This wrapped up the 11th adventure, Shadows Run Deep (yes, I still name all my adventures - its a habit from the 80's) and brought to a closure the party's involvment and subsequent destruction of Broken Hills. This has had a profound impact on the layout of my world and will have larger long range effects that has changed the way I envisioned the political shifting of the county to continue.
At the end of the meeting I flat out asked the group what they liked, what they don't like, and what they hope to have fun with around the table and the results were surprising.
Dungeons - 5- 6 meetings is about tops. (Did have 1 guy who was quite happy with 10-15)
More Town Adventuring stuff.
Provide some rails for the party to follow.
Enjoying the hack-n-slash.
There were mixed results on fleshing out the world/characters/homework with it being liked but a few were less entused about it.
Some outdoor stuff - again, not too much.
Mixed feelings on either being forced to follow a deadline for an adventure and doing it at whatever pace they like.
Everyone liked the: we screw up or do well - it follows us wherever we go theme.
Current end of days write up follows:
During the walk to Fulgore Keep, Brother Beren began to wake up, and in doing so was screaming about his missing arm. His voice was going to call down what trolls might be in the area so it was time to put a stop to his yelling. A few knocks to the back of his skull and Brother Beren was zonked out. Norris awoke as well, the bard dragging his ass with weary steps and tired.
It was well after 9 that we arrived at Fulgore Keep, looking much like how we remembered it. It sat like a squat toad on one side of the Copper Bottom Ravine, a series of slapped together buildings and tents arranged in a semi-circle around it. We followed Detheron to the local tavern known as the Rusty Bucket. A legless man sat outside of it, begging for coin and claiming to be the victim of a troll attack. We passed him a few coins and entered.
It was smoky and drafty and filthy, but it was civilization to a point. Strange and disreputable people were all over the place. We saw elves and half orcs, slavers and wizards, sell swords and trappers, even a pair of wild elves with a 5 headed hydra all muzzled and drugged up. There was little room to sit so we had Hammerhand toss a few of the slavers about until we had two tables cleared. The proprietor, a burly scarred red-haired brute named Frankish, didn’t care much and we overpaid for our rooms and meals.
We then talked. We had some time to get back to Cymbarton and wanted to rest well, leaving in the morning to clear out of the Dusty Mountains as quick as possible and get back on the road to Ponyboro. Brother Beren had been studying the Sun Stone for a bit and coupled with what we had learned and found out plus Hammerhand’s revelations, the wielder of the Sun Sphere would most likely be consumed in the final conflagration. Brother Beren was willing to do that in order to right the wrong that had been done to Broken Hills.
He did not want his hand regrown and was at one with his faith in Tyr that this was the right thing and the right path to take. We drank somberly at the table and then got ourselves to rest. During Brother Beren’s time unconscious, he received a vision from Tyr in which that there was a member of the group that had a tie with one of Loki’s cohorts and he needed to be corrected/punished. The priest was indicating that he suspected who it might be, thinking it was Norris, but was surprised to find out that it was Detheron! Seemed the priest had made a deal some time ago with a demonic entity to all Zoltan to be raised and the deal was still open – a favor still out there to be taken.
What was Beren to do? Tyr gave him mistletoe and suggested/instructed that before they arrived at Broken Hills that the mistletoe be given to the druid so that it was on his person. Beren agreed and then had woken up.
It was at the table here that Beren gave it to Detheron and told him that his god said he should have it. Detheron thanked the priest with a quizzical look and pocketed the herb in his pouch. We rested that night and it was about 5 in the morning that Detheron received a knock on his door.
It was a wild haired, wrinkled and strange wild eyed mage – the same one that had teleported him, Guyus, and Rahyk about 7 days ago. He was looking for more work and the two of them got into a conversation where another teleport was offered. Prices dickered a bit until the mage went from asking for coins to bodies. “Two bodies!” he cried and the druid stopped, frowning. What for? The mage needed dead bodies for…stuff. For a moment Detheron shook his head and then started to lead the mage to some random stranger’s door.
The mage did say he needed the person’s name as well or the summoning/raising wouldn’t work as he wanted. This caused a wrinkle for Detheron who then haggled down to 1 body. Mage agreed. What to do? With a moment’s thought, Detheron pointed to Denath and Salisithin’s room – saying that one of the men inside was Denath and he would be an acceptable target.
The mage went to the door cast some spell outside of it, and greenish smoke entered underneath. The mage listened then and frowned. He asked Detheron if there was something strange about the two men as they seemed to be still alive. Detheron played dumb and shrugged. So the mage summoned a disembodied sword and sent the scintillating blade through the door jamb and into the room. Some sounds of scuffles followed and then Salisithin came out. The mage drew his dagger and some fight followed before the undead alchemist fell.
Detheron was very loath to piss the mage off so he provided him with Salisithin’s name as well. The mage then offered to “send Detheron and his friends, all of them, anywhere they want”. The druid asked to be sent to Cymbarton, the mage agreed and there was a blast of rainbow light and a sense of disjointing and the entire party, animals, and belongings were teleported to right outside the southwestern gate of the county capital.
Guards were surprised (14 or so odd people spring into appearance at 5:30 in the AM in a rainbow spray of lights). It was the presence of Hammerhand, the dwarven undead fighter floating slightly off the ground, a halo of dark energy around him, that sent the guards into a tizzy. They tried to take him down and the party moved away from him. Detheron said that we would meet up later and he should get out of here. A few bolts of holy water filled glass arrows hit the dwarf, causing him to hiss and moan. He then exploded into a few thousand locusts and flew away.
As for the rest of us, the guards asked many questions. We made believe we did not know where the dwarf came from and were quick to mention the Sun Sphere, Lord Kazak, Count Sedaris, and Broken Hills. We were passed up the chain of command until we were escorted to the Sedarian Demesne and the count’s castle.
We were allowed to clean up quickly and get dressed – Detheron saying nothing on how we got here and nothing about the missing Denath and Salisithin. The party made noise about going back to Fulgore Keep and learning what happened. We met with the count and Kazak, verified we had the Sun Sphere, were supplied with a staff of the correct size, and were going to set off the next day with an honor guard of 20 men and horses for all. Guyus made some deal with the Count that if we did this that we might get the land around Fulgore Keep lorded to us and the count conditionally agreed that he would contemplate 2 of the party’s members.
We rested well and the next day bid Galf and Throdi good luck and took everyone else with us, riding off to Broken Hills. We slept that night and the next day rode until around 10 AM to the outskirts of the city. The horses would go no further. The grasses were dead, animals in the streets were bloated and rotten, the sky was oppressive. Hammerhand had rejoined us. We drew together and Brother Beren cast and invisibility spell on the group that would make them unseen to undead.
Then we stood near the priest who held up the sun sphere mounted and it drew the light in towards itself, pulling Brother Beren towards the town, illuminating the area around the cleric in 10’ radius with holy light. It was uncomfortable for Hammerhand and Mebali to stand near, but the two undead came as well. We entered the proper portion of Broken Hills, weapons at the ready and eyes peeled.
The immediate area was awash with dead carcasses, slimy mud, and the stillness of death. A few figures shuffled about, moaning slowly as they did so. Hidden in the shadows were others, skulking and leaping about. They ignored the group, the invisibility to undead holding. Further northward the destruction was very apparent. A full quarter of Cornblood Keep had fallen, the outer towers collapsed. The cistern had been smashed, turning the quarry and a portion of the roadway into a hardened mass of mud and rock. Trees reached upward with skeletal hands, their leaves burned away. Falconhand Park was a ruin of stumps and shattered statuary. But the most damning, at the top of the highest rise on the north end of town, very near the cemetery, the Temple of Thor stood alone, blotted under a spinning vortex of dark energy that churned some 300’ over the top of the main spire. And it was there that Beren said we needed to go.
The first zombies wandered towards us, drawn to Hammerhand’s negative energy leeching from his body. They surrounded him, slowing the dwarf down, and choking the road slowing us down as well. We took our time, disturbed by seeing even the animals themselves were also wandering about as zombies. It was when they pressed to tight around Hammerhand that he was convinced to disappear – the dwarf forming into his insect cloud shape and the undead milled away.
When Hammerhand returned to us a few minutes later, he reported that it was very disturbing to do that and that he felt like he was not in control while in that form. We pushed on until the crowd was too tight again and once more Hammerhand was suggested to send the undead away. He yelled at one local ghoul to, “LEAVE!!!” and the ghoul exploded! But more dark energy came from Hammerhand and he seemed to stop and swallow a few time reflexively. Guyus informed us that Hammerhand was now radiating a tiny bit of evil. The dwarf informed the party that he did NOT like doing that and the group agreed he should avoid that.
It was at this time that we heard hoof beats and a mounted cowled and very dead guardsman rode up on a zombified horse. He ignored the party and spoke to Hammerhand, inviting him to come speak with the local lord and that he was very welcome here. Hammerhand said he would meet the lord and where should he go? Why – to the Temple of Thor of course. Of course.
The rider rode back to tell the lord (who we had assumed to be Aaron Skelt – the figure that was the specter when we were here before), leaving us to continue our trek through town, again only Hammerhand and Mebali were noticed.
When the group was way too thick around us Hammerhand lured the majority of the undead away, taking them overland behind Cornblood Keep and northward through town to meet up with the group again near the Thorian Temple. With the dwarf gone, the trip was much easier for the party. We saw many variations of zombies and ghouls, but as for shadows – none so far.
It was when we were getting very close to our goal, turning left by Two Cats Inn, that we encountered a major obstacle. A figure barred our way – middle aged, human, fat to the point of being obese, thin beard, holding a small rod in his left hand. And he could see us. Guyus tried to detect for Evil and was momentarily stunned from the emanations coming from the figure. Definitely evil, and most likely otherworld.
He asked where we were going and why would we want to fix Broken Hills. Beren retorted and the two of them got into a small spat of words – going back and forth over the weakness inherent in Tyr and his followers and Beren all but claiming the figure was either Orcus or a minion of. But it was when the figure turned to Detheron and reminded him that he had made a deal some time ago to help bring Zoltan back, that the group had a pause. Detheron agreed he remembered it and the figure said ok – it’s time to call in that marker – get me the Sun Sphere and staff.
We had an interparty moment here with Detheron looking to wheedle out of it when the figure finally grew cross and said that if you think Beren is on your side, he’s trying to kill you with that bit of poisoned mistletoe that his pathetic one-handed god bestowed on him to give to you. Beren tried to back pedal and Detheron was very abrupt on his dealings with the priest – eventually flat out asking him what the damn deal was. Beren admitted that Tyr had given him the mistletoe in a vision and that it was because Detheron had made a deal with a minion of Loki.
The Orcus-ine figure then told Detheron to either give him the Sun Sphere or reach in and take out the poisoned mistletoe but he had to do one of the two now. If the mistletoe did not kill him, then he was liar and was trying to cause strife with him and Beren – if it DID kill him, then Beren was a murdering lying stooge. Detheron decided to trust Beren and reached into his pouch to take out the silverleafed plant.
And promptly died.
The fat man laughed long and hard about it, wished the party well, and as a parting gift, disabled the invisibility to undead spell. Just god damned great.
Norris fired up a fast Delay Poison for Detheron who stood up woozily, knowing he had only a short number of hours before the poison killed him again. The rest of the group drew together and began to attack the zombies and ghouls that tried to attack us (none of the undead wanting to cross the perimeter of the Sun Sphere’s light). Brother Beren called on Tyr to empower everyone’s blows against the necromantic foes which did succeed, but it was like shoveling out a lake – as more zombies and ghouls came.
And then we saw it – the vortex of dark energy over the Thorian Temple was not a storm, but was thousands and thousands of shadows. And they were swarming in this direction. Covering the sky, blotting the sun, and dulling the Sun Sphere’s glow.
We fired up light spells and withdrew our continual light stone, used the light wand – anything to keep the Sun Sphere glowing brightly – the magical dwarven made artifact pulling in the enchanted light and pushing back the dark. We ran on, dropping what zombies and ghouls we could find. It was near Potterson’s Clayworks that evil struck again.
This time in the form of our fallen companion and monastic brother, Bron. He came leaping out a window and using his powers, critically struck Brother Beren in the throat – missing killing him by 1 point. Brother Beren could not let go of the Staff as it would end the Sun Sphere’s influence so he could not cast spells. The rest of the group tore into the undead monk who gave as good as he got, but in the end it was just one man (undead too!) and was eventually slain.
Hammerhand returned at this point and had over 300 zombies and ghouls with him, filling the street. We asked him to go to the Bathhouse and lure the undead there and he did so, once more clearing the street for us. More light spells were cast into the Sun Sphere and the group pushed on to the last bastion – the Thorian Temple.
We ran hard, the vault of shadows overhead, arriving at the shattered doors of the temple. The wooden frames were pitted and shattered and inside the pews were scattered all over. Standing near the altar was the spectral figure of Aaron Skelt. He was wroth with us, identifying himself as the lord of Broken Hills. There were some angry shouts and at some point it devolved to melee with Aaron briefly and then holy water was sent flying.
The culmination of all things ended when Brother Beren arrived at the darkest part of the temple and willed the Sun Sphere to full radiance. The stone made a shallow roaring noise, drawing Brother Beren’s strength with it – it radiated brighter and brighter – blowing holes in all the shadows above, shredding Aaron Skelt, knocking what Zombies might be around to dust and shattered bones. And still it grew brighter until it seared outward with a blast of rainbow bright white light and crash that dropped everyone to the ground and knocked them out.
They awoke at some point later, slowly, blind and seeing only white, and shouting for one another. They heard Hammerhand in the distance, the dwarf no longer undead and also quite blind. And the land around them was silent – no moans, shuffling feet, nothing. Just still, just silent.