In my younger days I had lots of them - small areas of the astral plane that were carved out with little worldlets - they can be terribly easy - or terribly dangerous. As I got older something happened and I stopped using them for some reason.
When I first made Fengarth's Tower I had a tiger's eye gate in there that went to a little pocket world that I had run a party of adventurers through many years ago. I figured it'd be nice to have a run through the Grylian landscape once again. But the group never encountered it - until recently.
So here we are - in the world of the Tigermen, Frey, Giants, Dritka, Gylfang, Sutur, Snorri's Pipe, threatening volcanos, wooly mammoths, and a chance to race across the Bifrost and make their way home.
Write up follows:
Guyus had his hands out to lift the huge tiger’s eye gem from the bureau but when he touched it he found himself elsewhere. He was knee deep in snow, a pale sun shining far overhead in a steel grey cloudy sky. About a quarter mile away on a low rise stood an oversized citadel, the walled keep adjoined by a massive 30’ wall that stretched to the west for miles until lost in the haze of distance. To his south was a mighty forest of hundred foot tall pines.
An eight count of running figures clan in scraped and raw skins and hides were running through the deep snow, breath steaming about them as they tried to outdistance the four count of pursuers that followed. Their predators were unlike anything he had seen before. Over 7’ in height, closer to 300 lbs, they were clad in crudely made leather jerkins that covered their alternating black and white fur striped bodies. Elongated limbs had them making a bounding motion as they leapt rather than plowed through the snow. And each of the 4 tiger-men had a 5 and a half foot long bow that seemed almost impossible to use to say nothing of drawing.
The running tigermen noticed Guyus and conferred swiftly amongst themselves, three of them breaking off and one of them continuing the charge towards the fleeing humanoids. One of three slowed, drew its long bow and let fly an oversized shaft at the paladin. It struck his shield with a resounding force, the obsidian head shattered and left a dimpled pattern in the surface. A second shaft did the same and then the other 2 that had thrown the AC to the wind leapt and tackled Guyus. They were strong, heavy, and attacked not unlike wild animals with scratching and clawing and tearing. One of them attempted to rip his helm free but failed.
With a bend of his will, Guyus summoned his paladinial war steed who immediately reared back and let fly with its rear hooves, barreling one of the tigermen off of him and allowing him to get to his feet and mount up.
More arrows flew, one of them hitting him (but not knocking him from his saddle) while the grounded one attempted to pull him free with rips and tears at his leg. Guyus kicked his steed in the flank and made some distance while more shafts littered the landscape. One of the pursued human went down with a truncheon to the head and net around his midsection and the tigerman with them continued his assault.
Guyus lined up his war steed and attempted to lance one of the tigermen who dove out of the way just in time and missed the sharp point and the flashing hooves. Two more arrows struck the paladin and he shook off the impact, laying hands on himself to remove the sting of the wounds.
He whirled around and charged the tigerman again, this time succeeding in his strike, the lancehead shattered on impact but the tigerman went down horrible wounded. More arrows flew but they were targeting his steed more and more so with a flex of his will, he released it from being here and the horse faded away. The tigerman amongst the humans knocked a second one down and was still in pursuit of the others.
And then Draugmor appeared, the king’s thief needing a moment to get his bearings on the situation. Only one of the tigermen actually saw him and he flashed his knife in his hand with a flick of his wrist to get at the ready. Guyus plied Eagletalon to the already wounded tigerman and with a yowling cry it fell over dead at last. More arrows flew, the paladin getting hurt in the process and forced to call upon Odin once more to bolster him with a healing.
Draugmor met the leaping tigerman with flashing blade and the two of them traded blows back and forth, the elf getting badly mauled in the process. A third human was clubbed and then the tigerman saw Guyus as a threat and drew his own bow to add to the assault.
Once more the war steed was summoned and Guyus leapt upon, lance at the ready where we speared the next tigerman in the process, his war horse trampling over the furred foe. At this point Mebali and the unconscious Norris appeared where the wheelwright laid the bard in the snow and drew his broad sword to help Draugmor in the combat. The number of arrows flying was dropping but again, they were aimed at Guyus’ steed, the tigermen wanting to take the war horse out of the picture.
The tigerman fighting Draugmor and Mebali slid left and battered at Norris, dropping the bard even closer to 0 hp before defending himself from the two fighters. Realizing the war steed was badly wounded now, Guyus ordered it away again and brought Eagletalon about to take upon the closest tigerman. The two of them traded back and forth until the tigerman was spilling blood in the snow and the paladin had a new series of wounds upon himself.
Detheron arrived at this time, the druid taking stock in the massive battle and the strange landscape. The tigerman mauled Mebali, his claws ripping into the wheelwright mercilessly. Draugmor lunged and his enchanted blade hit the tigerman – and then the luckblade flared and the blow instead flowed upward and struck the tigerman full in the throat – angled upward and killed it instantly. Huzzah!
Daring to call his steed a last time Guyus rode towards the last standing tigerman and dismounted to slam blade at the beastman while Mebali engaged from behind. Gwyn appeared next, stumbling over the unconscious Norris. Detheron called upon Frey for a healing and the strangest thing happened – the snow around him in a 10’ radius burst melted instantly, air warmed up, and his spell fired off with more surety than he was used to seeing.
With most of the party here now the last tigerman fell and healing was dispensed. We noticed that only Detheron’s spells acted this way upon the landscape. The humans that had been knocked out were strange, primitive, and had the faintest of elven traits about them. Very little of what they said was understandable – Dritka, Grylians, Great Mother, Afraid, Come. The rest was pantomime and grunts of some sort.
We got them to relax and understood we would follow them to the Great Mother. Norris felt that we were either in Niflheim or somewhere around it – the realm of Hel and of constant winter. Aleron hacked off two of the tigermen’s hands and Guyus took of the entire fallen one on the back of his horse and we set off, leaving nothing behind except bodies (taking even the bows and arrows).
We did note while walking that neither the tigermen nor the humans we were with had any metal upon them, neither did they have any sign of skills beyond what would be considered crude stone and leatherworking at best. It was 4-5 hours in the snow before we arrived at a stone town built around a longer heorot or longhouse. 9 buildings in total, one with symbology to Frey and the other 7 simple affairs. Skins were stretched across openings like doors. The humanoids with us called out and a number of similar humanoids emerged.
A brief description pantomime was done explaining who we were in their own language. Then there was some covering of the left eye when commenting on Aleron and showed the hacking of hands and the word Grylian mentioned a few times. Aleron withdrew the severed hands and the tribe shied away. So the ranger went off into the snow away from the town, buried them there and we returned.
Happy now we were escorted into the heorot where we were to meet the Great Mother. She was old, older than old, ancient even. All that was visible was her head and hands. Her hair was gossamer thin and white, her skin like translucent parchment. She was elvish and she listened to the tribe talk to her in their language and then struggled to speak to us. Her words were difficult, a mix of common and elvish.
She told that she was over 1500 years old and had always lived here. The tiger people were called Grylians and this place was an island on the Sea of Boiling Ice that was called Freysteig – or Frey’s Land. It was at one point long ago a retreat for Frey and his Jotunwife Berohr. The filled it with things that they loved and came here for a time to be happy. But with the approaching Ragnarok and other Asgardian duties they stopped coming and Freysteig was left on its own. Over time something referred to as Snorri’s Pipe went out and Freysteig drifted from under Asgard across the Sea of Boiling Ice, coming close to Niflheim.
People from all over can get here, usually through some sort of gemstone gate. How to leave? She does not know. There is a citadel (we saw it) called Njor Citadel. Njor is the grandson of Berohr and we surmise is a giant (Frost giant). The citadel should show us how to find the gate out.
We also learned that time moves differently here. Fengarth actually came here a number of times – but she said he came last over a thousand years ago – and we know that Fengarth had died/disappeared some 55 years prior. Lastly, the people here were called Dritka, a catchall terminology used to describe and humanoid that was not a tigerman or Grylian.
Why tiger? According to the Great Mother, Frey had love of many animals but the tiger was the one that Berohr and he liked so they made the Grylians in the image of one of their followers called Gylfang, Lord of Freysteig. The Dritka had lost most of their skills and technology over time: metalworking, husbandry, textiles, reading, writing, and even complex language.
We stayed and traded with the Dritka that night, and started a fire for them – something none of them had ever seen before. The sun did not set – it just went out. When it did the temperature dropped to -40 and the sky was unlike anything they had seen – a dozen starts in the sky and nothing else. Detheron was still able to call upon Frey but the effort of night casting made him weak and dizzy so we decided that we would do our best to avoid night travel.
We slept and awoke the next day refreshed and well rested. The Dritka filled our packs with foodstuff and we filled our skins with water. We bid our farewell and were going to head back towards Njor Citadel to learn how best to leave.