Primal/Within Chronicles: The Font of Sorrow, Part 1

JaielThis is a report of my newest D&D 4e campaign set in the home-brewed Primal Dungeon/City Within campaign.

I could see that my players were anticipating the game as emails about PC backstories multiplied like wildfire! All players showed up (s0me had to spend several brownie points to make it) and we got around to staring playing at around 6h30 PM last Friday night.

Before we get into the gist of things, here’s the party (all level 7 characters)

Dramatis Persona:

Jaiel : Female Deva Avenger.  Divine Agent of the Patron goddess of the City, Erathis.  Key player in fighting the Dungeon’s growth.  Described here. Played by campaign co-designer Yan. (See image for a pretty accurate representation)

Usul: Elven Invoker.  The direct instrument of Kord, god of Battle and Storms.  Came to the City Within at the behest of the world’s gods.  Also described here.  Played by Mike.

Korg (name change pending): Dwarven Bear Shaman.  Sent by the bear spirit of his Dwarven settlement to help save the World Serpent from being slain by the growth of both the Dungeon and the City.  Also described here.

Rocco la Muerte: Halfling Rogue.  Hero of the surface world.  He was summoned by the Builders faction to help the city with his legendary skills of making problems vanish.  Also, half-cousin of Corwin.  The only original PC from the last 2 campaigns.

Corwin: Halfling Sorcerer of Chaos.  Born in the village of Moon Vale, on the first day of the Year of the Moon.  Corwin bears a shifting birthmark and has adventured all over the world. He has a knack to get himself and anyone near him into ‘interesting’ situations (in the Chinese Curse sense of the word).  He found himself in the City after a disastrous foray in the dungeon.  Jaiel has taken him under his wing, much to his delight… “The tall chick? Yeah, she’s with me.”  Played by Math.

Fangs: Longtooth Shifter Warden.  Fangs was found unconscious and dying in the Dungeon.  He was brought to the City Within, not remembering anything of his past.  He teamed up with Jaiel who swore to him that he had an important role to play in saving the World. Played by Eric who was short of ideas for his character.  Amnesia is always a useful character trope.

Once again, no humans in the party and almost everyone with a Players Handbook 2 character (showing how ‘early adopters’ or “WotC whales” were are as a gamer demographic).

They call him Mr. Rice.

We kept the intro to the City Within limited.  Most of the players had played or read the prequel game and were sufficiently acquainted with the concept to go along with a pair of somewhat raildoady quests.

I explained to the players that a Burgomaster of one of the Lower boroughs of the City had pulled several favours to get a party of Builder-certified adventurers to meet with him and help him with a problem.

Before we played that scene, I told Math that when Corwin was going to met up with Jaiel, he was nearly run over by a panicked wizard who dropped a scroll.

Math “Dude, what the hell’s a land shark?”

Yan : “Something big and mean!”

We then proceeded to the scene with Kelian Dawnchaser, Burgomaster of The City’s Lower Delve #7, more colloquially known as Riceburg.  Kelian was this big albino human (most humans in The City Within are Albinos, go figure) who sported a thick mane of long braided hair and beard… dyed jet black!!!

Kelian is that kind of suburban politician that’s harping all the time about how unfair the central powers are and how his borough never gets the attention or resources it requires and Blah, blah, blah…

Long story short, Kelian asked to meet with the PCs because he thinks that someone or something is poisoning the his borough’s water supply (which represents a third of the city’s freshwater).  He showed how his rice crop was starting to mutate and mentioned that the number of sick children and elderly was on the rise.

Following some questions and answers, the party learned that a single river came into Riceburg and that 3 Dam-Fortresses were set up further upstream to monitor water quality to prevent dungeon denizens from trying to get to the water supply.

They also learned that several dungeon tunnels opened into either side of the River’s cave, all of them barred with magical gates.

Kelian asked the players to find the source of whatever was mutating the rice crop and making his people sick.  He didn’t miss an occasion to remind just how crucial his burg’s food production was to the survival of the whole city.

Up the creek with plenty of paddles

The PCs then set out with a barge and several empty vials and started the journey upriver, taking samples every so often to bring back to the City for magical and analytical analysis.  It’s interesting to mention that the players naturally suggested to go check the river, th whole investigation phase of the adventure felt really natural to me, which is usually a good sign.

When they got to the 1st Dam, they met with a lazy, fat functionary that dismissed any claims that the water was tainted.  Of course, the PCs became somewhat belligerent and the incompetent monitor  sheepishly revealed that the Control Orb, the magical device monitoring the water’s quality, had been non-functioning for some time and he hadn’t gotten around to changing it yet.

The PCs understandably blew a collective gasket and had the imbecile change the device, which promptly started glowing red, indicating some form of taint in the water.

The PCs then continued upriver and soon found a tunnel from which water was spewing into the river.  According to the info they had gathered, this waterfall was new and probably the source of the tainted water.  They took a sample, returned to the Dam and poured some on the ‘detector’.  It glowed red all right!

The returned to the City and gave the sample to Kelian.

The Elementalists

Soon after dropping the samples, I had a group of Wizards (not the adventuring type, more the College of Magic type) come to the PCs, inquiring about the water they brought back.  They told the PC that the water was Primal Water, coming straight from the plane of Elemental Chaos.  They were sure that the water came from a abandoned Water temple very near where the PCs spotted the waterfall.  They had found the temple long ago but none of them were ever able to breach its sealed door.

They  asked the PC to try to enter that temple and recover any information about its history and any trace of ancient elemental rituals.   Finding the way to stopping the water that was pouring out of it would likely require exploring the temple.

They gave the party a map to reach the temple somewhere in the dungeon.

And so our heroes set fourth for thier second foray into the Dungeon.

Up next: Those damn Mist Wraiths!

Image:  Julia Strzyga


  1. Woohoo! I caught up with my reading!

    So… do your players always choose to help your NPCs?

    Mine seem to be less nobly inclined, forcing me to always have a convincing answer to “what’s in it for me?” (which ain’t all that bad, really…)

    Eric Maziades last blog post..Looking for lost hubby…

  2. Yes, my players are very quest friendly. In fact, I forgot to tell them about the rewards for some of the quests!

    It’s kinda hard to haggle for money in 4e since technically all rewards are pre-planned to the exact GP… but it’s entirely within the DM’s power to do so… provided he/she’s no skinflint.

  3. Technically you could, I’m pretty sure that it’s not a few more GP that will break the balances of the game. What it does is providing you a point of reference.

    If you want to stick to the balance, you could just re-balance afterward taking the extra cash given for the quest and remove it from the next treasure the players found…


  1. [...] this was my first session post, at around 1500 words. Hope you enjoyed. It’s no Chatty DM, but I tried, and I have to study for an exam anyway. I better go do that. Until next time, lots of [...]