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.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Meet 117, Adv 11, 12/11/10

Back to the Dungeon.

The group has had their dungeon crawls in the past so they have an idea on what can work and what can't. This time they shelled out bucks for hirelings - a number of them. Including porters. The idea being that it's worth the extra cost up front as well as the divided up shares will out strip the slogging and slow methodical pace of a protracted dungeon crawl.

So there is 14 of them and they sauntered in, knowing that it was going to be a problem and in room one I had them frittering away hit point from a flanked attack in compressed space by orcs and kobolds with crossbows and flaming oil. As one of the players said, "You know? They had a REALLY great plan!"

Write up follows:

Knowing that we were leaving the next morning, we split up all the jobs we needed to have done, leaving Soren the task of going through the applicants and available help for our foray to Double Dagger Dungeon.

Firstly we wanted Porters – at least two of them, strong backs able and capable of carrying gear and/or treasure. A number of the other adventuring groups in town were also on a hiring spree so we didn’t waste too much time. We snagged Throdi, a 6’8” part time monastic and librarian as well as Galf, a 19 year old scion of a bad encounter between a minor nobleman and a bar wench. Both of them had been porters before and had good recommendations. Pay was 1 noble per day for each, and we would take care of the food, lodgings, defense and healing (although both of them had a club and sword of their own, it was obvious they were not skilled fighters). Soren then had two suits of leather armor purchased, one for each of them.

We wanted a slinger and Agma, a youthful Halfling lass was our best bet. Short and bouncy, she was spoken of highly by others and we hired her for 5 crowns/day plus ¼ share of any treasures found.

For a front line fighter we looked for a heavy footman and the dwarven warrior Thodrek was our choice. Stoic, irresolute, sober, a follower of Thor he was clad in platemail and sported a belt of hammers. He was to get 10 crowns/day plus a ¼ share.

We wanted a guild thief and in this matter Norris cum Owen helped us out. Already had he approached the Cold Iron Thieves Guild so he was on some terms with them. His own membership to Blackshadows’ went well towards finding a specific sort of cutpurse, one who knew his way around dungeons, locks, and traps. In this we found ourselves with Cadassial. Middle aged and family oriented, he was a consummate professional interested in the work, not in the “stabbing and swagging” as certain other thieves were known to be. We dickered a bit on his rate but settled on 80 crowns per week plus a ½ share or any treasure found.

As a party we felt we were magic light and wanted a wizard to round out our ranks. Knowing that most wizards won’t just hire on, we decided to offer a full membership to our group and Soren had interviewed a couple eventually getting Aghmar Arrowmaker. A specialist mage who started his career as a bowyer/Fletcher and then eventually learning the wizardly arts, this 34 year old mage and archer had the right credentials as well as background. And to boot, he was not a fireball and magic missile mage which was something the group was afraid of. He signed on (at least for this adventure) and was not given a signing bonus but was happy to know he was to be trusted with a full share.

It was mid afternoon when the group was finishing up their purchases (casks of oil, 10’ poles, potions of healing, food, bedrolls, spikes, everything!!) and the feeling was we were setting ourselves up for a problem. Primarily regarding the porters. We went over our worries as a group and the matter was boiled down to hiring shieldbearers or not. Beren and Gwyn were for it, Gustav against it, and Norris and Soren were swaying back and forth. We spoke with Dumethian Dracowulf who said he would find quality people for us and in no time came to us with two.

Soren and Beren interviewed them and we hired on both of them. Malak was a half-orc female warrior who worked as a smith in town when not guarding or hired. She was not a good looking woman nor a good looking orc, but she was more than capable and those that did comment on her actions before had told Dumethian of her skill and almost limitless endurance for pain and punishment. We hired her at 10 crowns/day with also a ¼ share of treasure found coming to her.

The last was Jerold, a former veteran of the elder Sedarian Guard. Diligent, able, militaristic, he was also well regarded and well received. We signed him for 20 crowns/day and ¼ share.

This brought our group now numbering to 14:

Soren aka Gunwing, Level 6 Woodelven Ranger
“Digger”, Frey-touched Ranger friend of Soren 135 lb. Dire Wolverine
Brother Beren, Level 6 Human Priest of Tyr
Gwyn aka Steele, Level 7 Dwarven Fighter
Gustav, Level 7 Half Ogre Fighter
Norris aka Owen, Level 6 Halfelven Bard
Aghmar, Level 2 and Level 4 Human Fighter/Wizard
Cadassial, Level 4 Human Thief
Jerold, Level 6 Human Warrior Shieldbearer
Malak, Level 5 Halforc Warrior Shieldbearer
Thodrek, Level 4 Dwarven Warrior Heavy Footman
Agma, Level 4 Halfling Warrior Slinger
Throdi, Level 5 Human Commoner Porter
Galf, Level 3 Human Commoner Porter

This also meant that we had a daily cost of 45 crowns, 2 nobles to pay our hired henchmen and an additional 80 crown weekly cost. Plus we had to feed and lodge at least 2 of them and we needed to also divide our findings by the 5 members of the party, plus one for Aghmar, plus all the fractions making the split into 7 ½ shares.

We signed off on all the contracts, made our deals and agreements, made sure our wagon and two horses were ready for the morrow and also contracted with the Teamsters Guild to rent another cart and two horses that we would take with us to Ponyboro and leave there (to help transport everyone). And at that point we went to sleep.

The next day was warm and sunny and we left Cymbarton early in an effort to arrive at Ponyboro before too late. The trip was pleasant and the party and our hirelings talked during the trip, sharing stories and getting to know one another. We had paid our people as promised and the was after 7 PM on the 10th that we arrived at Ponyboro. We established rooms at the Rampant Griffin, getting 4 rooms with 4 beds each, paying not only for ourselves but all our help. Food was plentiful and drink flowed and the party was in high spirits.

We met with Lord Artis Daernhorse and arranged to drop off not only the Teamster’s cart and horses but also ours and to make sure the animals were stabled, fed, watered, and exercised. We checked over the map and spoke to a number of the local rangers and woodsmen, learning that Malak’s Peak (as mentioned on the map) was a rocky faced hill some 2500 feet in height that had an outcropping of stone near the summit that looked like a bear’s face – easy to spot if you knew what you were looking for. However it was 16 hours give or take from Ponyboro by caravan and that meant that we would have to find it at night. We hired some of the locals to drive the wagons and us to Malak’s Peak and then take our horses and carts back to Ponyboro.

We slept well and in the morning, braving the warm rainy day, we saddled up and left Ponyboro behind. It wasn’t until after 10 PM that we arrived at what the guides had declared was Malak’s Peak. Old camp signs abounded and we made due with what dry wood we could scrounge and set up watches, the party getting a good night’s sleep.

The following morning on Workmonth the 12th we bid the teamsters farewell, broke our fast and readied ourselves, gathered all our belongings and started off, Soren finding within a few minutes the drag trail as mentioned on the map. We hoisted our gear and set off into the wilds of the Dusty Mountains.

Most of the hills and peaks in this area ranged between 15 and 25 hundred feet in height and the area was a mix of moss, scrub brush, and dwarf pine. The trail meandered northward for roughly and hour or more before turning eastward. We had heard that this area was known to sport trolls so the decision to stay on whatever trails had been blazed before was decided upon.

We stayed eastward until the trail climbed between two hills and looked down on a valley with a oval shaped lake some 1/3 mile at its widest set in the middle, the entire vale covered in tall pines. The map marked it as Crispani’s Vale and we were going to go down into the vale and near the water when Soren opted that we avoid that. If Trolls were known to be in the area then going down there might bring us in line with trolls (since it was a natural watering spot). Gwyn chimed in and said that 2 years ago the Sundered Chains had fought trolls here so we decided to stay on the southern edge of the tree line and work our way far around the valley.

It was another hour but we made our way safely past and continued on. It was after 11:30 when we came to what was obviously Double Dagger Hills. The trail curved northward and we beheld a 2100 foot tall peak that looked like it had been cloven in two by some gigantic axe centuries ago. The cleft ran the entire length of the mountain and was 300’ wide at the top narrowing to 50’ at the shadowy base. And there was nothing growing there, nothing at all. We were unnerved but spent a few minutes looking it over. No obvious ambushes were above and Gwyn and Thodrek checked out the stonework, saying that any potential avalanches had already occurred in the past.

We entered the cleft and started walking north, looking for any dungeon, entrance, or anything of interest. It was a bit over half way through that we spied something out of the ordinary. A pile of stones some 20’ tall, 20’, wide, and 70’ deep stuck out from the eastern wall. Cadassial and Norris checked it out, eventually daring to get closer and up top. There was a kobold clan marking of stones to warn off others but the rocks were arranged in a way to allow easy climbing and up top was a hole 15’ wide that went down and to the east into the roots of the mountain.

The party looked over the rest of the cleft just in case and at 12:15 on Workmonth the 12th they climbed down into the darkness. Brother Beren’s light loadstone was passed up to Cadassial and affixed to his buckler, the thief and Norris taking the front. Behind came Gustav the half ogre and next in line were Thodrek and Gwyn, the two dwarves at the ready. Soren, Digger, and Agma followed next, missile weapons ready and then came Brother Beren with a hooded lantern lit and Aghmar Arrowmaker, the mage looking carefully about. Beyond these two were the two porters Galf and Throdi and finally bringing up the rear were the shield bearers Malak and Jerold.

The stairs went further and further down into the side of the mountain until the daylight from above was only a dim filter over 60’ below the surface. The steps ended 7 feet or so ABOVE a squared of 12’ x 12’ room – with a single heavy stone door set in the middle of each wall. Each door closed. Being as it was only 7’ down, Cadassial and Norris dangled from the bottom step and dropped into the room quietly. Gustav moved back and allowed Thodrek and Gwyn to make their way to the front, the two dwarves also dropping into the room the check out the stone work and help Cadassial look for traps.

It was while they were searching that the thief muttered something and glanced up – and the door to the north was torn open and orcs, over a dozen slavering 6’ tall green skinned orcs were there with light crossbows loaded and pointing at the party. The leader armed with a short sword snarled “FIRE” and the tusked porcines drew bead on the group.

Cadassial, not surprised into torpor, took one look at what was coming and Norris was yelling at the thief, to “Run! Get the hell out of here!” and Cadassial did. Throwing himself at Gwyn he clambered up the dwarf’s body and hurled himself upward just as the orcs' crossbows twanged. Missiles plinked off Gwyn, Thodrek, and Norris, most of them turned aside by either magic, steel, or skill. A few hit deep but not enough to cause more than a few grunts of surprise. Thodrek was completely shocked at the attack but Gwyn was not. The dwarven fighter whipped his Staff of Fire from his back, slapped the base against the ground to light the top, and whipped it overhead sending a 15’ long cone of burning oil into the tightly packed orcs. The leaders ducked but those behind were unable to get out of the way and their greasy skin was set ablaze.

Gustav took a look at the chaos below and leapt into the room, bowling down the lead orcs from entering the smaller chamber and then lifted up the first one, his muscles bulging, and hurled him backward into the chamber to knock down other crossbow wielding foes! Huzzah.

It was a tight shot and fit but Soren took aim and fired at an angle into the orc chamber, striking one of them lightly twice with his arrows but not enough damage to fell him. It was then Agma who wanted to help out and she whipped a stone overhead and let fly – fumbling! Her sling strap slipped from her wrist and the sling whizzed into the room below and struck Gustav in the skull! She was shocked, Soren was shocked…Gustav was dumbfounded!

It was as the orcs were readying a second volley that Norris noticed the door under the party’s feet quivering and it ripped open – showing almost two dozen kobolds…the first five armed with flaming oil that they hocked back and let fly. Burning oil rained around Thodrek, Gwyn, and Gustav, setting the three of them on fire. They were screaming in pain and other kobolds were passing new oil up and candles were being readied to light the next volley. And in the back of the room three kobold leaders were standing on boxes and they fired light crossbows at the party! Missiles strafed the group from both entrances now as the orcs were able to bring almost 9 of their own crossbows to bear while others drew swords and attempted to engage the surprised Gustav. The party was in trouble.

Wanting to redeem herself, Agma took one of her flasks of oil, and using Cadassial as an anchor flipped herself upside down and over, hurling a flask into the kobold room and splattering it against the first two in the door before using her momentum to pendulum herself up and out of the room. It was right after that that Norris snarled out a quick verse and fired a powerful fear spell into the kobold chamber and the organized dog faced lizardmen suddenly found themselves terrified as over half of them dropped their oil flasks, crossbows…and candles in a mad dash to run into the back corner of the chamber.

Fire WHOOSHED up and consumed at least 4 of the kobolds bringing the possible active combatants down to 7.

Gwyn shoved Gustav forward and into the orc room, the dwarf using his flaming staff to set more of the orcs on fire and upset any more crossbow firing. Gustav grabbed another orc and hurled him backwards, knocking 3 others down. “Get out of the middle room!” Gwyn hollered, expecting one of the other 2 doors to open and more combatants to hurl and fire stuff at the group. Soren picked off the closest orc with a well placed shot and Thodrek and Norris hustled into the kobold chamber, taking more stabs and plinks for their efforts. Soren shouted for Digger to attack and the wolverine leapt down and joined Gwyn and Gustav against the orcs. Half the party was very wounded by this time, suffering wildly and either on fire, smoldering, or covering in quarrel tracks and furrows.

But they had finally achieved what their strength was and that was close quarter fighting. Gustav tore his greatsword free and in two passes disarmed his first foe and then hew his skull in twain, cutting the orc across the middle of his head and separating it there. He then plowed into the second one and stove his chest in before trading 6 ringing blows with the 3rd frantic foe. Gwyn backed up and set another group of 4 orcs on fire, the heat from his Staff of Fire consuming three of them, killing them instantly. Digger ripped the foot off one of the orcs, throwing the appendage behind him and worrying the bleeding foe with his claws and teeth.

Thodrek took his anger out on the lead kobold and it was with some interest that we realized that using his battle hammer – Every time the angry dwarf would hit, he was guaranteed to do 7 hit points of damage. 7 damage…against the kobolds with 3 hit points each. We heard a snarling dwarf shout of “Thor!”, then a went THWOCKING sound, a pause, and then Thodrek walking to the next one shouting, “Thor!” once again.

In no time the battle was brought to an end and Norris netted the bulk of the feared kobolds, 9 in total. Gwyn, Thodrek, and Norris all looked at one another and said, “How many will we need to really answer questions?” and the bard said, “Three.” So the 2 dwarves and the half elf proceeded to beat all but 3 of the netted kobolds to death before the rest of the party could come down and either stop them or make and opinion otherwise.

We went through the dead and got what little riches and booty they had – more interested in getting quarrels and oil from them to replenish our stores. The three kobolds were bound and in our searching we also uncovered two keys – one from each room – each one single sided, made of brass, and keyed alike – so it was to open the same or similar lock.

The 4 main members who had been in the battle were badly hurt (Gustav having over 60 points of damage) and healing was done and dispensed. Meanwhile questions were given to the kobolds and only one of them spoke orcish (no one spoke kobold) so a common language was shared and we asked information. The kobold was from a clan K’Sisithak and along with the Serrated Teeth clan of orcs and goblins, lived here. Their main living area was lower and the part was in trouble. As for other things on this level the door south was to a treasure area and beyond the last door it led eventually to the steps down but also through the orc area where they had some pet rats.

The group checked out the south door (not trapped or locked) and opened it – it was a decent chamber filled with furs and bits of shiny rocks and some kobold food stuffs and three large metal urns riveted to the floor. Norris told the kobold to open it, he did, and then he stiffened and fell over and two darts fired from below the urn and struck him, killing him. Trap! Cadassial and Norris used 10’ poles to trigger the last two urns and the party went in and took out over a thousand silver nobles and almost 500 luckies. The group was pleased with the haul and we did some math realized that we had now pretty much recouped the original outlay costs for hiring the henchmen. We took the treasure and Cadassial was asked to reload the traps and change the angle of the darts so they would strike someone standing further away (like a kobold that knows about the trap!). As for the last two kobolds we did not know what to do with them and leaving them was not an option. So we killed them for the bounty and took their ears.

At this point we reformed into our marching order approached the 4th door and at 1:45 PM on Workmonth the 12th we readied ourselves to open the eastern portal.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Meet 116, Adv 11, 12/4/10

Rolling in and rolling on.

I asked my group about a week or two before this last meeting WHAT they might have had in mind and if they would go back to Broken Hills and WHAT they would be willing to be paid to risk it.

And then I built my framework deeper around Shadows Run Deep (this adventure) and incorporated their opinions and feeling on it.

I used:
* The town that they were directly and indirectly a part of destroying.
* One of the character's brother taken whole cloth from his background as a potential foil.
* The hireling that they had 2 adventures ago who had gotten a lucky break and lorded was a pivotal part of their assignment.
* The feeling of limited time and yet still a large amount available for them to accord for any difficulties they might and will encounter.

Giving them a personal stake in the matter made it easier for them to go after the adventure and gave them the feeling of choice.

Write up follows:

Workmonth the 8th, the waning days and hot ones of a fairly mild summer, and we were gathered in the Common Room of the Antiquinarian and Adventurer’s Guild. Most of our gear had been repaired and fixed, arrows and bolts were restocked, and clothing was washed and bodies clean. Brother Beren had rejoined us over the last 20 days of his training; the priest of Tyr both happy and well rested himself.

As for news of the times, we had learned the Kazak and Moltas Falconhand, as well as a retinue of over 30 members of CornBlood Keep had escaped Broken Hills and wound their way northward, eventually stopping at Dilabria. Sverek had died during the escape and a bounty was put out to bring Sverek back – 500 crowns for anyone able to. Kazak had gotten in touch with Brother Beren and asked him if he or his group were interested but the good priest had to decline.

So a party known as the Fellowship of the Scale had succeeded (no one is sure how many bounty hunters and adventurers actually tried and/or died) and were returning to Cymbarton to deliver the body to Kazak. Dumethian Dracowulf was going to have an open congregation as Baron Umbar was fronting the funds to have a Deathspeaker ask Lord Sverek some questions as to the last minutes of Broken Hills. All members of the adventurer’s guild were invited.

We tossed about the idea of going for a bit and opted to do it. There was hope that Karis would be there (so Gustav could kick his ass) but to date, it seemed the Red Clouds were still up north. The Fellowship had come in late last night, beaten up and tired and were at the Yawning Portal, a fine hotel on the edge of Old City so would be at the ceremony shortly.

While we were milling around, various important people filed in, including members of Count Cedric Sedaris’ staff and Baron Umbar himself. It was then that there was a ripple near the door and the Fellowship of the Scale entered. There were 8 of them, all elven, and the leader was a handsome and charismatic (and familiar in some fashion) looking person. Soren stared at him under his cloak with open mouthed shock but said nothing. Everyone filed downstairs to the ceremony room and only Brother Beren made his way towards the front (eyeing Kazak and mouthing “hello”.)

The Deathspeaker asked who would give up his blood for the divination and the Fellowship leader, named Tyrnias, Smiled and said that he would. A silver sickle traced a line along his forearm and the blood welled up and was placed carefully around the rotting and very dead body of Sverek Falconhand.

The Lord of Broken Hills took a ragged breath, was helped to a sitting position and the questions from Baron Umbar followed.

• What went on during the last moments at Cornblood Keep?
** The raging Storm Giant had been slain by the increasing number of ghouls clambering up his side as well as the vicious claws and bites of the great dragon. Its form collapsed across the bailey and 3rd guard tower, breaking the walls there and allowing the undead held at bay from the protective energies of the Keep’s clerics and wards a way to swarm in. The Dragon let loose a last breath at Kwinzard, the court magician and his personal guards, killing them to the last before winging upward and flying towards Eider.
The undead waded into the outer walls and in the narrow confines most of the guards were struck on the flank, rolling into themselves and dying one after the other. Shadowy figured sieved through holes in the floor and walls and I was yelling for the men to retreat into the dungeons. From there I had hoped we could form ranks once more and lead the last of those still hiding out to the stronghold and then to safety. We had made it to the stronghold and it was here that the undead caught up with us. There were people running and fleeing and I felt ice and fire and cold and saw the dead feeding on me, draining my strength, stealing my warmth and then I saw nothing.
• What was the catalyst that you assume had this horror start?
** We had been having strange incursions of undead for a week by this time, zombies wandering the streets, one of our citizens forming a cabal of mages with some rites of necromancy, odd murders reminiscent of vampires but also not. Our local high priest had been troubled with activity at the graveyard and we had a band of adventurer’s attempting to find out what was going on and how it was happening.
The Skelt family was beset by some curse from their fallen patriarch, Aaron, who was at the heart on some level of these strange attacks. As the matter was being resolved though it had spiraled out of control. An altercation and some spell duel at an abandoned mining locale known as Murderer’s Hole started the assault but at that time it only spawned the dragon. It was many minutes later that the shadows and ghouls made themselves known and from what we were able to tell the appearance of the dragon and the undead were not directly linked.
• What in your estimation would be the best chance of saving Broken Hills?
** If I still lived I would have made it out of the Stronghold in the dungeon of Cornblood Keep. It was from the original foundations the ancient dwarves had laid over 7 centuries earlier. Besides linking up to two different mines further west of town and allowing us a route of escape beyond the undead, there were some artifacts there that my grandfather and those before had kept and shown their descendants how to work.
The best hope would the use what had been called the Sun Sphere. It was a stone ball about 10” round with a number of markings on it. A hollow spot was along the top of it where some stone would fit in and there was a space on the bottom where it would be mounted on a stick or staff.
• I know your spirit is weary but I beg for you to hold on, where is the Sun Sphere?
** I had it on me where I was slain and I do not know where it is now.
• What can we do now?
** Either find the Sun Sphere that was in Broken Hills or learn if there might be another one.
• Is there another?
** Blood can tell. Blood can reveal.

At this time Sverek’s spirit expired and the room was abuzz. Just about every adventurer wanted to hike out to Broken Hills and get the Sun Sphere. But Kazak and Umbar were talking and they said that they were going to offer a 2000 crown bounty on whoever went to Broken Hills and returned with the Sun Sphere. Tyrnias and the Fellowship admitted they did NOT have the stone but remembered it and where they had left it (not knowing what it was or that it was important). Baron Umbar offered them the job first and the Fellowship took it.

However, they pleaded that they needed to go back to Huntington to get certain amulets they owned to help in getting the stone. It was 8 days there, 8 days back, and they wanted at least 3 days to get back into Broken Hills and out again. 19 days total. Kazak was leaning on no but Baron Umbar was of the mind the group had already proven themselves and should be given the first crack. So the Fellowship was given 20 days – if not back in the 29th, then the next group interested would be given a shot.

The Adventurer’s guild was buzzing as everyone started doing their own research on possibly going to Broken Hills and getting the Sun Sphere. As for Tyrnias, Soren told us that it was his brother that he hadn’t seen for some time and was responsible for him getting cut up years ago. Said he couldn’t be trusted and we should watch out for him.

Kazak wanted to see us for dinner at Falconhand Manor so we went, visiting the new lord of the Falconhand family. It was a nice meal and we talked about possible things to find to help us learn about the Sun Sphere. There was talk of there might be another. So we went to search the entire grounds with Brother Beren doing a Locate Object spell. The main floor was a bust so we went to the basement. And there was one door down here that did not open. There was a strange bladed looking plate above the handle and Gustav cut himself on it – nothing happened.

So we had Kazak do it – and the door was blood locked! Inside was 2 old suits of leather armor, a very poor rusted sword, and an old book. We took the book that had a blank scroll in a tube with it and read what we could from it.

It was from someone named Yersius Falconhand and talked about a period 100 years ago. Falconhand family did work for the Sunderstone dwarves and were entrusted with 3 Sun Spheres for being so fair and honest. One went to family holdings, one went to King Daro for tribute, and one went with Crispani Falconhand to try and take out some necromancer in Double Dagger Dungeon. The operation of the spheres was written in blood runes so no one could accidentally discover how to operate the spheres.

We did the blood thing again with Kazak on the blank scroll and it filled in runes from the top to the bottom. A couple of the party members worked on the scroll while the next day the other three went to the seers and the library to learn anything about Falconhand, Crispani, Double Dagger, or Sun Sphere.

We learned that there the land known to be the Sunderstone’s was in the Dusty Mountains between Ponyboro and Orihalcus and was situated just south of the Copper Bottom River near a keep called Fulgore Keep (named for Fulgore Sunderstone). There is a mountain area there called Double Dagger Mountain but no mention of a dungeon. There is also near it a valley called Crispani’s Vale. There is no record of Crispani ever succeeding against a necromancer nor any mention of strange necromancy in that area.

As for the blood runes we learned that it would take a manastone to operate and to be mounted on a staff 2 inches taller than whoever wanted to use it. We went to Dumethian and asked around for any maps of the area in question and got one from him for a small fee.

Then we scoured the town for adventuring gear and decided to hire on some people for the expedition. 2 porters, at least 1 slinger, 1 heavy footman, 1 guild thief, and one full partner mage. We wanted to be off the next day (Workmonth the 10th) to maximize our chance of finding another Sunstone before the Fellowship of the Scale did.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Meet 115, Adv 11, 11/13/10

This was supposed to be about an hour of cleaning up some left over points while Brother Beren trained up to 6th level but the group (those playing) decided to go out on some sandbox walking as well as take down a local "job" on the Adventurer's Guild board.

I don't play Paizo, nor traditional 3rd edition, but I do subscribe to Pathfinder and it was the Kingmaker series that had a list of "joobs" that local adventurers can do. It's a bit like Everquest/WOW in that manner but honestly, why not? Here's a job that someone wants done, here's what we're willing to pay, and who wants to do it? It might not be traditional but I felt it felt right. So I took a look at my notes and came up with 10 jobs/hooks - some short and some longer.

So the group went after Terrorback - a wild boar resistant to druidic magic. Lovely. But they had a good plan and surprised me by delivering mostly as they said.

So the adventure has started, but the official roll out doesn't happen until the next meeting. And it gets the party back working together for a mission and jelling as a group.

Write up follows:

We rested well that night, waking up on Firemonth the 19th. Conversation around the common room table meandered for a bit before settling on Gustav and his desire to travel to Orihalcus. He touted reasons such as the lizardmen and Eider and arrows being purchased and what not, but Soren wasn’t buying the totality of it. Wanted to know what and why.

The half Ogre went on about some of his earlier life and eventually running in to Karis of Melbourne. There was some pitched fight and it seems the former Sundered Chain’s leader was a party to Gustav being abused and maimed. Since then Gustav had been working towards a singular goal of facing Karis and taking him down. We know that Karis had been to Orihalcus and had met with Sir Walter, Gustav wanted to go and warn the nobleman about the upcoming problem with the lizardmen and arrows from Eider as well as learn what he could about Karis.

We opted to go. Gwyn wanted to go and revisit not only Ponyboro but Orihalcus as well, getting what treasures, riches, and whatnot had been left there in the past. But before we did any of this, we wanted to go and see what potential jobs were available at the Adventurer’s Guild.

There were a bit under a half dozen jobs on there, most passed over and only a few of note. Baronet Wodenlach had posted a 6,000 crown bounty on Vanir’s head, the bounty for kobolds had been raised to 2 crowns per pair of ears in Orihalcus, Flatrock was still looking for able bodies, and Baron Umbar was offering a bounty of 250 crowns per wyvern.

However it was the mentioning of Terrorback, a wild boar Frey touched originally from the Gunnarson Demesne in Ponyboro that we opted to try out for. Taking the boar down was worth 450 crowns. We signed our name with Dumethian Dracowulf and left the next day joining a small contingent heading southwest.

Ponyboro was as we had remembered it, sprawling, five distinct walled and garrisoned areas around an successively impressive keep and stronghold. We rode into the town circle, got directions to the Daernhorse Demesne and went on our way there. We bid hello to the guards who after Gwyn identified himself went off to tell Lord Daernhorse of our presence.

We were then allowed entrance and escorted to a greeting hall where an older jowled man (Artis Daernhorse) and a younger more fit version (Fjorf) bid us welcome. Gwyn was embraced and Lord Daernhorse remembered the dwarf’s favorite brew from last time, getting it for him. We talked a bit about fallen companions and others long absent. Eventually the story went around to our recent history and some of our missing members with Gwyn guiding the purpose of our visit back to us going to Orihalcus and stopping off here to take care of Terrorback for him if we could.

We were told that Terrorback was ducetly resistant to any Frey-borne spells and that those who had been hunting him before often came back beaten and battered. For the most part the wild boar stayed near Deep Lake to the southwest and raided the grounds every couple of days. We slept well after drinking and feasting and were up early the next morning and on our way.

We stopped at the Silverbough Demesne and once there procured a full sheep’s hide with the head still attached. We took most of Norris’ belongings off of him (Gustav carrying it for the bard) and bound the sheep’s skin around the half elf, allowing him to appear as one of them if he was to get on all fours.

We then began walking. Soren used his tracking skills and we circled parts of the lake, going in and around the wooded parts, looking for any sign of the quarry. The morning went on to noon and then onward. It was almost 9 hours later that Soren advised us that we had stumbled upon the correct path and bade Norris to get into character. The bard hunched low and began acting like a sheep while the rest of us hid in the foliage. Soren prepared a stone biter arrow, fitting a line to the back of the bolt. Poison was prepared and we stayed quiet.

And then Terrorback came from the woods. The great boar was tremendous, weighing in at 1400 lbs, slavering toothy maw, snarled wiry coat of hair. And Norris did his best to act sheep like – fooling the boar! Terrorback snarled and charged.

Norris whistled up a mirror image spell, getting two copies of himself to appear. The boar struck, blowing through one of the illusionary Norris’s in a spray of fading gore and blood. Soren let fly and his stone biter slammed into boar’s side with a whizzing sound. But most importantly, the boar was struck with stunning poison and the mighty beast slumped forward, it’s head digging a furrow in the earth as if flipped onto its back.

Everyone threw their armor class to the wind and charged the boar, hacking and chopping at it. Gustav made to “hog tie” it with cable around its feet and Gwyn plied his hydraspear at the beast’s flank. As it was coming too it kicked out and brained one of Norris’s other illusions and then rolled onto its feet. The beast was badly hurt and then began foaming at the mouth, its eyes rolling over red and bloodshot – Terrorback was maddened.

It plowed into Gustav with the force of a freight train, the half ogre’s tower shield taking some of the blow but the beast knocking the mighty fighter onto his back, ripping through his armor, and trampling him almost to death – scoring a double critical and doing in excess of 70 hit points of damage! It was trying to get away and the party hurled bolt, arrow, and axe at its fleeing form. The half ogre snatched the trailing cable from the stonebiter still in the beast’s side and tried bracing it around nearby trees to slow the boar down. Even Digger was able to fire his musk at the maddened beast, blinding it and causing Terrorback to snarl and cry in furious anger.

But fall it did and the party bested the mighty boar. We then proceeded to turn it on its back, clean up the worst of our wounds, and then drag it back from the banks of Deep Lake and to Ponyboro. We were thanked for our efforts and Lord Daernhorse advised us that we were always welcome here. Our bounty was paid and an extra 100 crows were thrown in for good measure. We left the next morning on our way to Orihalcus, hitching a ride on a mail courier’s wagon going that way and enjoying the quiet country side.

At Orihalcus we came in with quiet cover and Gwyn had us go not to Sir Walter first, but his/our old home that had not been visited by us for over 6 months. It was locked but there were things missing. Many of the special treasures had been taken and on looking around the place, Karis’ room was completely emptied. Gwyn grew a bit angry at this, suspecting the half-ogre had been here and taken more than his share of the treasures.

We picked through the house and after taking stock of what was there (and what was not), we went off to Slaine Manor to talk to Sir Walter. The nobleman was happy to see us and welcomed both old friends and new. He told us that Karis had been through some 2 months ago, part of an adventuring group of “thugs” (as he described them) called the Red Clouds. He returned his bondsman ring and then went on his way. Sir Walter was saddened at this as he had at one point thought very highly of Karis. At this point we told Sir Walter what we had gathered in a fragmented way about arrows and Eider and lizardmen and some nebulous threat to Orihalcus. There was well over 100 miles separating the two places and there seemed to be little reason for it, but Sir Walter thanked us and let us know that if anything was learned or discovered and he needed our aid, he would send for it.

We went to rest that night and then the next day arranged to take two of the steeds still in name to the Sundered Chains as well as the wagon, loaded it up with what we could from the house, and began the long ride back to Cymbarton where we would find out how Brother Beren was doing on his training and learn if anything had come up regarding Broken Hills.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Meet 114, Adv 10, 11/6/10

This was pretty much a wrap up meeting, with the group deciding to explore Cymbarton a bit as well as cash in on some of their knowledge by faking a trip to Broken Hills and giving what they knew to the guild leader. I really had no idea what the party wanted to do and although I have 3 ideas for the next adventure all lending to the title, "Shadows Run Deep" I was a bit unready for their wander around and learn stuff, any small jobs we can do, where can we go in the sandbox next idea.

I think they'll have another meeting or two in Cymbarton and then get their asses out the door and on to the next adventure. It will more straight forward and goal oriented - a MacGuffin to grab at the end of the day. But it's the MacGuffin afterwards that will come back to play a bigger part in their day to day. So I think this is the soft unofficial end of "Adventure 10".

Write up follows:

We found ourselves on a pig caravan, transporting 68 fat sows from the docks of Eider to Dry River and eventually Cymbarton. In the beginning the teamsters were reserved and quiet, not sharing conversation or food with the party. The journey was quiet and uneventful. That night we were surprised and a bit miffed to learn that the caravaners did not want to share their fire with us, nor their food (although water was plentiful). We figured out that they had been given an earful from the Baronet and not knowing us or our better achievements were under the impression that they should snub us.

Norris went through the trouble to making us a hot meal, and seeing that we hadn’t had much chance to load up on supplies before escaping town, Soren took Digger out to go hunt up some local game, eventually coming across and bagging 2 small deer. After gutting the animals he and his wolverine brought back the carcasses where Norris began making not only a heartier dinner, but also smoking some of the meat. The caravaners watched this for a few moments before the ranger offered them a share of the bounty which they took with smiles and much thanks. With their aid the animals were skinned and the skin flensed and readied for transport. Most of the remaining meat was smoked and we went to bed all feeling much better about or lot in things.

The next day was dry, the temperature unseasonably cool. Our traveling companions were friendlier today and were more than willing to chat and share. As we went along we passed the odd small thorp or village, eventually stopping near an area where the locals were willing to allow us to stay. A couple of the pigs were given as payment for lodgings, fresh hay, and other simple travelling essentials. Gwyn made a simple brace for a young man with a twisted leg and the townsfolk seemed to be appreciative of the dwarf’s efforts. More good deeds. We rested well and without complaint, the next day brought us rain and the teamsters were going to wait until as close to 11 to decide on leaving.

When the hour passed it was decided that the rain was not going to last and we should press on, which we did, arriving at the small town (550) of Dry River. Originally built at the ancient dwarven bridge site that crossed the now dry Copper Bottom River, it served as a meetup and resting point for travelers going between Eider, Principia, and Cymbarton. Most of the homes were simple, only a half dozen of them encompassing any stonework in their makeup.

We went to the brothel called the Arched Legs and then passed through to the Dry River Inn where a handful of copper and brass got us rooms for the night and some simple fare for dinner. It was here that our caravan companions informed us that they would be selling their pigs here in Dry River as they felt they could get a good price and knock off almost 4 days in round trip travel to Cymbarton. We were dismayed but understood (Gwyn eventually learning that an adult pig can be sold for around 10-15 gold each). The group settled down for the night and eventually went to sleep.

We awoke the next day and immediately set out to see if we could get on a caravan going to Cymbarton, or if we should just rent/buy horses. It turns out there was one going later on that day and they needed some guards. Norris went to smooth talk the guy, who was transporting 3 wagons of hay to the capital city and they needed a couple of guys good with a sword. Pay was 4 coppers/day/person and he would round it up to 1 silver noble for the trip there – food included. Norris took it and then went to find us to let us know.

We were just glad to be going and it was at that point that the merchant felt that we were WAY overqualified on this (I mean a half ogre, a platemail wearing priest, a king’s man, a dwarven brawler, and a bard – to guard HAY?!?!) but was thrilled to have us. We rode off and it was 2 days later we pulled into Cymbarton – no issues. 

We opted NOT to go back with the merchant but instead got directions to the adventurer’s guild as well as the local best hotel, a place called the Yawning Portal. We walked the massive city, tightly packed throng of over 50,000 local residents and even more visitors. The Adventurer’s Guild was located in Old City, just past Hillside Avenue. Once inside we went up to see the guild master, a rotund gnome named Dumethion Dracowulf.

During the journey here the group had decided to fill out the blank charter we had gotten from Sverek Falconhand of Broken Hills (before everything there had gone terribly wrong!!), naming our new incarnation of the group “Iron Bars” and declaring Soren the leader. There was a change though – three of the party members from the original Sundered Chains/Soren and Company were going to be using aliases to throw off any chance of Myrius discovering who we were.

So Soren became Gullwing, Gwyn became Steele, and Norris became Owen. Beren and Gustav of course did not change anything.

Dumethion was pleased to meet us and we handed him our charter. He read it over and noted that there was nothing wrong with it. He did ask about Broken Hills as the charter was dated about a month ago. We played quiet and dumb, telling him that we had been there for a time and that Norris’s grandfather had known Sverek’s some time ago (a line of crap but told so bald faced and only once it flew under the radar).

The guild master then told us that the last 2 caravans that had gone to Broken Hills had not come back, neither had any of the aviaries that had been sent. Even the few seers that did operate said only that there was fire and shadow involved with Broken Hills and it was clouding their sight. A bounty of 175 crowns was being raised by Baron Umbar for any group able to go to the city and bring back an explanation and maybe proof of what happened. A couple of groups had said they would go but to date, no one had come back.

We told Dumethion we would think on it and then were told some of the perks and rules of being guild members. There were 4 seers that did work/live here and we were able to go visit them for they would identify magical items if need be for a price, the first time was free. We thanked him and left.

Downstairs we met with the seers and had the assassin’s sword identified (it was not a nice blade) and Norris’ cup. Soren offered to have the blade sold to anyone who might have a magical bow they wanted to sell. Dumethion said he would send out feelers and we could have an answer tomorrow. Gustav paid to find out where Karis was (Dragonhole in the process of getting Gwyn’s old shield Steadfast for his own) and Norris paid to find out what was going on back home (Darkwaters, no one missed him and everyone felt he had died many months ago).

We left, eventually getting some sleep after Beren had gone to the Tyrian Cathedral and declaring himself ready for advancement and Norris went to the local thieves guild and just saying ‘hi!’ being recognized and left alone as a member of Blackshadow’s Guild in Eider.

The next day we rented two horses and a cart and rode north towards Broken Hills – stopping 6 hours short of the place. We came across an older man and his wife, she was badly hurt from Wyvern attack and Norris used some antitoxin to save her life. She was mended up and we left them to head on to Cymbarton. More good deeds. We slept fitfully and kept watch, making NO effort to go to Broken Hills. Then we turned around and went back to Cymbarton and right to the adventurer’s guild, telling Dumethion what we had seen, the state of Broken Hills, heck, even Norris whipped out the torn tabard he had taken from the guard there over a week ago as “proof” we had been there and what had happened. The tabard was taken to the seers and with something in their hand might be able to better tell what happened. New aviaries would be sent to Eider and Dilabria and tell them what had been learned here and maybe get their input as well. We were thanked, paid, and went on our way.

There was talk of riding to Orihalcus but as of this time, we don’t know for sure what is going to happen next.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Meet 113, Adv 10, 10/30/10

This meeting was truncated by almost an hour and a half as we had all gotten together before hand and talked about the player who ran Detheron and his personal problems. So there wasn't as much play as we would have expected.

What did come up though was the first hand view of the destoryed wreckage the party had left behind in their actions and some of the group has an idea that this "snafu" would in turn become a larger impact and defining monet as the game progresses.

We shall see...

Write up follows:

Brother Beren sat with Baronet Wodenlach, telling the pirate lord about the evils he had recently been party to and privy of in Broken Hills, affecting to his lordship the dire straits the town was in. Wodenlach took the priest at his word and agreed that if there was some reality to what he was being told, he would send an immediate response. He sent for his seer, a myopic white haired hag who had the gift of sight. The witch corroborated some of Beren’s story but also grew worried and upset over her gleaning of Orcus’ Book of Infinite Spells. She told Wodenlach of its malevolence and suggested VERY strongly that if the book was indeed there that Brother Beren do what he could to bring it back. Beren agreed.

The seer also told Beren of the gypsy Zoltan lost in the swamp and that he should try and rescue the bard/thief who needed his help. A hulking half-ogre named Gustav was introduced and Wodenlach parceled out the humongous fighter to Beren, telling his to bring back Zoltan if able to.

The two of them left and tramped about the swamp, following the witch’s clues until they found Zoltan and then brought him home once more to Eider. Zoltan spent some time talking to Wodenlach while the party of rescuers was brought together – 25 mercenaries of variable skill outfitted on 3 battle wagons pulled by 4 horse teams each. They left in the full of the dark and raced off to help Broken Hills.

Meanwhile after less than an hour of walking, the 3 guards bid Soren, Gwyn, and Norris farewells and head off towards Dilabria, trekking overland. The 3 members of the party still together stumble in the dark road for a while, meeting other refugees who had gone ahead of them. At a fire with a family of 5 they ask to share the warmth and pool what resources they have together. Norris wearily cooks up some simple travelling stew and others come out of the darkness to join the trio also sharing their food, blankets, and stories.

The next day meets them all waking up and staggering onward again. The wounded are ploddingly slow, making barely 8 or 9 miles a day. The group has now grown to over 30 and other refugees are adding to the ranks in ones and twos. Norris seems to be improving and the few spells the party gets each day they share amongst one another. Night falls after almost 90 degree heat and the evening breeze is muggy at best.

At this point the 3 battle wagons caravanning towards Broken Hills had been passing fleeing citizenry from Broken Hills, getting a picture from those they pass in snippets of horror filled telling. Beren and Gustav listen on and go over in their heads what lies ahead of them and what their needs will be. According to the captain, the caravans should be at Broken Hills tomorrow evening.

The next day the battlewagons come upon a large knot of refugees – over 40 of them. And in the mess they see Soren, Gwyn, and Norris. Heartfelt cries of welcome and what happened are shared and then Beren tells about his mission to go to Broken Hills and try to reclaim the Orcus Book. The captain wants to ride on but Soren and the other 2 do NOT want to go back to Broken Hills. Angry voices are raised and the captain flat out said – if you want to stay, fine. Stay. But we are riding on and doing it now. They are 6 hours at top speed from Broken Hills and Soren, Gwyn, and Norris get on the wagons and head back.

The party converses over the folly of this and the 3 friends explain to the priest and half-ogre what it is they saw and lived through at the mining town. At late lunch when the horses are being rested the party talks to the captain and explains in detail what is going on and what they’ll most likely see. Plans are talked about and we settle on arriving at the city tonight at 5 PM about 2-3 hours before dusk – a time when the shadows will be most active. We will go to Cornblood Keep and see if Sverek Falconhand is there and if so, what aid the mercenaries can offer. If not or he is dead, the caravan will NOT attempt heroics and instead turn back and ride away.

The 2nd thing will be to go to Murderer’s Hole and have Norris levitate down to the bottom to see if he could find the book. The same book that the party felt more and more that Bron had actually read from (but neglected to mention) and added to the woes that befell Broken Hills.

We arrived at 5 and for some time just looked at the destroyed city with open mouths and glazed eyes. Skeletal remains of homes, mud slides, fire scorched earth, thin haze of smoke rising, and the strange feeling of evil lurking about. Brother Beren calls on Tyr and makes a 10 count of the party invisible to undead – telling us that it will last almost an hour as well as the fact that if we DO encounter any undead, not to engage them as it will break the enchantment.

We then, ten of us, walk through the dead streets towards the heart of the city. We see dead, so many dead, littering the cobbles and alleys. Few buildings still stand and those that do we can hear strange movement within. There is no thought of being heroic here – only finding what we need to know and then leave.

Cornblood Keep is destroyed. The outer bailey wall is still 2/3rds standing but the barbican and gate house is a mass of rubble. The main keep within suffered the dual assaults of the dragon’s fury and the roaring fire and it is obvious that no one there still lives. Nothing lives. A few ghouls wander about, sniffing the air hungrily, their appearance still disturbingly human and normal given that they had only been turned a few days ago. We leave.

On the outskirts of town Brother Beren renews his invisibility spell to undead on the group and Norris fires up his boots, floating down Murderer’s Hole – taking almost 10 minutes to make it to the bottom. The ruins of the elevator are here as well as whatever flotsam collected at the chasm’s base. He can see both Hagni and Bor’s twisted and broken forms on the pile of wreckage – but no book.

Norris uses his wand of detecting magic and spots a glow coming from under the pile. With his bare hands he begins removing garbage and broken timbers, trying to get to the glowing item. As he was digging he made enough noise and an owlbear lumbered out of the dark. The bard levitated up just outside the beast’s reach, the angered ursine “Haaaaroooo-ing” below him. He then took out his flask of contact poison and dumped a small measure out – so the virulent caustic would strike the owlbear.

Who howled in pain and ran away, back into the darkness.

Alone again he sifted through the garbage until he found no book, but an iron cup of some sort. Pocketing it, he nodded his head at the two dead and levitated straight up – total time in the pit, almost 40 minutes.

We left Broken Hills, rejoined the caravan and rode away from town to camp far away in the wilderness. There was nothing we could do and the evil and destruction of Broken Hills was seemingly complete. The party and mercenaries would be heading back to Eider to tell Wodenlach what happened.

It was 2 days later that we arrived at Eider and saw more horrors here. A red dragon (guess which?) attacked the town almost 4 days ago. It burned the nobles district, stole the stone Olthar statue from Wodenlach’s garden, landed near South Court and flattened the party’s house and then flew off. The Baronet was badly hurt and was currently staying off the mainland at Blackshadow Manor. The group went there where they were met by Rigil Blackshadow, a host of his thieves, and Baronet Wodenlach who was nursing a broken leg and a host of bruises.

There were many angry words and the Baronet was pretty short with the group as they had caused part of this problem as well as failed to warn him of the dragon and its personal grudge with the group. It was decided that they would leave town as their presence was a possible liability and the fact that their home had been destroyed. Where they went didn’t matter, but the Pirate Lord was quite done with the Sundered Chains.

As for what they should do, the group thought about the new charter they had – signed by Sverek Falconhand and quite legal – just blank regarding their names as well as the party’s name. The party was going to go to Cymbarton by way of Dry River, stop at the adventurer’s guild there, and register but using most likely new names. And that’s where we left it – the group once again leaving a town behind them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Meet 112, Adv 10, 10/9/10

If I had to guess on how this adventure was going to wrap up, I would have been sitting in some other park looking at the pigeons instead of the resolution the party took us down. They have had the unfortunate luck and choices as of late to either piss off the townsfolk that they had to deal with or leave said town's in a blaze of spell fire and flash of steel.

But nothing exceeded that of dragon, storm giant, Orcus spell book fueled undead plague, set ablaze exit they had done to the beleaguered mining city of Broken Hills.

And in doing so they wiped out the adventure hooks, about every NPC, their original purpose for coming, as well as another permanent PC player (sorry Kyle!)

But they had a good time and that's all that matters to me!

Write up follows:

Bron settled at the landing of the 2nd level, his Fly spell still in force but his heart heavy over what he had been a part of. He took out the Orcus Book of Infinite Spells and realized that it is curse, not a blessing. So keeping his mind clear, he stroked the book, channeled a touch of Brittle into the oakleaf binding, and then balled up his fist and blasted every ounce of his monastic training into the book – attempting to destroy it.

And he did.

But, as the pages and binding were flying about, time seemed to slow down and then stop altogether. Standing before him shaking his head was a fairly non-descript malevolent man. He was bemoaning the fact that this was the 2nd time in as many days that he felt the need to come and see who was attempting to screw with his property. Orcus. Shit sandwich.

He then drew out a deck of battered cards and told our esteemed monk that he was going to have to draw from his deck – and then there was a clattering of a polyhedral dice – and it read “4”. Orcus grinned, “The dice have spoken. Get drawing.”

So our favorite Bron took his time and plucked out one card after another, getting 3 positives to every negative! Well done. One of the most powerful cards drawn was the wishing card – and Orcus had some time to kill – so it was time for Bron to get some questions asked as well so wishes granted.

As for questions, a card did come up that would reveal what was the answer to the biggest dilemma – which at this point of time was Myris the polymorphing red dragon that seemed to have lured the group here and was now up top wrecking the town of Broken Hills. Orcus told Bron that the Sundered Chains and Soren and Company had made some nasty habits as of late in the assault and slaying of a couple of juvenile brown dragons that were nesting at Dragonhole as well as the young adult green dragon that was revered as a swamp god by the lizardmen near Eider.

Orcus told Bron then that dragons live forever, never dying – only becoming more and more powerful. A brief history revealed that dragons were the first race created by the gods and they helped to shape and create the world. The dragon’s main helpers were the elves, dwarves, ogres, and humans and after the gods had ascended to the heavens the dragons sort of stayed in power. It was when the elves who had had enough had then launched a massive assault on the dragons, killing many of the elder ones that the balance of power shifted and the age of dragons went into decline and the rise of the humanoid races was able to take place.

Myris was a warden – his job was to make sure that dragonkind in this area were not assaulted and kept in good health. It was when he discovered that two dead browns that he began to investigate. He learned of the Sundered Chains and their efforts in Dragonhole and decided to find out where the group had gone. It was when he then learned of the change to Soren and Company and the death of the green that he had to put his plans in place.

He was going to lure the group here and make it their mission to eventually get lost in Murderer’s hole. Once here there was no way out with flight and he was going to then exact a personal revenge against the group by assaulting their homes and loved ones. However, Orcus did chuckle, the presence of the book and Bron’s reading of it, the attacks against the mighty red dragon, and the giant and undead horde have sort of confused and side tracked Myris and now according to the undead lord, the dragon was only going to further vent his frustrations here and then most likely leave – leaving the party also to their fates and forgetting about them unless they make the mistake of slaying another dragon.

Bron was surprised to learn all this and was also further surprised to find out that the entire Skelt issue was an unrelated matter all together. Orcus then asked Bron for his wishes and the monk wanted to save them. Orcus smiled and said he was busy – let’s have them now.

Bron did ask to have his strange and dark look removed, returning himself to his earlier appearance. He also asked to have his negative effects from the drawing of the deck abated. And finally he wanted the ability to use his monastic abilities more often per day. Orcus did grant all three wishes – but not in a manner that the rest of the group (specifically Norris) was going to find easy to deal with.

At that point the flow of time returned and Orcus along with his damaged spellbook disappeared. Our monk shook his head and then proceeded down the corridor towards the back of the level and took the elevator down to the 4th floor.

Meanwhile the rest of the group was going back to the 4th floor elevator to take it up to the 2nd floor and hopefully see if they can get out since the dragon seemed to be gone when Norris suddenly seemed to scream. His body swelled in size, the half elf topping out at over 6’ in height, his body massing quickly to over 200 lbs. In addition he felt a stirring disconnect for some reason and his motions became sluggish and less sure. The party was amazed at this and then Bron emerged from the hole.

It took all of 2 seconds for the party to notice the sudden similarity in size and body mass between the monk and the bard and the two of them got to words. Bron told the party of what he had seen above. The dragon, the giant, the town being attacked. It seemed the dragon would not be coming back here anytime soon and the group had a singular opportunity to try and save Arnog.

He did not mention his flight, or the reading of the book. Norris felt the monk had done something but there was no proof. The group was a bit torn at this point. It was asked where Bor was and Bron told us that the brave fighter had fallen down the pit along with Hagni. Then Norris asked where the book was and Bron told us that the tome had also fallen down the pit.

We talked about going down there to salvage it but discounted that possibility for now. No one knew it was there so we could always go back and get it after we saved Arnog and then went topside to see what was going on. We followed the 4th level back to the main chasm, blocked now by 3 and a half feet of ice still standing from Norris’ spell. There was talk of using Gwyn’s new firestaff to burn through but Bron had an idea.

Hoping that Orcus had played his fair, he reached deep within himself again, pulled up the ability to use his Touch of Brittleness again and punched the ice wall in an effort to break it. And it worked! However, Norris suddenly yelped in confusion. His even mind and capabilities to use his bardic abilities just grew weaker for some reason. Bron said nothing and the bard once again blamed the monk. The conversation got nowhere.

We went into the chasm and looked at the situation before us. We needed to cross the 20 odd feet as well as drop 60’ to the 5th level. The group pooled our diminishing piles of rope and Soren fired a stonebiter into the opposite wall. Through ropes and spikes we anchored a line across to the opposite side and one by one, the party slithered across the span and down the wall to the landing.

It was perhaps 10’ by 12’ and there was a crudely fitted door blocking the rest of the area. The group looked through and although it was difficult, there were able to deduce there was a corridor perhaps 40’ wide and then a swelling and widening room beyond of which maybe 90’ or so away were three men playing cards – one of the Arnog. Where the mage was, no one knew.

A number of plans were hatched; many of them involving missile fire and the group got themselves together and opened the door. About halfway down the corridor they were detected and the silent mage walked into view, beefy and red haired, he pointed at the party and a bolt of lightning appeared in front of the party and tore its way across the group. We answered with a few arrows and crossbow bolts and were dismayed to see a number of them stop short as if from a shield in front of the mage.

The enemy fighters rose to their feet and drew swords and we fired for bolts and arrows, poison being liberally used at this point. Some of us tried to get into position to ready ourselves to meet the charging enemy when the silent mage then used his next spell – Invisibility 10’ radius. And the 3 fighters and Arnog disappeared.


Soren took a Hail Mary shot at the silent mage’s last position and hit the mage’s shield – with a stonebiter arrow! The arrow then hovered INFRONT of the mage, in the magical shield spell, marking his position. A blast of power rolled from Brother Beren who used his Monster Summoning spell scroll and an Ogre appeared. The ogre was sent after the silent mage.

And then Norris whistled his spell scroll of ice storm and dropped a blasting of pounding hail on the mage who was casting against the group as well as a number of figures running through the ice to assault us. Two of them dropped from the pounding ice chunks. One of them ran forward to intercept the ogre. Ve tried to interfere but the enemy fighter tore the guard to shreds and stormed on past. Bron willed a charm on the enemy fighter and had him switch sides to fight with us.

Our hit points were dropping quickly and we needed to end this struggle as soon as possible. Soren was out of normal arrows and was now using stonebiters. So he loaded up a line on the back of the drilling bolt and fired it at the silent mage. Hitting him. Brother Beren told the ogre to “bring the line back here now!” The same line that was in the mage. This would bring him into Gwyn and Bron’s reach and allow the two fighters to take him down.

However the charmed fighter then did get a final blow in on the silent mage – a blow that brought him down into negative hit points. A blow that triggered the delayed fireball gem he had been given by Myris.

Chunks of fiery viscera tore through the group, killing Bron outright, the monk knocked on his ass. The fire also consumed Brother Beren – BUT – as he felt his skin blister and burn there were the clarion calls of trumpets and a pair of Valkyrie’s came down, swooping the trembling priest away and out of harm’s way. Remembering his draw from Orcus’ deck, he was using his one intervention of fate card! The valkyries then lowered him back down – 52 miles away in the party’s home in Eider fully healed and with all his spells returned for the day.

As for the ogre, he took the brunt of the blast but he did follow Brother Beren’s last order which was to run the line back to where the ogre had last seen him. He arrived – about 10’ from Norris (at Bron’s death the link between him and the monk was gone so he returned to his normal appearance) who was teetering on the high side of 10 hit points, looked around and did not see his summoning master. All he saw were a half elf in bad fitting armor, a dwarf nursing numerous burns. An elven archer bleeding and smoldering, and a platemail wearing fighter also suffering from too many wounds.

In other words – enemies.

The ogre raised his great axe up and roared – charging Norris who was yelling, “No! No!!!” trying to deflect the mighty blow and failing. His chest was smashed opened and the ogre had to shake the bard off the axe where he fell with a wet thud – ticking his way past the negative numbers.

Soren asked the shocked remaining one time enemy fighter if he was going to continue to struggle against them (them being ONLY Soren and Gwyn remaining!) or if he could count on helping. The fighter agreed to help and the elf, dwarf, and human attacked the now charging ogre and together they finished the fight.

A quick check about the room revealed that Bron was dead, Brother Beren was missing, Arnog was dead (killed during the Ice Storm spell), Ve was dead, and Norris was dying. It took a pair of potions to stabilize the bard but he was brought to the positive side of 0.

There was a tense moment when we learned that the fighter was not going to give up Arnog’s sword, nor his armor – saying that Myris had given them to him days ago. It was decided that it wasn’t a matter to be discussed now and that we should just get out of here with what we could. The portal was in the next chamber and the fighter went first, telling us that he would pave the way for the other two guards up there and that we would all get out together.

Meanwhile Brother Beren ran towards his front door in an effort to go to Baronet Wodenlach when he opened the portal to see two men standing there. Zoltan (looking VERY hurt and worn out) and a somewhat clean looking Detheron! Both sides caught each other up with what had been happening and what was going on. Detheron had followed his geas and went to Principia where he was able to find the severed unicorn head. When the horn was returned the unicorn arose once more, fully healed and a blast of raw magic filled the area.

There was also a young girl there, about 12, that Detheron was able to deduce was Vanir’s daughter. He had her handlers dispatched and along with Summerbloom (the unicorn) they left Principia and went the long way back towards Orihalcus – detouring to see Goloriana. The unicorn was proud to have her sister back and they promised to look into things for the druid. In thanks for his efforts they had called forth a powerful stallion named Tornado from the wild and the animal bonded itself to our druid. With a steed now, Detheron went to Orihalcus where he met with Deidra and the Children of the Wilted Leaf. Vanir’s daughter was left there in secret with the orphanage and he confided in Sir Walter Slaine as to what was going on. Sir Walter said that he had heard from Karis who had returned his bondsman ring and was with some unsavory characters.

Detheron then went on his way back the long way to Eider where he came across Zoltan living outside the city in the swamp. The gypsy had escaped after 3 weeks of abuse from what he said was a group of underground shapeshifters. They had imitated him a number of times and tortured information out of him. Then they had been going into Eider for some reason every 3 or 4 days and buying whatever arrows the bowyers and fletchers had on hand. Hundreds and hundreds and even thousands of arrows were coming out of Eider and into the swamp. The druid had healed our gypsy friend and the two of them had gone into Eider, met with the Baronet, and learned that the party’s house was here and they should go there for a night’s rest before going to Broken Hills – the last place the group said they were going off to.

Stories all shared at this point, the three companions were on their way to the Baronet to talk about the dragon, the storm giant, and the undead.

Back to Soren, Gwyn, and Norris, the three companions along with the 3 guards remaining all took some potions of levitation (an extra couple going into our pouches) and then we all floated up and out of Murderer’s Hole. Reunited with Digger the wolverine, we climbed up the side of the cleft and beheld the town of Broken Hills.

The dragon and giant were gone, but the damage was done. Cornblood Keep was writhed in flames and most of the town square was a burning ruin. Falconhand Park was ablaze and there seemed to be a dark aura across the entire north end of town from the cemetery all the way to the stables. To the south the tannery was on fire as well as a dozen or more nearby homes. And everywhere there were screams and shouts and cries in the darkness. Darkness that seemed to move and float and flit about as if alive.

There was a thin ragged line of fleeing refugees running from the city, casting fearful glances behind them as they made their way out of the remains of their homes and town. The three guards wished the party good luck and said they were NOT going into that – instead would make their way to Eider and then eventually northward to Dilabria. Soren, Gwyn, and Norris took one last look and shouldering their packs on tired frames turned their feet along the northeast road – the road out of Broken Hills and towards Eider.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Meet 111, Adv 10, 10/2/10

At some point all the blood and destruction and broken homes and shattered economies and EVERYTHING crazy that your party's do and leave behind them is going to catch up. I've had it happen before and I always pay some attention to what decisions they make and hope to weave it into the greater tapestry of the world my character's live in.

And it just happened to work out that they faced and defeated three dragons in the period of 2 months in game time. Now, none of these dragons were at all very powerful: 2 of them were about 50 years of age, and the green was just about 130 - nothing to be considered awe-inspiring wyrm. Non of them had any spell power or dragonfear.

So it went to be that I wanted the equivalent of a powerful dragon to let them know that their foray's against lizard-kind were noted, disapproved of, and should be curtailed. So when I designed this adventure - I was running two concurrent paths for the party to explore - Aaron Skelt and the dead man's constant rising from the grave, and Myris the red dragon setting the scene for the party to be in a place far from help, weak from spells, and then eventually trapped underground while he ransacked whatever they felt was important to them.

The two themes went back and forth over each other but in reality had nothing to do with one another - it was two adventures at the same time in town.

And the group really came together for this one - I was proud of them.

Write up follows:

We gathered in the hall, readied our weapons and discussed quietly which of us was going to go on point and attack the volatile mage Fazon and his cronies in the next chamber first. It was decided that Bron would spearhead the assault, the master being the most nimble, speedy, and adept of us all in hand to hand combat. So Norris whistled up a silence charm on the monastic’s claymore while he downed a potion of Infravision and readied himself with Ironskin, Adrenaline control, and drew his blade free – going for a Sure Strike to end Fazon right out and once and for all. The rest of the group was going to follow a few seconds behind, hitting the guards within the chamber like a hammer to an anvil.

Bron nodded to us all, threw his armor class to the wind, and ran down the hall at full speed. He turned the corner and took in the surroundings swiftly – two tables up ended, four men behind with crossbows at the ready, a man behind them in full wizard’s regalia, and a bow wielding skulking figure near the end of the chamber by a crudely fitting door. Most of the men within were surprised at Bron’s charge, more so when the monk vaulted over the table with his pole arm as a lever, clearing the top by almost 6 feet. He dropped his staff, expertly drew his blade, and slammed it full force into the mage figure who was apparently ready for the monk.

He slammed his quarterstaff on the floor and the top burst into flame, which he tried to intersect Bron with. Fire laced about the area, setting the monk’s clothes on fire – but nothing else (Hooray for Ironskin). And then the claymore hit and clove the staff wielding mage figure almost in half and killed him instantly.

Of the 4 guardsmen, only 1 was not stunned into inaction. He dropped his crossbow and climbed over the table barricade, running for thesafety of the hallway and away from the terrifying monk. Only to hit the rest of the group coming towards the fight. He begged for mercy and Gwyn chopped him down, the dwarf proceeding past while Grid gave the bandit a whack to the noggin and ended his cries and begging.

Meanwhile, the skulking bow sporting figure was trying to wave his hands arcanically which seemed to piss him off (inside the silence globe!) so he drew a ring of keys and went to escape out the door. The party arrived at this point and Soren’s deadly bow skill dropped one of the guards who was going to shoot Bron in the back, the monk running to stop and intercept the fleeing skulking figure.

He kicked through the door and tackled the fleeing man who was still waving his hands wildly about as if casting some spells, but frustrated in the silence zone. As for the rest of the guards, they saw the writing on the wall and let fall their weapons, declaring themselves unwilling to fight any longer. We ran out past the door and watched as Bron was rolling about the ground with the wiry figure, eventually the group keeping him from falling off the edge and capturing him, bringing him into the room.

We quickly ascertained that the figure we thought of as Fazon was a ruse and this man was actually the erstwhile mage. He was divested of his belongings, one of which was an enchanted set of leathers which the party took and donned – pleased to note that the hide was draconic in nature! We played question and answer with Fazon and the guards until we learned that Myris was definitely below and he contacts the 3 mages here at least once a day with some telepathic spell, and such contact was seemingly done already. We consolidated our prisoners and discovered that throughout it all we had the three mages (Fazon, Girk and the “other one”), and 5 brigands the mages were using as guardsmen. Coupled that to our own party of 5 and then the additional 3 still living guards (Grid, Ve, and Hagni) we were growing uncomfortable still being down here.

The decision was made to work our way out.

We were going to go back to the top, let the Captain of the guard know what was going on, and then get more men and come down here and storm Myris’ position. We trussed up our prisoners (both Girk and the nameless mage pretty hurt) and walked then back to the elevating chimney, rode the enchantment back to the 2nd level, and started our trek back to the main shaft. Along the way we did ask some of the talkative guards about the two rooms we had seen and not gone into. The room with the clay jars was from some other thief group that had used the caves some time ago and were brewing their own poison – it was very virulent and unfortunately air borne – so anyone who screwed with the covers usually got a dose of it.

As for the room with the sticks, that’s all they were – just sticks. ;)

At the chasm it was decided that Hagni and Bron would climb out, trundling up the 120’ of rope to the surface. Along the way Bron was going to also take the body of Bor out with him, the fallen guard strapped to his back and tied on with ropes. Hagni started climbing the rope first and after a few moments, Bron followed suit.

And about 20’ up the rope the strands near the top broke free and the entire length fell down the shaft taking Hagni, Bron and Bor with it. They screamed as they fell into the darkness with Bron using his preternatural monastic skills to kick off on the passing stone wall, his hands catching tiny indents and protuberances, slowing his fall slightly as he twisted in mid air, his still potion enhanced vision picking out a platform coming up fast. He pulled himself in and rolled over so that the dead body of Bor would take the impact from his fall and he struck with a bone jarring crash. His backpack made a crinkling sound as his potion bottles shattered within and the leather ties binding him to Bor burst upon impact.

The party heard the fall of their friends and then the screams of Hagni shunting off as the guard slammed into the positioned elevator far below, shattered the fragile stays holding it in place, and the entire mechanism rattled and clanged and roared as it collapsed the last 100’ to the floor far below with a choking spray of gravel, dust, and splinters. Then the squeal of excited bats echoed about and the party was frantic – what they hell happened?!?!

Eventually Bron let the group know he was alive. He took stock of his area – a shirt corridor leading down a dozen paces to a crudely fitted door – and according to what the group had learned, at least another pair of the brigand guards and a room with a portal to the 5th level. But he was wounded and pressed for time and the monk had to get the hell out of here now. The remainder of the party meanwhile happy to know that Bron was alive shoved and pushed and cajoled everyone back away from the chasm and back down the corridor to escape any spotting from potential bats as well as just getting the hell out of dodge.

And then we heard, “I know you’re here.” It sounded deep and from below and echoed as if by magic down every room, chamber, and corridor. “You’ve come a long way and it’s time that we finished this, Soren and company, Sundered Chains.” The voice was Myris and he then proceeded to detail some knowledge of the entire party – saying who they were, some of their recent exploits, and where they’ve been. He touched on everyone except for Bron and Brother Beren but did mention Olthar and Zoltan.

During all of this Bron was looking through his gear and unwrapped the Orcas created Book of Infinite Spells that Norris and Beren had trusted him with. Knowing that Henian had used the tome to learn magic on his own without a tutor and having learned from the bard that the book can provide “just the spell one really needs” if it is opened randomly (with the negative problem of awakening zombies in the process) – Bron drew a deep breath and flipped the pages open.

And it settled on a spell titled, “Fly”.

He read the words and then realized that he was able to soar with only his thoughts to guide him. Knowing the bats were getting closer Bron shot towards the chasm and then straight up and out of the hole, settling near wolverine “Digger” still waiting patiently above for the rest of the party to return. It was dusk now and the light was fading fast.

Meanwhile the group had taken refuge in the room that had the quasit in it earlier, satisfied that they had given the bats the slip and hoping that Bron was away. Myris continued to talk to the group and was growing wroth that they were still “unfound”. So he said, “You have hidden yourself well, little mice. Let me see, since I know you did not dispatch any of my mageborn minions, I can assume they are with you. Ahem. ALICE,” with that the nameless mage lifted his head and the rest of the group muttered, “wait – his name is Alice?”

Myris continued, “Alice In Vas Flam Grav Por!!!”

And then the mage known as Alice looked down as his belly which suddenly glowed bright yellow and he exploded into a tremendous ball of gore splattered fire.

The fireball consumed the mage and filled the chamber without a problem, sweeping over everyone in its mad haste to escape. But the damage from the flames were more than enough to slay some of the brigands as well as fatally wound Girk, the 2nd mage.

Who muttered, “Oh…fuck!” a moment before the contingent fireball gem he had also imbibed some weeks unknowingly from Myris shattered on the passing of his hit point total from positive to negative – and a 2nd fire ball tore through the already oxygen starved chamber slaying the last of the brigands, wounding the hell out of the group, killing Grid the guardsman, and bringing Fazon to a dangerous low 2 hit point total (the last mage terrified at seeing what happened and not wanting the same to happen to him). We heard Myris chuckle, “Gotcha!” and then the sound of something flying in the distant chimney.

We ran out of the quasit chamber and down the hall toward the elevator – the squeal of bats funneling into the corridor behind up growin loud as well as the heavy sound of something with mass landing on the 2nd level platform area. Fazon was staying with us, begging for us to save him. Gwyn and Soren talked and it was decided that keeping Fazon with us was dangerous and too much of a risk – we needed to get rid of the mage and do it in a way that would not have him blow up around us. And that reminded the party of the room with the 3 casks filled with airborn poison.

Soren prayed to Frey, asking his god to grant Gwyn the ability to delay and poisonings he might encounter. The god replied in the affirmative to the ranger – and then said, “and tell the dwarf he’s fire retardant as well.” Soren paused. “What?” “”You know,” Frey quipped, “let the dwarf know he’s also resistant to fire.” Then he heard the god laugh in his mind and the contact seemed to break. Upon telling this the Gwyn both Soren and the dwarf felt that Frey was screwing with them and opted to treat the spell as poison resistance only, not fire resistance.

Gwyn shoved the mage ahead of him, the rest of the party going into the elevator area. Fazon wouldn’t let go so the angry dwarf lifted him up and hurled him into the room with the poison casks – and seemed to actually throw him OVER the casks in his fury. Fazon was thrilled to be alive and was trying to make his way back when Gwyn then took an iron bar and hurled it at the casks in an effort to break them – also missing the pottery jars. Fazon was screaming at him to stop and we heard the bats getting closer – time was about out.

So it was a steady throw one more time from the angry dwarf, this time ringing off Fazon’s skull with a hollow thwock, dropping the mage with a meaty thud. Gwyn ran as fast as he could for the elevator as Fazon exploded from his own swallowed gem and his negative hit point total, the wall of flame catching up to him just as he made a frantic leap for the elevator shaft, enacting the levitating runes, and the dwarf fell into the hole as the fireball washed overhead with a snarling roar.

The same fireball that burst all three poison filled cask, sending a wave of poison tinged air down the corridors, into the approaching bats, infecting them and then setting them on fire.

From above Bron heard first one blast and then a second, a bit of smoke trailing out of the hole. It was when the 3rd one sounded that he was going to go back into the hole that he beheld something coming out of the darkness.

It was a man, about 5’10”, a bit heavy set, black hair, ruddy complexion, and a sense of power about him. And he was floating as if flying without wings or support. He was frowning as he stared into the smoking hole and waving his hand to scatter some of the soot from him. Bron figured that this was Myris and confronted the flying mage.

“Who the hell are you?” Myris asked, snarling at the monk to get the hell out of here he had things to take care of. Bron then flew off the side of Murderer’s Hole and blasted as hard as a blow he could against the mage’s head, attempting to knock him out but failing. The two of them struggled in mid air for a few moments until Myris grappled with Bron and tried to drive the mage against the cliff wall by flying the two of them there furiously fast. Bron twisted in mid air and slung Myris ahead of him, driving the mage against the rock face and bloodying his face with scratches and small cuts.

“Enough of this,” Myris growled and hissed some arcanic words making a fiery bow and arrow appear in his hands – shooting the burning brand at Bron who dodged barely in time, whacking Myris along the head with his polearm.

The rest of the group once again on the 4th level spent a few moments healing up with what little healing was left and then made their way back towards the main chimney area.

Myris effected not knowing who Bron was, saying that he was taking care of some verminous adventuring group and had no time to waste with the flying monk. He snagged his hands together and sent a fireball coursing towards the now rapidly retreating monk. Bron escaped just ahead of the blast and went low to the ground to avoid being seen.

Satisfied that he had gotten rid of the annoying monk, Myris settled himself over the hole and dropped down into the darkness. Bron slowly flew back in see what was going on.

The party was back in the room they had fought Fazon in, turning the tables around so they can use it as cover, Norris hiding in the corner hear it so he could attempt a surprising blow should the mage come through. We heard Myris say through his augmented magical voice, “Sorry about that, I was distracted. Hmmm…you took out my bats, clever. Makes it hard for me to find you.” He paused. “But it matters not because I can already tell where you are.”

He then went on about killing his family and how they couldn’t expect to do that and get away with it. He’s spent almost a month studying us and learning about us and what we were capable of doing so he could set up this lure here and take the group out correctly. Who did we kill? The party was wracking their heads trying to figure it out. And if he wanted to take us out, why the convoluted plot?

Myris informed us that he didn’t want us dead, not just yet and not for some time. He just wanted us to know the horror of having our lives torn down around us. Then something heavy landed on the other side of the 4th level landing and we heard Myris’ voice much closer. “Time to get this over with.” The door was locked and he grew wroth. “You fools, you can’t keep me out!”

Then we heard a whumphing sound and something leatherine and cracking and the door bulged inward until it burst with a wrenching sound – revealing the snout of a furious and scarred looking red dragon!

Shit! Fuck! Myris was a big assed angry red god damned dragon!

He took a breath in to breathe and Soren plugged the beast from the other side of the cover. Norris unfurled the scroll of “Ice Wall” we had picked up earlier and the bard poured the enchanted icy wall right over the dragon’s snout, filling up the corridor, and taking over 2/3rd of the volume of the room. Myris exhaled and his inferno released his jaws from the ice, melted most of the local ice around him, and tore down about 60% of the compacted ice wall leaving only a thin 4’ ribbon of dense blue ice between the party and the dragon.

The group grabbed their gear and ran back down the 4th level corridor away from the dragon and once more towards the back of the area near the elevator.

Bron looked down the hole and saw the dragon in the gloom, fire coursing past its jaws, the great beast taking up the entire bottom of the shaft. He took a deep breath, withdrew the Orcus Book from his pack, flipped it randomly opened and read the spell that appeared there. Otiluke’s Freezing Sphere.

An absolute zero temperate ball of intense cold ice blasted away from the monk, ripped deep into the column, and splattered with moaning power against the red dragon pinned inside the area. Myris screamed terribly and looked up, fixing Bron with a single baleful eye. The monk took off at a tremendous pace and flew towards the safety of the wyvern watchtowers.

Myris polymorphed himself back into his human guise and popped out of Murderer’s hole looking around with death in his gaze. Bron was calling out to the guards manning the tower that the flying figure wreathed in smoke and fire was a magical wyvern like threat. The guards were shocked at what they had been hearing so far for the last 20 minutes that they fired the ballista at the flying Myris – hitting the soaring mage and dropping him halfway to the ground. Bron was pumping his fist and snarling “Yes!”.

Myris shook his head and growled out, “Ok, enough of this shit!” and then polymorphed back into his dragon form. The local wyvern towers were ringing the bells and calling out, “Dragon!” while they shot at the 200’ long hovering beast. Bron dodged away, flying for the next wyvern tower at Myris took a lungful of air and breathed 126 hit points of red dragon breath at the tower our monk had just escaped from. The three guards were immolated instantly and the finger of flame crashed wildly about as the 40’ tall wood, stone, and leather tarped structure was consumed.

As the dragon dove towards another tower Bron wanted to get the hell out of here. He streaked away to the south and then back around towards Cornblood Keep where panic was beginning to set in. He pointed out to the Captain of the guard the dragon and was assured that the militia was getting their men together and crossbows to the ready. However we had another problem as more people were streaming in and crying about the seemingly multitudinous number of ghoulish creatures popping up for the last 10 minutes and attacking the citizenry.

Myris meanwhile loosed his breath weapon on the animal paddock, setting the horses and cows within ablaze and forcing the beasts to stampede, taking down fences and setting other local thatched roofs on fire. The dragon seeing the massing of people near the town square winged over and strafed the ground, breathing out yet another fire blast. Over 60 crossbow bolts were shot skyward, most of them hitting the prodigal bulk of the dragon but few of them seeming to actually hurt the creature. Meanwhile his latest pass set the town square, the stocks, part of the court house, the militia, a section of Falconhand park, and finally Three Finger Weaver’s on fire and killed at least 2 dozen townsfolk, sending scores more fleeing in dragon born terror.

Bron was horrified. As the beheld the dragon winging over and taking up position near the northern part of Broken Hills, ready to blast his way down Main street, he grit his teeth and took out the damned Orcus Book one more time, tearing it opened and reading the words that appeared: Monster Summoning VIII!

A 35’ tall gigantic figure appeared with electricity running across it’s bluish white skin, a terrible glower in its eyes. Storm Giant. The townsfolk nearby screamed, and Bron felt himself twist inside, his skin growing pale, and hair and eyes changing – a crueler outlook on life taking over his mind set as the evil of the damned book took a piece of him. The giant looked at the monk and Bron pointed at the dragon diving fast now, saying simply, “Kill it!”

The Storm Giant replied, “Yes, Master,” its voice like an avalanche of boulders, and it channeled a blast of lightning into its hand and sent the bolt tearing upward to slam into the dragon’s side. Myris dropped lower and that allowed the Storm Giant to leap, grab the wyrm by the hind leg, and drag it down to earth where the two titanic bodies smashed into the cistern and sent 50,000 gallons of water to sweep across the fire scarred ground near the town square.

And then we heard alarm bells ringing on the north end of town as the guards and watch up there were fleeing from the cemetery and the people were crying out, “Shadows! Sweet Thor save us! The dead are arising! Shadows!” Flying up to get a better vantage point Bron watched as a black wave emerged from the graveyard and undead shadows swept into buildings, homes, and through cracks, draining the strength and life from the populace there. He then looked at the Orcus crafted Book of Spells he had been using and felt terrible remorse, knowing that his constant use of the cursed tome had made this latest evil befall the people.

While the dragon and the Storm Giant rolled across the ground, knocking Rainbarrels’ Ale and Spirits flat and caving in half of the Swaddling Goose Inn, their wild titanic battle also killed what populace was nearest to them. And to Bron’s horror he watched the recently slain dead arise as shadows themselves and tear off through the town for more prey. The militia was torn between holding off the mounting undead and stopping the dragon and giant.

The monk then took off as fast as he could southward, sweeping far outside the borders of town before coming back to Murderer’s Hole and dropping down to find his group and try to not only link back up, but also explain the terror that was befalling Broken Hills above; the weight of Orcus’ damned spell book weighing heavily on his back…and on his heart.