Trials & Trails

EPISODE 26: Rule, Grac! Grac Rules the Waves!
Jumping (and shimmying) to a conclusion

The initial jaunt into the world of adventuring comes to a close for our crew with a bang. Or rather a boom. Several booms, including one that creates a hole in a hillside and forms a new waterfall near the quiet village of The Crack. In brief:

  • Following Esma’s (most definitely very greedy) nose, the party makes its way through a room of foul mosaics (now with even more clues!), pilfering a single, ceremonial robe (donned by Artur, a Bard who somehow got embroiled this mess) as well as several enchanted skull grenades, one of which Dresden tries to wear after it psychically tells her to “uuuuuuse meeeeee…” Well, it didn’t say HOW, did it? Thankfully, Dwylo figures out the TRUE nature of these strange skull-bombs before anyone meets an untimely demise…like, by blowing one up on their head. The party ALSO discovers a magical ring that stores spells, which Esma passes over to Mosodol, who has managed to decipher an old spell book they found in the chambers above. Now armed with a bit more stuff, off they go…

*Confronted by an arcanely-inscribed stone menhir overlooking really big lake across from which they hear ghostly moaning and such, the party makes use of censer and silver robe, selecting Mosodol to do the honors. This occurs after several attempts to decipher the menhir, which sends out psychic messages urging adventurers messing with it to kill their buds. Dwylo shakes this off and begins stabbing and scraping at the thing. Many scrapings later, the influence is mitigated, so no one gets stabbed by their ally. Mosodol uses the censer to summon, of all things, a big ol’ ship (also inscribed with symbols), and off we go…well, not immediately, because…

*Boarding the ship summons a guardian kraken (that’s right, an em effin’ Kraken). Thus begins, the “battle versus many tentacles.” Mosodol makes use of spells from her newfound ring, and Esma does the crushing thing with her mace. Meanwhile, much heroism abounds, as Uchder gets grappled and is in danger of being taken out to sea. But Dwylo (much like donuts, is there nothing he can’t do?) hurls a rope to the raging barbarian, who hoists himself up, up, and away, out of reach of the tentacle. Meanwhile, Artur has his moment when he scampers up to the crow’s nest, then HURLS a pair of grenades at the onrushing tentacles. KA-BOOOOOOOOOM! Tentacle flesh sprays everywhere, landing on the boat, on the adventurers, in the water…Thank the Gods, in the water, because a blood sacrifice is what was needed to placate the Kraken, who returns to the depths, missing a couple of appendages. Off the party goes…to DESTINY!

*Destiny, as it turns out, takes the form of an arcane ritual on a ziggurat heaped on top of a hill. The party’s grand entrance is mostly ignored, as the drum-beating Beastmen below the zig treat the boat as “just another supply of hapless villagers.” This allows the party to concoct a scheme to bypass the beastie horde by having Mosodol spell-jump across to level two of the ziggurat ramp and afix a rope. Many shimmies later, the party is on the platform, eventually making their way up, led by robe-wearing Artur, leading the others who pose as “hapless villagers.” This works well enough to sneak past two checkpoints, bringing the group to the last ramp leading to the ritual (all but Mosodol, who will literally “spring” into action once the group mounts its assault). Speaking of that assault…

*While a Shaman delivers ritual blathering over a well spewing arcane smoke and fire heavenward (ostensibly to open a portal to somewhere), several beastmen bring forth the following: a young village girl, which they obviously intend to sacrifice to the well, and two LARGE baskets full of coins, which they ALSO intend to dump in. Well, this is just to much for Esma. There is NO WAY she’s letting anything happen…to those coins! Battle begins, the party gaining surprise!

*The battle features a series of ups and downs, among them:

After taking care of one of the beasti’es holding down the village girl, Uchder gets shanked and paralyzed by a mighty beastman blow, leading him to mostly stand there during the battle. Thankfully, the other beastmen, shaman, acolytes, etc., are either engaged or their attention turned to spell-slinging wizards. On that…

Mosodol’s death from below tactic results in empowering the well, and getting him crunched by beastmen. Down he goes. Thankfully, Dresden manages to make her way to him, lays on hands and VOILA! The Wizard is up! (and horribly scarred).

Artur carris on a running fight with a beastman, after taking the creature’s sword. Though in massive pain from being back-slammed, he eventually downs his opponent, and takes part in the battle versus the BIG BAD.

After starting things by tossing a dagger right in the throat of the head shaman, as well as bringing down beastie guardians and such, Dresden, Dwylo and Uchder take turns engaging and, in Esma’s case, smashing pumpkins. Or rather, beastmen heads. All in all, by the time the portal spits out the flame-flail slinging, one-eyed, bestial avatar of…well, SOMEONE, the party has eliminated most of the threats. The party engages the thing, finally sending him staggering toward the well, shaken, stirred, shanked and crushed.

Of course, when the creature falls back into the vortex, thus begins “the destruction of the HQ.” The entire edifice begins to crumble. Mosodol makes another leap back into the boat, where he begins ushering up villagers (and figuring out how to make the boat go without the censer). Dwylo hastens the horrible zig’s demise by tossing a pair of grenades, which brings rubble down everywhere, while giving him a nice, flying boost back to the ship. As great chunks of rock go falling here, there, and everwhere, Esma, who had to be carried away from the coins above by Uchder, spots the big bad’s magical flail just lying there on the corner of the second zig level…just waiting for someone to pick it up…braving the avalanche, the coin-scrounging scout snatches the thing JUST AS A HUGE BOULDER CRUSHES THE CORNER.

That last crush is the signal to go, which the party does. With Mosodol steering into a magical, glowing wake, the party hangs on tight as the water’s glow SMASHES a hole in the hillside, sending the boat and its occupants crashing into the waters of the Serdenedgel (aka The Keelbreaker) river, below, disturbing the fishing expedition of an old man.

Oh, and becoming big, damned heroes in the process…:-)

NOTES

Adventure end=MAR 02, 5th YotD

Mosodol’s CHA has been reduced to 4. I feel like it should be d4 damage, like the other entry, and may retcon that. I might also tweak the out of action chart to use a d8, meaning a 6, 7 or 8=death.

Esma now has a flaming flail that does +1 dmg and can be activated for 3 rounds, once/day. doing an additional d6 fire damage. This is going to be badass when that “one attack per level” thing occurs.

Party has not yet leveled. I’m going to add some more questions to the list so that XP gain is about 5-10 per adventure, rather than 5-7).

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EPISODE 25: The Hills Are Alive
When viIlagers take up arms, they just plain die

FIVE YEARS LATER

In the peaceful land of Tir Diggon, far away from exploding cities and Demon Fissures, a group of villagers takes up arms in an attempt to end a threat to their village. A series of kidnappings involving “Beastmen,” reveals a trail up the hill, to the old “Keep on the Crack” (not to be confused with a medical condition). Ten stalwarts head up the hill, in search of their missing brethren, as well as a missing Paladin, Dresden Onaii, and her retinue. After receiving a blessing from Dreseden’s sister, Buchenwald, as well as some supplies from the village, off they do.

Well…Six of the 10 perish, thanks to vine horrors, and a passel of Beastmen. Four of the crew make it through, though. Esma, a seasoned scout. Dwylo, a nimble-fingered brewer with a pipeline to the gods (sort of). Mosodol, a buff scribe prone to tossing adversaries off parapets. And Uchder, a brooding crofter whose most dangerous weapon seems to be his teeth. After a vicious fight with the Beastmen, including one that resembles a minotaur, the party comes of age! Oh, and they find Dresden and a pair of her retainers.

Now, possessed of better arms and armament (as well as a bump from zero to 1st level), the intrepid crew prepares to plumb the depths of the keep!

CAMPAIGN START DATE: March 01, The 5th Year of the Demon

NOTES:
Basically, we ran a funnel, using a published module. We managed to get through the upper portion of the keep with four survivors, adding a 5th character (one of our players lost both his villagers):-(, after taking out the Beastmen.

_NEXT SESSION: _

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Episode 24: This is the End
Things fall apart (after they blow up)

Long story short:

Tiskus manages to close an arcane portal that would’ve allowed the gods of law to inflict a complete lack of autonomy on the realm. In doing so, however, he destroys Mageswell (and seems to disappear in the process). Vicic dies trying to save a retainer. Telvas and Shadow survive the cataclysm.

Demons spill out. Lots of them. The price for avoiding stifling law is some amount of chaos.

Big ol’ fight. Forces of Onall Onaii, Summer Thorne, Gruntorm Drunkseeker, and Braverain Raidersbane take out the demons. Pritt Lill manages to close the main Demon Fissure.

Folks eventually win, but Demon fissures are still present.

Telvas becomes lord of an abandoned Grantham.

Shadow goes back to Felston. He’s still rivals with Komersisto.

Tiskus might have returned to the planes.

Vicic really is dead.

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Episodes 21-22: Lulls Before a Storm
Walking and Talking (and yet more walking and talking)

A series of slow tales ravels out in a fashion, as the heroes answer a few question, while generating new ones:

*Tiskus disappears! While shadow stepping, the mage’s connection to Old World Magic sends him on a 10-year hiatus/adventure through the Planes. The group eventually brings him back using a summoning scroll they find during their adventure against some bandits who’ve been working out of Grantham. Which leads to:

*Csonka is finally rescued! They find him in the bandit outpost, located in the hills NW of Grantham, where they take on 22 bad guys in a frontal assault, at night, because sneaking only gets so far ( as Shadow can attest). The mage is found, handless (literally), but alive. Seems a couple of parties want his knowledge of Mud Sorcery and such (to include the location of a tomb). Party finds a bunch of supplies, including munitions, which appear to be bound for Summer Thorne. The surmise the bombs would be used in an attack on Felston. Rather than bring them back, they leave them in a secret chamber in a dungeon they recently explored. Speaking of that dungeon…

*People die! A member of the Chain, who seeks out those who misuse magic, or otherwise do things the Circle of Mageswell deems dangerous, joins the group. Galenfier is his name. Or rather was. In the lethal dungeon below the bandit outpost, he steps into a dark portal and drops into a bottomless pit (because the GM has little use for him, evidently). But ot before members of the party get crushed by falling rocks, and he frees them with his “my sword cuts through anything” ability, and they are revived by Vicic. Party eventually finds a treasure room, but botches the riddle to get all the chests, instead ending up with one container possessing a few items and the aforementioned summoning scroll.

*When they use the scroll to bring Tiskus back, he is older, and on a mission to destroy the staff of Kyume. This dominates the group actions, much to the chagrin of Telvas who…

*…has met with Swiftsteel, who reveals that the Elven people are somehow linked with the Shafrat and the Shakal. On the way to check about the staf, the Shifter does a mind-meldy ting with Telvas, revealing the horrible cataclysm that destroyed many of his people. The wars were the outcome of the Elders ability to manipulate matter, which, obviously, went WAAAY awry. Telvas learns his people have the same capabilities latent within them. Swiftsteel asks him to join “The Pool,” but the swordmaster demures to think about it. Meanwhile, his eyes have turned silver, and he begins to develop the ability to detect Changelings.

*Speaking of, Vicic: The Cleric receives a visitor in Felston named Walter, who chastises him for not fulfilling his duties (though one wonders where Enumoch actually cares bout duty, being the God of “Meh, whatever…” The somewhat devoted Fist Priest learns True Sight, and can now see through all guises, which leads to…

*…the detection of one of the Changelings in his true guise in Mageswell. The grey, alien looking creature has been masquerading as Exarch Murdoch, a Circle member. Party finds out the Chnagelings want to destroy the staff, too, because activating it will open a rift to the plane of absolute law, thus bringing the world to the planar beings’ notice, thus removing all semblance of free will, making life meaningless.

*So…very long story short, the party negotiates with Murdoch, agreeing to work with him, sorta….Meanwhile, Telvas believes the Changelings should be SLAIN (and may be right, who knows?). The long day’s journey into mid-afternoon leaves off with the group in Mageswell, surrounded by 7 mostly hostile Changelings who may or may not be allies.

Other stuff:
*Enumoch appears in many incarnations, but all of them look like Jeff Bridges in various roles.

*Telvas has Silver Eyes. Tiskus had Gold Eyes. Vicic still only has one ear. Shadow has bloodshot eyes…often…

*While back in Felston, Shadow was confronted by a tough named Mick Jagger, who carried a scroll with Shadow’s father’s signature on it. This is all he read after Jagger dropped it, then came back and snatched back. They fought, Shadow broke it off, because Jagger threatened to kill him. Good move, Shadow. As for following up on his father’s apparent involvement with Jagger, our thief appears to care less, probably because of the pipeweed.

*Vicic discovers that the disease in the poor quarter isn’t really spreading like a typical disease. This discovery does little to pique his interest, though, as the journey to Mageswell seems to present greater importance, because Tiskus Doomsayer has told them all existence is in the balance!

*Telvas’ hostility toward Tiskus has advanced from simmering to boiling. The Elf may be at the breaking point when it comes to following the mage’s advice. Plus, he has a really big sword. Still. And silver eyes (did we mention that?).

*Fortifications are being built in Felston. Dwarves have appeared, engineers being paid in heavy, Kamenvoss coinage.

*Grantham is hemorraging population fast. Rumors of the void being filled by son of Haggis, or the Elves of the Hodei, or maybe something else (what will M’nenieth do when the city stops paying him off?).

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Episode 20: Small Complications
How to not succeed without not really trying

The next adventure proves to be an interlude of sorts, beginning with the party being jumped by a group of Full Cultists who sprang an ambush on Shadow. A big fight takes place in the stairwell of their inn. Several failed spells slamming into Telvas later, the party knocks out 3 cultists, kills 4 more, and sends their Old-World spell spinner leader out into the streets, where he disappears.

The rest if background and such, but here’s what happens:

  • A pair of Cultists (Ozzie and Halpern) join the party, after revealing they were being paid to act like zealots in the first place.
    *A third cultist gets zapped into death by a misfired Vicic spell. No matter, because the Cleric animates the dead guy into a smart, smiling minion.
    *Tiskus shadow steps his way around the Realm, drops off the Crystal Ball the party found at Mageswell. Foscoe Borgia tells him that Kyume’s staff has caused an uproar in the circle. There’s something very powerful inside. Some say, “Bury it!” others say “Study it!” Meanwhile, a garrison has been hired, just in case that something gets out.
    *Tiskus visits Pravduum, who knows nothing about Csonka. Neither does Foscoe, by the way. Actually, no one they’d talked to knows anything about what happened.
    *Telvas (who is NOT left-handed) finds out a bit more about the shapechangers. Legends say there were two sects—the Grey Pool (the Shafrat) and the Eaters (the Shakal). They ruled the lands east, before imploding in civil war. Supposedly, they all died. Guess not, though, because the Elf was attacked by several Shakal and defended by one Shafrat not that long ago.
    *Shadow locates the trail of the Halfling toughs’ wagon. This becomes the party’s focus for their NEXT adventure.

Other stuff:
*Drunkseeker took the entire Grantham garrison with him back to Felston. There are 12 trained militia members left behind, and an undetermined number of citizens who can take up arms in case something happens (no one knows what that might be).
*There is fear in Grantham that the Hodei might try to come back to claim Grantham as their own, since the city is built on their ancestral lands.
*The Salamander’s Eye Mages make a deal with the party to take up residence and study Yarzu’s tower, in exchange for a magical orb and more information on the shapeshifters.
*The sons of Haggis, Howard and Hubert, parted ways when Drunkseeker left. Howard went north to Felston, while Hubert went south to Epid Sal. Hubert is said to be the new lord of Grantham. But with no army and no Hubert there, it’s hard to say who’s in charge. People are leaving already, anticipating a Hodei return.
*Eunomoch is discovered to be the God of Rationalization, and a capricious one at that.

Adventure duration, 3 days.

It is not JULY 26th, game time.

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Episode 19: Swamp Things (part 2)
Cyphers and Crones -- the Backfiring

After a brush with an icky plant thing, some fondling and breaking of a Terrocotta elephant (wherein strange “beacon stones” are found), the absolutely bitch-slapping of 4 trolls, the party splits up for a time. The two halflings make use of Tiskus shadow-stepping to return to Grantham, while the remainder heal up and head to the Leaning Tower of Adventure (or whatever it was Tresh described.

With Shadow taking his leave, and returning to Grantham with Tresh to look into the rough looking halflings, Altamono and Kurado, the terrific trio of Tiskus, Vicic and Telvas (aka, "The Many-Voweled Adventuring Company), forges ahead toward a leaning tower described by Tresh, a day and a half away, as the Wyvern skips (or flies—depends on the Wyvern). Their journey is, thankfully, uneventful, and they arrive to find an overgrown courtyard, and, indeed, a leaning tower, located behind an old stone fence with a broken, iron gate. Looks like pretty standard “old, abandoned building” stuff, save for the light spilling out of the vine-floored doorway.

Indeed, there are vines everywhere. When they inspect the first floor from the relative safety of the unhinged-door doorway, they see a great, big, magical chandelier hovering over a vine-strewn floor. A dead adventurer, impaled by springing a steel lance trap the hard way, sits against the far wall. A grinning gargoyle looms on a shelf overhead, while rage tapestries hang from the rear wall, and a staircase ascends. Carved into the wall, about a quarter way up the stairs, on the left, is a puzzling piece featuring a Rook, weird words written in common, and the name “Sere Kassin” (which gets them to thinking maybe his "sere-kaf-ogus is somewhere nearby [yark, yark, yark}).

First floor, is of course, rife with trappage, as the Gem of Headaches and Curses reveals when they look through it. There are unsprung, illusion-obscured lance traps, as well as illusion-covered nodules, primed to explode, flanking the walls going up the stairs. Thankfully, the Rook with the weird works emblazoned around it provides a clue for going up the stairs (“Straight and true — the way he lived”), which allows Telvas to go right up the center of the staircase (did I mentioned the stairs were set up in a checkerboard fashion? well, they were, man).

At the top, our elf finds a locked door, a gargoyle with a nice, golden knocker (just one) in its jaws, and another cypher reading “Three is a magic number.” Knocking three times, however, causes a primal scream to echo through the building, and something heavy and metallic to grind behind the door. The party opts for caution.

Long story short: after dealing with Bitzafi’s arm getting stuck while retrieving a key from the gargoyle’s mouth (and nearly severed, forcing them to rest while it heals), and after causing the party to deal the chandelier dropping to the ground, exploding everywhere, the party rests, only to discover that all the traps reset during the night. Not to worry. This time they know where they are and what to do! The get the key (which has returned to the spot from whence it came, overnight), they set off the exploding nodules on the staircase using a well-thrown rock at the door, the party finally enters level 2.

Level 2 turns out to be some sort of dining room. The windows feature stained glass telling the story of a brave knight and an adoring lady (Zaryapesha, by name). A magical larder keeps fresh food available, all to be prepare by an attentive bronze golem, about halfling size. A BEAUTIFUL dining table with fine dinner ware, expensive candelebras and an ornate rug beneath is featured in the center of the room.

Of course, it takes awhile to notice this, because the guardian bronze minotaur immediately attacks the party with its nasty axe. Damaging it? Not a thing. Problem—it spews out hot lava when its armor is pierced. The party DOES take it down, but it crashes and burns right on the dining table. As it cools, members of the party prompt the golem manservant to prep them some grub, and they feats near the bull’s smoking remains.

From here, no stairs, but the group does locate a secret “elevator” located in the floor that, when the command word is uttered, ascends to floor 3, a library. Stuff there: books, a tome to make golems, magical lamps, a crystal ball, and a skeleton half-covered in papery flesh. Looks like someone was missing a component. Nearby vials and decanters are full of preparations to finish, they think, including a clear, glass container containing a shining light. After some q&a and fiddling about, they determine that the decanter is filled with souls (plural), so they figure, "Open this? I don’t think so.: Meanwhile, books, lots of them, and some of them on creating tessellated, magical dome protectors, like the one in Mageswell. The key component? Dragon’s blood.

Clues come together: a dragon-slaying sword found on level 2 with Kassin’s armor. The stain glass depicting Kassin’s death at the hands of M’Nenieth (who evidently was delivered a deep blow by Kassin, before the Knight expired), and they figure the Knight blooded the dragon for the wizard, one Yarzu, to create the protective barrier. Of course, they end up with a chance to ask the woman herself, when they locate Yarzu in stasis, on level 4.

Yarzu’s parley is a simple one: “I have the map to a Mud Sorcerer tomb” (which she figured Kassin’s knight brothers, an order dedicated to slaying them would want, and come to her to get, given the clues she left behind). “I will need a vessel, however.” (for what, they’re not sure, but they figure it has to do with Sere Kassin). Her golem work never cut it, and seeing as she was soon to die, she put herself in stasis and let the vessel come to her. (what can I say? it’s A plan, though not the best one—she’s been sleeping away for a looong time, as it turns out).

Well, this doesn’t go like the parlay with the dragon. Yarzu gets impatient. The party ain’t no way gonna hand over a body as a vessel (unless they can find a good dead one, which they consider doing, as they DO have a dead retainer not far off). But Yarz is IMPATIENT. So, she seals the room, conjures up some old world mojo, and off they go.

Things get momentarily dicey, when Tiskus funds he cannot dispell OW magic from this partifular source. Worse, Yarzu levitates and casts, taking he out of range of Telvas’ badass blade work. She starts hurling magic missiles and launches disintegration beams at various subjects. EVEN WORSE: the orbs that keep her in stasis, when broken, awaken her guardians. FOUR bronze statues of giants.

Things look a bit poopy when Yarzu turns to deliver a searing beam at Telvas. But…BACKFIRE! BACKFIREBACKFIREBACKFIRE (thank you snake eyes). Her OW magic gets out of control, drawing all the magic into her (integrating, rather than disintegrating). It’s too much for ol’ Yarzu and she implodes, absorbing Sere Kassin’s soul from the abyss, where it has been going made for, oh, some time.).

In the end, Yarz is dead, the mud sorcerer map is located, a trove of spells falls into Tiskus’ lap, and the party gets away with some neat stuff.

Now to FINALLY find Csonka? Who the hell knows…

NOTES:
-Yarzu’s spell failure was rolled by Telvas’ player. And MAN was it timely. Since it was disintegration, I had the spell integrate into her and cause her to go boom.

-Based on this battle, I’ve decided that the REAL danger to OW magic is that it CANNOT BE DISPELLED. That’s why most folks don’t mess with it.

-Shadow was out the two sessions it took to play through Yarzu’s tower. The party will return to Grantham to find out what HE found out investigating the halfling toughs.

Time elapsed:
I THINK it was 14 days, all told, with travel and resting and stuff. So, we’ll just say 10, and the next adventure likely to take place in Grantham. That puts us at:

JUL 23rd. They missed the festival. (frowny face)

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Episode 18: "Swamp Things" (part 1)
Cold stone killers

Telvas has a perilous brush with strange entities. Meanwhile, things get rocky (and snaky) in the Ghoul Garns.

Telvas eventually returns to Felston, shaken by an encounter with a gang of…well, what were they, exactly? They appeared as deer…sort of. Of course, the shadowy forms, the red eyes, the malleable, smoky way they moved, not to mention the weird, slithery thing one of they did with its antlers when they were about to kill someone. Only the Foeblade (now with even more Redemption!) could harm them. Well, that and Swiftsteel’s swift steel (nyark, nyark). Seems the ertswhile assassin-palace-guard-well-dressed noble was disguised as a talkative rogue named Yesem, all along (or was he?).

In the end, though, a hireling, Mij, died. Swiftsteel was mortally wounded, and all around the Elven Kalinyas were piles of strange ooze and ash. Which is what Swiftsteel turned into as he perished, uttering the warning, “They’re everywhere…” By the time Telvas and Nats, the overwhelmed mercenary, got back to Felston, traveling overnight at the double time, he had a tale to tell. But to whom? Because, well,_ they’re everywhere._

Where they apparently aren’t, at the moment, anyway, is Grantham and the Ghoul Garns. The party’s investigations lead them into the swamp toward the last known location of one Tresh, a treasure hunter overdue. An overnighter with family leaves Telvas with a glimmer of hope, when he establishes (perhaps, perhaps) a contact with the Hodei, his people who live deep within the swamp. With the future of Gratham up in the air, there is also an opportunity here. Or so he believes. But then, no one is sure what Drunkseeker is up to. They only know it’s no good.

For now, though, the swamp.

Excellent pathfinding and scouting lead the group to a set of ruins, where one Tresh has been hiding out, paranoid that “she” is following him. She had already killed his group when they got off course and ended up in her territory, a particularly watery, oozy, foggy section of Garn, where Tresh spotted a strange, square, leaning tower. He’s so paranoid about it, he hasn’t bothered to check into the ruins where he is holed up.

And what a weird place it is. A great fountain, with a glowing orb atop it, spews water down its sides into glittering, unspoiled pools. The fountain’s base is augmented with cantered, stone blocks, mounted on struts of the same material. Of course, the thing is magical, but what else might up with dat?

The group soon finds out. After several of them are stunned by flashing fishes living in the four, square pools below the flowing plinth, Vicic, unharmed, spots a niche indicating an opening beneath the water. He wades right in and attempts to lift it. Naturally, this summons guardians. The four cubes around the fountain begin to tremble, then explode, releasing 4 huge, stone birds.

Of course, normal weapons do not work, as Shadow finds out when he his arrow bounces right off one of them. Not to worry, though. Because Tiskus has MAAAAGIC. Old world magic. He weaves a powerful spell…and it backfires.

Reality is altered, as vast, old world energies rippled through the area. The land beneath the fountain splits, as the water from it rises into the air, then drops. Worse, the great weapon summoned by TIskus hurtles right into Telvas’ back, leaving a permanent wound. Meanwhile the four stone creatures become ONE BIG STONE BIRD, thanks to the reality bending. And now, the encounter just got tougher.

So, the answer to this is to cast another spell, right? Of course, it is. This time something safer. Summon monster.

Whoops. A monster is summoned all right. But it’s “her,” the Naga Tresh was so terrified of. And it is NOT cooperating.

The rest of the fight plays out as follows:

The stone bird does some of their work for them, as it swoops down on the whole group, knocking Nats out, knocking others down down, and fortuitously lopping off the head of the Naga (this after it had taken control of Shadow, forcing him to fire arrows at Vicic—thankfully, Shadow’s aim was off, as, some, he must’ve been subconsciously resisting the spell). With the Naga down, and the bird too big to follow, most of the party follows Vicic’s advice and dives down beneath the ground, following a staircase he found behind the stone panel (which itself flew right up and out of the area, thanks to alter reality/reverse gravity, etc.).

As the party takes cover (save Tresh, who has run off, and a faithful retainer, who is down) Telvas and Tiskus stand fast, using magic and magical blade to whittle the bird down. Eventualy, they are joined by Pritt Lill. Between the three of them, the creature eventually drops into a pile of rubble. It’s a close one, but, once again, the Felston Fellows emerge triumphant.

Afterward, amidst the rock and stone, and secret panels, below, Shadow finds a nice cache of coin and gemstones, including a transparent, glass pyramid with mud sorcerer symbols etched on each facet. Tiskus’s examinations reveal that it is stone of seeing. But what us there to be seen here, one wonders?

As the party rests and heals, they still have some things on their agenda:

A nearby amphitheatre, overgrown and crumbling.

An acropolis up a path to a hill, overgrown with dense vnes.

Somewhere, a day and half away, a leaning tower.

And of course, crocs and ghouls abound, they say, in this place.

But at least there are no dark, deer things….yet…

NOTES:
Telvas took note of two utterances delivered by Swiftsteel and one of the Dark Deer. Evidently they were both curses: Swiftsteel called the Deer a “Cursed Flesh Eater,” while the Deer-thing called Steel a “Swill Drinker.” Conveniently, Isolt of the Salamander order happens to study this language, the tongue of the Elders, who disappeared long ago (or so she says).

Outside the game: Tiskus came up with snake eyes on two consecutive rolls, prompting the player to say, “That’s so unlikely,” which I personally feel might someday be this group’s epitaph, either way.

Pritt LIll came in handy. Not so much with the Bitzafi and the other hireling, whose name currently escapes me.

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Episode 17: Dances With Dragons (and Cloth Merchants)
Soiling and buying some breeches

Two roads diverged in a town. The party, wishing to not be bothered by Full fiddling and such, takes the one less traveled by. WAY less traveled by. Not even a road really. Fer a reason, as it turns out.

Sans Telvas, who has business to take care of involving Jaeel Deeclan, Tiskus, Vicic and Shadow, along with Shadow’s main man Clubber Lang, grab some horses and ponies and supplies, setting off the overland route to Grantham, the seat of power in Lac Drune. It seems a good move. The main road is packed with folks headed back and forth (mostly forth, to Felston for the upcoming Rahzastvo Festival). Over the plains and hills to Kubrinor, the Lake Town on Lac Drune, seems the best way to avoid being spotted.

But, of course, things aren’t that simple. After noting a passel of shed scales on day 1 of a 5-day jaunt (really big scales), the party makes camp on day 2 in a cul de sac against a hill. Things go well until Tiskus’ term on the watch. Yes, he has eaten WELL (Shadow’s meal was so good, everyone has a +1 forward!), but all those potatoes, and that 4th helping. He’s a bit tired. He nods off. Bad timing. Ghouls from who knows where decide to pay a visit, and come streaming down on the party, 12 in all. Before they know it, the group is up to their necks in smelly undead.

The fight features several sort of twists and turns, as follows:

- Once again, Tiskus has not a scratch on him as, when he’s first attacked, the dodges the blows of 3 ghouls, and rolls down the hill to safety, more or less. As the 3 undead menaces come bounding down after him, he throws down a Summon Monster spell, which brings a land shark bursting out of the earth! The creature eventually gobbles all the ghouls down, protecting its master more than ably.

-Pritt Lill fires off several salvos of Magic Missile, crushing ghoul heads like a pro (of course, after the whole thing is over, she slaps Tiskus for falling asleep on guard duty).

-Shadow deftly deals some damage using his throwing knife, but is eventually grappled by Ghoul. Unable to break free, he nimbly dodges the Ghoul’s extra attacks. Mostly. A swipe causes some blood loss and oncoming paralysis, i.e., lost DEX.

-Vicic, meanwhile, lights up his chest and barges a ghoul out of the area, until it can later be smasherooed.

-Now, Clubber, on the other hand…ouch…He gets gang-swiped, then chased down by a ghoul. After suffering massive wounds and paralysis, he is bailed out by his compatriots, who administer healing to him throughout the night to bring him back to functional status.

So, a dozen ghouls and some sleep later, the party awakens, intent on shortening their journey to Grantham by using Tiskus’ Shadow Step spell. They line up horses, ponies, people and halflings, find a convenient, morning shadow and the mage casts…only to fail. Like MISERABLY. Rather than walk through a shadow, to appear in the cloth shop of Thana in Grantham, the shadow “pops,” emitting a sonic BOOM!, knocking everyone over.
Thankfully, no one is harmed. Unfortunately, that loud noise draws the attention of…a DRAGON!

Off in the distance, M’nenieth, the Ageless One, hears the noises and swoops towards it, happy to find a brace of horses and ponies running across the hills. They still have pack and saddle, which is weird, because no one is around (the party having hid successfully, except for…). As he closes, however, a second pony comes out of the hlllside, dragging behind it…a SNACK! Mmmmmm….fresh halfling.

The dragon lets loose a cloud of killing gas to bring down the horses, then nails the fleeing halfing with a bolt of flame, bringing him to the ground, unconscious. He swoops down to grab his snack, and is met with a magic missile from the impulsive Tiskus. With the battle enjoined to free poor Clubber from M’nenieth’s talons, Vicic lets fly a Hold spell, while Shadow slides a lethal bolt into the dragon’s hide (well, lethal to most other things). The power of Enumoch surges through the good cleric, forcing the great beast to land, where is screams unholy curses in its native tongue.

“Release me!” it yells. No way, they think. “Then I’ll huff and puff and…” And so it goes, withg the ageless one inhaling, ready to stream poison right into them.

But wait! Vicic greets the creature respectfully. Tiskus makes an offer. What’s this? They’re parlaying! Nice move!

“Your God is indeed strong,” M’nenieth comments. “But he cannot long hold me. And when he no longer can, I will send you to meet him!”

Vicisc: “Hey, we’re just passing through. How about you let us go, and I let YOU go!”

Dragon: “Release me now!”

Tiskus: “How about we do that, but in exchange for passage and this shiny magic orb thing I have? Oh, and the dead horses.”

Dragon: “I shall keep my snack as well!”

Party: “Um, no, we want the halfling back. But look! Oooooorrrrb!”

Dragon: “Fine. Give me the Orb, and release me, and I shall let you pass.”

Party: “…wellll…okay…here.”

Dragon: “Thanks for lunch. And the trinket. Now, get the hell out of my land (by tomorrow).”

Party: “Thanks! Bye!”

And so they go, this time by the conventional route. On the 6th day, they drag themselves into Grantham. Once there:

- Shadow, who was hit with a curse spell, and is glowing ruby red, gives up a ton of gems to get the curse removed. On the plus side, it dies his armor the same color. He feels cool. Later, he puts word out to the non-existent thieves guild that actually does exist but not really. Two reps hire him to check on a Halfling they hired, named Tresh, who promised them a nice return on an excursion into the swamp to check out some ruins wherein treasure supposedly lay. On top of that, our man “Jerry” gets identified as a compatriot of some Halflings who’ve visited Grantham for supplies on a regular basis, filling up a wagon full each time. Shadow catches the names, Kurado and Altamono. He also procures a caravan schedule from the local shopkeeper, who expects a kickback when the thieves waylay the caravan. Of course, Shadow has no idea who these toads are, but what the hey—he has some info! Time to crash a party perhaps.

-Tiskus commissions a brand, spankin’ new outfit from Thana. He also brunches with her, as well as draws admiring glances from Thana’s assistants, Rogers and Hammerstein. In other news (more related to, y’know, the thing they’re SUPPOSED to be doing), he tries to get some aid from the mages guild, but Isolt, the head of the Salamander’s Eye, one of many Mages guilds in the south, will have none of it, because of the “lies” Tiskus tells about meeting M’nenieth and living (“Riiiiiight….”).

-Vicic hangs out, respectfully and quietly as always. Evidently, this has drawn Pritt Lill’s respect. “Why can’t you be more like him, TIskus?” Tisku: “Hey, let’s go kill a dragon!” ARGH!

-In other news, Clubber Lang now has more scars than the rest of the party combined. He DOES have both his ears, though.

So, the adventure takes 9 full days. The party prepares to delve into the Ghoul Garns to locate a Mud Sorcerer Obelisk, as well as find out where this Tresh fellow went.

In the meantime, Telvas deals with his own intrigues…

Assorted notes:
Man, there were a lot of failed rolls. At our table, we toss a glass bead into a cub at every failure, 2 beads for snake eyes, and a bead every time someone acts on their character traits. Then we divvy it up equally among all participants. By the end of this session, we had 20 freakin’ beads. That’s right—20. If I remember right, only 2 of them were for something other than a dice roll. It was that bad. Or good, if you like crazy thing to happen.

Had some discussion involving Hold Person, which has the word “creature” in the description. At first, I was like, “You can’t hold a dragon with that!” But the spell says creature, so eventually I went, “well, I’m going with what it says, but since it says they can talk it can still breathe, and if it can breathe…” In the end, the parlay situation was better than any fight could have been. The encounter was EXPENSIVE, as well—3 horses and 2 ponies lost, plus some supplies, plus the mage’s orb, plus 500c to lift the curse on the halfling. OUCH! (who says HP’s are the only hurt you can have?).

LOTS of time spent wandering from place to place in Grantham, which I sketched out by hand from a Wizardawn map and generator. Came up with some cool NPCs, to include a near 7’ tall representative of the Rogue’s guild (which is not “really” a rogue’s guild, because, hey, THAT’s ILLEGAL [wink, wink]). Thana the cloth merchant, who looooves the mage’s wardrobe (and her assistants, Rogers and Hammerstein, who would fit right in on Project Runway).

And then the whole thing where Shadow tries to play off like he’s in league with this rough looking halflings (I know, rough looking HALFLINGS…) when the local grocer, who’s been tipping off the halflings (and whoever they work with/for) to shipments in exchange for freebies he can sell at 100% profit goes, “What color is the knife?” So, I scribble it out on the paper, and Jack, who plays shadow, evidently counts my pencil strokes and guesses (correctly) PURPLE! (d’oh!) So, now the grocer thinks Shadow works for these other dudes, because, “All you blokes look alike to me.” (good times…)

The Dragon encounter, the land shark, and the ghouls came from a WM list from Wizardawn. After generating 10 creatures, I knitted some of them together so they’d have a reason to be there. The generator gave me the name, M’nenieth (though I added the apostrophe at the suggestion of Tom, who plays Tiskus). Now that he’s been introduced, he ain’t goin’ away. We can expect the party to take him on at some point—if they survive the terrors of the Ghoul Garns (swamps near Lac Drune).

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Episode #16: Untying the Knot
While rocking new threads...

And so the party manages to avoid prosecution by the Full because the Full decides not to pursue it. This doesn’t keep Full Priest Marka Pilvod from directly threatening Shadow & Co with retribution (in a “when you least expect it, expect it” kind of way).

In any case, the adventure takes a turn toward investigation, the highlight of which is Vicic resurrecting a plague victim and sending her to question Full fanatics about their faith. This ends up being a Full escort of said dead maiden toward the keep, where Vicic dispels his hold and the corpse drops dead afresh, only to be gathered up by the acolytes with the cryptic comment, “Hey it’s all meat, right?” Then the idiots carry a plague-riddled corpse into the Temple. Of course, they’ve been preaching in the plague quarter for awhile now, and no Full member has yet contracted anything (hmmmmm, one says or thinks, or mutters).

So, not much found out there, relatively speaking (except that Vicic’s chest casting is pretty awesomely powerful). Other stuff we find out:

*El Star Charts: Pritt discovers that one of the charts, when held at a certain location and a certain time, changes to reveal an eclipse. She and Tiskus head to Mageswell, where the facilities and such are better, and discover that a celestial event, “The Week of No Sun” is to occur this coming October. Couple that with all that “cleansing” talk from the Full ("a new day will dawn, and yaddayaddayadda), and them thinks maybe sumpin’ not so good is afoot in a few months? They also find out that the Mageswell council has clamped down on all information about Kyume’s staff. Foscoe Borgia thinks the silence is bad news. He’s probably right. Or very, very high.

*Swiftsteel makes an appearance, this time clean-shaven, wearing the latest in Mageswellian fashion—which is strange, because there are no Mageswell boutiques in Felston. He appears to know a LOT about the group’s machinations of eventual town takerage. One wonders how. He also appears to applaud their efforts. Of course, he appears to be a lot of things, but know one knows exactly what.

*Telvas is warned by Jaeel Deerclan to leave Felston. She tells him it’s going to be a bad place to be pretty soon (of course, pretty soon in medieval terms could be 3 years—but he thinks it’s probably sooner than that).

*Shadow delves into Komersisto’s affairs, but Komie will have none of it. But that’s business, I suppose. The thief astutely cases Sisto’s lodgings anyway, though, and notes a pair of rough looking halfling adventuring types, armed to the teeth, showing up under cover of darkness, meeting with the merchant, then leaving a few hours later, heading south east (-erly).

In the end, everything sort of comes back to Vici’s original guidance spell that pointed the party SE, before the murders at the Full Temple took place. The shady characters consorting with Sisto, the letter from the full mentioning Dormorians, and the info in Foscoe’s original letter all point toward Lac Drune, and Grantham, the Foeblade Estate, and the swamps beyond, where a mud sorcerer obelisk rests (they think).

Meanwhile, Tiskus purchases a used suit from local tailor Garack—bright red with a green medusa head on the back. His thoughts turn to trend-setting. (oh, and he also finds out about a former Mageswellian wizard who was heavily into old world magic, one Eve Zvunpesson, who was booted out of Mageswell some 12 years before—word has it, she’s still around somewhere).

P.S. Due to murders and stuff, the Full cancels its monthly initiation ceremony to plot revenge against the party (well, maybe…I mean, that’s what *I’d do).

Adventure start: 05 JUL END: 08 JUL, evening

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Episode #15: The Iron Circle
Breaking, entering, and exiting, hastily

And so, with Shadow emphatically barking, “Temple, Temple, Temple,” the group decides to see whazzup wid The Temple of the Full, an order that proselytizes during the day, but seems to stay away from Felston at night. So, they scout yon place, see little activity, discern where the secret entrances are (thanks to some scouting off a convenient hillside by El Shadow) and decide to go at night, en masse, minus Telvas, who orders out a bunch of Ale and such in order to provide their alibi.

Of course, the Full keeps the guards out at night, a pair of them on the hill. And, of course, the party semi-sort tips them off. Shadow guts one of them, thanks to stealthy backstabbage. The other, obviously, notices, then attempts to sprint away, only to find himself held by Vicic’s spell. Unfortunately, the hold spell does not preclude screaming bloody murder. By the time Shadow murders the guard from afar, with a smack down bow shot, the Temple has been alerted.

Eight iron-collared initiates stream out from the entrances, all taking aim at the halfling. Taking the prudent way out, Shadow opts for an exit strategy, wriggling his way through grasping guards who’ve already heaved their chakram in vain at him. He beats feet right back to town, bringing them in tow (but leaving behind his telltale skull necklace).

Meanwhile, Vicic remains hidden, behind a convenient bush, and Tiskus remains hidden behind a convenient Invisibility spell. Eventually, the former attempts to run, while the latter tiptoes his way into the Temple, as additional initiates come streaming out. Eventually, Vicic gets away, losing an ear in the process, while Tisk walks right into the temple via the subterranean conduit.

Then begins the tale of two near disasters: while Telvas and Shadow try hard to convince the pursuing Full that both he and the halfling have been partying it up all night (and Vicic makes his bloody headed way back to the same location). Tiskus lives a comedy of errors involving mud, tree climbing, roof-breaking and ration-tossing. In the end, the Full are on “Full Alert” (har-har), knowing they have a mage in their midst, but only having several bags of adventuring rations to prove anything. Meanwhile, Tiskus’ tiptoeing reveals a letter written by the “Gran Sacerdote” of the temple to his superiors. He pilfers it and walks out of the temple, just as the Full seals the doors. (I wonder how long it will be before that letter is missed?).

Meanwhile, back in town, a pair of low level Full banter about “vice” and “weakness” with Telvas, while Shadow puts on the fastest drunk in history, downing ale and pipe weed. Vicic makes his way in the house, slides his way into Tiskus room to gather a healing cloak, and stumbles on Pritt LIll in the mage’s room. Seems the initiate has passed out after studying star charts.

And so, we leave off with:

*Constable Walker showing up at the group’s house, asking questions.

*One, possible two clues as to who murdered the Full’s guards (a necklace and an ear, if found).

*A letter in a vaguely discernible langauge, mentioning Dormorians and the God of Pestilence, Breddiith.

*A discovery beneath the Temple of a stone cylinder, which Tiskus believes is accessible from the floor above, beneath the Full Chakram symbol.

Other stuff:
*Both Pritt Lill and Tiskus experienced old world backlash, using new world spells. What up wid dat?

*Telvas meets with Jaeel Deeclan, who is now in the employ of someone other than Foeblade. She asks about Summer Thorne, specifically where to find him, and invites her former colleague to go looking with her, in a week (or was is 3 days? who can remember?). The Elven Spinmaster has become a local hero among his people, and the voice of occasional reason in the party. He also cuts things.

*Vicic is earless, which is bad enough in and of itself. But it also marks him as present at the murder site. It also makes all music he hears sound like the White Album, backwards.:-)

*Shadow’s nekclace implicates him in the murders. He’ll have to pull an even faster one to wriggle out of this pickle. Oh, and he hurled right on the Constable.

*Pritt Lill mentions something to Vicic about the star charts, but the looming threat of trouble with the law tables that conversation.

*A very muddy, albeit invisible, Tiskus is on his way back to town.

Start 02 JUL….End 04 July, late at night

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