Trials & Trails

Episode 30: Puppy Bees and Intrepid Space Dudes
**The Unbearable Rightness of Button Pushing**

Given various hooks to pursue, our guys, of course, choose a sojourn into the Coedden, noted for its weird, wild magic, weird dimensional fissures, and, well, just…weirdness.

After traveling to the remote trading post of Wanderer’s Rest, the group heads into the Coedden, accompanied by the dimpled “Duke,” Brogh. They are in search of the Watcher-Blades (aka “Voyanlames”), the Elves tasked with keeping tabs on the Praetordessen, or “Death Druids.” After encountering some weirdness involving wild magic (resulting in feathers, sentient clothing, and pulsing like a firefly), the party follows a difficult to detect trail to an open area filled with ruins. A strange, buzzing sound is heard behind the tumbled walls.

Long story short, there is a weird beekeeper, keeping watch over bees the size of puppies, before a huge honeycomb. Mort makes with the Batman-like sneaky-sneak, accompanied by Rypen. Meanwhile, Esma wanders under a deadly tree, animated vines attacking.

Things get noisy. The “beekeeper” turns out to be some sort of weird bee creature himself. The party takes on the puppy-bees, as well as the tree. The fight looks like it could be more than the party can handle. But Rypen goes hardcore wolf, leaps into our beekeeper-thing, and, enduring multiple puppy stings, rips its throat out, causing the mass of bees to fly away, confused.

After that, the fun begins…

Grimbold and the Duke experiment inside the honeycomb, which turns out to be a spaceship, covered in fake material. The whys and hows become “whatevers,” as the two mess with enough buttons, dials and such to actually fly the thing upward, then bring it down for a landing. In the end, they open the main door, take in Donkey Hotay, and leave the planet.

Meanwhile, the more cautious party members discover they’ve been shadowed by an Elven Watcher-Blade named Dorit. The group joins forces, makes its way to a a hill rising out of an ichor dripping wood, does the sneaky-sneak again, as they have spotted a broom-rider landing on its top.

Fighty-fight again, this time against twisted, ichor-dredged Praetordessen, arisen from a pool of goo. The two exchange words with the broom-dude, an elf wielding a powerful staff, about an agreement to exchange a key, so that the broom-dude (an elf, it appears), can “destroy the Dagda.” In the ensuing melee, Rypen gets toasted by lightning, while Esma is downed by a grenade created by Mort. The attempt at lighting the ichor inexplicably doesn’t work (or explicably doesn’t, as the Coedden is weird when it comes to everything).

The party runs the broom-flying mage off, who evidently has better things to do. The goo druids withdraw. Esma loses her nose due to frostbite (the mage’s second attack, a bitter storm), and Rypen gets boinged on the noggin). Other than that, the party escapes relatively unscathed.

Adventure Length: 4 days

Campaign Date is now MAY 12th. Party is stuck in the Coedden, licking its wounds (and short a pair of warriors).

NOTES:
Esma made a huge tracking roll early on, otherwise the party coulda gone somewhere worse.

Reports of the flammability of the ichor seem to have been exaggerated. If so, why is it called “Black Fire?”

Castle Caldwell and Silver Lake are nearby. Mort’s and Grimbold’s hooks USED to beckon. With Grimbold gone, will they seek the Castle?

The Mage took an arrow to the leg, indicating he’s not invulnerable. Or maybe caught by surprise.

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Episode 29: Shortcircuited Sibling Rivalry
**The Greatest (undead) Love of All**

The party’s path take them to the central spire of the old Thorn Kingdom, the seat of Elvish government, which, for this clan, is a saucer-shaped, upside down plate level stacked on a three-prong stand, above all of which emerges a shooting sharp spire.

Of course, getting to that location has a few bumps and side treks along the way, including an ambush at the hedge-gate surrounding the edifice. Ichor-covered “used-to-be-elves” fire arrows from trees, augmented by a big ol’ foresty giant thingys (also sap clad). To complicate matters, Artur the Bard spots a woman trapped in the ooze-dripping hedge. Being the heroic type (or maybe just damned helpful), he attempts to pull her out of her viney bondage, only to be attacked by ichor tendrils, emerging from the hedge itself.

Feats of athleticism and martial prowess abound as Esma, actually running toward the battle, shimmies up a tree, dispatching the undead-controlled-whatever it was Elvish marksman. But there are six, all told, situated at three different points in the trees, setting up a nice, little firebox.

It is not enough to stop our group, however. The archers take tumbles — two of them all the way down to the ground below. The forest giant is dispatched, the woman pulled to safety. There is nothing they can do, however once the woman is removed from the ichor-sludged plant. The half-elven adventurer (judging by her gear) expires, while shoving a splotchy note into Artur’s hands.

But, of course, the note requires some deciphering, as it is splotched with black poo, blodd, what have you. The group combines their resources to discern something about the woman’s brother ruining their “glorious justice/revenge/something or other.” Looks like this entire situation is a get-back gone awry. Whatever the case, their answers await within the Thorn Clan’s fortress walls, where, once the gates are opened, a whole buncha dead Elves are revealed. Naturally, the party does some pilfering. It’s not like these guys needed their money anymore, anyway?

Eventually, our gang makes its way up staircases mounted in the curved legs of the archways, where they find the Thorn Throne Room (say that 3 times fast). Here, they tackle a pair of imps in the employ of a formidable looking elf who enjoys tossing acid and energy spheres. Through hurling explanations, warnings, questions and catchphrases, combined with Artur’s knowledge of legends and lore (plus Esma’s memory of actually being at this place once before), the group determines that, whatever it is throwing this stuff at them is making use of the well-preserved body of the dead king. Further, the shade, whom the group identifies as disgraced captain of the guard Azhentur Schraan, is the source of all the bad stuff going on here, having been summoned for revenge (and doing a pretty bang up job of it, since everyone is dead).

So, there we are, slugging it out, when Uchder the barbarian-turned anti-paladin, turned somber mentalist engages in what turns out to be a second bout of communing with the ether, where she is somehow transported to the past, to discover Azhentur’s lady love, mourning the death of the captain. Seems the woman, Melphalell by name, and wife of the queen, had been carrying on pretty hot and heavy with El-Capitano. Azh himself died in the wilderness, however, and his disgraced body was left unburied.

Uncharacteristically inspired (especially for a Temisian knight), Uchder brings Melphalell back through the barrier, where she stands before Azhentur, assuages his rage, and invites him to share eternity with her. The meany does so, taking the body of the dead king with him (because, well, why not?). The good news is, this action breaks the curse spilling out all that ichor, turning the forest normal again (but not resurrecting any of the dead).

This is fine with the party, as they’re planning to pilfer everything of worth, anyway. Leaving the dead alone, entombed in their sarcophagai beneath the thorn throne itself (okay, two times fast), they busy themselves with taking stuff. As they do so, they realize someone has beat them to it, selecting specific items from a rune-ensorcelled chest, leaving behind the obviously valuable wealth, maps and tomes the party greedily snatches up (hey, they have to get paid sometime, eh?).

In the end, Donkey Hotay is laden down with stuff, Grimbold has some maps, Artur nabs some important tomes, and everyone makes their way back down the tree stairs and into civilization, where Esma cashes in on her mission, and a piece of rare purple gear is dropped from the contact… (okay, kidding). The party repairs to Drasno for some rest and recuperation, as well as some unanswered questions (aka “story hooks!”):

For Mort: The mystery of Silver Lake beckons. He wants to investigate the tale of Azhentur a it more. Was the a disgraced Captain of the guard? Or was he a lover, killed unjustly by the King?

For Esma: Accumulated riches invite investment (mo’ money, mo’ problems). The Drasnovian council sends a messenger asking her to meet with them about a “golden opportunity” involving trade with the dwarves.

Grimbold’s Tomes reveal a deed/directions to a keep. He can now be a knight with a castle! If he can find the keep and stuff.

Artur’s tomes are many and varied, and one of them is just impossible for him to translate. Thankfully, he finds a contact who might be able to help. A half-dwarf named Tangovar.

Ucher’s return as a more contemplative non-knight/paladin doesn’t bring a great deal of rest, as “old friends” Darius Ruuk and Semplence are still in the area.

Meanwhile, Rypen’s return to the Druid Council reveals some unwanted information about the possible return of the Praetordessen.

*ADVENTURE END DATE: 14 APR

Time passage of approximately three weeks. The Date is now: MAY 08*

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Episode 28: Black Trunks
**Cutting cords and spilling undead kids

Using the advantage of surprise, our stalwarts get into it with some elven zombie warriors and a lizard creature, a fairly easy dispatch, with the cleaving warriors and our donkey riding Cavalier. The affair is quickly complicated, however, by the arrival of schoolchildren—undead ones, that is.

The party runs into the grisly sight of undead Elven kids, led by a red-robed humanoid they believe to be a Dormorian, dealing with the threat indirectly (and completely) by cutting the rope holding the bridge walk between the horde and themselves., thanks to a the shapeshifting of Rypen, the Druid, into a toothy lizard (and the more mundane efforts of rope slicing by the rest). The “children” topple to their doom below.

Unfortunately (perhaps), the cut pathway is the quickest route to the central spire, where the party assumes the major problems of the iblack ichor dripping wood originate. They take the secondary route, pilfering some valuables from a garrison storage point. An additional encounter with perverted elven warriors, led by mind-controlled, red robers using firearms causes Uchder to travel again to the Realm of Temis, who sends him back with instructions to “do better” (basically).

Now armed with a bit of knowledge (Dormorians are involved; the populace seems to be turned into undead), the party sets forth to seek the source of the infestation.

Campaign days passed this session: 5; the date is now13 APR

Roll Call:
Esma, Fighter
Grimbold Cavalier (and Donkey Hote) , Cavalier and mount
Mort, Monk
Rypen, Druid
Uchder, Anti-Paladin?

The brothers Gibb: Robinson, Maurice, Barry (I can’t remember if any died).

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Episode 27: Dead Men Tell No Tales
**But you can still loot their bodies!**

Death visits the party multiple times, as they become embroiled in what looks like a simple scouting mission from Mayor Sanctid, of Deshdael. Traveling north on a commission garnered by Esma (who failed to share any details to them prior, including the rate of payment), the party heads into The Coedden, bound for the Elven village of Ardeldeuss (aka “Sweet Water Tree”). Long before arriving, they find sections of the wood turned black and dead, and others turned black, twisted, and wet with black ichor. Their presence draws the attention of a wood giant, who downs several members of the party before eventually being led away by the retreating parts of the group. Long story short, the group escapes with a single death, that of Dresden. Mosodol is downed, but recovers, and later torches the giant.

In the interim, Esma has fled back to Deshdael, while the other party members have remained behind to lick their wounds, and tend to Dresden’s body. During this downtime, Uchder prays fervently to Temis, who transforms him into an agent of badness, paling his skin, reddening his irises, and converting Dresden’s familial sword, Goldwave, into a black-hilted, ivory-bladed instrument of evil called “Bonewave.” Uchder is now an anti-paladin!

But no time for celebrations, really. Dresden’s funeral pyre attracts night zombies, with proceed to take down and tear Mosodol to shreds. Dwylo also becomes a victim, when, while trying to pilfer Mosodol’s ring from the feasting trio of deadites, he draws their attention and their attacks. Down he goes, also to be rended to bits. Uchder manages to get away despite also being taken down, aided by a passing druis named Rypen.

Death, dismemberment and despair haunt the party (as well as a revenge streak from Uchder, who wants to give Esma a piece of his sword). EVentually, though, the pale-not-paladin makes it back to civlization, where he collapses in pain.

Meanwhile…

Esma has been lying her ass off to the Mayor about the situation, delivering some parts of the story, omitting others, and flat out making other shit up. Enlisting the aid of a Cavalier named Cavalier, she ensures the council she’s made contact with the Elves. But, as she does not possess the proper writ to prove it, her word is (understandably) doubted. In the meantime, Rypen the druid makes HIS report to the mayor, corroborating the zombie part of the story, as well as the tale of the “very stupid adventurers who made a fire and attracted the zombies which killed them.”

Eventually, Esma and Uchder are reunited (and kept from fighting by Cavalier). They are then joined by the druid and a nasally, obi-wonish monk named Mort. The council outfits them to look into the Elvish zombie affair, also providing them with four retainers (the brothers Gibb—Andy, Robin, Maurice and Barry). And OFF THEY GO!

Once in the wood, they make their way into the dense, red mist where Ardeldeuss is situation. A brief encounter with a camoflagey lizard thing, resting in a black tree with druidical markings indicating they belong to “Kyume” (he gets around, don’t he?), results in one dead lizard, courtesy of Uchder, whom Mort (also a Temisian) expects to “prove himself.” Prove he does. The party’s side trek at “very big tree” area, ends with a brief bit of half-hearted searching, before they head off toe Ardeldeuss.

The Elven village, a platformed affair, shrouded in thick mist, proves a bit freak-deeky, as, in the midst of zombie growling noises, one of the deadites plummets to the ground, where Uchder summarily slays it. The party locates a grand staircase headed upward, spiraling in such a way as to promote Elvish sword defenders an advantage (a fact one of the players kindly provided the GM).:-) The party makes it stealthy, with Monkish Mort ascending to scout. Using the mist and cover to his advantage, he locates the landing, peering over its ledge to note a red-robed Dormorian signaling off into the gloom (while also noting quite a few shambling zombies here and there).

Our episode ends here, with most of the party perched on the stairs, and Mort providing intel. They have the drop on the bad guys. But will their foray end in glory, or more heinous, horrid, and frankly, embarrassing, death?

NOTES
_Oh, so many BAD ROLLS! The party was constantly fumbling and getting critted. Very nearly a TPK. Would about have been, had not Stephen’s druid (a replacement for a dead character) not shown up. Mosodol was eviscerated, so no more mage.

So, we ended up levelling straight to level 2, if only to prevent the squishies. Hopefully, this will make the party hardier._

CAMPAIGN ADVENTURE START DATE: 02 APR 5YOtD END DATE: 08 APR

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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; NEXT SESSION START=02APR, 5YOtD

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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