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 30, 2014

Meet 2, Adv B2, 12/30/14 - Youth Group

This was the second meeting for my daughter and her friend and this time they encountered some enemies. And it went with two retreats at first. Getting back to town to heal up, they hired two locals (Fighter and Cleric - each 1st level) to come with them and they went in this time ready and able.

When the game ended, they wanted to play again (I said we'll see in a few days), and gifted each of them with their own printed PDF copy of the original D&D (B/X) Basic book and a set of dice.

Write up follows:

The two friends inched forward, wary and watchful. It was after some 20 steps that they heard a voice from the darkness ahead call out, “Grag! Dash Pu?” Charlotte looked at William and shrugged. They tried to talk to the figure who eventually emerged – a goblin. Clad in Leather, sporting a spear with numerous fetishes, greasy black hair and reeking of old sweatsocks and rotting bananas. It didn’t speak their language, nor they it’s. But Charlotte and William kept their weapons put away and tried to pantomime that they wanted to back away and leave.

A second goblin emerged from the darkness, this one with a bow and arrow. It kept it pointed at the two friends who managed to back away and fade back to the entrance of the cave. They waited, sure they had not been followed, and then breathed a sigh of relief.

Ok, left passage was not an option; how about the right?

So they went that direction next. The corridor proceeded for 20 paces until it ended at a “T”, with a faint glow coming from the right. William went first, scouting it out, hearing goblin voices and at least three of them. He returned and the two of them had a short and fevered discussion about what to do. They opted to come out fast and shoot and attack, hoping to bring some surprise on the goblins that might be there. So they counted to 3, and then charged.

Charlotte fired, her arrow blasting the closest goblin in the chest and knocking him back, but not killing him (it seemed his leather jerkin stopped the bolt). William was right behind the arrow, sword leading the way, and he and the goblin traded blows back and forth, the fighter unable to hit the squirming greenskin.

There were 4 other goblins here, three around a table playing a game, the last one at a stool eating some dried meat. The three there were scrabbling for spears while the last one drew his belt knife and closed to combat. Charlotte’s next arrow went wide and William couldn’t get a solid blow in. But the goblin slammed its spear through the joint of his armor at the shoulder and did 5 points of damage. And then the knife guy hit him behind the leg for another 2. And like that – our fighter was down to 1.

And none of the goblins were even hurt.

Charlotte screamed and shoved the two goblins, giving William a chance to twist away and run out towards the entrance. The goblins closest were yelling and giving chase and the archer/thief did her best to dance backwards and load an arrow. She dodged a VERY close blow and fired – dropping a cloth yard shaft into the lead goblin’s face and killing him. The next goblin was crying at his fallen brethren’s side and Charlotte joined William outside and the two of them ran away from the caves.

Total time inside? Less than 45 minutes.

The trip back had William losing blood and growing weaker. They hitched a ride on a hay cart and once they got to the Keep went right to the Hospice. Our fighter was treated and told he would have to stay for 2 days solid to heal up. Once he was settled in the two friends talked about their options. Charlotte wanted to make up some fire arrows and they both agreed they needed to hire some help.

What kind? Well, a Cleric would be nice (even if they didn’t have any healing yet – they would in time), and another fighter since relying on William alone was asking for a problem. They didn’t make any money so far but would pool what they had left (71 gold) and hope that would be enough to hire some people long enough to get further in and find some treasure.

So they interviewed what clerics were available first – and there were two. A heavy set priest of Gluttony named Renee (looking for a full share and 14 gold per day) and a devout thinner follower of St. Francis named Loq (looking for a full share and 7 gold per day). The interview left them unenamored with Renee and they would take Loq.

The next day they interviewed three fighters. There was Corg (multi-skilled in all weapons, friendly, clad in platemail and shield), Nicqui (chainmail wearing and spear wielding warrioress who spoke at length about anything that caught her attention) and Durgan (tall, imposing, plate armored and sporting a singular 15# two handed sword). Corg and Nicqui both wanted 5 gold per day and Durgan was looking for 7 – and all of them wanted a full share. They talked about the possibilities and in the interest of saving some money, they decided not to go with Durgan and took Corg.

So the 3rd day they met their two new friends, paid them, and set off for the Caves once more. This time they arrived there at 9:30, lit a torch, and entered with care. The goblin that had been killed by Charlotte’s arrow was not visible (but the fresh bones on the floor led them to believe that the goblins ate their dead). They were not going to go back towards where they had been chased out of, instead going BACK to the left where the two goblins had been before.

So they drew up, pulled weapons, and with Loq holding the torch, the 4 of them jogged down the hall. In almost no time they came upon a guard room with at least 4 goblins visible. And Charlotte let her arrow fly. After the shaft hit, Corg and William went next and hit the lead goblins hard. In just under a minute two of the goblins had fallen and another one emerged from the gloom, arrow at the ready. It shot at the group, shaft blocked by Corg’s shield.

William suffered a nasty spear stab and then Corg received one. Loq withdrew a soaking healing elixir and hurled it upon William, healing half of his damage. William wounded another goblin at this point and then Corg killed a third. For his trouble, Corg was also wounded, but it only seemed to aggravate the warrior. Charlotte’s arrow failed to kill the wounded goblin, but William’s follow up attack did, and the fourth fell.

Corg charged the last goblin, the archer, preventing him from firing again; but his approach revealed a 6th unseen goblin – and this one also had a bow. Loq ran into the room, standing behind Corg, and used another elixir on him, healing him a bit too. William ran in and attacked, dropping the 5th goblin.

And then it was a free for all on the final goblin and the battle was over.

There was a set of stairs in the back of this room leading further into the cave, but for now we wanted to clean up where we were so far. Charlotte bade us to be quiet for a bit and the thief was confident that no one else was coming and we could gather up what riches we might find here.

Letting our breathing ease we spent some time looting the bodies and seeing what was here. There was a cask of water, some chairs and a table. We found 120 copper and 20 silver pieces. But the big score was 20 spears. On their own, not so wonderful – but given what they had found so far, worth at least 20 gold if we could get them back to sell them. So we were going to leave them here for now, explore a bit further, and then on our way out – take them with us.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Meet 1, Adv B2, 12/28/14 - Youth Group

Due to the Christmas break and vacation, I had given the go ahead to my daughter and her friend to sit down and try out D&D if they wanted to. My daughter had participated over the last 2-3 years on and off here and there for a half dozen of so sit ins. But this was her first time as a "real campaign" so to speak. Normally I run B4 - The Lost City as my go to welcome to D&D adventure (knowing it cold and having run it countless times), but I went back to the real beginning and busted out B2- The Keep on the Borderlands for the two of them.

I did my typical slow explanation of the game and rules, sticking to B/X as written for now, and stressed that we can try this out and that if they wanted to, we can continue. There was no forced continue if they didn't want to. So they each rolled up characters, my daughter a thief, her friends a fighter. Scores were good (I did roll 4, drop 1) but far from fantastic. The thief suffers from a 6 Charisma and only has a 12 Dexterity (was nice to see her play something she WANTED to and to use the dice scores as they were - not what was optimal), while the fighter does have a 15 strength (his highest score) and an 8 Dexterity. What was nice is they each rolled max number for hit points and the money wasn't too bad (120 for the thief, 110 for the fighter).

And then, after and hour plus of rules and rolling and learning how to play...we started. And it was wonderful to watch two young people (12 y/o each of them) get swept away by the history that had gone on before and where they came from. Both of them are big fans of history and mythology, so I transported the duchy of Karameikos to Northern France/Germania and re-wrote our history from roughly 750 AD onward.

At the time just when his parents were coming to pick him up we had to stop and I asked if they had a good time and wanted to play some more. And they both wanted to play again tomorrow. I laughed and told them in 2 days we can do it again.

I think I introduced someone else to a life-long hobby today.

Write up follows:

The end of the Roman Empire brought with it the Dark Ages, with the only point of light remaining in the Western World being the Brightness that was Constantinople. As the 8th century came to an end, the mightiest of the Gauls, Goths, Celts, and Druids banded together to craft the strongest spell-prayer they could to break the walls of this unending city. In a time when the world believed in magic, even though the Roman system of science had driven back the march of ignorance.

But in this case, at this time, in another Earth, the Weave of magic and science were two sides of the same thing – and in this instance – with the void left from where science once stood in these Dark times – the spell of magic rushed in and exploded.

The land shook from India to Portugal. The Nile flooded, the Pyramids crumbled, Italy was torn asunder, Greece fell into the sea. Cliffs broke, forests burned, and the world of men was sent reeling. And in the wild lands between the broken states and cities, monsters and beast from legend filled the darkness of the forest primeval. Dragons flew through Romanian Mountains, Goblins prowled the forests of Germania, Orcs crested Hadrian’s Wall and burned along the banks of the Thames.

Man was plunged into barbarism but did not let their light snuff out. They banded together as one, crafting new kingdoms and new provinces. They held the line against kobolds and minotaurs. Holy men bent knee to Christ and Yahweh and Zeus and Pan, calling on miracles and benedictions from unseen forces on high. Wizards learned from the space between the stars and through sheer force of will how to bend the fabric of reality and reshape the prime material to their want. Dwarves came from the Carpathian and Pyrenees to help the world of men. Elves emerged from the dark eternal forests of Rus and Britannia. Halflings ranged from the quiet lands along the Spanish coasts and the deserts of Palestine. All goodly races banded together to hold the line against the Chaos of the emerging Wild.

Here in Charlemekios, in the land that in our world would be considered Northern France, the Duke had waged a holy war against the goblin forces; ending almost 2 decades of constant bloodshed. New lands had been annexed and for the last decade, the lands of men have waged an uneasy truce against the monstrous hordes that once dominated the country. Baron Guilfoil had been established in this the last bastion and keep on the Border, charged with not only keeping the land safe and patrolled, but to find out where the goblinoid stronghold might be and have it destroyed.

Every peasant, yeoman, and local had heard of the stories of various kingsmen and rangers who dared the Wild to find this font of evil. But it was 2 seasons ago that they finally came back with knowledge and proof. Three miles east and north of the Border Keep, was a cleft in the very stone as if carved by a giant’s hand hundreds of feet wide and over 500 feet long. A ravine where all manner of goblin, orc, and kobold made their home amidst the bones and cast off detritus of their kind. Some dozen caves or less dotted the ravine in various places, each one a black maw where the dark creatures made their home.

And they needed to be rooted out.

Since the spring thaw the Baron has been sending out his riders and pages to every Thorpe, village, hamlet, and farmstead in a 20 mile radius. Asking of anyone who wanted a chance as riches and glory to come to the Border Keep and plumb the darkness of the Caves in the Wild.

Charlotte’s family owned a small farm (10 acres) of scrub land and berries along the banks of the river Bibiche where her mother was a neurotic mess and her father a one time locksmith. They had come out to this area in the hopes of resettlement and the knowledge of getting a stipend from the crown for homesteading. To Charlotte, who was just now 18, it was tedium, horrible, and overall numbing. A skilled archer and possessing her father’s nimble hands, she agreed to go to the Border Keep to try her hand at riches and glory. Her father gave his blessing (and his locksmithing tools); her mother gave shrill cries and admonishments.

William Bill’s family were farriers, a skill that helped give William his strength and size, but he was a bit clumsy and prone to moving before looking. Being the third son he spent his time cleaning stalls and shoveling crap, dreaming of something better elsewhere. So when the call came and he learned that Charlotte, his friend, was thinking of going to the Keep, William jumped at the chance. Sporting his grandfather’s sword and a piecemeal purchased set of platemail armor, he left home with his family’s well wishes in his ears and the two friends set off for the Keep.

They arrived together, the Keep standing on a plateau 60’ over the surround land, a single easily defensible road leading to the main gates. The two friends made their appearance known and purchased a variety of supplied they suspected they would need in the journey to the Caves. Eventually the Castellan called the two friends to come to Baron.

In his early 50’s and sporting a salty beard hanging to his chest, he was a warrior that was in the decline of his days and going to pot. He greeted Bill and Charlotte by name (which surprised the two friends) and spoke about the Caves of Chaos. There were many wanna-be adventurers who had answered his call and they have been tramping into the Wild for almost a month now. Many have not returned. Some have come back with riches, some have come back missing fingers and babbling about the horrors they had seen.

The two friends spoke to the Baron at length, asking many questions before thanking him for his audience and heading to the Inn for a last dinner and conversation. They opted not to hire any of the locals, not for this the first trip out. The Baron had let them know that the rangers who have gone before reported that the caves closer to the entrance of the ravine were populated with more goblins and orcs than the deeper caves where more dangerous denizens were rumored to live. So they would go to a closer cave, look around, and if it was beyond their skill, they would return to the Keep and hire some of the locals and potential adventurers to go with them on the morrow.

They had worked out a deal where the Baron would take care of their lodging and meals for the rest of the day and tomorrow’s morning…and their Hospice stay should it be required. That evening they spent it at the Inn and listened in on a number of the potential rumors the locals were talking about. Much of it was a garbled mess but the two friends were able to glean tow bits of wisdom: 1) the various monstrous tribes of humanoids that make up the Caves generally stick to their own cave by their own kind. And 2) there are some cultists that might make their homes in the caves, and because of that and the evil influences – any altars they might run across would be considered bad and full of trouble.

The next morning they set off, checking with the gate guards on when and if the Keep’s gates would be shut (the gates shut at 9 PM and open at 6 AM) – making note of it and allowing themselves at least 2 hours to walk back. The trip there was without peril. The only notable thing was the lack of fauna in the area. Even the typical birds were few and far between, their distant song more sad than merry in the audible isolation.

It was after some walking and when the foot trail turned to the north that the duo began looking in earnest to the western edge of the track and discovered the mounded earth and thickets as described by the huntsmen who had come this way before.

They pushed through and spied the deep ravine that was the source of the greenskin scourge and the house of the Caves of Chaos. Outside of a lonely vulture giving them a stink-eye from a lower branch of a distant tree, they saw nothing else. But the two of them felt as if they were watched and the prickling on their neck was that of something evil in the air.

They looked around for the caves closest to the entrance of the ravine, picking two of them –one on the north wall (but some 20’ upslope), one on the south (at the ravine’s floor). From there they discussed the merits of each and went back and forth until they settled on the south one as the better choice (it boiled down to – if they had to run and flee, it was going to be ultimately safer if they did not have to slide and fall down some 15’-20’ from the entrance).

Charlotte went first, William close behind, both of them with weapons out as they made the walk with care towards the entrance. The ground was covered in a fine layer of ground up bone, bits of filth, and the tell-tale stink of sweat socks and overripe bananas that spoke of goblins. This was the right cave, at least for now.

With her bow drawn, Charlotte crept up to the cave mouth and peered in. It was perhaps 12’ wide, 10’ tall, and opened up to a triangular shaped chamber almost 20’ within. Through the dank gloom she could make out 3 possible paths but there were no guards here. She backed away and told William of her findings.

He lit a torch and held it with his shield hand, sword drawn. He took the lead and the two of them crept in. The cave floor had dozens of bones, much of them human. Almost all of them were split and the marrow gnawed out and sucked clean. Toothy marks covered the dull ivory white which had the two of them retching slightly at the thought of their fellow man eaten.

Once inside there were three choices, right, straight, and left. William shone the torch down all three – the 20’ sparkling of light revealing only more passage as it went. It was the left most passage, with waving sheaves of webbing hanging from the ceiling a few feet down, that beckoned the most to them, so they squared their shoulders, regripped their weapons, and ventured on in that direction…waiting for whatever was in the darkness ahead.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Meet 69, Adv 4, 12/6/14

After racing in the last time and trying to catch the fleeing foe, they realized that the underground lair was larger and better warded than we expected it to be. So the party had pulled themselves back, spent 2-3 days healing and preparing better for the trip, and then re-entered - loaded for bear (so to speak).

And that meant hirelings.

With SIX bodies brought along (porter, linkboy, shieldbearer, cloistered priest, light footman, and heavy footman), they had a much denser party with multiple layers and the ability to have 2 facings should they get attacked from behind. Which (to their credit), did happen.

It's early in the trip so far, but we'll see how the rest of this goes. As typical, we are taking off a few weeks in Dec for the holidays and will reconvene with the campaign play on Jan 3rd.

Write up follows:

The party slept well, Flimflam and Zeta @ the Thanach estate, and the rest of the group @ the Mane & Tale Inn in Heatherfield. 6 AM on Watermonth the 25th came and the two respective groups began their morning preparations. One by one our hirelings and helpers arrived, eager and ready to join the group on their foray into the (now understood to be) dwarven/Hades blessed underground lair/fortress. We paid everyone for the upcoming day’s efforts and then went through the massive pile of supplies in place, dividing them out as need be as well as coming up with an acceptable marching order that would protect both sides of the line and those in the middle. Lanterns and torches were put in place and as a group we all ate breakfast.

We talked about what we would be possibly facing and each person’s place in the march as well as their job. Prayers were made and swords and spears sharpened. Only Encrinus, the Halfling slinger that was interested in joining us, was informed that we could not afford his skills. He was dismayed but in the same pique of confidence and overwhelming personality we had seen earlier, indicated that he would hang out with the Thanach’s for an hour or two should the group change their mind and call on his services.

It was after 8:30 when we left the home and approached the eastern wall leading to the Griffanus homestead. There was no guard there, neither was there any sign that anyone was on the estate. We could hear nothing from the barn; see no smoke from the chimney. It was eerily silent. The group was ill interested in using the gate, so we walked towards the far corner, clambered over the wall, and then picked our way along the perimeter of the property sticking to the trees until we came upon the grotto once again.

It took us some time (being it was after 9 now) but we arrived at our destination and proceeded to search for the enspelled entrance – eventually discovering it and causing it to once again become visible. We drew up into marching order, Flimflam handed out dozens of prepared goodberries, torch and lantern were lit, and we proceeded to make our way into the warm darkness below.

There was no obvious difference down the main steps, across the sloping floor, and down the second set of steps leading to the pentagram room. Here we noticed nothing different in the 3 days we had been gone earlier. Equipped now with a better idea on how to cross the bloody path, our leader informed us all to intone Hades’ name once before crossing to avoid the glamour’s affects – and he was correct. From here we went east towards the former storage room (that we had set on fire) and not towards the strange 12’ long crawlers down the northern passage.

The fire that had been here had burned itself out, the couch was a blackened skeleton, the cushions gone, the rug charred remains, even the barrels and millstone were ruined. We looked around only briefly and went now further in, this time to unmapped areas. We ventured north, assuming that this passage would join up @ some point with the other passage, on guard and wary for any of the crawlers.

What we did find were signs of passage. Bloody smears on the floor, there a discarded bit of clothing, here a show, there a broken doll, here a handprint of blood. We suspected the Griffanus’ had been taken by our quarry and brought down here, and from the growing signs of punishment and horror we were passing, it was very against their will and they were either gravely wounded of maybe even dead.

The corridor ended its northeastern heading and then turned sharply to the south, a set of steps leading down from here. At the base of the stairs we could see more bloody rags and signs of violence. Before travelling down, Zeta espied a busted trip wire, curled along the top step and held in place (At one time) by eye-hooks and an anchor along the eastern side of the stair. The wire had run out and down the steps, but whatever trap it had once been was now triggered and no longer an issue.

We walked down slowly, eyes peeled and ready for anything. At the base of the steps the corridor continued 15 paces or so and then turned left to some open space. But it was along the back wall that we saw a mounted crossbow platform – the bolt long gone. Ah, this was the trap that had been sprung. Based upon the angle, it was obvious that the bolt would have tagged anyone in the front.

We heard shuffling steps in the next room and decided to funnel the foes towards us where we could get a solid volley or two in first. So we positioned all of our archers on the steps so they could all fire and had Liscinia and Funis guarding the back ranks. Caeteccius and Auri were our heavy hitters in the front – and then we called to our foes.

They came around – spear wielding skeletons and slower but deadly looking zombies. Eight and three respectively they were – but the zombies were fresh – very fresh. We deduced they were at one time the very militia guards that had been stationed @ the Griffanus estate not a day earlier! And one of them had a heavy crossbow in its chest/gut – evidence of being a victim to the trap Zeta had seen.

The zombies fought with some skill, but had ponderous slowness to their movement. It was also strange to see them fight with spear and shield, something that Pawn, our cloistered priest said was not normal. Arrows had almost no affect on the zombies OR the skeletons, so we switched over to blunt tipped bolts and shafts, getting some results. Our volleys were sure, but the amount of damage done was little at best – and then the first of the skeletons hit our line.

Blows were thrust and met shields and armor with some small affect. But it was Caeteccius and his 20# war axe that cleared the way, felling TWO of the skeletons in the first 11 seconds of combat, his warlike blows driving the enemy back enough to clear the ground before us.

We then had the archers concentrate their fire on the skellies while the melee workers hit the zombies in force. And it was here that we learned the sad truth about the undead before us – the zombies were somehow enhanced. They fought with skill and knowledge, broke shields if need be, had sound tactics in assaulting the group, and were ducetly hard to kill, requiring at least twice the effort one would expect to drop them.

Because of this the battle lasted MUCH longer than we expected and we had to cycle people from the front ranks out and get new fighters at the fore. And the fight attracted MORE zombies – 4 of them, who came from behind us in an effort to close to battle. Our battle lines held in both places and then Pawn called out to Demeter and turned the undead facing the back of us – sending all 4 of them running away in terror.

Freed up once more, we were able to send a final flurry of strikes against the frontal enemy and took the last of the heroic-style zombies down. We then spent 20 to 30 minutes binding wounds, healing, prying the crossbow off the wall (damaging it in the process, but we did get it off) and checking out the next chamber that the zombies and skeletons had come from. It was a bit filthy and there was the smell of brimstone incense, indicative that the raising ceremony on the guards had been done here.

As to the rest of the Griffanus family? Bloody smears leading out of this room and towards another set of winding stairs leading further down let us know that as of yesterday (maybe) they had been alive and led in this direction.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Meet 68, Adv 4, 11/15/14

At this point the party learned the major plot point between the two forces they found themselves between and it was a moralistic doozie. One side is right but is despicable in its actions while the other is wrong but honorable in its behavior. It's a classic LE vs CG situation and the party is on the CG side - but they can also really understand the LE side.

So much so that the elven protagonist who's name is Pecheri has been referred to as Douchey by the group for weeks now.

Write up follows:

We had discussed during our meal the merits of the people we had seen and those we wanted to hire. We had been spending money pretty freely and realized that our ready cash was a bit light. So after lunch we took some of the trade goods we had gotten from Dairymeade and wandered around town, selling them to the local merchants.

And we were surprised at the sheer amount of silver and gold we got for our goods.

Once more flush with cash (and the reminder to us once again that not all treasure is coins and jewels) we sat down and met with the possible candidates for heavy footmen, light footmen, porters, and finally linkboys. Once finished, the party talked at length and at depth at what our options were.

Interestingly, one of the candidates we wanted was hesitant to join us if we did not have a cleric in our mix. A touched priest. One who was going to go with us into a Hades blessed area that also had undead present. Obviously, Templars are in real short supply (um…only 1 in the local 4 town area since Device died, and Taryn (the gnome) left our group to join Sanric's), so we then wanted a cloistered priest to give us a hand. We went to the Temples and met with 2 possible choices, eventually deciding on the 2nd one – a Halfling priest named Pawn (obviously a leftover “thief” name from his youth) who was a reformed pickpocket.

With the priest at our disposal we went back over the listing and chose the following: Liscinia the 18 year old (appearing) 1st level half-elven female Shieldbearer, Caeticcius the 27 year old 2nd level human Heavy Footman, Funis the 45 year old 2nd level human Light Footman, Scripinius, the 17 year old 2nd level human Linkboy, and Vestanus the 35 year old 1st level human Porter. These hirelings brought a mix of skills and abilities ranging from miners, to smiths, to gemcrafters, and beyond.

Bolstered and ready, we then continued our own preparations with more trips to the Hospice as well as Flimflam stockpiling the almost maximum number of goodberries he could put together before the trip.

The group spent the next day (Watermonth the 24th) going over their belongings and preparing for the trip. Pecheri should be back this evening and currently Auri and Geld were at the Thanach house, watching over the family and Selene. After a last round of conversations and preparations, Zeta and Flimflam left Heatherfield and went to the Thanach homestead where they sent Auri and Geld back to town – the half-elf and gnome taking the final night of guard duty.

Once sure that everything in the house was fine, they went to the Griffanus/Thanach shared wall to talk with the guard there; a lone figure standing vigil who had a strange and stilted conversation with the party. He then went to get Master Griffanus who came out and spoke with the two of them. Again – it was odd and sort of filled with double meaning. When it was over HE went back to the Griffanus house and the guard came out once more. At the gate/wall, he bid us good night and asked us to depart so he can do his job and watch.

The two of them went to the Thanach house and talked about the oddity of it all and that they were looking forward to getting to the cavern tomorrow and rooting this “whatever” out.

It was here that Pecheri returned to the Thanach home with a different horse, told Thanach to take care of it, then sat at his table and proceeded to eat. He told us of some of the newer supplies he brought and the better preparation he had for the journey against the quarry.

It was here that he finally told us what we were up against, getting the ok and go ahead from his uncle and apparent head of the Silverhair clan. At the end of the Kinslayer War the dwarven and elven empires had declared peace after centuries of combat and there was a document of manumission established that said that there would be NO new slaves (dwarven) born into bondage and those currently in bondage would remain so for a period not to exceed 10 years and a day based upon holdship paperwork. This would give the elven families a chance to make the necessary changes in their operations to offset the loss of the dwarven slave exodus.

When the first “freeings” went off 270 odd years ago, it nearly wrecked the elven economy. Many of the families could not recover from the losses and the remaining elven families that still had dwarven slaves could see that they needed more time with their chattel if they were going to weather the storm.

Many families had come up with ways to extend the dwarven enslavement but it was the Silverhair clan that took it to the next level. With multiple holdings, shops, mines, camps, and other far flung places throughout the greater lands, what they did was caravan their chattel (dwarven slaves) before the 10 year period was up to another holding, have them documented as emplaced at that time with the proper stamps and seals, and then the clock would restart on those dwarves such moved.

It wasn’t perfect, but it did work 8 times out of 10. As the Silverhairs grew and their holdings failed to suffer the same economic hardships the other families did, they found it harder and harder as the decades rolled by to get trustworthy elven caravans willing to move their stock for them.

So they went to other caravans outside the Woodhelven nation to move their stock for them.

And the best of them was the Raugeri Mercantile Transportation Company. For three generations the Raugeri helped move the stock every couple of years like clockwork. They kept meticulous records and were cold and unfeeling in the plight of the chattel they moved. Until the last of them, the final 38 dwarven slaves, were released from the Silverhair holdings about 30 years ago – some 250 YEARS after they were originally manumitted. 250 years of extended servitude.

They were brought to the Beastly Hills and let go right outside the fortress city of Barmeer. And that is where they were left.

It was after that that that the Raugeri family began suffering misfortune. Master Silverhair deduced shortly after the initial attack what was going on and immediately set his people up to defend the next most likely Raugeri target. But instead it was a different family member that was hit and killed. So the Silverhairs shuffled again – and again misjudged their quarry’s long range plans.

One by one, the Raugeri family fell away, three generations slain in a 12 year period in groups of 1 and 2 at a time. Until there was a single target left – Selene.

The fact that in the dwarven culture, children are always presumed innocent, is the only reason the ex-slave-dwarf hadn’t struck Selene sooner. According to Pecheri’s uncle, this is the BEST time to keep the slave’s focus on 1 target – something that hadn’t happened in the past before. To the slave’s thoughts, this girl is the final Raugeri target. So if he is focused on her, we can protect her (as we are doing) and then strike out at him now.

Because according to the best diviners the Silverhair family can come up with, if the girl dies, then the ex-slave-dwarf’s focus will then most likely shift to another slight and target. And since the Woodhelven lands are impossible for him to get to – that means ANYWHERE in Heatherfield could be next. (The Orphanage that housed the girl, the stables that shod the Raugeri horses, the wheelwright who helped make the slave carts, the smithy’s who might have made the chains, etc…)

We went to sleep right after this revelation and found ourselves disturbed. The Silverhair family of elves are xenophobic, slavers, and did what they could to continue to keep the dwarven chattel they had owned under their yoke and control for centuries past their original manumission date. However they are trustworthy and take their words and deals honorably even after the Raugeri family is long gone. In addition, they are expending cash and resources to continuously combat this threat. Contra to this, the ex-slave dwarf though was mistreated and wrongfully kept in bondage for the majority of his life has also been venting his anger and frustration out for decades against one family – many of which had nothing to do with his plight.

Both of them are wrong, and both of them are also honorable in their own way. And it makes what we have to do on the morrow strange and difficult – a moral morass that we are going to have to wade through.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Meet 67, Adv 4, 11/8/14

Diseases, sicknesses and curing spells

CLW and the various incarnations are a staple along with healing potions - so this isn't about that. Instead we are talking about diseases, parasites, and other sicknesses that the party might get in the dungeon. We had three this meeting, 1 from a giant centipede bite and two from just the general foulness one get mucking around with rotting flesh and dead bodies for 15 minutes.

The point is that the diseases were all pretty nasty (Chronic - all of them) and one was possibly terminal. There is a Hospice in town that we gathered at and it would help the situation - but not necessarily cure it - plus it would take days to run the course and get the party back up to snuff. So they wanted to know - is there anyone in town who can heal the disease? A fast look and poke revealed ONE. ONE cleric in town with the right skills and powers that can cast Cure Disease.

They got the job done and more power to them for it - but I think it hammered home the possible devastating effect of such an enterprise that might affect the party so far from home.

Write up follows:

So the party dug and dug from both sides of the fallen ceiling while the rest of us gathered the undead's fallen spears, shields, and even bows and arrows. We gathered up our spent blunt arrows and applied bandages where we could. Upslope, the fire continued to burn, consuming the couch, dresser, and rug – adding more haze and soot to the air that slowly wafted its way up and towards the entrance.

Meanwhile Zeta and Tranis carefully made their way to the corner where they dared to look around – open space, no heat sources, indistinct walls. We needed a light source. Torch was lit and brought over and we were able to get a better look.

And we saw bones.

Lots and lots of bones.

Perhaps the makings of almost 50 bodies, but incomplete at best. There was one missing a rib cage, there another was from the pelvis up. The ceiling rose to just about 10’ in height and was poorly worked, same with the eastern wall – irregular and ill made. About 2/3rd of the way across the chamber was almost 3’ of stout oak sticking up out of the field of bones, canted away from us. A lever? No one wanted to chance going in; besides the bones themselves had a strange almost powdery-like residue on them.

It was at 4:30, the path out had been cleared enough that we can all crawl back and forth across it, which meant it was time to decide to stay…or go. The general decision was to leave – excepted by Marcus, Zeta, and Pecheri. We should press on and get our quarry. The counter to it was – this was obviously our quarry’s home turf, it’s been three hours since the assault, and he’s most likely well holed up and ready for us should we approach. We should back out and re-equip ourselves for an assault through a dungeon and that would also mean getting some hirelings to help out.

We settled on giving the room with all the bodies the once over to check for secret doors, since it seemed there was no obvious way out of the chamber now. Plus there as the lever. Tranis made a lasso and Pecheri tossed it over the lever from 25’ away. Then it was slowly goosed tighter and then…pulled.

And it flopped towards us and dragged across the floor – metal on stone. Whatever it was, it was not a lever, and it was lodged in a rib cage. We pulled it all the way – and it was a sledgehammer. Badly worn, handle cracked, but it had been used to dispatch the current body it was trapped in. Zeta offered to check the eastern walls for secret doors, and Marcus the western. They were both outfitted with ropes around their waist and then sent forth, the opposite ends held by Auri. The two of them crossed the room slowly, stepping over the larger skeletal remains, disturbing the others that were too numerous and small. Then at the back wall they searched that one over – no doors. They did discover that in many of the ledges back here were old signs of candles. And they did find a second sledge hammer which they took with them.

We left the battle site and worked back to the store room. From here we stayed low since the smoke was still heavy and settled at least half way down the clear air. We trudged up slope to the pentagram room and then one at a time, stepped over the bloody lines through the sooty haze – Flimflam noting that the “heaviness” didn't seem to settle around him for some reason.

And finally, 5:20 pm, we emerged from the ground to the surprise of the local militia who were still policing bodies and taking care of the wounded. We talked to them and they agreed that Sheriff Nexius had already been apprised of the situation – and wanted the “hole” guarded. We went next to the Thanach Estate where we verified with Crastori that his wife, daughter, and most importantly, Selene, were all hale and resting. We were offered dinner and we stayed, and to help things along – Flimflam finished the Coming of Age Ceremony for Selene – the young girl formally recognized as an adult to the world and surrounded by her adopted family.

Marcus and Geld offered to stay while the rest of the group went to town to talk to the Lord, go to the aviary, and do some shopping. We would be cycling people back and forth from the Thanach home to keep guard and would return to the dungeon in 3 days time. Pecheri gave Crastori a small scattering of tiny diamonds to buy his horse and was returning to Woodhelven to be better prepared and with more firepower. He will be back on the evening of the 24th in 2 days time.

It was almost 8 when we entered Heatherfield and we trudged to the aviary first. There were no messages for us and we could return tomorrow to send a fresh one (birds don’t fly at night). We spoke to Lord Gelus next and besides eating his apples, told him what was what and sort of left it open ended on what help we might get. He offered to pay for our Hospice for us and was also going to help arrange meetings with whatever hirelings we were thinking about. Shieldbearers, porters, linkboys, slingers, light, and heavy footmen – whoever we could get would be terrific. Three of us (Quintus, Zeta, and Tranis) went to the Hospice while the rest of us went to the Mane and Tail to get some sleep.

During the night things grew worse for a few of us. The parasites, diseases, and other foulness of the dungeon environs were negatively affecting a few of us. Zeta grew feverish in the Hospice and his fever needed to be broken often. His body was wracked in pain and his heart was beating irregularly. Quintus became filled with mucus, the buildup causing him not too little pain as it made him temporarily hard of hearing and unable to breathe without constant help and clearing. He too was lucky to be at the Hospice.

Marcus though was something else. While at the Thanach household he awoke feeling sore and went to the privy where he sat for some time voiding his bowels. When he felt empty he wiped and was bothered to note blood in his stool. And then half an hour later he was once more wracked with cramps and voiding his empty colon. And the pain continued. In the morning, Geld loaded his friend and bondsmaster onto a wagon and brought him to the Hospice where he was diagnosed with a virulent form of Dysentery.

Such diseases were going to take days to run their course and the party could not wait such a length of time. We needed something more. So Geld, Auri, and Flimflam went to the Temple of Demeter to plead their case and were told that there was a healer of some skill at the Temple of Hestia who might be able to help – magically.

So we went there and the three of them were introduced to two brother acolytes who were the liaisons between their aunt (the touched healer) and the public. They fleeced the party a bit for donations and robes and audience fees but when it came time to charge the group for healing, at 600 crowns total it was outside out price range. We couldn't afford it. So then we tried to bargain for a service and she (the aunt) offered to heal all three for a fraction of the price if they would accept a Quest spell to be satisfied after their dungeon trip.

We dickered back and forth and then Auri revealed to one of the brothers that she was indeed a woman – not a man as had been indicated. This was shock and when the brother asked the same of Geld, he said, yes, me too. The quest spell was accepted (Geld did it) in the promise for the shorted amount for the Cure Disease – and when it was done our friends were healed…and Geld had been transformed into a woman. It was terrible for him…her, and we were told that it would remain like this until the quest was completed.

We then (all of us) went back to the Mane and Tail where we met with 5 shieldbearers and 3 slingers. It took some time to interview them all and we were having a late lunch, discussing what the merits and benefits of each were before going on with the interviews for the next batch of possible warriors as well as non-combatant henchmen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Meet 66, Adv 4, 11/1/14


The big end piece combat for tonight ended up being two sets of combat separated by a 25' long spillway of collapsed ceiling that split the party in two and involved everyone struggling against a 5 count of carrion crawlers and an almost out of control fire as well as 27 skeletons split into three waves assaulting a no-retreat location.

We survived but three of the party members were on dregs and had to rotate out of combat. Our only healer was also located on the wrong side of the collapsed wall which did not help matters none. However it was 21 rounds of combat involving over 40 combatants and it was a blast.

Write up follows:

Pecheri was big on going after the quarry now but was willing to give us a hour to get ready before going in. Selene was escorted along with her family back to the Thanach homestead and Flimflam used bandages to fix what painful wounds he could in our party. We also went to the cask of oil that had not exploded and filled one of the wine bottles about half full as well as Quintus’ lantern. Finally ready and girded, we drew weapons, formed ranks, and headed down into the ground.

The corridor started at roughly 9’ or so wide with varying ceiling heights running from 7’ to 10’. The floors were smoothed but not smooth, the walls rougher, and the ceiling fairly crude. The steps had the sharp edge to them of either newerish construction or lightly used at best. The walls were limestone and other igneous rock mixed in and the feeling was that the corridor we followed was at some point maybe an original crevice that had been worked to its current state.

We left the surface behind 20’ above us and then a short sloping corridor led to another set of steps going 10’ further below the earth. It revealed a large chamber with an opening on the north wall and another on the south east corner. In the center, taking up the majority of the floor space, was an almost 30’ thaumaturgic circle drawn in a 6” or so wide swath of blood; with a similarly painted pentagram in the middle. Maybe 20 or so melted pale blue waxy lumps were situated within and along the bloody lines, and even smaller symbols to Hades were scattered inside – painted or drawn onto the floor itself.

In the southwest corner were half a dozen wooden buckets covered in cheesecloth and some maggoty piles of bloody flesh that came from both livestock and people – used apparently to draw the pentagrams. Besides the obvious there was an undercurrent of unease being near the symbol. It appeared there was no easy was across except stepping over the lines and making ones way across the chamber.

Something no one was anxious to do.

We dared not touch the blood since it was still somewhat fresh looking but by all rights it should have dried and congealed. We dared not touch the blood since it was still somewhat fresh looking but by all rights it should have dried and congealed. We threw stones past the circle and again inside the circle – no issues. Finally the group decided they were going to pick their way across – the lines were not too thick and could be easily stepped over. The party then crossed one at a time, with Pecheri going first.

He complained that it seemed disturbing at first but he made it over. But for each person that went after they also felt a feeling of unease that did not fade – staying with them after they made their way over. It seemed that just Marcus and Pecheri were unbothered.

We then followed the northern corridor slowly, taking care to map carefully and watch around each corner. With Zeta and Tranis in the lead (for tracking and trap finding purposes) they cautiously led us to the first corner some 30 feet or so away and we looked around.

30’ long, turns to the left. And a 4’ tall, 3’ wide blackened section of the wall had a depiction of Hades’ ram’s head symbol on it. Fuck.

We approached, and Flim (being in the lead at this point) was able to feel an uncomfortable feeling again getting closer. There was a corridor going left here (short, maybe 25’ and turning to the right again) but we weren’t going to go past unless we could clean the symbol somehow. We hurled a flask of water at it, and it did work – runnelling some of the water down the wall. So we had Tranis hold his waterskin like a spigot and squeezed – sending a stream of water to run over the surface, and obscure the symbol to Hades after about a ¼ gallon or so was wasted.

No longer feeling the strange oppression we continued past and came to the next corner. A set of sharp edged stairs were here, running down to an open space. Quintus whistled up a light spell on a rock and we tossed it deep into the room.

The chamber (oddly shaped) was filled with hundreds of carapaces of a variety of sized beetles – most of them the size of a finger, perhaps 10 of them as large as a cat. There was a layer of glistening ichor on most items, including the walls up to about 2’ in height. There was some concern on going down and then we saw figures undulating into the room from the far side. One at first and then a second, and finally as many as 5 (that we could see). They were sickly vomitus pale, 18” in diameter, over 12’ in length. They moved like a caterpillar on scores of feet except exceptionally fast. They had no discernable sensory organs, their “face” appearing to be the puckered end of some giant inbreathing worm.

And then it caught scent of us and sped up in our direction. It puckered open spewed out and pulsed, and eight 4’ long writhing tentacles lashed out, sending some goo to splatter against the area. A few of us shot, but for some reason our arrows were ineffective; or shots were poorly aimed and of no effect. That was when oil was dumped on the stairs and set alight. The flames roared up, stopping the crawlers in their tracks just before they got to us, causing them to retreat also amidst a scattering of our still ineffective arrows.

Deciding that this was not the correct way, we made our way back to the pentagram chamber and crossed it again, this time going to the south-eastern corridor. Once more that sensation of something wrong settled on everyone and we talked about what to do next. Pecheri volunteered to go back to the entrance and refill a bottle with oil from the cask that was supposedly still up there. While he was gone, we upended one of the buckets in this room just to see what was inside. Blood. Congealing blood and entrails. Fucking great.

Pecheri came back with 3 bottles (2/3rds full) of oil – dangerous stuff. We split it amongst us and then turned our way to the east. The corridor sloped down here at 30 degrees – fairly steep, to what seemed to be a storeroom. We carefully made our way down and proceeded to look around. A chest of drawers, moldering sofa, 2 low wooden stools, a pedal driven grindstone, 2 barrels, a rolled up carpet, and half a dozen piled large mismatched cushions. There were two ways out of this room, one on the south and one on the north.

The group split up and began searching around, poking and prodding. The chest of drawers seemed to have clothes (apron, hat, toga, slippers) and the barrels sounded full, but it was Quintus poking around the cushions that disturbed a serious number of bugs and spiders…and three almost 2’ long centipedes! They swarmed around his legs and boots, one of them getting high enough up his thigh to bit him, the toxicity of the bug’s venom making his ill and sick. The group raced over and some well place blows killed two of the centipedes while the third retreated to the cushions to hide. Flimflam looked Quintus over and said that the effects of the toxin might (might) fade with rest and sleep. The sorcerer decided to tough it out for now.

We lined up again and this time decided to head south. The corridor went straight for some distance and then jogged right and then left again, the ground sloping down at a slide worthy 20 degree angle. We were walking with care when Zeta and Tranis stepped across an unforeseen trigger, sparking a glyph that fired off…followed by a cracking overhead and the raining fall of dust and stones. Most of the party still under the now collapsing ceiling ran forward: Zeta, Tranis, Auri, Pecheri, Marcus, and Quintus. On the other side of the falling rock, Geld grabbed Flimflam and pulled the gnome druid back UP the slop and away from the mounding rock and falling stone; Whosea, Sanford, and Hugnin also stuck up there. A cloud of dust and grit was billowing out, knocking visibility to a few feet and making the party (on both sides) cough and hack.

And then Tranis’ group heard the sound of movement in the gloom. Movement that was clattering and coming closer. The haze was still heavy in the air and we didn’t see what it was until was just about on us. And then they were there…coming out of the shadowy light: skeletons. Over half a dozen and coming towards us.

We shuffled battle lines fast, seeing that we were going to be facing a number of the undead Auri, Zeta, and Tranis took point, Pecheri and Marcus readied bows, and Quintus (feeling ill) began clambering on the pile of stones, trying to dislodge enough to make a crawl space up top for us to get back. Two of the skeletons that were facing us did not move with the jerky motions of the animated undead – but with clear purpose and skill like that of a warrior – as evidenced by their rapid closing and assault with spear and shield.

The battle lines clashed and Pecheri drew back a red feathered arrow from his quiver, took aim past the front rank and let fire. And the Detonation Arrow blasted the back ranks of the skeletons to splinters. 5 of them blew apart to bones and sinew. One of them at the moment of impact, whirled around and let its shield take the blow, dropping the shattered barrier before snatching a fresh one from the floor and then striding forward.

Our attacks were strangely still not as effective as we’d like, some of our attacks just flat out missing for no reason. We shuffled our weapons around to bludgeoning and clubs where able to and brought the punishment against the few skeletons still here.

And then another 9 skeletons came from around the corner.

Meanwhile Flimflam had ordered his animals to watch the two other corridors from the storeroom and he and Geld tried to tackle the mound of rocks before them.

One of the undead had a bow and before they could get closer, Pecheri pulled out another Detonation Arrow and let it soar down at the back bunch. One of the skeletons with a shield jumped UP in the path of the arrow and took the blow, preventing it from tearing the second wave of skeletons apart, only dropping 4 of them. The remaining 5 swarmed forward and we were facing two ranks deep of stabbing skeletons. Both Auri and Tranis were fighting defensively while Quintus abandoned digging the party out to add his magic missiles to the combat. What few blunt arrows we had were flying against the undead, but the better undead warrior types were not going down easily.

And then a third wave of skeletons came around the corner, two of them sporting bows. And they fired. Quintus was hit and so was Zeta – both of them suffering painful wounds. And then Quintus was hit again, stabbed in the upper thigh and now moving even slower. He struggled with some goodberries and the group realized that their healer was on the other side of the mounded stones.

And the skeletal line grew thicker as the undead tried to press their advantage against us.

Flimflam and Geld had removed only a few of the lighter stones from the top of the pile, opting on making a crawlspace for the druid to get through when Sanford came back yipping and barking wildly. A fast speak with animal spell revealed what we were afraid of – the 12’ long tentacle crawlers had found where we were and were coming from the direction of the pentagram room.

The two of them raced there along with their animals and were sad to see that TWO of the crawlers were already near the top of the stairs. How to stop them? How can they stop them? Fire worked before, it’ll work again. They took one of the bottles of oil and hurled it where it smashed on the stairs, then Geld took the torch he had and tossed it – missing the oil! Again, the feeling of “just not right” was affecting the two of them. So Flimflam told Sanford to race up there and kick the torch forward 2’ so the flame would hit the oil. It had to be now, the crawlers were at the stairs and coming down! Run! RUN!

With only seconds to spare, Sanford hit the lit torch with enough force to send it skittering into the oil and WHOOSH! It ignited! The fire raced up the steps and the lead crawler was suddenly hit awash with flame. Geld had run up to the chest of drawers and was throwing the top drawer and clothing within up the steps to add to the fire and keep the crawlers back. The one on fire raced forward to get out of the flames but moved slower and died, a 12’ line of burning flesh.

The group tried to hold the undead back and Pecheri was down to his last blunt arrow. Quintus channeled his attacks at the better fighter type in the center, magic missiles breaking against it. Everyone else redoubled their attacks at the same warrior until it was forced to splinter its shield on one of Auri’s crazy club swings. And then with the way clear, Pecheri fired a final Detonation Arrow down field and blew up another swath of skeletons. We were now facing just about 14, and Zeta had to withdraw from the front line. Tranis was barely staying ahead of the blows he was taking, eating his supply of good berries and draughts only to have a number of stabs reduce his hit points once again.

The gap in the line was filled by a showing skeletal warrior and everyone in the back ranks assaulted that one skeleton until it fell, and then Pecheri stepped into the breach with his long sword drawn. His blade was not nearly as effective as Auri’s club, but he gamely did his part, hacking and slashing with his blade doing half damage.

Upslope Geld dragged the big grindstone back towards the top of the slope while Flimflam let fly another (the last) bottle of oil to the top of the stair – catching the closest crawler that was already burned and setting it further ablaze. Meanwhile the burning oil had spread across the stone floor and had set the couch on fire. The smoke was turning dark and thick and the room was filling with haze, the air difficult to breath. The two friends dragged the chest of drawers and the two barrels back to the slope; making a crude barrier that should stop the crawlers IF they come back and AFTER the fire burns out.

From there the two of them turned their full attention on making enough of a crawl space on top of the pile to go and help their friends.

The undead were relentless, and the better skilled ones continued to hit the group, whittling hit points away one at a time. Eventually Quintus was out of spells and he and Zeta worked feverishly on clearing enough of a space up top to get their way out of this area and back to Flimflam. One by one we took the enemy down until Tranis had to pull back, unable to fight on. Marcus took his place and the trio of Auri, Marcus, and Pecheri did the best they could on the skeletons.

The numbers continued to dwindle. 8. 6. 5. We could hear Flimflam faintly calling us through the rock pile and those not involved in the long long long fight shifted hundreds and hundreds of pounds of rock.

Finally, we could see Flimflam’s hand through the top of the spill and Quintus helped pull the very welcome gnome through. The space was not large enough yet for Gel…or for us to get free, but progress had been made.

Finally the last of the superior fighting undead fell and the last three became cruder in their tactics and abilities. Still fighting, but more mindless than before. With a final frustrated flurry of stabs and crushes, the last of the undead horde collapsed and the party took much needed stock of themselves and their situation.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Meet 65, Adv 4, 10/18/2014

The party had the opportunity for some outside combat this meeting. However it was in a battlefield that had been picked by the enemy and prepared according to his needs and capabilities. The group was scattered for the most part and although they did manage to keep Selene alive, 19 other townsfolk did die and they are about half spent on healing.

Now the bad guy is getting away into an area that is his home turf and we have an opportunity to follow. So the party's track is now heading towards dungeon crawl (we had outside, town, investigation, diplomacy, and LARPing.). Let's hope they have all they need for this trip.

Write up follows:

We left the city proper of Heatherfield and wound our way north and east; crossing a number of the roads and byways until we arrived at what we had been informed was the Thanach family Homestead. The walls were in good repair and there was a well maintained one story home near an elongated barn and kennel. We rang the bell and waited until a 60ish looking healthy woman came out flanked by a pair of alert shepherds. She approached (not too close) and spoke to us, the party stating they were interested in dogs and had other matters to discuss. She called for her husband, Crastori, to come out and from the kennel along with a dozen other dogs came her husband.

We were invited in to see the grounds and the animals in question. Conversation turned to studding out Whosea and the Thanach family’s following of Demeter as their patron deity. We then turned the conversation more to what we were interested in, uncovering if the family had Selene in their care. And the answer was yes.

Their daughter, Dorothea, was the midwife assistant in question during Selene’s birth and told us of some strange whispering she heard that night; the selfsame whispering that told Torg (Selene’s father) to kill himself. Her presence was unnoticed and she managed to secret Selene’s birth for some time before bringing her to the Thanach home where she has been raised as a quasi-granddaughter to Crastori and Oona. Crastori wasn’t sure where the money was coming from or why, he assumed that he had sold the Silverhair some dogs through a third party years ago and they were supporting his effort by sponsoring his family annually. He was surprised to learn that this was a VERY rare case and that was what had led the party to their family.

We did some checking of the dates and narrowed down that Selene’s actual birth day was two days ago – the same day the Hades ward fired into being in the Raugeri root cellar. Selene was having her name day this Watermonth the 22th (2 days hence) and Flimflam was going to take over to run the ceremony. We felt that whoever was going after the Raugeri family was going to make a play for Selene next and the entire Thanach family was in danger merely by being in the girl’s presence. So for the next two days we were going to make sure someone was here on the family Estate (in fact, two of us), while the rest of us made sure that we were ready and investigated what leads we could around town.

The ceremony was to take place on the next estate owned by Meloder Griffanus, a taciturn older fellow who had beautiful property along with a few low rolling hills, a grotto, and a small pond. He allowed us to look around the place (seeing nothing out of place) and in fact there was already some set up being done (tables, chairs, a podium). There would be maybe 90+ people in attendance at the coming of age party and we knew that we were going to need some luck, eyes, and tactics on our side.

Quintus struck up a flirty friendship with Dorothea, the two of them growing closer as the days marched on. Flimflam was able to get three bottles of holy wine from the Temple of Demeter (normally, not for sale, but he is a druid/priest of and he was willing to perform the ceremony effectively for free.) We then purchased a number of small glass vials and divvied them up amongst the party as holy water/wine assuming undead were going to come out during the ceremony.

Finally the day of the party arrived and almost 100 people made their way to the Griffanus Estate were 5 trestle tables had been set up along with almost a dozen smaller tables. There were two fire pits (point of danger – Marcus and Geld took up position there) each with something brazing upon it. Many of the locals brought something to eat and for two hours there was much eating and conversation. The party stood out slightly (armed and armored) but did mingle and keep a watchful eye of the proceedings. Quintus had cast Mage Armor on Selene, Dorothea, and a few others in the Thanach family. There was some frolicking and general eating and goodwill for a few hours until noon arrived and Flimflam began the actual ceremony itself.

The group was around the entire perimeter of the gathering, watchful and alert. Only Flimflam and Quintus were near the heart of the group. And then Whosea and Sanford grew excited and anxious, broke ranks and charged Selene. She was born off the dais and into the crowd a moment before one of the barrels that were making up the lectern of the podium grew superheated and exploded.

Flim and Quintus were both badly hurt and burned and some 9 other people in the crowd were set on fire from the exploding oil fire. Selene was prodded to her feet and was told to run – and then at the 4 cardinal points of the fire appeared 4 flaming demonic looking monkeys, each almost 6 feet in height and each bearing a feral cunning and a terrible glint of mad intelligence in their eyes.

Flimflam cast JUMP and cleared his way out of the fire while Quintus jumped and rolled his way to Dorothea who was badly hurt and dazed from the explosion. Selene was running towards Marcus, but the crowd was thick and mad. The monkeys started attacking the crowd and hurling fire everywhere. The group was scattered and there was no easy way to concentrate their strengths.

Zeta was pushing his way through the crowd, trying to get closer. Tranis had the longest to travel, running across the field, bow out ready to pick targets. Marcus and Geld shoved their way through, spears out. Oona and Crastori were yelling for Selene. A nearby monkey smashed into Dorothea and knocked her down and out and then another turned on Quintus who raced away fast. We learned that attacking the monkeys caused the fires on their body to flare out…and killing one made it explode – setting others around it on fire as well.

Another table exploded – this time right next to Selene, causing the girl to veer off course to Marcus and dropping another 5 count of townsfolk. Meanwhile the oil fires continued to spread and another 4 flaming monkeys appeared. Quintus, being chased by a much faster monkey threw himself into the grotto and dropped into the water, quenching the flames. The monkey stood on the edge of the water and threw flaming crap before turning his attention to the rest of the fleeing townsfolk. Spears flew and arrows followed and the monkeys targeted dropped and howled, their wild animalistic fury shifting to those who dared to strike them.

One monkey grew very close Selene and Marcus noted an elf on the far edge of the clearing was standing there with a bow out – who then drew back and let fire 3 clothyard shafts to intercept the demonic ape. Selene was spared and Whosea took the brunt of one of the attacks, the brave canine going down to 2 hp. Zeta was trading blows and losing, Quintus pulled himself from the water and let fire a pair of magic missiles. Marcus exerted his will and affected normal fire on the huge oil fire, cutting its area in half and saving many of the locals from further burning oil.

While scouring the battlefield we noted a think wavering sheet of flame creeping across the ground and heading to another table and our elven aide did as well, sending a volley of arrows over there to plunge into the ground and disrupt it from its source. It worked as the fires died around the moneys, making them no longer as terrible a threat, and stopping the spreading flames. It took a few more minutes to bring the chaos under control and then healing was doled out. Oona and Crastori were hurt badly but would live, same with Dorothea. Selene was healthy. Most of the party was hurt and suffering from painful wounds.

However as to the threat – we found 2 of the elven archer’s shafts, but one was missing. The archer, haughty, arrogant, high elven – identified himself as Pecheri Longwalker Silverhair and he was here to make sure nothing happened to the “human whelp”. He was more incensed at the loss of one of his arrows that was not accounted for. We also could not find a hole where the enemy spell caster and monkey summoner had come from. The thought was illusion. Pecheri browbeat Quintus into walking around blindly until he stumbled through an illusionary hole and fell down a set of stairs. Below were the remains of a ritual, a discarded hammer, and the missing arrow. Some blood splatters were seen but they ended immediately leading us to think of magical healing or potions.

Pecheri was pissed at his broken arrow and wanted to hunt down whoever and whatever it was. We know it was hit and fled, and this is our best lead to finding out what it was and what it could be. The elf gave us an hour to gather ourselves together and then we should plumb the depths before whatever it is gets away.

So here it was, 1:15 on Watermonth the 22nd, 19 villagers had died during the attack, and Selene Thanach nee Raugeri was still alive – but her mysterious killer (and maybe murderer for the last 25 years!) was on the run in the gloom and dark of an unexplored dungeon. We had an hour to gather ourselves up and then give chase. And the clock was ticking.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Meet 64, Adv 4, 10/11/14

The group had the 2nd half a major fight this week, this time WITH the bandits they had been fighting with AGAINST the sudden undead horde that had assaulted them. The fight demanded that both sides fought together since the undead were indiscriminate in who and what they were killing. Both parties had their strong points in the fight and when it was over, a truce continued where the group came up with a way to integrate the bandits back into society.

From there the group then went into an investigative bent to track down what and where the undead beacon came from and why it fired off now. While they were learning about the decimation (not the right word, since it was much more than 1 in 10) of the Raugeri family, there was just shock at how so much horror (some of it fire borne!) could befall a family in such a short period of time.

Write up follows:

The bandit leader, Castus, called up a flaming sphere and rolled it into the pit and through one of the opening along the wall – bottlenecking the undead in there. Four of them made it out through the flames and pressed forward. Another of the druid’s up top called to the camp dogs and three of them burst from the house and slid down the steep slope to the bottom, lining up with Marcus as well as the bandit fighter (named Torquil), growling and bristling. Two other camp dogs ran to the south side of the pit where a bandit there shouldered his bow and pulled out a 50’ length of rope. He quickly made a yoke out of it and draped it over the head of the 2 dogs standing by. Then a bandit sorcerer touched the rope and it thickened and grew tougher.

Flimflam called out to his hippogriff who flew from the house and slammed down in the pit, in front of the opening where it immediately began savaging the undead there. A number of finches and a hawk dived from the top of the house and assaulted the “slept” druid and sorcerer in the pit, waking them up slowly. Zeta was popping as many goodberries as he could, pulling himself to the pit where he and another archer dropped a second rope down to help ferry people out.

The skeletons and skeletal animals ripped out amongst the party trapped in the pit, boney claws and fingers tore and scrabbled and twisted, trying to bring the living members of both groups. Quintus and one of the bandit sorcerers tried to disrupt the undead but the flashing ensorcelled rays went wild, nothing really hitting. And from above, every person able to plied bow and blunt arrows, trying to knock the undead back.

Flimflam cast jump on Whosea and called Sanford back to him, the fox clambering into his lap. Then the oversized dog LEAPT all the way out of the pit in a single bound, clambering his way to the top in a spray of earth and falling dirt.

The battle was on as the party did their best to hold the ground. One of the druids tried an animal summoning but ended up with a 5’ viper – no use in this sort of fight. Torquil motioned for Marcus to “get out of here”, the elven fighter/wizard thanking the doughty warrior and then ran for the ropes, along with the druid in the pit. They climbed and pulled and twisted, the dogs up top and Zeta and the archer helping out.

Castus roared for everyone below to “watch out!” and then called upon Gaia, dropping a localized sleet storm on the entire right hand side of the pit, the buffeting wind, snow, and ice causing the undead there to stumble and fall. With the sleet storm brewing, Castus lost control of his flaming sphere but not before it consumed another two skeletons. However, a skeletal bear was now in the fight – and from the other tunnel, 4 skeletal archers and a more zombies were coming out.

One of the dogs took an almost mortal wound and went down with a howl. More of the figures below were now out on the ropes and Torquil tied the rope to the unconscious dog where it was lifted to safety. The undead continued their assault and arrows fell like rain from above. The bandit fighter was shot by undead archers and was losing blood quickly. Zombies were rising and falling in the icy sleet and Torquil aided a second dog to the ropes, tying it on him so he could be lifted free.

The sleet ended and the last dog held off the undead long enough for another to come down. With sure and quick moves Torquil hastily tied it around the last canine and holding on himself and using his free hand to block undead attacks with his shield, the two of them were lifted to safety. Once up top the party did not stop in their barrage of arrows. But something strange happened.  The undead became calm and slowly shuffled back into the tunnels, no longer paying any mind to us.

We went into the Estate home where everyone pooled their healing, getting the bandits and the party back to full. We talked with Castus who admitted that they do not need to do the banditry anymore. Heatherfield was well off and there was much prosperity around. Most of the original bandits had stopped with the new found wealth the city was experiencing and had gone back to the city with real jobs. These last nine all had prices on their heads and Castus wasn’t going to risk any of them.

The party then explained who we were and what we were doing. They had heard about our efforts with the other bandit group we had helped to remove and filled us in a bit on the Grey Havens and Marilee Jerinston (the leader of it). She’s a bit crazy and her 2nd in command is cold and worse. Castus and the others want to settle down and it took minimal dealing to have them disband. It is contingent on them getting a letter of amnesty and Lord Geyzer of Heatherfield is ill-intented to supplying it. However, the party is going to implore to Baron Ceril Taugis of Shakun to write such a letter and pardon, which should solve the problem.

At this point the bandit’s sorcerers took us to the root cellar where we saw a now revealed glyph to Hades on the wall. It was not there yesterday. No one had been down here. There was thought it might be a beacon – something put in place years ago but triggered now. We then (a few of us) went to look at the pit. The two tunnels were older – natural limestone with some working to smooth them out. It appeared they met up with each other a bit further on. And there were more of those small symbols to Hades on the wall – at around the 2’ or so height. Goblins? We aren’t sure. Maybe it’s something about the Estate? Emblazoned on the front door was the name “Raugeri”. We were going to check it out at town tomorrow since beacons for undead is not something either us or Castus and Company thought was a good idea to have just sitting around.

We took all our belongings and the bandits took theirs and we all went to another Estate home where we settled in and shared what food we all had with one another. Castus and company were going to go to Dairymeade and spend the next few days there until we could get a letter from Baron Taugis. From there they would be pardoned and would go on to Shakun. So at 8:30 AM on Watermonth the 19th we bid them a fond farewell and headed ourselves back to Heatherfield.

We sent a missive via aviary to Baron Taugis and then ate breakfast. From here we went to the Hall of Records where a magistrate was willing to help us out for a price. Gold. And keep it coming.

The Raugeri family was maybe 25 years ago a very well to do local merchant family, dealing in livestock. They owned 4 Homesteads at their height and were one of the only families in town to have the patronage of the Silverhair family of Woodhelven, an influential trading elven clan. However, through our research, the next 11 years or so had a number of terrible strange events misfall the family line.

·         Last height of their influence was maybe 25 years ago (year 156) – big fire @ main family home killed patriarch Krithius, 4 of his family members (brother, brother’s wife, eldest daughter, granddaughter), and 2 visiting dignitaries from Woodhelven.

·         Darius (eldest son – 9 months later (157)) died in a hunting camp, got drunk and fell into a fire – burned to death.

·         Maria (wife – 1 year later (158)) died in her kitchen with her daughter and 3 cooks when a chimney had a blowback and suffocated them all.

·         Thalius (youngest brother – 8 months later (159)) died from lung sickness from too much pipe smoke.

·         Tremont (next eldest son – 1 year, 6 months later (160)) died when the glassworks exploded, taking him and his son out, and the 4 members of the glassworkers working there.

·         Ulara (Darius’ wife – 4 months later (161)) died in her sleep, no cause listed (She was 42).

·         Orina (Thalius’ only daughter – 1 year 9 months later (163)) disappeared during a ride with her handmaiden and a suitor named Boris – no sign, never returned. Horses returned to family stable on their own 4 days later.

·         Castius (youngest child – 1 year, 2 months later (164)) and wife Flaria, and their only child all died along with their home staff of 7 during a bad break out of “Feverchill” pox. It is noted that only the town’s former physician and the town’s former Sheriff were the only ones to die during this outbreak (although over 50 were reported sick – no one else passed away).

·         Shortly after Lea (Darius’s elder daughter – 2 year, 6 months later (166)) married a minor merchant’s son named Karent, their home was burglarized, the two slain, along with their household staff of 2. Family dogs were taken and never seen again. No real goods seemed to be missing.

·         The last one was after Senia (Darius’ younger daughter, 1 year, 4 months later (168)) had wed a guardsman named Torg Bracken – she had complications during delivery and died. Torg was bereft with grief and killed himself that night by hanging and drinking hemlock. Their child was named Selene. It was thought that the child died during the birthing.

At that point the Raugeri family line has come to an end and the Estates and Homesteads reverted back to the local lord. There were 13 girls admitted to the Heatherfield Orphanage during that year and we were going to check them out soon to find out if Selene survived. The Raugeri family was noted for black hair and blue eyes – traits that we would hope to find.

The Magistrate did uncover one item of interest. The Silverhair clan of Woodhelven sends a annual stipend of support to the Thanach family here in Heatherfield – a peculiar and not normal situation. According to the tax scrolls, this has been going on for 11 or 12 years so far. The Thanach family is a known for dog breeding and their family head is listed as Crastori and his wife, Oona. They have 4 children but none of them are the right age to be mistaken for Selene (from low 30’s to mid 20’s). We were going to see them tomorrow.

We went to the Orphanage next and investigated there – getting much information on the girls from that time, but none of them were panning out to be the missing (if even alive) Selene. The group split up a bit with visits to various shops and even the Half and Helf Brothel took place (hooray for Zeta!). Flimflam prepared a number of Goodberries (we had gone through many of them today thanks to the fight with the bandits and the undead) and the party was getting themselves ready for bed.

We awoke the next morning early, readied ourselves after breakfast, and on Watermonth the 20th @ 8 AM prepared to head off to the Thanach family and learn what we could there from Crastori and Oona.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Meet 63, Adv 4, 10/4/14

Good Plans.

At this meeting the group spent a decent amount of time coming up with a plan to attract the attention of the bandits and give an option for them to track the bandits at a later time.

I'm almost sorry they didn't go with an earlier iteration and rub peppermint all over a fat sheep.

Write up follows:

The majority of the party went to the Mane and Tail Inn to get a bite to eat and discuss what our options were next. Flimflam detoured to the Temple of Demeter to check up on Whosea, learning that his dog would be better and able to travel tomorrow.

The group then discussed what our options were on finding the bandits. The feeling is that the bandits are most likely staying in one of the many abandoned Estate homes littering the countryside. However, the sheer number (scores, maybe hundreds?) and the distance between makes easy searching time consuming and almost an impossibility.

We then spent an hour or two tossing ideas out, deciding to tempt the bandits to assault a lone traveler. What about Flimflam’s raven? We did not think it would be a good idea and discounted that idea as well. We went over the three interviewee’s conversation, deciding that we could not iron exactly where the assault would take place (outside of north of Heatherfield). Finally, what if the Estate’s moved? What if they were in one Estate one week and moved to another one another week?

Then we discussed the number of limestone caves in the area? We are assuming Estate homes – but what if their base is in a cave? We needed some more discussion and background.

We talked about getting in touch with local hunters to see if they report anything. We also talked about luring the bandits out – but would need one of us to be the target. One of the things we also wanted to avoid was tipping off to the bandits that we were out here looking for bandits. So that meant quizzing the locals was going to be problematic at best. So we needed information, but not to let the locals know we were looking for bandits.

The downfall of that was the 3 people were invited to the lord’s house and were interviewed by us about their bandit encounter. So we suspected that we were already known as being out here.

We went back to the idea of getting robbed. A sheep would be a good choice. We could buy a sheep and somehow scent it (piss? Paprika? Roseoil?) and then allow Sanford and Whosea to track it back to their lair. Good idea, but no one herds “one” sheep – it would raise a flag to the bandits. Ok, good idea, but more thought was needed?

After much talk and discussion and plans formed and changed and discarded and altered we settled on a two-fold plan. We figured that Tranis would be “hunting” for quail, and allow himself to be robbed – using a brass braided necklace as a planted item – lacing it with oil so it reeks. The other would be Quintus would be on his way to Dairymeade with an engagement ring and let himself get robbed – the ring and box it would be in would also be laced in oil so it reeks.

We then put our prep work in order. A rosewood box was purchased, lined with linen, and a silver ring (we had in our treasure pile) was readied, with Quintus going around to various vendors and eventually a different inn and talked long and loud about going to Timberton to get a girl named Lirea and propose, bringing her back here eventually.

Zeta wandered around the poor section of town, settling at the Fleaside Tavern where he made contact with the local thieves’ guild, a lieutenant named Galarus. He suspected the orphanage might be in line with the thieves’ guild. On his completion, he wandered around town until his tail was lost and then made his back to the Inn.

Tranis went out and did some hunting, getting a quail and then selling it to the local tavern for a few coins.

We rested, waking the next day (watermonth the 18th) and set our plan in motion. Tranis went out for hunting again, and Quintus made his way north to Dairymeade hoping he might get picked up and assaulted.

And we hit pay dirt. Both of our guys were assaulted by bandits. Lone guys, no real armor, minimal weaponry. They were each robbed of the items laced with the smelly oils, and then briefly blinded while the bandits escaped. They waited for their vision to return, went back to town, met up with the rest of us and shared where they think they were assaulted at first. Noted were compared and we noted humans and half-elves, archers, and large assed dogs. Total was maybe 8 or so?

We armed and armored up and then went off, coming to Quintus’ site first. Whosea caught the scent and we followed it across the landscape to the west of the road, going to an abandoned homestead. There was a single wall, 300’ long, 100’ from the home, 3’ tall. No light in the windows and no smoke from the chimney – but we could faintly see movement through the unshuttered windows. This had to be the place.

The feeling was that there were archers, fighters, and maybe druids and sorcerers in the bandit employ. So we discussed plans quietly around the corner of the wall and eventually opted to have Quintus approach the front and lure some of the bandits out. Then the rest of us would storm forward and assault the back of the Estate House.

Goodberries were handed out and Flimflam also cast a few Invisibility to Animals to cover the entire party, and then had us “touch” his own animals so they could be seen. This should keep the enemy dogs off our ass. And then as ready as we were going to be, Quintus wandered to the front of the place and began walking closer.

A voice from within told him to stop right there and he continued on that all he wanted was his ring back. They went back and forth as he approached and then the grasses around him rippled and he was entangled, held to the ground. A three count came out to bind him and bring him in, taking some of the camp dogs with them – BIG dogs.

This was our chance. The rest of the party climbed over the wall spread out (to avoid being entangled) and charged the wall. A number of us were outlined in purple and green flames – faerie fired. And then arrows were shot out of the window, peppering the party. Zeta was hit a few times and the charge to the house slowed. We tried to return fire and another spell shot out, warping Tranis’ bow and snapping his string!

Quintus was being forced inside and those inside were calling for help – so they double timed it towards the back. Light spells and magic missiles flared, followed by a blast of Tasha’s Uncontrollable hideous Laughter. The inside of the Estate home was illuminated, making it easier to pick our targets. Hit points were whittling away as we closed the gap. The bandits came out, spearheaded by a large fighter-type in chainmail and sporting a well used broadsword. Others followed and more spells and shot went flying. Zeta hit the ground with 2 hp’s left and 4 painful wounds – staying there.

Marcus raced ahead and shot the emerging troupe with a sleep spell, dropping two of them. An attempt was made to Hold Whosea but it failed. Flimflam summoned a hippogriff next, appearing IN the house and assaulting the foes arranged still inside. And still arrows rained amongst the party with devastating accuracy.

We could hear others inside coming to the fight when the ground tore from just in front of Zeta’s prone form, ripping to the north and east in a grinding broken line – 30’ across! And then the earth fell. A crater dropped down 30’, steep sloped sides making egress from those caught in the chasm (Flimflam, Whosea, Sanford, Marcus, and three of the enemy forces as well (the fighter and the two who had been caught in the sleep spell)) almost impossible. There were two cave opening along the eastern side of the pit – each maybe 7’ tall, 6’ wide. And coming from each – over a dozen under warriors, skeletal dogs, zombies, and even a giant skeletal bear.

And they were charging for everyone stuck in the pit.

The druidic leader of the bandits called out, “Truce!” at the same time that Flimflam did. Both sides then turned their attention to the ravenous horde and prepared to do battle with the living dead.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Meet 62, Adv 4, 9/20/14

We had some absences at the table this night, meaning there were fewer than normal players for tonight's meeting. The side effect of this was the fact that the party got a lot accomplished even though everyone was doing double duty and handling additional characters.

We got a chance to see how damage reduction affects the party's effectiveness as well. The Field-Fiend had DR:2 and on the surface, not too terrible, but coupled with the AC: 22 it meant that as a group we had limited effectiveness.

I am a fan of DR and appreciate the simple symmetry it offers in combat. I don't assign it to many foes, only those that seriously need it.

Write up follows:

We had just arrived in Dairymeade, a small village between Timberton and Heatherfield, on Watermonth the 15th, around 6:30. The Thorpe probably held less than 100 people. The largest building was the Laughing Cow Inn where we were located, with a smithy, cheese maker, leatherworker, and chandler making up the other buildings that were not residential homes.

We entered amidst the sound of people chatting and then it grew quiet. From there we went up to the proprietor where we arranged accommodations for the night. The place was simple, the people hard working, and the atmosphere was cautious yet optimistic.

We conversed with the proprietor for a while and learned that there was a problem in town. Something the locals were referring to as “The Field-Fiend” was assaulting their livestock (cows, lots and lots of cows – with some goats). Attacks at night, and only the livestock. If we were really interested, we could talk to the proprietor’s uncle and village’s most important citizen – the Cheesemaker.

So we went and spoke to him, Boris Cokinstock, and learned more of what was going on. A number of cows have come in from the field with red and painful whip-like sores on their flanks. No one has seen what has been accosting the cows, but it’s slowly playing havoc on the bovine population. We went to Harold the leatherworker next with Boris where we got a look at Ethel, the latest victim.

The slashes were maybe no longer than 4’ in length and crisscrossed up and down the legs and flanks of Ethel. Boris and Harold were uncomfortable in us (posing as regular guards) going to find the Field-Fiend, but with some glib tongue and a bit of magic, we convinced Boris to give us a shot. Dairymeade was not a wealthy locale, but they were willing to part with a 15 lb wheel of 2-year old Dairymeade Jack cheese, 10 yards of prime grade calf-skin raw leather, and 4 pairs of butter-rubbed calf-skin high soft boots. We took the job.

They lent us Ethel and we travelled to the northwest of town, perhaps ½ a mile or so away. The cows of Dairymeade were semi nomadic and were never penned at night, so our cow was not unexpected. We however, were. So we positioned ourselves about 60’ away from Ethel and at the lee side of a faint rise of ground, hiding in the tall grass and waited. The idea was that if nothing happened by midnight, we’d go back to Dairymeade with Ethel and concede defeat.

For a little over an hour, nothing happened. The cows fell asleep, only their lowing and farting breaking the night quiet. Eventually we heard movement in the dark and it was growing closer. At the extreme limit of those with infravision’s sight, they saw three bipedal humanoid figures walking closer and closer to Ethel. Do we attack? Wait?

They struck, hitting Ethel on the side and knocking her over. She awoke with an indignant “moo” and righted herself up while the three figures were bent over laughing their asses off. Three youths from Dairymeade – tipping cows. The party was disgusted and Marcus hit them with a sleep spell, knocking them out instantly.

We were deciding what to do next when something 8’long, 4’ tall, 6’ wide, and 300 + lbs smashed into the back of Ethel and pinned her leg with an oversized crushing mandible. It was the biggest damned beetle anyone had ever seen. And it was whipping its antenna back and forth across her legs and flanks, drinking the blood that was running down her skin with its tongue.

Ok, that we’ll fight.

Arrows and spears went flying as we charged the Field-Fiend, Quintus opening up with a salvo of magic missiles and Flimflam calling out a Fairy Fire spell, bathing the armored beetle in green and blue dancing flames. Many of our arrows missed, and those that did hit, bounced off its incredible armored carapace with little if any affect. Even the magic missiles were less effective, the beetle shrugging off most of the lower impacting blows.

We closed to melee range, slowing down long enough to see the beetle FLY at us incredibly fast. It hit Marcus but was unable to get a solid grip on the elven fighter/mage with its mandibles. It’s whipping antenna did however tear into the elf, lacing his skin open like a scourging whip and causing him to reel back in order to defend himself.

The battle was difficult but we stabbed, hacked, and beat at the damned field-fiend with all we had, whittling its vitality away with each swing. And then we heard from the darkness (only Zeta being vaguely aware before it struck) a growling voice shouting in a pidgin of trollish and goblinoid, “Stop a’hurtin’ my girl!” before the 9’ greenskin monstrosity slammed into us and drove us back from the beetle. It was clad in rags and its body was a mass of green and brown thick horny folds of skin. A mop of greasy hair swung from its head but its limbs were just too long and too misshapen to be normal. Its first attack was a blazing fast sweep of blows, claws, and bites which reduced the ranger Tranis from healthy to a single hit point – his face torn open and body suffering from countless body blows.

We circled the beast and tried to keep him from doing another cycle of blows but we quickly deduced that we were outmatched. Even worse, the wounds we were doing to the monster were slow healing before our eyes! More spells were fired and the howling monster ripped Marcus next, shredding the elf and causing him to stagger. Potions and goodberries were being passed left and right but we deduced that we were a bit overmatched. Flimflam called on Demeter and summoned a Black bear which appeared behind the troll and savaged it with it claws, lifting it off the ground and hugging it, tearing it’s chest open.

Coughing and growing weak it stumbled and the group plied all we had left to dropping it and dropping it now. It fell over but even “dead”, its wounds continued to close! Tranis was stabbing it again and again, yelling at the party to “burn it! Burn it now!” Tinderbox, flame, oil, and “WHOOSH!” the figure was ablaze and cooking, the group backing away from the greasy black flames and choking smell.

What of the field-fiend? Thanks to Flimflam’s fairyfire spell, we were able to see it running off to the northwest – so we followed it!. Eventually we tracked it to a hillside and a hole where the light was inside and we circled around, drew ourselves up, and then stormed the cave. 9’ wide, 8’ tall, and deep, we were in the troll’s warren and the field-fiend was here too – along with an amorphous orangey 10’ or so diameter writhing blob larval egg-sac. Fucking great!

Thankfully it was already wounded so we hit it head on with all our strength. Zeta tried to sneak around behind it but attracted the egg-sac thing which detached from the wall and tried to engulf his leg! He danced and hopped and jumped, barely staying ahead of it as it sought him out. Whosea was taking the brunt of the field-fiend’s attacks, the huge dog staggering from the amount of blood loss and wounds hitting him. But the last blow fell and the beetle dumped over – and we had won. But not until we doused the egg sac thing with oil and set it ablaze as well – burning it and 100 larval-stage versions of the same beetle we had just killed.

Zeta warned us that the beetle most likely had a mate somewhere but we did a good thing removing it and killing the Class-6 mutant that assaulted us. Troll, said Tranis. Yes, Class-6 mutant, said Zeta. Ooookay.

We then rooted through the warren and spent almost an hour gathering up the troll’s treasure. Over a thousand coins (the majority of them brass bits), a smattering of simple jewelry, a handful of simple weapons, many yards of filthy silk and linen, over 60#’s of raw tin, 2 wheels of hard cheese, and a traveler’s journal from someone named Trulane Septimus from 15 years ago.

We fashioned sacks and drags, went back to claim Ethel (the boys were gone, and so were the spears and arrows we had used in the battle here) and went back to town. Boris was thankful of our efforts and we made a deal with him where he kept some of the goods we found and we kept the coinage (worked for us). At this point we admitted that we were the adventuring party out of Shakun and he was nice enough to write us a commendation note to take to Heatherfield.

So the next day we awoke early, broke our fast, and paid the caravan a silver and a half to let Whosea ride the cart, the dog was feeling ill from the field-fiend’s attack and Flimflam announced that regular rest was needed.

The area from Dairymeade to Heatherfield is a mix of revitalizing landscape and blasted hellhole. Most of the onetime Estate homes are a dilapidated and burned mess. Many of the fields are wildly overgrown and even years later, there are great swaths of burned and blasted roadway and lands that are nothing but black earth that nothing grows in. Many of the great stone dividing walls have been smashed and stick up here and again like misshapen teeth.

However, there are many many sheep in the area, and the group saw lots of rye and barley being grown, most of it one time wild, but now being tended to and harvested. Hayswains and other early fall signs of harvest are taking place. We did note that there is not nearly enough people working to bring in all the crazy rich bounty that is obvious to the area.

We arrived @ Heatherfield about 6ish that night, got paid and bid the caravan farewell, and made our way down the block to eventually the Sheriff to announce ourselves. He suggested we stay at the Mane and Tails and would let the local lord, Gelus Kayzer, know we were here and could set up conversation with him then.

We dropped off Whosea @ the temple of Demeter and arranged sleeping @ the Mane & Tails. Zeta and Tranis slept in the common room and it mostly was locals doing their best to get a night of cheap sleep. However, late that night a barbarian from the Beastly Hills came in and slept naked, not caring about the people around him. Zeta noticed the figure a tattoo similar to his own. So at breakfast he had conversation with the man who identified himself as Calharag. They talked about the symbol and Zeta tried to call it the Nek’Tar – and Calharag corrected him, saying the pronunciation was Netarg. He was on a vision quest for his shaman to go to the Endless forest and kill 50 goblins, bringing their bits and teeth back as proof. Then he would get to go to Netarg for the 8th time. Zeta made note of all his details and wished him well.

At this point we realized that Heatherfield had very few elves in it, which had Marcus with his hood up. However, half-elves were in abundance (1 in 5). We met with Lord Kayzer and talked about the banditry, giving him the letters from Baron Taugis and Boris Cokinstok and getting a heads up on what we might be facing. The bandits don’t strike constantly, often targeting lone travelers.  They seem to have honor and haven’t killed anyone – taking their belongings. The worst of the assaults is a grey misting blowing into the face/eyes which causes temporary blindness and allows the robbers a chance to get away without being traced/tracked. He arranged for us to meet the last three who were robbed so we could interview them.

Tellium Ditchdigger – He and his son were robbed 2 months ago. They were hunting for quail. Half a dozen or so attacked him and his son. Took his quail, clubbed him when he got mouthy. He was difficult to talk to, taking offense with much of the party – did come back at the end of the interview and was going to go with the group to “get those bastards” tomorrow.

Deliusi Arbandotter – Was herding her sheep back late 5 weeks ago. Bandits took the oldest and fattest sheep and whatever coins she had. Five of them, they seemed to be either Helfs or Humans, and they had 2 really big shepherds with them. Strangest thing, they gave her a leather cloak to wrap around her since it was raining that day and were very courteous.

Ionus op Heatherfield – Strung out came to mind on meeting with this one. “2 weeks ago they took my damned cheese I went all the way to Dairymeade to get. 5# block of salted Cheddar! I tried to fight them off, but they beat me about the head until I fell off Old Bessie where they kicked me until I passed out. How many? 10 I would guess. Yeah, 10. Otherworldly looking (points to Zeta) sorta like that one but without the fucked up hair color.”

We thanked Lord Kayzer for putting it together for us and left, assuming we were going to investigate north of town @ all the abandoned estate houses on the morrow. It was now 9:30 AM on Watermonth the 17th and we were on our way back to the Mane and Tail to discuss our exact plans.