days later, the party returned to the Haunted Halls and explored in the NW corner of the halls, encountering a stirge, and later an undead spectre obsessed with keeping the party away from her mirror. They defeated but did not destroy the spectre, found a valuable necklace, and decided to leave that chamber. End of session.
Synopsis of Session VI
  • More exploring. (I think this is the session where the party decided to explore the Kobold Keep and ran away... I am not sure. My synopsis notes are incomplete.)
  • Party returned to THHoE, explored a section to the N of the throne room, killed a stirge.
  •  When exploring the hallway with statues they got attacked by an unknown source.
  • The session ended with the party at the north end of the hallway with the statues.
Synopsis of Session VII
  • Party discovered that what had attacked them last session was a strange shapeshifter disguised as a statue. They promptly killed it.
  • Later they found a musty and moldy library, with 6 chests in a corner. Having become wary of strange chests they decided to shoot it. When it bled grey slimy blood and turned to face them with teeth bared, so did the other 5 chests. The party later ended up fleeing from the swarm of Jumping Mimics as they proved too difficult to handle.
  • The party returned to Eveningstar, rested, caroused, and returned to the Haunted Halls once more.
  • In the foyer they found signs that another party had recently been in the halls, some of their weapons and equipment in the foyer. Two of the weapons were magical. End of session.
Synopsis of Session VIII
  • Party explored a southern portion of the Haunted Halls, finding a strange chest that appeared to be air-tight. They decided to open that later...
  • Door #1 would not open and a magic mouth informed the party the way was blocked.
  • Door #2 blinked a pit in front of the door and the party had to problem solve a way to rescue their teammate from the pit without falling into the blinking pit.
  • Door #3 dropped a large stone block on the person who touched the door. All of Elowyn's metal items were teleported to room 3.
  • Door #4 caused a spectre of a human woman to appear who informed the party of loot further to the west.
  • Party found a secret door and a corridor.
  • Door #5 revealed a short corridor, but also had a secret door at the end.
  • Party headed west, where they heard strange moaning in a room to the SW. They continued west to a dusty room and encountered a wraith. The wraith killed Varrick, who became a wraith 1 minute later.
  • The rest of the party promptly ran away. End of session.
Synopsis of Session IX
  • After setting up their tent in the Eveningstar marketplace, the party recruited 3 new adventurers (including Varrick's replacement, a dwarf) to help them delve into the Haunted Halls.
  • On the way there they found strange wagon tracks and a barrel of 50 black candles with wicks made of human hair. (They later learned these are used by priests of Myrkul, the god of death.)
  • Entering the halls they noticed a draft and found a secret door that had gone previously unnoticed. Opening it they found a room with draperies and a beautiful dead red-haired woman with a fancy dagger in her woman, the victim of an apparent human sacrifice.
  • The party returned to the Haunted Halls, with Estrel now carrying a lantern, fully healed and having acquired a mostly empty spellbook. She now owes Elowyn 80 gp.
  • Continuing onwards, the party went to the throne and then NE, into the antechamber with all the corpses. The warlock Zulm decided to eldritch blast one of the corpses and woke up a sleeping carrion crawler. Battle ensued. The sounds of battle also woke up a nearby sleeping kobold behind the crossbow slits, it fired a shot and missed, then ran off to warn other kobolds that there are intruders in the halls...
  • The party continued onwards, later encountering a priest of Myrkul and an acolyte. They dispatched both of them, during which the dwarf got caught in a Hold spell. The party looted the priest's chamber and the acolyte's room, finding more black candles with human hair wicks. They also found 4 recently decapitated heads, a Speak with Dead scroll, some chunks of obsidian, and some Zhentarim gold coins. End of Session.
Synopsis of Session X
  • Four new recruits, drudged into service due to the fact that they didn't have an adventuring charter (without which they would be arrested for violating one of Cormyr's laws prohibiting the bearing of weapons), arrive at the Haunted Halls of Eveningstar.
  • Bolstered by new numbers the party returns to the dreaded library where they first encountered six mimics and bravely ran away. This time, girded by numbers they felt certain of their success...
  • And then the Mimics ambushed them from above. The battle was a mess and one of their number nearly died and was only saved by his lucky family heirloom (a demonic carved statuette). Towards the end the party managed to fight as a more cohesive unit, defeating 5 mimics...
  • But where is the 6th? Out wandering the Haunted Halls?
  • Later the party returned to the throne room where they explored to the south west and found a blackened and charred room, within they found the bones of a skeleton tangled around a stone warhammer, piles of dust in the corners, and two secret doors. They also found a third secret door behind the throne itself after Kiki the halfling druid noticed a draft behind the throne.
  • Beyond the throne the party found an ancient armoury, and in a pile of dust and rotting clothing in the NE corner they found a cheap bronze ring and a pouch containing a Magestar - which Estrel recognized as a very expensive and sought after magical item which allows wizards to heal themselves.
  • According to Estrel a Magestar can absorb any spell cast directly at it. The level of the spell is then converted into healing energy equal to 1 hp per level of the spell. Eg. Fireball = 3 hit points. However Magestars have an unknown capacity. They can only absorb so much and then they explode. So casting too many spells into the Magestar is clearly reckless.
  • Traditionally wizards would use a Magestar at the end of the day to get rid of any unused spells and then heal themselves accordingly. Magestars can only be *bound* and mentally commanded by an arcane spellcaster (or someone possessing arcane spell-like abilities). Once bound they fly around the owner like an Ioun stone, and then when mentally commanded (or if the owner falls unconscious) the Magestar will heal the owner the full amount.
  • Estrel estimates it is worth 20,000 gp as they are highly sought after by wizards and should fetch a good price. Also the methods of making Magestars have been lost, so no one has made any new Magestars in centuries. These days they are usually kept as family heirlooms. Some Magestars slowly die and lose their powers, but the one the party has found looks to be fully functional.
  • The party peered down the hallway to the SW. It is a long and dark hallway...
  • Note - They also didn't finish searching the blackened and charred room. End of Session.
UPDATES, 2017

Synopsis of Session XI

  • Three new recruits, drudged into service due to the fact that they didn't have an adventuring charter (without which they would be arrested for violating one of Cormyr's laws prohibiting the bearing of weapons), arrive at the Haunted Halls of Eveningstar.
  • There was much falling down slippery and slimy stairs, during which the gnome rogue Spork was attacked by a Stirge and nearly died. Fortunately his teammates managed to kill the Stirge become he could succomb to death and save his life.
  • The party encountered a regenerating skeleton whose bones began rattling back together and knitting themselves. During this the gnome Spork decided to push open a stone coffin, which burst open - throwing the coffin lid across the room. The dreaded mummy stood up within the coffin and the fight continued. It took awhile but the party eventually took down the mummy. The elf Elowyn got Mummy Rot and later paid to have a Remove Curse cast at the Temple of Lathander back in Eveningstar.
  • The human wizard Mar found a strange hole in NE corner of the room and opened a tiny tunnel going east. Later the elf Elowyn explored it and saw a floating skull in the room. The dwarf paladin Fargrim (aka Grim) explored the tunnel too and determined that the skull was actually dangling from a wire and there was no undead present.
  • After searching both the floating skull room and the mummy room, the party found a necklace with 14 rubies on it, a Manual of Stealthy Pilfering, a magical longbow, a magical shortsword, a chest full of gold, silver and 3 pearls (and pearl dust), and a gem encrusted scabbard fit for a shortsword.
  • The party returned back to town and did 3 days of resting / downtime. Various things were purchased, Elowyn had a Remove Disease/Poison, a Lesser Restoration, and a Remove Curse cast on her before finally removing the Mummy Rot. Various other things have yet to be sold. The Manual, Longbow and Shortsword were identified by Lady Thorne.
  • Lady Thorne offered to purchase the shortsword and was apparently deceptive about why she wanted to buy it. This made some party members suspicious about its value. The wizard Mar went through the process of also Identifying it and also decided he wanted the shortsword... "because it would be useful for, ah, casting magic..." Anyone familiar with this module will know there is a longsword in the module of exceptional value... no spoilers here. But suffice to say I changed it to a shortsword instead. Mar revealed to the two druids Nomuck and Kiki what the sword is, but the three decided to keep it a secret as a "get out of jail free card" for later.
  • While carousing Spork had a whirlwind romance with a gnome weapons merchant from Suzail. He hopes to see her again someday.
  • By the end of the session the party began the trek back towards the Haunted Halls of Eveningstar.



PERSONAL NOTES REGARDING THE HAUNTED HALLS OF EVENINGSTAR

One of the things I love about this module is that it allows the DM a lot of freedom to add their own things to the dungeon. Roughly half of the dungeon's first level is left blank, so that the DM has to come up with their own things. So I filled in the blanks with undead, traps, necromancers, priests of Myrkul and a plot involving Zhentarim smugglers. (Oh and 6 mimics...)

Beyond that it is also a classic dungeon crawl, a great way for first level characters to meet while seeking riches, and there is a lot of room for the DM to add extra plots. The whole Estrel vs the Zhentarim plot for example.

There is also the Kobold Keep above THHoE, and the lower levels - which has several ways it can be reached, and are left up to the DM as to how many lower levels there are, what they contain, and the shape of the dungeons within - although it is implied that the lower levels are significantly harder and PCs should return to this later. Ed Greenwood also lists a number of nearby places in Cormyr where PCs can also explore.

Estrel is now effectively a henchman - as is Wrathgar, who carries the Adventuring Charter. I am a big fan of using henchmen, hirelings and a variety of other NPCs to fulfill roles in the game. Everything from messengers, couriers, adventure hook providers, allies, possible neutral 3rd parties, and even people who might be allies now but later become villains or rivals.

The following books have been useful:

Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (Both the 1st Edition and the Revised 2nd Edition)
Forgotten Realms Adventures
Forgotten Realms Hall of Heroes
Cormyr (the accessory, not the novel)
Volo's Guide to Cormyr
Forgotten Realms Book of Lairs
Ruins of Zhentil Keep
Four From Cormyr
Ruins of Adventure
Curse of the Azure Bonds
Into the Dragon's Lair

There is also a number of Dungeon magazines I have found useful. Too many to list them all here properly.

THE FUTURE OF MY FORGOTTEN REALMS CAMPAIGN

I have read up on a number of other modules and adventures also set in Cormyr, not far from Eveningstar. I am trying for now at least to limit the campaign to that one region, and to a lesser extent the Dales, Sembia and the area around Zhentil Keep.

My goal is to run several of the modules listed above and various modules from Dungeon Magazine, as my goal for "Monday Night Modules" is to run a campaign that is fueled mostly by modules and requires very little work from the DM - excluding all the reading I have been doing to become an expert about all things Cormyr or the GCR, the Greater Cormyrean Region.

Part of my goal is to make Cormyr the central base for the characters so that the adventuring hooks keeps them in Cormyr, the Dalelands, Sembia and regions close to Cormyr. As long as I avoid adventuring hooks from other locations, and only rarely visit farflung locations for the sake of spicing things up, the PCs should become invested in the local flavour and politics of Cormyr. They will buy homes, build keeps, invest in businesses, clean out every dungeon in the region, take part in all the major events from the modules Ruins of Adventure, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Into the Dragon's Lair, Four From Cormyr and others. The result will be a very detailed experience, a world players can truly sink their teeth into, and by the end they will feel a sense of accomplishment and be bonafide experts in all things Cormyr.

Then maybe, and only then, will I expand the game (or possibly restart it) to a different region of the world.

I should also note my game is set historically before the Time of Troubles. Four years before it, as the game started in Summer 1354, and the ToT isn't until 1358. This means the PCs may end up living through the events of that rather interesting time period.

It is also only 2 years after the events in which Gondegal the Usurper King proclaimed himself King of Arabel and briefly conquered part of Cormyr before running away when his mercenary army fled. So there might be plots connected to Gondegal and stolen treasure looted by the mercenaries, as that happened only 2 years prior.

Ruins of Adventure should be approx. 1356 or earlier. It is basically a prequel to Curse of the Azure Bonds.

Curse of the Azure Bonds happens in 1357. Module is for 4 to 8 PCs of 6th to 9th level.

Time of Troubles, as mentioned above, in 1358.

There is also the Tuigan Horde invasion in 1359-60. Didn't actually reach Cormyr, but Cormyr did send troops and presumably adventurers. The Tuigans were defeated at Phsant, Thesk in 1360.

The Goblin War in 1370-71, invasion of Cormyr. (While referred to as the Goblin War, most of the baddies were orcs being led by a dragon named Nalavarauthatoryl.) The events of this is from the module "Into the Dragon's Lair", so evidently time would need to pass for the PCs to reach that module. They also should be approx. level 10 by then.

Civil War in Sembia in 1374.

The Spellplague in 1385. I would rather avoid the Spellplague entirely - I feel that whole thing was mistake made by Wizards of the Coast. Changing the maps / everything would be rather annoying. I prefer to use the original maps that are circa 1990. If the game manages to go through 31 years of game time I think I might have a plot involving the clergies of Cyric/Shar trying to rip a hole in the weave of magic, but the PCs will successfully stop them. Do that and I never to deal with that whole annoyance.

CAROUSING

The good news is the players in my game spend an odd amount of time carousing. They will regularly "rest and carouse for 3 days" before returning to THHoE for more adventuring. In theory carousing could be used to have the PCs carouse their way through months or even years of the timeline...

You carouse for 8 months. You wake up in an abandoned building with strange azure tattoos on your body... Tada! It is 1357 already. You don't remember how you got here.

I presume they will also use downtime between adventures in other ways too, as the game continues, but we shall see.

eg. They might decide to carouse their way through the Time of Troubles, thus avoiding it entirely. We shall see about that too.

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