This site is an online accumulation of the Post Reports for my current ongoing D&D Campaign - for anyone who might be interested in reading them.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Meet 17, Adv 4, 2/16/08

This next meeting was a utility meeting where the party took care of all the loose ends that the had floating around. I normally like these sort of meetings as it breathes life into the world the character's inhabit - but there are 6 people around the table and there is usually little reason for a group of 5 dissimilar adventurers to go to the same shop and places as all the other characters all the time.

So I try to keep these shorter with this group, but I know in my heart that I am doing the players a disservice by NOT allowing these sort of meetings to take longer.

Write up follows:

Well, well, well. As had been brought up, this was the Meeting between "Things to do".

We were back in town and going through the long pile of things we had to do while we had some time to spend after our stint to Fulgore Keep. And it was a sizeable listing.

Our characters trained while in town at our various mentors. Detheron worked with Solkissa, becoming welcomed as an Initiate of the Second Circle, Puck resumed active magical tutelage under Adeptus Bjorn acquiring the title of Master Neophyte, Zoltan continued his work with Keohn and is approaching the skill of Lyricist, Gwyn spent his days with Marzen and was now considered a Veteran, and our own Karis' training was now being attended to by Sheriff Yolanda Skeerous from Ponyboro who made the trip here at the behest and payment of Sir Walter as Esquire Nailorgen although still capable, no longer had the raw skills and talents to properly train our budding Scutifer and Cavalier.

With our pockets full of coins and our days busy, we spend much time over the next 22 days going back and forth to the various mercantile locations throughout Orihalcus to take care of purchases, repairs, and needs.

At Jarlian's Forge we had Karis' shield restored, a heavy war lance was commissioned, sling bullets purchased, armor repaired, helms fixed, brooches made, and other work done besides conversation about the ballistaes the party donated to Orihalcus.

At Gorg's Hides we had a set of full leather barding made for Karis' steed, as well as protective gear for both Smokey and Fodder.

At Malcath's Traders the talkative gnome sold the party much oil, hand axes, backpacks, torches, tindertwigs (for Gwyn), wooden chests, manacles, locks, and other sundry goods.

At some point later we went to One Eared Quint at the temple grounds, purchased a healers kit for Karis, and spoke long with the connected cleric about potion purchases. The city still lacks a true apothecist/alchemist to make potions, but the priest was able to have a number of them from Cymbarton commissioned and delivered out here. The party bought a number of healing draughts, resuscitation, healing potions, extra healing, and similar wares as our money stores and the small but potent inventory would allow us.

We learned something of lay lines and places of raw natural magic in the world. Bit of the tree Yggdrassil and how items that have been drained of dweomers might be recharged in these potent places. But where they are we do not know, nor do we know per se how to find them – but it is enough to know that they exist. And that's a start.

Puck and Detheron spent time looking over the full set of tomes we purloined from Fulgore Keep and boned up on what they could, when they could for Herbalism and Poisonry.

Gwynhywver had a birthday bash, Happy 52nd birthday you old dwarf you, making him around 22ish maybe, give or take, and his friends had done what they could to get him drunk including one mugful of Tindalic Dwarven Spirits mixed 50/50 with the local kvass – and then TWO mugfuls of Etherbarl's Drinkable Grain alcohol – yes – the mug gets set on fire. At last look, the dwarf was doing fine and his friends were a bit tired.

The 3 Kobold women Hrundi, Bara, and Ilva had been staying with us – and treated well for the entire time. We've learned that they have some natural skills in Cooking, Leatherworking, and Farming – and we made plans to allow Sir Walter to let at least one of them out (Ilva) and work with the Greengrocer Coalition. If she accords herself well, he would consider allowing the others to be escorted around the town for work. Obviously there is grave distrust amongst the populace regarding kobolds.

Karis met with Subaltern Arnax and Flarg, and asked the two bugbears to please leave the miners alone – as well as not be seen to close to town. They didn't exactly say yes, but they were willing to be somewhat according. They informed us that dwarves (mountain dwarves) were poking around where their former encampment was as well as trying to hunt out their new home. The bugbears want to work for Orihalcus and make money – so they can pay off their Compact as soon as possible. Currently it is under consideration.

Kalt is still in town, he doesn't work, train, or add anything of value it seems to the Slaine name or Orihalcus. Sir Walter did not seem happy about him.

About 7 families have emigrated to Orihalcus, bringing about 50 odd people to the fold. Some of them seemed to be stonemasons, all were human. There has been good talk about the city and those who live here and keep it safe. It's nice to be in a town with an adventuring party.

And there were other things that happened as well – but as you can see, we had a full day role playing – and I STILL tried to keep things moving at a good clip. Sorry for those who had little to do, and cograts to those who had much to do.

On the 28th of Firemonth, we were invited to talk to Sir Walter and some of his advisory committee. He knows that the party has made noises about going to Ponyboro – to go to the Wolverton Estate/Demesne there as it was mentioned in the slaver documents – as well as to visit Thadar's family and return his necklace (bronze wolf's head pendant) to the wife and/or kids. We promised (er…Karis and the others – NOT Zoltan) to do this as well as to avoid telling the family the details of Thadar's actions and his death.

To facilitate this, Sir Walter has offered the party a job – going above the head of his advisor Kegana Attwalt, leader of the Teamster's Guild. It is time for the 6 week caravan trip of finished copper products to be sent to Cymbarton via Ponyboro. And even with the additional drain of having Ironmine opened and taking manpower (dwarfpower) and resources from the city proper – there was a sizeable surplus of finished goods completed.

This overage is going to equate to extra funds for the city of Orihalcus. And it sounded like there would extra every 6 weeks the caravans went out. It seemed that the extra funds would be given to the city as: one-eighth of that overage invested in the Greeengrocer Coalition, two-eighths are going to be applied to former K'Tharkian Mine, three-eighths are going to be devoted to city upkeep and public works projects, and the final two-eights are going to be counted against next seasons tax responsibility for the populace – which means that all the people will have extra coin and lighter costs for the harvest and winter months

So, 21 chests fill with a hundred pounds each of copper ingot bars and copper blank slug coins, stamped and sealed are to make the journey to Ponyboro where it will be given to Lord Artis Daernhorse (note I said Lord, not Sir) – one of the high ruling heads of Ponyboro. Then the party would wait in Ponyboro until the caravan coming back from Cymbarton arrives and they can go back to Orihalcus with the goods going that way.

A sturdy caravan wagon and a 4-team of horses would be leased to the group, as well as food, water, feed, and other necessities to make the trip. The space of time between the delivery of the goods to Lord Daernhorse's Reeve and the acceptance of goods to go back to Orihalcus is the party's to do what they want with. Supposedly it could be as little as one day, or as many as seven.

We would be paid standard rate for the trip: 4 nobles for the trip per person plus 2 nobles/day. We would have to leave tomorrow morning – or the following one at the latest.

At this point there were some faces and snide remarks and grumblings at the table and Sir Walter's offer was dimunized and on the verge of being rebuffed as the group was commenting that they didn't want to be tied down with a caravan wagon and responsible for this. It bothered Sir Walter to hear this. He said that it was an opportunity for the party to do what they needed to do and go to Ponyboro as hoped for. If they didn't want to do this now, they could wait four months (till the 3rd month of autumn) for him to spare them from their actions and activities here at Orihalcus. They could go right back to road repair, harvesting grain, hauling stone, and other manual labor that the city needs if they didn't want to go. But they can't just go when they want, as they want, and how they want as they owe a bondsman debt to him and Orihalcus until Plantmonth 175 next year.

Kegana was pissed as it was obvious that she was given word from Sir Walter that the party would be doing this and it seemed she had passed over her own people who would make this trip. So the party was asked point blank – do you want to make the trip to Ponyboro and bring the goods as requested or not and go back to laboring around town for 4 months?

The group seemed contrite and took the job.

And the next morning we loaded up, took possession of the wagon and boxes, and started off on our next adventure: For Honor and Family.

We ended it here. I hope everyone had a nice time.

Reminder – next adventure is not going to be a constant combat check – role playing, investigation, and some fighting will be in equal parts.

You are all 4th level, so the kid's gloves are off. Don't do anything stupid to kill yourself or your friends.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Meet 16, Adv 3, 2/9/08

Sometimes as a DM, you have to make some adjustments to your plan. When I had mapped out the XP for the Fulgore Keep adventure, I had shorted the amount somewhere and in actuality, after riding out of the Keep, the group didn't have enough to go up! They were close, but just ..weren't..there.

So enter - the stirges, trolls, and ruined slaver wagon. Was a sort of lark/add-on one day thing to stretch out the adventure, but it did give them some outside combat time, Karis got to use his ability as a cavalier, and they took down 4 trolls and a pile of stirges.

And of course, allowed them go up. Nothing like a fresh level after rooting through a orc infested keep.

Write up follows:

Shortly after Double Dagger Pass, the party traveled west towards Crispani's Vale and eventually to parts homeward and Orihalcus. It is Firemonth the 5th at roughly 2:30 PM and we have traveled a bit over an hour and a half outside of Fulgore Keep when we noticed some commotion up ahead. The call and cry of carrion birds (ravens and crows) was loud, their dark winged forms soaring around the mountain passes. We crested a natural rise and beheld the battered and bloody remains of a slaver wagon.

The ponies were missing, the traces torn and broken. The wagon itself was upended on its side, the iron bars bent viciously. Bloody smears were inside the wagon, outside, and for a good half dozen yards around the attack site. But no bodies. No survivors. Nothing – Except the birds.

The party kept its distance from the wreckage while Zoltan attempted to circumvent it by trekking overland to the north – hoping to catch some orcs or the like watching the area and laying an ambush. After picking his way through the rocks for a while, he chanced upon a strange bird like creature with rusty feathers, 4 oddly clawed legs, and a long pinkish smeared beak. It trilled at him and called out once or twice. Zoltan…to get the heck out of there and went back to the party.

He described the strange birds to the group who had noticed that one or two of them had wandered back and were nearby. And then one of them dived the party and tried to "stab" its beak at group. Yep – you guessed it – stirges.

Wasn't much of a threat but its trilling attracted five more who dove at the group and began sucking blood and when they were being attacked, it attracted another 10 or so who dove at the group. One of the big highlights was Detheron using…DUN DUN DUN!!! Another druidic spell!! Call Nature's Ally 2!! YEehaaa! Way to go druid. And we were blessed with a very large wolverine. Who took out a stirge every round! (and no – as per the jokes it was not a miniature Hugh Jackman in yellow spandex either). Some of the mounts were suffering from stab wounds and some of the party were as well but within a few minutes, we drove off the last of the aerial menaces and took stock. Some light healing followed but as our resident bandaid informed us – we didn't have a lot healing at our disposal.

We were at the wreckage site now and while we were tending to our tired and somewhat stabbed ponies – the group checked out the area. The attack had occurred from outside the slaver's wagons and it took down everything here. The larder boxes had been opened with strength and claw and there were no definitive signs of anyone around.

And then we heard an approaching screaming voice.

Karis rode towards the sounds where there was a frantic human, suffering from stirge wounds and missing part of his left hand, racing over the rocks and slipping on loose shale in order to make it to the party. Behind it was a 9' tall, thin green skinned, greasy black haired monster with long clawed hands that dragged along the ground. And it was gaining. Puck and Gwyn took up positions and fired crossbow bolts – striking the creature and staggering it. But it kept coming. A second volley followed and then it was on us and Karis began hacking at it with his greatsword. Meanwhile the strange man ran behind the wagon and threatened and cajoled the kobold women to part with one of their purloined orcish belt knives.

Just as the first creature went down, a second one appeared; this one with 3/4ths of a body slung across its shoulders and shouting "FRESSSHH MEATSSS!" before storming towards us. Karis lifted one of the ballista bolts and using it as an impromptu lance, attacked the charging beast. His lance broke but his war horse mowed the enemy down and stomped on its head in the process.

The group convened in its fight at the troll, hacking and chopping, and tearing. But it was fighting back as well causing serious wounds to Smokey and Karis and forcing Detheron to call upon Frey's will to keep them alive. Even Fodder got a bad wound, the poor dog tossed aside. Just as the 2nd troll was about to die, the FIRST troll (the one that Karis had cloven it's left arm from its body – yeah, that one) began to move. It reached over and dragged its severed limb closer and Zoltan was horrified to see it reattach its arm to its body. Ewww. And damn.

Poison and crossbows took out the two trolls and the group then hacked the dead trolls into pieces. Lots of pieces. And threw the pieces all over the area. While they were doing that and Detheron was tending to the wounded, we heard from the frightened human who had come to us (and fought against the troll) about who he was and where he came from.

His name was Lars and he was a teamster for the slaver organization known as "Silken Bindings". They were fleeing the assault on Fulgore Keep as was everyone yesterday, trying to put some ground between them and whatever was assaulting the place. One of the ponies threw a shoe and split her hoof and they were holed up here while Duncan, their headman, took care of the animal. None of the other troupes were willing to stop and help and there was some talk that all the traffic had drawn the attention of the trolls. They rested during the night and woke next day, letting the stock (slaves) out and stretching their legs. Duncan was working on the pony and when he was done – called for the group to gather up and get ready to go.

Pahal (one of the slavers) was missing so they looked for him. When they found him near here, he was covered with a half dozen of those blood drinking birds. Tried to drive them off then Duncan yelled and the three slaves were shouting. Ran back and there were 4 of those trolls tearing the wagon apart and ruining the place. Duncan was torn open and they began eating his guts. Lars ran along with Milus and Bors (two other slavers) and the trolls gave chase. Lars slipped into a shallow stone cave and his friends were attacked and then when he thought he was safe enough he tried to sneak back and stumbled into 3 of those stirges who attacked him.

Lars ran and ran and a troll caught him briefly and tore two of his fingers free but he shoved his sword into the monsters throat and took off hoping to find at least one of the ponies still alive so he could mount it and escape.

Finding out he was a slaver cooled the party's interest in Lars but between his begging and Karis' opinion of right/wrong – it was decided he would go back and stand trial. And as Lars had said – there were FOUR trolls. And the party only faced two. It was time to GO!!!

We made it to Crispani's Vale and the ponies were led to the water to drink while Zoltan stayed on the ridge top and kept a weather eye out. And good thing he did as he noticed a troll sneaking down slope and through the trees towards the party. He called out a warning and Karis charged uphill, a fresh lance at the ready. Lars and Detheron were rapidly relimbering the ponies to the wagons while Gwyn was readying multiple crossbows with poisoned bolts.

Karis traded blows with the troll and took some wounds for his efforts but he did seriously hurt the beast (along with Zoltan and his new cloak!) driving it into the woods. But another one arrived (number four!) and Karis was forced to deal with it. Group began firing at the one in the trees and hurting it badly, Smokey helping out where able to. Gwyn took a few solid hits from the troll but the party took the beast down and Karis' steed smashed the other trolls sternum to bits and pierced its lungs.

It was after it had died and TRIED to get up again that the group chopped these trolls into bits and Zoltan tried to burn them with his torch where able to. The pieces scattered and ponies ready, hit points pretty much in the toilet (I think Karis had three, Smokey had 13, fodder 4, and Gwyn 14) and no healing – we left the area and made as good of a time as possible.

Around 5 that evening, while watering and feeding the animals, Detheron led the group in a ceremony honoring the fallen dead and we buried Ringo – calling on Frey and other Nordic gods to aid our departed companion on his way into the afterlife. It was a touching moment and the party got a glimpse into Detheron and his piety.

Tired and without humor, we arrived at Orihalcus at 11:30 that night where we were led through the gates. A few of the stablehands helped us unload our things at our flop house and then brought the wagon and steeds back to the stable along with Karis who was going to tend to his own animal. The kobold women weren't sure who they were and thought they were slaves or prisoners but were surprised that they were told to stay here and they were neither. The group passed out and slept until late the next day (about 11 am).

We spoke with Sheriff Phozarn who wanted to verify about the kobold women. The slaver Lars was very open and honest of his crimes (which weren't many) and his company (which WERE many) and was currently in the jails below the courthouse. Sir Walter would meet with the group at 3 that afternoon. The animals would be tended to for now.

We went to the Blue and Dancing Minepick and ate and drank, Hostir (the proprietor) happy to hear of our return. Zoltan paid extra for a scented oil bath, a bather, clothes cleaned, a haircut, and the best food/drink he could get.

We finished up our personal lists of things (very short list) we wanted to get done and then went to speak with Sir Walter where Karis gave the Orihalcan nobleman a truncated reporting of what we had done. There was some haggling and deal making that followed.

The seals would be turned over to Sir Walter and he would find out from Count Cedric what to do with them.
There food stores still at Fulgore Keep were described as well as the new larder code (666) and the party told Sir Walter not only how to get there (map) but to go get what was left soon.
The Ballistas were gifted to Orihalcus.
Lars would stand trial.
Kobold women would stay under the party's protection and Sir Walter oked it.
Three of the ponies were to be donated to the Greengrocer Coalition/Frau Gail.
Stabling fees for the other two ponies/warhorse would be added to the party's remaining bondsmanship agreement as payment for the information regarding Fulgore keep/food stores there.
Kalt is still in town. Sir Walter didn't seem happy about it.
Two bugbears have been seen skulking around – one of them most likely Arnax (has one leg).
The party paid the 10% fee to Sir Walter to cover for the adventuring guild charter.

And that was about where we left it. We went back to our home and split up our remaining money amongst ourselves and talked about what we have and what's to follow next.

Xp was handled REAL fast and the party had enough to go up (some of us JUST enough to go up – my gift to Puck and Gwyn!!).

Adventures. The party has just hit 4th level – and from here on out, there will be a larger disparity in the raising of levels. Each adventure would have to be LONGER if the party expected to go up each time so there will be some natural lulls and breaks in the action where we are at town or wherever and we will not be going up in level. Also some of the party might be going up, while others aren't.

Meet 15, Adv 3, 1/26/08

The party was very pumped up for this meeting and even though there was much running around and combat and fire - there was also a decent amount of planning and the group came together in many places to bring it to its conclusion.

As a DM, I could not have been prouder.

Write up follows:

We picked up the game right where we left off. The fight ensued with Karis charging towards the rest of the party to repel upcoming orcs, while Zoltan and Detheron finished strapping Ringo to the druid's pack. The one orc who came up the stairs was set upon by Gwyn, Puck, and the charmed orcish wizard Nyrex helping as well. The Castellan's voice roared from below to get up there but the grease fire was still too high and dangerous for any other orcs to climb.

And once that one was taken care of, Puck greased the BACK half of the steps – setting them ablaze as well. The orcs gnashed and cried and screamed but gave ground grudgingly – giving the party a moment's reprieve in order to come up with a cunning plan.

Zoltan was loading his bags with whatever paperwork he could glean from the boxes, not reading them, merely taking – on the off chance we were unable to reclaim the boxes. The sounds of the orcs on the lower floor was getting quieter and quieter until the group realized that there must have been some change in the orcs' tactics.

And change is not always good.

Group was going back and forth over the merits of using one of the Blessed Bolts of Sutur – not really knowing what, if anything, it could do. Is it effective against one foe? Numerous foes? Karis had skimmed through the priest's papers and according to the documents - there were supposedly 10 of the bolts at one time. We have 4. Where are the other 6?

We needed to get to a good place for us to hold up and it was decided that we should make it for the 1st floor and stand ground there. And then we heard the sound of crumpling wood and shattering timbers.

From above.

The orcs (maybe with, maybe without the Castellan) had run OUT of the keep, up one of the guard towers, and CROSSED to the area on top of the keep proper. Nyrex informed us that there was a walkway to affect such a crossing as it was only 20 odd feet. Crap.

Group ran into battle formation with Gwyn and Karis taking position at the area between the bottom of the stairs to the third floor and the top of the stairs to the first floor. Nyrex joined them and the three of them threw their dwindling precious flasks of oil on the steps, coating them thoroughly. Puck prepped the fire source. Detheron ran as fast as he could, Smokey following. Fodder was ordered to stay behind with Zoltan and guard him – the weary bardic/thief staggering around since his near death experience.

And then they came.

The first orc hit the clearing and threw his hand axe – catching Gwyn in the midsection and staggering the stoic dwarf. But the oil was ignited and flames ONCE again paused the now horribly incensed orcs. Two more were shoved through the flames and they ran as best they could – trying to clear the party out of the way. The first one leapt down six steps – his momentum carrying him into Gwyn. The dwarf staggered, slipped, and FELL down the next flight of stairs, grappling with the orc the entire way. He twisted and shoved off the walls and steps as they fell, twisting the two of them so that the orc took the brunt of the fall and smashed his neck and head at one of the corners where the stairs turned.

Another one tried to do that to Karis but the half ogre stopped the orc cold with his out thrust shield and hacked the creature in two. The group was massed at the top of the stairs while Karis tried to take out the last orc – the cavalier shouting for the group to get down. And it was a good thing too, because Gwyn was in trouble.

As the bottom of the stairs on the first floor was a clearing/landing to the basement – as well as the main defensive heart of the keep proper. The area had three orcs there with crossbows – and then three more orcs with axes and broadswords, AND then an orc clad in leather and wearing some sort of ceremonial garb that was dyed red and covered in flame designs – the keep's priest. Before the dwarf could react – he was struck with three quarrels and knocked flat – ducking behind the dead orc for cover – the wind knocked out of him. The priest called upon his god and Gwyn was suddenly filled with an uncontrollable and unreasonable fear. Sobbing and crying – the dwarf painfully tried to crawl away from the foes and down the next set of steps to the basement.

Puck came down the steps first – and FINALLY using his readied crossbow and Blessed Bolt – he turned the corner and raised his weapon to fire. An unseen wind scented with sulfur emerged from behind him while a low moan rose in a crescendo – the vibrations setting teeth to chatter and the stones to move. The quarrel seemed to burst into flame and then the trigger fired.

It was an inferno.

A blast of flame burst free like the finger of god – snarling across the chamber unimpeded as it blew through two of the archers, immolating them instantly – continuing on it barreled through the three next orcs without pausing, consuming them. It washed over Grgich the priest long enough for him to scream as he was melted and seared away. The fire bolt continued on until it hit the keep's doors and exploded through them – even further going across the courtyard and blasting into the barbican – tearing through two of the closed portcullis before it expired.

Puck's crossbow was a burned and broken mess – the weapon useless and hot to the touch. The group was stunned – never before had any of them ever seen or heard about such destruction on any level. And as was said at that time – where were the OTHER 6 blessed bolts? And what if – what if it was used against them?

The party tried to give chase after Gwyn who was still running away. Karis meanwhile ran into the nearest room and took out two straw mattresses and tossed them onto the base of the third floor steps to keep the fires going before running after the party.

However – we had a glitch here. Zoltan could NOT keep up with the group – he was sucking wind and tired and aching and not doing well – and being mostly useless in a fight he was going to be a hindrance to the group. So back before the entire group actually began fighting on the second floor with the first thrown flasks of oil – our intrepid thief went back into the privy – faithful Fodder following along – his last command being adhered to as guard Zoltan.

He eased himself back into the foul privy hole, crawled through the filth, and tried to lower himself down the shaft but lost his grip – rolling to absorb some of the damage but still hurt and tired at the bottom of the drain. Fodder followed – the dog hurt too on the landing.

Once there – he went to the drain that lead to the kitchen and poked his head OUT of the sink – seeing the orcish kitchen closed and empty. He crawled out, tired and filthy – and helped Fodder out as well. It looked like whatever orcs were in here once before had moved on and had left the food they were preparing alone.

Back to the main group. Gwyn ran full of fear into the waiting graces of TWO orcs standing guard in front of a reinforced door; the two of them stabbing at the frantic dwarf. The rest of the party ran up – struggling to take the fight OUT of Gwyn's tired hands and save the group's fighter. It was a serious struggle and it was made more so when Gwyn was breaking away and ran down the crosshall further into the dungeon. Nyrex tossed a thirty foot length of rope at one of the guards and then cast animate rope on it – the coils tying around the surprised guard and incapacitating him.

The group got to Gwyn at last who was doubling back after finding the storeroom and the wine/ale cellar – and a guard dog. Detheron filled the dwarf with courage and the magical fear abated while Karis took down the last orc. They quickly gave the area a once over and Nyrex told them that the door they found here was the vault – but the Castellan has the code (three levers marked with numbers 1-6 on each). The group told Nyrex (asked – poor charm person) to set the levers in the order they said (451, scrawled in the Castellan’s room on the 3rd floor) before trying the turnbuckle to open the door.

Now to go back to Zoltan who had donned an orcish apron from the kitchen, took a hunk of meat, a cleaver – and then drank his potion of ugliness. No mirror was there but from what he could see of himself he was covered in red and brown scaled skin and pox marks and must be hideous to behold. He then entered the hallway and worked his way towards the sound of commotion and the mid area of the 1st floor. A few VERY burned dead bodies were here as well as a scoured scorched mark that ran in a straight line from the base of the steps, across the room, out the busted doors, and to the fire blackened barbican.

Fire and dead bodies? Yep – the party must have passed through here. Chuckle.

A strange orc armed with a long poignard came out of a closed room and made pantomiming hissing motions and noises at Zoltan who in his ugly state – passed quite well for an orc. The strange orc pointed DOWN the stairs and made stabbing motions and the thief nodded and said sure – the party must be down there – let's go kill them. The other orc was dressed as a scullery and had apparently had his tongue torn out long ago – leaving him unable to speak but capable of hissing a great deal. Zoltan motioned for the other orc to go first.

And when he did – the thief struck. The two of them tumbled down the steps towards the party, kicking and biting and snarling and choking each other. The group gave up their attempt to open the door and took in the strange sight. Two orcs – one really hideous – apparently cook and cleaner – were having a knife fight on the floor while Fodder was barking and snarling and trying to bite one or maybe both of their ankles. What the hell?

Zoltan began singing one of his bardic songs while the other one seeing the party coming close to battle sprang almost straight off the prone thief and punch kicked both Karis and Gwyn in the face. Who the hell was this guy? The lone orc displayed a dazzling number of flips and kicks and punches that had the group surprised in the ferocity as well as the skill. Puck, now using Gwyn's crossbow, tried to shoot the leaping orc but the arrow that would have critically torn out the humanoid's throat was kicked aside at the last moment.

It was a difficult struggle and Nyrex' last spell – an urge to cough – was rebuffed. Another crossbow bolt was knocked aside and then the orcish monk tore Karis' sword from his grasp and threw it behind him. Zoltan grabbed the tossed sword and hurled it over the monk's head and sadly on a botched throw, INTO Karis, however effectively rearming the half ogre. A fear spell hit the orc who then turned and ran – getting a few hits on his back as he fled.

Zoltan (now identified as such) got some ribbing for his ugliness, but as he said "what happened to getting back together on the first floor? I was there! Where were you guys?" Detheron was trying to get the lone dog to be his buddy and the group had Nyrex open the sealed door with the combo 451. It opened – and we looked in.

Left side was all long abandoned equipment such as helms, shields, and armor – all for ogre sized humanoids. Right side had a series of 10x10 cells and the group could hear some moaning within. And they could also hear the sound of the Castellan and the orcs getting closer.

It was time to do this. Zoltan prepped the stairs coming down the basement with two flasks of oil and set it ablaze – giving the party a few minutes tops to find what they needed and move on. Karis went to one of the cells where there was noises and opened it – having three frantic and terrified kobold women come out. They were frightened and would not leave Karis alone saying he came back to save them. And then the party realized this was the SAME three kobold women that they liberated from Kuluk's harem that were not welcome in Orihalcus…OR in the bugbear clanholdings of Drywood. Whoa!

Group realized they were going to have to make a stand – and this was the place. Gwyn was hit with the party's last possible cure light wounds – and Karis was touched with the 6th charge of Heimdall's Bulwark. At this point – we have NO idea if the staff with ever work again. Some cells were looked in, but so far no magic sword or treasures. Gwyn informed us that there were no weapons – just defensive equipment. Grabbed two tower shields and set them up near the door.

Group got into battle formation and some of the last oil was set at the furthest area of the corridor near where the stairs came down. Zoltan continued to check over the cells and the party was ready – and the orcs came. The oil was set alight with a thrown torch and Karis and Gwyn held the door as more orcs burned. Castellan was fierce – roaring to ignore the fire and kill them.

A few rounds passed and the group was doing what they could to keep the orcs from closing and it was working – until there was a flash of fabric on the far corner of the room and Volvent – the same orcish assassin with the blinking cloak they fought earlier snapped INTO the room from seemingly nowhere and threw a pair of poisoned daggers at Gwyn.

The dwarf went down instantly and it was Karis manning the door by himself. Detheron tried to drag the dwarf to safety and ordered Smokey to attack the approaching orcs and Fodder to attack Volvent. Puck ran into the fight as well, knife flashing as he and Fodder attacked the assassin. Nyrex donned the fallen tower shield and with hand axe out – tried to help Karis and Smokey at the front door.

Volvent tried to escape the room but Fodder and Puck prevented him from flashing his cloak around himself and the command of "eat balls" to the snarling wolfkin was given by the angry druid who had administered an antidote to the weary dwarf.

Karis cut down another orc and then he was worried – a lone archer was running AWAY from the party down the hall and the command to "Clear way!" was being given. And the party heard the rising moan and wind that prefaced one of the Blessed Bolts of Sutur. Damn it.

Karis made a snap decision and abandoned his tower shield and TRIED to shut the heavy reinforced door in time while shouting to get away get away. But the bolt fired and a single tongue of flame scoured the hallway clear and blasted the door off the hinges – killing Karis, Smokey – and immolating Nyrex. The devastation was incredible and the party had to act NOW.

Gwyn lurched to his feet and slammed the reinforced door closed – burning his hands in the process. Detheron, feeling very overwhelmed, prayed for a miracle and pressed his staff into Karis once more. The Heimdall's Bulwark fired off one more time – larger than anything the group had experienced. The last power of the staff healed everyone within 15' of Detheron 20 hit points as well as erected a rainbow ward in the hallway beyond the closed door. But that was it – the staff was spent. Deth's going to need to find a place or someone who knows how to recharge such an item.

Fodder and Puck finished off Volvent and searched him over. More poison – the damned cloak – and ho ho ho! ANOTHER Blessed Bolt of Sutur!

Karis and Smokey alive once more but very low on hit points rejoined the group who came up with a daring plan to slow down the Castellan and his orcs. They looked at the lever combination on the back of the door and changed the right combo to something other than 451. The group had ONE crossbow left – and four Blessed bolts. It was time to take out the Castellan no matter what.

After a few minutes the ward from the Bulwark faded and the orcs were beating at the door to get in. They heard the Castellan take over and put in what he thought was the right combination – and then the Ogre was howling and screaming as his body was pierced again and again from spears in the walls. He was frantic and shouting and terrible as he tried to burst the door open with his war axe and calling for blood.

Wait. The Castellan is FIRST on the other side of the door? And wounded?

Puck readied the last crossbow with a Blessed Bolt and Karis and Gwyn each grabbed one of the two doors and the group watched and waited – and then the lock was opened and the doors pulled wide.

And Puck fired.

Rising moan and wind and flames and then a roaring bolt of god-borne fire tore down the TIGHTLY packed hallway with some fifteen odd orcs AND the Castellan. Most of the lesser beings were blown away and vaporized but the mighty ogre took the lion's share of the firebolt and died horribly from his wounds.

And the last orcs in the tower who saw the devastation and the death of the Castellan finally lost their nerve and ran.

The Keep emptied and it was a good thing as the party had no reserves left. Hit points were very low – Karis and Zoltan and Smokey were suffering from mortal wounds, the party had the beginnings of fever from the infected wounds from the privy crawl they had and the struggles since that time. There were no spells left to both druid and sorcerer, and the healing staff was exhausted.

But they won.

In total – the party killed 41 of the Keep's contingent of 55 orcs as well as the one Ogre. The remaining 14 fled taking what they could with them. The slavers – warned over an hour ago of the attack in the keep from the three organizations that were within at the start of the combat (one being the Lycos Suns) as well as the sounds of fighting and smoke and fire and whatnot from the keep – broke their encampment down as fast as possible and ran for the hills – taking their slaves and goods with them.

The party locked the front door and last remaining portcullis in the barbican and positioned the fake guard from tower three on the front wall with the Castellan's head on a spear. And they rested. No one came during the night and the group woke up the next morning and gave the keep a once over.

Found 5 mountain ponies and the Castellan's steed as well as two heavy carts that could be cobbled together to make one working one, but it would take time and both Gwyn and Zoltan would need to spend hours on it. Puck and Gwyn gave the place a once over and found replacement crossbows – orcish made but more than serviceable – in fact there were 10 extra! Whoohoo. Karis was dismantling the two ballistaes from the room and were taking them with us – as well as the three chests of treasure we found in the basement, the enchanted sword "Deathknell" and it's sheath, the records from the slavers, everything else we've found so far, about 550 quarrels, and 10 odd bottles of the best wine.

Karis tried to break the Castellan's warhorse and got beat up and thrown around a bunch to the group's amusement and…wait for it…DETHERON'S FIRST TIME USE OF SPEAK WITH ANIMALS!!! Whoo hoo!! Good for him!! Hooray! We had a great time listening to the world from the horse's point of view – the pony's point of view – heck even Smokey's point of view! ;)

Zoltan painted the symbol of the adventuring party on the wall of the keep in big characters (like Zorro) and about 1:30 in the afternoon on Firemonth the 3rd – the party rode away (well – Karis rode – the party walked behind the cart that Deth and Zoltan were teamstering) from Fulgore Keep and on the long way (2 days) back towards Orihalcus.

Great job everyone, really. I know it was hard and dicey and questionable at some places – but it was a great job by everyone. Really did an ass kicking job (as evidenced by the xp awarded this day!). Adventure SEEMS to be over – but it's not. :) But until it is – the group did really good and you should all be proud of yourselves.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Meet 14, Adv 3, 1/19/08


The group hadn't met for two weeks and there was many emails about the "fight in the privy" that we had left at. In addition, Mike, the person who played Zoltan the thief/bard, was not here either.

The group had already had a love of setting things on fire, and let's be honest, most early D&D groups resort to oil and torch at low levels to help maximize damage and get an edge. But I had to admit, the group really pulled it all together and surprisingly for this meeting AND the next, they used the fire to their advantage to funnel, guide, and set the tone and pace of the fighting in Fulgore Keep to their advantage.

Plus they found their most favorite weapons: Blessed Bolts of Sutur. Good times.

Write up follows:

It is Firemonth the 2nd, some time around 8:30 PM when we retreated to the dubious safety of the privy in Fulgore Keep - the rainbow shielding of Heimdall's Bulwark the only thing keeping the Castellan's orcish forces at bay and from overrunning us.

Zoltan is badly wounded and unconscious, Karis is beaten and hurt, Smokey the bear (as he was finally dubbed) is covered with numerous fine wounds, and Detheron and Puck have used quite a bit of their finite number of spells. The party is covered in drying fecal matter and other filth and there is a despondency that is infusing the group that maybe this is beyond their skills.

Hastily the group pooled their resources and ideas are thrown out with rapid fire acumen until we have a defined and specific goal - GET OUT OF THE PRIVY AND CARRY THE FIGHT TO THE ORCS.

Zoltan is hit with Detheron's staff - snapping the comatose thief awake and closing most of the horrendous wounds across his form. He staggers to his feet, but being so close to death, he will be useless in the upcoming fights and is given only simple tasks to do while he shuffles behind the group. Karis draws his war axe and turning to the plastered wall of the privy along the east side, begins hacking at the interior wall with his great strength in order to carve us a second way out of the lavatory.

Gwynhywver takes one of the last two oil lamps from the privy wall and readies himself to throw it on the prepared oil soaked carpet in the hall but the Castellan's wizard summons a small cloud of stinging gnats to appear and they surround Gwyn's face, choking the dwarf is struggles to escape them. In his haste, he drops the oil lamp which now spreads a small burning pile IN the privy. Damn - that can't be good. The dwarf staggers blindly to the shower and washes most of the gnats away.

Zoltan tiredly splashes his waterskin on the small fire, diluting the oil and eventually putting it out and Puck has a scroll given to him from Detheron which should take the mage out of business. The Castellan is ordering his forces forward but the rainbow ward is still holding.

The plaster coating is torn away revealing planked wood beneath which Karis continues his assault on and Detheron then heals the half ogre with another precious use of Heimdall's Bulwark. Puck reads the words from the scroll and he casts his spell NOT on the orcish wizard - but on one of the wizards' retinue instead - silence 15' radius. The wizard’s chanting is silenced instantly - and half the orcs are yelling but nothing comes out. The mage disheartened retreats, his retinue coming with him. Part of the hall is clear.

Gwyn grabs one of the orc’s thrown axes from the floor and helps Karis hack at the interior wall - the two of them breaking into the next chamber. Detheron calls upon Frey and an unnatural cloud of mist pushes from his fingers into the hall, filling most of the area with seeming vapors and killing vision beyond a few feet. The Castellan is going nuts ordering his people to retreat and regroup. And then Zoltan sets the carpet on fire with the last oil lamp in the lavatory and the hallway is ablaze.

We push into the next chamber - a sleeping room where five persons could rest if need be. We ignore most of the interior and emerge into the hall, Karis leading the way. The hall here is now mostly clear except for two orcs in chain with longspears guarding the stairs further down the hall. The half-ogre roars out a challenge and charges to the attack. Gwyn comes next, following close behind Karis.

The rest of the group follows - the hall behind them is cherry red in the roiling mist and the crackle of spreading flames as it crawls across the carpet drowns out any sounds the Castellan might be making. There are a number of doors between where they are and where Karis is and the group carefully checks them out one after the other.

And within one of them comes an orc with filed teeth and a short sword, hoping to skewer Karis from behind - but Smokey lurches forward and rips the orc's back to ribbons. The orc staggers a moment and then flips his cloak around him which surrounds his body and draws in - until he DISAPPEARS! Smokey rips through the air - but there is no one there! Detheron goes into the room the orc came out of with his two animals and sees another one there - dressed similarly - who throws a pair of daggers at the druid's head. Both miss - barely - but they come close enough for Deth to recognize the scent of an herbalistic poison on the flashing blades.

The battle in the hall continues against the two guards and then there is a flash and the orc with the cloak reappears on the other side of the fight! He is hit almost instantly by Puck's magic and his vision gets screwed up. Between Smokey, Fodder, and Detheron - the last orc in the room is getting beaten badly and eventually dies. Puck spell blasts the cloak wearing orc again and he staggers around and then falls down the stairs. Group finishes off the last two orc guards and have a choice - go down stairs, go up stairs, or check out the last three doors on this floor. The fire is crawling behind them - roughly 5' every minute so going back they way they came is not an option and they are running out of time to bicker and decide. There is talk about "what next" and frankly - group admits they didn't think ANYTHING past the "get out of the privy" problem as that was kind of the pressing thing on their mind.

They need to get the records and most likely they think it’s in the room where the Castellan came out of. Karis suggests we go forward and try the double door at the end as it MIGHT lead us back around since the Keep is square shaped. The party checks out the last two rooms other than the double door (more sleeping chambers - one of them where the femal orcish warriors sleep - and yes, they quickly took the perfume and clothes). But Karis found the last chamber to not be another hall - but a small temple to Sutur - the Jotun god of fire and rage.

Unholy pictograms were on the wall and there was an altar, statue, and a few thin pews. A curtain cordoned off the back of the temple and Karis ripped it down - revealing a nave where the priest most likely lived and slept. A desk with a par of drawers was here and Karis had to smash and shake them until the wooden stays snapped. He grabbed a pile of the priest's paperwork, a trio of silver candelabras - and THREE potions! One marked healing - the other two marked draughts. Alright! He drank the healing one now and tucked the other two draughts into his pouches for later.

The fire was much closer now and the heat was growing - party had to go UPSTAIRS or DOWN. They chose up - but not until Karis smashed the Sutur altar to bits and set the curtain and bedding in the room on fire. Take that Orcs!

Party went upstairs where they encountered a lone guard who set his spear and tried to shove Gwyn down the stairs, but the sturdy dwarf refused to budge - holding his ground. Karis was able to get close enough and the orc went down after that. They were in a wide area with some couches and tables and cards and checker boards - orcish lounge maybe? But there was another hall here with 3 doors on each side AND a double door at the end. The group HEARD a door slam down the hall - but not sure which one it was.

Karis charged down the hall to the double door - ignoring the other 6, but the group went slower and didn't want to be caught between orcs again so opened the first door - and WHAM - Gwyn took a hand axe to the chest. Damn it! Orc came out and tried to SPIN the dwarf into the room to make short work of him (haha - short - dwarf - punny! Bah - I'm not a bard - ask Zoltan for jokes) but the dwarf instead grabbed the orc and spun IT out into the hallway! Surrounded by his friends - the orc was cut down quickly. Another one emerged from another room but the group was ready for it and it was taken down too.

With now four doors checked and no other orcs in here - group continued on with THREE choices left: Double door - door on right at end of hall, or door on left at end of hall. And ONE of them made a slamming noise - so there is something down here. Party chooses "right" and we go in. Much larger chamber - obviously after a moment looking it is the Castellan's private chamber. Group fans out and begins searching it.

We find no real treasure at first - but some things of note. Paperwork about something called Raven's Perch Demesne - which doesn't sound like anyplace the group knows of. Clothing and boots that are real nice and ogrish sized (Karis gets a wardrobe enhancement!), the armoire has what is thought of as a hair shirt - but is actually 6 dwarven beards skinned and stitched together, a large brass key, and on the desk carved into the wood is the numbers "451". But it was behind the couch that Karis and Gwyn find the biggie - an iron potion box with two potions: Regeneration and Restored Health. Nice find.

We decide we are done here and the middle door is locked (maybe the key we have?) but we want to take care of the Left door next - so Karis opens it and is hit full in the face with a spell bolt - that has him suddenly laughing and laughing and laughing uncontrollably. Unable to defend himself - the two orcs drag him into the room and he is stuck with a spear in the abdomen. The fight begins. Orc on one side chops his scimitar into Karis, another one axes him badly. Karis can't defend himself, laughing all over the place - he is losing hit points fast. Smokey comes in and engages one of the orcs and Puck forces the Kuluk ring to life - pain bolting the oricsh wizard. Wizard drops and can't cast spells.

Gwyn charges in and takes on another orc - leaving still one of them to stab Karis again. Karis is getting his laughter under control and the spell is ending. Detheron heals the half ogre (another precious use of the staff - we have now used it 5 times) and Puck is struggling to get into the room fast enough.

Fight takes down another orc, then one more - Gwyn and Smokey taking some wounds from the battle. But then Karis is no longer laughing and beats the crap out of the last orc with the spear. Puck throws his AC to the wind and charges the orcish wizard - getting punched in the face for his efforts - but lays his hands on the orc and SUCKS a spell from his memory! Way to go spellthief! Group is like - WTF is that!?!? And Puck was all proud - ha has stolen a spell from the wizard - and it is Charm person. :) And he HAS to use it next round!

Karis offered to smack the wizard on the skull to knock him out and Puck is shouting “don't kill him, don't kill him” - and the orc is trying to get some room to cast his OWN spell - but Karis fumbles and smashes his face on the ground, stunning himself for a few minutes and Puck goes first and the wizard gets a face full of "charm person" - and suddenly Nyrex is Puck's long lost friend. :)

We get lots of information from the talkative orc wizard:
* A number of kobolds were captured near here, are in dungeon, and talked to Castellan about some slaver named "thudor?" from some organization that spoke of Fulgore Keep and was captured and taken by manlings.
* The double doors is the Castellan's seal room - where he keeps slaver records as well as dozens of bronze seals he uses to make illegal slave documentation. He has the only key though - it's either on him or in his room.
* Treasure? It's in the dungeon! Castellan has the code though - won't tell anyone it. There is a magic sword down there though.
* My spell books? Sure - here they are! Enjoy.
* I don't have potions - but the priest Grgich might in his temple (we already got them).
* Magic items? A few throughout the keep - but the best would be the "Blessed Bolts of Sutur" which the keep assassin's have - two orcs named Makles and Volvent. One of them also has a magic cloak. Hmmm - we've met them!
* Here's all my stuff on herbology - you can have it. :)
* Sure I'll come with you - what are friends for?

We ransack the Seal room and take about 180 seals from all over Sedaria of towns, guilds, organizations - everything the Castellan uses to facilitate illegal slave trading. The records are not here - most likely in the conference room on level two that we couldn't get to.

It's time to go back down (there was talk of holing up here and resting quietly - but it is discarded as too dangerous). Group wants to go for treasure and magic sword - Detheron wants to go for Ringo's body. There is rapid discussion and we decide - Ringo's body and records FIRST. Then treasure and Castellan's heart if time afterwards.

The 2nd floor fire is now out and the plaster is hot but not exploding. Hall is empty - noises downstairs, and a few orcs at the end of the other leg of the "L" where the conference room is. We use Nyrex, the orc wizard, as a diversion to sucker one orc towards us and the group takes him out - but 4 others come after us and one of them blows his horn - which alerts the orcs on the FIRST floor. Fuck - we're screwed again maybe?

Not at all! We have found the 4 Blessed Bolts of Sutur and both Gwyn and Puck have two - Nyrex has "greased" the stairs, and Detheron and Karis and the animals take out the last of the orcs swiftly. Ringo's body is found, lashed to Detheron's pack - Karis finds LOTS of records - but it is TOO much for us to take. So decide to leave it for now and finish the Castellan off and then walk out safely with them

Orcs are coming up the stairs but it is not easy with greased steps and then the grease is ignited and the fire (it always comes down to fire!) spreads and the first orc is at our position.

We are BACK on the second floor- with lots of orcs ready to charge us- but this time we are in a better position and ready for it - plus we've killed 12-18 of the orcs already and are still holding our own. Biggest threat? Castellan and the Orcish Priest.

That was where we left it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Meet 13, Adv 3, 1/5/08

The party had been frustrated last meeting as it seemed there was not enough information for them to get the Lycos Suns (the slaver organization that originally captured them) and exact vengeance. Plus I was not making it easy for them to just waltz around and do what they wanted.

So they hatched the idea of infiltrating the Keep itself which had a number of possible ways in - none of them wonderful. So they settled on sneaking in through the midden - where the waste comes OUT of the keep.

I want to think that this meeting was a memorable one and I often think back on this meeting and the one that followed as one of the high points of the campaign.

Write up follows:

It was around 2:30 on Firemonth the 2nd, and the party was sitting on the lee side of one of the low slopes around the slaver encampment and Fulgore Keep - discussing their options and ultimately what their goals and next course of action was going to be. Many things were tossed out and eventually the group settled on the idea of scouting out the Keep and seeing if there was some potential way inside.

Outer walls of the keep were about 30' tall, towers closer to 45'. There seemed to be some activity on the ramparts but no one had really spent the time to spot or plot it out. Detheron also mentioned that there was a well near the exterior of the Keep's cleared land and no orcs were ever seen coming out to get any water - so potentially there was a well inside also. And that they might share a common source. Also the Keep's proximity to the wall of the ravine was a matter of interest and there was talk about either a bolt-hole escape or waste midden.

Group broke up into 3: Detheron and Gwyn would go to the well and check it out, Puck would wander around town as close as he could to the fence line and observe the Keep and the local orcs patrols, and Zoltan and Karis would go into the hills and check out the ravine to see if there was some feasible way they could use that landscape.

Detheron and Gwyn spoke with a well guard - an older human with a ramshackle halberd composed of a tied off axe to a pole, who was a bit "country" and took his time guarding the well as serious. There were 3 other slavers here passing time - under orders to remain at the well since their idea of a good time invariable meant going to Chum's and getting laid and drunk until they needed to be carried away on a litter when their organization left town. They were talkative and humorous and made life a little difficult for the druid, his animals, and the dwarf (actually charging Detheron a brass bit for insurance purposes to tie a rope to his waist). Well was deep - very deep - couple of hundred as evidenced by tossed stones. also, about 8' down from the well lip was a metallic rung stapled into the wall - and one below that, and below that and below that. There was no winch to draw up buckets - needed to just do it hand over hand. May have been one at one time but it wasn't here now. There was an altercation with a lit pipe and playing keep away with Gwyn but the matter was passed and the two of them (plus animals) moved on.

Puck was checking out the Keep itself - staying in the alleys as provided by the tents and wooden structures for cover - switching his postion about once every fifteen minutes. With the exception of one altercation where a paranoid slaver came out and mentioned that he "knew" who Puck was here for, "that fat scheming bitch and her lover hired you as an assassin to come up here and kill me so she can get rid of me, huh, well get out of here, go, and tell that no good wife of mine I'm going to get back to Ponyboro and kill her first!" - he was able to watch the Keep for some time to gather some crucial information. Each tower had one orc manning it, the top of the barbican had two ballistae's being tended to by 4 orcs, and there were two more orcs walking picket across the ramparts. The two orcs walking were very lax in their patrols - often stopping to shoot the breeze or dilly dally - making a single circlet every 30 minutes or so. It did seem though, that the "guard" in the North East tower (the one pretty much right on the edge of the ravine's edge) never moved from his spot. At all. Wondering if he/it was even real or a "scarecrow" in armor propped up.

Zoltan and Karis wandered west of the camp and gave the ravine a good once over. Easily 200' wde and about 450' deep - it was carved into the rock by the one time passing of the Copper Bottom River - a major water source that flowed from west of here fifty years ago and wound it's way downland towards the Mastelic Ocean to the east. Something to do with the dragon attacks had stopped the water's flow and the river dried up - the ravine now called the Dry Bottom River. There were no bridges across from any side and a fairly observant search revealed no trails or easy ways down to the ravine's base far below. What they did see though that roughly in line with the back of the Keep was a protuberance of stone sticking out that seemed wet and ran sluggishly into the deep cleft of the ravine. Possibly a waste culvert as expected. The two of them then wandered to the other side of the camp and did the same - seeing nothing new or different from this side as well. With the wind blowing into them from the north they figured they had found what they could for the best and returned to the encampment.

It was 4:30 or later when the group reconvened and shared their findings - this time hatching on a new and daring plan - infiltrate the keep. There had to be records and that meant besides finding the slavers - they needed to get the records from the Castellan. Possible ways in were: the well, the waste culvert, and climb over the wall where the "fake" orc was guarding the NE tower. Some more recon needed to be done to know if the well was an option so Zoltan snapped into "sneaky" mode and went off to reinvestigate the well.

Once there he was met with the lone guard now who was waiting for the dinner bell. There would be no one to replace him - well seemed to be unguarded at night. Zoltan hatched a quick scheme about how a few years ago he had been here and had hidden a bottle of potent dwarven spirits inside the well and he was here now to claim it to help pay off some debt and he needed to get into the well. Guard was really hesitant about it until Zoltan offered to share the bottle with him and he then relented. He did something strange, digging under his padded armor he pulled out a hand made knotted and crude looking amulet with some sort of pressed hunk of wood dangling from the bottom. He was proud of it and said the Castellan himself had given it to him to do his job. Put it on Zoltan and told him to be careful.

Zoltan began climbing down. Using the rungs (which were in different stages of repair - some old, some newer) slowly he made his way into the dark gloom. At around 400' down he fired up one of his dancing lights spells and was able to see the water just below him. He sent one of the lights into the water and saw it continue down. Stealing himself, he began climbing down into the water itself. Amulet he was wearing had him surrounded with what felt like a one inch layer of air, keeping him dry from his boots on up. Holding his breath he dared to go under the water and once submerged - found he was able to breath. He check the loaned amulet and noticed that it was glowing slightly - but a thin sliver was colored dark - and the longer he stood there under water - the more the darkness piece spread across the amulet's face.

Went under the water and continued down about another 30' until he came to a cut in the stone stretching off in the direction of the keep - maybe 5' wide, 8' tall tube. Below this, the cavern opened up to a LARGE underground body of water/cistern. Checking the amulet and seeing it maybe 1/5th dark, Zoltan entered the tube and began walking slowly along the bottom, feet finding it difficult to get purchase. He went 60 odd feet or so (firing up another dancing lights spell) when he saw a shimmer of surface water ahead. He ran to it, got under it, and jumped - clearing into a 12' pocket of stale air. Sinking back down, he jumped a few more times, splashing and reaching about until he was able to get a grip on the ceiling and wall and keep his head out of the water. Checking the amulet it was about 65% dark now so he took it off and suddenly the spell was broken - and he was soaked to the skin, backpack, bags, boots, clothes and everything filled with water.

He hung there in the cold dark (spell went out again) until his hands were shaking and he slithered the amulet back on - checking it once more to see it had "recharged" to about 50%. Zoltan continued along the floor of the well towards the Keep - walking in the dark. As his amulet was getting really used up and the membrane of air was very very thin, he reached the end of the tube and a vertical wall. Fumbling around in the dark he reached all over until he came upon a metal rung in the wall. He hauled himself up one at a time, hand over hand until suddenly his head broke surface and about 400' over him was a thin circle of light. He took of the amulet and hung there exhausted until he began to climb the well.

Faint voices echoed from above strangely, orcish by their sound, maybe a pony or two as well. And then someone tossed a bucket down. It whistled past Zoltan and splashed into the water, filled and was hoisted up - chains and ropes clattering and the winch above squealing. It happened again 3 more times - Zoltan being hit hard once in the head (hooray wearing a helmet!) where he was stunned briefly and his vision knocked askew - but the drawing of water was over. He waited 10 minutes and then braved climbing some more. At the top he gingerly picked his head up and peered out the well - into the interior of Fulgore Keep.

He could see the outer walls, the inner walls, a 25' or so wide clearing, animal trough where 3 ponies were drinking, a stables with 7-9 dim stalls, two carts both in need of some repair, something that might be the smithy, and at least 3 orcs hobnobbing nearby. Figuring himself extra lucky, the thief went back down the well, tiredly put the amulet back on, and slowly slogged his way back to the original well - at one point divesting his chain mail and sword to speed up his movements and better marshal his time. Back at the original well, he came out - the well guard REALLY worried about him. Saw he was wet and Zoltan told him that he had to take the amulet off at one point. Then the thief gave the guard half of the bottle of dwarven spirits he had in his pack (in another bottle the guard had went and gotten), returned the amulet and left to rejoin the party who was wondering where the hell he'd been for the last 45-60 minutes!!

Group got their info together and decided to get a final meal at the Rusty Bucket and wait until sundown. It was discussed and the end of it the group voted that they were going to go through the waste culvert. Driys came by talking to Detheron asking him if he'd like some specific animal based ranger work stealing animals from one location and bringing them to a buyer in Ponyboro? Detheron made interested noises and the group talked for a while and then the half-ogre moved on. Then it was go time.

Party went in the dark out of the encampment to the east - wandered very close to the ravine's edge - and then worked their way under the barbed wire fence. Karis actually got on his back and using his great strength and almost ridiculous threshold against pain, pushed at the wires until they snapped off the posts and went slack. With no light (covering Ringo's glowing carapace with Detheron's baladrana) and somewhat silence - the wind whistling covering their motions - the party snuck against the wall of the keep. From there it was a careful trip around the edge of the NE tower (guard above wasn't moving or anything - was now pretty damned sure it was a fake) and then towards the back wall of the ravine's edge side of the keep.

Karis went first, checking out the waste culvert - shelf was 5' down from the edge, about 4' wide at its widest, 12' long along the ravine wall - and there was a 3' round hole drilled into the wall where all manner of midden and filth was trickling out. Orge went down, set his feet - and held out his hands to help the other party members down. Detheron cast Reduce Animal on his bear (who did NOT want to go into the muck!) and one by one - group went over the side and into the hole. It was tight in there and there was no chance on changing party order. We got fouled REAL fast - and Karis was so large he had to drag his legs behind him - further skuzzing up his body.

We crab crawled forward a bit until we came under the outer wall of the keep - and saw the area ahead of us change to about 7' tall (still 3' wide) - the "ceiling" was slatted thick oaken timbers for almost a 20' run before it went back to the 3' circular tunnel. It was gross and filthy, reeking - party then shifted marching order here - able to stand - quietly discussed maybe pushing up timbers here and going into courtyard (where we assumed he were under) but opted not to. Wanted to be INSIDE the keep - where defenses would be negated for the orcs.

Zoltan now in lead went ahead and back into the narrow muck a few more feet where it turned straight up. There was a drain hole just ahead of him that lead to a kitchen he might be able to shimmy through (but the ogre would NOT be able to fit at all) or he could keep going straight up. Zoltan braved the muck and crusted walls and back and forth, inch at a time, worked his way up the sewage pipe. He gripped a lip about 15 odd feet up and looked out at the bottom of a privy - with 12 holes used for - um, well - what you would use a latrine hole for. Two orcs were up there doing what they do - adding to the filth - and then one of them opened something up there and water filled the far hole. A mounding wave of slop and what have you moved towards Zoltan, washed over both his hand, ran down his chest, and splashed to the bottom until the water was stopped and the orcs left the bathroom.

Coast clear, Zoltan stuck his head out of one of the privy holes and looked around - getting a lay of the area. Seeing it empty, he pushed at the privy planking and it lifted away easily. Getting out of the mess and furious (I believe Zoltan said he was going to kill every filthy orc in here and shit on their corpses), he slipped his grapple into the corner near one of the pipes coming out of the ceiling and dropped his rope down the hole to his friends. Party climbed up and the bathroom area suddenly got real full. Three stall showers were here as well and Karis, Deth, and Puck fully clothed went under the pipes and opened the pepcocks to clean themselves off.

Zoltan was keeping watch down the door to a hallway painted red and white, carpeted, covered with doors - there were two orcs guarding a door down at the end - when he saw an orc saunter towards the bathroom. Crap. Literally.

He tried to silence the orc with a knife to the throat but even surprised, the orc's ring mail armor turned his kukri. He was dragged into the bathroom and between him and Gwyn, they were able to beat the orc into silence, killing him. The damage was done as the scuffle and fight attracted the attention of 3-4 other orcs who came to investigate. First one was taken down in a hail of attacks and the second one fared no better - but suddenly the doors were thrown wide and orcs began filling the hallway and one of them raised a horn to his lips and began blowing.

The two guards at the end of the hall, one of them ran into the room he was guarding where lots of noises were now heard - and the hall was choked with pressing orcs. The tight fight in the bathroom was working against Karis being able to properly use his greatsword - forced to use the weapon only as a stabbing motion which reduced his effectiveness in battle. The bear was hit with a flying hand axe and struck with arrows and spiked clubs - Karis took blows too. Group was very pressed and there were now dying and dead orcs filling the floor and useable standing room.

Detheron used Heimdall's Bulwark on his bear and the staff gave forth trumpet blasts and closed the bear's wounds easily. A flask of oil was thrown and a flaming hands spell followed, clearing the doorway briefly. Zoltan tumbled out the door and began knifing orcs in the hall. Karis came after him, pushing burned orcs out of the way as he roared out challenges. Arrows flew and he and Zoltan were hit as well. More weapons thrown and lots of melee. And then Zoltan was scimitared from the cross hallway and he went down gurgling on his own blood.

Bear was ordered to get Zoltan and the animal shoved his way into the hall, clawed the thief, and threw him crashingly behind him into the room - now the thief was at -4 and dropping faster. This was going poorly. Then another 4 count of orcs appeared from the cross hall and a set of stairs there - 3 well armored one and another waving his hands. A spell fired out and struck Karis - the charm ALMOST working on him but the half-ogre roared his frustrations and the mind shackles and controls faded away. Karis' hit points continued to wither away and Gwyn came to the front, scimitar (using Elfsplitter) slashing wildly - cutting another greenskin down. Ringo was sent forward, flying overhead to attack the bow wielder and keep him from shooting Karis anymore.

Things were stacked against us when coming out of the far room (where it had been guarded) was another SIX count of armored orcs - and a 9' tall monstrosity clad in a breastplate and hoisting a mighty war axe came into the hall. "Never before have the tread of manlings defiled the halls of Fulgore Keep! How dare you! What affrontery! I will wear your feet as a necklace for this insult!"

Karis flipped the Castellan the bird at this point. :)

Feeling desperate, one party member down, Karis dangerously low on hit points, and still 20ish orcs before them - Detheron tried to enact Heimdall's Bulwark again - this time pressing it against the half ogre - deciding that even though Zoltan was dying if the half ogre went down - they would be over run. However, this time the staff rumbled louder and a tremendous blast rocked the Keep's interior - and a flashing wall of rainbow colored light blossomed in front of Karis - blocking off the hall from the surprised orcs. They railed against the wall but it rebuffed their efforts and the party had a momentary breather.

A hasty plan of spilled oil and setting the place ablaze came up and Gwyn was throwing oil around when the orcish mage fired off a spell bolt - through the wall! It stopped weapons - not spell work! Dwarf had to fight a tremendous compulsion to drink the oil he was spilling - making his save and backing away shaken. Puck enacted Kuluk's ring - having another mental battle with the evil item - until it fired off its sickly yellow blast into the orcish mage and he dropped to the ground howling and holding his head in pain.

And we ended it here.

I am glad everyone had a great time. The party did great and should not think they did anything wrong. There are no wrong choices - only less good ones. Seriously – you did fine. Some battles will be in your favor - some will not. This is a difficult one - but it is not unwinnable. What you need to do is get OUT of the bathroom - which you were almost doing. It's just a bad placement for the party as you are being assaulted from TWO hallways - and would probably do better in just one.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Meet 12, Adv 3, 12/29/07

This meeting had the party finish the overland travel and do their first attempt at infiltrating an enemy encampment (in this case, a slaver tent city of 400 people) to get information and answers. I do not like the introduction of sense motive and intimidation and all the other "skill" check rolls that were introduced in 3rd edition and never made the adjustment to include them in my games.

Instead, I have the characters do their best to act it out. A decent Charisma goes a long way to me softening the NPC's reactions to the things the party might utter and we spent a large portion of this meeting talking and meeting the type of people that make up the slaver world.

And this was the introduction of the 500 lb gorilla. We've used this joke since then, but this was the 1st meeting where we identified it. A 500 lb gorilla is a loud and chest beating beast that DEMANDS to be noticed and gets upset that no one noticed it was here a moment ago. That is what gets whipped out when someone in the group says the worst thing at the wrong time to the least desirable people. And I believe the party was laughing because it happened a lot this night.

Role playing and the stories that come from it is often its own reward. And this meeting was one of them.

Write up follows:

After bidding Ungoth Rockholm and the other dwarves you had saved from the feral orc encampment farewell, your party reviewed the map (as provided by Thadar) and continued on your way towards finding Fulgore Keep. From Malek's Peak, you continued following the valley trails north-east, looking out for someplace known as Crispani's Vale. It was there that you discovered the location as marked by scrub junipers and scraggly pine trees sheltered from the mountainous winds in a bowl formed by three hill peaks. A natural collective of ground water and run off provided a watering hole for local fauna (wolves, foxes, goat, and rabbits according to Detheron) at which the party refilled their waterskins and rested briefly.

From here, we traveled east towards the next marker on our map - someplace referred to as Double Dagger Hills. We came to the strange location at just under an hour - two peaks which looked like at some point in the not too distant past that were once one. They were separated as if cloven by a mighty axe - the pass between them filled with broken rough edged and acrid smelling stones. Zoltan scouted the pass and felt a bit claustrophobic and uneasy - the winds blowing stray stones from far above down into the detritus he was walking in. He returned to the party and Gwyn and Detheron checked the area out as well - finding no signs of magical emanations and learning that the rocks were also pitted and scoured - not normal for this type of area according to the dwarf.

Party decided to trailblaze to the west and circle the outside of Double Dagger Hills - hoping to meet up with the pass on the other side and rejoin the map's directive. The area was dangerous and prone to sudden and uncomfortable slidings of loose stone. The rough ground played havoc with everyone and the occasional smoking crack forced the group to pick their way up and down the slope in effort to find safe passage. Eventually, after an hour or so, the party safely (barring a few stray hit points) came to the other side of the Double Dagger Hill pass and continued onward - this time looking for a single spire of stone and a pass marked off as Deep Clefts.

It was here that they were instructed to travel clockwise around the peak as going counter would have them come upon a section of the map labeled "Here be Trolls" - and after their last run in with Tnagrath in Fengarth's Tower - they felt troll-baiting was not a good idea. They walked the ravine trail - finally seeing the odd signs of passage (thrown horse-shoe, body under a cairn, stub of a torch, etc...) until arriving safely on the other side - from here it was a walk through some craggy hills and the group stopped a good 15 minutes outside of Fulgore Keep and the slaver tent city there.

Zoltan was elected to go into the town where it was planned he would come back (sneak) at 1 AM and inform the party of what he found (if anything). He walked carefully towards the city and came upon a site as detailed here:

The Keep stands like a squat toad on one side of a deep ravine, a large wall, stout gate, imposing barbican, and ready towers offering a powerful defense to anyone approaching the stronghold across the wide and cleared ground.

A tent city has been erected around the Keep; no structure closer than almost two hundred feet from the cut and mortared walls. People are milling around the canvas and wood city, going about their business as if it were market day in Orihalcus. Most of them have a hardened look about them and from what you can see, each person is armed and armored as they go about their business.

No one gives you more than a cursory glance, engaged in their efforts as it is as they go about their business. A few standards flap in the feeble breeze, banners with symbols and heraldry that is strange to you.

At that moment someone to your right clears his throat and asks, "Hail. Ye've come to Fulgore fer work or are ye just stepping through and spotting wares?"

Our scout then spent some time in Flitch's company (local that addressed him) - plying the talkative slaver with coin and beer while getting his ear bent at the Rusty Bucket. The encampment was a mix of human and half-orcish people - with a smattering of half ogre and dwarves thrown in as well. No elves (barring slaves) were visible, neither were gnomes or halflings seen. There were about three to four hundred slavers here, with about eighty slaves as well. The slaves were in different places of the tent city - property of different organizations of slavers.

Roughly twenty organizations have presence here - although as of this moment - only eleven had representatives local (one of which was Lycos Suns - the party's original captors). Zoltan scouted out the entire area and arranged room and board at the Rusty Bucket - eventually giving Flitch the slip. There were no guards, patrols, or militia. If there was any crime – there was no mention of it. The slavers know that only those that are supposed to be here would be here - and there was an open air of trust - no organization would dare do anything against anyone else. Some whispers that the Castellan and his men kept the peace through fear, intimidation, or whatever was indicated - but no one from the keep ever came and mixed with the tent city.

Zoltan went back to the group and told them of what he had learned and let them know that entering the city should be safe and easy - as no one minded anyone coming or going. Gwyn went in with Karis - after Puck went in (with a fake name) - after Zoltan went back. Detheron opted to stay out of the city seeing as he had a wolfkin, a 4' glowing firebeetle, and a 350 lb black bear.

Apparently the group also brought a 500 lb gorilla with them as they took turns passing it around the room. You know gorillas, don't you? Hulking 500 lb beasts that you just can't ignore? Larping and role playing are great fun - and with a larger group like ours – you can count on some interesting turn of phrases and events, as we found out when mouths ran on and the denizens of the tent city listened to the things we had to say. And it was great.

While in the Rusty Bucket, Puck stayed at the bar nursing an ale, Zoltan had a nice stew at a table, and Gwyn and Karis were getting something to eat. Gwyn tried to join a knife throwing contest but was rebuffed as they didn't play with "halfers or stunties". Karis tried but he was just told "no fricking way". There were some other things going on and Gwyn was accosted by a hulking half-ogre who asked him "Do you know who I am!?" and Gywn said, "No! Do you know who I am!?" And he was called out. 10' circle - 30 bronze disks - some side betting. And it was 1st guy to hit the floor or get tossed loses. Puck tried an odd distract spell but some other spell caster was boosting the ogre's reflexes. The dwarf and the half ogre fought punch for punch for punch until a lucky shot had Gwyn slam the half-ogre back and out of the circle.

Winnings in hand – they went back inside. Half ogre was named Driys and was some mid-level functionary for a slaver outfit named the Ghosts of Heroes. Was impressed with Gwyn and he and Karis were invited to spent some time with him drinking and eating and talking. Got more info on the encampment and the Keep. Slaver camps only been here about 5 years - Castellan helped set it up - leasing space to the slaver organizations. It is really needed now since Delarinn's toppling two years plus ago - it is difficult to move stock without them getting waylaid by Cedric's dragoons.

Then Gwyn invited Puck to the table - trying to be subtle. But forgot Puck's alias and invited the sorcerer over by his first name. Puck came and the group continued talking to Driys and his boys - pretending to be slavers for hire. And when Driys asked casually who Puck had done work for - the mage's mind went blank and stared at the half-ogre for a moment before blurting "Lycos Suns". Attempted to cover it up by saying it was a while ago but now the cat's out of the bag. Driys didn't seem to care about who and just yapped with the group all night. Zoltan attempted to sing a pro-slaver song about whipping and beating and the rigors of the road which got much applause.

There was some attempt to get someone with a magical earring either drunk or stoned and Puck convinced Gwyn to go and ask the person in question if he liked to smoke opium and Gwyn eventually relented and went over there and whipped out the gorilla by asking, "Say - would you like some opium?" There was a brief exchange that followed where it was hilarious but the slaver informed the dwarf that he had heard the mage and his exchange and there was no stealing here outside of Fulgore Keep and move on or wind up tossed in the ravine. Gwyn was falsely incensed and said he was going to go back to the mage and tell him how mad he was. Damned funny (yes – it seemed to be an earring of keen hearing). The group was tired by this point and went to sleep.

Detheron was awakened by Fodder during the night but the bear stayed mostly asleep - foul- temperingly waking up only when prodded repeatedly. Someone was walking in the hills and Detheron instead of letting them pass challenged "Who's out there!?" No answer. "Answer me! Who's there?" He then lit a torch - showing the bear next to him. "Tell me who you are!?"

The Voice answered and the exchange in the pitch black night followed. "Are you crazy?" "Are you!?" "What are you doing out in the hills alone at night?!" "What are you doing out here!?" "I don't have time for this." "Get away. Move on. I have a bear and I'm not afraid to use it!"

Sadly, the bear had fallen back asleep. Whoever it was had left and the next morning, Detheron decided since his cover was blown, he might as well enter the camp city. Group woke up - ate breakfast of porridge and cool beer and talked about what was to happen.

While walking the camp city, Detheron was randomly asked if he wanted work and he rudely told everyone who spoke to him to "Shut up" while making his way to the Rusty Bucket and trying to sit down - with his animal companions with him. Frankish, the proprietor - was having a conniption and tried to get Detheron to leave but the druid was playing dumb and said he wasn't going anywhere. Eventually the proprietor realized he wasn't going to shake the druid (who everyone in town thought was a ranger - and the story of the "crazy guy in the hills with the flaming bear" had already made the morning gossip rounds) and let him stay at a table near the door where Detheron made yummy noises about how damned good the food was here. Porridge!

Group wandered around - spoke to Crimson Moons, Zathar the smith, Lycos Suns, and others - some plied with opium - others just good conversation - others fumbling bits of dialogue. Learned most of the functionaries of the Lycos Suns, Obsidian Feathers, and Crimson Moons were inside the Keep on orders of the Castellan and have been there for two days. Something is going on. Not normal. A name like "Yohanis" was mentioned as the local boss of the Lycos Suns for here (not Vanir - most likely a subordinate). Also - Keep is an Ogrish/Orcish keep - and was never a Sedarin Keep - which is why no one had ever heard of it. The ravine was once called the Copper Bottom River - but was now dry - and had been so since the dragon attacks at the end of the Ogre/Orcish war 50 years ago. Ravine was 200' wide and about 450' deep and went off to the east and west as far as visibility in the mountains would allow.

Castellan is an Ogre - his manning of the keep are orcs. Castellan is position that is rotated every 10 years. Current one has had it for 7 years. He apparently handles some sort of seal forgery - making the movement of illegal and unpapered slaves much easier with his help. He keeps no slaves, but seems to have a good business head. It is assumed that representatives from the Ogrelords come about twice a year around the equinox and leave with wagons loaded with stuff and tradegoods. Has NO tolerance for manlings - and won't allow them to stay. Even Zathar the smith is not allowed as he is half human and has to live in the city. There is a much poorer orcish smith inside the Keep but not as skilled as Zathar. There is one well in the area - but it is outside the orcish fence line - no one ever sees them get water.

We ended it here as the party has pretty much exhausted any information about the encampment and whatnot in the area - also getting some info on Fulgore Keep. It is Firemonth the 2nd right now - about 2:30 in the afternoon - and we have hit an impasse given what we have learned at our disposal so far. Tvold - the low level functionary watching the Lycos Sun's area has no real information at his disposal - there are 6-7 others inside the Keep and have been there for some time now (2 days or so). So there is nothing we can get without having either someone else come out or some records that we can read.

A frontal assault on the keep would result in death so if we are going to try and get in - we're going to have to use some ingenuity. Of everyone in the encampment - only Zathar is allowed in - and only him alone - and ONLY when he is invited to come in - which isn't very often. Other than that - higher level functionaries of various slaving organizations are invited in (most likely to pay rents) but that's about it. Karis mentioned trying to get a job there - but no one is sure how to go about doing that since the Castellan has his own staff and has never taken anyone from outside the encampment in his employ before. The keep is right on the edge of the ravine - at least the NE tower pretty close to the rocky wall.

There is also talk of waiting till the Lycos Suns come out and accosting them - but that has its own issues and problems. There are 300-400 slavers here - plus whatever is manning the keep. There is talk of also calling on Sir Cedric and having the Count come here with his dragoons and wiping the place out - but again - timing issues and problems. Our immediate goal with coming to Fulgore Keep was getting information from the Lycos Suns on what they were doing with capturing the party - where we were going AFTER Fulgore Keep - and some more info on Djohrgahd or Vanir. Since we were unpapered - was the Castellan going to have papers drawn up for us? Are there records? There were two other caravans that DID make it here - where did they go?

There is a feeling that the clock is ticking against us and our window of opportunity to learn what we need to know to get the next link in the chain is closing. The group is going to have to make some hard decisions very soon - decisions that will radically alter what happens next and their future. We are going to need some more information - specific types. And its going to mean we're going to have to talk to someone or someones very soon to get it.

That's it - had a great time. Lots of laughter at the table and I thank everyone for having a good sense of humor and joining in. There is NO wrong way to do what we did - and no one should feel "Aw man - I really screwed up by saying that" - because it was great. It happens. And it only adds to the camaraderie our characters feel with one another as well as our own around the table. Some people play an ultra-serious game and some time our sessions will be like that. It was safe to say that this week's wasn't.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Meet 11, Adv 3, 12/15/07

This was our last meeting before the holiday rush. And an opportunity for the party to try out their skills as 3rd level characters. Most of the first part was role-playing - but there was a side adventure to save some dwarven miners and the party accorded themselves well.

Write up follows:

The party healed some of their hurts (thanks Detheron!) after their ill-fated attempt to plumb the haunted secrets of Fengarth's Tower and trudged back to Orihalcus arriving at the lift sometime after 8:30 at night. We wandered to our flop-house and for a moment Karis was willing to take us out for a night of drinking to "lift our spirits" but as was said - we just got our asses kicked and didn't feel much like celebrating. So one by one, we all fell asleep.

Next morning we woke up and talked about what had happened, vowing to return one day. Then we discussed our upcoming journey to Fulgore Keep. We talked about the slavers, the keep, the Castellan, the Lycos Suns, Vanir, and various plans on getting in and around the location. A review of Thadar's notes/map gave us a framework and a feeling on what would be in store for us regarding the journey there.

Sheriff Phozarn came next, asking about the party's hurts and their time in Fengarth (which was very glossed over and pretty much pushed aside). He then talked about Sir Walter allowing the party to make the trip to Fulgore Keep - allowing the group seven days/six nights out of Orihalcus and away from their bondsmanship duties. If the party would need more time, they were told they MUST send work back to Sir Walter first - mainly so he knows that they are uncaptured and alive. Concern is that the group is going into a slaver encampment and want to know that the group will not be recaptured.

With Marzen's help (pretty much the eldest living being in Orihalcus), he was able to help Sir Walter go through the forgotten relics in Orihalcus' vault and came up with something to help the party. Phozarn presented to Detheron a darkwood staff he referred to as Heimdall's Bulwark. A mystical staff from a time before the OgreWars, it was used here in the defense of Orihalcus until the divinely inspired regiment that was using it had been slain to the last. The art that once existed to make or recharge such an item is long gone, but luckily the staff still remains. Its powers were vague but something about healing at the wielder's will was more than enough to engage it. It was hinted that it might have other abilities as well. Finally according to Adeptus Bjorn the magic within the staff is old and fading and the party can't expect much more than half a dozen uses before the item is exhausted.

Detheron took it reverently and then Phozarn wrapped up answering any questions the party had. The group then discussed what their next course of action was to be and the scattered about town taking care of last minute purchases/changes/contacts. Zoltan went for a haircut, getting a mohawk (opting not to get a leeching though), and going to the fields, spoke with Keohn about buying some really old equipment (whips, chain shirt, short sword, manacles, etc..). Puck went to pick up his clothes from Clothier Dellia who didn't want to speak with anyone, eventually going upstairs in her house and avoiding all customers. Detheron renewed his faith with Frey and made sure he was as ready as he could be. Karis had the face of his shield blackened at Jarlian's Forge so he would be less identifiable. Then he went to Yrrg and had the seamstress make his a real piss-poor jerkin of stitched together old leather.

Group got a good night's sleep and woke up the next morning ready for their journey. They went to Sir Walter Slaine's and deposited much of their belongings in his vault (anything they didn't trust bringing with them), and then picked up from Drit's Liquors a pony-keg of ale, three wooden pipes, plenty of tobacco, and a 6 dose hit of fine opium. Karis was disgusted just being there but the party finished their dealings with the merchant (who's math skills were very poor!) and then left Orihalcus at 10:30 on Heatmonth the 30th.

The roads from Orihalcus were somewhat busy with all the comings and goings to Ironcamp (the former K'Tharkian' Homewarren) but in a short while the party left them behind and traveled the traderoads in silence towards Ponyboro. The hours passed and they broke for lunch briefly before moving on, looking for a mountain that appeared to look like a bear. Just in the last light of the setting sun, they came upon the mountain in question and left the traderoad, walking into the wild a few hundred feet and setting up camp. They scavenged the area for deadwood and scrub and set up a fire eventually breaking into watches and resting.

The next morning while breaking their fast and waiting for Detheron to finish his morning abulations to Frey, Zoltan climbed a nearby spire to scout. Seeing just more mountains and valleys around us, his keen ears did pick up the faint echoing of some sort of conflict not too far away. The group gathered their bedrolls and moved on. They traveled a short while until they heard angry voices nearby and some sort or arguing. Zoltan and Puck went off from another direction and scouted the site. They saw two carts dumped on their sides, boxes and barrels and bags scattered about. Four dwarves in sturdy traveling clothes and helms were arguing and cursing pointing around wildly. They all looked a bit disheveled and one was pretty wounded. Stone tipped spears were everywhere and the traces of the carts were cut but no animals were seen nearby. Puck went back to report what he saw and Zoltan stayed to keep watch on the 4 party of dwarves.

The group heard from Puck what was going on and they decided (at Gwyn's insistence) to go forward and see if they could help. The group of dwarves came from Cymbarton and were 3 weeks out from the capital city. They were prospecting the Dusty Mountains looking for signs of iron ore for the mineral poor county. The leader, Ungoth Rockholm (the same clan as Gwyn) reported that while coming through here just after breakfast a number of "Thor-damned painted greenskin toothed orcs burst from the very stones themselves and attacked us!" Their ponies were taken, some foodstuffs, two of their number, and numerous boxes with iron samples and maps of their travels. They admitted they were not warriors (don't even have armor) and had basic skill with weaponry, but would like the party to try and get their men back. Orcs took their people/ponies up some trail to a crag overhead.

Zoltan traveled a bit of a distance away and began climbing the 40 degree rough side of the mountain. He went up, up, up - maybe 900' distance, 400' vertically off the ground - until he was able to scout of the orcish area. A shelf of stone with low stacked walls was watched half heartedly by a half dozen feral orcs with crude bows. The dwarves were behind the walls being bound, gagged, and kicked - while the ponies were being abused and hobbled. Another eight or nine orcs were nearby. One of them was wearing some sort of feathered hat. Zoltan came back and the party planned out a rescue. The dwarves came with them (one of them with a xbow, the others with picks and hammers) and the group got into place.

Zoltan caused a swarm of multicolored lights to appear over the orcs' heads which captured their attention and the rest of the group ran forward. Crossbow bolts twanged and the first of the orcish archers were engaged. Ringo finished off the first one and the group marched to battle. More xbows fired and the group was now in melee range (some of them), Fodder and Ringo were tag teaming an orc when the Shaman tried to Hold Animal Ringo - the spell failed. Karis was hacking though the enemy and Gwyn kept popping up for xbow firing. Zoltan's sling kept flaring out whacking orcs left and right.

The Shaman directed his bear to attack but Puck's distraction spell captured their attention for a while, allowing the party to come closer and engage more of the orcs. One of them ran back into the cave to attend to the women and children and the dwarves had finally gotten to melee range, picks and hammer flashing. Detheron tried to get close to Karis and more stones and bolts were fired. Karis took some wounds and even Ringo and Fodder were getting beaten down. Puck took a chance and engaged the ring he had purloined from Kuluk the Terrible almost a month and more ago. It was a battle of wills but Puck's proved to be the stronger and a shaft of sickening black tinged yellow light snaked out and slammed full force into the Shaman who collapsed screaming.

The bear stormed forward and sent the 3 dawrves scattering but Detheron called upon Frey and bent the rampaging bear to his will, pulling the beast's loyalty from the pain wracked shamans. The animal stopped, looked around in confusion, and then began stalking after the shaman who was healing himself. Karis engaged the orcish chieftain next - the brute's stone axe no match for the militant trained Karis and his 6' greatsword. The 3 dwarves ran to Karis' side and tried to help the ogre in driving back the collapsing orcs.

Everytime the shaman stood up, he was hit with either spellbolt or quarrel or stone. Detheron called upon Frey's might and infused Karis with the power of the bull which made the already huge half-ogre swell up even larger. The tide was turned and one by one, the orcish clansmen were taken down and destroyed. Karis gave chase into the cave but the last warrior had led the women and children out of the back of the cave into a pass on the side of the mountain and away from danger.

The two dwarves captured were not dead but needed some attention which Detheron and Ungoth gave them. The ponies were hurt but not killed and there was a look around at what the orcs had. Most of it was crude ogre-sized equipment and stone tools. There were barrels of berries and some sort of dried meat. Detheron made better friends with the bear and the group counted themselves victorious. They helped the dwarves out of the orc's camp and back to their carts where they rehitched up the ponies and reloaded their supplies. The dwarves tried to pay the party for their heroic efforts (totaling up to roughly 45 crowns in various coins) but the group refused (except Zoltan who had actually taken the dwarves' money and had to be convinced to return it - sans about 3 crowns worth of coin he snatched before giving it back). Ungoth and the other miners were ecstatic and the party knew that their deeds this day would not be forgotten when the mining troupe eventually returned to Cymbarton.

The dwarves were told how to get to Orihalcus and were asked if they could lend their ponies to the Greengrocer Coalition while there, which they agreed happily. Expected to spend 3-5 days in Orihalcus and then follow the trade roads home to Cymbarton. The group wished them well and the dwarves and the party parted ways.

And that's where we ended it. A good job everyone and it was a nice show to kick butt as opposed to the trouble we had the prior meeting. We are about 2-3 hours from Fulgore Keep (assuming all goes well) and then we'll see what happens next.