Trials & Trails

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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Episode 14: Darker Paths
Sometimes when you win, you lose...

Our story begins with Telvas falling into a pile of money. His own. Arch-assassin Swiftsteel shows up, looking very different than his previous incarnation. He tosses a sack of coins at Telvas and say, “I don’t take money if I don’t finish a job.” So, someone else offed Mercor Foeblade. But whom?

Not much time to think on that, though, as our Elven Spinmeister is arrested for threatening Drunkseeker in his throne room. Did he? Welllllll….sorta did, a little bit, sorta. In any case, Constable Jerith Walker shows up with 12 members of the guard, and off we go to the newly refurbished Keep Dungeon, where he awaits execution at daybreak, tomorrow.

Naturally, the warrior’s compatriots can’t have that. Tiskus exercises old world magic, turning into a swirling dust thing to get past 3 sets of guards and into the Throne Room, where Tallman Pravduum is working over a passel of papers. Once again charging in planless, he soon finds himself in the sights of one Serem, a stooge of the crown who is tough with the bow.

But, we’re here to parley, yes? Of COURSE, we are. So after an initial, angry exchange (most of that coming from Tisk), Tallman lays out the deal — the party must renounce its claim to the mines in exchange for Telvas’ life. He also informs them that Gruntorm, whom Tiskus initially wanted to see, has left for parts unknown (ostensibly to arrange a marriage). In any case, the herd agrees to the deal, because, well, why get Telvas killed?

Of course, the proud Elf doesn’t make it easy. He refuses to sign the paper. Until Tallman informs him that harsher measures toward all Elves in Felston would follow. For the good of his people, Telvas acquiesces.

So, the now-freed Kalinyas Agalon (“Master of the Spin technique”) and his friends head out to plot and semi-scheme. Clearly, this Gruntorm fellow is a thing. They bat theories back and forth about whether he has gone to arrange marriage with Delia Xorsbottom or one of the daighters of Onall Onaii. They also must consider a letter sent from Foscoe to Tiskus concerning Csonka’s return to Felston, some few days before the party got back to their town. In addition, you have a fire that’s burned up Newman Longbottom’s doobage, and the busted business-halfling’s sudden alliance with Komersisto, a very successful halfling entrepreneur.

A brief foray to the Temple of the Full results in a great deal of aggressive posturing, which, along with the presence of mud sorceror’s symbols, solidifies the idea that Csonka may be held somewhere in the great, adobe temple.

And so, the party ends up with the following issues to deal with:

*Who had Foeblade killed? And why?

*Is Csonka being held in the Temple of the Full? If so, where? If they know where, how will they get to him? And are those chakram as nasty as they appear?

*What is Sisto’s role? He’s purchased the brothel near the Hair of the Dog. He’s resistant to work with Shadow unless he is given “information he can use.”

*What about Shadow’s weed trade? With Newman’s stock destroyed, doesn’t that put Shadow’s stash in danger?

*What is up with Drunkseeker? Telvas has a spy on his tale, but information is sketchy. And, he still needs to pay the dude.

*Pritt Lill, court mage, is being sent to study with Tiskus. Will they find love, or bullets? (j/k—what will become of this sudden arrangement).

Start: 29 JUN
END: 02 JUL

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Episode 13: Mines, Mines, MINES!
The Anticlimactic Ushering of a New Era

The party’s “battle” with the demon ends swiftly. A single magic missile, followed by a slaying stroke from Telvas’ reforged Foeblade sends the demon down and out, where it melts into an acidic mass. The party doesn’t dilly dally, however, because, well, they can’t. The place is still ghoul-infested, as the appearance by a large contingent shows, AND…there is a silver summoning circle on the mound where the Demon sat.

So, they make their way to a chamber containing a magical silver stream, running around 3 small ziggurats, the tops of which, as it turns out (if you climb the chaos-ensorcelled rune-cubes), contain stones of great worth. Tiskus climbs, sets off the magical trap, and sprays everyone, save Shadow, with hot silver.

In the end, the party survives. Gets rid of the summoning circle. Returns to the Gnolls, celebrates, then goes back home to report mission success. While there:

Drunkseeker throws down a tax on the party profits, but insists they need not worry about running it. The group believes it has a third of everything that comes out going to them.

Telvas threatens the Lord in his own keep and is escorted out.

Shadow purchases a tavern, and renames it “Hair of the Dog,” which he intends to run behind the scenes. He starts sending out feelers for petty criminality, intent on running the underworld.

TnT (Telvas and Tiskus) discuss the eventual overthrow of Drunkseeker.

Vicic sets up a small temple, and begins bringing in priests.

All in all, the party seems very Felston-focused, and thoughts of Csonka fade, as they believe he may well be dead by now.

START 02 JUN
Ended: 29 JUN

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Episode #12: Big Demons Give NO Love
Ouch...and yet again, Ouch. And dare I say, Ouch?

The party’s foray into the Mines continues, beginning with yet another ghoul encounter. A very short encounter. A fiery encounter. Vicic’s radiant chest holds a horde of dwarf ghouls at bay through the narrow threshold onward, as Tiskus lets fly with a fireball, torching every single one of the beasties. A celebration? Kinda. Why kinda? Here’s why?

As the ghouls mass beyond the next threshold, the dwarf collective dead in ooze form slither down from their wall toward the door to their empty room, which Shadow closes and holds. But ooze don’t stop when cracks are apparent. The stuff begins slithering beneath the door. Shadow deftly leaps backward, allowing Telvas to step forward. He HITS the ooze, and promptly gets mind-fried. Like, REALLY mind-fried. Like, “I think I’ll stop doing that now and stand over here” mind-fried.

So, while the ghouls are dead, save one (which Vicic does the radiant chest dance with), the rest of the group plays slap an ooze with the collective psychic thing, which proceeds to mind fry anyone who stands in its way.

And therein lies the rub…for when Shadow rushes into the next room, and slays a ghoul with a well-aimed bow shot, the ooze goes back to its lair. Evidently, it was trying to get to the ghouls, and the party unknowingly thought it was being attacked.

Ouch…

Later on, the party follows a plaintive moaning sound to a buried astronomy chamber, ostensibly the one belonging to Vorsord, the Dwarf who “did this to us” (as graffiti later showed). After walking right into a nasty gas trap, they retreat to lick their wounds (if only there were a tongue big enough, for there is lots of woundage). Somehow, TELVAS shakes off the effect, and, in fact feels invigorated by dwarvish poisoned gas. So, naturally, he just walks through the gas-filled corridor, leaving his friends to continue licking themselves (as it were).

Telvas locates a YUUUUUGE chamber, complete with burnt shelving and pages and pages of ashened books, as well as a YUUUUUGE dais where the metal remains of a telescope sit. He also finds, some leathery-backed Hook Divers. These divers have been coming from a hole 60’ up, where, evidently, the telescope could be raised to look out.

As the don’t hook divers don’t like intruders, they swoop at Telvas, who promptly gets into trouble. Gets proned, actually. His buddies, hearing his cries, stop licking and charge through the gas (those bastards are BRAVE). A big ol’ fight commences, which divers whose skin is hard as mail, spreading their 8’ wings, taking aim at the stalwarts. The party fights it out, with the help of Big Tree, the Gnoll in service to Telvas. It’s a TOUGH fight, but they win the battle (highlight film: Tiskus uses his dagger to flash teleport away from a beast carrying him skyward—cool stuff, except the TP puts him in the metal mess, where his foot gets stuck).

All divers are dead (save the few who flew away). The moaning keeps on keeping on. The party finds ancient star charts, and some spells. They also find some coins. But the moaning goes on.

Realizing the source of the mines woes are somewhere else, the party trudges onward. They bypass a chamber full of beasties, thanks to Shadows keen scouting, and end up in a small, dwarf-hewn chamber leading to a much bigger natural cavern, where a winged, demonic beast, outlined in dark purple, gnaws on ghoul bones. Of course, it senses them, sniffing the air with its foul nose.

Shadow stealthily sneaks into the chamber, hides well, whips out a backstab, while his friends hide in darkness. Alas! The creature is immune to non-magical weapons. It slams Shadow across the boon-riddled floor, turning its attention to the poor thief.

Meanwhile, the party girds its loins, its arms, its legs, and everything else, as it prepares for its ultimate test—the Soul Eater of Soseth Errat!

TO BE CONTINUED

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Episode #11: Crossing the Streams
Gnoll-A (Gee En Oh EL-EL, GNOLLLLL-LA)

The party’s next foray leans toward frontier diplomacy, as they head toward the Craggiset, and a northern pass into the wilds beyond. Before that, a stop at an Inwahe Gnoll village, and a meeting with their chief. Along the way:

*A big, scary, ashen beast thing catches sight of the group and dive bombs Vicik, tossing him down a cliffside into a set of bushes. The rest of the party takes the beast on, Shadow firing arrows into the mist, Tiskus attempting some spellage, and Telvas attacking from out of hiding. After some bumps and bruises and semi-broken bones, Telvas brings the beast down, both to the ground and upon him as he lops off its head.

*Nearby Inwahe Gnoll “greet” the party, and things immediately go south, as Tiskus’ attempt to say “HI, we’re cool, right?” comes out to “I shit on your mother” in Gnoll tongue. He finds himself in hand to hand combat, an encounter made more difficult when Vicic’s attempt to scare Tiskus’ opponent backfires, and creates strange illusions now intent on scaring Tiskus. No matter. After a lengthy slap fight, the two decide they are eventy matched, then take the vow of brotherhood through combat. Off to the chief we go.

*The party meets with the Gnoll chieftan, Wenreji, who informs them he’s already been asked about passing through the sacred lands by “other stinky people” (i.e., humans). However, Telvas’ gift of the huge ashen beast head, plus the party’s promise to go through the cleansing prep ritual AND clear the howling caves of the spirits tormenting the Inwahe dead, allow them a guide through the platforms to the mines, where they are immediately greeted with the ghostly howlings of the dead.

*Once in, via a secret passage, the party is confronted by a strange kelly-like beast that evidently contains the spirits of dead dwarves. The spirits howl “GET OUT!” The group stays. Ghould show up. A fight commences. There’s some wounding. The group wins the first battle, but there is more to follow.

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